Saturday, August 20, 2022


     I can’t be the only one. I’ll bet you have been there too. Right? I suppose it’s an October/November thing. You see, in a world that has been hijacked by pandemics, wars, inflation, political bickering, homeless camps, and an increasingly divided nation……..I’ve had my fill of all that.

Fess up now. Aren’t there moments when you long for the old days and the old ways……those times that look so good in our hazy rear-view mirror? I realize, of course, that we can’t actually return to those earlier days. But I have learned of an interesting way to resurrect bits and pieces of that sentimental history. Best of all, we can savor those times and those places in small bites……..a few minutes or a few hours at a time.

Several years ago that surprising discovery was the subject of the following October Years post. In the course of my recent return to some of those earlier blogs it had made its way to the front of the line. 


I don’t remember exactly why, but at the time I needed a break……perhaps I was looking to get away from an all-too-crazy world……or maybe it was a “honey-do” chore that had turned sour.

Whatever the reason, that evening in the course of my online wandering I bumped into a YouTube video of Susan Boyle performing It’s a Wonderful World. I suppose I remembered having heard Louis Armstrong’s version of the song, and how much I enjoyed that. Whatever the reason, I decided to give Susan a listen. I played it once, then again. 

Before I was done I had spent half an hour glued to my computer, watching and listening to a dozen or more of Ms. Boyle’s videos. Needless to say, I liked what I was hearing. By the time I was done I had hatched a rather unorthodox idea. On a whim I downloaded three of my Susan Boyle favorites to share with my email friends and sent them off.

With that I set Susan aside and moved on to other things. But then, to my surprise, over the next few days I received several replies commenting on how much they enjoyed the lady’s videos. 

I suppose it was about then the seeds of this post were sown. I realize that for some of you what follows will be old hat……things you have been doing for years. For those folks I will be preaching to the choir. However, I’m guessing that some of you, who are computer-literate enough to be reading emails and October Years blogs, have yet to learn about the magic of YouTube. If that describes you, I hope you will read on.

Let me begin by admitting up front there is much about YouTube that I don’t know or understand. They say the vast majority of the site’s users are several generations younger than old geezers like me. Chances are those young folks watch videos and follow stories that are not necessarily intended for an elder audience. 

Yet, at the same time you can find YouTube material to suit the interests and tastes of just about any niche audience……even tech-illiterate October and November types who are dipping their toes in the YouTube water for the first time.

I will admit that after my Susan Boyle introduction I returned to YouTube looking for music, especially the ‘ancient’ sounds I remembered from the 50s and 60s. And those Golden Oldies are there in force……in both videos and vintage television footage. It was simply a matter of following my own personal taste……Ella, Don McLean, the Bee Gees, the Beatles, Johnny Cash to name a few. 

If music is your thing, filling in the search line will take you to your favorites. If your musical tastes are different than mine…….be it opera, symphony music, or a lively polka, you will find those there too. There is literally something for everyone.

Better yet YouTube has so much more than music, especially for us late-lifers. There is simply no subject you won’t find there. Be it cooking, meal prep, travel, investing, paranormal philosophy, or the screwy world of American politics……you will find dozens, even hundreds of videos, from minutes to hours long.

We know, of course, that ours is a sometimes harsh and confusing time. Chances are YouTube can help you make sense it all….. allowing you to hear several sides of most any topic. It can help us better understand today’s chaos……and be better equipped for the world we live it.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t also take time now and then to revisit what entertained or amused us in what we think of as the ‘ good old days.’ We live in an era where what passes for modern entertainment does not always entertain my generation……where so-called comedy often strikes us as seriously ‘unfunny.’ So why not let YouTube provide an occasional antidote?

For instance, I remember once upon a time liking George Carlin. It was fun to discover that his YouTube videos are as clever and incisive as ever. Johnny Carson and Dean Martin are there too, at their best. I know that not everyone finds Foster Brooks in good taste, but I enjoy his humor. Or how about Tim Conway playing dentist with Harvey Korman? Going further back, you will find videos of complete TV programs with Jack Benny and Milton Berle doing their thing. 

If you are a travel junkie like me, Rick Steves will take you to most any place in Europe in half-hour segments. And Jeanne Robertson, a name you may not know, offers a woman’s take on life in the ‘October’ lane. Just fill in her name on the search line to see what I mean.

Finally, you may not be surprised to learn that some of us old timers have never really grown up. I know one eighty-one year old who doesn’t care if folks know about the youthful tastes he has never outgrown.

You see, also has movies……lots of movies, including ones we aging youngsters remember from days gone by. For instance, early in our relationship I was a bit disappointed to learn that Roma’s favorite cowboy hero had been Hopalong Cassidy. Can you believe that? To make matters worse, she found it hard to accept my youthful allegiance to The Durango Kid. 

What was it that had us taking sides? You can decide for yourself by checking out the dozens of YouTube feature films starring Hoppy and the Kid. (Do I dare show the grandkids what Gramps used to watch?)

When it comes to 1940 & 50 films, the ones that really mattered to us back then, YouTube has us covered. Those were the days when everyone knew that George Reeves was Superman, and The Lone Ranger was bound to get the bad guys. There are dozens of full-length films to prove that. 

On a lighter note Shirley Temple and the Little Rascals are also there in force, along with the multi-episode serials that every movie house played, hoping to draw us back for the next installment. Believe it or not, we can literally relive a complete 1950 Saturday matinee seventy years later.

I know, of course, that perhaps I have been talking right over the heads of our younger readers. But that’s okay. Whether we’re talking about Hoppy, The Durango Kid, The Lone Ranger, or America’s Sweetheart, YouTube videos have the power to return some of us to another, we like to think, better time. 

We can’t live there, of course. But a brief visit from time to time feels rather therapeutic. And if your classic movie taste is more sophisticated than matinee westerns? (Could that be?) Well, you will probably find some of your own favorites there too.

Bottom line……if you’re not already on speaking terms with may I suggest you check it out. (It’s free.) Once there use the ‘Search Line’ at the top of the page to call up whatever strikes your fancy. Let your imagination be your guide, taking you down the path that appeals to you. I believe you will have a good time there.

Saturday, August 13, 2022



Over the years I grew comfortable viewing life, at least the part of it that came our way, through “our” eyes…..the two of us. That worked pretty well. But sadly, that no longer applies. I have been left with only my own failing eyesight to interpret and cope with an ever-shrinking world.

Truth to tell, I depended on her in so many ways, often without realizing or acknowledging my dependence. Now it seems that each day reveals some new hint of the impact she had on so many of us…..the ways she made our world whole and more satisfying.

As for me, it feels that I have been left without a compass. Where is my true north? Which way do I turn? For so long she was the one who gave me permission to be “me.” The “me” I became was the “me” she had set free.

Even today, weeks after the fact, there are moments when it seems as though there is no wind beneath my wings. And why wouldn’t I feel the way? After all, she was the one who kept our family, and me, on an even keel.

The world around us may look the same to unknowing eyes. But for some of us everything has changed……our children have lost their mother and I have lost my wife. Did anyone ever tell me about this descent into lethal loneliness? It may be altogether natural, and more common that we might expect. But it still hurts.

For years I have used these blog pages to proclaim the message of thriving in late-life. At the moment, however, it doesn’t feel like I am in a “thriving” mode. I tell myself this melancholy funk will pass with time…..but I am not sure I want it to. I don’t want to forget why I feel this way.

Yet, what I am dealing with is not a matter of grieving…..not as I understand it, not the way some folks suffer. The two of us knew what was coming. The whole family did. She spoke openly of her readiness to “move on.” After weeks of hurtful, but necessary conversations we had come to accept that sad reality… much as anyone can.

What I deal with today is not so much the fact of her leaving. If ever anyone deserved to be free of unrelenting pain it was her. I accept that release as a blessing. But what I am left to cope with is the yawning void her absence has created.

I know, of course, that she expects me to carry on. She made that very clear. But how does an eighty-five year old guy “carry on” in face of such loss?  Why did she not warn me about the moments when I wonder why I should make the effort, when the reason for my “carrying on” has left the scene, leaving me adrift?

Fortunately, however, her legacy is not altogether sad and dark....not even close. She has left me with multiple reasons to stay the course. We call them our “kids,” “grandkids,” and “great-grandkids.” They are “reasons” that we ourselves created…..she and I…..the ones she nurtured so lovingly…..the ones she expects me to carry on for.

Of course there will be the harsh times when the reality of her leaving weighs heavily. But at the same time she has left me with work to do…. obligations to fulfill. At first glance it feels a bit like starting over…..returning to a time I can scarcely remember. But I know I must honor her expectations.

When I step back a bit I realize that it is just like her…..setting my table with a new menu of possibilities and responsibilities. And why wouldn’t she? She spent a lifetime expecting more of me, even as she let me decide what that meant.

In a very real way it feels like she is still on the job……doing her thing, working her magic.

Saturday, August 6, 2022



I love Paris in the spring

                                    ....but Belize in October?

(From August, 2016)

I’ve mentioned before how, as a spoiled and self-indulgent boss’s son, I sometimes took advantage of my dad and his willingness to let me “find myself.”.

From time to time, however, I am reminded that he too was capable of his own sneaky tricks. For instance….in spite of the many good things he did for my mother, brother, and me, the old guy managed to bequeath to me a particularly troublesome bit of himself….an itch that I have never completely overcome. You see, I was the one who inherited the Old Man’s lifelong curse….a pesky and persistent infection he called “wanderlust.”

In my case the symptoms apparently surfaced at an early age. By seven or eight I was spending hours leafing through the big Rand McNally World Atlas the folks kept under the coffee table. From map to map to map….one colorful country after another….I toured the world. At each stop on my imaginary travels I paused, trying my best to sound out the strange-looking names, imagining the people who called those far-away places home, all the while wondering what it would be like to live there. I distinctly remember thinking that Nogales, Arizona, on the Mexican border, would be the most wonderful place of all.

Those youthful mind-travels continued to become more and more obsessive until, at age thirteen I ran away from home, determined to see the world for myself. In the end what I saw was a bit of Eastern Oregon and the inside of the Umatilla County Jail. That was a letdown for sure, but not enough to dull that travel itch. Truth is, it’s something I’ve never outgrown. Later, Roma and I would be fortunate enough to visit and even live in some of those places….as many as our resources and family situation would allow. Those were wonderful experiences, but not enough to cure an advanced case of wanderlust.

Then in my mid-sixties, I retired and we moved on to our own October Years. And surprise….it was still there, that undiminished urge to see the world. And now we had the time to indulge those fantasies. 

We began as tourists….twelve weeks revisiting old haunts and old friends in England and Europe. By then I was mulling new possibilities. What if we made our retirement home in one of those far-away places? How cool would that be?

At that point the question became….what sort of retirement move could we afford if we were so inclined? Certainly, those with a hefty pension and fat IRA had more choices than we did. They could decide that “home” ought to be in Arizona or Florida or Europe….any place they wanted. Our choices were more limited?

Fortunately, for those of us who fancy ourselves as bold, even at our age, today’s internet world offers new, sometimes intriguing ways to scratch our retirement travel itch. One of my favorite “wanderlust” fixes is a thick promotional newsletter that arrives in the mail every few months. Apparently I have been on their mailing list for years. As near as I can tell the message has never changed in all that time. I have only to open the envelop and recite the first sentence or two to have Roma heading for another room.

“The hibiscus are in bloom,” the message begins. “As they are every month of the year. The gardener watches over them and the rest of the grounds, while the maid/cook maintains order in your bright and airy home. Just months before you would never have dreamed that the two of you could retire in such luxury for less than $1,800 a month. But now you know what so many others do not….that the good life and affordable health care are well within your reach.

Chances are you have seen that enticing pitch, telling how you can afford the retirement you dream of....somewhere. And perhaps you are one of those who find a certain satisfaction in dreaming about the possibilities it seems to offer. I know I do.

After all, the idea itself is not so far-fetched. For decades our fellow Americans have been taking advantage of low-cost foreign retirement, especially in Mexico and Central America. Lately, in the face of an increasingly harsh economic environment, that trend seems to have taken on new and novel forms.

In this brave new world of ours an up-to-date list of well-publicized retirement havens might be enough to send us back to the atlas….asking retirement questions most of us had never considered. 

For instance, take a moment to ask yourself what it would take to make Colombia a viable place to live out your Golden Years? Or Peru, or Thailand, or Uruguay, or Belize? I see e-mail ads for $300 seminars that will provide all the information you need to establish a home and live the good life in any of those countries….creating a lifestyle that costs a fraction of what you’ll pay here in the U.S. The sponsors claim they can make the case for that. Could they convince you?

Of late, I have come across articles online touting two particular retirement destinations…. Panama and Belize. Certainly Panama has a long history of dealing with and providing for US citizens. Belize, on the other hand, was formerly a British colony. It is the only Central American nation where English is the official language. Each of those countries already hosts a sizable ex-patriot population. Is that enough to make them interesting to you?

I suppose in the end each of us must decide what “retirement”….the label we assign to life-after-work….means to us. For a wanderlust junky like me the lure of  an inexpensive lifestyle lived in some exotic, out-of-the-way locale is a bit seductive and hard to ignore. 

But then, about the time those exciting possibilities have me thinking like a kid again, another of those pesky, hard-to-avoid October realities kicks in. “Is it practical?” I ask myself. 

Perhaps like yours, we are a family-oriented family. How would it work to have Grandma and Grandpa living on the seashore of sunny Belize, thousands of miles from the clan, following our grandkids on Facebook or Zoom, perhaps visiting them every year or two? And even if we could manage that, we are kind of set in our ways. How would we adapt to a very different culture and lifestyle, no matter how inexpensive it was or how adventurous the challenge?

So when it’s all said and done we have decided to settle for the wilds of the exotic Willamette Valley, and the lifestyle we’ve lived for all these years. But don’t think for a moment that I’ll stop day-dreaming about the sunny beaches of Belize or Panama.

How about you? Do the possibilities of tropical splendor on a shoestring resonate with you? Or does “Is it practical?” win out?