Birthday at the Zoo

My husband and daughter took me to the zoo yesterday for my birthday. It was the first time we had seen our daughter in 6 months. I felt especially celebrated because Mount Rainier came out splendidly.

The zoo is now offering timed entrance tickets and has done a good job of adapting to necessary COVID-19 restrictions.

We had a beautiful day for our visit: sunny and clear but not too hot. We got a good look at two of the zoo’s tigers, one lolling in the shade and the other enjoying a catnap in the sun.

One of the zoo’s biggest attractions right now is Trebek, the muskox calf born last spring. He’s named after Alex Trebek, host of the TV game show Jeopardy, whose favorite animal is the muskox.

You can read more about Trebek and his mother, Charlotte, here.

This was my first visit to the new Pacific Seas Aquarium, which showcases sea animals from the Pacific Ocean area. This building opened late last summer.

I was happy to see lots of families with children enjoying the zoo along with us. Everyone wore their masks and did a good job of maintaining appropriate distancing.

walrus statue wearing mast at zoo entrance

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

Doesn’t this sound like a blog title?

While walking in the park this afternoon, we saw this cargo ship (probably used for transporting grain) waiting out on Puget Sound.

Doesn’t this sound like a nifty title for a blog written by someone in her golden years?

Last Week’s Links

A Washington author renovates a Port Townsend house, and her life

This is “an edited excerpt from the new book, “House Lessons: Renovating a Life,” © 2020 by Erica Bauermeister.” 

“Because here’s the thing — we aren’t looking for a house; we’re looking for a home. A house can supply you with a place to sleep, to cook, to store your car. A home fits your soul.”

This is a local-interest for me, as Port Townsend is a vibrant arts community within an easy day trip from where I live. And the book is a memoir about the search for community, or home, as much as the story of the remodeling of a historic old house.

12 Reasons Why The World Wouldn’t Be The Same Without Washington

And OK, this one is pretty frivolous, but I’m still in love with my new home state.

ON THE JOY OF MAKING A SCRAPBOOK

About 20 years ago I went through a prolonged period of scrapbooking. It was relaxing and fulfilled my need for a creative outlet. It also put important photos into an accessible format. It’s so easy, and often comforting, to pull a scrapbook off the shelf and dust off old memories.

And I was reminded recently of the advantage of scrapbooks when my external hard drive labeled “Mary’s Photos” went off line. The device is apparently dead, and unless I can find some techie service to try to rescue its contents, some of my photos will be lost forever.

Sebastian Barry: ‘Family stories mean a whole different thing in your 60s’

When art imitates life:

The story behind all his novels – beginning with The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty in 1998 and including Annie Dunne, the Booker-shortlisted A Long Long Way and The Secret Scripture – is one of the deliberate and careful construction of a family that would at some level stand “in place of the kind of disaster of the family I was accidentally part of originally. I mean utter disaster.”

How to reduce ‘attention residue’ in your life

“Mundane chores take up our time and headspace. Bundling life admin into specific time slots – known as GYLIO – might be the ultimate act of self-care.”

A discussion of GYLIO (get your life in order) practices being developed in some Australian universities: “Essentially, GYLIO is about bundling tasks into a single morning, day or week in order to clear your mind; learning to prioritise and find focus so that you can enjoy guilt-free downtime.”

Madeleine Dore explains her experiment with this approach to life’s inevitable chaos.

Stop Telling Older Women to Step Aside

Leslie Bennetts reviews and discusses the book In Our Prime: How Older Women Are Reinventing the Road Ahead by Susan J. Douglas. Bennetts calls the book:

a clarion call for older women to “rip off the invisibility cloak” and reinvent the world they live in so it stops cheating them. Aside from the title, it’s hard to find anything here that a fair-minded reader could dispute — and also impossible to deny the political, economic and cultural potential of what Douglas describes as an incipient demographic revolution, albeit one that is “underappreciated” and “undercovered” to date.

Bennetts writes that Douglas’s book performs a valuable service in describing how and why change must occur in a society that continues to ignore the needs and underestimate the value of older women.


© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

Snow Day!

about 1/2 inch of snow, Tacoma, Washington, USA, January 14, 2020

Well, not really, but this is about as close as we usually come here in Tacoma, WA  USA to a snow day. Although snowfalls just a bit east of us, on the other side of the Cascade Mountains, can be epic, here at sea level we seldom get any more than this.

However, last year (I think it was in January) our area had something like 7 inches of snow all at once. We were traveling in the balmy Caribbean and missed it. In fact, we traveled in the early winter of both 2018 and 2019, so it’s been a while since we’ve seen snow of any amount—except on top of mountains way off in the distance.

We grew up in New England, so the sight of a real snow accumulation still warms my heart. One of the benefits of being retired is that, when risky weather strikes, we can just stay inside and admire it instead of having to brave it.

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

More Holiday Decorations

For the past two years we were traveling around holiday time and didn’t get to savor all the decorations around our home town. So this year I’m determined to focus on appreciating them. Please indulge me as I share some of them with you.

Here’s the tree outside the restaurant where we had lunch last week with Rudolph the Shark:

outdoor Christmas tree

Yesterday I had an appointment with the eye doctor and found this tree in the office waiting area:

Christmas tree

And the atrium lobby of the office building had room to present this big one:

Christmas tree

For a change of pace, here’s a candy sled we received from the staff:

Sled made from candy canes and other candy

I’m always amazed at how creative people can be. I never in a million years would have thought of using candy canes as sled runners, but of course they work absolutely perfectly. It’s almost as if candy canes were expressly created for this very purpose.

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

‘Murder, She Wrote’ & Me

Crystal Arroyo writes in The New York Times that, as a child, she never understood the appeal the TV show Murder, She Wrote held for her mother. Then, as an adult, she discovered the series airing on Netflix and immediately became a superfan. “I soon recognized that the entire series, which aired for 12 seasons, was very forward-thinking, with episodes about abortion, women in male-dominated careers and prisoners’ rights.”

But here’s what she really appreciated about the series:

What really drew me to the show, however, was Jessica herself. Brilliantly embodied by Lansbury, she is a sassy, smart and funny older woman who — despite not knowing how to drive — is totally independent. As she travels the world, she seems as comfortable in Cairo as she does back home in Maine. While she has many admirers, she doesn’t have any interest in moving on from her dead husband Frank. She has no children. This is not as sad as it sounds; she’s genuinely happy with life.

Girl, You’re a Middle-Aged Woman Now

With tongue firmly in cheek, Wendi Aarons and KJ Dell’Antonia imagine some upcoming “original TV programs, books, and movies that offer new perspectives on what it means to be ‘a woman of a certain age.’” Examples include The Middle-Aged Woman on the Train, The Middle-Aged Woman with the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Middle-Aged Woman.

Accept The Awkwardness: How To Make Friends (And Keep Them)

When we retired, we moved 2,000 miles away from where we had spent our entire adult lives. Making new friends (and nurturing older friendships) can be just as difficult for older adults as it is for the junior high student entering a new school after a relocation. Here, from NPR, are some suggestions from experts on how “to make new friends, as well as to take better care of the friendships you already have.”

Home health aides care for the elderly. Who will care for them?

Subtitle: “One of the fastest-growing jobs in America is also one of the hardest.”

According to estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. is experiencing, and will continue to experience, a “surge in the need for workers to care for the sick and elderly in their own homes.” But such jobs, which require minimal training and no college degree, prey on an easily exploitable workforce:

Because of the job’s roots in slave labor, these workers have long been excluded from US labor laws. Live-in caregivers are not entitled to overtime pay or a minimum wage under federal law, or any other labor protections. Neither are caregivers who spend less than 20 percent of their job helping clients do basic tasks. None are protected from racial discrimination or sexual harassment. They have no right to a safe workplace, and in some cases, they have no collective bargaining rights. One of the fastest-growing jobs in the US is a really lousy one.

This article provides an in-depth analysis of how to improve working conditions for this large workforce and how such improvements will increase the quality of care available for the aging population.

One of the best places to grow old? Washington has 8th-highest life expectancy in U.S., study finds

We chose to retire to Tacoma, Washington, primarily because our only child lives in this area. But we also love the quality of life here. And here’s some validation for our choice.

While Washington gets a lot of attention for being a millennial magnet, it’s also a great place to grow old, according to a new study from Senior Living, which found that our state has the eighth-highest life expectancy in the nation. Washington residents can expect to live an average of 80.2 years, according to the study.

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

‘I am mine’: This is what Alzheimer’s is like at 41

Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is particularly devastating. This article tells the story of a loving couple when the husband, Jo, was diagnosed:

Four years ago, Jo was diagnosed with dominantly inherited Alzheimer’s disease, an extremely rare form caused by a genetic mutation slithering through his family tree. Jo watched his mother die of the same illness when he was a teenager. Even in this early-onset form of Alzheimer’s, Jo is a terrible rarity: he was 37 years old when he was diagnosed.

The publication carried an earlier story, soon after the diagnosis, that is linked here.

This article decorously discusses the many issues this family faces, including information about the decision to place Jo in an a home and end-of-life directives in patients with dementia.

Lies, lies and more lies. Out of an old Tacoma house, fact-checking site Snopes uncovers them

In the pre-internet days we called wild-sounding stories urban legends. Nowadays most such stories are spread across the internet, and we call them hoaxes.

All those viral hoaxes, spread by social media, have created a market for fact-checking sites, with Snopes, started in 1994, being the champ.

I’ve been consulting Snopes for ages, but I did not know until I came across this article that it is run out of a 97-year-old house in Tacoma, WA, my new home town. In fact, the Snopes house is in Tacoma’s North End, which is where I also live.

Snopes is particularly busy in the current political climate, in which “the hoax reports just keep rolling in.” So before you blindly repeat that story you heard on Twitter or read on Facebook, ask yourself: “ Just what is your receptivity to something that sure looks like it came from a bull?”

Best Buy is cashing in as Americans grow older

Big electronics store Best Buy is positioning itself to attract an older clientele by becoming the go-to niche market for digital health:

In August, Best Buy announced it would buy GreatCall for $800 million. GreatCall makes Jitterbug cell phones with big buttons and bright screens designed for senior citizens, as well as medical alert devices that can detect falls and summon help.

The demand for digital health products and services will grow in the future as the U.S. population of people over 65, now at around 50 million, doubles over the next 20 years as Baby Boomers retire.

Google Plus Will Be Shut Down After User Information Was Exposed

I was somewhat relieved to read this news. When Google Plus came into being, I tried for a few weeks to use it. But I never really got it: Its interface wasn’t obvious, and I never saw the point of simple links with no context.

So I’m glad to learn that I no longer have to feel inadequate about not knowing how to use Google Plus effectively. Now if I could just figure out Instagram …

Nursing Homes Are Pushing the Dying Into Pricey Rehab

Bloomberg reports:

Nursing home residents are increasingly spending time in rehabilitation treatment during the last days of their lives, subjected to potentially unnecessary therapy that reaps significant financial benefits for cash-strapped facilities, a study shows.

A study out of the University of Rochester, based on data from 647 New York-based nursing home facilities, revealed that “Some residents were found to have been treated with the highest concentration of rehabilitation during their last week of life.”

 

© 2018 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Natalie for hosting Three Things Thursday, “three things big or small, that have made you happy this week.”

Three Things Thursday

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

One: Whirligig Pterodactyl

Pterodactyl Sculpture

At least we think this is a whirligig. There was very little wind when the photo was taken, so we didn’t see the pterodactyl fly.

I’m always amazed at how creative some people are!

Two: Rubber Ducky Raft

Rubber Ducky raft

There was some waterskiing going on in Commencement Bay, and these folks had pulled up to watch. Later we read in the paper that this was some kind of national championship competition.

These folks had one of the best seats in the house.

Three: Live Like the Mountain is Out

Mount Rainier: "Live Like the Mountain Is Out"

The area around Tacoma, WA, USA, is called the South Sound because we sit at the bottom of Puget Sound. And although Seattle, which is not in the South Sound area, likes to try to commandeer our mountain, we folks down here know that Mount Rainier is really OUR mountain.

Live Like the Mountain is Out is a slogan and movement of SouthSoundProud.

Over the years I’ve posted a lot of photos of Mount Rainier because I love it so much. But you need to see one more, because this one was taken last weekend, on perhaps the clearest day we’ve had in our four years in Tacoma. And it looks even better if you click for the larger view.

Once again, thanks to my husband for his great photo skills.

Have a wonderful week!

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Natalie for hosting Three Things Thursday, “three things big or small, that have made you happy this week.”

Three Things Thursday

Four years ago we retired to Tacoma, WA, after living our entire adult lives in St. Louis, MO. We love our life here at the tip of Puget Sound, with the beautiful Commencement Bay just a few blocks away. Here are three things we’ve seen recently in our travels out and about.

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

One: Parasailing

parasailing

All summer long we see this red parachute out over the water as a boat pulls one or two people along for the ride. When I was much younger, I might have wanted to try this. But I am now well past the age when such an adventure appeals to me.

It does look like a lot of fun, however. I used to worry about how those people on the ‘chute got safely down, but one time we got to watch the landing process. The boat reeled the passengers in, and the landing looked easy as pie. Still, I’ll pass, although I’m sure the view from up there is spectacular.

Two: Canoe

The other day we went to one of the restaurants along the bay for an early dinner. As we were driving toward the restaurant, I noticed several small things on the water that looked like sculls. Once we were seated at the restaurant, the boats got close enough for us to see that they looked like canoes:

canoe

We’re guessing that these were Native American canoes, although I couldn’t find any references to a particular event in the local newspaper. How lucky we were to arrive for dinner at the same time the canoes were going by.

Three: Great Blue Heron

It’s not unusual to see a Great Blue Heron walking in shallow water in search of a meal. But it is unusual to see one of these magnificent birds in a tree:

heron standing in tree

When my husband was out riding his bike a couple of days ago, he heard a bird squawking and looked up to see a Great Blue Heron land in an evergreen tree. He told me about this sighting when he got home, and we looked for nesting information on the Great Blue Heron in our bird book. According to the book, herons often circle, “croaking raucously,” while coming in for a landing on their “messy nests of sticks arranged in large trees.”*

We drove back to the spot where he had seen the heron land, and it was still in the tree:

heron in tree

Although we tried looking through binoculars from several angles, we couldn’t see a nest, messy or otherwise. But since the heron stayed up there in the same place for quite a while, we assume we were looking at a female sitting on her nest.

You’d never be able to find a heron in a tree unless you heard it approaching and saw it land. Someday I hope to see a Great Blue Heron walking along the water followed by her chicks (or whatever heron hatchlings are called).

*Source: Birds of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Nancy Baron and John Acorn

Have a good week!

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday: Festival of Sail

Thanks to Natalie for hosting Three Things Thursday, “three things big or small, that have made you happy this week.”

Three Things Thursday

Last weekend the Festival of Sail, commonly known as the Tall Ships, brought quite a few seagoing sailing vessels to Tacoma, WA. Although we missed the parade of ships on Thursday afternoon, when the ships arrived with sails unfurled in all their glory, we did get a chance to tour some of the ships at anchor on Friday.

One of the most important elements on these ships is their ropes. Here are some illustrations.

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

One

Because ships played such a large role in the development of the city of Tacoma, our revitalized waterfront area features an educational museum that explains the naval importance of ropes:

Two

A ship’s rigging contains a conglomeration of ropes that come together at the bottom of the mast:

ropes around mast

Three

There are more ropes along the sides of the ships:

ropes on side of ship

The rounded thing that the ropes are wound around is called a belaying pin, from the verb belay:

to secure (as a rope) by turns around a clean, pin, or bitt

—from _Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed.

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown