And there are a hundred other reasons to take your next vacation to Mt. Hood Territory – whether solo, with your significant other, or with the grandkids. It’s a long way from Chicago but offers a plethora of outdoorsy enticements that are not so readily accessible in the Midwest.
Reading is something a lot of baby boomers are thrilled to have more time for than they used to. Maybe you’ve longed to read all the classics and are into the thick of that project. And perhaps you look for something lighter now and then. Here are 5 books for your consideration:
- Laugh. Die Laughing: Killer jokes for Newly Old Folks, selected and annotated by William Novak, author of The Big Book of Jewish Humor. Some good laughs about aging and forgetfulness in some of the stories and especially the quotes from comedians. Some are just funny in general without being specific about aging. If you’re an older married person, you may or may not appreciate the many jokes in here that are built on the idea of how miserable a man is with his wife and a few, vice versa. If you’re an avid emailer who receives frequent jokes from friends, you may recognize quite a few of the stories in here. In any case, you’re bound to find some that are new and entertaining.
- Cry. My New Friend, Grief: Reflections on loss and life, by Anna Hodges Oginsky. Processing a loss is never easy. The social worker author reflects on how her father’s sudden death awakened memories of previous traumas she’d experienced. She writes about how she got help in processing her many painful, negative memories, how she began to be able to see her grief as a positive force and how she came out feeling stronger and more peaceful afterwards. Because the book is about getting perspective, it may not be good for those newly in the throes of grief, but could be good to keep on hand for when they are ready.
- Exercise. Beat Osteoporosis with Exercise: A low-impact program for building strength, increasing bone density and improving posture, by Dr. Karl Knopf, a physician who was also a personal trainer and has worked with older adults and disabled persons for four decades. Growing older doesn’t have to mean extreme muscle loss and broken bones. The secret, says the author, is doing specific exercises and stretches that address the core protection against fractures – strong muscles, solid bones and the best possible posture. He points out that building these things begins in childhood, and that it’s never too early to begin. “Eighty-five to 90% of adult bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and age 20 in boys.” So the recommendations in this book are good for both you and your grandchildren – fun, healthy things to do together.
- Cook. Whole Cooking and Nutrition: An everyday superfoods approach to planning, cooking and eating with diabetes, by Katie Cavuto, nutritionist and wellness expert. It’s not often we turn down so many pages in a cookbook on our first trip through it, but that’s what happened with this book. We love that every dish uses creative combinations of ingredients and encourages the reader to discover all kinds of new healthy-eating options. For example, ever heard of tempeh? Well, it’s a fermented soy product from Indonesia that’s firmer and more distinctive tasting – nuttier – than tofu. Check out the recipe that combines this with white balsamic vinegar, citrus juice and don’t-you-just-love-it? orange zest – ginger, soy sauce, garlic and more seasonings with greens. It sounds so delicious we don’t even care that we’ve never liked tofu. How about roasted cabbage steaks with vinaigrette? You don’t have to be diabetic to find pleasure in these recipes, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get all the benefits of the super nutrition in them.
- Drink. Bourbon: The Rise and Fall and Rebirth of an American Whiskey, by Fred Minnick. If you like bourbon and you love history, this might be the right book for you. The author scores American whiskey for Whisky Advocate and has written a number of books about bourbon whiskey, including Bourbon Curious: A simple tasting guide for the savvy drinker (review here). This book focuses on the role of bourbon in American culture and traces its resurgence as a favored spirit in current cocktail culture. Minnick details the rise and fall of various distilleries, bootleggers, marketers and more. Ideally, you should be really into history to appreciate the level of detail here, but it might be fun for any bourbon devotee.
It’s utterly confounding to realize that you may be able to find a site that offers the kids’ movie you want for free – but the screen is likely to be surrounded by suggestive drawings or photos that link to pornographic content.
How do you say “outrage”? For most of us baby boomers who were told next to nothing about sex – and probably had a tough time explaining it to our kids – this is an almost unimaginable challenge to the belief that it’s important to protect children’s innocence.
In a 2012 New York Times article, “When children see Internet pornography,” a young boy is quoted as asking his parent, “Mom, why do women like to be choked?” The article also contains a few links to programs for trying to manage this dire trend – though most experts say it is impossible to completely shield your kids from it.
In a 2015 article, “Parenting in the age of online porn,” experts say statistics are not so far indicating a younger generation that’s out of control sexually – teen pregnancy is down, sex among ninth graders is down. Gulp – ninth graders. When one mother discovered a previous search phrase on her computer for “child porn,” her older son told her he’d been looking for porn made for children because he wanted to know what his body was supposed to look like at his age. There’s that beautiful innocence.
Some therapists feel this epidemic of easily accessible pornography is extremely damaging to children and young teens. Yet the jury is apparently still out among other therapists on just how bad the long-term effects will be. But there’s no question pornography can cause confusion, worry and/or fear even when children are able to process what they see with responsible, caring adults.
If we could legally stop advertising to children on Saturday morning cartoons, surely we can stop porn vendors from “advertising” on children’s content websites. Come on, legislators. Get with it.
Well, grandmothers, be deeply aware of the dangers when you search the Internet for free movies for your grandchildren. And do your due diligence on intelligent ways to handle it if it comes up with one of them.
Did you know that Chicago’s own Shedd Aquarium rescues wounded, abandoned or otherwise trouble animals from the wild? One of their favorite rescue animals is the penguin. Shedd staffers work with local scientists to rescue them and rehabilitate them. Shedd even maintains a mini-habitat of penguins at Lurie Children’s Hospital so the kids can enjoy watching wildlife close up.
One of the many wonders at Shedd is a huge look-up-and-be-amazed round aquarium tank that sits in the middle of a two-floor exhibit. There you’ll see a once-seriously wounded but now seemingly very happy sea turtle whose back legs don’t work because of an encounter with propeller blades. Yet she propels herself just fine around the environment, even working up extra enthusiasm to push herself deep under the water using only her front legs. Her name is Nickel because, when she was rescued, she had a nickel stuck in her throat. And she’s a testament to the resilience of life in all its forms.
Don’t miss the shark exhibit. There’s nothing to compare to watching these creatures from ancient times as they glide noiselessly around their huge tank. The Shedd shark expert has 31 years in the industy, so she can tell you a lot about them. She explains that they are studying microbiome of water with a view to understanding more about the 11 species of shark they keep here. Regular feedings by keepers – the sharks respond instantly when shown a specific shape and given an audio cue – keep them from attacking their fishy tankmates for meal fodder.
Shedd recently facilitated the birth of a baby dolphin in captivity and invited the public to participate in a naming contest this past July. Thirty-four hundred people participated and voted for Makoa, which means fearless.
Shedd experts also have a 3-D printer that actually creates artificial limb replacements out of rubberized material; we saw one for their back-left-legless iguana. Fascinating to see the half dozen iterations they had to go through before they got the size and the flexibility just right. And now the iguana struts around his area like he owns the place.
Most of the exhibits at Adler Planetarium in Chicago may be a bit beyond smaller kids, but if your grandchildren are older, they will likely find a lot to enjoy in the star shows and in a new exhibit called What Is a Planet? The show talks about what happened to Pluto-the-former-planet, but its main purpose is to highlight some of the museum’s prized historical icons relating to the evolving state of knowledge in astronomy.
When you visit What Is a Planet? you might even run into one of the Adler resident astronomers while you’re there. They love talking about astronomy and will tell you quite frankly that many astronomers disagree about a lot of things – another indicator of how our fund of knowledge about space is always growing and changing.
FYI: The new definition of planet, voted on by members of the international astronomers union (many of whom disagreed!), is that it must a) have enough gravity to be round, b) rotate around the sun, and c) clear everything else out of its orbit, meaning asteroids and other such extraneous stuff cluttering up space.
Interested younger kids will like the exhibit also because, right across the hall from the 600-year-old book of calculations by Kepler and other fascinating artifacts from the Adler’s archives, is a Community Design Lab where kids can draw spaceships, imagine visits to planets, and create – to their hearts’ content – models of machines and dioramas of sci-fi scenarios. All drawing and construction materials supplied free of charge. The room is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.
P.S. No need to drive your car and pay a hefty parking fee. The #146 CTA bus drives directly into Museum Campus and pulls right up to the Planetarium. Catch it on Michigan Ave.
America’s 59 national parks are celebrating their 100th birthday this year. Even if you don’ think you’ll be able to visit one or more of these national treasures any time soon, you can have a virtual visit easily by looking at the official National Geographic Guide to National Parks 8th Edition just published recently. Gorgeous photos and clear directions for navigating your way through the parks make this book a must-have – even if you’re only visiting in your imagination. An enriching and relaxing way to while away an hour or two any time.
And if you’ve got grandkids, check out the National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA: Centennial Edition. They’ll see cool maps and amazing photos of wildlife; they’ll learn fun facts about forests and about conserving our natural resources. What a fun way to help kids open their eyes to how we can all preserve and protect our precious home planet. If the kids love outdoors, or if you’ll be taking them to a national park soon, they will love this book.
Imagine yourself there:
- In the East, parks like Acadia, Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah are among the most popular in the nation. They and six other parks showcase the subtle beauties of eastern scenery.
- Midwest, we Chicagoans can experience national parks close to home or far out in the Dakotas. Environments both suburban and rugged/otherworldly await visitors to this, America’s heartland, where water plays a huge part in building and changing the landscape.
- South Central hosts four parks – Guadalupe Mountains, Carlsbad Caverns, Big Bend and Hot Springs – with scenery ranging from historical and underground to high and rugged.
- The Southwest’s 11 parks contain rivers and historical remains of America’s Wild West. The Grand Canyon is an emblem of American heritage and a natural wonder of the world. Mesa Verde preserves natural wonders and the history of a people.
- The Alaska national parks protect and preserve more than 41 million acres of natural treasures like active volcanoes, glaciers, rugged mountains, giant brown bears, sea lions, whales and wild salmon.
- The four Rocky Mountain parks feature craggy peaks capped by glimmering glaciers, fields bathed in wildflowers, and lakes as smooth and blue as a summer sky. These also include Southern Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes.
- The Pacific Southwest parks stretch from American Samoa and the Hawaiian Islands to the snow-clad peaks of California. Visitors can discover everything from coral reefs to volcanic landscapes, and from deserts to monoliths and domes of granite.
- In the Pacific Northwest parks you can hike the cathedral-like glades of Douglas fir, western red cedar and other conifers of Mount Rainier, and the Olympic and North Cascades mountain ranges in Washington state. Redwood National Park is home to 2,000-year-old trees – and some of the tallest on Earth!. In Olympic, enjoy the beauty of temperate rain forests that soar to the sky near some of the nation’s wildest coastline. Here and at Mount Rainier are the only places you can find such forests in the United States.
Thanks to National Geographic for keeping us all entertained, delighted and informed about the wonders of our country and the ways we can respect our natural world. Visit their website for more fascinating guides to our country’s national natural treasures. And very happy one-century birthday to our national parks!