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Archive for the ‘Aging’ Category

The Best Part about Getting Older | by Linda Brendle

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BFOR Blog Blitz – Day #29

Meme for BFOR 0829 postSeveral days ago my 16-year-old grand niece posted this meme on Facebook, and I responded with the obligatory laughing emoticon. I remember when I was her age, and our generational slogan was “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.” I never really felt that distrust, but I did feel like anyone who was thirty was pretty much past their prime. Now that I’m well over twice that age, my perspective has changed. I no longer feel like there’s nothing good about getting older. In fact, I have found it to be quite enjoyable, and here are some reasons why.

Fashion

I’ve never been what you’d call a fashionista, but there was a time when I tried to keephigh heeled boots up with current trends in clothes, make-up, hairstyles, and especially shoes. I loved shoes and would have had a pair to go with every outfit if I had the budget for it. After my brother told me I walked like an elephant when I strode past him in my first pair of three-inch heels, I practiced long and hard until I could glide in a pair of stilettos with nary a turned ankle. I did manage to turn a few heads, though.

After several decades, back surgery, and months of physical therapy, I had to modify my heel height. I mourned the loss until I stumbled into a conversation with some of the younger women in my office. They were all sporting fashionable boots with four-inch spikes and were comparing blisters and foot pain. I mumbled words of sympathy as I stood, comfortably smug in my sensible mid-heel pumps, and thought, “I’m so glad I’ve reached the age where I don’t have to do that anymore.”

Discounts

senior citizen discountIf you enjoy spending money, one of the really fun parts of becoming a senior citizen is the discounts. My first encounter with this truth was shortly after my fiftieth birthday. The rolling over of another decade had been hard on me. I had just moved to a new town for a new job, so I was feeling old and alone. Then, I went to the bank to open a new account and discovered that, because of my advanced age, I qualified for free checking. That was when I decided that getting older wasn’t so bad after all. Since then, I’ve discovered that many businesses offer senior discounts including restaurants, movies, hotels, hair stylists, and even grocery stores. If all I have to do to get lower prices is live long enough to have gray hair and wrinkles, I’m all for that.

Grandchildren

I probably should have put this one first, but I wrote this in no particular order. Proverbs

T and Zoe 081319

These are mine!

17:6 says “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,” and that was before Facebook gave us a worldwide place to brag about them. It is the privilege – and duty – of grandparents to love, dote on, indulge, and totally spoil the youngest generation without the burden of day-to-day reality. There is no way to describe the feeling when your son hands you his firstborn and says, “Meet your grandson.”

 

Slower pace

One of my favorite aspects of being older is the slower pace. I’ve always been more of a tortoise than a hare, and after many years of running to keep up, it feels as if life is finally slowing down to match my pace. Much of that is by hare reading a bookchoice as my husband and I have left city life in favor of a small town in East Texas where the two most exciting events of the year are Founder’s Day and the County Fair. I worked part-time at my church until the first of this year, but even then my hours were flexible enough that I gave up setting an alarm clock. Now that I’m retired, I rarely schedule anything before 9:00 or 10:00 am, and slow and easy is the order of the day at the Brendle household.

The absolutely best part about this slower pace is that there is plenty of time for reading. I’ve always been a reader, slipping off into the living room with a book while the rest of the family was gathered around the TV or getting lost in a library book instead of cramming for a test during study hall. Now no one questions the time I spend reading or writing. In fact, the mental exercise is encouraged as a way of keeping the older brain active and healthy.

BFOR

One thing I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older is that there are more books than I’ll be able senior citizen readingto read in my lifetime, so I have to choose wisely. I was thrilled when I came across BFOR on Facebook. Books for Older Readers (BFOR) is a group that was established in October 2017 to promote books with older protagonists and/or themes such as ‘second chances’ which tend to appeal to readers in mid-life or beyond.

BFOR has a website where you can find lists of books and authors that will appeal to all ages but have a special attraction to those of us in middle age and beyond because of the age of the characters and/or the subject matter. The book lists feature short descriptions, book covers, and buy links. BFOR also has a Facebook Group where you can interact with other authors and readers who share your interests and concerns.

Website http://www.booksforolderreaders.co.uk/home/4594074088

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/196728670867979/

So, this is my answer to my grand niece’s question. What would your answer be? What do you think is the best part of growing older?

Blessings,

Linda

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

BFOR BLOG BLITZ – Interview with Cozy Mystery Author Karen Musser Nortman

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Today I’m taking part in the BFOR BLOG BLITZ and am sharing my interview with cozy mystery author Karen Nortman. Books for Older Readers (BFOR) is a group that was established in October 2017 to promote books with older protagonists and/or themes such as ‘second chances’ which tend to appeal to readers in mid-life or beyond. I will give you more information later along with the Facebook and website links, but right now I want to tell you about my special guest.

Head Shot Karen Musser NortmanKaren Musser Nortman, after 22 years as a secondary social studies teacher and 18 years as a test developer, returned to her childhood dream of writing mysteries. Her first series, The Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries, sprouted from numerous camping trips in Iowa and through at least 24 other states. These mysteries center around a group of retirees who camp together and sometimes stumble over dead bodies. Six of the books have been designated IndieBRAG medallion honorees and three have been finalists in Chanticleer CLUE and Mystery and Mayhem contests. Most of the books are based on actual campgrounds.

Karen has two other series. The Time Travel Trailer series follows the adventures of Lynne McBriar who buys a vintage camper that turns out to be a time portal. The first in the series, by the same name, was the 2015 category winner in the Chanticleer Paranormal contest. The Mystery Sisters is a new series involving two seventy-something sisters who travel the country in a 1950 Studebaker, argue, annoy their relatives, and solve mysteries.

Karen has three children and eight grandchildren. She also loves reading, gardening, and knitting, and can recite the 99 counties of Iowa in alphabetical order.

Hi, Karen! Thanks so much for taking the time to visit with me today. I’ve read most of your books and have really enjoyed them. Since your books are mostly based on places you’ve been, I feel like I know you. But I still have lots of questions, so let’s get started.

 Which came first, camping or writing?

 I’ve always loved to write but did not do so seriously until after I retired. We tent camped with our children when they were young and then, as they got busier, we got away from it. In 2006, we decided to get back into it but not sleeping on the ground, so we bought a used travel trailer and have been avid campers ever since.

As a camper myself, I know that the lifestyle can be addicting – as can writing! When did you publish your first book, and what inspired you to write it?

I received a Kindle for Christmas in 2010 and that spring was looking for a light mystery to download for a camping trip. I thought it would be fun to read a camping mystery but at that time there weren’t any.  I began to consider what a great setting campgrounds are for mysteries. You have a variety of characters—many of whom are strangers—but you go about your daily chores and recreation in close proximity. There are lots of mishaps and humorous incidents. Because many are strangers, things happen that could have a sinister explanation. For example, once some people were camped across from us and on Friday night had a big campfire. The next day their vehicle was gone and we didn’t see anyone for three days. Their trailer was still there when we left and we never found out what happened. It was likely a family medical emergency or perhaps broken water pipes at home or some other simple explanation. Or it could have been that a serial killer murdered them all and stole their truck. We never found out. Nature is also a factor that can create threatening situations.

So when I retired that summer I decided I would start a series involving a group of retired friends. I particularly wanted my characters to be typical sixty-somethings—not decrepit fussbudgets named Mabel and Gertrude. (Those names are from an older generation.)

I love how your imagination works! I have noticed that your books, at least the ones I have checked, are self-published. Have you always gone this route? If so, why?

Cover Bats and BonesWhen I finished my first book in 2012, Bats and Bones, I began looking for an agent. There was some interest and I was really excited when an agent in New York who handles several successful cozy series asked to see the full manuscript. After I sent it, I read that you need to allow an agent at least six months to look at a full manuscript; if they take you on, another year to find a publisher; and another year to actually get the book in print. I was 69 at the time—I was afraid that I might not live long enough to see my book published!

At the same time, I read quite a bit about the emerging self-publishing scene. I withdrew my manuscript from the agent and published my book through Amazon’s Kindle Direct and CreateSpace programs. That first one involved a pretty big learning curve but I have it down pretty well now.

I like the fact that I have complete control over my schedule, my covers, my pricing, and my book design. I worked for eighteen years for ACT, the testing company, where a typo or poorly worded question could result in a lawsuit, so I think I am a pretty good editor. We also formatted all of our tests for print so I had experience in that. Marketing is the big challenge but it is my understanding that, unless you are Stephen King or Louise Penny, you have to do your own marketing anyway.

So true! When you began to write, why did you settle on cozy mysteries as your genre of choice?

I have always loved mysteries, including police procedurals and thrillers, but my favorites early on were Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. Later Martha Grimes and numerous cozy writers attracted me. Cozy mysteries are very character driven and I love good characters. In a series that’s especially important so that each book is like spending time with old friends. Sometimes I think I should put my efforts into more serious writing, but then I get a message from a reader, like the one who said my books were just the escape she needed during her mother’s Hospice care. That’s very gratifying.

Yes, knowing that your stories have touched someone is one of the best parts of being a writer. I began my writing with memoirs, so I wrote about my experiences. Have you ever experienced any of the mysteries you have written?

We have experienced some incidents that became the catalyst for a book. For example, The space Invaderwe were pulling our camper through New Mexico a couple of years ago when we were stopped in a roadblock. They were looking for two escaped convicts who they thought may have stowed away in a camper, car trunk, or pickup bed because there is nowhere in that part of New Mexico for anyone to hide along the road. Our camper had been locked since morning and they let us go on. But later I realized that sometimes we forget to lock the outside storage compartments and two of them were big enough for a person. Fortunately, we had no stowaways but the incident became the germ for The Space Invader.

I’ll bet you were more careful about locking those compartments after that! When you begin a project, what does your writing process look like?

to cache a killerMost of my books have centered around an event, location, and/or activity. The Frannie Shoemaker books include ones about biking, storytellers, county fairs, geocaching, snowstorms, New Mexico and the Michigan UP. Once I decide what the ‘theme’ is, I think about how a crime might be connected to that activity. Geocachers wander around in remote areas looking for hidden caches, so it stands to reason that they might also find a body. (To Cache a Killer) When we toured the Michigan UP, I was intrigued by the glass-bottom boat tours to view shipwrecks, but what if a dead body appeared in the viewing window (Real Actors, Not People)? In Foliage and Fatality, the second Mystery Sisters book, the sisters volunteer to help at a haunted house fund-raiser. What better place to hide a dead body?

Then when I know what the crime is, if I’m smart, I figure out a time line. How was the murder committed? What was the killer doing before and after? How can he/she be caught? If I don’t take the time to outline that and just start writing, I paint myself into a corner and have to rewrite.

And rewrites are not a writer’s favorite thing to do. Speaking of favorites, which has been your favorite series or character to write?

That’s like asking if I have a favorite child. Each series has been enjoyable for different reasons. Frannie and her friends are, I think, typical retirees. They have strong friendships, but not without some irritations. They have pet peeves and limitations. They have solid marriages and respect for each other. They also have long standing jokes and insults that just confirm their membership in the group.

The Time Travel Trailer series is special to me because I love history. The original book was intended as a stand alone and started because I have always wished I could have known my grandparents as two-year-olds or pre-teens or newlyweds. I enjoy researching the historical periods that the trailer travels to. The next one may be connected to the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa in 1959—the night the music died. I grew up near there and the Surf was the hot spot in our lives.

The Mystery Sisters series is patterned after my grandmother and her sister-in-law who did travel the country in an old Studebaker and argued all of the time. So this way I get to travel with them.

The Mystery Sisters is your latest series of books. Have we seen the last of Frannie Shoemaker?

Double Dutch DeathAbsolutely not. I wanted to get three Mystery Sisters books out to establish the series, and I just finished the third, Double Dutch Death. I have already started the next Frannie, Corpse of Discovery. The location is based on Lewis and Clark State Park on the Missouri River in western Iowa. There is an annual celebration there of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (the Corps of Discovery) and it includes a fur trader reenactment. An event with hatchet throwing contests and knife makers sounds like it has lots of possibilities for a murder.

Wow! I can’t wait. Thanks so much for stopping by and giving us an inside look at Karen Nortman.

You can find Karen and her books at the links below:

Double Dutch Death 

Amazon Author Page

Website 

Facebook 

Twitter 

Books for Older Readers has a website where you can find lists of books and authors that will appeal to all ages but have a special attraction to those of us in middle age and beyond because of the age of the characters and/or the subject matter. The book lists feature short descriptions, book covers, and buy links. BFOR also has a Facebook Group where you can interact with other authors and readers who share your interests and concerns.

Website 

Facebook 

Blessings,

Linda

Feeling My Age | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on Tuesday, May 21, 2019:

Porch Front View 011019Last week I wrote about drying my wings. The weather this week was beautiful, and the good weather gave us a chance to do some long overdue work on our new front porch. So now my “wings” are dry, but they are very weary.

Sometime in the early 1950s, when I was around five years old, my parents bought their first home in Snyder, Texas. It was a cute little five-room cottage with a carport, asbestos shingles (who knew they were dangerous!), and a neat front porch surrounded by a white railing. I was quite a tomboy, and that railing was the perfect configuration for climbing, jumping, and performing daring circus-like stunts with my brother. Our favorite involved him standing on the ground and me jumping off the rail onto his shoulders. From there, he would grab my hands and I would flip backward and hopefully land on my feet. I was young, agile, and foolishly fearless, and I don’t remember any negative after effects from my antics. However, after more years than I care to discuss, my recent front porch antics left me weary and sore with a few bruises and several broken nails. (more…)

I Have News! | by Linda Brendle

Anaiah Press will release Mom’s Long Good-Bye: A Caregiver’s Tale of Alzheimer’s, Grief, and Comfort, my second memoir, on March 12. Here’s a little bit about the book:

Mom’s good-bye began with a red photo album and ended fifteen years later in a hospital bed in the Alzheimer’s wing of Southridge Village. This is her story and mine.

My first memoir, A Long and Winding Road, told of the chaos that happens when four people, two of whom have Alzheimer’s, spend fifty-three days in a forty-foot motor home. It also told of the years and the life experiences that brought these four people together. After finishing it, many readers asked what happened next. Mom’s Long Good-Bye is the rest of the story.

Based on blog posts written as the events happened, this memoir takes the reader through grieving a continuous loss, some of the initial changes Alzheimer’s causes, the transition from caregiving to assisted living, Dad’s death, Mom’s last year, and the grief and closure of her final good-bye.

This book is for the millions who have experienced the heartache of witnessing the physical and mental deterioration of a loved family member or a dear friend. Mom’s Long Good-Bye strips away the façade of being the perfect caregiver and gives the reader a look at the denial, the anger, and the fear that come as a loved one loses herself a piece at a time to an insidious disease. By sharing her own struggles, the author assures other caregivers that they are not alone, that perfection is not required, and that comfort is real.

The cover will be revealed soon. Watch for it!

Blessings,

Linda

Cover

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Retired! | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 21, 2019:

retired t-shirtThursday was my last day of work at Believers’ Baptist. Actually I hadn’t been doing much work since the week before when I began training my replacement Lissa Grady. On her first day it was obvious that she was highly qualified, and all I had to do was point her in the right direction and get out of the way. By last week, I was going into the office for only an hour or two each day to answer questions. After spending about thirty minutes with her on Thursday, I knew she didn’t need me anymore.

“My work here is done,” I announced dramatically. “I’ve taught you everything I know.” (more…)

Why I probably won’t lose weight in 2019 | Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 8, 2019:

january dietJanuary is the time when everyone goes on a diet – or at least talks about it. Even the grocery store ads focus on items that have “Lo” in the description. I have to admit that, as the calendar rolls over, I have thoughts of eating better and exercising more, but circumstances usually conspire to derail my plans before they’re even made. Here are just a few reasons why the scale probably won’t go down this year, at least in January.

  1. I still have brownies, chips, and a few other goodies left from the holidays, and I was raised not to waste food. After all, there are starving children all over the world!

 

  1. I visited the close-out sale at Emory Food Mart where I found Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla, a Mrs. Smith’s Peach Cobbler, and an Edward’s Key Lime Pie for half price. Bargain shopping is good for the budget – right?

 

  1. January’s schedule includes Volunteer Dessert Day every other Wednesday at the Senior Center, Home Group Dinner and Bible Study every Friday night, a fund-raiser lunch after church on January 20, and the annual family celebration of Aunt Fay’s birthday at AJ’s Fish House.

 

  1. One of my retirement projects is to organize recipes I have collected over the years and others that I inherited from Mom. I know that, in the process, I’ll come across recipes I want to make because I didn’t have time to try them when I was working and others I’ll make because I remember them fondly from my childhood.

 

  1. I was excited when the new Anytime Fitness opened in Emory, but then I discovered that my health insurance doesn’t have the Silver Sneakers benefit. I know I could buy a membership, but since I’ll soon be unemployed…

 

  1. You might ask why I don’t use the perfectly good treadmill a friend gave me a few years ago. Well, it’s wedged into a corner in the middle bedroom that we euphemistically called a storage room, and I’m claustrophobic.

 

  1. Some people also mention that we live on a circle that would be a perfect place to walk. True, but there are several dogs that roam loose in the neighborhood, and I don’t run fast enough to get away from them if they should decide to give chase.

 

  1. David and I plan to spend more time on the road when I’ve retired. Part of the fun of taking your kitchen with you is cooking – and eating – all your favorite dishes.

 

  1. I always get at least one pair of new jeans for Christmas. My new Lee Riders are a size larger than normal, and the extra comfort gives me a false sense of thinness.

 

  1. Instead of going to the gym or walking, I plan to edit two books and write another one. All that sitting at the computer will probably lead to a writer’s spread and another size larger on next year’s new jeans.

So there you have it. I once figured out that, between ages 20 and 60 I put on an averagescale of five pounds per decade. I managed to hold steady while I was in my 60s, but since I hit 70, I’ve been losing the battle. I know the most effective exercise when it comes to weight control is pushing away from the table, but that’s not much fun. If anyone out there has a miracle diet where you can eat the goodies, sit in your easy chair, and keep the pounds away, please let me know.

Blessings,

Linda

Final_Tatia's Tattoo Cover trim size

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What will 2019 bring? | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 1, 2019:

wasted time on facebookI spend too much time on Facebook. I don’t stay up until the wee hours looking at cute kittens or comparing what actors looked like then and now, but I do lose writing time, cleaning time, and other productive moments while keeping up with the current activities of my family and friends. Still, I do occasionally find little bits of inspiration like the one I saw on Sunday.

One of my friends posted a cartoon in which two mouse-like creatures were perched on the three-dimensional numerals “2019.” The first mouse was standing with his arms crossed, worry lines around his eyes, and drops of sweat popping off his forehead. The second was on his knees with an eager look on his face as he dug into the surface of the big zero. Their conversation went like this: (more…)

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