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So, how do you make friends when you move to the East Coast from the West Coast and you really don’t know anyone? You are in your mid50s, no kids, so you are not going to meet people at the school bus stop.  You don’t really like to go to bars, at least not alone. Your elderly mom lives with you. Your job is consulting by telephone, so you don’t go to an office. Sounds challenging, right?

When I moved to Richmond in 2001, this was my life. Another thing to keep in mind is that I am not a “joiner.” I have never joined a group before, if you can believe that. My career had always been very demanding and was the focus of my life. I always lived near or in the company of my family. My mother lived with me for most of my adult life, after my Dad passed away far too early. The friends I had were typically made at the office, but I actually found Southern California to be somewhat…plastic. I just didn’t find my people. So when we moved and I was not in an office, for the first time I really felt I needed to pursue a social circle, perhaps even one that would include my Mom somehow. But Mom made it clear that she did not want to infringe upon my social life. What to do?

I am not a joiner, but I am a researcher. So I gathered up some local publications, and subscribed to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Thanks to the RTD, I received a copy of their special Discover Richmond publication, which contains any and all information Richmond—it is a great resource.

In this helpful guide, I found out about a group called The New Virginians Club. I was new! So I decided to reach out…and then got up the courage to attend their monthly luncheon. The members were wonderful, so welcoming. I decided to join that very day. And here is what happened: The New Virginians changed my life.

Since all of us were new, everyone was reaching out. Also, this organization employs a successful model for making friends. The New Virginians has a large membership that fluctuates around 400-500, and so they break out into “interest groups.” In addition to the regular monthly luncheons, you will find, for example: games (Bridge and Mahjongg), luncheon adventures (the Lunch Bunch), walking and hiking in various parks around the area (A Walk in the Park), 3rd Friday hors-d’oeuvres, and a single women’s social group. I go out to lunch once a month with a group of 8 New Virginians and then another group of 8 for dinner! (Do you see a pattern here—we love food!!)

The New Virginians is a women’s group. I am single, so I gravitated to the singles events. There are also certain events geared to couples, and many of the husbands have become friends as well. It is kind of funny, at the couple’s events the women always end up in one room chatting and laughing and the men in the other, chatting and laughing. So arriving as a single isn’t really an issue!

What was great about The New Virginians is that there was a place for my Mom. She did not get as involved as I did, but she loved playing mahjongg, so we joined that group, and we played every week. Mom also made some of her best friends in Richmond through The New Virginians. In this way, she got to know my friends, and they came to love and care for her. Because many of my friends are also single or have families out of town, for years we have shared our holidays together (see Reflections on “FriendsGiving” and What I am Grateful for Now: A Conversation with Camille). We have become…Family. All of these ladies had lost their moms, so my Mom became everyone’s honorary mom during those years. She lived to be 95, and passed away just over a year ago, so we had many special holiday gatherings. At our Thanksgiving dinners, she held court at the head of the table and the ladies treated her like the Queen Mother. These same friends were there with help and support as I dealt with Mom’s illness and then death. What would I have done without them?

In The New Virginians, I found some of the very best friends I have ever had, and these friends have certainly been a lifeline. They provided support during my battle with breast cancer (see War Stories: Perspectives on the Battle with Cancer — a Conversation with Camille LaCognata. One of the best discoveries of this great group is my roommate! I now share my home with someone from The New Virginians, which is a great story in itself. Barb is also single, having dealt with the loss of both her husband and daughter just before I met her. I was looking to share expenses as my house was large and my paycheck diminished, and she was looking for a place to live that would allow her the flexibility to leave for the summer to visit family out of state. Plus The Golden Girls scenario is great for single “women of a certain age” because it is much safer and more secure—and of course much less lonely—if you have a roommate. This is the perfect solution and one that has worked out so well for us, thanks to The New Virginians.

My advice to newcomers: Join the Board or a Committee! This is the perfect way to get to know people one-on-one. That’s what I did: Soon after joining, I was working on the newsletter, offering my computer skills as a way to help the organization, and then I served on the Board. In this way, I got to work with people more closely, really got to know them — we were a team. I became so much more comfortable in this way.

When I joined The New Virginians Board I found myself being transformed. My career had been spent primarily in computer programming, a rather solitary pursuit. Because these ladies were so welcoming and so nice, I came out of my shell, one that had become second nature to me. Where I had been solitary, I am now gregarious. Where I was shy, I gained confidence. I believe these ladies changed me into the person I am now.

…. Or you know what, maybe this gregarious person is the real me, and I just needed to look up from my computer and decide it was time to search for what I was missing.

In any case, The New Virginians changed me, and I like who I have become.

Note: There are newcomer groups in every city! Just do an online search or check out the local publications.

The post Making New Friends: The New Virginians appeared first on Boomer Connections.

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As I look back on my life and my career, I have learned a few things, as we all have. Following are some of my pearls of wisdom, 6 things I wish I had known as I started my journey as a grown up.

1. Estate Planning Tips for Couples

Whether you’re a newlywed or have been married for years, estate planning is probably the last topic you feel like discussing with your partner. But as unromantic as it may sound, putting these details in order will help you ensure a happy and safe future together. Here are a few estate planning essentials:

  • Take stock of your assets. Sit down with your partner and list all your assets as a married couple. These may include investments, real estate, retirement plans and personal property. If you have individual assets you’d like to keep separate, create a prenuptial agreement or put your property in a trust.
  • Draft a will. Once you have your assets in order, start drafting a will to specify how you want these items distributed. Your will should also name an executor — the person who will carry out your wishes regarding your assets.
  • Assign a power of attorney. A power of attorney is an individual who will manage your assets, pay your bills and make other financial decisions in the event you are unable to do so yourself. This person should be someone that both you and your spouse trust, so take some time to think this through together.
  • Set up a health care directive. A well-rounded estate plan will include a health care directive, or living will, which will help guide your family and doctors through your preferences for medical treatment should you become incapacitated. This document also appoints a representative to make health care decisions for you.
  • Make your plans official. Once you have everything in order, meet with an estate-planning attorney to put your estate plans on the record.
  • Finally, be sure to update your documents regularly, as laws or situations are subject to change.

In today’s fast-paced world, change is inevitable. And with that change often comes stress. But learning to identify and manage daily stressors can help you focus on what’s important and prevent stress from overwhelming your life.

2. Disability Insurance: What You Need to Know

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, workers have a one in five chance of becoming disabled during their career. That’s why experts say purchasing a disability insurance plan is a must for anyone who relies on a job to provide their income.

Here’s a quick look at what you should know about the various plans available:

Q: Which disability insurance plans do employers usually provide?

A: Typically, workplaces offer two plans: short-term disability and long-term disability insurance.

Q: What are the differences between these two?

A: Short-term disability provides a percentage of your salary for a limited period (most commonly up to 26 weeks) once you’ve used all your sick leave. After that, long-term disability kicks in and ensures you’re receiving a portion of your wages even if you’re still unable to work due to sickness or injury.

Q: When is a good time to purchase disability insurance?

A: It’s a good idea to purchase a protective plan as soon as you start making a substantial salary — especially since the policy’s benefits are based on your income. Also, the younger you are when you purchase disability insurance, the lower your premiums will likely be.

Q: Should you purchase your own disability insurance in addition to what your employer offers?

A: Buying your own plan independently means you’ll be able to keep it if you leave your job and you won’t have to start a new policy at an older age. Also, benefits from a personal plan are usually tax-free.

3. Topics to Discuss with Your Loved Ones

While it may be difficult to approach aging and end-of-life concerns with your parents, it’s important to have clarity when it comes to health care directives, finances and final wishes. Here’s some advice on what subjects to discuss and how to do it in a way that will help everyone feel at ease. First, important topics to discuss:

  • Legal documents — Ask your parents if they have all their legal documents in order. Having items like a will, a financial power of attorney and a health care power of attorney in place will ensure their wishes are met, while eliminating potential court costs, arguments or lawsuits.
  • Future living arrangements — From assisted living facilities to nursing homes, ask your parents where they would prefer to live if they need to move in the future. Research your options beforehand and talk about the things you can do to make them feel more comfortable with this topic. More than 19 million households with people over 50 can’t afford safe, adequate housing!
  • Health care expenses — Find out if your loved ones have considered health care options for the future and estimate the savings they’ll need. Decide whether they’d like long-term-care insurance, which covers a specific amount each day for personal care services.

Next, how to approach the conversation:

  • Prepare ahead of time — Organize your thoughts by jotting down an outline and cover the most important topics first. If you’re nervous, find someone you trust and do a practice run beforehand.
  • Be considerate — Let your parents talk and really listen to what they have to say. Reassure them that you respect their wishes and ultimately want what’s best for them.
  • Ease into it — Use conversation starters like a relevant story in the news or a person you both know. Discuss how the event unfolded and ask your loved one what they would do in that situation.
4. Have an Emergency Fund

Life has an uncanny way of hitting you with the unexpected at the most inopportune times. That’s why having an emergency fund is vital for when disaster strikes. Here’s why having money set aside is important and how you can start saving if you haven’t already done so.

Why is an emergency fund necessary?

According to a recent survey by Bankrate, 63 percent of Americans haven’t saved enough to handle an emergency that costs as little as $500. More than 37 million low-income seniors can’t meet all their basic needs. So why should you put away extra funds if no one else has them?

Whether it’s a destroyed smartphone, a totaled car or unforeseen medical costs, unpredictable life events can set you back hundreds to thousands of dollars if you’re not prepared. Experts advise putting aside at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses and twice that amount if the current economy is experiencing a crisis.

Is it too late to start saving?

If you don’t have any money for an emergency fund, you can still start to take steps in the right direction. Here are some ways to kick-start your savings:

  • Instead of spending your next tax refund, immediately deposit it into a bank account that generates interest.
  • Consider revising your W-4 so less money is withheld from your paycheck each month and put the extra funds in your savings account.
  • Earn side income by tutoring, doing seasonal jobs or selling items that won’t be missed around the house.

Even if nothing happens, which is hopefully the case, just knowing you have the necessary funds on hand to deal with an emergency will give you a little extra peace of mind.

5. Why am I scared to go to the Doctor?

Questioning your health can be scary. It’s important to schedule regular physical examinations, however, as many diseases can be more easily treated if identified early on. Here’s a list of a few standard exams that are imperative to keeping your health in check.

Physical Examinations

A physical exam is recommended once a year, especially for those over 50, and is a great way to determine your current health status. An annual exam also helps with troubleshooting any medical concerns for the future and allows you to undergo specific checkups recommended by your doctor, such as prostate and breast exams.

Skin Cancer Screenings

Skin cancer is now the most common type of cancer, and routine screenings can be lifesaving. While some medical experts only suggest screenings after a noticeable change in skin tone or the appearance of moles, most dermatologists recommend yearly checkups beginning in early adulthood.

Heart Health Tests

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. But according to the American Heart Association, it can be prevented around 80 percent of the time. While a healthy lifestyle can do wonders, if you have a personal history of heart issues it’s important to undergo key screening tests. This includes checking your blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol and body mass index (BMI).

While scheduling a checkup with your doctor can be daunting, it’s important to know the status of your health. Put your safety first and stay on top of routine health examinations.

6. How can I stay in my home as I get older?

The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University predicts that by 2035, the population of those 65 and older will grow to approximately 79 million — up more than 30 million from today. And 90 percent of adults in that age group prefer to remain in their homes, according to AARP.

For those who would like to stay in their homes into their golden years, updating these three areas to accommodate changing needs is something worth tackling sooner rather than later.

Lighting

A well-lit home, both indoors and out, is a fundamental component of safe, long-term living. Start by making sure all rooms, staircases, and doorways have adequate lighting. Motion-sensor lights and easily accessible light switches help all occupants, no matter the age. Does scheduling lights or adjusting brightness from the convenience of a smartphone sound appealing? Look into the latest in smart lighting technology.

Doorways

Most homeowners don’t give any thought to moving from room to room. But when a wheelchair enters the picture, navigating entrances, hallways and exits can become a concern. Widening doorways to 36 inches gives those who are wheelchair-bound or using a walker more room to move easily throughout the home.

Bathrooms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 percent of Americans 65 or older suffer a fall each year. Ensure bathrooms are as safe as possible by adding grab bars near the toilet and in the shower. If budget allows, consider retrofitting bathrooms with a taller toilet and a walk-in shower for added convenience.

For those who’d like to stay in their residence during their senior years, keep the principles of aging in place in mind to modify, update and renovate the home appropriately.

The post 6 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Earlier appeared first on Boomer Connections.

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Boomer Connections by Cherie R. Blazer - 2w ago

On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, we headed north from Richmond, seeking a small adventure. There were some new wineries to visit, coupled with a new foodie experience, all in the great outdoors. It was one of those times we found exactly what we were looking for. It was a magical day in Delaplane, VA.

As we journey and search for interesting people and places to feature here on Boomer Connections, we seek those with “heart”—people who are especially passionate about what they do, and places that are especially beautiful and engaging…experiences that make us say WOW we love this!

Our primary reason for visiting Delaplane was to check out their annual Strawberry Festival.

Route 17 in Northern VA is a well-traveled route for me, and I have passed the sign advertising the festival at the beautiful picturesque Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Delaplane for some weeks now. The festival grounds are actually at Sky Meadows State Park, but it is held by and benefits the church.

Seriously… “Sky Meadows”—isn’t that just the most beautiful name? And how about “strawberries”? What lovely combination and mental picture. We were in!

Pastoral Delaplane

Delaplane is in Fauquier County VA, less than an hour west of DC, but like a different world. It is one of the most stunning pastoral settings you will ever see. Rolling green hills, cows grazing, stately properties, vineyards, and horse farms. This is where Jackie Kennedy came to ride.

We were meeting up with family, and the first order of business was to grab something to eat and formulate our plan for the day.  We chose Locke Store in Millwood, VA as our meet up site.

Locke Store

I found Locke Store online, where it is described as a “Modern Country Store.” It is so fun! All the best things right in one little building: a house deli and bakery with intriguing fabulous edibles, wine, cheese, and an ambiance that reflects its founding in 1836 and the historic landscape that surrounds it. It was like going back in time…in the best possible way.

OMG the food. I was like a kid in a candy store. I made a mental note that next time we foray into NOVA wine country we will stop at Locke Store and assemble the most fabulous picnic.

Burwell-Morgan Mill

You order at the counter and then take your old-timey metal tray outside on the porch. Since we had our dog Coco Bean with us, we wanted her to have a little shade and space. So the nice people at Locke gave us the best idea. Directly across the street is an historic mill property. A beautiful stream that once serviced the mill wheel runs right through it, and then beyond, a little clearing with picnic tables to enjoy the Locke goodies–and they were so very, very good.

And there is more than just incredible food, a quaint and historic grocery store concept, nice people, and the stunning location…. On their website, Locke Store notes that “Whenever possible we offer exceptional local and regional products, supporting our neighbor in sustainable agriculture and cottage industry.” So not only can you buy food at Locke Store, you can purchase products from the many local businesses in the community. Deliciousness is even sweeter when it comes from the heart.

The day could not possibly have started out on a better note. We decided to go to a winery next and then on to the Strawberry Festival. We made our way to Arterra Wines.

Arterra Wines

We chose the winery because of its proximity to the festival but quickly realized we had found a winery with heart.  Located at 1808 Leeds Manor Road in Delaplane, it is up, up, up a long gravel driveway through dense woods, so when you reach its mountain perch you feel a sense of pure air.

The name comes from Art+Terra (land), perfectly named, as the winery also houses Hawkmoth Arts.  The website says it best: “owners Sandy Gray-Murray and Jason Murray combine their passions for creating art and making wine under one roof.”  

Now how cool is that? Jason was our tasting host, so we heard the story directly from the source. Jason, who has been growing grapes since 2003, seeks authenticity in the process of winemaking. For example, using Native Yeast fermentation and avoiding additives, and letting the grapes do their own thing, each variety ripening slowly and then fermenting naturally. He explained that Arterra seeks to capture the true Virginia “terroir” character in its wines.  And just as the wine reflects authenticity and the connection with nature, so does the art, as you can see in the photo of just a few of the many pieces on display in the studio.

We sampled 7 wines, from a dry Riesling and a Chardonnay; to a series of 3 reds we felt were especially reflective of the natural process and Virginia terroir that Jason described to us. However, the 2 sweeter fruit wines at the end also beguiled everyone in the party, especially the Blueberry Apple.

Art and wine combined to express the “heart” we felt at Arterra: The fact that Sandy’s art studio (and impressive kiln) shares the space with the winemaking operation that Jason is so obviously passionate about…That both the wine and the art are created with love and respect for nature and its bounty.

Thus inspired, we were off to the Strawberry Festival.

Delaplane Strawberry Festival

Barry the Berry Judges the Strawberry Sundae Eating Contest
Favorite thing about the Delaplane Strawberry Festival: Well…strawberries! We got a pallet and now are enjoying them with intent, as they have a short shelf life.

Here is why it had heart: It was such a perfect family venue. Our dog Coco Bean and all of the many pups present were welcome. Barry the Berry, the festival’s mascot strolled through the crowd, taking pics with the kids and then moved on to central stage to judge the strawberry sundae-eating contest. There was music, a tractor pull, and an antique car show.

We arrived toward the end of the day and the French fry and perogie stand guy gave me some extra perogies, so I even felt compelled to share with my compatriots. There was a food truck that served only bacon stuff! If you wanted to go totally carb free, you could get a hunk of several different types of bacon on a stick. There was an old-fashioned organ grinder (except he played an accordion rather than an crank organ). His monkey accepted small bits of food from the kids and delighted them with his antics. Everyone handling the traffic and berry selling was really nice. The vendors—food, jewelry, etc.—all were very engaged and loved talking about their handiwork, especially the artisan who made fascinating wind chimes and other products from antique silver items, and the couple who made BBQ and other sauces and gave us all kinds of great grilling ideas.

Filled with berries and pleasantly tired from all the sun and heat and excitement, we decided to chill out at one more winery before heading home. We chose wisely in Aspen Dale Winery, the perfect closing to this lovely day.

Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn

Aspen Dale’s location in a converted 200-year-old barn is blissfully cozy. The tasting room has an old fireplace and easy chairs, the perfect place to sit and relax. The winery’s mission, as stated on their website:

We strive to produce and serve excellent wine, presented in a fun and unique way. We hope to encourage you to explore the wonders of wine and food. And we aim to ensure that each time you visit, you feel at home and relaxed.

That mission was completely achieved during our visit this day. We loved that it was dog and kid friendly. We could actually bring Coco Bean inside and out of the heat…but doggies just must stay off the furniture! There is a resident cat, who gives the dogs something to think about, but tends to lounge in her lofty perch near the entrance. Lots of families were there and everyone seemed to be having a great time. The 50-acre grounds are lush and beautiful and of course you can hang out outside to enjoy your wine as well.

I especially loved that the wine tasting was accompanied by a plate of tiny food pairings. You were asked to sip the wine first by itself, and then with the bit of food, so you really got an idea for the interplay between food and wine.

We tried seven wines and one hard apple cider. The latter was made in the traditional Old English style, not the highly fermented and bubbly one I am used to, which was really intriguing.  The reds were paired with smoked pheasant sausage as well as dried cherries, chocolate and goat cheese…the whites with cheddar cheese and dried apricots. Fascinating. Our group was especially fond of the Mary Madeleine’s Rose. And our choice for a glass was their Maria Sangria, which they offer in slushie form. Wine slushies are like heaven in a glass. When it is hot outside I feel there is just no better option.

Why Aspen Dale Winery has “heart”: The focus of the wine tasting is to really educate you about the nuances of the wine, and they are very earnest about it. The people are super nice. Our tasting pro Luke was so funny, engaging and well informed.  The location on a farm makes you feel close to the land, on the grounds you might encounter farm friends like their miniature horses. It is beautiful, hospitable and romantic.

What a day. Magical Delaplane, you need to check it out. While we chose 2 wineries this trip, there are so, so many to visit. Check out Virginia Wine website to plan your trip to Northern VA wine country.

And here is one more thing you won’t want to miss in this area. We didn’t have time this trip but are coming back later in the summer specifically to explore the “Peach Way”—a grouping of farms all within the same few miles that feature pick your own fruit in season, and also have farm markets, wine and the work of local artists. 

Let’s Wander!

For more fun winery and festival adventures see Virginia Wine Trail Adventures: Saude Creek Vineyards and Let the Summer Fair and Festival Season Begin, with Wine and Chickens.

The post A Magical Day in Delaplane appeared first on Boomer Connections.

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In honor of Mother’s Day, we here at Boomer Connections decided to write a tribute to our mothers.  I am very fortunate that my mother is still with me.  She lives in Lexington, KY near my sister.  I do get to see her every couple of months or so.  It is fun! We talk about what’s going on in our lives and just enjoy spending time together.

Mom is one of the strongest people I know.  She has been through a lot over her lifetime and has come through it with dignity.  She has always been there for me and my siblings.  She got involved in our lives and was always a strong supporter of whatever we wanted to accomplish.  I learned a lot from her.  She is intelligent and compassionate.  Her family is the most important thing to her.  She shows us unconditional love no matter what!

Mom came from a very poor upbringing.  She never finished high school.  Her parents were born in Sicily and in the early 1900s, her grandparents thought it would be safer for the family to move to Tunis, Tunisia in North Africa.  Back in the early 1900s, many Italians emigrated from Sicily to Tunisia because of the influence of the Mafia as well as Communism.  My grandmother was from a very large family and the Mafia threatened my great grandfather that if he didn’t pay protection, they couldn’t promise what they would do to his wife and children.  My great grandmother and great grandfather decided to move the family to Tunisia so they didn’t have to live in fear. My great grandmother was an amazing person.  She was a very strong woman who also lived a tough life.  She lost four children during her lifetime from some awful circumstances.  My grandmother was one of ten children.  Back then my great grandfather moved with my grandmother, who was 5 years old at the time, to Tunis leaving my great grandmother to unload the house and their belongings.  My great grandfather got a job and my great grandmother was able to move her seven kids to Tunis. The last two were born in Tunis.

My grandparents met in Tunis and got married.  That is where Mom and her five siblings were born. My mother’s family was living in Tunis, Tunisia during World War II when the allies dropped bombs to take out Mussolini’s ships.  The family all survived that time, but had to move to where my great grandmother lived to stay safe.  There they shared one apartment with three other families.  My mother never forgot when the soldiers had taken over the city.  Those were very tough and scary times.  My uncle and grandfather had to go in town to work.  My grandmother would be looking out for them when they were expected to come home.  She didn’t relax until she saw them on their way back home.  She said many prayers at that time!

Food was scarce.  Mom’s family was poor and didn’t always have enough food to eat.  My grandmother had to feed a family of eight with little food.  She had to wait in long lines to get the little bit of food she could to feed her six children and husband.  Many times, she had to beg the soldiers for food to feed her children.  Because of this experience, Mom always appreciated the simple things in life. 

She and my grandmother moved to the US in 1951.  She was almost 17 years old.  Mom and Nanny (that is what I called my grandmother) had to work so they could make enough money to send back to Tunis to bring the rest of the family over to the US.  Interesting how the cycle repeated itself.  My great grandmother had to separate the family to move to Tunis and my grandmother did the same when they came to the US.

There is so much more I could tell, but when I look back on what my ancestors had to experience and how they survived, I am in such awe and so proud to be part of this long line of amazingly strong women.  I am proud to be Josephine’s daughter!

Love you Mom!!!

The post A Tribute to My Mother, Josephine appeared first on Boomer Connections.

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Boomer Connections by Camille Lacognata - 1M ago

This poem is very special to my family. It was written in honor of my mom as she celebrated her 75th birthday. The author was her granddaughter, my niece, who was only 14-1/2 at the time.  That was 21 years ago. My mother passed away January 2017,  at age 95. We read this poem at her funeral. How I miss her.

On this Mother’s Day, I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to my mother and her memory. 

—————————————————————————————————————————–

Happy 75th Birthday Grandma   Your eyes have witnessed further than our blind perspective. Your ears have heard the lovely song of the siren. Your tongue has tasted the delicious treats of life. Your hands have remained soft through all the years of strenuous work. Your heart has been filled with the love you have for all. Your mind overflows with the knowledge you have obtained. Your smile has warmed the lives of all who witness its splendor. Without you, day would turn into night, smiles would fade into frowns, weeds would replace roses. You are a tiny grain of sand swallowed by an oyster, Gradually transformed into a white pearl, Iridescent and beautiful, A spectacular sight that brightens the dark, A ray of light that penetrates straight to the heart. An instant warmth that radiates throughout. And here’s to all the future golden years you have to look forward to.  

The post A Poem for My Mother appeared first on Boomer Connections.

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Boomer Connections by Rita Mcculloch - 1M ago

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I thought I would tell you a little about my Mom.  Her name was Hattie Pride Brooks.  Mom was an amazing and godly woman.  She was also a woman of many talents.  She was the mother of three wonderful girls, I’m the oldest.  My Mom was also the oldest girl in her family.  The difference is that Mom was the second child of eleven children.  She always taught us to do what was right and to help others.  She taught us to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Mom took care of some of her siblings until I came along.  My parents had been married for eight years before I was born.  At that time, Mom was caring for her youngest sister.

To give you a little background about my Mom, she worked in a laundry factory for a long time.  As a matter of fact, she taught me how to press and laundry clothes.  Do you know what it was like to work in a laundry factory?  HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mom only got to the eighth grade, but she attended night school so she could get her high school diploma.  She worked, took care of the family, cooked, took classes and she did it all while we all were in school.  She did this because she wanted to be a nurse.  Mom was big on helping others.  My husband thinks I took after her, except I wasn’t big on being a nurse (smile).  She didn’t get to finish nursing school, but what training she received, she used well.

Mom was a seamstress.  She could make a pattern out of newspaper and you would have a dress or skirt the same night.  She did all her sewing on a Singer Sewing machine with the paddle you had to mash to make it move.  She made many of my dresses and my sisters’ as well.  She was also big on making quilts.  As a matter of fact, when I had my first child, Mom came to visit and took some old clothes my husband and I had, cut them up in squares, and made a quilt for our king size bed.  All in one week’s time.  I still have that quilt today.  It has been very well used in this Virginia winter weather.  Of course, I’ve had to have it repaired from so much usage.

Mom was also a hair stylist.  I remember many nights when we would be in bed and she would still be doing someone’s hair.  She did this mostly for family and friends.

Another thing Mom was good at doing was playing the piano.  She was the pianist for the choir at her church for many years.  She also wrote and sang songs.  The one I like the most is “Will I Be Remembered at The End”.  It was a gospel song.

My Mom was really an amazing woman and I am proud to be her number one daughter.

The post My Mother appeared first on Boomer Connections.

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Boomer Connections by Cherie R. Blazer - 1M ago

We at Boomer Connections are encouraging everyone to Write Your Mother in honor of  Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13. We feel so strongly about it that we sent out a press release, which you can read below, hoping to spread the idea near and far. If you love your mother, tell her. If you admire her, tell her. If she influenced your life, tell her. And if she is no longer here, write the words in her memory to encourage others to say the words in person while they still can.

NEWS RELEASE

Richmond VA Based Blog Starts “Write Your Mother” Campaign

Richmond, VA— (April 26, 2018) Boomer Connections, a blog targeting Baby Boomers, is sending out the call to “Write Your Mother” on Mother’s Day.

“If you are lucky enough to still have your mother, write a tribute to her and let her know what she has meant to you,” encourages Cherie Blazer, CEO. “If she has passed, honor her memory, tell her story, and encourage others to do the same.”

As the name implies, the blog at www.boomerconnections.com, is a place for the Baby Boomer generation to connect.  But the blog’s primary mission is to inspire.

The idea behind this campaign is simple yet profound—Tell your people that you love them, and what you love about them, while you have the opportunity. Don’t wait to express yourself at the eulogy. It is so easy to take relationships for granted, especially between a mother and a child. For a mother to receive a written testimony of what her life has meant is a keepsake precious beyond words.

“This campaign is representative of our core mission, which is to inspire Boomers to live full and meaningful lives their whole lives, and to reflect upon and appreciate what matters most,” says Blazer.

Boomer Connections encourages readers to share their letters and even photos on the Boomer Connections site if they feel comfortable doing so. A section of the blog will be devoted to these tributes.  While the blog is geared to the Baby Boomer generation, the stories, the love, and—hopefully—the inspiration for others to “write your mother,” is timeless and intergenerational.

Boomer Connections invites you to join the conversation at www.boomerconnections.com. We welcome both comments and guest contributors.

The post Write Your Mother!! appeared first on Boomer Connections.

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While pondering over the friendships I have, of whom many I adore, I remember so vividly a friend of mine Jacqueline (Jackie or Judy) Davis.  Jackie was a unique and wonderful person.  She had been in my life ever since 1985.  We met at church, then the Dill Avenue Church of Christ and now the Sandy Lane Church of Christ. 

Whenever my husband and I wanted to get away for the weekend, she would take care of our kids.  Jackie and her husband, Solomon, had two girls of their own but they would not hesitate to keep our kids.  They did this off and on for over fifteen years.  Some of those years, she would go away with them on church outings.  She and two other ladies (Lynette Knight and Delores Johnson) were directors of the youth group.  She would tell me that she didn’t mind being with our kids because she didn’t have a lot of problems in having to discipline them.

My friend passed away July 27, 2016, of a longtime illness.  I was going to stay with her while her husband went to the doctor for some tests.  She started to get sick and we had to call 911 and get her to the hospital.  I went home while he went to the hospital with her.  He called me a couple of hours later saying she had gone home to be with the Lord.

In memory of her, I read this poem at her memorial (one of many she wrote).  I think you will enjoy reading it.

A Woman Who Loves the Lord

I am a woman who loves the Lord, because He’s been so good to me

He took my wasted years of life, and a Christian was I made to be.

I am a woman who loves the Lord, able to place Him first in my life

And from this love that my Lord and I share, I am now able to be a submissive wife.

I am a woman who loves the Lord, above any man, any treasure, any other

And the extension of the love the Lord and I share, make me a patient and disciplining mother.

I am a woman who loves the Lord, and I pray He is always my number one Love

So that when I depart this temporal home, my home is in heaven above.

The trials and tribulations become a joy to me, because it shows God’s love for me

By correcting and strengthening me so, I a perfect child of God can be.

I am a woman who loves the Lord, who am grateful for the love He gives me?

To make me more perfect in His way, and more of His glory I can see.

With my constant communication, through our telephone line of prayer

I am made to feel God’s love for me, to feel His love, understanding and care.

I am a woman who loves the Lord, I am so thankful my heart was touched

I am now full of love and hope and joy, because God cares and loves me so much.

I find joy in the word of the Lord, for it brings happiness to my heart

And a greater place with a more perfect love is where I hope someday to depart.

I, even I, am accepted as His child, all my past sins taken and washed away

And a permanent home with my brothers and sisters is what I strive for each day.

I am a woman who loves the Lord, above any treasure, above any man

And the strength and hope and courage He gives me, enables me to live and to know that I can.

——–Jacqueline Davis——

The fragrance of who Jackie was, shows in this poem.  She lived this kind of life until the very end.

The post Friendships and What Can Happen from It appeared first on Boomer Connections.

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Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you needed help, needed to share information and no one else was around?  Or what if you were there to help someone but couldn’t remember all of the information you needed?  What do you say when emergency responders start asking you questions to which they need answers but you don’t know or can’t remember. 

It’s for these and other reasons that every person should have what I call their EMERGENCY MEDICAL INFORMATION.  And maybe it’s not just yours you need but other family members as well.

In March 2004 my husband and I were dealing with our annual case of bronchitis.  He had gotten sick first but, this time, it was lasting longer.  I came down with it about 5 days later along with a fever that wouldn’t abate.  As if it was yesterday, I remember my husband coughing late one night, unable to stop and catch his breath.  Not able to do anything to help him I called 911.  When they arrived they immediately put the oxygen mask on him and then turned to me to start getting answers to their questions … what happened, how long, a short medical history, any medicines, etc. and etc.  By the time I had answered their questions about his current situation I was hard-pressed to talk any more as my own coughing started back up.  I could tell this was not what the EMT personnel were wanting to deal with so I quickly got our EMI sheet from my wallet.  It took a moment for the EMT gal to realize what I had handed her but once she did, she smiled and said: “I wish everyone had this!”

So what is an EMI?  It’s your Emergency Medical Information and it can literally be a life-saving tool when you, or someone else, can’t speak and share this critical information with medical personnel. 

Here is the information it needs to contain:

1. Emergency contact information
    a. Person’s name
    b. Relationship to you
    c. Phone numbers (office, cell, home)
2. Doctors
    a. Name
    b. Specialty
    c. Phone number
3. Medical conditions
4. Surgeries
    a. Date performed
5. Medicines (prescription and over-the-counter)
    a. Dosage
    b. Reason Taken
    c. When taken
6. Allergies to medicines
7. Pharmacy information
    a. Name
    b. Phone Number
8. Date of Birth
9. Date EMI last updated

Yes, for some people it will be bigger but so what?  There’s no special format it needs to take but I’ve found it easier to do using a table format in Word.  The key is to make sure it’s easy to read and in a logical format.  And don’t think you’ll be able to remember it … even your own … because I can promise you that won’t happen when you need it most.

Where else should you have this information?  In talking with Henrico fire personnel, I confirmed that most emergency responders, when coming into your home, will look on the refrigerator (front or side) for this type of information.  The information sheet on your refrigerator should have your emergency/family contact information along with doctors’ names and phone numbers.  They did say that if you’re uncomfortable having the medical information listed on this sheet, then you should direct them to look in your wallet/purse to find your emergency medical information sheet. 

Take the time now to put this together for you and your family.  It could be the best gift you ever give each other. 

The post Helping 911 Help You appeared first on Boomer Connections.

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OK Boomers, let’s get up on Saturday morning and do fun stuff!

That’s what my husband and I decided to do…now that we are empty nesters. No more sleeping in!! Adventure awaits…literally right around the corner.

We were trying to figure out how to liven things up on weekends and decided to do what we call “The Saturday Morning Crawl.” You know, like a pub crawl where you and your party move from one bar to another over the course of an evening…except in this case, we substitute the pubs for places a bit more Saturday morning friendly!

So….in this week’s episode, we did a Bakery Crawl…progressing from one Richmond bakery to another, sampling sweets all along the way. While we didn’t face the risk of driving under the influence, the chance of getting a serious sugar high is a factor, so we decided to limit our selections to two at each place. There are only so many sweets you should really eat in one morning, so we only crawled to three establishments, but what a trio! Three of the best bakeries in town, I daresay in the state, are located within walking distance of each other here in Richmond, VA, in and around the environs of the historic Church Hill area.

(By the way, Church Hill is also the location of Historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, where Patrick Henry delivered his famous “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech. It’s even re-enacted at the church on certain days. Check out their website to plan to see a re-enactment…and then crawl to the bakeries after!!)

Here are the three standouts:

Sub Rosa Bakery

Did I say the best bakeries in the city, in the state…try the WORLD! These are big words I know. The flaky pastry here is off the charts, out of this world, heaven.  Rob and I have traveled everywhere in our 35 years of marriage and I am not kidding, this is the best we’ve ever had.

The unassuming little corner shop location was abuzz this past Saturday around 11AM. There are only a few tables and some bar stools around the window, so everyone was good-naturedly packed in and jostling. You can’t help but be good-natured around all these beautiful sweets!

Rob ordered a savory selection, a meat-filled hand pie called a “borek.” Good Lord, who comes up with these amazing things?

I, of course, ordered my all time, traditional, favorite, a chocolate croissant (pain au chocolat). Even the cappuccino was heavenly; it tasted just like the one I would get before class every morning at the little café in Rome when I did my semester abroad, almost 4 decades ago.

It all made me so very happy…I can’t sum it up any better than that. We got a loaf of bread to go and it felt like it weighed 5 pounds. 

It was hefty! Look at the picture…it is beautiful, am I right? Light Sesame Rye, I think, and it tasted absolutely as good as it looks. 

If you only do one thing in Richmond, go to Sub Rosa! But of course, if you are in Richmond you will be doing any number of fun things. 

WPA Bakery

WPA was our next stop, also a fabulous hip little corner spot in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Another selection of delectable, unique choices.  Take a look at their website if you want to be inspired. We tried two things here as well: First, a chocolate cherry muffin (now THAT is a match made in heaven) which paired so, so beautifully with my second coffee! It is more dense than fluffy…a sweet comfort food. I would like to have one every morning for the rest of my life. Second: small sweet bread nuggets called a “canales” which is a WPA a bakery favorite, and are described on the website as “carmelized crepe batter.” Ok, I’m in!! Gluten-free. Also great with coffee, and their size and shape were perfect if you want a small bite. Of course, a dozen is good too. 

WPA makes any number of macarons, cookies, cupcakes cheesecakes, cakes and pies, in fabulous flavors. For example in pies: chocolate almond chess, tagalong, Mexican chocolate, almond buttermilk. Lavender macarons? How fascinating. They have a Roosevelt Restaurant Coconut cake that I want to try for my birthday! (You can order all these for special occasions, so I will be coming up with lots of special occasions.)

We took our canine companion Coco on our crawl, and I loved that pups are welcomed with a water bowl outside. You can sit on the benches outside and enjoy your own pastry, while your furry friend enjoys a tasty WPA doggie cookie. Everyone is happy. 

Whisk

What struck me when I walked into this third hip and cool bakery was the beautiful macarons in the case. They are like food art. The colors! 

Macarons are gluten-free by the way. Here the macarons had to be one of our two selections, they were just so enticing. The choice was difficult, but I chose wisely and got the Whiskey Chocolate flavor. We also got a bakery favorite, aptly called a “Whisker”, which looks Oreo-like in that it is two chocolate wafers with cream inside, but there is really no resemblance otherwise. These are cookies taken to a higher plane of existence, the wafer somewhat crispy, crazy good. 

They have a full coffee bar as well as sandwiches, so you can stay for lunch! But the main attraction at Whisk is the many beautiful flavors of pastries and what the bakery calls “Viennoiserie.” I have never heard that term, but I am assuming the style of baking hails from Vienna, and that sounds delightful to me.  And the éclairs! I already have my selections for next time bookmarked. I want to try these éclairs as well as the Chocolate Babka bread, which is only available on weekends.

OK, and here are some additional attractions: Whisk offers baking classes. Heck, make a day of it! They also have a selection of wine and Mimosas available, and happy hour Tuesday-Saturday from 4-6 PM.  Happy hour among these beautiful treats would be like dying and going to heaven, yet it’s just a matter of jumping on I-64 and 95 and going right downtown. 

So many eateries in this town, SO little time.

If you don’t live in Richmond, plan your own Saturday AM Bakery Crawl! Most larger towns have a nice selection of bakeshops, and sampling is a great way for empty nesters to spend a Saturday morning and have a small adventure. Diet starts Sunday.

Have Fun!!

The post Empty Nester Saturday AM “Crawls” – Episode One: Bakeries appeared first on Boomer Connections.

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