Friday, 06 March 2015

When The Price of Beauty is Too Steep to Pay

By Dani Ferguson Phillips of The Cataract Club

Now I don't normally shop on the home shopping networks but last week I was channel surfing and something caught my eye.

This woman of a more mature age was holding this pink egg shaped device to her face and as she moved it upward, so went her sagging skin. She was only performing this voodoo on one side of her face so the transformation was quite amazing. One eyebrow magically lifted to a high arch until she had a little Cruella De Ville look going on.


Then, as her sagging jowls began to rise, I knew I had to have this wonderful machine. Sooooo I placed my first HSN order.

Well, I decided to keep my impulse purchase a secret until I was transformed so when the package arrived I hid it in the bedroom and waited for a little alone time to begin my journey back to the future.

On Saturday afternoon, I sat in front of my mirror and read the instructions carefully while Bella, our dog, sat at my feet and looked at me with her head cocked to one side.

I inserted the nine volt battery in the machine as required. I cleaned my face and applied the conductive gel to the area I wanted to lift to the heavens. I chose to work on the lines that as I have aged make me resemble a marionette. You know, the ones that go down each side of the mouth like Howdy Doody.


So, after putting on the gel and cranking up the machine (I had a choice of three settings and figured that if the lowest setting worked then why not go for the highest which in my world would only help me achieve my goal faster).

I placed the cute little pink paddles on my face making sure the four metal prongs were strategically located just above my marionette lines on either side of my upper lip. Then I turned it on.

All I can say is OMG, what in the Sam Hell? My eyes started watering profusely and my upper lip turned inside out. The dog was barking like I had never heard her before and she was scratching at the bedroom door in an effort to escape.

Thank God the machine had a default setting that shut it off after 90 seconds because in my state of delirium I couldn't pull my hands away from my face.

By the time it was over, my lips felt like they had been shot up with Novacain. My upper lip weighed 88 pounds. I had no control over the drooling and my sense of smell was gone.

I saw a faint smoke cloud above my head of which I can only assume came from the burnt hair on my upper lip. And to my dismay, I still looked like a marionette only now I had four prong marks emphasizing the lines like exclamation marks.

So, I'm packing up my purchase and preparing to send it back. I had to finally tell my husband Ron what I had done since he wouldn't stop asking me why my lip was twitching.

He was laughing like a hyena until I told him to stop. I said, "If they had advertised it as a male "enhancer," every man in the country would have prong marks on their @#$%."

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink | Email this post

Thursday, 05 March 2015

Ready or Not

By Sulima Malzin

“I am not ready to die
But I am learning to trust death
As I have trusted life.
I am moving
Toward a new freedom.”
      - May Sarton
      Gestalt at Sixty

"If I ever die, I'd like it to be
in the evening. That way, I'll have
all the dark to go with me, and no one
will see how I begin to hobble along."
      - William Stafford
      Things I Learned Last Week

"Since I could not stop for death
He kindly stopped for me -
The Carriage held but just
And Immortality."
      - Emily Dickinson
      Because I Could Not Stop for Death

I am not ready to die either, but I have learned to trust the process of continuation, to love the changing seasons and to accept that there is one for every thing. So I suppose that evening would be a good time for death to come for me, ideally at sunset, after a day rich with beauty and conversation, human touch and good food.

That way, I wouldn't feel cheated, especially if I were to look up and see the carriage from which it beckoned careening without notice around the corner.

I don't think about death very much – that is, I don't focus or perseverate or even give it the time of day with any regularity. The idea of death in the abstract can be intriguing, even seductive. The idea of dying, however, is a challenge.

Dying is the messy part – the painful, uncertain, confusing part – the part that can stumble and drag on beyond all expectation with no regard for those who will be left. I myself don't mind uncertainty. I can think of worse things.

In my imagination, given some notice, I’d like to be one of those who, when asked about my appearance of failing health, might say cheerfully, "I’m living with terminal illness.” But who's to say how it will be?

The only certainty is death itself; how the dying will occur and over what length of time, remains to be seen.

Tomorrow, perhaps, after my doctor’s visit, I will consider whether thinking about it will make me more ready or not. In this moment, a small brown wren is pecking her way across my window ledge and for now I will give her my full attention.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Wednesday, 04 March 2015

Just Call Me Old

By Marc Leavitt of Marc Leavitt's Blog

These days, guess what? I’ve gotten old.
I’m not a kid; on that I’m sold.
When asked, old’s how I self-define;
Euphemisms are out of line.

I’m not a “senior citizen”;
I’m “old”, and won’t be young again.
That stupid slogan, “golden age?”
It’s bull, and puts me in a rage.

Do you indulgently accept
Condescension from the inept?
Don’t you feel a little leery,
When addressed as, “hon,” or “dearie?”

I’m old today, and I have played
A lot of roles in this charade.
The young should dump their angst and strife,
And deal with age, it’s part of life.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Tuesday, 03 March 2015

Praying for Patience

By Fritzy Dean

As I idly leafed through a magazine, an article describing Type A personality caught my eye. These poor folks are said to be at increased risk for lots of awfulness - high blood pressure, stroke and cardiac problems - TWICE as likely to die from a heart attack as their less driven neighbors.

Aww, that's too bad, I thought. Then I began to scan the characteristics of these folks. Umm, impatient, hate waiting in line, impatient, highly conscientious, impatient, have a hard time getting to sleep, impatient, nervous habits such as nail biting or teeth grinding, workaholic and impatient. I suddenly felt spied on - and scared.

I certainly recognized a number of my own personality traits in this list. And as I studied the list, it seemed to be that impatience was at the root of most, if not all, of them.

Knowing that patience is a virtue and might protect me from an untimely death, I started praying for God to make me patient. It was sincere and earnest prayer, without ceasing, just like I learned in Sunday school.

Guess what happened? I could hardly believe it! It didn't matter if I was in line at the post office or the bank or the drive through restaurant, EVERY line I was in moved like stone cold molasses.

If I were on the freeway, there would be gridlock. If I placed a phone call, I would be on hold forever. If I stepped on an elevator, it stopped at every floor especially if it was a 27-story building, and especially if I needed a restroom.

It was uncanny, I was praying for patience and it felt like God was laughing at me!

One night just before closing time at my little local market, I ran in to get milk. All I wanted was a quart of milk so naturally, I got in the express line. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a little old lady push her overflowing cart right up to the cashier.

She beat me by seconds but I was certain she would be told to move to another checkout line. But, NO, the cashier started scanning her items. I was close enough to notice she was buying cat food, cans and tins of cat food. Cat food in bags, also. Cat food in more varied forms than I knew ever existed.

When the girl told her the total (which I couldn't help noticing was over $100.00), she ever s-o slowly dug into her purse and handed over a pile, a big pile of coupons.

Oh, no, I do not believe this. Then to make a bad situation truly rotten, the cashier informed her that the coupons had expired and were invalid. This crazy cat lady was not having it. She first cajoled, then harangued and then demanded that her coupons be subtracted from the total.

During this drama that was unfolding slowly, so slowly in front of me, I was having a heart to heart talk with God.“Listen here, God, you know waiting in line makes me die a little bit inside. Why are you doing this? God, why?”

At some point, the manager of the store appeared, having noticed the line at this checkout was really really backing up. He told the checker to go ahead and honor the coupons. Which meant every dang one of them had to be scanned.

Dear reader, I grew old and grey in that line. I used to be cute and brunette before that encounter with Crazy Cat Lady. The manager went down the line handing out vouchers for free milk and bread. So I left with my milk and a huge insight.

So huge it transformed me in an essential way. Let me share it with you.

If you pray for patience, God will not bestow it on you. You will have to earn it and learn it, bit by tiny bit. I can, however promise you this: God WILL give you many opportunities to practice. Many.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Monday, 02 March 2015

Have You Ever Fainted? All About Mine

By Chuck Nyren

That's a lie. I don't remember anything about it. I fainted. Before and after the faint, I remember.

Before: 4:30AM. I awaken, I shamble, I pee, I flush, I shamble.

After: I'm face up on the floor. My guess is that I don't look very good. That's because my more-than-significant-than-I-am other looks down at me with a panic-stricken expression on her face.

"Stay there," she says.

I generally don't listen to her when she's dispensing advice but this time I do on the off-chance that she might know something I don't. Like, why I'm lying on the floor.

She comes back with the blood pressure taker. I hold up my arm.

I think back on what I don't remember. I know I didn't trip. So that leaves fainting. "I fainted," I say.

"Do you hurt?"

"Not really."

"You will. There's blood and your eye is really cut. That was a loud thud."

The cuff deflates. She looks at the reading. "You're blood pressure is very low."

"Yeah, I fainted."

"Don't get up yet."

I don't. "I really banged my head. I can tell. That's what you heard."

After a minute, I crawl sideways, grab onto the bed, get to my feet. I'm in semi-shock but feel relatively okay. "I still don't hurt that much, but that head bang - maybe we should go to the emergency room."

"We're going to the emergency room. Just don't fall down again until we get there, okay?"

In the car, all sorts of pains are popping up and throbbing on my lip, cheek, forehead, knee, arm, shoulder. "I really fell. Now everything is starting to hurt."

"You're a mess," she says. "Your head hit the bed board, then you fell on your knee, then kept falling till you hit the ground."

”How do you know this? Are you Sherlock Jr.?"

"That's what I'm guessing. If your head hadn't broken the fall, you'd be in worse shape."

A comforting thought. I'm hoping I won't end up like all those ex-football players where you shoot yourself in the chest so they can study your brain.

We're waiting for the doctor. I take out my phone and snap a selfie. My face and head are in ruins. Swollen, inflamed, red, yellow, black. Bloody slices every which way. Huge lip. One eye is pure pulp, the other partial pulp.

Actually, I kind of like it. I show her the pic and say I look like Rocky. She says I look like Uncle Fester.

Journalistic restraint prohibits me from publishing a complete headshot. Here's an eyebrow:


The doctor is a jolly sort, beaming and grinning. He orders the standard blood tests and a complete body CAT scan.

I'm wheeled off. I'm wheeled back.

"We have to do something about that eye," he says. "I think it needs two stitches."

Finally, some real pain - injecting a local anesthetic in my eyelid. He fumbles around with a needle and thread, looping and twirling and jabbing.

She leans in to watch. "Wow! You'd make a really great fly-fisherman!"

He's laughing. "Ha ha ha! My father-in-law would love that! He's always asking me to go with him. Ha ha ha!"

This fellow is poking a needle in my eye and the love of my life has made him laugh uproariously. Sometimes I don't think things are funny.

I'm stitched. "So why did I faint?" I say.

The doctor shrugs. "Let's wait for the tests."

He disappears.

He reappears.

"Nothing really wrong in the CT scan or blood tests, you're fine."

Good. I won't end up like any ex-football players or Mohammad Ali.

"A few little abnormalities," he says, pacing. "Potassium is down a bit. But what probably caused your fainting is what we call orthostatic hypotension. It's when you're lying down or sitting and you get up too fast. Blood rushes down your legs and your blood pressure drops and you get dizzy. But every so often people faint."

Oh, good. Not serious.

"But we'd like to move you upstairs to the hospital so we can monitor you for twenty-four hours."

Oh, good. Serious.

"Do I have to?" I say.

There is ominous rustling in the chair on the other side of the bed.

"No, you don't have to," the doctor says, shrugging again.

I look over at the rustling. There's no way the rustler is going to let me walk out of here.

"Okay!" I say. "Roll me right up to that hospital!"

And all I really wanted to do was go home and later go to the grocery store and strut around - and everybody would get out of my way, thinking I was a tough guy, a prizefighter, an escaped convict -

Or a goofy-looking idiot from The Addams Family.

Next Time: My hospital stay, just like an episode of House MD, with epiphanies and Differentials bouncing off walls.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Friday, 27 February 2015

Chasing Rainbows

By Clifford Rothband

Over the Rainbow is the number one on the "Songs of the Century" list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The American Film Institute also ranked Over the Rainbow the greatest movie song of all time on the list of AFI's 100 Years, 100 Songs.

It was adopted (along with Irving Berlin's White Christmas) by American troops in Europe in World War II as a symbol of the United States. Garland herself performed the song for the troops as part of a 1943 command [according to whom?] performance.

In April 2005, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp recognizing lyricist Yip Harburg's accomplishments. The stamp features the opening lyric from Over the Rainbow. The song was also used as an Audio Wakeup call in the STS-88 Space shuttle mission in Flight Day 4, which was dedicated to astronaut Robert D. Cabana from his daughter, Sara.

The song was honored with the 2014 Towering Song Award by the Songwriters Hall of Fame which was sung at its dinner on June 12, 2014.

Now, like everybody else, we are forever chasing rainbows, or looking for a pot of gold - a simple truth most of us won't admit to. Even fewer people admit to finding one.

Now by pure un-academic chance I have harnessed, or found a way to make rainbows.

You may call it simple - where is the money to be earned? Or Trademark or Patent Pending? Or the question comes to mind, can I change the world, or even my life with this discovery - maybe like Soupy Sales who got all those kids to send him money?

Or am I a modern day Pied Piper? Will you look at all those kids following my method. My wife said that I could never keep a secret. Oh well, here is my secret.

A CD disc, silver side up. The photo illustrates a disc sitting on my window sill with the sun shining on it. No pictures, no film, no water, no hose or thunderstorm.

I can make or project multiple rainbows with multiple discs or use a light source shining and reflecting off the disc.

If I make someone happy somewhere - just think a 70-year-old retiree, trained in the scientific method just stumbled on another world wonder.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Thursday, 26 February 2015

In the Morning...

By Henry Lowenstern

my dreams come to a stop
when my clock-radio wakes me up,
I open my eyes,
and slowly rise
then, back to bed I flop.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Patchwork Of Memories: Part 2

By Joyce Benedict

I am always amazed at the bubbling up of memories of events long ago as I’ve gotten older. So vivid. Almost like they occurred last week yet what did I eat for breakfast? Who called me yesterday about the ad listed? Did I write down that appointment from the dentist’s office? Forgetting grocery list on kitchen table?

Lugging home milk cartons I recalled recently, vividly the Silver Lake Dairy that home delivered milk placed in the metal boxes by one’s front door. You left a note - butter, eggs, milk which was always pasteurized with cream on top.

Flavor? What happened to flavor? Is it my taste buds or has beef, baking potatoes, rye bread, milk lost a certain flavor I remembered?

Oh, sales people. Remember them? Well-dressed and always there to assist you in choosing whatever you needed. Oh, yes, they knew their product or helped you find what you were looking for.

Take hospitals. I saw my share of them through my school years.They were quiet places back then. Nurses in their white starched uniforms always there. Clean sheets every day maneuvered while you were in the bed! An art lost.

Back rubs every day. Devine. Tonsils and adenoids were removed as standard procedure. Yes, forgot the pain but my twin sisters and I relished the endless ice cream served to sooth very sore throats.

There was the man that delivered ice for the refrigerator ice box. We walked to school and walked home throughout all my school years. An hour for lunch. Sometimes walked home, sometimes to Benny’s luncheonette who had the cleanest deli ever. His tunafish sandwiches piled at least two inches high (or so it seemed) on great rye bread.

Aging brings awareness and perspective of blessings. How grateful I became to remembering my Father’s rules about guys, parties, dating etc. No party could be attended without chaperones. Usually two sets of parents lurking in the shadows.

All school functions chaperoned. You were home by 10PM on a date, OR ELSE! If we just watched TV in the playroom? Well, Father trekked down to his workshop with a casual, “Enjoying the show?” How dearly grateful I am for those rules and parameters of behavior.

My high school love left the east with family to go back to California. I was heartbroken. A few years later, in the service, he returned. Though we had a spare bedroom he had to leave our home by midnight as sleeping arrangements were made with a neighbor. Seems these rules should be returned. Less welfare, fewer unwanted kids, less mental illness.

When TV came it was endless laughter and enjoyment with I Love Lucy. Entire family watched together along with other enjoyable shows. Popular songs one could hear words that evoked good feelings. Families ate together.

I will never forget when Peter Jennings announced on the six o’clock evening news that a woman had cut off her lover’s penis and thrown it into a field. I could not believe my ears. Of course we all know what TV is today. Pills offered for every malady with extraordinary side effects while others promise forever, rapturous sex.

Where has love gone? Courtship? Dating? Learning about one another and letting love bloom naturally? Quite frankly, I am very happy I was not a part of the sexual revolution.

Would you put a finger in an electric socket? Well, sexual energy is that powerful and today souls are shattered without love and commitment. The needs of men and women so different. It will never change. I think the young women are very foolish today.

There are good and difficult aspects to every generation. I am glad I was born when I was and my Father cared as he did. And because I respected him, with the fear of pregnancy so great, I minded my P's and Q’s until Mr. Right came along last year in college.

The music? (you mean screaming) today, casual sex, crude language on TV, endless commercials every four minutes, skirts up to you know where, breasts hanging out, non-stop violence, sexual crimes depicted. Rapes by the thousands in every country. Little to enjoy viewing or listening to. Sad.

At lunch a year ago, a dear friend leaned across the table, lowered her voice stating, “Joyce I DO believe the world is going mad!”

What memories will bubble up for this younger generation when they reach their Golden Years?

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

And The World Gets Through Its Day

By Arlene Corwin of Arlene Corwin Poetry

And the world goes on without me.
And the world gets through its day.
And you never start a sentence with an “and.”
As I contemplate the boil on my gum,
The germ that could remove me in a night,
I take offense, collected sum
Of steam a dissipating stream
Which no one would so much as modify
One nano-second’s schedule for.
Earth without an Arlene in it
Without one adjusted minute.
Ants don’t change their habit-dance,
Corroborating colleague ants
Who pass away, heads bitten off.
Gigantic are the forces
Pushing onward, forward,
Nodding towards mortality.
This very day
My childhood friend rings up to say
His chemo has been discontinued, insufficient.
Chemicals were not enough.
Stupid crab has gotten tougher,
Shifting upwards towards the head.
And the world gets through its day.
And the world goes on without one.
And you never start a sentence with an “and.”

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Monday, 23 February 2015

Orthorexia, Healthy Food and "Piecing Around"

By Dan Gogerty who blogs at Cast

One syndrome I’m quite sure I won’t get is orthorexia - a new kind of eating disorder defined as “a pathological obsession for biologically pure and healthy nutrition.”

Many folks have shifted their diets to include healthier food (that’s a good thing) but ironically, some are cutting out important sources of vitamins and minerals (not so good). As a report in Popular Science says,

“This can lead to fragile bones, hormonal shifts, and cardiac problems, along with psychological distress and entrenched, delusional thinking.”

Wow - that sounds like the disclaimer at the end of pharmaceutical ads on television.

Before continuing, I’ll list my own disclaimer - I like kale. We planted a dwarf variety of the bitter veggie in our garden last summer and from May until September, it was the gift that kept on giving.

Kale humorGogerty

I usually eat it disguised with other greens, tomatoes, jalapenos and an olive oil dressing. We had many other nutritious items in the garden and we are lucky enough to live in a community that offers plenty of healthy options.

But I can’t imagine living by leafy greens and tofu alone. I’ll probably continue to “piece around.”

That means I’ll keep sampling various items even if a headline blares out a dire warning. “Cut the Cheese” some health article might proclaim. But my homemade quesadillas with pepper jack are calling.

“No Meat” someone else cries out. But stir fried veggies with chicken and a bit of sweet and sour sauce can’t be bad for you. And what about the egg? For a while it was almost banned to the toxic zone and now it’s all sunny side up again.

I think most agree that balance is the key. We all know that a junk food obsession is detrimental and each consumer needs to be smart about what diet is best. The FDA’s food pyramid may look a bit pedantic, but it’s probably a good reference.

However, the health folks don’t include cake, pie and cinnamon rolls in most of their blueprints for smart eating. That’s where “piecing around” really helps. The term comes from my Granny Faye.

We kids would hover over a chocolate cake or a fresh-baked cherry pie and when the chance arose, we’d fork out a small corner or cut off “just a sliver” to pop in our mouths.

“Quit piecing around,” Granny would say. “You’ll spoil your supper.”

Nowadays I eat a lot less sugar but Mom still pulls out cake or her amazing homemade cinnamon rolls when we visit. As Dad says, “We’ll just throw these out if you don’t eat ‘em. We’re saving the good stuff for real company.”

So I take a small slice or half a roll, eat small bites, and then - of course - cut off “just a tiny bit more.”

Orthorexia might be a disorder, but piecing around is a happy obsession.

Food pyramid humorGogerty

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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