Monday, April 30, 2007

Greetings from Northern Ireland!

Hello! Here I am in Londonderry (Derry). Northern Ireland. I found a pay-per-use computer, so here I am on line. I miss my computer! Tomorrow, it's on to the Republic of Ireland in the south. I'm having a fine time, but I wish I could walk better. Oh, well. I promise an account of the trip here when I return in mid-May.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spring Comes to Chicago, Finally!

Those of us who live in or very near downtown Chicago often are not engaged in gardening (yes, I'll have petunias on my balcony later), but we can still see a touch of color in the early spring, courtesy of the Old Town Gardens garden center a half-block north of my condo building. When Old Town Gardens opens sometime in April, I know that spring has come to Chicago.

The flower boxes outside the many outdoor cafes on the block are beginning to appear, too. By June, we'll be surrounded by flowers, and as long as someone else does the hard work , I love them!

Copyright 2007 by Marlys Marshall Styne

The Clare at Water Tower: April 22 Update

The Clare continues to grow. It will take a long time to build a 53-story building, but now that spring is here, there's measurable growth. Look for my next update in mid-May.

Copyright 2007 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Sunday, April 22, 2007

More on Boomsday

I finally found time to read Boomsday, by Christopher Buckley (see my March 24 post), and I loved it! Buckley's tale of Cassandra Devine's "Voluntary Transitioning" proposal to reform Social Security and the resulting uproar gives the author a chance to reveal the hypocrisy in our political system, big business, advertising, the media, church leaders (both Protestant and Catholic), and just about every other aspect of our society. This book isn't for everyone, but if you enjoy fiction, understand satire (ala Swift's "A Modest Proposal," etc.), like to think, and can laugh at our foibles, this book is for you. Christopher Buckley is also the author of "Thank You for Smoking," "No Way to Treat a First Lady," and many other books as well.

Copyright 2007 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Warning for Seniors: Have a "Plan B"

Dan Kadlec's article "Homeward Bound. Baby Boomers' parents who fled south at retirement are coming back to the family nest" (Time, April 23) reminded me again that nothing is forever. It also reassured me that realistic planning for the future makes sense.

Here are a few statistics Kadlec quotes: "Nearly 18% of people over 60 who moved across state lines say they are returning to their hometown, according to the Census Survey." "More than one third of the elderly who moved to Pittsburgh from 1995 to 2000 had relocated from Florida." "Most return because they've lost a spouse or are no longer mobile and need the support a family can provide."

As I've said before, planning for retirement is a personal issue; the "right" plan depends on the individual and upon unpredictable circumstances. I've seen two extremes among my fellow seniors, particularly the 65-75 age group. One group includes those who cling to homes and lives they're understandably reluctant to give up, even after stair-climbing, gardening, familiar routines, and/or driving become difficult or even dangerous. The other group includes those who cut all ties and flee to a warmer climate to play golf or lounge on the beach, often living great lives for a while, but with no thought of the future. I see dangers in both extremes.

Kadlec mentions four things to consider: retaining family ties, renting both new and old homes to allow for an easy return if you change your mind, thinking about future mobility and availability of public transit when it's needed, and keeping return channels from that isolated, multi-story house in a remote area open. "On average, women outlive their driving ability by 10 years, men by 8." Sobering thoughts, indeed!

None of us can foresee the future, but we all know that death is inevitable, even in these days of healthy aging and longer lives. To me, the answer is balance and planning ahead. Assuming that we have choices (some don't), we need to avoid both the danger of clinging to any lifestyle long after it makes sense and the danger of cutting all ties and assuming we'll live in an earthly, climate-friendly Utopia almost forver. Sure--go after the retirement lifestyle that suits you, but always have a "Plan B."

Copyright 2007 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Friday, April 13, 2007

Join Seniors Grand Central. It's Free!

If you are fifty years old or older, how about joining a fairly new senior web site called "Seniors Grand Central," a.k.a. "Seniors/Boomers Grand Central/eGenerations," at The site is free, easy to navigate (with videos in case you have trouble), and is attracting more members every day.

Later this month, I'll be starting a regular column called "MyMemoirs" on Seniors Grand Central. The idea is to encourage everyone to write, to record his or her valuable memories and experiences and perhaps to share them with family, friends, and/or the world. It will be a place for sharing our life stories and encouraging each other to keep writing. I'll be there to answer questions and make suggestions.

Check out Seniors Grand Central. Join and contribute to the groups that interest you. Check out my journal there to get an idea of my plans. You can find it on the site by clicking on "Connect" and "Journals" and "Seniorwriter's Journal." Feel free to leave your comments either here or there; I'll be happy to hear from you.

Copyright 2007 by Marlys Marshall Styne
Official brochure by Seniors Grand Central, 2007.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

My Mother Died Today

I sadly report that my mother, Violet Marshall Funston, age 95, passed away this morning in Northfield, Minnesota. If you have read my March 9 post, you know that she was a remarkable woman for her time and place, and seeing her suffering in her later years has been painful for everyone who knew her--and she had a lot of friends.

I regret that Mother and I were not especially close. I fulfilled one of her dreams by having a long, successful teaching career and achieving financial independence, but I did not live up to her ideal of the perfect housekeeper and cook, wife, mother, and grandmother. I think that rather late in life, she learned to accept me as I am. She did not retain her reading ability long enough to read my book, or probably to recognize that it existed, but I think she would have been proud.

Our relationship was problematic, as mother-daughter relationships often are, but we loved each other. She awakened my imagination, believed in college education for her children even when she had to take a job to finance it, and borrowed money to make my first European trip happen. Ever the self-sacrificing mother, she traveled abroad only once, much later, when she went to England with me. We both enjoyed the trip very much.

I will remember my mother not as the very ill nursing home patient she eventually became, but as the smart, attractive, enthusiastic, friendly person she once was. Goodbye, Mother.

(Note: I shall be driving to Minnesota for a few days, so there will be no new posts here for a while. I'll be back.)

Copyright 2007 by Marlys Marshall Styne
Photo: Mother on her 94th birthday, with my brother John and me

Monday, April 02, 2007

Another Report on The Clare

Building continues, now that spring has come to Chicago. As of March 30, I could see further progress. This photo, taken from the northeast corner of Rush and Pearson, across the street from the site, shows progress on at least four floors. It's beginning to look like a building!
It takes a long time to build 53 floors, but it's a fascinating process to watch. Check it out if you're in Chicago.

Copyright 2007 by Marlys Marshall Styne
Photo by the author.