Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for the weekly challenge Three Things Thursday:

three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy

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I have missed several weeks of Three Things Thursday because of a couple of family situations that required drop-everything-and-go travel. I’m glad to be back.

Memories from New England

My husband and I grew up in Connecticut, lived most of our adult lives (42 years) in St. Louis, then retired to Tacoma, WA. The first of our unexpected trips required a return to Connecticut, where I waxed nostalgic over several things emblematic of the region.

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

(1) White Birch Trees

white birch trees
white birch trees

These beautiful trees (Betula papyrifera) are all over the wooded areas of New England. I didn’t realize how much I love them until we moved to the midwest, where these trees don’t grow. Their white bark with narrow, horizontal black lines peels off in sheets. The bark is water repellant, and Native Americans used birch bark to build canoes.

I was glad to be reunited with birch trees when we moved to Washington State. Many of the trees here are not as white as those in New England. White barks signifies older trees;  younger trees have light brown bark. Birch is a short-lived species that doesn’t do well in humidity, which may account for the color difference between New England and Pacific Northwest trees. The birch trees here are definitely recognizable, though, and are one of the first natural phenomena I noticed when I moved here.

Also known as paper birch, these trees are among the first to grow after forest fires. They provide winter forage for moose.

(2) Buildings with Several Numbers

Elton Tavern, Burlington, CT, USA; built in 1810
Elton Tavern, Burlington, CT, USA

These plaques are on the Elton Tavern in my hometown of Burlington, CT (shown in the feature image at the top of this post). When I was a kid, the building was a private house. The local lore was that the building was originally an inn where George Washington stopped for the night on his travels. In more recent years the town historical society has bought and refurbished the building, but I haven’t been in town to attend the now annual Tavern Day that features colonial crafts and history. The road on which the building sits has always been called George Washington Turnpike.

Plaques such as these mark buildings all over New England. In many town centers you’ll see houses with a street number on the left of the front door and the date the house was built on the right. New Englanders take their early history quite seriously.

(3) White Clapboard Churches

Burlington Congregational Church, Burlington, CT
Burlington Congregational Church, Burlington, CT

This is the Congregational Church in Burlington, CT, which was founded in 1774. You’ll find a church that looks almost exactly like this one in most New England towns. This is not surprising, since the right to worship as they chose was what brought most early settlers to the area.

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Hackers are spoofing text messages to steal two-factor authentication codes – Business Insider

Earlier this week, Alex MacCaw, cofounder of data API company Clearbit, shared a screenshot of a text attempting to trick its way past two-factor authentication (2FA) on a Google account.

Source: Hackers are spoofing text messages to steal two-factor authentication codes – Business Insider

Please read this short article. It could save you from a big headache.

Notes on Aging

Tai Chi and Heart Disease

Tai chi is a favorite type of exercise offered to older adults because it requires only slow, gentle movement and deep breathing. Tai chi helps improve balance, an important benefit to help prevent falls and their related injuries. Some more recent evidence also suggests that tai chi may also promote cardiovascular health by slowing heart rate and lowering blood pressure.

Ask Your Doctor if This Ad Is Right for You

The health care industry spent $14 billion on advertising in 2014, according to Kantar Media, a jump of nearly 20 percent since 2011. That includes over-the-counter medications, but not sponsorships (the Super Bowl had two health care systems as partners). While magazine advertising has dropped off somewhat with the withering of the publishing industry, television advertising has risen 55 percent for hospitals and 30 percent for prescription drugs in that period.

This article, not specifically directed toward older adults, examines advertising trends that attempt to drive people with good health insurance toward expensive prescription drugs and treatment programs. Many of these advertisements occur on television during popular programs such as presidential debates and sports events like the Super Bowl. Many of the pricey drugs advertised are available in much cheaper generic brands.

But as the volume and spending on advertising increases, health economists and doctors are raising concerns about the trend, which they say increases prices and encourages patients to seek out more expensive and, often, inappropriate treatment.

Using the Arts to Promote Healthy Aging

across the country, the arts in their myriad forms are enhancing the lives and health of older people — and not just those with dementia— helping to keep many men and women out of nursing homes and living independently. With grants from organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Institute on Aging, incredibly dedicated individuals with backgrounds in the arts have established programs that utilize activities as diverse as music, dance, painting, quilting, singing, poetry writing and storytelling to add meaning, joy and a vibrant sense of well-being to the lives of older people.

Read about how programs that keep people creatively engaged in the arts are improving the quality of life for many older adults.

Why living in a 55-plus community may be better for your health

When my husband and I decided to move 2,000 miles away for retirement, we had to decide whether to buy a house or enter a retirement community in our new city. We decided on a retirement community because we didn’t want to have to bother with chores such as mowing the lawn and cleaning out the gutters. Only after we had been here for a while did we realize how much easier it is to meet people and to stay socially active in a retirement community than it would have been in a house.

This article well describes how living in a senior-oriented community can improve quality of life for older adults. There’s also information here on CCRCs, continuing-care retirement communities, which offer “a range of long-term options that, in addition to independent town homes or apartments, can include on-site assisted-living facilities, memory care units for residents who develop dementia, and nursing homes.”

Entering just about any senior community can involve many rules and regulations, so be sure to read over and understand everything before you sign a contract.

The $1,000 Shoes

Joyce Wadler confesses:

I just paid $1,000 for a pair of orthopedic shoes. I was forced to do this because as one gets older, one’s feet often get wider, and designers, concerned as they are with cultivating older shoppers, offer shoes that look like boats… . When I was in my 20s and saw older women in these ugly shoes, I wondered what made them buy them. Now I understand that it was the same thing that made them go out with unsuitable men: availability. You search and search and there’s nothing out there. After a while you say: “I can’t take it. Just let me find something I can make do with. I don’t care if it’s not perfect, just let it get me through the Kornberg destination funeral.”

I haven’t worn anything but flat shoes for probably 15 years now. My problem wasn’t my feet; it was my back. At some point you just have to decide which is more important, vanity or comfort.

And here’s another confession, perhaps related: I haven’t worn a dress or skirt in about the same length of time. Pants are just so much more comfortable, and they cover my worst feature, my large calves. Also, it’s much easier to find flat shoes to go with pants than flat shoes that go with skirts.

And thank heaven for retirement, which has rendered all these considerations moot. I never go anywhere that requires an outfit dressier than nice pants (though I prefer jeans), and I’ll even wear my open-toe sandals, which fit amazingly well, in winter if I can’t get away with comfortable athletic shoes.

I do admit, though, that sometimes even those comfortable athletic shoes cost way more than I think they should. But nowhere near $1,000.

For Your Super Bowl Enjoyment

Since my hometown Seattle Seahawks are not playing this year, I offer you this instead:

The Top 10 Super Bowl Ads of All Time

What about you?

Which Super Bowl ad is the most memorable for you? Please leave a comment.

The things that are saving my life right now

Anne over at Modern Mrs. Darcy recently suggested listing The things that are saving my life right now. Here’s her explanation of this idea:

The idea comes from author Barbara Brown Taylor. In her memoir Leaving Church, Taylor tells about a time she was invited to speak, and her host assigned her this topic: “Tell us what is saving your life right now.”

It’s easy and often tempting to rattle off a bunch of things that are killing us: “My sore feet are killing me.” “All this snow is killing me.” “I have a couple of clients right now who are trying to kill me.”

Yes, we complain a lot when things are going badly. But what we may fail to notice is all the things that are going well. It’s easy to pull our hair, look skyward, and yell, “Why me?” when we feel overwhelmed. But we almost never ask “Why me?” when things go well. We accept the good things as our due without acknowledging them.

So Modern Mrs. Darcy’s challenge is a chance to set things right, to appreciate the good things as well as the bad. She has invited us to put together our list and post a link to it over at her blog.

Here are some things that are saving me right now.

A little bit of sunshine

Winter can get pretty dreary here in the Pacific Northwest of the USA. But last week we had a few periods when the sun actually broke through. A little bit of sun doesn’t mean that the day won’t also include some rain, but just those fleeting periods of sunshine improved my mood and reminded me of the promise of spring and summer, which are truly glorious here.

Still crazy after all these years

My husband is one of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever known. And he loves me. ME! Out of the whole big wide world, he chose me to spend life with. I still marvel at this miracle every single day.

Getting to know our daughter

Our daughter was born and grew up in St. Louis, MO. She left there for college in Tacoma, WA (University of Puget Sound), fell in love with the area, and never came back. We visited enough to know that we, too, loved the area and decided to retire here. And here we are! We have enjoyed immensely seeing our daughter more than once a year and being able to spend holidays together. Since she left home right after high school, we never really spent much time with her as an adult. Getting to know the woman she has become continues to be extremely gratifying.

A brighter world

I had cataract surgery on both my eyes last fall, and since then the world has been a much brighter place. Cataracts smothered my vision so gradually that I didn’t notice it for a long time. But when I realized that I could no longer appreciate subtle differences in colors, I knew it was time for me to do something about it. After I had the first eye done, I would frequently cover one eye and look through the other one. I could not believe the vast difference between the eye with the new lens and the one without. And now that both eyes have new lenses, my reading glasses require a much milder prescription than before. I am so looking forward to seeing all the flowers this spring and summer.

Retirement

What a luxury it is to be able to choose what I want to do and when I want to do it (and to choose to not do many things I don’t want to do). Having relocated to a different part of the country for our retirement has given us a whole new world of stuff to learn about it. Sometimes I feel like a kid in a candy store.

Travel planning

We didn’t take much time to travel when we were younger. Life was just always too busy. To make up for that, we have committed to traveling frequently in our early retirement years, while we can still move around fairly easily. There are just so many interesting places to visit, so many peoples and countries to learn about, so much glorious nature to see.

Books

There are so many good books out there that I haven’t read yet. Finishing one and picking up another is one of the true joys of my life.

Silver and gold

Make new friends but keep the old.
One is silver and the other’s gold.

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I’m sure I’m leaving out a lot, but all of these things remind me how good my life is. I look forward to checking out other peoples’ lists on the Modern Mrs. Darcy website.

What about you? What things are saving your life right now?

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

17 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes You Never Hear

While best known for his “I Have a Dream” speech, King’s legacy included much more than that.

Memorable words here.

Annual Blog Report

Even though the year isn’t quite over yet, the stat monkeys have sent me an annual report for Retreading for Retirement. I’ll be doing my own number crunching for a later report, but here’s what this one has to say.

“In 2015, there were 162 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 197 posts.”

These were the five posts most viewed in 2015:

(1) 3 Things Thursday, featuring public art in Tacoma; from February

(2) Three Things Thursday, featuring a Little Free Library; from May

(3) Tacoma, WA: “Hollywood-by-the-Sea”?, about Tacoma as a short-lived center for moviemaking; from May

(4) ML King Day at WA State History Museum, from January

(5) Three Things Thursday, featuring Three Things Emblematic of Tacoma; from April

Some of my favorite posts to write were those about Tacoma and its history. Here are a couple from May:

(1) An 11-Year-Old Hero

(2) 35 Years Ago Today: Mount St. Helens Erupts

I also liked writing about our various travels, both local and abroad. Here are a couple of posts I enjoyed putting together:

(1) Sitka: Sea Otter & Wildlife Quest

(2) What I Learned on My European Trip

I hope you enjoyed reading Retreading for Retirement this year as much as I enjoyed writing it.