Silver Threads December 1997

Silver Threads is a production of The Senior Group, an
informal group of older netizens who produce three e-mail

Silver Threads - general senior interest-
Silver Feathers - birding and nature related items
Elderhostel Notebook - elderhosteling

To subscribe to any of these, e-mail to Jim Olson, at

All three newsletters are archived at

Silver Threads also has a World Wide Web edition located at



   Editorial Bits and Bytes


   The Cup of Memory

   Senior Smiles

         Editorial Bits and Bytes

With the next issue we will return to a bi-monthly format.

With Jean Sansum's permission we  taken on the task of providing
a web home for the weekly editon of her excellent weekly
newsletter, "Talespinners," at the following site:


We recommend it for those who want an interesting senior oriented
weekly newsletter.

With this issue we have returned to having a "Senior Smiles"
section with material supplied by Pat Schade who has agreed to
edit that feature of the newsletter.

Our main feature this issue deals with some aspects of aging and
its effects on couples. In a future issue we will focus on some
aspects of aging as it affects single seniors.


Adam and Eve Retired

- Jim Olson

According to the English poet, Milton, Adam and Eve were expelled
from Paradise (by mutual culpability for gaining the knowledge of
good and evil) and the last we see of them in "Paradise Lost"
they are "Wending their weary way " into the human condition of
starting a family and a race of man with all of the pleasures and
pains that entails. Whatever one's religious or spiritual
background this metaphor of a "fall" from some previous idealized
state of life is fairly universal and expresses a common
sentiment of loss of innocence and tranquility.

One wonders what happens as our metaphorical Adam and Eve age and
retire from the active business of propagating and maintaining a
family. Does the new freedom from some previous responsibities
represent a reversal and an eastward trek back toward the Garden
of Eden? Is there a new freedom at all, or only continued and
exacerbated responsibility? Does retirement lead to a new
togetherness of sharing, enjoying, and exploring mutual
interests; or does it provide new avenues of friction and
conflict of conjugal interests. These are some of the questions
we posed to "Silver Threads" readers and the responses indicate a
variety of both mutual satisfactions and challenges that come
with retirement.

For many readers retirement years do indeed offer an opportunity
to share mutual interests and activities while allowing time and
space for enjoying and exploring individual interests:

"Because we are good friends in addition to being lovers, we have
found the transition from two very active wage-earners to two
very active retirees to be rather smooth. We have a lot of
respect for each other and know how to give space to the other
whenever he/she needs that. Many of our interests are shared;
many of our activities are not."

This need for allowing room for individual as well as shared needs
echoed through most of the responses and involved such
arrangements as providing space and resources for separate
hobbies and interests:

"She has her sewing room at one end of the apartment and I have
my computer room at the other. We meet in the middle."

Retirement allowed many to continue a shared social life and
travel experiences as well as time for each to take separate
trips as one wife put it

"I am so anxious for his once a year hunting trip that it just
makes me quiver knowing that I will almost have the house to

Others found it healthy for each to have some separate social
time- often a lunch with the "boys" or "girls" as well as the
scheduled evening out with each other and evenings out with

One reader expressed a general view satisfaction with the a
retirement situation:

" We have enjoyed retirement for 11 years already and in some
ways we have grown closer and friendlier..I mean that in the best
sense. We seem to be able to help one and other over the rough
spots and we are both able to be flexible in our desires and
expectations...We both are finding  some things are a lot funnier
than they used to seem......when we were in the child rearing
state, etc.....turned out a lot of things were not as serious or
important as they seemed at the time. Our ' very personal' life
was always varied and interesting.....now it's more comfortable
without past pressures of children in the house..but it's not
necessarily less interesting...."

For some readers retirement years brought not freedom from
responsibities but new and often difficult new responsibilities
that put additional strains on relationships. These included in
several cases a repetition of the role of parent as they found it
necessary to assume the role of parenting grandchildren, a role
not necessarily easier the second time around, but one that does
highlight shared moments

"at this time in our life (rearing a granddaughter and still tied
to that infernal school calender) it is those mutually enjoyable
small things that make up the day to day life."

For others the added responsibility was that of caring for a
parent," One of us must be always available to see that my mother
is well taken care of and give her the individual attention she
needs daily.  However, we do pursue our individual interests and
find that it works well and neither of us feel deprived."

Perhaps the most difficult of added responsibilities that affect
relationships in retirement years is the added strain on
relationships that is inveitable when one partner became a
caregiver for the other. This was especially a problem in cases
where a partner becomes depressed or demented, sometimes
paranoid, and previous relationships except for the concern and
loving memory of the caregiver are essentially lost. In these
cases the caregiver often finds that belonging to a support group
of people in similar situations becomes a way of maintaining
one's own mental well being. For one husband  feelings of guilt
were added to feelings of remorse and loss as the caregiver
sought virtual companionship with another woman through e-mail

The most common recurring theme that echoed through the answers
was that for most couples  retirement does indeed provide a new
type of enhanced shared life as long as partners develop or
maintain a sense of humor and a loving, understanding
relationship. For these couples it may well just be that Adam and
Eve having learned the knowledge of good and evil and having been
through all that that entails  have entered the age of wisdom.


ERichter@mother.com (Eunice Richter)

When people come to our place they see an old dead piece of wood
attached to a shed at the rear of the lot and ask "What's that?"
 "That" just happens to be my husband's pride and joy, a truly
"organic" moisture gauge.

Two years ago this piece of wood was part of a Christmas tree.
It was cut from near the top of a small spruce tree,  It's an
eleven inch long piece of the trunk and is only one inch in
diameter. It has a side branch that is eighteen inches long. The
bark has been removed from the branch.

This eighteen inch branch moves up and down depending upon the
amount of humidity in the air.  In the summer when this area gets
no rain at all, it hangs down and looks for all the world as
though it  were "dead as a doorknob", but as soon as the rains
begin in the fall this branch begins to rise.  The tip of the
branch has moved as much as seventeen inches between summer and

It's not useful unless you need "proof" that you've been out in
the rain :) nor is it ornamental, but it's been a great
conversation piece!


Web Rings

   Larry Wilson 

As the World Wide Web spreads its spidery threads around our
globe, the sheer volume of information available is truly mind
boggling.  From solid research to fluff, from major works to
minutiae, it is all there.  Remember what a spork is?  Yes, there
is a spork home page!  But finding the information you want can
be a daunting task.  We now have a bevy of powerful search
engines, web directories, and more specific searching tools.
Even with all of that the results can be frustrating.

Here is another approach -- the web ring.  You've probably
encountered them in your web surfing.  They are simply groups of
web pages relating to a particular topic, and linked together in
a ring.  There is an icon on each page identifying it as a member
of a particular web ring, and the option is presented to go to
the next site in the ring, the previous site, or to be taken to a
site at random.  A ring may be small, with a half-dozen members,
or large with hundreds of sites linked together.

If you are interested in gardening, for instance, there is likely
a web ring for sites devoted to that pastime, or passion as the
case may be. Cats?  Sure, probably several web rings for cat
lovers.  Are you a care giver for a parent?  There's one for you,
too.  This can be a much better method of finding web sites on a
general topic of interest than sorting through the results of an
Alta Vista search.

Here is your starting point.  The directory of web rings.  There
is a simple menu of categories which will guide you to your topic
of interest. There is also a very simple search tool which is
useful, but does not handle multi-word searches well.  This will
get you on your way to exploring the web in a new way.


Bon voyage!

Larry Wilson

           The Cup Of Memory

Slower than Molasses in January.


I needed to explain that phrase to a grand child, but growing up
as a kid in Wisconsin, I  always understood the expression.
Molasses a syrup produced  from Sorghum canes was one of our
staples. No pantry was without several pails of this sweetener
used by most households back then instead of sugar.

When I was young, each year before the first frost, when nights
were cool, days warm and skies blue, farmers cut and stripped the
pale-green Sorghum cane, and gathered it in bundles ready for the
mill. As soon as we heard the old steam engine start up at the
mill just over the hill from  our home, we country farm kids felt
a surge of excitement. "Long-sweetenin' " time was here. Loaded
wagons began going by on the road past our house, and on our way
to school we children snatched a piece of cane or two to chew on
as we walked. On our way home after school, guided by the aroma
of cooking syrup, we gravitated toward the bustling activity at
the mill.

Overall-clad men, old hands, were busy feeding stalks into the
crusher. Others stoked the fire and stirred the long pans of
steaming, bubbling green liquid. Another skimmed the foam rising
to the top. As we leaned over to peer into the steaming troughs,
the workers warned us not to get too close "or you might fall
in." We were horrified to see numbers of bees and insects lured
to their deaths in the sticky mass, some still struggling, wings

Refining was an all-day job. By late afternoon, the now
amber-colored molasses was thick enough and ready to taste. A
good sorghum maker knows when molasses is ready. The last step of
the long process was screening out the bees, flies and  leaves or
sticks. At the end of the line were shiny new sorghum pails that
the men filled to the brim and sealed.

A bright harvest moon had risen by the time we hurried home with
several heavy gallon pails, still warm to the touch. We placed
the tins in our pantry with visions of future meals enhanced with
this golden treasure. All winter long we feasted on pancakes and
French toast, hot biscuits, gingerbread, pumpkin pie, corn bread,
molasses cookies and other tempting fare. And, with a supply of
sorghum, we had the most necessary ingriedient for popcorn balls,
peanut brittle and for the taffy-pull parties that were an
anicipated part of our Thanksgiving and Christmas get-togethers.

Who cared if he days of winter passed by "slower than molasses in
January?" At least our bodies and spirits would be fortified with
soul-satisfying food, made possible with the mouth-watering

editors note- In a fit of nostagia a few years ago I planted some
sorghum in a garden plot we had in the country and tried to
duplicate the experiences described here. Alas, except for the
satisfation of sucking on the raw stalks, I was not able to
produce any notable amount of Molasses in the micro-wave.- Jim

            Senior Smiles

An old man was once on the subway and he sat down next to a
younger man. He noticed that the young man had a strange kind of
shirt collar. Having never seen a priest before, he asked the
man, "Excuse me sir, but why do you have your shirt collar on

The priest became a bit flustered but politely answered "I wear
this collar because I am a Father".

The older man thought a second and responded " Sir I am also a
Father but I wear my collar front-ways. Why do you wear your
collar so differently?"

The priest thought for a minute and said "Sir, I am the Father
for many".

The other man quickly answered " I to am the father of many. I
have four sons, four daughters and too many grandchildren to
count. But I wear my collar like everyone else does. Why do you
wear it your way?"

The priest who was beginning to get exasperated thought and then
blurted out "Sir, I am the Father for hundreds and hundreds of

The older man was taken aback and was silent for a long time. As
he got up to leave the subway train, he leaned over to the priest
and said "Mister, maybe you should wear your pants backwards."



There is no such thing as child-proofing your house.

A 4 year-old's voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded

If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan.... the motor is not
strong enough to rotate a 42 pound boy.... wearing Pound Puppy
underwear and a Superman cape.

Baseballs make marks on ceilings.....

When using the ceiling fan as a bat you have to throw the ball up
a few times before you get a hit.

A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.

The glass in windows (even double pane) doesn't stop a baseball
hit by a ceiling fan.

When you hear the toilet flush and the words "Uh-oh," it's
already too late.

Legos will pass through the digestive tract of a four year old.

Duplos will not.

Play Dough and Microwave should never be used in the same

Super glue is forever.

McGyver can teach us many things we don't want to know.

Ditto Tarzan.

VCR's do not eject peanut butter and jelly sandwiches even though
TV commercials show they do.

Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.

You probably do not want to know what that odor is.

Plastic toys do not like ovens.

The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earth worms

It will however make cats dizzy.

Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.

Quiet does not necessarily mean don't worry.

You can survive your children's childhood if you're lucky.

Patricia/Hudson/Florida... @ICQ #:...4420718

Editors note- I asked some of my grandkids about the above item
and they suggested an item called:


In the "good old days" walking to a country school involved a
trip averaging 8 miles through a snow depth averaging 14 feet at
a temperatire averaging 50 degrees below zero and followed chores
that took place at an average of 3:00 A.M. and involved milking
an average of 12 cows, feeding an average of 20 hogs and 200
chickens while collecting an average of 120 eggs.

No good popular song has been written since 1949.

A genius named Marconi invented the crystal radio and television
was invented by the devil.

Our parents were once teenagers but later became real human

Whenever you go fishing, the fish were always biting better

Grandma once looked like Betty Grable, whoever that was.

Grandpa once looked like Tyrone Power, whoever that was.

Barbie is a "hussy," whatever that is.

Kate Smith could sing; Madonna can't. Madonna is a hussy, too.

Canopy beds were old fashioned beds named after something
underneath them.

Grandpa's "short-cut" roads are more fun that those shown on the
map, but you never know where you will end up.

Grandma's roads always end up at a flea market, junk store or
antique mall.

Putting together "some assembly required" toys requires a special
vocabulary that we shouldn't learn.

Grandpa can fix anything as long as he has some baling wire,
friction tape, and plastic wood.

A hug and a kiss from grandma will heal any ailment and cure


     The Touching of the Rain

I felt the raindrops lightly fall,
I felt them touch my face.
And it was then that I recalled
another time,,, another place.

I saw the lightning pierce the sky,
the way love pierced my heart.
I heard the groan of thunders roar
and now the teardrops start.

And I remember touching you
with the innocence of then.
I'm grateful now,  I didn't know
"forever" had an end.

We loved with passion's urgencies,
and from it fruits were born,
until that day when fate arrived
and away my world was torn.

And though I cherish yesterdays
I sometimes feel the pain
when yesterdays are felt today
with the touching of the rain.