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Celebrating Grandparents All Year Long

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Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

Mark September 10th as National Grandparents Day, created to honor our grandparents for all the fond memories or wonderful things they have done for us over the years. It was back in 1978 that President Jimmy Carter made this proclamation as a national secular holiday to honor this wonderful generation—our grandparents. The proclamation declared “The elders of each family have the responsibility for setting the moral tone for the family and for passing on the traditional values of our nation to their children and grandchildren. They bore the hardships and made the sacrifices that produced much of the progress and comfort we enjoy today. In fact, Grandparents Day is also officially recognized in a number of countries on various days of the year, either as a single holiday or sometimes as a separate Grandmothers Day and Grandfathers Day.

Many of us had scores of delightful years spent in the company of either one or both grandparents, bringing warm feelings back to our hearts. I was fortunate to have both grandmothers in my life until I was in my late teens and visits to their homes were always enjoyable. One grandmother had a country home and I often spent an entire week at her house, without my parents. She made the most delicious scrambled eggs, using a glass frying pan that I only saw in her kitchen. In the evenings we’d listen to her favorite programs on her wooden Philco radio while she did her “mending” and I colored. The Jack Benny Program, December Bride, Inner Sanctum Mysteries, and a host of other popular series were tuned in regularly. My grandmother taught me how to embroider, starting out with simple cross stitches on a piece of remnant material until I was old enough to master more complicated designs.

My children had similar wonderful experiences with their grandparents. Fortunate to have both sets of grandparents with us for a long time, they enjoyed cooking or baking lessons from both grandmothers and sleepovers year-round. It was either at the country home of one set of grandparents or the beach house of the others. These years are captured both in memory and a collection of photographs and home movies.

If you are blessed to still have a grandparent, visit if you have not been there in a while. Often our lives get so busy we rarely have time to call. Pick up the phone, write a note and let your grandparents know you love them and think they are special!

 

 

 

 

August 16, 2017 |

Summer Reading — Revisiting Literary Classics

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

There is nothing more relaxing than sitting in the shade on a lawn or beach sipping a glass of lemonade and reading a good book. Summer is when I get a chance to catch up on books that have been on my “to read” list for years or others recommended by friends. There are books I read in my teenage years that I want to revisit. Very often I find that now as a senior adult, I “get” the book on a whole new level—The Picture of Dorian Grey being a perfect example of what my teenage self thought back in high school English class. The deeper meaning is more significant now, decades later.

There are novels that are on best-seller lists or that are talked about and made into films. Friends of mine have recommended Outlander or Game of Thrones book series, since both have become my viewing favorites for several seasons. And so my book list grows longer. For other readers that enjoy summer reading, here are a few literary classics that you may want to add to your list if you haven’t read them already: Gone with the Wind, the 1939 Margaret Mitchell fabulous story of the old south; Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, a love story taking place on the English moors; Black Beauty, the film about a horse, which propelled Elizabeth Taylor’s career. (The book was published just a few months before author Anna Sewell passed away. It was her only novel and was beloved by young adults both at that time and today). Also good reads are The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

In many respects, writing styles as well as the descriptions of what the characters are doing in each storyline have changed as well. Years ago I cut out a newspaper list of “Best Selling Books Over the Years” and started reading them, in no particular order. This is when I noticed a huge difference in writing styles and how certain events were portrayed. In more modern novels, the writing— be it love scenes or the taking of a life as in a murder mystery—tend to be more graphically described. Yet back in the 1930s and 40s the novels were descriptive, without unnecessary gory details. Google “List of Best Selling Books from 1924 to 2017” and discover some reading treasures!

August 9, 2017 |

Senior Inspiration — Keeping Active and Involved!

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by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

Repeatedly, there have been articles detailing important reasons for “mature people” to remain busy and involved with activities after retirement. The health benefits are enormous—among them mental, physical and alertness rewards. Besides reading these articles, there is nothing like seeing the results of these pointers in person.

Several years ago I met a woman who is the ultimate involved senior. I met Sally through my childhood friend who came to visit me from her home in Arizona. During her stay that week, she asked if I would drive her to visit her late mother’s childhood friend, Sally, who lives thirty minutes from us. A call was placed to Sally and a day set to visit. Sally insisted it be for lunch and astounded us with a fully cooked meal, with every burner on the stove filled with pots of delicious offerings. She was about 86 at the time and moved quickly and effortlessly in her kitchen.   As a result of that visit, I am now a friend of Sally’s, and we call each other now and then.

Sally is now 90, which one would never guess by her phone voice. She is bubbly, entertaining and excited to share all the activities she is involved with. Living in a wonderful senior complex, her building offers many activities in which residents are welcome to participate. From what Sally described, she has joined them all! She had me laughing as she described how her family practically has to make appointments to see her! Sally joined an acting group, yoga class, book club, art class and a host of other rotating classes. But the favorite pastime she enjoys most is the movies!

Films

I am continually astounded by Sally’s in-depth descriptions and analyses of the films she sees. Her favorite theater is the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, which also shows foreign and documentary films along with live musical performances and conversations with filmmakers, actors and authors. I’m also a film buff and enjoy her take on films I’ve seen, too. From La La Land, Lion, and Beguiled, we discussed our opinions. Amazing to hear Sally compare the newest Beguiled with the 1971 Clint Eastwood version, with nary a beat in memory recall! It was like talking to a movie critic with her wit and insight into the films we covered. After a call with Sally, there is much to smile about. She is an inspiration and proof that keeping active certainly has its rewards!

August 2, 2017 |

Muscoot Farm for Family Outings

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

There are so many wonderful places for day trips throughout Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties that limited space prevents my mentioning them all. One of our favorites is Muscoot Farm — ever since our children were little. Recently we had a fun week with our two young grandchildren staying with us and we returned to Muscoot after so many years. The children absolutely loved it! What’s there?

The Farm

Muscoot Farm is an early 20th-century interpretative farm museum in Katonah, N.Y. on Route 100. The farm is owned and operated by the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation. It was opened as an open-air interpretative museum and park in 1974. Muscoot features year-round displays of various farm animals, hiking trails, farm implements and buildings, as well as maple syrup and sugar harvesting in late winter. The purpose of Muscoot Farm is “to preserve and interpret, for the public benefit, the agricultural, cultural and natural heritage of a Westchester County farm, circa 1880 – 1930.”

The day in June that we arrived we saw other families and many grandparents, like ourselves, with small children in tow. There is no charge to visit the grounds, animals and exhibits and it was a delightful “day on the farm” seeing what life was like decades ago. We entered the chicken house and saw over a dozen chickens hopping on their perches or going in and out of the coop from the tiny doorway to their fenced in yard, horses in the barn, a huge pig, baby goats, and a donkey.

Continuing to explore, the children were amazed at the tremendous beautifully feathered turkey that came up to the fence to greet them, as did a miniature Shetland pony. Inside the cow barn they watched cows eating and petted a calf. We explored a blacksmith’s shop, complete with tools and huge stone fireplace where the horseshoes are forged. I found the exhibit in the “ice house” to be fascinating as photos demonstrated the early process of cutting huge slabs of ice from the nearby lake, then carting them to the ice house for refrigerating foods. How we take for granted our modern conveniences!

Upcoming           

There are scores of wonderful activities lined up for visitors this summer such as movie nights, art exhibits, butterfly walks, farmer’s markets and more.

Call (914) 864-7282 or visit: http://muscootfarm.org for hours and dates of July and August events and others year round.

July 26, 2017 |

“Annie” Arrives at Westchester Broadway Theatre in Fantastic Production!

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

As a child visiting my grandmother for lunch, one of the memorable parts of that meal was using a special mug that had the likeness of Orphan Annie on the front. Stirring my hot chocolate, I used a spoon with Charlie McCarthy’s face on the top of the handle. These were used by my mom as a little girl. My grandmother explained who both characters were along with their story.

Annie’s tale has always been my favorite, whether on film or stage. Annie arrived as the latest production at the Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT) in Elmsford. It runs through September 10th, perfect for families, friends and children to be entertained by this lively, beloved story. This production features a superb cast, fantastic scenery, and outstanding musical and dance numbers — so don’t miss it!

Inspired by Little Orphan Annie, the 1924 comic strip by Harold Gray, Annie is a heart-warming story, filled with adventure and laughs, that defines what family truly means. It’s one of the longest running and world’s best-loved shows in Broadway history and the winner of seven Tony Awards. Set in 1933 in New York City during the Great Depression, it tells the story of a young orphan who charms those around her with her spunky personality. The orphanage’s supervisor, Miss Hannigan, is less than charmed and punishes Annie and the other orphans and even concocts a devious get-rich-quick scheme. Annie finds refuge from the orphanage when billionaire Oliver Warbucks asks her to spend the holidays with him. Magic and adventure follow as Annie develops loving relationships with the many people she encounters, including President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In the end, she foils Miss Hannigan’s evil plans and finds a loving family that she can call her own.

Notable musical numbers include It’s the Hard Knock Life, Easy Street, I Don’t Need Anything But You, and Tomorrow. Music for Annie is by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, based on the book by Thomas Meehan. Powerful vocals by Peyton Ella (Annie) were unbelievable, with every supporting cast member incredible in their roles making this an extraordinarily cast production on all levels. Well-deserved standing ovations at the show’s end showed audience appreciation.

Dinner and show range between $56.00 and $84.00 plus tax depending on the performances chosen, with discounts for children, students, senior citizens and groups of twenty or more at select performances.

Call (914) 592-2222 or visit: www.BroadwayTheatre.com for on-going special offers.

 

 

 

 

July 19, 2017 |

Vacation Travel and Credit Card Reminders

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Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

If you have travel plans for pleasure or business out of your regular location, the following tip is for you. Years ago, we never gave a thought about identify theft and other scams relating to the use of our information and credit card. Nowadays you have to be extra vigilant about keeping tabs on your personal information, especially when you are traveling and caught up in carting your luggage, checking boarding schedules and maneuvering laptops or other equipment along with you.

This event occurred with our two daughters’ credit cards when they were traveling in Europe a few years back. They were visiting and staying with relatives and friends living in Germany and would use their credit cards solely for shopping, dining out and perhaps to purchase train tickets when they visited different cities.

Notification

When traveling out of state or country, notify your credit card company of your travel dates. It was with quite a bit of hassle that we learned about this tip. Several days into our daughter’s trip I received a phone call from her credit card company looking for her. It was the fraud department of her credit card company and they had our number as an emergency contact if she was unreachable. I told the representative she was abroad and he asked for her date of departure and what cities she was in since there was “unusual activity” on the credit card. This meant that these were not charges made to her normal home areas.

All credit card companies have a “red flag” program that signals any unusual spending on their client’s card. The credit card company accepted the information I offered about her departure date and what cities she shopped in and said they would not block her credit card. Thank goodness she had been in touch via email and phone calls and I knew her current location. The charge in question was for two train tickets from one part of Germany to another. I named the two cities that were on their agenda and the representative verified that these were the train stations on the charge and allowed the charge to go through.

The moral of this story is simple — notify all the credit cards companies of your travel plans and also keep in contact with a family member that knows your itinerary and has permission to talk to your credit card company on your behalf if they should call with inquiries.

 

 

July 12, 2017 |

Gain Independence from Unhealthy Lifestyles

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

It seems food just tastes better when eating it outdoors and with a gathering of friends and family. But perhaps we forget that we still have to watch what we eat, even during celebrations. The American Heart Association (AHA) wants you to gain independence from unhealthy lifestyles by increasing physical activity and eating healthy.

More than 80% of heart disease can be prevented by healthy lifestyle choices including walking 30 minutes or more daily, eating mostly fruits and vegetables and avoiding tobacco products. Changing your lifestyle is really a choice you have control over, unlike a family history of heart disease. You can break free from unhealthy behaviors with small simple changes like adding physical activity, avoiding long sedentary periods, and reducing television watching. Biking or walking with your friends and family is a great way to add physical activity to your week. Start slowly and add small increments of activity, like 15 minutes a day of exercise. Your workout can include simple movements like jogging in place, jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups and squats, and it can be done while watching your favorite television show to avoid the “sitting disease.”

More Tips

Start the day right: Try simple peanut butter on wheat toast, high-fiber/low-sugar cereal, low-fat milk or yogurt and fruit for breakfast. Fish, especially salmon, trout and herring, are high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and cook in minutes. Choose skinless chicken breasts instead of the fattier dark meat (legs and thighs).  Grill chicken or white meat turkey burgers or sausages, and add diced onions and peppers for another layer of flavor and vitamins.

As preschoolers learn early, eat the rainbow! Serve green leafy salads or fruit salads, mixing in strawberries or orange slices. Dress salads lightly with low-fat dressings or fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Add some crunch and healthier fats with some toasted walnuts or almonds.

When snacking, get your crunch fix from raw veggies and low-fat dip, not fatty fried chips. Drink water or flavored seltzer and cut down on soda or sugary drinks. Limit alcohol consumption; instead try a smoothie with luscious, fresh fruit in season. Cut back on commercially baked foods, like cookies, pies and cakes.  For recipes and tips from the AHA on healthy eating, visit online at: www.heart.org/gettinghealthy

July 5, 2017 |
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