DESPERATELY SEEKING SWEET CORN

This July was  a bummer for sweet corn in Indiana.     Just a couple years ago, there were farm stands all over the city, with piles of corn just picked that morning. You didn’t have to wonder if it was fresh, because you knew the guy who sold it, and trusted his college age kids who were bagging it and ringing up your sale.

It’s been a bad year for Hoosier farmers.   It rained so long and hard that they  weren’t able to plant corn in May.  Even at the first of June, the ground was still too wet.  They were finally  able to plant in the middle of June, but this was not good news for corn lovers.  The grocery stores had sweet corn over  the 4th of July,  but they imported  it from someplace else, and it was old and starchy.

Seet corn should be fresh picked and cooked for 10 minutes
Serving good sweet corn starts with choosing fresh ears, then cooking to perfection

Serving a delicious ear of corn  on the cob is a two step process.  First, and most important, is making sure that the corn you buy is fresh.  If it’s not, don’t even bother putting it in your basket. I’m always surprised at supermarkets that  sell sweet corn with dried husks and moldy tassels.  More surprisingly is that people will buy it.  Do they not know how good sweet corn should look, and taste?  You don’t just buy sweet corn, you choose it.  The husks should be green and almost damp to the touch, not dry, shriveled, or slightly yellow.

Fresh sweet corn is a heavenly treat, especially when cooked to perfection and slathered with honey butter.  Once you’ve purchased your ears of corn, you must know how to cook it. Over boiling will make it hard and starchy, so it pays to use a timer.  Boil  between 4 and 10 minutes.  

 Sweet corn on the cob is a perfect accompaniment to any entrée—especially salmon.  And it’s easy on the cook.  No peeling of potatoes or steaming of rice.  It’s one of the best things about summer.

7 THINGS TO DO DURING A HEATWAVE

One good thing about this hot weather.  It’s given the media something to talk about besides politics. Instead, they’re scaring people with dire warnings about what might happen.   It’s almost as if  we’re facing an attack from outer space. Most octogenarians  have survived many heatwaves. This is not our first rodeo.   Assuming  that you live in air conditioning, and you’re smart enough not to run around outside, here  are 7 things to do during a heat wave.

     1. Walk around a big box store.  Mall walking peaked out about five years ago.  But now, malls are like a graveyard.  It’s dreary and depressing to see the demise of your favorite stores like Macy’s.   Big box stores are spacious and very cool.  You can easily walk a mile, and it’s fun to meander through the aisles and find new products.  Last week I came home with green jalapeno jelly and spiced peaches.

     2. Sleep in the buff.. You may think this is the height of debauchery.  But if you’re over eighty, you don’t have to worry about the kids seeing you naked.   It’s much cooler, and you don’t have bunched up pj’s or a nightgown waking you up at night.

     3. Start a decluttering project. I began at this time last July https://livingwellafter80.com/decluttering-diary-day-one/and wasn’t finished until November!   It gives you a productive way to spend your time indoors.  Much more satisfying than watching television.

     4. Get creative. Write a blog.  Paint a picture. Needlepoint a pillow.  Get  out that old guitar and write a song. Make a YouTube video.

     5. Clean your refrigerator and freezer. This cool task won’t make you sweat.

     6. Weed out your photo album. I don’t know about you, but my cell phone and computer are loaded with photos I will never look at again.  It’s a tedious task going through them and deciding which ones to eliminate, but it gives you something to do while you’re shut up inside in air conditioning.

A cool, fresh smoothie makes a great summer meal
Start with some Greek yogurt,add 3 or 4 fruits, and whip up a cool smoothie in the blender

7. Whip up a cool refreshing , healthy smoothie.  I start with half a cup of Greek yogurt, then add 3 or 4 pieces, each, of fresh or frozen fruit: Try different combinations of banana,  blueberries, oranges, grapes, pineapple, mango, peaches etc.  If my smoothie tastes a bit sour, a handful or grapes or a few pineapple chunks will sweeten it up.

Finally, you might download  you tube music “HeatWave,” , and listen to Irving Berlin’s popular song  from the thirties  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5PpCCfhBhY

Irving Berlin wrote "Having A Heat Wave:in 1933
We’re having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave

Oh! We’re having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave
The temperature’s rising, it isn’t surprising,
She certainly can  the can-can
She started a heatwave by letting her seat wave,
In such a way that the customers say
That she certainly can can-can

7 TIPS FOR WALKING THRU THE PARK

When I was a child, walking to your destination was often  not optional.   It was a necessity.  Many people didn’t own a car. The bus ran every 10 minutes, and there was always a corner grocery store.  No one ran unless they were in a hurry.  But when the jogging craze started in the late sixties., running was  suddenly fashionable. And if you couldn’t run, you were supposed to walk.  Now, the sidewalks and parks are full of walkers with colorful outfits and snazzy shoes.  But  things get more complicated after a certain age.    So, here are 7 tips for walking  through the park after 80.

  1.  Wear a safari hat with netting.  This might strike you as overkill for a walk in the city park.  But mosquitoes find me attractive, and I’ve had a couple of scary reactions to bee stings.  I’ll admit to looking a bit strange with netting over my face, but most of my fellow walkers are so engrossed in their own exercise  statistics that they barely give me a glance.

    While walking thru the park, a safari hat will keep off the bugs.
    YOU MAY FEEL CONSPICUOUS WITH A SAFARI HAT, BUT THEY KEEP AWAY THE BUGS
  2. Spray exposed arms and legs with bug repellent.
  3. Pull on some compression knee sleeves. Yes, I have arthritis.  No, I don’t care to have my knees replaced.  The compression elastic enables me to walk without much pain even if they don’t make a fashion statement.   
  4. Carry  a   cane. You may not need  it for normal walking, but a physical therapist recommended I use one while  walking through the park, or anywhere on uneven terrain.  Why? Because an  elderly person loses their balance more easily.    Mostly, I just carry my cane, or tap it lightly on the ground.  But it  may prevent a dangerous fall.
  5. Download your favorite music into an MP3 player, and plug it into your ears. The rhythm of the music helps to  pace your steps and keeps you company..
  6. Charge your cellphone  and stick it in your back pocket.  You need it in case of emergency, and a health  app can tell how far you’ve walked,
  7. Fold a red bandana and put it in your pocket. If it’s a warm day, you’re probably going to sweat those toxins out of your body.  You’ll need something to wipe your face and eyes.

Optional:

Sun Screen.   Health experts recommend at least 15 minutes of  unfiltered sunshine a day in order to get enough vitamin D.  If it’s only a short walk through a shady park, you may not want to use sun screen.

Sunglasses:  You may not need them. A safari hat shades your eyes, and sunglasses may cloud your vision.

Doctors recommend that we  walk at least 150 minutes a week as long as we are able.  Don’t worry about how you look. Just keep walking!

WARNING! FACEBOOK CAN MAKE OR BREAK STUDENTS

It’s hard to believe, but I’m now renting apartments to students who were born the year I retired! This means they’ve grown up on Facebook , Snap Chat, Instagram and other social media.  90% have at least one public account,   Sadly, many  young people  don’t realize that after they turn 16,  they’re in the real world.  And may not be aware  that Facebook can make  or break students.

Be careful how you appear on facebook.
STUDENTS SHOULD BE AWARE THAT LANDLORDS AND EMPLOYERS WILL LOOK THEM UP ON FACEBOOK

Employers and landlords may look like ignorant old fuddy duddies, but they aren’t as dumb as you think. The first thing they do after receiving an application is look you up on Facebook.  Why not?  It’s cheap and  easy.  The first thing they will notice is what you are wearing.  Girls flaunting bikini bodies might appeal to a certain type of landlord or employer, but perhaps not for good reasons.  Casual clothes are expected, but a person can go too far.  Most of us don’t want to hire or rent property to exhibitionists.

Nowadays, many people don’t post much information about their education and work experience.  Actually, they should.  Someone who graduated from a good high school, or attends college should be proud to share that information.  It may  help with something as simple as landing a summer job.  Leaving that part blank raises questions.

On the other hand, most youngsters  aren’t shy about posting pictures of their friends.  Why? Because they see a large number of friends as a status symbol.  Some kids have over 1,000 so called friends. So this is the good thing for those sneaky folks who want to know more about you. There’s an old saying that you’re known by the company you keep.  Although you come across as fairly bland in your cover photo, you may have some really icky friends.– like people with a vocabulary consisting mostly of four letter words. Or  who brag about  their sex life, drinking habits, etc.   You get the picture.

Politics is another topic best left unsaid at this point in your life.  Many adults go on and on about their political beliefs on Facebook. .  But as a young person just starting out, it’s probably not a good idea to advertise your leanings  unless you’re involved in a political campaign.  A die hard conservative isn’t going to hire a flaming liberal, and vice versa.  So, unless you don’t want to work for or rent from a person whose political beliefs don’t align with yours,  you might not bring up the topic.

We’re in a pretty liberal society, and it’s no longer taboo to have babies with people you aren’t married to.  But if you’ve tried to pose as a single occupancy tenant, and your Facebook shows you holding your baby, it looks like you’re not being  truthful.  Another red flag.

Just remember, kids.  Facebook is just that:  the face you are presenting to the world. And if you aren’t comfortable with that idea, you might make it private, or delete it altogether.

9 Good Things About Gloomy Weather

As they used to say in the olden days, “it’s been raining cats and dogs”lately. in Indiana.  Other colloquialisms for rain , coming from my Nebraska husband are:  ” a frog strangler,” and my favorite  “it’s raining like piss from a boot,”   The  rain is going to stop soon,  I promise–and then we’ll start complaining about the heat.  If you feel your mood going downhill every time it starts to thunder, here are nine  good things to like about gloomy weather:

GLOOMY WEATHER IS MYSTERIOUS AND THE SMELL OF RAIN INTOXICATING

1. Your house is so cool that you can open the windows and enjoy fresh air.

2. If you have natural curls or waves, your hair will look great, even when you come in from the rain.

3. The moist air is good for your skin.

4. The smell of rain on damp earth is intoxicating. There’s even a name for it:     https://www.livescience.com/37648-good-smells-rain-petrichor.html

5. It’s a good time to catch up on your sleep.  You have a perfect excuse to stay in bed until noon.

` 6. Rain  slows down the traffic. .It’s  great to shop for groceries in uncrowded aisles.  The cashiers are actually glad to see you.

7. You can settle down and finish reading that that big, thick library book before it’s overdue.

8. Science has proven that people are more productive at the office on rainy days. It’s hard to concentrate when the sun is shining, and you long to be outside. http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/13-005.pdf

9. You don’t have to water the flowers.

There’s more rain in the forecast for Indiana next week.  Hope my fellow Hoosiers  will take the time to enjoy it!

6 TIPS FOR NEWBIE LANDLORDS

I didn’t set out to be a landlord, but many years ago I inherited a small, 4 unit apartment building.   Some people—who’ve never been landlords—believe it’s an easy way to make money. Trust me, it isn’t.   Since I had no formal training  in property management, the advice I’m offering is based  what I’ve learned over the years.  If you’re thinking of becoming a landlord,  here are 6 tips for newbie landlords.

Always have a tenant sign a lease
NEVER RENT AN APARTMENT TO SOMEONE WITHOUT THE PROPER SCREENING

1 .Never rent to a tenant who can’t pass a credit check, or a background check done by  an apartment owners association.  Usually, this information will cost you about $25, but that is covered by the application fee.  I am amazed at landlords who will rent to the first person who shows up. It’s tempting during a bad rental season to take on someone you know nothing about.  Don’t do it. You will end up with damaged property, court costs, lost rents, etc.

2. Always have the tenant sign a lease. Lease forms are readily available on the internet and cover many important issues like renter’s insurance.  You must make it clear you are not responsible for their personal property in the event of fire or other disaster.  Also, a signed lease is critical if you have to evict a tenant for non-compliance with the lease agreement.  The judge will want to see your lease before ordering the tenant to vacate the property.

If you are ever tempted to rent to someone without screening them, repeat this mantra over and over in your head:  A bad tenant is worse than no tenant.

3. If you rent to students, avoid dealing with parents. If a student is old enough to live alone, they’re mature enough to handle their own affairs.  Parents—especially mothers—will pick your property to death and have unrealistic expectations as to what you should provide for a modestly priced rental unit.  To parents who complain about what I’m offering, I simply say, “this is rental property; it’s not the Hilton Garden Inn.”  That usually settles the issue one way or another.  And once the student has moved in, I refuse to talk to the parent about their child, citing privacy laws.

4. Make repairs promptly.  If something is broken, fix it immediately.  Don’t let a leaky pipe ruin the ceiling downstairs.  If someone’s stove or frig stops working, get them a new one right away.  Ignoring the problem will cost you much more in the long run. .

5. . Do not tolerate rudeness.  Many tenants who move to town from big cities, especially, are demanding and confrontational.  They’re convinced you’re trying to cheat them.  If they have a  complaint and get nasty , remain calm.  Develop a thick skin, and ignore their insulting remarks.    Do your best to resolve the issue at the time,  but don’t renew their lease.   And before you return their deposit, make sure they haven’t tried to camouflage damages.

6. Don’t advertise a rental unit in the newspaper. Use a free  online website such as Craigslist to show pictures,  contact information, and monthly rent cost.

Property management is not for the faint of heart.  Many people have tried it and given up  because they can’t take the hassles,  and end up losing money.

If you decide you’re  up for rental property, you should have  a financial cushion to get  through  bad rental seasons,  winter vacancies  broken  furnaces and leaky roofs.

On the plus side, I’ve had many delightful young tenants, some of whom rented for a few years before buying a house or finishing their college degrees.  I’ve tried to be a caring, honest landlord with reasonable rents. and have seen many tenants through bad times.

Just remember this:  If you become a landlord, it’s isn’t  all about the money.

THE SOLACE OF FRESH FLOWERS

Are you tired of dreary winter days?  Do you remember the song, ” Hello Walls?”  Yes, you’re looking at those same walls, and windows and ceilings, day after day,  You wonder if you can hang on until Spring without having a minor meltdown.  Cheer up!   There is one thing you can do to brighten your life right now.  You can go to the store and buy a bunch of daffodils or daisies, and enjoy the solace of fresh flowers.

Fresh Flowers can boost your mood if you're winter weary
SCIENTIFIC STUDIES SHOW THAT FRESH FLOWERS CAN BRIGHTEN YOUR MOOD

Many years ago, we visited East Germany right after the Berlin Wall had come down.  It was shocking to see evidence of bombings from World War II still intact—broken out windows, shattered buildings.  Those people were just coming out of a very dark period in their history. And yet, everywhere you looked, you saw men and women walking along the streets with bouquets of fresh flowers.  That sent me a message I’ve never forgotten.  When times are tough, take the time to stop and smell the roses.

You may think of flowers as a luxury or an extravagance.  I suppose they are, since they will start to wilt in  in a few days.  But so what?  By then, they’ve done their job of boosting your mood every time you gaze at them, and smell their lovely fragrance.

Several scientific studies have proven the health benefits of fresh flowers.

The Journal of Evolutionary Psychology reported that women who received fresh flowers felt happier for up to three days, and that flowers given to elderly people boosted their memory.

Another study showed that hospital patients who had fresh flowers in their room recovered faster, and felt less pain, anxiety and stress.

In  Tokyo  a Japanese study offered proof that office workers felt more positive and relaxed after just four minutes of looking at a bouquet  of roses.  The effect on their mood was similar to the positive feelings you experience while walking in a beautiful park.

If you’re sick of winter and looking to boost your mood, flowers are a better investment that chocolate or wine.  They last longer, and don’t have any calories.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Old Time is still a-flying;

And this same flower that smiles today

To-morrow will be dying.

Robert Herrick , 1647