Silver Threads  July 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



   Editorial Bits and Bytes

   Features and Gleanings from the Net

   Surfing with Lotte

   The Cup of Memory

   Senior Smiles

           Editorial Bits and Bytes

This is another short edition of Threads as we attempt to keep
the size down to fit all mailboxes.

Our Surfer this month is Lotte Evans from Melbourne, one of the
original Senior group members.

Pat Scott has been away this month to Ireland .

          Features and Notices

Random Acts of Kindness

   Barbara Bretton 

Grandpa's condition has worsened yet again.  I am so sorry to say
that as of this morning, June 29, 1997, he no longer seems to
recognize us.  He lies in bed, eyes closed, his hands clenched in
fists by his sides.  Occasionally he mutters something we can't
understand then hammers his pillow in frustration.  So far we've
heard no explanation, no diagnosis, no prognosis.  It doesn't
take a genius to figure out where we're headed.

My dad is taking it very hard.  He loves Grandpa without
complication or reservation.  Grandpa came into his life as his
own father was leaving it and the two of them share a very close
bond.  Daddy could stand at Grandpa's side for hours, listening
to his stories.  He seems to view Grandpa as an icon of sorts.
Certainly a type of man whose kind will never come again.

Today, again, I saw that mysterious bond between men at work. Two
of Grandpa's friends came over to the hospital wing to see him.
I was sitting in the far corner of the room and I don't think
they noticed I was there.  Sandy, the World War II vet, and Jack,
a Korean War vet, wanted to spend some time with him, even though
Grandpa didn't know they were there.

I watched as Sandy carefully cleaned Grandpa's electric razor and
Jack combed back Grandpa's hair and filed a rough edge off one of
his fingernails. Those two large and awkward men performed these
tasks with tenderness and love and respect.  Sandy's eyes
glittered with tears as he ran the brush through the coils of the
razor then replaced the plastic cover.  I didn't know what to do.
 Should I let them know I was sitting there?  Should I shrink
deeper into the shadows and allow them some privacy?

I felt so honored to watch them perform their ritual, so deeply
moved to see these links between veterans made so visible.  My
husband understands what it's all about.  So does my dad. I can
only stand here on the outside and love them for it.

It hit me finally this afternoon that there will be no more
stories. That the few I have left to transcribe are the last I'll
probably have of Grandpa.  I'll never know all there is to know
about his wives or his loves.  Or his adventures-and God, there
were many of them.  Fights and uprisings and storms at sea and
storms at home, come to think of it. I'll never know more than I
do right now  about the prairie schooner or the Panama Canal or
his Greenland escapades.  One hundred years of stories, a century
of this country's history, will die with him when he passes on. I
can actually taste regret in my mouth, like ashes and bitter
smoke. If only I had started taping his stories sooner.  If only
I'd listened more closely.  If only I'd paid more attention.

Who is he, really?  Is he my grandfather or El's lover or Bess's
husband or Vi's father or the veteran of three wars?  How did he
see himself? We've always thought of him as the man who loved
women most of all, the man who would toss aside common sense and
good judgment to follow the woman he loved.  Women were his
Achilles heel.

Not that he was a cheat.  Far from it.  When he loved, he loved
deeply and completely. Whatever his wife wanted, he wanted.
Whoever she wanted to see, he wanted to see.  Whoever she
didn't-well, you can figure out the rest.  He is courtly,
charming, devoted to the business of worshipping women. At 100
years of age, he still beams when he hears a female voice at the
side of his bed. Or he did until this weekend.

Who did he love?  Oh, I can name five women plus a few more but,
scattered over a century of living, that's only a small number.
There were many, many more.  I know there was a Broadway musical
star, back in the days when he was a mounted NYC cop on the
Broadway beat.  Who was she?  How serious were they?  Damn it, I
want to know his stories.  All of them.  Even the ones that might

Isn't it ridiculous?  He's one hundred years old and I thought
we'd have more time.

note- reprinted from Nerdnosh listserv with permission.


The Miracle Food

  -"Kathrynne Holden, MS,RD" 

What if I told you about a product that would help: 1) lower
cholesterol; 2) control blood sugar; 3) prevent constipation,
hemorrhoids, and diverticulosis; and 4) may help prevent cancer?
Can you guess what this miracle product is? Hint: it's a
food--and it has more fiber than any other food in the world!

If you guessed BEANS, give yourself an "A-plus." Yes, good old
beans--they've been getting good write-ups since the days of the
Bible, and they are commonly used today.

Mind you, I'm not talking about fresh beans, like pole beans,
snap beans, or wax beans. They're fine, too, but not for the same
reasons. It's dried beans I'll be talking about in this
issue--that includes lentils, split peas, black-eyed peas, navy,
pinto, kidney, Great Northern, lima, black, calico, soy, and pink
beans, among others.

DRIED BEANS--A "WONDER FOOD." If I were to make a list of the top
ten best foods, dried beans would be in that top ten. What makes
beans so special? Well, they contain a mixture of protein and
special carbohydrates that's found nowhere else in nature. When
we eat beans we're getting a nutritional bargain:

-- protein, to build new cells, keep muscles strong

-- complex carbohydrates, for energy and long-lasting fuel

-- insoluble fiber, to keep the colon healthy

-- soluble fiber, to lower blood sugar and cholesterol

-- iron, zinc, B vitamins, and trace minerals, for healthy blood,
wound healing, heart health, digestion, and sound memory.

And besides that, they DON'T HAVE cholesterol, and they're low in
fat, saturated fat, and sodium. Wow! What a deal!

beans don't contain any cholesterol, they are a rich source of
soluble fiber. This special fiber binds to cholesterol and draws
it into the stool, where it leaves the body. A Kentucky
researcher, Dr. James Anderson, found that people who ate beans
daily could lower their cholesterol as much as 19% in three

Besides that, beans are high in folate (also called folic acid),
one of the B vitamins. Folate helps clear the blood of a
substance called homocysteine.  Researchers now believe that
homocysteine may be as dangerous as cholesterol in raising the
risk of heart disease and stroke.

People with diabetes, take note! When we eat food, we change it
into simple sugar, called glucose. When glucose enters the
bloodstream, insulin is released to help glucose enter the cells,
where it's used as fuel. People with diabetes have difficulty
clearing glucose from the blood. This means that both insulin and
glucose remain in the blood, where they can damage the heart.

Beans, however, produce a much slower rise in blood sugar, and so
less insulin is needed. For people with diabetes, this means
better control of blood sugar. Some people have been able to
reduce their diabetes medications by use of a high-fiber daily
menu. In some cases, their doctors have discontinued their
diabetes medications entirely.

BEANS AND YOUR COLON. Because dried beans are rich in insoluble
fiber, they also help keep the large intestine, or colon,
healthy. Insoluble fiber can hold water like a sponge does. So
when it enters the colon, it helps keep the stool soft, bulky,
and easy to pass. This helps prevent not only constipation, but
hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, and bowel impaction.

CANCER-PROTECTIVE? But there's more. Beans may also help prevent
colon cancer, perhaps because they help move food through the
bowel faster. This means that cancer-causing particles spend less
time in the colon, so it's harder for cancer to get started

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I EAT BEANS? I recommend 4-6 servings per week.
A cup of beans provides around 8-10 grams of fiber. We should get
between 20-30 grams of fiber a day, preferably closer to 30
grams. So a serving of beans gives us about a third of our daily
goal. If you include five servings of fruits and vegetables,
along with whole grains, you'll get all the heart- protective,
cancer-preventing, blood-sugar-lowering fiber you need.

1 cup potatoes, cooked & diced
1 cup cooked pintos, drained
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2  cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled & chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Mix mayonnaise, yogurt, cucumber, onion, salt and pepper. Mix
with potatoes and beans until well combined. Cover and chill till
serving time. Option: use pink beans. Makes 3 portions, about one
cup each. Nutrition information per portion: 1 serving vegetable;
1/2 serving protein; 8 grams fiber

MEDLINE Open to the Public

(Bethesda, MD -- June 26, 1997) -- The National Library of
Medicine, a part of the National Institutes of Health, will today
launch a new service to provide all Americans free access to
MEDLINE  -- the world's most extensive collection of published
medical information -- over the World Wide Web.

In announcing the new free service, Health and Human Services
Secretary Donna Shalala said, "American citizens now have at
their fingertips both the scientific information gathered by the
National Library of Medicine, as represented in MEDLINE, and the
extensive consumer health information in healthfinderTM, the
service for the public that we announced in April.

The web address for the National Library of Medicine is:

         Surfing with Lotte

Fun Web Sites

 Lotte Evans 

Boston,  if you want the real, wicked good scoop on how people talk
around here, go right to the source:


Humorus Advice Columns /Bill Gates's Secret Diary Ask Dr. Bill
Tell Bill Gates your problems and he'll solve them.


Public Domain: The Humorus Advice Column
Use your psychiatric skills to solve patient's problems.


About Today's Date Find out what's special about the numbers in
today's date. Some days even have mathematical problems for you
to figure out, based on the numbers in the date. Follow the link
to Ari Kukkonen's Today page to find out the significance of this
date in history, including historical events, astronomical
events, religious events, and famous birthdays.


Here is a fun site which amongst others guides you to `Serendipitous
Sites', these sites alone makes a visit worthwhile, so have a look at:


"The Informant".. This application saves key words that you
provide and runs periodic web searches  on your behalf. The
service is free but you have to subscribe. It essentially works
like a web clipping service


If you want top know how the Albanian Lek, Bangladesh Taka or the
Aruban Florin perform against the American Dollar (or any other
currency) than check out this site. There you can get the exchange
value for any amount between any two (of 164) currencies for any
recent date As far as I know, the rates are updated everyday.


As I wrote as a title for this collection these are fun sites.
And I thought as the final entry I will give you just one url
dedicated to one of my favourite authors, Terry Pratchett, his
books have given me many 'fun' moments.


           The Cup Of Memory
Paint and Power

  -"Susan Lacy" 

It was long ago and not too far away. Sometimes a girl had to
take a stand and do something just for herself. Especially when
the road has been rocky and she's feeling a bit insecure and
wondering what will happen.

The color was outrageous, deep, saturated, sensuous, smoky
lavender.  When I close my eyes, I can still see the exact hue.
They mixed the paint to match a swath of fabric I had spent days
looking for.  I bought two gallons of it and brushes and rollers
and those tray things that hang on ladders.  There was, however,
no ladder.  I bought drop cloths and they gave me stirring sticks
for the paint.

I had never painted a room in my life.  I took the paint home and
somehow managed to cover all four walls of my bedroom with it.
This project took several days because I had no expertise and I
was determined to do it myself.  In this frenzy of empowerment I
created a hell of a mess.  This is a story of beauty, not messes,
so we'll not dwell on that aspect of the vision.  At last the
color was applied, the drop cloths and brushes disposed of.  But
that was just the beginning.  Flat, chalky white, I thought,
would look scrumptious next to that saturated lavender.  So I
went back to the store and bought more paint.  I painted all the
woodwork white. I bought the cheapest bookshelves I could find
and assembled them myself and painted them white, too.

Then, in a traitorous act of blasphemy, I painted an antique
walnut shelf white.  It was ornately carved and came from a
church in Vermont.  The shelf was one of the few remnants of the
past I had taken with me.  I hung the shelf over the bed.  It's
probable I had someone do this for me, because it was very heavy.
On the shelf  I placed a pair of  towering, heavy brass
candlestick holders and a crystal ball on a brass pedestal. You
witch, I thought to myself when I put the crystal ball up there.

I went to the cheapo bedding store and bought all kinds of
frilly, lacy white sheets and comforters and pillow shams.  The
king-size bed was on the floor and the comforters draped and
puddled on the floor in a luxurious fashion.  To me, the bed
seemed to float on a misty sea of feminine froth.

Next, I bought more sheets in a paisley pattern.  The colors were
mauve and lavender and orchid and all those girly colors I had
never had in my bedroom.  From these sheets I fashioned draperies
that covered one entire wall of the bedroom.  I lined them and
weighted the hems.  Wall to wall and ceiling to floor, this
sumptuous pattern hung in rich-looking folds.  You couldn't tell
they were sheets unless you got right up close and touched them.
I had a pretty good idea that it wouldn't be the draperies that
were going to be touched in this room.

There was a small bathroom adjoining the bedroom and I painted
it, too. Not the sexy lavender, but a paler, wistful, shy shade
of orchid.  I bought cheap towels in a matching tone.  I think I
bought an inexpensive framed print that hung over the towel bar,
but I can't remember it now.  I arranged my cosmetics and skin
care products and perfumes on the counter by the sink.  There was
a little vase in which I put all my makeup brushes.  I bought
pretty soaps and a wicker basket to stash them in.  O how I loved
looking at all this female paraphernalia sitting out there in the
open. For years I had courteously hidden it away in cupboards and

Next came the candles: scented, creamy white pillars of all
different heights.  Dozens of them.  I strewed them on the shelf
over the bed, on the night stand, and on some of the bookcases.

I bought fresh flowers at the supermarket.  I went to my mother's
and absconded with a vase to put them in.

How many hours would I spend on and in that bed?  Millions.  I
would do everything there.  I would read, I would hold
conversations with my daughter, talk on the phone, eat and sleep
and dream there.  Listen to music.  Invent my future.  Learn to
be brave.

The room was ready and everything was just so . . . which in my
language means just a tad cluttered and looking lived-in.  It was
mine.  Every single thing in that room I loved.  There was
nothing discordant or ugly. It was perfect.

I threw myself upon the bed and luxuriated on the squashy, lacy

I waited to see what would happen.

            Senior Smiles

A vampire bat came flapping in from the night covered in fresh
blood and parked himself on the roof of the cave to get some
sleep. Pretty soon all the other bats smelled the blood and began
hassling him about where he got it.  He told them to knock it off
and let him get some sleep, but they persisted until finally he
gave in.  "OK, follow me," he said and flew out of the cave with
hundreds of bats behind him. Down through a valley they went,
across a river and into a forest full of trees.  Finally he
slowed down and all the other bats excitedly milled around him.
"Now, do you see that tree over there?" he asked. "Yes, yes,
yes!" the bats all screamed in a frenzy. "Good," said the first
bat, "Because I DIDN'T".


Grandpa who is past the age of formal attire goes into a
restaurant/lounge wearing a shirt without a tie and is met by a
bouncer who tells him he must wear a necktie to gain admission.
So he goes out to his car and looks around for a necktie and
discovers that he just doesn't have one.  He sees a set of jumper
cables in his trunk.  In desperation he ties these around his
neck, manages to fashion a fairly acceptable looking knot and
lets the ends dangle free. He goes back to the restaurant and the
bouncer carefully looks him over for a few minutes and then says,
"Well, OK, I guess you can
come in

- just don't start anything."



   I gave you a lullaby
   I told you I loved you.

   I held you in my arms for a few precious moments.
   My circle was complete.
   You were so soft and tender, so vulnerable, so beautiful.

   My tall strong son stood at my side.
   He was so proud of you, and maybe even a bit proud of me.
   We are blessed by the link you made in our lives.

   I gave you a lullaby to go with the little red quilt.
   I gave you my son to be your Daddy.

        Kay Jorgensen (kjorgnsn@pris.bc.ca) -  from Talespinners