Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Best of Boomers Wander Down Memory Lane

As the end of summer nears we cram in as many activities as possible, realizing the weather soon turns cool and long hours of daylight diminish. Shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops are thrown aside for pants, long-sleeve shirts and shoes, our toes not enjoying sunlight again for months. Of course there are folks basking in warmth all year round, and admit I am a wee bit jealous. But I do look forward to seasonal changes.

Change is an ongoing part of life. Some changes we look forward to, others not so much. Summer's end conjures nostalgic thoughts for this week's boomers. I visited my old hometown, Lancaster PA, home for over 35 years, and marveled at the changes occurring since hub and I left town.

This week on the Sightings Over Sixty blog, Tom Sightings reflects back to the 1960s and '70s to remember ... well, see if you can figure out who he talking about, over at Remember Her? 

Laura Lee over at The Adventures of the NEW Old Farts decided to share her mother's story this week. Her Mom is a great example of what traditional womanhood looked like in the 1950's and 60s.

When the world gets to be too much, Carol Cassara says she goes into "nostalgia-mode." Over at Heart-Mind-Soul, she ponders the idea of a more innocent time.

And in a different post, she asks if nostalgia has a taste.

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, has fun writing about her garden with top zucchini recipes.
But, as often happens, even during the summer, interesting consumer stories crop up such as: Are you paying too much for your checking account and are you or your kids having trouble getting your student loan tied to your income?

Sometimes we repeat past experiences, not necessarily because we loved the experience but because circumstances demand it. This past week I found myself Once Again in the Back of a Spirit Airbus.

I am home now temporarily, hosting a houseful of relatives savoring their last fill of beach life. 

Soon the weather grows cold, the water temperature plunges, and the beach empties. I look forward to the quiet time. I might look back with nostalgia on the hectic summer time...but I doubt it.

Happy summer. Robison and others are sweating in the hot summer weather, an unusual occurrence in the Seattle area. 

I realize summer is not over astronomically speaking, but tradition tells us true summer ends Labor Day. Enjoy the last couple of weeks of summer.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Once Again in the Back of A Spirit Airbus

Following a 2 1/2 day car drive south to deliver my son and daughter-in-law's car (don't ask), we enjoyed a rather raucous dinner with the family and uneventful flight home on Spirit airlines.

Checking in a day earlier we discovered assigned seats in the back of the plane, second to last row. We-hub and I-never pay extra for seats. I squeeze into the middle seat, hub settling into the window or (infrequently) the aisle seat.

I am not sure why we always get seats in the back of the plane. Surely we are not the only ones not paying extra for a seat of our choice.

I wonder if our positioning has anything to do with the fact that we are members of an older generation. Are our seats one more insult for the elderly? Does Spirit consider older consumers unworthy of attention because we may not be around long enough to impact the company's bottom line?

Spirit probably assigns better seats to younger passengers. After all, young folks will be around a long, long time. Perhaps the company hopes these customers, as they age and earn more money, will one day pay for seats and other optional add-ons.

Well guess what, Spirit, it is not going to happen.

Once those thrifty young folks have a few extra bucks they will flee to a real airline, one offering a decent seat without an upcharge, one carry-on suitcase without an extra charge, and at least a glass of water at no extra charge.

So, if wishing to stay in business, you (Spirit) should reconsider and be nice-much nicer-to us old folks.

Become the airline of choice for budget travelers of a certain age: cheap seniors.

I could be your poster woman. Backpack secured, drink of choice in hand, wandering around the airport eager for another travel adventure. It might be a visit to the grandkids or a trip to explore a Central American country. I, along with many, many, many boomers and older seniors, retirees with time and flexible schedules, fly more often than younger folks, unless flying on business. And I strongly doubt Spirit is the airline of choice for most business travelers.

I would be more comfortable if I took up less space, but let's face it, I am never going to be any smaller width-wise than I am now. I think Spirit should either sell the planes designed to comfortably seat short American 10-year-olds to a country populated by petite people, or design interiors for American bodies, with wider seats and additional leg room.

The cynical might wonder why put myself through such punishment? Here are the reasons -

Flights are cheap (if willing to fly off peak days and hours).

Spirit flies from the closest airport to our home, a small airport with short security lines, an easy walk or tram ride from the parking lot, no line at the snack bar, and only 20 minutes from the house.

Flights are cheap.

The next closest airport offers more airline choices, but is an hour and a half away, parking is more expensive, and other transportation to the airport time-consuming and costly.

Flights are cheap.

I am thinking I should drug myself when flying Spirit, falling asleep when wedging into a seat and not waking until the plane lands and I slowly uncurl my stiff body into a semblance of a standing position and trudge, zombie-like, off the plane.

The back of the plane offers some entertainment as people walk back and forth to the restrooms. The line lengthens as the flight progresses. People introduce themselves, chat, coo to babies on board, and commiserate about their Spirit experiences. We are all in the same plane, coping but waiting eagerly to be once again on solid ground.

So although hub and I find ourselves once more in the back of a Spirit plane, the flight was cheap.

And we will do it again...too soon. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A City in the Midst of a 21st Century Renaissance

I walked out the front door and as I turned to lock it, my glasses fogged up so much I could not see the lock. I fumbled, wiped my glasses on my shirt, tried again and succeeded. Already sweating although only 7:30 in the morning, I was glad my day would be spent in air conditioned comfort.

Summers in Lancaster County PA, my hometown for over 35 years. I remember the crushing humidity not too fondly.

I walked along the brick sidewalk to my destination: the Marriott Hotel and Convention Center, a complex symbolizing the changes rocking this once sleepy backwater undergoing a 21st century renaissance. Dinner the evening before with friends revealed details about changes occurring in the city.   Attracted by reasonable housing and commercial rental costs, young folks have been moving into the city and opening boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops, and art galleries. Activity, enthusiasm, youthful vibrancy energize the city. 

On the other hand tensions are beginning to occur between long-term residents, small businesspeople and the artsy crowd, and the most recent residents - folks swooping in from the New York metropolitan area and other nearby cities. Many newcomers populating downtown are retirees seeking city life at an affordable price - the definition of affordable varying widely!

Developers snatch up old, decaying factory buildings, many vacant for years, redevelop the properties and sell condo apartments for big bucks. 

Curious about prices I wandered over to (virtually, of course). One building undergoing development advertised condos from a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,890 square foot apartment for $659,900 to a 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 950 square feet apartment for $239,800.

Locals fear being priced out of the market and worry the people responsible for revitalizing the city will no longer be able to live and work downtown.

Hub's comment on learning the newest trend, "Why Lancaster?" 

I am not sure of the answer, but outsiders have been visiting the area for years. An Amish population as well as other Old Order religious groups, many foregoing modern amenities like electricity, initially attracted tourists. 

People have been fleeing high-tax, high cost of living places like New York, New Jersey, and the New England states for years, until recently Florida and the Southwest the most popular destinations. Other areas now draw retirees, and Lancaster city appears to be one of these new 'in' places, attracting retirees eager to participate in the city's cultural life and restaurant scene.

Lancaster city declined during the latter part of the 20th century, like so many cities across the country. Suburban sprawl flourished while cities crumpled. Central Farmers Market drew believers in fresh, homegrown produce (like me), but many suburbanites refused to venture downtown. Hospital stays and visits, and possibly a show at the Fulton Theater often the only exceptions.
I passed a French bakery and bistro, open about a year and a half and one of many delightful additions to the city, and could not resist wandering inside. The word beautiful hardly begins to describe the treats artfully displayed.
I love the fact old cities and towns are coming back to life. Although a daughter of suburbia, I am not a fan of suburban sprawl. I will occasionally return to check on Lancaster's metamorphosis. 

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ten Reasons I Love My Walkable Community

As baby boomers retire, articles appear listing best places to live one’s golden years. Hub and I enjoy our current hometown and may stay, but may not.

One of the major reasons we like living in our coastal New Jersey island is its walkability, and close proximity to amenities. Within walking distance are a Rite Aid, three pizza places, hardware store, a cleaners, small grocery store with a fabulous meat and deli department, a take-out Chinese joint, five sit-down restaurants, two breakfast and lunch cafes, the municipal building, library and community center, plus several other retail stores and businesses. And the jewel of our town – the boardwalk and beach.

We love walking (and riding bikes)
around our community because We –

* Get fresh air and exercise.

* Meet and greet neighbors and visitors (a summer resort, visitors swarm all over during the season).

* Feel less guilty eating, especially high-calorie foods. We walked today! (or rode bikes!) We used up calories! We got exercise! Let’s eat!

* Help save the environment.

* Save money on gas and less frequent car repairs.

* Walk or ride bikes to the doctor, dentist, bank, post office, a coffee shop, an ice cream parlor…

* Enjoy our library and community center – about a four-block walk - offering a variety of programs year-round, including movies, music performances, discussion groups, and art and exercise classes.

* Boast one of the best bagel stores anywhere. Actually this is not necessarily a positive, my waistline attesting to that fact.

* (Almost) effortlessly walk or ride around town because the terrain is flat and senior-friendly.

* Are able to travel to ‘the big city’ (Philadelphia or New York) on public transportation at a reasonable cost. We can also drive if we choose to experience the hassle of traffic, tolls, and parking fees.

Of course there are negatives to living in our town – the number one by far (local surveys attest to this fact) high property taxes.

No place is perfect. We love living here now, but are open to future possibilities. Any ideas? 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Blueberries and Eggplants and More, Oh My!

Three years ago my grandson and I planted a blueberry bush in my yard. It survived each season, barely hanging on. No blueberries, however, until this year. Check out the picture below, our total 2016 blueberry harvest. I can only hope this is a precursor of things to come. Next year blueberry muffins and blueberry pancakes for everyone!

I plant seeds and seedlings in a tiny triangle of a vegetable patch in our backyard. This year cherry tomatoes are prolific, larger varieties sparse. 

Here is my first ripe large tomato, 
although large in this case is a relative term.

When my younger son was home our garden thrived. Zucchini always proved prolific. Eggplant never succeeded, one meager eggplant sprouting, only one or two plants producing anything in a given year.

My son left home, I was otherwise engaged, hub had no interest in gardening. We abandoned the vegetable garden.

Then we moved. A small barren patch in our yard tempted. A couple of years ago I once again donned garden gloves and picked up a spade.

Fast forward to this year.

Eggplant and healthy green leaves!
My eggplant seedlings, for the first time ever, flourished. 
Ironically I am not an eggplant fan, but grilled eggplant is a diet staple this summer.

The biggest harvest is yet to come, timed perfectly for the week hub and I are out of town. No doubt we will return home to overripe, rotting tomatoes, eggplant, and green peppers (only one small one picked so far).

 Oh well. Hub is a Bronx boy, more comfortable with concrete than compost. My thumb is a very light green at best, so coaxing copious amounts of vegetables from our piece of earth is not part of my skill set.
 But I find working in the garden, planting, pruning, weeding, harvesting, fertilizing (organic fertilizer only) therapeutic:

It is quiet – as long as the neighbors’ landscapers are not mowing and pruning with earsplitting equipment, another neighbor is not blaring music, and kids are not playing a noisy ball game in the street.

I get fresh air and exercise and sometimes lots of bug bites.

Plants thrive as long as our resident squirrel keeps his distance.

It is encouraging watching seedlings flourish and mature assuming plants and produce do not wilt from an extended hot, dry period.

On the other hand it is discouraging when –
plants shrivel and die for no reason,
carefully tended plants never produce vegetables,
one morning chopped off plants greet you, the offender a sneaky animal,
heavy rains decimate young plants and vegetables,  
plants struggle to survive under a searing sun.

I enjoy watching my garden progress from an empty piece of soil to a lush patch of foliage, and then reluctantly watch plants wither as their lifespan ends.

But as I pull dead plants and level the soil I smile, knowing the cycle will repeat the following year. Maybe the harvest will be better, maybe not. Time will tell. Life is like that. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Decoding Private Equity Enterprises

During a past life (not really, but it seems that way) I worked in the financial arena. Nowadays I rarely write about my former life. My years at a small firm provided a peek into the world of Wall Street and the financial dealings of ‘the big guys’.

Sometimes – and this is nothing but my opinion – companies (banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies and other financial institutions) purposely create documents, ideas and concepts difficult for non-financial professionals to understand. Businesses do this for a number of reasons:

·           *  The legal department requires a lot of detailed mumbo jumbo.

·            * The company wants people to feel nervous about making their own financial decisions, fostering an atmosphere spurring individuals to rely on someone else - a financial representative – to tell the person what to do.

·            * The font on documents is so small we (seniors and other vision-impaired folks) cannot clearly read them.

·           * Documents are frequently crammed with unneeded and unnecessary information only distantly related to the transaction in progress. Most people never read the fine print.

·           * Financial papers are boring and put readers to sleep, or minimally in a stupor…

Sometimes an item rises above the cloudy haze and explains a concept in a simple, understandable way.

I came across one such article recently, the subject matter private equity companies.

I can imagine readers rolling their eyes and assuming the topic has nothing to do with them. Why do I need to know about private equity? People are thinking. I do not have gobs of money to invest. So how do private equity companies impact my life and me?

Initial thought might be – not at all.

But that would be a mistake.

in an easy to read, simple to navigate, painless power-point-type presentation illustrated with cute graphics, four business correspondents answer the question:

Why should I care about private equity companies?

The free financial dictionary defines private equity companies as firms that buy out publicly-traded companies, making them privately held.

Here are just a few ways these companies touch our lives.

Private equity firms:

·      Own companies we patronize (California Pizza Kitchen is owned by Golden Gate Capital; Domino’s Pizza by Bain Capital).

·      Maintain and operate infrastructure and government services (the Bayonne NJ water system).

·      Buy and sell companies (Simmons Bedding was bought and sold 5+ times over the years by private equity firms before declaring bankruptcy. But don’t worry – the equity firms made money even though lots of employees lost their jobs and shareholders lost money).

·      Build buildings and roads (Indiana Toll Road, California toll lanes, unsuccessful ventures for the states and drivers. Once the firms took over, tolls increased).

·      Invest in private schools and educational products.

·      Invest in media and communications.

·      Manage real estate holdings (The Blackstone Group advertises itself as the largest real estate equity firm in the world. Holdings include Motel 6 and Hilton Worldwide).

·      Etc…Ironman (sports games) is owned by Providence Equity.

You can wow your friends by explaining how our lives are controlled by companies most of us never heard of.

Perhaps not exciting, but a different topic of conversation and a pleasant change from politics!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Donald Trump and his Co-Conspirators

The light at the end of the lengthy, unpredictable election year tunnel is in sight as the final round of the 2016 Presidential campaign begins.

Election Day – Tuesday, November 8, 2016

This election will be remembered as one of the most bizarre in American history, yet an important one determining the future of the country. I see the election as a choice between two very different visions: Does our nation forge ahead and tear down walls, or look back and build walls?

Full disclosure: I will vote to forge ahead.

The establishment has looked disbelievingly at the rise of Donald Trump, but I believe his ascendancy can be traced back to the rise of a co-conspirator of sorts.

The candidate’s window of opportunity began with the repeal of a federal regulation, the Fairness Doctrine, in 1987, requiring radio stations to provide free broadcast time for responses to controversial opinions previously aired. The repeal of the Doctrine permitted stations to broadcast editorial material without presenting opposing points of view.

Rush Limbaugh, a radio talk show host in Sacramento CA, declared himself free from the liberal media, moved to New York City and began his radio show, quickly gaining a national following. He is often rated the #1 radio talk show host in the country.

Limbaugh advocates conservative causes in an extremely heavy-handed, take-no-prisoners way, verbally abusing and pummeling adversaries professionally and personally. He repudiates one of the hallmarks of a vibrant democracy - compromise. Part of his modus operandi is delivering inaccurate statements. When the mistake is brought to his attention, Limbaugh professes a meek, half-hearted apology.

A direct line can be drawn from Limbaugh’s vitriol to the emergence of the current Republican Presidential candidate. Limbaugh, along with other conservative talking heads and Fox News (the number 1 network news station), encourages listeners to disdain alternative opinions and those advocating them.

I do not understand why so many people support a man with a history of shady business practices; a man who takes advantage of small businesspeople and workers; a misogynist; an individual with no qualms about dissing anyone–women, disabled, minorities, various religious groups; a man who refuses to disassociate himself from white supremacists and other hatemongers; a man capitalizing on people’s fears...I could go on and on, but what is the point? I understand people’s frustration with the system, but Trump offers nothing but bluster and empty promises.

I am not surprised Roger Ailes, a conservative Republican strategist and consultant before becoming head honcho of TV’s most notorious one-sided news venue, was fired resigned under a cloud (his demise had nothing to do with his political views but everything to do with sexual harassment allegations). Unfortunately I doubt Ailes’ departure will change Fox News' right-wing leanings or journalistic integrity. Fox works hard reshaping the news to fit a particular worldview, magnifying certain problems and demonizing the opposition. A PunditFact’s TV network scorecard found 60% of Fox News’ claims mostly false or worse. In comparison 44% of the news reported on NBC and MSNBC were mostly false or worse, and on CNN only 20% of reports were in some degree false.

The irony of Trump’s rise is that the Republican establishment is now sharply divided. Many politicians avoided the Republican convention and either refuse to back Trump or offer at best a lukewarm endorsement. A segment of the conservative media - individuals, organizations and websites - that previously adored Limbaugh now deride him for supporting Trump.

I look forward to the fun and games following the election that hopefully (wishful thinking on my part) result in a GOP Presidential defeat. 

Whatever your political leanings, there is one thing I am sure everyone can agree on–Election Day will not arrive soon enough.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Delaying the Arrival of Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Today I feel better about my relentless move through the ages.

My 20s passed quickly, engrossed with college and grad school, getting married, having two children. Then it was on to the 30s, busy years raising kids, relocating twice, grad school (again), working…and before I knew it I turned 40. Kids, work, vacations, volunteer activities, graduations, family events all clustered in the 1990s, my 40s decade.

Y2K came and went and my world, along with the rest of the world, survived the computer meltdown bust. I entered the new century as a quinquagenarian, a long, sophisticated, unpronounceable word meaning a person 50 years old, or between the ages of 50 and 60.

My boys married and began having babies, and hub and I became grandparents. Downsizing, family events, work filled the days and the years zoomed by. 

Suddenly I turned 60. I became a sexagenarian, a much cooler sounding word than quinquagenarian. Another relocation, retirement, more grandkids, travel, family, old friends and new, volunteer activities, writing, now consume my time and the days pass quickly.

I keep an electronic file of articles for future reading. The file grows and some pieces will never be read, but one item caught my eye this morning as I scanned the list when relegating another story to the must-read pile.

It was very short but made my day.

The article summarized a scientific study that concluded grandparents who babysit their grandkids delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s. The study was done in Australia, but I bet grandparents around the world, including American grands, would duplicate the results. Including hub and me.

The study made clear being a full-time babysitter, five days a week, does not bode well for grands. But babysitting one or two days a week is ideal. The conclusion reached is grandkids are good for the older generation – in moderation.

Hub and I do not grandsit every week. The kids live too far away. But we do it regularly enough, I believe, to put ourselves on the side of grands deferring at least two of the evils of aging.

And that is why I feel better today about my aging progression than I did yesterday…
My 91-year-old Mom with her 5-year-old great granddaughter.
She is a perfect example of how grand sitting puts cognitive impairment on hold.

Hub and I returned from our latest grandsitting and visitation adventure tired, a little sore from sitting in the car for hours, and a bit rounder from too much pizza and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cake.

The instructor explaining to four and five-year-olds the
intricacies of the game of Capture the Flag at our
granddaughter's birthday party.
Here is a peek in pictures from five days with three grandkids and two pooped parents. 
An afternoon blueberry picking
Visiting the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory
An afternoon at the trampoline gym.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

In Search of One Night’s Sleep

So we are on the road again. Hub and I find ourselves amidst commuters and vacationers ahead of us on heavily traveled roads, in front of us at Starbucks, the restroom, tollbooths and traffic lights. In our cocoon of a home and town we maintain a degree of isolation from the summer madness, rarely driving to crowded malls or supermarkets or tourist attractions. Our chosen mode of transportation is bicycle or our feet.

We left home mid-afternoon, planning to stop along the way at a motel and finish our trek to northern Vermont the following day.

We exited the New York Thruway at Kingston in search of dinner and a comfortable bed. I was impressed by a downtown lined with appealing eating establishments, retail stores, including an independent bookstore, an LGBTQ community center, and a variety of businesses from yoga and fitness studios to law offices.

Opening the door to a tavern a couple exiting at the same time told us, ”You don’t want to go in. The kitchen is closed tonight.”

Hub asked, “Any suggestions where we can go? Never been here before.”

The man thought a moment and responded, “Around the corner are a couple of places with great food…one has cauliflower wings, excellent…”

I didn’t need to hear more.

We found the restaurant, a bit pricier than we would have liked but we enjoyed delicious food on an outdoor deck furnished with a lively bar and huge screen showing movies (To Catch a Thief). Hub researched motels  while waiting for our food and eventually said, “We must be in a resort area. Cheapest place I can find is $165. Maybe we should continue driving after dinner.”

Which is exactly what we did.

Once again we headed north on the Thruway. A few minutes later I realized my long-sleeve shirt remained on the back of my chair on the restaurant’s deck. I called the restaurant – we weren’t going to turn around – and the shirt will be waiting for me when, hopefully, I remember to stop by and retrieve it on the way home this weekend.

Hub drove and I searched for a motel room, my go-to ap Yelp.

One town within reasonable driving distance seemed promising, listing several places. I touched the screen on the most highly rated to read the reviews. The first one began, “This was the first nudity place I ever visited…” The website describes the place as a “clothing optional nudist resort”. Reading further I discover it is a campground. No tent or RV? You can buy a single day pass, or a season day pass.

Uh oh. I don’t think so. I don’t want strangers gazing at my nude body, and I certainly do not want to look at other nude bodies hanging around the pool, riding bikes, playing volleyball and walking along the nature trails (viewed in pictures of peoples’ backs on the website). I cannot afford all the bug spray and suntan lotion needed to lather my nude body.  Where do people put their cash in case he or she wants to buy a drink or more bug spray?

Luckily a moderately priced chain motel was right off the next exit. By the time we arrived at the motel it was dark, we were tired, but most important the bed, adorned with several pillows, felt comfy.

We collapsed into sleep heaven.

One issue unresolved: Why is traveling, sitting and not moving the body, so exhausting? 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Best of Boomers Look Back and Move On

Real spring never arrived in my town this year. Cold, wet, ugly conditions existed during most of what is traditionally known as spring. But the weather gods finally got their act together and, perhaps as an apology for the appalling spring, delivered a beautiful summer (so far) of warm sunny days. 

Currently the humidity oppresses, but occasional humid days are part of the summer experience. Not a cloud in the sky, leaves on trees move subtly in the breeze, the beach teems with sun worshippers and kids cavorting, and a steady stream of folks converge on our beach cottage. We relax with friends during lazy evening dinners highlighted by steamed clams and fresh-picked Jersey corn.

We bid visitors farewell and collapse, relax, recover, reenergize and prepare for our next guests. The pattern prevails throughout summer and fall, then ceases during the winter months. As boomer friends relocate permanently or seasonally to far corners of the country, we treasure our time together.

Many boomers wandered far from home starting with college. Today boomers migrate to Sunbelt or other desirable locales while others return to childhood communities.

Speaking of moving, Tom Sightings reports that he is in the middle of that great American retirement dream...downsizing. For the latest see Today We Move, and for some humorous background check out We're Drowning in Boxes!

I have encountered people who returned to my beach community full time, or as snowbirds, after thirty or forty years working around the globe.

And speaking of working…Laura Lee Carter has been fantasizing lately about other lives she might have had if her mind had been more open and she had known herself better in her early 20's, when she chose her first career.

We Boomers couldn't wait to leave home. But our children and grandchildren's generations? Not so much.  What do you do when your grown child won't leave the nest? A couple of psychologists weigh in over at Heart-Mind-Soul. Carol Cassara shares their thoughts here.  

On a more sober note, on The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about the need to revise the Funeral Rule so consumers can get cost information on the Internet. Two consumers groups have petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to take action now rather than waiting until 2019. Consumers are likely to spend at least $50 billion on funeral services between 2016 and 2019. A nationwide survey by the Funeral Consumers Alliance and Consumer Federation of America found that few funeral homes fully disclosed prices online.

The weather outside beckons, shouts of kids playing override the hum of the air conditioner and neighbors pass by, intent on completing errands or stealing time at the beach. It is a peaceful microcosm in a world gone wild.

Enjoy the season and hope your week is safe and peaceful.

Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.
I hope someday you'll join us,
and the world will be as one.
- John Lennon