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Retired and restless?

Aug. 31, 2014 7:58 a.m.

With 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day, the question emerges: “What are all those people doing now?”

Many boomers are selling their homes, shedding possessions and hitting the road – or check-in gate. Last year 360,000 Americans received their Social Security benefits at foreign addresses. Seems travel and travel and travel is a retirement activity.

With limited funds, seniors are having  great times – far away from home. Instead of sleeping at the Ritz-Carlton, seniors are snoozing at short-term vacation rentals or even couch surfing; yes, there is a couch-surfing website for those over 50.

Decades ago many boomers hitched rides across Europe with only a backpack and their youthful fitness; even at 60 or 70-something, it is not too late to see the world. Just don’t leave home without your AARP identification.

(S-R archive photo)


School blues?

Aug. 30, 2014 12:05 p.m. - Updated: 12:12 p.m.

When the first day of school started each September my mom put out the American flag. She was delighted, okay, ecstatic, watching her four daughters return to class; she welcomed routine.

But no one ever wondered about the family dog’s response. Seems our canine creatures may suffer separation anxiety when children leave for the school bus. If your puppy barks, howls - or worse - destroys furniture, shoes, toys, he may just be anxious and lonely.

Tips to help: keep departure time happy with treats or toys; create a comfy place of repose for your dog; start the new routine with a few practice days. If the house continues to receive the wrath of Fido, consult a veterinarian.

Our dogs give us unconditional love and acceptance and we reward them with our attention. No wonder they react when we withdraw and head for the classroom. Happy September.

(S-R archive photo) 


Diane Sawyer

Aug. 28, 2014 10:51 a.m. - Updated: 10:54 a.m.

Last night Diane Sawyer, anchor for ABC World News, ended her five-year stint. She says she looks forward to the future of possibilities. Sawyer, 68, is not retiring; instead she is moving her office down the hall and upstairs where she will work on investigative projects for ABC.

The object lesson?  Our lives are filled with possibilities – never too late to pursue.

(S-R archive photo: Diane Sawyer)


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When cops shoot

Aug. 25, 2014 4:53 p.m. - Updated: 5:05 p.m.

With a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, the last few weeks have brought great conversation, protests and violence. The attention on police shootings has been from the perspective of citizens, not police officials.

Writer Sean Robinson of the Tacoma News Tribune examines the history of police shootings in Pierce County (Tacoma area) and details the process law enforcement must implement following an officer-involved shooting. While citizens often believe eye witness accounts,  those accounts are not always accurate.  Instead, science can provide accurate evidence regarding a use-of-force event.  


Cancer - again

Aug. 23, 2014 9:01 a.m. - Updated: 9:07 a.m.

The doctor winced as she looked at me and said, “You don’t have many wrinkles.”

“And that is bad?” I asked.

“Well, not bad, but wrinkles make it easier to hide the incision.”

It started as a little red dot on my face that would not go away. I asked an esthetician to look at it. “If it doesn’t resolve in two weeks, get an appointment with a dermatologist,” she said.

I did. And learned the little red dot on my face is skin cancer. The pathology report said basal cell carcinoma, as suspected, and surprise! Some squamous cell cancer is here, too. The squamous cell cancer had “roots” and can metastasize.

Now, 11 days after the cancer was totally removed - “You caught it early,” the doc said - the earthworm-looking lumpy line on my face is no longer bright red, the dissolvable stitches are dissolving and my hysteria has (almost) subsided.

Ten years ago I had breast cancer; I was not looking for another version of this insidious affliction. But even as a great indoors person, I was vulnerable.

“We all ran around in the sun as children and sunscreen did not become perfected until about 15 years ago. And we live where there is a high rate of skin cancer,” my dermatologist said.

Yes, in the dreary, rainy, cloudy Pacific Northwest. Our temperate climate invites us to wear shorts all year and who would think to apply sunscreen when walking in 50-degree cloudy weather?  Yes, harmful rays get through the fog.

My doc told me genetics factor in. Hmmm. My dad had exactly the same skin cancer in exactly the same spot on his face.

So learn the risks and take precautions. The world offers enough trouble without worshipping it on the beach. 

(S-R photo: City Beach in Coeur d’Alene )

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August: A time of thin lines

Aug. 20, 2014 1:52 p.m. - Updated: 1:57 p.m.

The last few weeks have plagued us with thin lines: the line for Robin Williams between hope and despair. He fell across that line into despair and left us.

We don’t know yet what lines were crossed in Ferguson, Missouri, where a police officer shot and killed another person. We have crossed the line from known facts to speculation to conclusion to violence. We wait for the lines of evidence to be made clear, for due process to be afforded. For now, confusion has crossed the line of civility into chaos.

Riot police and soldiers in Liberia, under orders, used scrap wood and barbed wire to seal off 50,000 people inside their Liberian slum in an attempt to contain the Ebola outbreak. One 15-year-old boy was injured as he tried to cross the line of barbed wire.

August angst: a time when life hangs in the balance with thin lines that contain, taunt and sometimes break.

(S-R photo: Attorney General Eric Holder shakes hands with Bri Ehsan, 25, right, following his meeting with students at St. Louis Community College Florissant Valley in Ferguson, Mo.)



Boomer graduation? never too late

Aug. 18, 2014 8:25 a.m. - Updated: 10:10 a.m.

When Sandra Lantz was four months away from her 1963 high school graduation, she was also six-months pregnant. The Bothell High School principal and vice principal quietly took her aside and told her she must leave school – and not graduate. That day she left through a back door and walked five miles to her home.

That fall Sandra attended technical school to earn her remaining two credits, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees, worked as a social worker; she wrote a book; she also married and had more children.

Over the weekend, Sandra officially graduated from Bothell High School. After lawyers and school officials reviewed the needed process and documents, Sandra was able to become an official graduate of the BHS Class of 1963.

Her commencement comment? “Now I belong.”


Anne Lamott speaks

Aug. 16, 2014 12:32 a.m.

Anne Lamott writes about faith, recovery from addiction, and the profound presence of God in the ordinariness of life. She is not pious or pretentious – she has lived through too much pain and suffering for that nonsense.

Robin Williams was her neighbor when she was growing up in the Bay area. Anne writes of his life, mental health and our common search for meaning in the raw pain of life.  

(S-R archive photo: Anne Lamott)


Beds for mental health patients

Aug. 14, 2014 8:58 p.m. - Updated: 9:04 p.m.

With Robin Williams’ death this week, Americans – for the moment anyway – seek a greater understanding of mental health and the need for appropriate care for that patient population.

On August 27 Washington state hospitals will no longer serve as boarding facilities for people needing mental health care. The Washington State Supreme Court has declared it so.

Gov. Inslee announced 50 beds - split among Eastern State Hospital, private hospitals in Kirkland and Tukwila and community boarding homes - will be added in the next two weeks for those needing mental health care. The need is profoundly greater, but 50 beds is a beginning.

Next, we need to mandate that jails – like hospitals – are grossly inappropriate settings for mentally ill people. They languish in jails without care or access to health assessments, medication or time with loved ones, waiting months for an available bed. To place psychiatric patients in jail is like sending a cancer patient to a Greyhound Bus station waiting room. Totally absurd.

(S-R archive photo: Sunlight filters through the clouds, illuminating the Apurimac river in Pichari, Peru. )


Just hit “Return”

Aug. 13, 2014 6 a.m.

My son was reading a book a few years ago and paused to ask me, “Mom, what does a typewriter look like?” I went to the storage area above the garage and hauled out my extremely heavy electric typewriter. I could never let it go.

“This is what a typewriter looks like!” I said as I extracted it from its case. Decades later, it still smells like graduate school to me.  

Bob Montgomery, 92, repairs typewriters. Really.  He works every weekday, taking the bus to his downtown Bremerton, Wash. office. The drawers and plastic boxes in his office house little tiny parts that only Bob knows how and where to install, often on IBM Selectric machines from the 1961-1986 era.

Montgomery was drafted during World War II and trained as an infantryman.  But once his typewriter repair skills were known, that became his duty.

Now Montgomery serves nostalgic writers and others who abhor computers;  and he may soon welcome an S-R blogger at his office door, dragging her ancient writing machine behind her.

(S-R archive photo: In this Oct. 5, 1960 AP file photo, Jacqueline Kennedy poses at her typewriter where she writes her weekly “Candidate's Wife” column in her Georgetown home in Washington.)


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