Thursday, June 27, 2019

Aging and Attitude

By Fran McNabb

It happens to all of us. One day we’re young and carefree with small children and new houses and lots of energy. Then we open our eyes one morning and realize those days are long past. We are no longer young. Our children are grown. Our houses are older and empty. When we find ourselves in this situation, what should we do?

Growing old doesn’t have to be depressing. Being old is a matter of perception and the attitude each of us has toward it. I know fifty year olds who act old and I know seventy and eighty year olds who are still young at heart and don’t let the age thing keep them down. I hope I’m considered in that last category.  I think how a person looks at life makes all the difference in the world.

If you’re reaching the senior citizen age, how are you approaching it? Many businesses start giving senior citizen discounts to people as young as fifty. Really? It’s nice of businesses to give a discount, but at fifty? At fifty most of us are still quite active and resent when they are put into that classification. I passed the fifty year mark years ago. I seem to be more active now than then since I was fighting RA at the time. Now with the miraculous new drugs on the market, I’m much more active and enjoy life to the fullest.

Hubby and I are realists and do understand we can’t continue forever doing some of the things we love to do, such as boating and doing the beach scene. We are both seventy-one. That’s hard for me to imagine since I don’t feel that way. In a few weeks we’re driving eleven hours to our son’s house where we’ll get on a boat with some forty year olds and go to Bimini in the Bahamas. We’re excited to be invited because it’s one of our favorite places in the world. We will try our best to keep up with the “younger crowd” on this trip and enjoy what will probably be our last trip out to that island. After returning from The Bahamas we are planning to drive into the Keys (our next favorite spot in the world) to enjoy a few days there. We're not letting age stop us from enjoying this trip.

As authors I think the “age-thing” influences the type of characters we write about. I know I stay away from twenty-something characters because I don’t think like them anymore. Other than that I’m not sure I let age stand in my way.

No matter how old you are, when it’s time to be considered old, I hope you have done all that you’ve wanted to do. We might be a little slower and we might choose not to do some things in life, but, hey, don’t let age get in your way. Want to do it? Try it.

FRAN MCNABB tries to live life to the fullest along her beloved Gulf Coast. She enjoys boating, fishing, reading, and of course writing. Many of her nine published novels are set along the coastline. One is set in Key West. Check them out at or write her at

Monday, June 24, 2019


I can’t be the only one who, on the twenty-first day of June, starts to get anxious about summer being over. Even though I’m mostly retired and travel and vacate nearly as much during the other three seasons, summer will always mean vacations and good times. But every year, from the first official day of summer, I start to fret about it almost being over.  Come the third week in August, I go into panic mode as the sun sets earlier and the evenings get cooler knowing autumn is just around the corner 
There are theoretically, three months to summer:  mid-June to mid-September.  But most of us, even if school was fifty years ago, still think in terms of the school year and summer vacation so it’s really less than three months. That’s not a lot of time to pack in all that summer brings.  
My list of wants combined with the Northeast’s relatively short season means there’s simply not enough time to cover it all. It doesn’t help that this June it also rained almost every single day.
So what is it about summer that is so great?  Being outdoors for starters.  Come November through mid- March, unless you’re a skier and I’ve hung up my skis, we Northeasterners are mostly inside. But in the summer months, you can be outside all the time—unless it’s raining. 
Most spectacularly there are the lakes and the ocean and even the backyard pool to enjoy. Besides the sports that come with being by the water, including sailing and kayaking and swimming, there’s the wonder and beauty of simply sitting beside water either in a lounge chair or a hammock with a good book and a glass of rosé or iced tea—pure heaven.       
But back to the salad days of summer, which are just now beginning. Besides the pleasures that come with the beach or the lake, there’s grilling outdoors followed by dinner on the deck or in the screened in porch alight with candles as the sun goes down. Rocking on the front porch with a friend or that same book and of course, a glass of wine.  There’s also playing golf. Whether you’re ready to go pro or are a duffer, there’s still the joy of being outside in a beautiful place. 
And when not golfing or reading and drinking wine? Outdoor concerts, summer theatre and midweek potluck dinner with friends fill the days and evenings as do celebrating Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day outside with old and new friends..
Perhaps summer is really be a symbol of what I love best, socializing, being outside and enjoying life and all it has to offer.  It is probably also about childhood memories of the beach and the lake and long carefree days when I wasn’t responsible for anyone but myself. Regardless, it is my favorite time of the year, not because I’m able to tan to a beautiful bronze, I freckle, but because more than any other season, it represents the little joys that life brings and reminds me to stop rushing so that I can enjoy them.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Thoughts on Father's Day

Father's Day has come and gone again. Since my own dad's passing in 2012, I always find a bittersweet element to this nationwide celebration. Of course I honor my husband, the father of my children, and do my best to help him feel appreciated. Now that all of my children are parents, I honor the fathers of my grandchildren as well. Somehow, it isn't the same without a dad of my own.

So I spend part of each Father's Day remembering my dad. Born in 1922, Dad grew up in a small farming community nestled in a valley of the Gila Mountains. Born on the Arizona side of that valley, he grew up on the New Mexico side, near Silver City. Throughout his life, he loved driving through well-tended fields of productive farmland. He was even more thrilled by the pastoral scenes. Whenever I drive past fields of green grass where Black Angus cattle graze peacefully, I think of my dad, knowing how much he would love that sight.

He gardened throughout his life, also tending fruit trees, berry vines, grapes, and other crops. He and Mom chose homes with a little land around them, so he always had animals to tend. My sibs and I grew up on healthful, organically grown milk, meat, eggs, and produce whose provenance we all knew well, since we had helped to grow it (sometimes, when Dad let us or insisted).

Dad loved horses. As a pre-teen girl with horse-crazy friends, so did I. When I was a young teen, he bought a sweet old mare who gave my sister and me some interesting rides. Then Dad traded Belle in on a young, "proud-cut" gelding who had a little too much spirit for my taste. I rode Star occasionally and my sister liked Star better, but Dad loved him. As a young man, he had ridden on cattle drives. In his early adult life, he had worked for the U.S. Forest Service, often riding in to the fire lines, leading a pack mule that carried additional supplies. A spirited horse was exactly his style.

He was a teacher who had never really wanted to teach, whose students all adored him. He made up fantastic stories that he set in the history of the nation or the world, making the history he taught personal enough that his students could grasp and appreciate it.

Because of his birth in 1922, Dad was the right age to go to war with the Greatest Generation. He joined the Navy and became a sailor who was violently ill whenever at sea. He did better when assigned as a radioman and tail gunner for a small airplane in a smaller air field on an even smaller island in the Pacific. He seldom spoke of his war experience, usually only to say he had never been in combat. When he was in his 70s, he finally began to talk of the side of the war he had seen, including plenty of death and sorrow.

He adored babies. Whenever the family gathered, Dad gravitated toward the little people. Almost every child born in our extended family up to the date of his death has been held, rocked, and sung to sleep by my father. When my own grandchildren cry now, especially that inconsolable cry all babies sometimes manage, I wish for my father to soothe them. I wonder, sometimes, if he might be there.

On this most recent Father's Day, I cooked a special meal for my husband, sent e-cards to all the other fathers in the family, and let them all know I love them and appreciate the fine work they are doing in raising the next generation. But in my private moments, I thought of my dad. I probably always will.

Susan Aylworth is the author of 18 novels currently available as e-books. PARIS IN THE SPRINGTIME and SUNNY'S SUMMER, the first two books in the "Seasons of Destiny" series, are also available in paperback. Book Two chronicles the aftermath of the deadly Camp Fire. She lives in northern California with Roger, her husband of 49 years. She loves hearing from readers. Find her at, @SusanAylworth, on Pinterest and Instagram, and at

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Travel - Anticipation and Anxiety

by Karen McCullough

Image in public domain, from Wickimedia Commons
Summer is about to officially begin and that means travel time!

I love traveling.

I hate traveling.

I love going to new and different places, collecting new experiences, and seeing things I’ve long dreamed about visiting.

I hate all the hassles of getting to those places.

I love the excitement of airports, with the anticipation of travel to exotic (or even more mundane, but different) places. I like window-shopping in fancy stores, picking up a few last-minute things, and watching the planes land and take off.

I hate the anxiety of getting to the airport on time, getting through long security lines and pat-downs. I always seem to trigger a pat-down, though I have to be the least threatening looking person in the entire airport. I hate worrying about getting to my gate on time, the crush of people all trying to board as quickly as possible, and settling into a seat area that’s impossibly tight even for someone who is 5’1” and 130 pounds. I hate the inevitable delays and worry about making connections, especially for international flights.

I love relaxing into my seat, getting into a book or movie, having someone bring drinks and food to me.

I hate being confined in a small space for hours on end, having to climb over people to get around, using an airplane lav, the bland tastelessness of most of the food, and my own complete inability to sleep on a plane.

I love landing in a new place, finally getting off the blasted plane and stretching my legs, anticipating the adventure ahead.

I hate lines at passport control, the crush of luggage retrieval, and the search for the taxi stand. Especially in a country where I don’t speak the local language, I worry about communicating with the taxi driver, getting ripped off, and making it to the right hotel or Airbnb. Or if I’m renting a car, I worry about the hassles of that process and then finding my way to my destination, hoping the GPS on my phone works in this place or the maps I’ve studied were correct.

I love settling into new quarters, starting out to explore the new terrain, finding new delights and surprises around every corner. I relish trying new food at local cafes and eateries, making notes about interesting details as research for a possible future story setting, and even watching the people. Soaking in the atmosphere of a new place, talking to local people, shopping for souvenirs, taking in as many interesting sites as possible all feed my soul. Large dramatic sites, like the Colosseum in Rome or Stonehenge (or as I hope this summer, the Acropolis), move me in odd and profound ways. The beauty of small objects in museum also touches me. I feel the history of a place as almost a living thing when in direct visual contact with the creations of people throughout history. They speak to me through the stone or glass or clay. I could spend days in art and archaeology museums, or at least hours – until my brain starts to complain about overload.

I hate that occasionally my stomach rebels at all the new foods and different waters, though it doesn’t happen often, thank goodness, and there are medicines that help. I wish I didn’t have to be careful about what I eat because I’m allergic to nuts and they’re hidden in a lot of things. And I sometimes wish my feet could handle more miles, though I wear good shoes for walking and in fact, can do a lot of it. I’m not good at packing the right things, although that’s mixed because it can give me a good excuse to pick up something I wouldn’t otherwise have bought.

I love the way travel expands my mind and my imagination.

I hate the way it empties my pocketbook and bank account. But I count every penny worth the expense.