At the Women's march

At the Women's march
All Lives Matter

Never Again

Never Again
We Won't Go Back

Monday, November 7, 2011


In my last post I forgot to mention one other interesting encounter during yesterday’s volunteer stint at the New York City Marathon. As I was standing outside on this lovely brisk fall day, a photographer who was shooting a documentary was standing near me. After we exchanged a few words about his film project, he turned and said, “You smell good.” I wondered what sparked that – until he asked, “Are you wearing ‘Opium’?” And indeed I had dabbed a little of my favorite perfume behind my ears before I left my apartment that morning. I rarely wear perfume on a day-to-day basis and I was amazed that anyone could still recognize the fragrance after I had been out in the open air for several hours. “I keep trying to get my girlfriend to wear it,” he said, “but she always refuses because that’s the perfume my wife used to wear – at least before our divorce. I still love the scent, though.”

And people say New Yorkers don’t talk to strangers!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


One issue for many women “of a certain age” (i.e., grandmother-age) who live alone is “skin hunger,” a yearning for affectionate physical contact with other adults. Today I discovered a sure-fire way to get lots of hugs and kisses. I volunteered at the Finish Line of the New York City Marathon. Finishing a marathon is such an intense emotional experience – I know because I did it back in 1993, to celebrate my 60th birthday – that people’s feelings overflow. Today tears welled up in my own eyes for practically the entire seven hours while I was one of several volunteers handing out medals to finishers.

First, as the wheelchair athletes came in, I was so moved by the tremendous effort of these competitors who refused to give up with the excuse of disability. Instead, they used hand-powered chairs, and the winner finished in one hour and 31 minutes. Then I saw the world-class professional athletes come in, after they had used every last bit of energy they had to set new records or at least new personal-best times. Some were triumphant, some disappointed, and I felt empathy for every one of them.

And then as I saw finishers from around the world unable to hold back their tears as they realized their dream of pushing themselves to the limit and running 26.2 miles in what has to be the greatest city in the world, my home town, New York City, I started to cry along with them.

But between the tears I was cheered by the many men and women who, as I put the ribbons holding their finishers’ medals around their necks, could not resist hugging and kissing me as they thanked me and saw me as the acknowledgment of their personal triumphs. One man turned down the medal offered to him by the young man next to me and said, “No, I’m waiting for my wife,” and then, after accepting the medal I put around his neck, kissed me on both cheeks in the Continental manner and gave me an enormous bear hug. The volunteer next to me said, “Oh, I’m so sorry – I didn’t realize you were his wife.” “I never saw him before in my life,” I said with a grin.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


A report published in the August 2011 issue of the medical journal PEDIATRICS showed findings that were just the opposite of what the researchers had expected. Since most of us grandparents are in an older age group that has a higher risk of severe crashes, the researchers thought that grandparent-driven children would be at higher risk of injury. However, they found that children are actually safer in a crash when grandma or grandpa is behind the wheel.

The study authors examined five years worth of crash data, including more than 2,000 children. Grandparents comprised 9.5 percent of drivers in crashes (the rest were parents), but resulted in only 6.6 percent of the total injuries. Nearly all children were reported to be restrained at the time of the crash. However, children in grandparent-driven vehicles were less likely to be optimally restrained. Despite this, children in grandparent-driven crashes had half the risk of injuries as those in crashes when parents were driving.

We grandparents probably drive more cautiously when we have “precious cargo” on board, but our precious passengers would be even safer if we followed current child restraint guidelines. So we need to be more familiar with the best child seats -- and how to use them.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I just heard a wonderful activity story from Super Granny Mary Heath, gardener and grandmother of six, that I have to share. I’ll let Mary tell it in her own words. And be sure to look at the photos on the screen:

On June 18 when three of my granddaughters -- Rachel, age 7, Hailey, 6 and Taylor, 3 -- were out in our garden, we found a black swallowtail caterpillar on my parsley. I have an herb garden and that species especially loves parsley, dill, cilantro, and carrot tops. We got the "bug house" container, which I had ready and waiting. This is something we've done before, as far as catching bugs and watching them. We put the critter into the container and then I suggested we look it up on the Internet. The girls liked that idea. We learned that getting them to pupate and develop into a butterfly is really not too hard. So, back to the garden we went to find more parsley, dill, and cilantro leaves. This caterpillar ATE everything. We were putting in food twice a day. Rachel thought he needed water, so we spritzed it a couple of times, just to keep it moist.
Two days later, on June 20, I put a small stick into the container, because we had read how they crawl up the stick to pupate. Sure enough, almost immediately, the thing crawled up the stick. By the next morning, it was hanging from the stick, just as it's supposed to do, but we didn't know if it would actually spin a cocoon. The girls had to come over (they live a few blocks from us) every day to see the progress. On the morning of June 21, the cocoon was formed! It was in that state until June 29. Nothing happened all that time, and I was afraid our little creature was dead! Then, on the 29th, I was working by the sink, and heard a little rustle and looked over at the container... the cocoon was TWITCHING. I called the girls immediately and they came right over. They got to see this periodic twitching... like a cat in a bag. The girls were truly amazed and their interest now was regenerated for sure. We didn't know how soon it might emerge, so we watched and monitored it almost every waking hour! The day following there was no movement, and again I was afraid the caterpillar was dead. The girls and I had talked all along that sometimes, in nature, things don't work out like we hope they will, and that we needed to be very patient. It might turn into a butterfly and it might not. I don't think either of them had doubts like mine.
On July 1, we noticed a color change... definitely a good sign, as it turned blackish and you could actually see the yellow dots of color on the wings, right through the cocoon. Rachel, the oldest sister, could begin to imagine, I think, that there was a butterfly in there. We talked about how it might be a very small butterfly because the cocoon didn't seem very big.
On July 2, my husband got up at 5:30 a.m., and said the cocoon was intact. By the time I got up around 7, I looked in the container, and could hardly believe what I saw... we had a wet butterfly! I waited until 8 and called the girls. They came right over and by then the butterfly was pretty well unfurled, and drying off. It was beautiful... really was. The girls thought it might be hungry, so we talked about the food it liked. No longer was it dill or parsley, but now it would be nectar from flowers. We gathered a couple to put in the container. Nothing happened. The butterfly was still sort of stuck to the wall of the opposite side of the container.
We had read that after a couple of hours, the butterfly would be ready to fly. We talked about letting it go or keeping it. While Hailey seemed reluctant to release it, Rachel reminded her that that's what butterflies do… they fly away, and maybe it would be happiest if it could do that. Hailey seemed to agree. Just about then, the butterfly flew a little inside the cage and found the flowers. We decided then, to take it outside, near some flowers.
We gathered around, with camera in hand, and gently lifted the lid. It was a few minutes before it actually took off, but it was big and beautiful and landed across the yard near some flowers, then off in the yards around us.
We've never seen it since, but I told the girls, when they see a black swallowtail butterfly, they will have to wonder, was that ours?

Monday, June 13, 2011

new book about sexuality for grannies -- and grandpas too

By the time we become grandparents we have reached an age about which discussions of sex are often either patronizing or dismissive. But attaining middle or even old age doesn't mean that we have turned into nonsexual beings. Joan Price’s first book about sex in later life, "Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex after Sixty," talked about the joys of sex at this time of life. After that book was published, Joan received letters from people asking questions about making sex better. And so she wrote her just published new book, “Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex.”

This one is really comprehensive: it doesn’t leave out any subject that's relevant to sexuality for people in midlife and beyond. She and her impressive array of expert contributors cover topics with such expertise and such love for her readers that I as a reader felt well taken care of, with so many answers both to questions I have had and those I never thought of but should have. An abundance of quotes from people aged 50 and over describe their experiences with sex, talk about problems, ask questions, tell what works for them. Much sound practical advice gives resources and solid suggestions. And best of all, the book has heart as well as a healthy dose of lust. This is a book about sex that also talks about love -- which many do not.

Of course Joan Price is up-to-date -- she's on Twitter, she's on Facebook, and she has an award-winning blog about sex and aging: http://www.Naked at Our

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I recently had the pleasure of meeting Matthew Finch, a young British writer and teacher, who until a short time ago was working as a curriculum consultant with a literacy organization in New York City. He has taught every age group from four years old to 40, working as a classroom teacher and outreach specialist, and he holds a PhD in History from the University of London. He has taught Shakespeare and German in junior school, cultural studies to Aimhigher students, and James Bond to undergraduates. I hope he’ll be teaching the grandparent generation one of these days! Matt is currently training teachers in Ayacucho, Peru, but before he left for South America, he conducted a lively interview with me. To read it, go to And to keep up with Matt's adventures in Peru, go to