Friday, May 29, 2015

What's Your Line?

It was one of those high school, just-girls parties. We were comparing best razors for leg-shaving. One of the girls was suddenly transported into raptures. She waved both hands at us.

“You guys! You guys! Know what the best feeling is, ever? You shave your legs. You put on baby lotion. And you go to bed between clean sheets that had been dried on the clothesline!”

Ginny had something there. Decades later I’m still a fan of line-drying.

True, it has certain pressures and perils not inherent in the gas/electric versions. One must keep a practiced eye on the weather and the rain clouds. Birds have been known to mistake a clothesline for a restroom. Spiders occasionally leap from clothespin to clothespin, dragging their flycatchers with them. A healthy breeze is the only substitute for the ‘permanent press’ cycle. Windless days make for limp clothes. That healthy breeze might also be responsible for carrying imperfectly pegged items, including unmentionables, into the neighbor’s yard.

But oh, the delights of line drying! They outweigh the drawbacks.
Your arms, legs and waist get a workout.
Your skin soaks up Vitamin D.
You have bragging rights among the most vociferous of environmentalists.
Almost all your senses—sight, smell, hearing and touch—are engaged.
That first night on fresh, sun dried sheets is the best sleep of the week.

Not everyone has the space, time, or desire to line-dry clothing. I know and love many of these folks. But I spare them a smidgen of pity that they’ll never know the clean joy of climbing between air-dried sheets with freshly shaved and lotion-slathered legs.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

18 Ways to Get Fit for Seniors

By Robin Steinweg

In honor of National Senior Health and Fitness Day, here are 18 ways to get fit for seniors:
Music Ideas:

  • ·         Learn to play harmonica (or recorder or any wind instrument)
  • ·         Learn to play accordion (or guitar, piano, or any string instrument)
  • ·         Sing
  • ·         Dance

On Your Feet!

  • ·         Go for a walk (make sure the sidewalks are flat—don’t trip!)
  • ·         Walk the mall or large grocery store
  • ·         Stand more than sit
  • ·         Use a step—step up, down, up down…
  • ·         Visit museums
  • ·         Stand on one foot, then the other, and work up to several minutes on each


  • ·         Use resistance bands
  • ·         Get a Nintendo Wii for exercise
  • ·         Do gentle stretches several times a day
  • ·         Play disc golf
  • ·         Take up archery
  • ·         Play mini golf
  • ·         Ride a stationary bike

Oh—and be sure to stay hydrated!
 Get some friends together and have some fun getting fit and healthy—or share these ideas with a senior you know. Find three more ideas here: 3 outdoor exercise ideas

Monday, May 25, 2015

Going to the Drive In

What's an activity even your young adult children will want to do with you oldsters? Go to a drive-in movie, of course. So that's what we did last weekend. Packed up the car with blankets, snacks and 3 twenty-somethings besides me and my husband.

The first drive-in movie opened in 1933 in Camden, New Jersey. I know, right? Who'd have guessed New Jersey? They were originally called park-in theaters. Richard Hollingshead came up with the idea because his mom struggled to sit comfortably in a traditional movie theater. He experimented in the driveway of his house with different projection and sound techniques and eventually figured out the ideal spacing arrangement for a number of cars so that all would be able to see the screen.

We paid $8.50 a person but originally the fee was $0.25 per person and $0.25 per car, with a cap of $1.00 total. The largest drive-in was in Copiague, New York and featured a full-service restaurant, a kid's playground, and space for 2500 cars.

At their peak, there were more than 4,000 drive-ins. It was a huge form of entertainment in the 1950's and 1960's.

Today there are less than 500 remaining drive-in theaters, but hot dang, we've got one left here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. You'll find the Vali-Hi Drive-in in Woodbury, Minnesota, just off of interstate 94.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

You Might Own a Big, Hairy Dog If...

If you enjoyed reading "Marley", you might find this amusing. 

 You might own a big, hairy dog if...

1.      your screens have toe nail holes large enough to admit adult bumble bees.
2.      your storm door is frosted with dried dog slobber.
3.      you can’t set a basket of laundry down without out it being spread across the floor like the trail of a torrid love affair.
4.      for a week every spring there’s enough hair on the floor to run a hay bailer - daily.
5.      your socks have a fang-hole.
6.      on rainy days the house smells like Chewbacca the Wookie after he escaped the trash compactor on the Death Star.
7.      you have learned to put kitchen scraps inside a sealed vat at the rear of the highest counter and remove it daily.
8.      visitors are announced by baritone rumble much like a jet landing in your backyard.
9.      you’re deaf from ferocious barking at the strange people reflected in the window before you pull the evening draperies.
10.  you pray nightly he never learns how to open the refrigerator.

Yes folks! That our Jake!

Here it is! The answer to your question! 

An intelligent, reasonably sane person would own such a dog because…

1.      he was an answer to prayer.
2.      he’s so ugly he’s cute.
3.      his big bright brown eyes can melt ice (and your heart).
4.      he has a heart of gold.
5.      he likes company, your friend is his friend, the more the merrier.
6.      he’s gentle, at least as gentle as a big galoot with no proper household upbringing can be.
7.      he makes you proud. Everything you taught him the first two days such as where to potty, how to ask to go out, to stay off the couch, and never grab food directly from the oven he does impeccably, even though everything you thought you’d teach him later he considers optional instruction.
8.      he inspires hope because he really, really, really, wants to please you, even though his hyper-sensitive Super Nose keeps getting him in trouble.
9.      he give you bragging rights to hunting buddies.

10.  he loves extravagantly. He only wants to be with you, close to you, touching you, preferably on you even though it takes two hands to pet the head filling your lap.

      Mary Allen, full-time dog concierge,  is the author of "Journey to Christmas", "Ten Days to an Empty Tomb", and "Full Spectrum Living" among other works. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

10-Mile Adventure Challenge by Suzanne M. Brazil

Pull out a map of your county, village or town. Mark your starting point. Measure 10 miles from your home and draw a circle with your spot at the center. Go ahead. We'll wait. How many new experiences await you in that circle?

Admittedly, that wasn't my process when I happened upon Ft. Sheridan's Forest Preserve along the winding, rocky western shores of Lake Michigan. My only goal was to do something different for a change. I was headed out for a Sunday walk and then some quiet writing time in a coffee shop.

The usual park and trails in my neighborhood were as familiar as the lines on my palms. The landscape offered me nothing new. Beach photos from friends and family peppered my Facebook page. I wanted water.

"Why do we live in Illinois?" My youngest asked one day, truly perplexed.

"What do you mean?" He was a little young for me to have to defend my parenting and lifestyle choices already, wasn't he?

"There's no mountains, no oceans. Why'd we move here?"

"This is where our family lived." My honest and easy response left out economic realities. The Chicago metropolitan area boasted great earning opportunities as well.

I decided to find the lake. Lake Michigan is the third largest of the Great Lakes and only 8.7 miles from my home. Despite the fact that I love lakes, oceans, rivers; I visit maybe once a year and then only when I'm in Chicago doing something touristy.

Ft. Sheridan Forest Preserve is a fairly new addition to Lake County's Forest Preserve system and a gorgeous addition at that. Hills, rocks, prairies all tumble down to the rushing waves. On your way to the sandy beach there are viewing points featuring historical photos and even a military tank. Bike riders, dog walkers, joggers, bird watchers are all welcome.

It was a great reminder that branching out, changing up your routine, can bring many rewards. I collected colored glass and shells and promised to return soon. My husband joined me the following week and I can't wait to get back again.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Rural Indiana Prom 2015 for Four Special Kids

As some of you may or may not know, I have twins with autism, age 20, who still attend high school. This year for the first time they went to prom.

Isaiah went to prom with his girlfriend, Bri. They are the cutest couple, aren't they?

And Isaac went with a friend from Life Skills class.

All four kids have been in the same Life Skills class together. Here they are pictured with their amazing special education teacher, Mrs. Bright.

At this prom, they do what they call a "Red Carpet Event." The kids get to go up on stage and answer some questions. My guys were so nervous they could hardly breathe. But they did great, didn't they? Watch the video below:

Bri won Best Smile for the Red Carpet interview! We were so proud!

After the Red Carpet event, we went out to eat. Yes, Bri's mother and I accompanied the couples to help them along. It was first dates for all, and with their special needs, we were just there to help prompt and guide. But they did awesome.

Here's Bri and Isaiah at dinner:

Here's Isaac and Taylor:

Here's Isaiah and Bri during prom pictures (the real ones turned out better):

Here's Isaac and Taylor:

The kids did great. I admit, the music was louder than I remember from my prom more than 35 years ago. But I was impressed with how well everyone behaved. Living in rural Indiana is much different than growing up in Wichita, Kansas like I did. My prom was very different!

I'm not sure I'll get the boys to go to prom again, but their dates are ready to go again so we'll see!

Tweet this and answer below: 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

The last time I was at this particular sensational place was in 2013 on a trip around Lake Superior. That's a pretty nifty road trip, by the way--there's another around Lake Michigan, equally cool.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is in Michigan, with tours from Munsinig, Michigan. It was the first designated National Lakeshore, established in 1972, and runs along forty miles.

Here are some summer pictures from a boat tour. People actually kayak out there. Although I love kayaking, I don't think I'm brave enough to do that.

We took a boat trip from Bayfield. There are a couple, all in the range of a couple of hours, for various prices, somewhere in the vicinity of $35-40 for adults and less for kids. The National Park Service runs one--follow the second link above. They are between 2.5 and 3 hours long, narrated, very nice. A private company runs a tour as well, when national park service interpreters are available. Of course there is camping, hiking, and other things to see in the area.


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