Help! Have you ever gotten lost on an elevator? My husband and I traveled a lot after retirement.  We’ve stayed in many hotels here in the  USA, and all over the world.  But last night, in a downtown Indianapolis hotel, we found ourselves riding up and down from floor to floor, constantly bypassing the floor we wanted.

Navigating a big city hotel elevator can be challenging for the elderly


Our room was on the 12th floor, so we pushed that button upon entering the elevator. .  Nothing happened.  The door opened again, , someone stepped inside, and the elevator  moved. .  Great, we were on way, stopping first on the 6th floor..  We waited patiently as it continued it’s journey, stopping at ll.  A woman got on, pushed a button, but after that, we felt ourselves going down until we were back to the lobby.  Several people got on, and we pushed 12 again.  The car went up and down, stopping  several times, but never on our floor.   We started to panic, because we were in a hurry to meet someone for dinner.

Finally, we were back in the lobby for the fourth time.  Just as I was preparing to get off and complain at the front desk, a fellow passenger patiently explained what was happening.  “Don’t you know,’ he said.  “You have to use your room key?”  Befuddled, we looked for a slot somewhere.  ‘No, no,” he laughed, “Just swipe your key on this little circle, before you punch in your floor.  Here, let me show you.”  He swiped his card, punched 12, the button lit up and we were on our way, at last.

I guess we looked like a couple of ignorant old fuddy duddies.  But to me, it was another example of ageism in our modern world.  Why weren’t we told about the  system when we checked in?  When the clerk handed us our room card/ key, why didn’t he mention that we should use it on the elevator?  An  instruction sheet wouldn’t have been a bad idea.  But lets face it, old folks  are an anomaly at big city hotels swarming with young chicks in miniskirts and no one over 40 in sight.

We met several young people for dinner, and asked them if this was the new norm.  Some—those who don’t travel much—said they’d never heard of  having to use your room key on an elevator.  But those who travel often for business were surprised we hadn’t known how to navigate in a hotel.  ” Of course,” they said, shaking their heads.  Didn’t  we see it as a security measure?  Well, yes we did.  The why of it was understandable.  It was just the how part that had left us adrift.

So, this is my tip for any octogenarian who hasn’t stayed in a hotel for awhile.  When you enter an elevator, look for a place to swipe your  room card before you punch in your floor.  Otherwise, you could end up lost on an elevator.


Tolstoy began his  great novel, Anna Karenina  with this famous line: “Happy families are all alike; unhappy families are all unhappy in their own way”.  My grandchildren don’t know or can’t remember what it was like to live through impeachment  proceedings.   But this will be my third rodeo, and I can tell you that each  impeachment hearing is different–and unhappy– in it’s own way.

The Nixon resignation in 1974 was the first impeachment proceeding I had seen in my lifetime

The Nixon debacle came at a time when my  personal life was in turmoil.  My then husband lost his job in the recession.  I  returned to school to get my dietitian’s license, while raising three children under 7.  I was so tied up with financial worries, exhaustion, and stress,  that Nixon’s impeachment was the farthest thing from my mind.  As a university grad assistant, I heard college professors  discussing Watergate. . I didn’t see impeachment  as a major concern, or anything that would change my life for the better or worse. . Nixon’s resignation speech was painful to watch, but life went on pretty much the same.  I know I voted for Jimmy Carter in the next election.

Comic photo of Bill Clinton wearing Monica Lewinski's blue dress

The Clinton impeachment hearings came at a time when my children were raised, and I was nearing retirement.  That winter, I came down with the flu, and spent hours on my computer with  the Drudge report.  It was like reading an enactment of the National Inquirer; sex, lies, and the famous blue dress. It was great entertainment and got me through a rough bout with the flu.  For Republicans, is was schadenfreude at it’s best.  Even liberals found the cigar wielding president a salacious distraction.  When the impeachment didn’t pass the Senate, I don’t remember being upset.  My life would go on pretty much the same, although  I would miss the presidential soap opera.

Now we have the Trump impeachment inquiries.  I’m probably not going to watch the hearings during the day.  They won’t have near the entertainment value that we had with Bill Clinton’s time on the hot seat. And of course, it will be all over the news, night and day, until the final vote is taken.  But from my standpoint, this impeachment would have much more impact on our nation.

If Trump goes down,  a liberal president is a foregone conclusion.  And most  everyone’s life will change.  Like it or not, we will have Medicare for all.  Since I’m already on Medicare, it won’t make much difference to me. But as we seniors know, Medicare A doesn’t cover everything.   I’m wondering what will happen to the cost of supplemental insurance and Medicare part B?  My husband and I currently pay over $10,000 a year for this coverage. .  Will the premiums go up even more than they have the past few years?   For sure, taxes will increase to pay for all the freebies.  Since my time on this earth is limited, it won’t change my life so very much. .  But the direction of my grandchildren’s future will take a sharp left turn.


If a woman had small children back  in the 1960’s, she was probably a stay at home mom.  At the time, I lived in a Chicago suburb,  surrounded by women who did not work outside the home.   They had coffee klatches and bridge parties, and entertained  on the weekends.  The mainstay of any dinner party was usually some type of make ahead casserole, never mind the calories. Now that the weather is turning cool,   you might want to try this nostalgic 60’S Chicken Divan recipe.

The recipe for Chicken Divan had two stages:  The day before, you stewed the bird,  cleaned it off the bone, chopped it up, and saved the broth. This procedure was described in the 1942 edition of the Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book:


Wash the the bird and place it whole in a heavy kettle.  Add cleaned giblets if desired. Cover with water (about 6 cups).  For flavor, add a small carrot, an onion, a stalk of celery.  A small amount of thyme or marjoram may be added, along with a bay leaf.

Cover and simmer gently over low heat 2 hours or until the chicken is tender and meat begins to loosen from the bones. Remove from heat & let it cool breast side down in the stock. While still lukewarm,  skim off fat and remove chicken. Discard skin and bones; slice or dice the meat.  StraIn the stock to use in gravy, sauces, etc. Store chicken and stock in the refrigerator until ready for use.

The next morning after stewing the chicken,   the  60’s housewife cleaned her house and polished her good silver.  Now she was ready to prepare the casserole for the dinner party that evening.  It could be made ahead and kept in the frig until baking after the guests arrived.


1 stewed chicken, cut in slices..

2  10 oz packages frozen broccoli

2  cans condensed cream of chicken soup

1 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon  curry powder

1 cup shredded cheese

1 cup bread crumbs

1 tablespoon melted margarine.

Cook and slice chicken. Cook broccoli until tender; drain. Arrange broccoli in 11 ½ X 7 l/2 X l 1/2 inch baking pan; place chicken on broccoli. Combine soup, mayonnaise, curry powder and cheese; pour over chicken. Combine bread crumbs and butter; sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.  Makes 6 -8 servings.  If desired, a side dish of your favorite  rice makes a good accompaniment.

Or, if you’re planning to do it ahead,  put the casserole in the refrigerator  until ready to bake.. It may take a few minutes longer to cook before it reaches 160  degrees and is ready to serve.

If you’re a  21st century, working mom, you can simplify this recipe by  substituting  4  poached chicken breasts and cutting them into bite sized pieces. Or, you can use 3 cups of diced, leftover turkey or chicken.

Nostalgic Chicken Divan made with stewed chicken is  still one of the tastiest, easiest, least expensive  recipes you will find.  Stewed chicken also makes delicious chicken and noodles.


There’s a big controversy going in our city about sex education in the public schools.  Most parents  in our community don’t want their children to learn about different types of birth control.  They think teens  should be told that abstinence is the only sure way to avoid pregnancy.  Well, actually, they’re right.  But it doesn’t take a six week class to explain that.    And do teens need instruction on the mechanics of procreation?  All they need do is go to the movies or watch cable TV to see how the act is performed.  The question is: should schools  teach about sex at all?

Having attended parochial schools for 12 years, I  never received  sex education.  From the  first  grade  on , we  children  celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception, without having the slightest idea what it meant..  What was a virgin, I used to wonder?    That was the extent of sex education during my school years.  On the other hand,  I don’t recall my public school friends attending sex education classes. .  But somehow, by the time we were teens, all of us understood” sex.” .  How did we find out?  Word of mouth, mostly.  Or maybe  pamphlets provided by our parents.  The nuns  warned against the sin of “petting” in religion class.  And yes, we knew that abstinence was the only sure way to prevent pregnancy.  Which led to a lot of fooling around without “going all the way.”

However, some people had sex, anyway.    Consequently, they  got pregnant, which was a major social  disgrace.  In 1965 only 3% of all white births were outside of marriage, and 24% of black births.  Somehow, the majority of young people had a pretty good idea about birth control, even though they didn’t learn about it in school.

But in 1971, all public schools were required to implement a sex education program.  Strangely enough, that didn’t help matters.   By 1978, 20% of white births  and 75% of black births were to unmarried women.  Now, movie stars and TV personalities brag about getting pregnant outside the state of matrimony.  Almost half  all births are now to single moms.  it’s ’s important for kids to know about STD’s, but  that topic could be covered quickly in a basic  health class.  It’s not rocket science.

Should teachers in public school be asked to teach about sex?

I know this is going to sound old fashioned, but shouldn’t  parents be the ones who decide how  their children learn about sex? And if parents don’t take this responsibility, should it be passed on to the public school teachers. ? They’re teachers, not parents.  It seems like an unfair burden.

And why should strangers be allowed to tell our children how, where, and when to have sex?  Shouldn’t the parents’ cultural and spiritual values guide their children’s  decisions?

The problem isn’t  about what schools should  teach about sex,  but whether they should be teaching about  it all .



Most of us feel excited when we plan for a trip.  We’re escaping the boredom of our daily routine.  We will see new places, taste new food, and perhaps visit with relatives.  We refuse to believe anything could go wrong.  And yet,  it frequently does.  Optimism is a desirable trait, but  pessimism prepares us for travel setbacks. 

Let’s say you are flying to your destination.  Who would spend days on the road  when an airplane gets you there in hours?  Nine times out of ten, that works.  But sometimes it doesn’t.  Your flight gets delayed, and you’re stuck in an airport with a bunch of crying babies, and irate  passengers. Your  frustration with this scenario is inversely proportional to the amount of optimism with which you began the trip.   This wasn’t what you expected!   You while away the time reading old e mails and Facebook posts , and buying stale, $10 sandwiches if you’re hungry. .  But look, there a lady calmly reading a paperback book.  She reaches in her purse for a package of mixed nuts,  and nibbles away while sipping a bottle of water.   She knew this might happen, and she’s prepared for it.  Not angry, not bored, just making the best of a bad situation.

Pessism prepares us for traffic jams and other travel perils
Optimism is a good trait, but pessimism prepares us for travel setbacks

Suppose you decide to drive, and  have a very long trip ahead .  The triptik  tells you it will take 10 hours to reach your destination.  You’re counting on that, and the fact that there are fast food restaurants all along the interstate.  Suddenly, you’re in a traffic stall.  There’s been an accident , and no one can say when the road will be clear. It could be hours.  Now, you realize you have to pee.  This happened to us once when on a 1500 mile trip.  I finally found a paper cup to relieve myself.  Why hadn’t we ordered one of those portable unisex travel urinals?  You can get them online for under $10.  

Braver, and more adventurous folks  will hop on a motorcycle to reach their destination.  There’s nothing like being on the open road and enjoying nature while driving.  But the fact is, driving a motorcycle is dangerous.   Many cyclists refuse to wear helmets.  Their optimism  doesn’t always pay off.. Motorcycle accidents accounted for 14% of all traffic death s in 2011.  Any motorcyclist with a dependent family should have a life insurance policy, but many don’t.  A reasonable dose of pessimism might save a bereaved family from financial hardship.

Autumn is a popular travel season.  Enjoy your trip , but be prepared for a few setbacks.


The “twilight years”, when people grow old, is supposed to be a time of peace.  Our worries are over, kids grown, and we can relax, enjoy life.  Why, then, do most elderly people have trouble falling to sleep? We’re told to go out in the sunlight and get more exercise.  Avoid caffeine and alcohol, and take magnesium.  But what if these things don’t work?  Warning: one thing may ruin your sleep.

Even after retirement, I didn’t have problems falling to sleep.    But that  changed when we stopped going South last winter.  We looked for something to get us though the long winter nights.  Our grown children had been talking about Netflix for years, so we decided to bite the bullet and  embrace technology.  We, too, could binge on  House of Cards and Ranch on those long, cold evenings.  Instead of  yearning for spring, we would liven up the season with some great television shows.  And that’s when I began to lie awake long after I’d gone to bed.  

At first, I resigned myself to my fate.    The experts said it was normal. The elderly have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep, and that’s the way it was going to be. The sleeplessness  continued even when spring arrived. and during the long hot summer,.

And then, last week, I stumbled across a story about “blue light,’ and what it does to our sleep patterns. According the the National Academy of Sciences, “the use of a light emitting electronic devise…before bedtime prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep…suppresses melatonin*, reduces the amount and delays the timing of REM sleep, and reduces alertness the following morning.”

For the first 30 years of my life , children went to bed after dark, while  grownups listened to the radio, watched black and white TV and read books. No one had ever heard of blue light..  Then along came television and e mail and i phones.

TV emits blue light, blocks the prodution of melatonin, and may keep you awake
Watching television two hours before bedtime could keep you from falling asleep promptly

And now, our new habit of watching Netflix before going to bed was exposing me to hours of blue light , and keeping me awake.   Computers also emit blue light, so I would have had the same problem if I’d been online for the same amount of time.

Last week,   I found glasses on the internet that block UV light,  and promptly ordered some.   Since they hadn’t arrived, , I put on a pair of sunglasses while watching television.  Within an hour, I  felt groggy and struggled to stay awake.  By the time our programs were over, I stumbled into bed, and fell asleep within minutes.

I’m hoping my new UV blocking glasses will have the same effect as the sunglasses.  There is plenty of evidence that blue light affects when our bodies create melatonin.  So,  if you watch television a couple of hours before bedtime, these glasses might help stop you from staying up later than you want.

There are many factors that affect the quality of your sleep, but blue light may be one of them.

*Melatonin is a hormone that plays a role in sleep. The production and release of melatonin in the brain increases when it’s dark, and decreases when it’s light.


If you’ve followed my blog, you know I’m not a big fan of Joe Biden.   But in this case, I’m defending him against what he was subjected to last Thursday night on television. Senator Julian Castro’s mean spirited attack on Biden’s memory was a sign of blatant ageism during the Democratic National Committee debate.

Once a person  hits 70 , they’re apt to be a victim of ageism, whether they  realize it or not.  It could happen when the sales  person at the electronics store spouts a bunch of techie-speak, and shakes his head in amusement when you ask him to translate  in plain English.  Or  the rental agent at your vacation apartment puts you in a shoddy, overpriced place and refuses to give you a refund or find a better place. Then,  the mechanic at the tire store who  says you need a new tire, even though you  actually just need a small  repair. These are things that don’t happen to men and women under 50.

To tell the truth, I don’t remember much about the DNC debate.  There was a lot of talk about free healthcare.  Bernie Sanders ranting and raving, and Elizabeth Warren promising us the moon with no tax increases.  (Hello: Have you talked to your Italian and Canadian friends about their tax rate?)

But three salient moments remain in my memory.

First,  Julian Castro verbally  pummeling Biden , accusing him of forgetting what he just said.  What was the point of that? Except to say: “you’re too old and senile to be  president”.

 Mayor Pete was the voice of reason crying in the wilderness
Once again, Mayor Pete was the most rational candidate when defending Joe Biden

Second: , Hoosier Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s rational  response:   “This is why Presidential debates are becoming unwatchable. It reminds everybody of what they cannot stand about Washington…poking at each other…” .

Third,  when Minnesota senator   Amy Klobuchar,  said, ,” I don’t want to be president for half of America—I want to be president for all Americans.  I want to represent all of this country, not half of it. “

Amy Kloubucher seemed like the most sensible candidate at the DnC debate
Amy Klobuchar said what is needed to bring this country together

Sadly, if you look at the Vegas Odds on the 2020 Election, you will find that Buttigieg and Klobuchar are way down on the list of those predicted  to win.  Apparently, common sense, courtesy, and respect are no longer an asset when running for president.