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

Last Week’s Links

On this, the last week’s links before the new year, please indulge my first two choices. When we retired from St. Louis to the Pacific Northwest, I undertook the project of acquainting myself with literature specific to this region. The first two entries here provide suggestions for doing just that.

The 2010s in books: 10 titles from Washington-state authors that defined the decade 

I’ve read three books on this list, have heard of a couple of other writers, and found out there are a lot more Pacific Northwest authors I need to acquaint myself with.

25 Books to Read Before You Die: Pacific Northwest Edition

I landed on this article through a link in the previous one. This list, prepared by the famous bookstore Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon, has a wider focus than the first one and features “what we consider a consummate selection of books written by Pacific Northwest authors.” Boy, do I have a lot of catching up to do! 

The Hidden Upsides of Growing Older

Well, some good news!

We often take for granted the advantages that coincide with years of experience when handling complex information or rebounding from setbacks. We’d like to focus here on the aspects of mental function that stay strong or even become better with age. We refer to these enhanced mental functions as “hidden upsides,” because we often don’t notice the many ways that our years of life have led to improved mental abilities.

This article apparently is a general introduction to an upcoming series from Psychology Today that promises to look at specific upsides and to explore “the types of situations in which the older adult mind surpasses its younger adult counterpart.” I’ll be looking for those future columns.

Baba Ram Dass, spiritual guru and LSD proponent, dies at 88

Many of us of a certain age remember Ram Dass—born Richard Alpert—who in the 1960s experimented with LSD and traveled to India in search of spiritual enlightenment. He “was best known for the 1971 book “Be Here Now,” written after his trip to India.” Later he wrote, “the baby boomers are getting old — and I’m learning how to get old for them. That’s my role.”

What you’re unwrapping when you get a DNA test for Christmas

“To what extent is giving a DNA test also a present for law enforcement?”

Many DNA databases were started to help people interested in genealogy connect with their extended family. DNA kits to help people find relatives are often touted as great gifts. “But is using one of these kits also opening the door to letting the police use your DNA to arrest your cousin?”

This article discusses several DNA testing companies and databases and explains how the results may be used.


© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

More Holiday Trees

Here are some more of the many holiday trees around the campus here at Franke Tobey Jones.

I find the angel tree particularly gorgeous:

Christmas decorated with angel ornaments

The sports tree stands in a corner of the Wellness Center and encourages us to remember the importance of exercise. Notice the angel holding a barbell at the very top:

Christmas tree decorated with sports-related ornaments

Here’s a closer look at a couple of the ornaments on the sports tree:

close-up of sports tree decorations: basketball and karate

The plaid tree stands welcomingly in the entry lobby of our brand new Health Care Center:

The plaid Christmas tree

A closer look reveals red cardinal birds and blue ornaments nestled in among the plaid frames:

close-up of the plaid tree: red cardinal bird & plaid ornaments

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

Oh Christmas Tree

We have about 20 holiday trees all around the campus here at Franke Tobey Jones retirement community. Our activities director and her staff have been busily and creatively decorating them all, and the are all different. Let me show you three of them.

Here’s the rose gold tree in the corner of the lobby in the main building:

Christmas tree decorated in rose gold

The snowman tree greets diners as they enter the dining room of the main building:

Christmas tree decorated with snowman ornaments

And in the corner of that dining room is the red tree:

Christmas decorated in red

© 2019 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