2 Ways Walking Helps My Heart

2 Ways Walking Helps My Heart

A view from the trail going up to China Flat, Westlake Village, CA.

Heart health is something we all need. If our hearts aren’t pumping like they should–the quality of life recedes and overall health is affected. A heart muscle that is frequently exercised is a gift that spreads health throughout the body. And sharing exercise with someone you care about has its own rewards that also affect the heart.

On The Physical Side – A Quick Review

Regular walking or some other form of exercise that increases your heart rate is good because:

  • cardio exercise improves the ability of your blood vessels to dilate as they respond to hormones that flood your body during exercise
  • vascular wall function and the ability of your body to supply oxygen to your muscles as you walk, run, lift weights etc. is enhanced
  • the body’s ability to take in and utilize oxygen becomes more efficient and you can do daily activities with less fatigue
  • exercise increases your very tolerance for exercise
  • body weight is reduced, lessening your chance for developing type 2 diabetes
  • insulin sensitivity increases, thus your body uses insulin more efficiently
  • blood pressure and bad LDL cholesterol is reduced;
  • good HDL cholesterol increases
  • and exercise improves your balance and reduces your risk of osteoporosis by increasing bone mass.

On The Spiritual, Mental, Mood Side, This is what exercise does:

  • improves your mood
  • lowers your risk for some types of cancer
  • gives you more energy
  • helps ward off dementia or other memory problems 
  • helps you sleep better.

I have always been a walker–maybe because running didn’t appeal to me, maybe because over time I’ve developed a sensitive tendon in one foot, so running is really out of the picture. In my raising-children days, I did dancercize and I loved that, but when I went through a time with a back that protested, I added a Walkman to my walk and the presence of the music enhanced my speed and definitely my mood.

2 Ways Walking Helps My Heart

I walked through the neighborhoods of Homewood-Flossmoor, south of Chicago









On my Flossmoor walk, I knew every house, watched as flowers bloomed and died, trees lost their leaves in a fiery fall blaze and winter snows brightened the lawns but sometimes made walking difficult. The terrain was totally flat and I needed to increase my pace to elevate my heart rate. Then in the late 90s, we moved to Des Moines, Iowa. Though we were still in the Midwest, Des Moines is very hilly and stepping outside my front door, no matter which direction I chose, a hill presented itself. So now, equipped with an IPod, off I went, my heart rate increasing within minutes of leaving the house.

2 Ways Walking Helps My Heart

Our DM house on a hill.

But when my husband retired and our son had moved back to Chicago, our daughters already settled–one on the east coast and one on the west–a big decision faced us. Our grandchildren were in California and though it’s crazy expensive, we thought about the warm weather and our ability to get out and exercise–not by joining a gym which we had done in both Midwest cities, but simply by walking out our front door.

And here we are: living in Southern California and taking advantage of paths, parks, trails, elevations, ponds and arroyos, you name it.

2 Ways Walking Helps My Heart

At the top of Pathfinder, looking down the horse trail.


2 Ways Walking Helps My Heart

At the duck pond, about 2 and 1/2 miles from our house.









2 Ways Walking Helps My Heart

Rushes around the duck pond. We found turtles too.










2 Ways Walking Helps My Heart

Another view of the Santa Monica hills from China Flat.

Most days, my husband and I walk together. (I still have my IPod, but I only use it when I walk on my own.) Our walks help our hearts, because not only do they have a physical impact, but they also provide a time for conversation and sharing. Yes, we are sometimes silent when we walk, praying or meditating, mentally planning the rest of the day or working through some thought process. But at the beginning and at the end of our walk, we are always sharing what we see, making plans for the days, weeks–the life ahead, always grateful that we are together.

Walking can help your heart in two ways–physical and mental. So find a walking partner and get out there–whether it’s a mall in winter, or the snow packed sidewalks, your feet wearing Yaktrax, getting out in the air and sharing time while your hearts beat faster just has to be a really good thing!

Thanks to John Havey for all photos


2 Ways Walking Helps My Heart

Sharing a walk with three wonderful people–our grandchildren. “Let’s hike back to the play park, Essa.”



Why Do We Keep Things?

Why Do We Keep Things?

This is artist Arthur Lidov’s interpretation of the mighty mitochondrion. It’s a two page spread and I took a photo of the pages with my iPhone.

A jewelry box with a child’s name bracelet, a few baby teeth, drawings in a 3 by 6 inch notebook done in the 7th grade—why am I keeping these things? I asked myself that question many times when we recently downsized. But I kept everything except the baby teeth. And often I regret the haste in which I divested our bigger footprint of wedding gifts, linens, and furniture. Oh, I wish I had that or why did I give that away?

Amy Goldman Koss in her article When in doubt, throw it out? writes about recently cleaning out her parents home and being relieved that her parents followed that rule. But the question mark at the end of her piece underlines that even after she had disposed of her father’s tools and her parents coats, the image of those coats side by side in a closet somehow haunting her–there was a pang of loss.

We can’t keep everything or we will be hoarders!  But maybe there’s a fine line between those of us who keep every edition of the daily paper and those of us who keep old Valentines and college notebooks. (Guilty) Certainly there’s the element of I MIGHT NEED THAT AGAIN. After my teaching career ended, I saved every mimeograph sheet and lesson plan until a flood in our basement ruined them. That was all right, new tech had replaced mimeo anyway. But it also destroyed years of letters my husband and I wrote to one another and precious old books my mother had given me. But you know–you can’t take it with you.

Possibly we save things because something is going on in us on an unconscious level. That’s the only answer I have for saving much of the 1962 series on the human body that appeared in Life Magazine in 1962. I was a sophomore in high school, taking biology with an amazing teacher. She had us researching DNA, the spiral helix and Watson and Crick. We had to travel to the public library in downtown Chicago to do the research. All of it–the research, the intense writing to get an A–might have planted a seed in me that didn’t bloom until I went back to school in my forties to study anatomy and physiology, medicine–become a nurse. But I still have those pages.

Why Do We Keep Things?

I really didn’t know how important Watson and Crick were in 1962. Not many people did.

To expand on the above idea, we can collect things, hold on to things with various intents in mind.

  • Usefulness. When clothing is no longer ready for prime time, I keep some of it for my daily walks or for gardening. There isn’t a tool on this earth that my husband hasn’t examined and thought that it might be good to have. And for many years he was absolutely right–though often a particular tool was used maybe once, twice?? But it was handy.
  • Sentiment. Keeping things is similar to assembling a poem or creating a tableau. Every word in the poem and every item that is arranged on the table or every photo hung on the wall or placed in a photo album or stored on a computer carries some meaning. Note: those valentines? Cut them up and make a collage. You’ll have the memories, and also more storage space.
  • The great reveal. This concept is more a slippery slope. Amy Goldman Koss doesn’t mention finding anything shocking when she cleaned out her parents’ house. I found a few things of my mother’s very early life–dance cards and a photo of a gentleman I didn’t know. But that’s okay–it was her life and for some reason she wanted to keep  a talisman of those times. It certainly wasn’t the reveal in Robert James Waller’s The Bridges of Madison County, when after her death, Francesca reveals her profound love affair in a diary that her adult children find. Great stuff for fiction, but maybe not for everyday life.

This topic of things in our lives is not new to Boomer Highway. I have written about gifts from my grandmother, pictures on the walls of my home that keep alive the precious stages of my life. And I wrote about the angst of downsizing.

And though objects remind us of past experience, it is knowing and holding close our personal history that keeps us grounded. That’s truly what we can pass on to our children and grandchildren. The words and actions of those we love provide us with our best memories–an amazing vacation, a mother to daughter growing-up chat, the day Dad gave the ultimate driving lesson or grandma welcomed her first great-grandchild. These are only a very few of the highlight moments in life. Photos, entries in a diary, or just the pure and simple memory in one’s mind–these are the most meaningful things to keep. After all, they are marks on the timeline of our very lives.

Why Do We Keep Things?

This is part of the LIFE MAGAZINE cover. Note the date and the price!

One Winter Afternoon in Chicago: MY FIRST KISS

One Winter Afternoon in Chicago: MY FIRST KISS

Early college and we are inseparable.


FIRST KISS–1960’s style.

Picture a young teenage couple in the dining room of the girl’s home. There’s a record player there and she puts on a 45 and it begins to play HEY HEY PAULA. But there’s also a large bay window in this dining room and this is Chicago—houses are close together. So as the sun begins to sink in the western sky, Mrs. H, the girl’s neighbor and the best cook on the block, stands at her kitchen sink doing some food preparation. She has a great view of the girl’s dining room and is familiar with the young teenage couple. When she looks up from the chicken she is cleaning at the sink—she gasps!

The couple is there, in the window, dancing. They are very close together and the girl has nuzzled her face into the boy’s shoulder. After a while, Mrs. H realizes the water she is using to clean the chicken has become very hot, it’s burning her skin, maybe even cooking the chicken. She turns it off, but stays by her post. She can’t turn away. She needs to be a good neighbor and report to the girl’s mother everything she witnesses.

The couple is still dancing, slowly, barely moving, trance-like. And then the girl moves back slightly so she can look into the boy’s eyes. Mrs. H holds her breath. And then, and then—they break apart—only to carefully pull down the shade that covers the bay window. Back in each other’s arms the kiss begins, tentatively at first, then with more involvement, a little more passion, working on that learning curve.

Mrs. H finishes preparing her chicken.

When the kiss is over, there is laughter and hugging. They know they have something and it is thrilling and wonderful. Their first kiss! One of millions to come. So they remain as they are, holding hands, smiling into each other’s eyes as the sun goes down and the room grows dark.

But finally, with thoughts of homework and the routine of their lives calling, they turn on lights, he finds his jacket and she walks him to the front door. But it has begun. And those moments will be vivid and tender memories for both of them throughout their 44 plus years of marriage.

And Mrs. H? She went to their wedding, lent them her fancy car to get them to and from the church. She shared some of her furniture with them as they created a house and home. I guess you could say, Mrs. H was the first witness to a love that–though she didn’t see it–was sealed with a kiss.

One Winter Afternoon in Chicago: MY FIRST KISS

We’re married, cuddling in the back of Mrs. H’s car!



One Winter Afternoon in Chicago: MY FIRST KISS

A street on the south side of Chicago.


Thanks to WBEZ 91.5

and family photos!



Forgiveness: The Gift You Give Yourself

Forgiveness: The Gift You Give Yourself

“Aw get over it.” “Hey, let’s just forget this whole thing, okay?” “I’ve moved on.”  “Forgive and forget.” “Won’t you please forgive me?” “I just want you to know that I have forgiven you.”

The key to any of the above is that sometimes we crave forgiveness and sometimes we have to be the one to forgive. The latter can be very hard to do.

As a child, I often experienced the need to say, “I’m sorry.” Being a Catholic and thus experiencing Confession or Reconciliation from the age of seven on, the focus was always: what did you do wrong that you have to ask forgiveness for? Fortunately, those things on my list were minor. And when I had to say to someone, “It’s okay, I forgive you” —the hurt or the incident was also minor.

But as I grew into young adulthood and adulthood, either my thin skin got thinner or more likely, the issues on either side of the forgiveness question just got bigger and more complicated. They caused actual pain. Issues where forgiveness is necessary can weigh anyone down; they can create depression and rip dangerous holes in relationships.

So I was probably in my thirties when I heard these words: Forgiving is not for the one who needs to be forgiven—it’s for the one doing the forgiving. Where did I hear that—on Oprah. Yes, the amazing woman who in the 80s and 90s got people to read more with her Oprah’s Book Club, and to write, as she encouraged her viewers to journal, had offered me some golden advice.

But even so, we all know—the issue of forgiving is a very complicated one. And though I still believe that forgiveness is for the one doing the forgiving—those of you reading this who have been living in pain because of something someone did to you or to someone you love—you know that forgiving is a process and not an easy one.

I was recently reminded of this when reading Lewis B. Smedes book: The Art of Forgiving, When you need to forgive and don’t know how. A core debate in the text centers on the story of Karl, a German soldier during WW II who killed many innocent Jewish men, women and children in a Russian village, and then, before he was to be executed, desired the forgiveness of one Jew. He grabbed the wrist of Simon Wisenthal, who was then a young architect, asking him to represent all Jews and forgive Karl. Wisenthal writes of the incident in his book The Sunflower and states: The crux of the matter is, of course, the question of forgiveness. Forgetting is something that time alone takes care of, but forgiveness is an act of volition, and only the sufferer is qualified to make the decision.

Thus Wisenthal refused to forgive Karl and over the years wrote and struggled with his decision.

Smedes writes that after the publication of The Sunflower, distinguished men and women from many walks of life were asked to comment on Wisenthal’s ultimate decision. “Most of them believed that it was right and good for Wisenthal not to forgive Karl. Here are some of their answers:

You would never have been able to live with yourself had you forgiven him.

To forgive everything means that one is lacking in discrimination, in true feeling, in reasonableness, in memory…

One cannot and should not go around happily killing and torturing and then, when the moment has come, simply ask and receive forgiving.

I believe that the easy forgiving of such crimes perpetuates the evil it wants to alleviate.

When examining Wisenthal’s dilemma in her essay, The Ultimate Moral Question, Wendy Cooley ends with the following statement: They (the Jews in that village) were the ones who were murdered and brutalized and only they have the power to forgive those who have done them wrong. 

Smedes also presents that idea: that no one has a right to forgive someone unless he himself had been injured by that person. Something to ponder.

But the true purpose of Smedes book, and maybe Oprah read it, is to stress the following aspects of being able to forgive. As you read them, try to apply some of them to events in your own life. There may be readers who have even had to deal with the arrest and incarceration of the person who hurt you or your loved one. Some of you will only see in the list aspects of personal relationships that were hurt by abandonment or betrayal or other inter-personal issues. But each of the following are basic aspects of forgiving.

  • Forgiving someone who did us wrong does not mean that we tolerate the wrong he did.
  • Forgiving does not mean that we want to forget what happened.
  • Forgiving does not mean that we excuse the person who did it.
  • Forgiving does not mean that we take the edge off the evil of what was done to us.
  • Forgiving does not mean that we surrender our right to justice.
  • Forgiving does not mean that we invite someone who hurt us once to hurt us again.

This is heavy stuff, but it can lighten the load and it definitely leads to healing.

But then there are times when you hear: “Move on, move on,” and you just can’t. You’re stuck. Do the words get even come to mind? Of course they do.

Smedes writes: “Vengeance is the only alternative to forgiving. It is, simply put, a passion to get even. We have been unfairly hurt. … The scales are unbalanced. The only way to balance them and get life back to normal is to inflict as much pain on our abuser as he inflicted on us…”

But we can’t. As Smedes writes, “…we are doomed to exchange wound for wound…pain for pain forever.” And when we stay away from vengeance and forgive, we are expressing our true and best nature. Smedes: “..forgiving works on both sides of the street. It is a reciprocity. We do ourselves good only when we wish good for the other. And we do the other person good only after we have healed ourselves. Forgiving has to be both ego-centered and other-centered. Otherwise it cannot work.”

Finally, Smedes and other writers on this issue would conclude that forgiving is a journey. Like all things in life, there are stages: the initial pain, the anger that pain brings, the utter change in a relationship because of the pain, the relapses—one day the pain is light, the next it hits again like a brick—and the need for help from a friend or counselor. One comforting concept is Smedes approval of anger. He breaks it down this way:

“The enemy of forgiving is hate, not anger. Anger is aimed at what persons do. Hate is aimed at persons. Anger keeps bad things from happening again to you. Hate wants bad things to happen to him or her. Anger is the positive power that pushes us toward justice. Hate, by that token, is the negative force that pushes us toward vengeance. Anger is one of love’s good servants. Hate serves nobody well. So if you get angry when you remember what he or she did to you, it does not mean that you have not forgiven him or her. It only means that you get made when people do bad things to you.”

Richard Rohr, a Catholic priest and author of Eager to Love, has also written about forgiveness and I find him an incredible thinker for everyone, religious or not given to some organized faith. He writes: “Forgiveness is a decision, but making that decision doesn’t override the emotional residue that often takes much longer to release. That feeling of wanting revenge or wanting to assert your rightness or your victimhood—depending on the depth of your wounding—can take days, weeks, months and even years to dissipate. On certain days, when you’re in a down mood, your psyche will want to grab onto that hurt. You have to go through that necessary period of feeling half dead, half angry, half in denial—this is the liminal space in which we grow for some reason.”

Many of us live in liminal space–the space of unknowing. It’s the desert and we desire the green land with flowing water. But moving through that space can heal us and as Rohr says–we grow–and that might be the very reason we are challenged by our neighbors, by our very living to experience the pain of hurt and to eventually known the peace of forgiving.

Thanks to Google Images

Forgiveness: The Gift You Give Yourself





Loving Those Images, Then–Loving Those Words

Loving Those Images, Then--Loving Those Words

Goodnight Moon

What is it about picture books from childhood that is so alluring? I think at first it’s the images. Children are stimulated by images that jump-start the imagination and help a child relate. Isn’t that the charm of GOODNIGHT MOON by Margaret Wise Brown? The red balloon and the three bears and the toyhouse are things a child knows and can point to. Then the writer adds those wonderful words that rhyme and a gem is born. The words on the page take the image and enlarge it–the child’s imagination begins to work–and finally, the child makes up her own rhyme with things in her world.

That’s how love of words becomes super-charged. What follows? A love of reading. The gears in that wonderful new brain are set in motion and reading and exploring books becomes a joy and a desire. 

Author Martin Amis says: I must have read GOODNIGHT MOON to my children several thousand times, and I was never bored by it. The book has its own soporific poetry–and it quite often worked.”

Books, Books and More Books 

Another wonderful aspect of starting a child on the reading journey is the trip to the library. There the world of books is broad and big and exciting. Children race to the stacks and start pulling books from a shelf. To guide them in their choices, here is a list from TIME of the top ten books for children ages 3-11. See how many of these you read as a child or you have read to your children and grandchildren.

1. Where the Wild Thing Are, Maurice Sendak, 2. The Snow Day, Ezra Jack Keats,3. Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown, 4. Blueberries for Sal, Robert McCloskey, 5. the LIttle Bear (series), Else Holmelund Minarik, 6. Owl Moon, John Schoenherr, 7. The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein, 8. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith, 9. Tuesday, David Wiesner, 10. Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein.

Others on the list include: Frog & Toad (series), The Lorax, Corduroy, Brave Irene, Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Make Way for Duckings and Olivia (series).

Print Awareness

Emphasizing the importance of reading helps a child establish what educators call print awareness. The National Institute for Literacy states: Print awareness is an important part of knowing how to read and write. Children who know about print understand that the words they see in print and the words they speak and hear are related. 

It’s not difficult to encourage print awareness in children on a daily basis. In doing so you are helping them on the road to literacy. While shopping at any store, children can be made aware of print that shows where food items are. Children exposed to television often recognize products like cereal from the bold colors of the packaging, but stressing the words on the package helps underline print awareness. Working with alphabet letters you can show how letters work together to 1.) tell a story; 2) list choices on a menu; 3) warn of danger; 4) give directions. Print awareness can be emphasized and reinforced through daily living.

There’s nothing more exciting than receiving that first print message from your child or grandchild. They are totally proud and you receive their love and excitement about life through a medium of their own creation.

You might enjoy this You Tube that explains Print Awareness.

Books As They Grow 

Once a love of print and reading is established just watch them go! My granddaughter can get so involved in a book that she sometimes doesn’t hear us saying goodnight. In a few more years, she will be devouring the next list: the top 10 books for young adults ages 12 and up. They include: 1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, 2. Harry Potter (series), 3.The Book Thief, 4. A Wrinkle in Time, 5. Charlotte’s Web, 6.Holes, 7.Matilda, 8. The Outsiders, 9. The Phantom Tollbooth and 10. The Giver. Others on the list include: Are You There God It’s Me Margaret, To Kill a Mockingbird, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, Anne of Green Gables (series), The Chronicles of Narnia (series), Monster, The Golden Compass, The Diary of a Young Girl, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweller, Looking for Alaska, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Little House on the Prairie (series), The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Wonder, The Once and Future King (series).

Nonfiction writer Michael Lewis says: As a kid I lived on a steady diet of The Hardy Boys and Archie comic books, without the slightest sense there was anything better I might be doing with my time. 

All reading starts us on a continuous print journey. As we grow, more and more our ability to read and understand print is the difference between educated choices and confusion or the inability to progress in life. Facility with reading and understanding enriches our lives and helps us navigate documents, educate ourselves about jobs, health, travel, legal obligations, purchasing options–the list is endless.

How satisfying to realize that reading a favorite newspaper, magazine or book continues to increase our print awareness. Computer technology is changing so rapidly, it is said that what students learn in the first 3 years of computer tech will be outdated when it’s time for them to graduate. Speed reading, anyone?

Good News: How to Help a Child’s Cognitive Development 

Finally, the Institute for Education states that surprisingly, reading for pleasure was found to be more important for a child’s cognitive development between ages 10 and 16 than their parents’ level of education. “The combined effect on children’s progress of reading books often, going to the library regularly and reading newspapers at 16 was four times greater than the advantage children gained from having a parent with a degree.”

So love those words–and get thee to the library. Shakespeare would agree.

Watch: CBS News celebrates immortal children’s books. See how many of the books pictured you read as a child! Watch it here.


Thanks to Time Magazine, December 2014

Loving Those Images, Then--Loving Those Words

Print awareness–creativity and love combine.

So glad I have a granddaughter and I well-read copy of Goodnight Moon.





When I Was A Kid…

When I Was A Kid...

At the tender age of 23, my husband and I had a couple over for dinner—new friends. When I started to say something about my mother, the woman interrupted me: “I don’t want to hear anything else about your mother. Don’t you know that not everyone in this world loves their mother?”

I was awestruck. No, I actually did not know that. Was I fortunate or just naïve? Actually both. Somehow we got through that dinner, but from then on, I appreciated even more how awesome my mother truly was. When I was a kid, I knew that every moment of my life.


We bring with us to adulthood so many small experiences that build and make us who we are. And now as a mother of adult children and a grandmother, I want to believe that when we raised our children, we gave them a foundation to help them love life, seek knowledge, succeed with struggle, use their brains and creativity to bring joy to their lives and others’ lives—and to always know that being kind and helping people supports both the body and the soul.

And it all starts at the very beginning, it all starts with one’s early life.


Below are a few snippets from mine, things that I know without question, formed who I am. I could have written pages and pages, but then none would stand out. And I tried to choose from different phases of my early life and to represent family, friends, neighborhood, church, school, social development, exposure to a world that wasn’t perfect.

Some of what I experienced was normal for the time–but should not have been. And of course my early life experience is strongly connected to time and place—in the past.

For from generation to generation we have to and learn to adapt and change. Change is not always positive—it can sometimes morph into new challenges, and the question arises—did those very early experiences prepare us for such a challenge? Yes and no.

Yet change is often totally positive and  awesome, and in the process, we learn a major lesson that we then pass on to our children. As a result, they become better people than we were.

The events below are part of who I am. They formed my initial reactions to life around me. Then I grew. Like all humans, I was a seed that sprouted and changed. But what fed me in the beginning—what awakened questions, thoughts and fears will always be a part of me. It’s in there–somewhere.


When I was a kid, I had no father. He died when I was 3; I barely remembered him.

When I was a kid, I was afraid of all dogs, didn’t know any cats and once had a turtle for a pet.

When I was a kid growing up on the southside of Chicago, the milkman and the eggman came to our back door with deliveries on a regular basis. We had a telephone and radios. We got our first television when I was in grade school.

When I was a kid, we had indoor plumbing, everyone we knew did. But one family across the street let their little boys urinate under their front porch.

When I was a kid, the lonely wail of the Rock Island train sang me to sleep on many nights.

When I was a kid, my mother typed in our dining room to pay the bills.

When I was a kid, we had borders who lived with us and paid rent—a Sioux Indian from South Dakota, two Irish nurses from County Cork and a teacher from Wisconsin—not all at the same time!

When I was a kid, I was afraid of men; I was afraid of new things. When I started Kindergarten, Mom had my friend Greg walk me every day. He was my age!

When I was a kid, I had surgery on my left eye. I was five. After that I wore glasses and I had clunky shoes, pale eyebrows and thin hair!

When I was a kid, confession on Saturdays, Latin words and hymns, the smell of incense, and booming organ music were a normal part of my life.

When I was a kid, our cleaning lady walked to our house from the bus; she changed her clothes in the basement and sat by herself at lunch. I did ask questions about this.

When I was a kid, an infrequent treat was a chocolate bakery cake that sat on a hard cardboard circle and was decorated with one hard red cherry.

When I was a kid, I had to ask my teacher how to complete a form, what to put in the blank space that read FATHER. She said curtly: put deceased. What did that mean? She didn’t even tell me how to spell it.

When I was a kid, I didn’t like Daddy-Daughter breakfasts or dances, cause I didn’t have a daddy.

When I was a kid, I was afraid to answer the telephone and even in the 3rd grade I did not know the difference between a quarter, dime and nickel. My mother taught me about coinage and made me answer the phone.

When I was a kid, our backyard felt so big my brothers and I could get lost in it. A lean-to shed, a jumble of bushes, or the space behind the garage—all made great forts.

When I was a kid, my friend Jean and I pretended her mother’s rock garden was a vat of boiling oil and we would push imaginary witches and bad people into it. Or pretend we were pushing kids we didn’t like.

When I was a kid, there was a box of pennies in a cabinet in our dining room. My mother said my dad left it for us. It never ran out of pennies.

When I was a kid, my mother let me and my brothers walk a few blocks to the candy store for penny candy. Our known world was actually small, but we felt it to be big and bright and safe.

When I was a kid, we played hopscotch, Mother May I, Freeze Tag, and Hide ‘n Seek. When adding together the children that lived in the two houses across the street from us, we had 10 children of various ages to play with.

When I was a kid, I had a green JC Higgins two-wheeler bike that I pretended was a horse. Jean and I rode around the block numerous times a day. I wore handed-down clothing, except for the dresses my aunts bought me for birthdays and Christmas.

When I was a kid, I wrote a few paragraphs about a tornado. I was in 4th grade and decided that I would become a writer. I still have that piece of paper.

When I was a kid, Bing broke his arm on our back porch, Vinnie had to go to a special Children’s Hospital, and Charlene’s parents had her taken to the local hospital’s psych ward only because she was a teenager and acting like one. True story.

When I was twelve, my mother, in a very motherly fashion, told me about sex.

When I was twelve, I took over the task of cleaning our house. Mom helped. I also planted a garden.

When I was twelve, my mother went to work downtown and my younger brother and I became latch-key kids. We walked home from school for a lunch that I made. We did fine.

When I was twelve, I noticed that my future husband lived in our neighborhood. I also was allowed to ride my bike a mile and a half to my future high school to take piano lessons. The high school girls made fun of my bike.

When I was thirteen, a girlfriend told me a joke with the f-word and I laughed but had absolutely no idea what she was talking about.

And when I was teenager, life changed, opened up. I embraced high school, walking a long distance to school with friends, being exposed to new ideas, boys. I learned how to draw on my eyebrows! But everything above was still part of me. And still is.

Thanks for reading. Please share a snippet of when you were a kid. You might have a list of supportive, joyful memories and you might have a very negative one that caused you to go in a totally different direction when you were old enough to make your own choices. Joyous, sorrowful. Confusing, simple and embraceable–it is all still part of you, it’s still in there. We move on, we change, we grow. It’s life. It’s way beyond WHEN I WAS A KID.

When I Was A Kid...

Thanks, Mom.

When I Was A Kid...

Crinolines under our dresses was all the rage. That’s me, center right, in the dark dress and glasses, of course.


When I Was A Kid...

The 99th Street Station for the Rock Island was just a few blocks from my house.



My Once and Future Favorite Reads

My Once and Future Favorite Reads

Bookshelves with books! That’s my idea of comfort in one’s home. And on those shelves beloved oldies with worn pages, marked paragraphs, and fly-leaf notes. I don’t ever want to lose such friends, because sometimes it’s a joy to go back and read a paragraph and let the feeling of the work flow again. Also on the shelves are future reads by favorite authors who feel like close friends. And even better, sometimes future reads are authored by someone I have never read, someone who will speak to my heart, my thoughts–staying with me for days afterwards.

One Hundred Books

Just before I entered college, all the freshmen were given a list of books to read. There were 100. And though this was not required, the suggestion that we familiarize ourselves with these works was certainly there. Since then, I have enjoyed looking at similar lists and reading from them. Time Magazine has such a list entitled Time Magazine’s All-Time 100 Novels. Interested? Take a look here. From that last I have pulled some of my favorites which line my bookshelves:

My all time favorite novel: THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald (I own a Scribner Library Paperback Copyright, 1953) Remember this one? Its cover is grey and green. For crazy Gatsby fans, and a future favorite, there’s something else to own: So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby  Came To Be And Why It Endures by Maureen Corrigan. My Once and Future Favorite Reads

Others from Time’s List: Harper Lee To Kill A Mockingbird,  Toni Morrison Beloved, William Faulkner The Sound and the Fury, Robert Penn Warren All the King’s Men, Philip Roth Portnoy’s Complaint, John Updike Rabbit Run, Joan Didion Play It As It Lays, Marilynne Robinson Housekeeping, Zora Neale Hurston Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Don’t Know What to Read? Book Lust 

Sometimes I’ve found myself at the library, standing in the fiction aisles and just being overwhelmed. If someone has not recommended a book or you haven’t recently read a book review, or you can’t remember a title it helps to have something like Book Lust in your back pocket. Book Lust by Nancy Pearl shouts out: Recommended reading for every mood, moment and reason. It is truly a book of fiction lists, but compartmentalized to suit your needs. So you will find lists of books under headings like: I love a mystery; World War II fiction; Russian Heavies; Mothers and Daughters.  Etc etc.

With the thousands and thousands of books now available as ebooks, it helps to read reviews and recommendations. You can always:

  • browse Amazon and read reviews of titles you are considering;
  • join Goodreads. After reading and rating at least 20 books, the site will begin to recommend books to you based on your likes and dislikes. Though the site can be confusing to use, you can list books you have read or want to read. And you can join book club discussion groups.
  • find an online book club like this one I belong to: http://fridayfictionfriend.blogspot.com Every Friday you receive an email recommending a new book. And each week a different reader or author makes the choice. This week SILVER SPARROW written by Tayari Jones;
  • browse the shelves for new fiction at the library–this is a great way to support authors who don’t get a lot of press and you never know what jewels you might find;
  • make what I’m reading or what I want to read a favorite discussion topic; In a world of You Tube and unstoppable global news it is sometimes hard to sit down and talk about books. But when you make the effort it is so worthwhile. Last night at a party I did just that with a couple and it was stimulating and fun;
  • check out Boomer Highway!! you can search my blog for book recommendations by typing books into the search bar or checking out the following links: Armor for the Journey: Inspirational Book for Aging Boomers; Armor for the Journey: Books for Boomers Part 2; Boomer Highway’s Summer Fiction Picks; Boomer Highway’s Holiday Gift Ideas Nonfiction Books; 

Here are the titles currently on my future favorite list:

ASTONISH ME by Maggie Shipstead; THE ART OF FALLING by Kathryn Craft; A PARIS APARTMENT by Michelle Gable, A SPOOL OF BLUE THREAD by Anne Tyler; LILA by Marilynne Robinson, ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr. And I highly recommend: REMEMBER ME LIKE THIS by Bret Anthony Johnson.

Reading can keep us informed, help us experience other lives, joys and sorrows. Reading can carry us away to better places if we need to escape. Reading can sharpen our vocabulary and our empathy. Reading is the one habit that has absolutely nothing bad to say about it.

Finally, in the world of social media, opinions are sometimes used to hinder or negate the work of an author. Freedom of expression isn’t always polite or considerate. So another way to praise a book you have read and to say something positive about it is to use the following TELL A FRIEND POSTER from B. Morgenroth on whatever social media platforms you use. Just list the title and author of the book you enjoyed and let your friends know about it. Happy Reading.

     My Once and Future Favorite Reads

Which Works for You: Subtle or Blatant Advertising?

Which Works for You: Subtle or Blatant Advertising?

Obviously, I liked this ad, as I didn’t forget it.

Subtle. A word meaning: not immediately obvious or comprehensible. Delicate or precise; in more modern terms I might add not in your face. And when it comes to advertisements, I think that’s a great thing. And such an opinion immediately lands me in the column old-fashioned or immediately accentuates my boomer status. But I’m at the point where I really don’t care.

And even though I’m an RN, I still wouldn’t want to be in a room with my grandchildren when Cialis is warning about an erection that could last over four hours. Cause can’t you hear the grandchildren asking: “What’s an erection?” And perfume: some of the commercials that come out around Christmas are so over-the-top, not to mention Victoria Secret who has no secrets. But more on that later.


So I took a walk down memory lane and found some more subtle examples of selling a product when it’s not in your face—but the message is clear. I have a fond memory of this Revlon commercial: a couple walking through the city and because she wears Charlie, she is confident to casually caress her partner’s derriere. The Charlie campaign used lots of similar images to convey a sexuality that was confident and chic, but no clothing was removed. The TV add featuring Shelley Hack and Bobby Short had a catchy tune–a winner, it sold lots of perfume.



In my preteen years, I was curious about an ad campaign that usually found its way into a side column in LIFE MAGAZINE. The drawings were colorful and I would study them and then read the text, at first unable to discover what the advertisement was selling. When my mother did convey this womanly secret, a lightbulb went on. Today, with images of tampons and pads, it feels like a video demonstration of how to use feminine hygiene products is just around the corner.

Which Works for You: Subtle or Blatant Advertising?

I kept reading the fine print.


And what about the bra commercials? They worked, but only on a mannequin. As Emily Singer wrote on Huff Post: Promoting long-lasting comfort, the bra commercials of yore sold a product that was meant to stay on, as opposed to be taken off.  

So it was this: Jane Russell and THE BRA:

Which Works for You: Subtle or Blatant Advertising?

Jane Russell







Now advancing to this, which is actually a much calmer image than some.

Which Works for You: Subtle or Blatant Advertising?

Yes, we women all think about this when we put on a bra.







As I wrote in my piece How Shopping For Lingerie Helped Me Accept My Mid-life BodyDon’t even try being innocent in these bras—immediately you’re a tigress. To push the fantasy, the models’ photos were air-brushed into perfection revealing completely bared buttocks in thongs and facial expressions that looked pre-, post- or in medias res orgasm. Now that’s some lingerie! The time-line had crashed over the edge of the flow chart. 


I remember in the early sixties, opening up a two-page spread that was also advertising perfume or maybe men’s cologne. The woman’s head and the man’s head filled the pages and they were kissing, but their mouths were slightly open. This was a first for me. But it was lovely, very well done. I can’t find that photo, but the one below is in that sixties vein.  English Leather was the scent. If updated, the ad might have shown the man without the turtle neck, or both of them naked. In a 1988 ad for the Musk English leather, the man is naked and the woman wearing a teddy. The slogan: the unfair advantage.

Which Works for You: Subtle or Blatant Advertising?

I think ad men like the character, Don Draper, began to decide that everything and anything was fair in love and advertising. Though now and again we do see a return to more subtle forms. But then it depends on the publication or venue–the magazine, newspaper, television or cable station–and the audience, the age group. So there are lots of variations.



In the seventies the five o’clock news always had a Geritol commercial–a multi-vitamin preparation which was advertised in liquid form–easier for those in their Barcaloungers to get the stuff down. Now it’s Cialis. But maybe that’s progress! What do you think?

Thanks for taking this partial walk down the memory lane of advertising. And if you have any old favorites that are subtle or sunny or you can’t forget them–please share. Through the years, Hallmark commercials were never subtle about what they wanted to convey–friendship, family, love. As my husband always says, I cry easily when seeing Hallmark commercials, so that makes me ????  a boomer, a mother, a grandmother. Yes! something I confess proudly.

Images: Thanks to Revlon; Buzz Feed: 9 Glamorous Kotex Ads from the 1950s. Victoria Secret. Flicker: English Leather Image. Thanks to You Tube.


Which Works for You: Subtle or Blatant Advertising?

For some reason–this doesn’t seem to change much.

Happy New Year from Boomer Highway

Happy New Year from Boomer Highway

Happy New Year. As we welcome 2015, I want to thank you for hanging out with me on the Boomer Highway. I hope my posts have been helpful, interesting and often got you on a pathway that made life less stressful. I look forward to a new year of posts. I welcome your comments and ideas. Let’s continue on this road to mind-body wellness for a longer, fuller life.

Popular Posts of The Past Year, in case you missed them:

We Kept Up the Beat with the Beatles 

The Grimke Sisters: Freedom and Wings for Everyone

Is the U.S. Having a Panic Attack? 

Downsizing to a New Home? Think Delightful Not Depressing 

The Grandmother Hypothesis and the Importance of Grandparenting 

What’s Time Got to Do With It? 

Money, Debt–Do Those Words Affect Children? 

Is Tom Sawyer’s Lesson Still Meaningful?

Thanks to Jetpack for Image

Classic Tastes to Welcome the New Year

Classic Tastes to Welcome the New Year

Oysters Rockefeller

Dear Reader,

Before you start a new diet that eliminates most calories and includes a five mile run every day, let’s start the New Year with a classic bang. Or you might even call it a binge. What do you think? Well, regardless, let’s just decide to celebrate the New Year with great recipes and then when the celebration is over, we can work to keep all the resolutions we’ve made.

Appetizer:  Oysters Rockefeller 

24 fresh oysters on the half shell

1 cup butter

1/3 cup minced parsley

¼ cup minced shallots

½ clove garlic, minced

2 cups chopped watercress

1/3 cup chopped fennel

1/3 cup fine, soft bread crumbs

¼ cup Pernod (anise-flavored liquor), Salt, pepper

Place opened oysters on a bed of rock salt in pie plate or a baking pan (the rock salt holds the oysters level. See photo). Heat butter in a skillet. Sauté parsley, shallots and garlic for 8 minutes. Add watercress and fennel and cook 1 minute longer, until watercress wilts.

Scrape sautéed mixture into a blender or food processor. Add bread crumbs, Pernod, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Spread sauce over oysters. Bake at 450 degrees for 4-5 minutes, until sauce begins to bubble. Remove oysters to serving plate and discard rock salt.

Classic Tastes to Welcome the New Year

Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce

Vegetables with: Hollandaise Sauce 

3 egg yolks

1 tablespoon cold water

1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons cold butter

6 to 8 ounces (1 ½ to 2 sticks) butter, melted

White pepper

In a medium saucepan, beat the egg yolks with a whisk for about 1 minute, until they become thick and sticky. Add water, lemon juice and salt; beat 30 seconds longer.

Add cold butter but do not beat. Place pan over very low heat and stir with the whisk until mixture slowly thickens to a cream-like consistency (l to 2 minutes). You will begin to see the bottom of the pan between strokes.

Immediately remove from heat and beat in the cold butter. Dribble in melted butter a few droplets at a time, whisking constantly. When all butter has been incorporated (do not whisk in the milky butter residue), season to taste with salt, pepper and additional lemon juice, if desired. (Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child etal)

Classic Tastes to Welcome the New Year

Chicken Tarragon

Main Course: Chicken Tarragon for Six

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Salt, pepper

¼ cup flour

¼ cup (4 tablespoons) butter, divided use

1 tablespoon chopped shallots

¼ cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or ½ teaspoon dried

¼ cup chicken broth

¼ cup whipping cream

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour, reserving remaining flour.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet. Brown chicken on both sides. Transfer to a heated platter. Add shallots to skillet and sauté briefly. Add wine and boil over high heat until nearly evaporated, scarping loose brown bits on bottom of pan.

Add reserved flour, stirring to make a thick paste. Sprinkle with tarragon. Stir in the chicken broth. Return chicken to skillet, cover and cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer chicken to a heated platter and keep hot.

Add remaining butter and cream to skillet; heat, stirring and pour sauce over chicken. (The New York Times Cook Book, Craig Claiborne)

Classic Tastes to Welcome the New Year

Classic Caesar Salad

Classic Caesar Salad for Six

Salt, 1 clove peeled garlic

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Dash Tabasco sauce

½ can anchovies, drained

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 bunches romaine

¼ cup fresh-grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup pasteurized eggs

1 cup homemade croutons

Sprinkle bottom of a large salad bowl (preferably wooden) with salt and rub with the garlic. Add mustard, lemon juice and Tabasco. Stir with a wooden spoon until salt dissolves. Add anchovies and mash very fine with a fork. Add oil and stir rapidly to blend. Remove garlic hull.

Wash and dry romaine. Tear off and discard the top 2 inches (the tougher, dark-green part). Tear leaves into bite-sized pieces and add to bowl. Add cheese and pasteurized eggs and toss well. Sprinkle croutons over salad and toss.

Classic Tastes to Welcome the New Year

Vanilla-Sparkling Wine Pound Cake

Dessert: Vanilla-Sparkling Wine Pound Cake

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup sparkling wine (you can use milk)

3 tablespoons sour cream

2 cups sugar

¾ cup unsalted butter, melted

¼ cup safflower or canola oil

5 cold eggs

2 tablespoons vanilla paste or vanilla extract

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 10-inch tube pan; set aside. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Sift mixture and set aside. Stir together sparkling wine and sour cream; set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat sugar, melted butter and oil with electric mixer until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in vanilla paste. Beat on medium to high 3-5 minutes or until thicker and lighter in color. Add 1/3 the flour mixture; beat on low just until combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add half the wine mixture; beat just until combined. Repeat with 1/3 the flour mixture, the remaining wine mixture and remaining flour mixture. With rubber spatula scrap batter into prepared pan.

Bake 50-55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted at center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 15 minutes. Turn out on rack; cool completely, drizzle with Sparkling Wine Glaze (Better Homes and Gardens Feb. 2010)

Sparkling Wine Glaze

In a small bowl combine 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon sparking wine. Stir additional wine, 1 teaspoon at a time, to reach drizzling consistency.

Finally, Dear Reader, whether you try any of the above or just welcome the NEW YEAR with your favorite pasta, I wish for you a peaceful 2015 with good health and prosperity, wonderful books to read, music and art to enjoy and the love of family always surrounding and supporting you. Thank you for sharing another year with me on Boomer Highway. And thanks to a 1998 copy of the Des Moines Register and a 2010 copy of Better Homes and Gardens for these amazing recipes. See you in 2015.

Thanks to Google Images

Classic Tastes to Welcome the New Year