retired life


Journeying with My Father

In the midst of such dark and omnipresent stories from around the world, I want to share some very pleasant and uplifting thoughts.

Recently, on Veteran’s Day, I wrote about my father and the men he served with in Guadalcanal during WWII. Their unit was CASU 11, an acronym for Carrier Aircraft Service Unit. To my great surprise, not long after writing that article, I heard from a man whose father also served in the same unit. Not only that, he sent me pictures of my father and his buddies during their time overseas. I had met many of these men as seniors, but had never seen my father nor them as young men during their duty on the island. What a wonderful gift that brought tears to my eyes. This is one of the photos of my father.

sc00014768

Just recently I heard from another man whose father also served in CASU 11 during that time and he also had great information and photos to share. The three of us are now in contact and learning more about our father’s service and experiences. I know our fathers and their buddies would be very pleased.

If you read my last blog, you know my wife Trisha and I recently returned from a wonderful travel adventure to Australia. Every day, and more so when I’m given the chance to do something special such as traveling to a foreign land, I give thanks to my late father and mother for their efforts in providing for our family. My father worked both days and nights for thirteen years to establish his business. I was thirteen when we took our first vacation, a trip to my aunt’s house in the northwest. While in Australia, I wondered each day what my father would think about such an adventure, and I often silently thanked him for providing me the opportunity of education and confidence to pursue my dreams.

For those who travel, you know one of the best things about it is the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. This last trip was no exception and we met several wonderful folks. In one such instance, as my wife and I were walking around the Circle Quay toward the Sydney Opera House, we stopped to sit on a bench and take in the sights. In just a moment an Australian couple named Chris and Kathryn sat down next to us and a conversation ensued. They were a very charming and energetic couple and we seemed to have much in common. At one point, Chris began to tell us about his father. It was as if he was describing my father. He then expressed his gratitude for all his father had done to give him opportunity to live such a wonderful life. He was expressing the very thoughts I have always carried about my father.

As we said good-bye, we exchanged emails and learning about a poem Chris wrote about his father, I asked for permission to share it with the readers of my blog. He graciously accepted. I know many of you will appreciate and relate to his eloquent words.

 

Journeying with My Father

 

I wish my Father, now long gone, was on this journey with me,

to show him all the sights which I am privileged to see.

As a young man he departed his birth land, on a great adventure,

and settled here, as a dedicated Australian, until his life was over,

never, even after 41 years, returning to his town of origin,

nor fully exploring his adopted land within.

 

I feel sad for my Father because he missed the opportunity

to travel about, with his wife, in this contrasting country.

He saw only some parts of it before he settled down

to spend his life working hard for us, in a new hometown.

No matter how difficult it was to raise all his progeny,

this Dad kept striving to be better, so he could help his family.

 

My Father would love to see the crocodiles and birds,

describing them with his flourishing style and descriptive words.

He would explain to all of us, these wonderful sights we saw

because he would have read and learned of them some time before,

using his inquisitive mind that searched for what was good

until he knew what to say concisely, as only he could.

 

I would show my Father all the gaps and gorges

that are fractured by, then carry, the water of the rivers.

He would marvel at the coastline that is sculptured by the ocean,

and look across these seas to remember his immigration,

giving him closure to his wandering journey,

and allowing his curiosity to appreciate this country.

 

He searched for meaning, St Paul his favourite, by doing lots of reading,

and encapsulated what he learned in cryptic little sayings.

His best, I often heard, and one I try to live by too

was, “Duty before Pleasure,” which I agree is wise and true.

So to show my Dad these sights I’ve seen, and have him hear each sound

would help him be effusive to his children gathered round.

 

When I think it’s only me who is seeing all there is,

he would no doubt remind me with these wise words of his,

“I see with your eyes now because you are my son

who has done his duty, as I tried, and now our pleasure can come.

In your leisure I live my time afresh, seeing you as a man,

and I rest in peace journeying with you, as now I can.”

 

Chris T Relf

 

Advertisements

Vanity Post

While my wife and I have eight grandchildren, and we love each and every one, today we are celebrating a cover girl. Our youngest, only one year old, was selected and appears on this cover. We are very proud and I could not help but share the event.

Ella Angel

 

This just in:

War in the Mid-East, Russia and U. S. at odds, China disregarding everyone else, our culture is going to hell, income is down, prices are going up, and young people can’t stop staring at their smart phones.

Some things never seem to change.

While it’s not my nature to be pessimistic, given all of the above same old news, and other recent events including terrorist threats and natural disasters, it’s sometimes difficult to be positive.

It was only last month when our phone rang at 3:30 a.m. and our youngest son was shouting into the phone, “Are you alright?” He and his family had just evacuated their shaking home in the midst of a terrible earthquake. A house nearby had caught fire and a man was yelling “help me” in the dark. Our son still cannot get into the building where his business is located and his young kids are still having nightmares. It was truly a frightening disaster.

So, what should we learn from all this? Well, as one of my favorite authors M. Scott Peck began his classic The Road Less Traveled, “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.”

We cannot predict disasters, we only know they can and will occur. The best we can do is to be as prepared as possible. After doing a review of several emergency preparedness materials and web sites, I decided to share the following information gleaned from a power company. I also looked at a number of government sites designed to give emergency instructions, the ones our tax dollars sponsor, and found most of them very confusing and complicated. That is, except the one that stated “This page not available.” It figures.

I hope this will be informative. Perhaps you can print it out and begin your plan or update an existing plan as needed.

I would add one thing to the items below. My son told me the man whose house caught fire and was yelling for help wanted someone to turn off the gas valve. It was difficult finding the right tool in the dark. I suggest tieing the appropriate wrench to the valve itself making it very easy to find, light or no light.

Emergency Preparedness

Get ready for natural disasters before they happen

  • Prepare an emergency plan and conduct an emergency drill with your family.
  • Prepare an emergency evacuation plan for your home. Each room should have at least 2 ways to escape in case one is blocked. Establish a place where your family can reunite after an emergency.
  • If you live in an apartment, know the locations of emergency exits, fire alarms, and fire extinguishers.
  • Make sure children, house guests and childcare providers know your safety
    By planning and practicing what to do, you can condition yourself and your family to react correctly when an emergency occurs.
  • Establish an alternative way to contact others that may not be home, such as an out-of-the-area telephone contact. During some emergencies such as an earthquake, completing local telephone calls may be difficult, it may be easier to telephone someone out of the area.
  • Prepare and maintain anemergency preparedness kit with enough supplies on hand to be self-sufficient for at least 3 days, and preferably up to one week.
  • Know when and how to turn offelectricity, water and gas at the main switch and valves.
  • Evaluate your homefor safety; including ensuring your home can withstand a serious earthquake or other emergency.
  • Always store flammable material safely away from ignition sources like water heaters, furnaces and stoves.
  • Be sure smoke alarms are installed throughout your home. If the smoke alarm runs on batteries, or has battery back-up power, replace batteries at least once per year. If the low battery warning beeps, replace the battery immediately. All smoke alarms in your house should be tested every month using the alarm test button.
  • Keep fire extinguishers in your home, and know how to use them before they are needed. You should keep a fire extinguisher in high-risk areas such as the kitchen and workshop.

Know what to do after an emergency

  • Ensure that everyone is safe.
  • Inspect your building for damage. Do not use electrical switches, appliances or telephones if you suspect a gas leak since sparks may ignite gas.
  • If you smell gas, hear gas escaping, see a broken gas line, or if you suspect a gas leak, evacuate the building. Find a phone away from the building and call PG&E or 9-1-1 immediately. If it is safe to do so,turn off the gas service shutoff valve normally located near the gas meter. Do not shut off the gas service shutoff valve unless you find the presence of any one of these conditions because there may be a considerable delay before PG&E can turn your service back on.
  • If leaking gas starts to burn, do not try to put the flame out. Call 9-1-1 and PG&E immediately. If it is safe to do so,turn off the gas service shutoff valve normally located near the gas meter.
  • Once the gas is shut off at the meter, do not try to turn it back on yourself. Only PG&E or another qualified professional should turn the gas back on.
  • Check for downed or damaged electric utility lines. Never touch wires lying on the ground, wires hanging on poles, or objects that may be touching them. Downed wires may still be carrying current and could shock, injure or even kill if touched.
  • Check for damaged household electrical wiring andturn off the power at the main electric switch if you suspect any damage. If the power goes out, turn off all electric appliances, and unplug major electric appliances to prevent possible damage when the power is turned back on.

Emergency Preparedness Kit

Prepare and maintain an emergency kit with enough supplies to be self-sufficient for at least three days and preferably up to one week.

The kit should include:

  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  • One-week supply of water
  • One-week supply of non-perishable food and a manual can opener
  • Alternative cooking source
  • A first aid kit and handbook
  • A-B-C multipurpose fire extinguisher
  • Extra medication for those who need prescription drugs
  • Adjustable pipe or crescent wrench to turn off the gas and water supply
  • Chlorine bleach and instructions for purifying water
  • Blankets, warm clothes, sturdy shoes and heavy gloves
  • Candles and matches. If you must use candles, use extreme caution due to the risk of fire. Keep candles away from small children and do not leave candles unattended.

 

Trisha Update

Once again, I want to thank those of you who have been supportive of my wife Trisha since her surgery. Let me just say she is doing great and already planning our next travel adventure. I’m very proud of her and she has managed her rehab as she managed her business tasks in the past. Thanks again.

Trisha and John Parker

Trisha and John Parker

 

zzzzz close

 www.TheBestofOurLives.com

Climate Change vs. Culture Change

If you turn on your television or radio and I guarantee it won’t be long before you hear someone bring up the subject of climate change. Being older and wiser, or perhaps just more experienced, the first thing that will probably catch your attention is the term “climate change.” What happened to “global warming?” Perhaps the term was modified to make it more palatable. Everyone, including the dinosaurs can agree the earth’s climate does change from time to time.

I’m not a scientist, but I am skeptical. I remember being a college student and telling my then girlfriend I never planned to get married and have children because I was convinced by the science and experts of the day a new “ice age” was coming and future generations were doomed. We all know how that one turned out.

Here are some examples of how the media was covering this crisis:

Time_Covoer_April_9_2007_1101070409_400


thebigfreeze

time-mag-big-freeze

Forgive me, but being a senior with extensive life experience makes me skeptical of the gloom and doom we hear about all living creatures being threatened by the earth warming, the poles melting, and the sea rising. And most of all, I’m skeptical that we humans are to blame because of man-made CO2. A very cursory investigation of the facts demonstrates CO2 was much higher in the age of the dinosaurs than it is today. The melting of ice in the North Pole has slowed to a little over 3% while Antartica’s ice formation is up over 30%. And then there’s the question of the sea rising? Well, take a hike through some of the high deserts in California and guess what you will discover. You will find the skeletal remains of sea life such as shark’s teeth. I’ve seen them. I may not be the smartest person in the world, but I’m guessing the sea used to be much, much higher than it is today. Yep, I’m skeptical.

Now before all the climate change folks get all lathered up and defensive, let me say once again, I’m not a scientist. I’m simply an observer and a good listener. In 1988, actor and activist Ted Danson proclaimed we only had ten years to save the oceans. I also heard the king of “global warming” and now multi-millionaire Al Gore tell us many years ago we had little time to save the planet. He was so concerned he flew all around the world on private jets, bought several homes and a gigantic houseboat, just to make sure we knew to conserve energy. When I see and hear these people and their organizations making millions of dollars from energy credit companies and selling their apocalyptic books while making doomsday speeches, I can’t help but be skeptical. If you’re interested, it’s very easy to find the government statistics on exactly how many millions of our tax dollars we are giving these folks each year. It’s staggering. As they say, follow the money.

For the record, based upon my observations, it’s culture change that should most worry us. There is clearly a coarseness and lack of civility that is growing and taking over our society. Park your car in front of a high school just prior to classes letting out for the day. Listen to the language and subject matter of the conversations. Sit in the food court of any shopping mall. Young and old alike are leaving manners and civility in the dust bin of history.

The media, of course, is the fuel for this destructive fire sweeping our society. The music, films, and television programs provide a negative template for our culture. The “bleep” sound has become standard on most programs. In just the last few days I heard the “f” word used numerous times on live football broadcasts. I recently watched a new program whose main character is an alcoholic and drug addicted free-lance doctor who, in the first show, had just slept with his father’s wife.

If you think I’m a prude, think again. As an Air Force veteran, when I returned from overseas, I realized my vocabulary had shrunk to just a few words, all of which were swear words. I was unusually quiet for some time while I adjusted to what I knew to be proper discourse. Do I watch movies or television programs that have sexual scenes? Of course I do. The point is not that we should be concerned that these things exist in our culture, but that they now seem to dominate and define our culture.

Not long ago, my wife and I were visiting family in the Carolina’s. After a few days, we began to notice that almost all of the people with whom we came in contact were very polite and well-mannered. At one point I encountered a well-groomed young man wearing a high school baseball t-shirt. I asked him what position he played. He responded, “I’m a pitcher sir.” It made me feel great to know somewhere in our vast country a young person still speaks to his elders and refers to them as sir or ma’am. Ironically, when we returned home, we stopped by a local store to pick up some groceries. As I excited, a young man and his girlfriend were having a lively and sexually charged conversation in the parking lot. They actually wanted everyone within a hundred yards to hear their profanity laced comments. Why, I have no idea.

Understand, it’s not the words per se, but the respect each of us should show to one another that seems to be on the rapid decline. Much like the climate change folks warning the seas will eventually swamp us, I’m afraid the culture change already begun will overtake us as destructive as any tsunami we might imagine.

 

zzzzz close

http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Flipping_coin

As we have all learned by now, life is one continuous series of decisions. We must decide when to rise and when to sleep, when to fast and when to eat, when to work and when to play, and when love and when to fight. Oops, left out when to sow and when to reap. Turn, turn, turn.

I must admit when I was younger my decisions were much more instinctual and reactive, in other words, I typically chose the course of action that seemed most expedient and  rewarding for the moment. At this stage of life, I try to be more reflective and make decisions, even the small ones, based upon a more thorough analysis of each situation. But realizing most of my daily decisions are still made in the moment, I’ve come to better understand the controlling mechanism for the entire process is based upon my attitude.

Given the time, I’ve tried to develop a more thoughtful inner-dialogue that poses questions such as: Am I making this decision for the right reasons? Is it best for me? How will it affect others? Is it the most positive decision I can make?

I’m frequently surprised how positive and calming this process can be. For instance, on a recent travel adventure with my wife Trisha, we were at Heathrow in London trying to make a flight to Stockholm, Sweden. Everything was going normally until we got to security. Trisha went through one line and I went through another. I quickly realized the woman in front of me was someone I’d seen at the ticket counter who had been warned about the number of carry-on items she had with her.

Well, despite the warnings, the large signs, and the loud verbal announcements, she was now being questioned by the one security officer for our line. I had one bin with my camera, she had five large bins. When asked if she had any liquids she responded “no.” The first bag in her first bin was opened and out came very large perfume bottles and an assortment of other similar items. Needless to say, the security officer had to open every bag and confiscate the restricted materials despite her loud protests. When I finally got my camera I ran through Heathrow (quite a long run), and as I arrived at the gate I saw my wife standing alone as our plane was being pushed out away from the jetway. Grrrrr!

O. K., so we had to wait three hours for the next flight, how bad could it be? We browsed some of the shops and then decided to get some food and settle in for the rest of the wait. Once seated, who do you think walked up and sat facing me just a few feet away? Yep, Ms. Five Bins who caused us to miss our flight. My inner dialogue was working overtime and Trisha was loving every minute of watching me squirm. Would I do what my instincts wanted to do which was tell her how inconsiderate she was and that she was the reason we missed our flight? I realized my only reason for that course of action would be to vent my anger and I also knew I would be inflicting some hurtful feelings on her. I admit it was difficult at first, but then decided the end result wasn’t worth it. I was in London vacationing with my wife eating good food and having a great time. Being negative and verbally assaulting this woman would have been a waste of my time, emotions, and energy. I mentally tied up my negative emotions and let them float away. As it turned out, that afternoon flight was a great time sitting and chatting with some terrific people we met boarding the plane. We would not have met them had we made the first flight. The life lesson was reinforced.

Trisha and John Parker Sweden's Parliament Stockholm

Trisha and John Parker
Sweden’s Parliament
Stockholm

 

In thinking about attitude, I always remember a former colleague of mine, the educator, best-selling author, and terrific human being Leo Bascaglia. Leo’s attitude was one of loving everyone any way he could. Rather than cut someone off in traffic, Leo would smile and wave them into his lane. He said his attitude even made some a little afraid and suspicious to trust because it was often outside the norm. He once spoke at a committee luncheon I co-chaired and a few minutes into his talk he stopped, walked into the middle of the room, leaned forward towards a woman sitting there and said, “Your smile devastates me.” Leo later told me he never wanted to miss an opportunity to compliment someone. The woman almost fell out of her chair.

Let me share one of my favorite quotes about attitude.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
― Charles R. Swindoll

 

Trisha’s Dishes

Trisha Parker

Trisha Parker

As I have often mentioned, my wife Trisha is a fantastic chef. Yesterday she made some cookies based on a new recipe she developed. I suggest you go to our website http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com and click on “Trisha’s Dishes.” You won’t be sorry and I’ll bet you can’t eat just one.

 

zzzzz close

 

http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com

 

Older and Wiser

 John thinking

Throughout our lives we’ve been led to believe the older we got, the wiser we would become. Well, maybe. As an example, given the physical nature of maintaining yards and homes, I’ve noticed many of my friends and neighbors now hire people for many of those tasks. For better or worse, in most cases, I still take on those responsibilities. Of course, that’s probably why my chiropractor now owns a vacation home in Hawaii.

Regardless, in taking on these tasks, I really do try to work smarter. I’m always looking for and finding interesting and easier ways to get things done. In a recent blog I related a great time saver suggested by my wife. It was the amazingly effective and inexpensive cleaning products featured at Dollar Tree stores. Many friends and neighbors followed my suggestion and report having the same great experience. The owner of the bike shop I frequent didn’t seem very interested when I suggested he try their basic cleaner, so the next time I went in, I gave him a bottle. A week later I stopped by and asked him how it was working out. He opened the cabinets under his cleaning sinks and there were several bottles. He said when cleaning the grease from an entire bike, it saves him more than a half hour in work time. I’m hoping for a discount on my next bike tires.

In the same time, money, and labor-saving vein, let me share another great suggestion for working smarter. With a drum roll please, its vinegar. Yes, plain old cheap vinegar. While many of you probably already know of its many uses, and there are literally dozens, I want to share some of my favorites.

Weed and grass killer

This summer, after so many windy days, I’ve grown a great crop of weeds all over my property. The toxic sprays sold at the local home improvement stores are really nasty and high-priced. I just fill up my little sprayer with some cheap vinegar, and ta da, no more weeds. Even more interesting, this year my palm trees decided to drop seedlings all over the place that began to grow. Everyone told me, even one of the local “tree guys,” that nothing will kill these seedlings and you have to get down and pull them out of the ground by hand. Oh yeah. Well, a couple of spray sessions with my vinegar did them in. Now, of course, you need to be careful. While vinegar is actually good for growing some flowers, it will kill not only weeds and unwanted grass, it will also kill grass you may not want to kill, so be careful. But, I must say, being able to handle those weeds and wild grasses growing up through cracks in cement and other places so easily is a real-time and money saver. And since its not toxic, I don’t have to worry about growing another head out of my shoulder.

Here are some other great uses for vinegar:

Unclogging drains

Use a funnel to pour 1/2 cup baking soda followed by 1 cup vinegar into the drain. When the foaming subsides, flush with hot tap water. Wait five minutes, and then flush again with cold water. Besides clearing blockages, this technique also washes away odor-causing bacteria.

Cleaning windshield wipers

When your windshield actually gets blurrier after you turn on your wipers during a rainstorm, it usually means that your wiper blades are dirty. To make them as good as new, dampen a cloth or rag with some full-strength white vinegar and run it down the full length of each blade once or twice.

Removing mineral deposits from shower heads

Wash away blockages and mineral deposits from removable shower heads by placing them in 1 quart (1 liter) boiling water with 1/2 cup distilled vinegar for 10 minutes (use hot, not boiling, liquid for plastic shower heads). When you remove it from the solution, the obstructions should be gone. If you have a nonremovable shower head, fill a small plastic bag half full with vinegar and tape it over the fixture. Let it sit for about 1 hour, then remove the bag and wipe off any remaining vinegar from the shower head.

Keep out four-legged creatures

Some animals — including cats, deer, dogs, rabbits, and raccoons — can’t stand the scent of vinegar even after it has dried. You can keep these unauthorized visitors out of your garden by soaking several recycled rags in white vinegar, and placing them on stakes around your veggies. soak the rags about every 7-10 days.

 

Give ants the boot

Serve the ants on your premises with an eviction notice. Pour equal parts water and white vinegar into a spray bottle. Then spray it on anthills and around areas where you see the insects. Ants hate the smell of vinegar. It won’t take long for them to move on to better-smelling quarters. Also keep the spray bottle handy for outdoor trips or to keep ants away from picnic or children’s play areas. If you have lots of anthills around your property, try pouring full-strength vinegar over them to hasten the bugs’ departure.

 

Removing rust from tools 

If you want to clean up those rusted old tools you recently unearthed in your basement or picked up at a tag sale, soak them in full-strength white vinegar for several days. The same treatment is equally effective at removing the rust from corroded nuts and bolts. And you can pour vinegar on rusted hinges and screws to loosen them up for removal.

These are just a few of the dozens and dozens of uses for vinegar. There are many web sites that can give you many more ideas.

 

John Parker

John Parker

http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com

 

Socialization and Travel

Both in our book and in our presentations, my wife Trisha and I stress the importance of socialization as one grows older. There is overwhelming evidence that a senior’s physical and emotional health, as well as increased longevity on average is directly affected by frequent and continued socialization. Growing older in isolation is one of the worst things we can do in our retired life years.

Obviously, this is more difficult for some than others. I’m sure my friends would laugh and most likely be surprised to know that basically I’ve always been a bit shy. Once I get to know someone, I have no problem, but for most of my life I’ve found it difficult to be “outgoing” and social. Fortunately, I married someone who is probably one of the most friendly and outgoing people on the planet. I continue to learn from her each day and have actually gone through a bit of a change on the social front.

For those who read this blog, you know my wife Trisha and I love to travel. Certainly, our children, grandkids, and friends are the most important components of our lives, but the occasional travel adventure is the extra spice to our retired life. While we love seeing new sights and having different experiences, we have discovered that meeting and getting to know people from all over the world is both a learning experience and great fun. To know it’s also good for our well-being is icing on the cake.

In this case, due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to cancel a previously planned trip with our good friends and travel companions. In just a few days, Trisha put together a completely different trip through northern Europe to experience places we had not yet visited. As usual, she did a great job and we had a wonderful adventure together.

While we were warned weather is always an issue in this part of Europe, good fortune was with us and our weather was glorious. The sites, sounds, food, and most of all, the people were all wonderfully educational and interesting. We were once again struck by how remarkably easy it is to meet, converse, and even strike up friendships with people from other cultures. Not surprisingly, we all seem to want the same things, but politics and power seem to get into the way with our world leaders. I know this is quite a simplistic thought, and there are very real threats in the world, but as it was once said, “can’t we all just get along?”

Here is a brief summary of the places and people we encountered during our trip:

In addition to visiting all the sights of London, we shared conversations with Jerry and Marita at our hotel, and then the better part of a late evening with Canadians Colin and Monie at a local ice cream parlor. They were an extremely nice couple. Obviously, we were curious about the food in London, and I must say the Pub scene is great fun.

We would recommend The Queen’s Arm’s near Victoria Station for fish and chips and a tankard of ale. A real surprise was an Asian restaurant named A.Wongs. It was gourmet food with over the top preparation, taste, and presentation like nothing I’ve ever had before. Perfection would be the word I would use.

Trisha and John Parker at The Queen's Arms

Trisha and John Parker
at The Queen’s Arms

The Queens Arms

The Queens Arms

A. Wongs

A. Wongs

On a flight to Stockholm, I was privileged to meet a terrific man named Urban who provided me with valuable insights into Swedish culture and politics. Our first and lasting impression of this city was entirely positive. It was very clean, the people were exceptionally friendly, and ladies forgive me, some of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. Trisha might have called me sexist, but she was very busy looking at all the handsome men. Our first morning at a sidewalk bistro was very enjoyable.

Trisha and John Parker Morning in Stockholm

Trisha and John Parker
Morning in Stockholm

On our first night in Stockholm, we discovered a little bistro called Ristorante 60 with both indoor and sidewalk tables. Next to us were two interesting young musicians and graduate music students named Phillip and Victor. Although we were a bit travel weary and there was a definite age difference, we actually wound up closing the place. Time flies. Here’s Trisha with the manager.

Trisha Parker Ristorante 60

Trisha Parker
Ristorante 60

The next night, at a local pub we met three truly great young men, Joe, Andrew, and Joe (we think he said Joe because he was sure we would not be able to pronounce his name). They had all returned from their second tour as part of a peace-keeping force in Afganistan. They could not have been more interesting and were so humble when we thanked them for their service. It was another wonderful evening.

While we enjoyed everything about this beautiful city, a true highlight was our visit to Millesgarden. This is the estate, now museum of famous sculpture Carl Milles and his artist wife Olga. The estate sits perched atop a hillside overlooking the water and city of Stockholm. While the art is magnificent and inspirational, the serenity was refreshing. We stopped often just to sit and take in the sheer beauty of this truly must-see location.

Millesgarden

Millesgarden

Millesgarden

Millesgarden

I should mention that when Swedish musical legends ABBA needed a couple to fill in for one performance, Trisha and I helped out.

Trisha and John Parker

Trisha and John Parker

Should anyone be planning a trip to Stockholm, Trisha and I highly recommend the Miss Clara Hotel. It’s an eight story former girl’s school that has been remodeled and transformed into a bright and modern place to stay. It has a beautiful restaurant and a great sauna. Obviously, many hotels have similar amenities, but it’s the warm and professional staff that sets this hotel apart from the others.

Traveling to Copenhagen, we had the pleasure of meeting Christian and Caroline and their beautiful family while having lunch on New Haven Street along the canal. Each of them warm, friendly, and with a great sense of humor. We had many different servers at our outside tables, and only one of them did not seem to speak English. Finally, while Christian was helping me figure out my bill, I asked him if the tip was included. He said, “Yes, I believe the tip is included.” Our non-English speaking server was just walking by the table, and in a very loud voice in perfect English said, “The tip is not included!” We all laughed hysterically at this very funny moment.

Trisha and John Parker Copenhagen

Trisha and John Parker
Copenhagen

Of course, among the dozens of amazing sites in Copenhagen, a tourist simply cannot miss the Little Mermaid.

Trisha and John Parker  The Little Mermaid

Trisha and John Parker
The Little Mermaid

In Amsterdam, we had the pleasure of meeting Doug and Joan, and Jim and Judy while visiting the Anne Frank house. It was a moving experience and afterward we all found a canal-side restaurant with the best Panini I’ve ever tasted. These folks turned out to be wonderful company and after lunch we actually wound up walking through various parts of the city together. The next morning, along a canal we had morning coffee for Trisha and the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. The sightseeing then continued. O. K., we did share that pastry.

Trisha and John Parker Morning / Amsterdam

Trisha and John Parker
Morning / Amsterdam

 

For our next stop we headed to Brussels and on the train met a very interesting young Frenchman and world traveler named Stephane. It so happened that while we were there, the G7 leaders were meeting which gave the city an extra sense of activity with helicopters, limos, and lots of police escorts flying through the city streets. On our last day there, while boarding a bus to visit the Atomium, the last site on our list, the driver said he did not take credit cards. Not having enough Euros left, and getting near the end of the day, our plans would have been crushed. Total strangers Denny and Mary spoke up and offered their own money to buy our tickets. Obviously, we later reimbursed them, but what a wonderful gesture. The Atomium was the high point of the 1957 Brussels World Fair and it was a stopping point recently on T.V.’s Amazing Race. We loved it, especially the rocket ship feeling on the high speed elevator to the top.

Trisha and John Parker Brussels Atomium

Trisha and John Parker
Brussels Atomium

After our days in Brussels, we traveled through northern France and then crossed the English Channel at the same time the Allies had done exactly 70 years before. Of course, we were going the opposite direction toward London, but it still gave us a bit of a chill, especially knowing Trisha’s father was one of those D-Day heroes.

Just one more mention of kindness from others we received on this wonderful adventure. On our original flight from San Francisco to London aboard Virgin Atlantic, the flight crew was sensational. Trisha noticed several of the women had their hair in beautiful tight bun-like configurations. She asked one of the attendants how their hair was styled so perfectly. It turns out it’s with the simple use of a mesh “doughnut.” Flight attendant Claire asked us about our travel plans and we gave her our dates. Two and a half weeks later, when we arrived at the gate at Heathrow in London, Claire was there waving at Trisha. They embraced and then Claire gave Trisha a bag with a hair “doughnut” she had purchased for her.

The answer to the question is, “Yes, we can all get along.” Thank you to all the special people who made our trip so much fun. It’s clear that socialization, maybe even especially while traveling makes our lives much richer and far better.

zzzzz close

http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com

 



Slowing the Aging Process

As we reach retirement age and beyond, all we need to do is look in the mirror to be reminded of the many years we have lived. What I’ve always found interesting is that some people seem to look much older or younger than their actual age. Curious, I began to investigate the actual factors that  cause us to physically age. Based upon scientific research, these are the main factors I discovered:

1. Eating foods that cause chronic inflammation. Among these are foods that contain large amounts of vegetable oils, margarine, red meat, white bread, sugar, and other processed foods. The inflammation caused by these foods accelerates wrinkle formation in our skin.

To prevent this acceleration, eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid. Such foods would include those with flaxseed or flaxseed oil, avocados, salmon, and olive oil. Fresh fruits and veggies are also beneficial because they contain lots of zinc, selenium, vitamin C, and beta carotene. Red peppers and carrots are especially good. All of these help maintain healthy skin and retard the aging process. In addition, studies have shown that we need to have at least one helping of protein with each meal in order to maintain healthy skin. Insufficient protein causes tears, wrinkles, and cracks in our skin. This obviously ages us much more quickly.

2. Drinking too much alcohol. Alcohol is a natural diuretic and the more you drink, the more dehydrated you become. This dries up the natural moisture from your skin and exacerbates the fine lines and wrinkles that make us look older. Not drinking alcohol or drinking less also allows the liver to more easily flush toxins from our bodies that also benefits our skin. I’m sure we have all had the occasion of seeing a total stranger and can almost instantly determine that the person is a heavy drinker on the basis of their heavily wrinkled face.

3. Constant worry, anxiety, or stress.  Recent studies have shown that stress has a harmful effect on the DNA in our cells. This part of the DNA is called telomeres and when measured, those suffering stress had shorter telomeres in their cells causing the cells to become damaged or die. Stress also ages our brains, increases our blood pressure, and disrupts our sleep, all of which can make us look and feel older.

4. Lack of exercise. Exercising at 40 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate is not only healthy for your weight, heart, and lungs, it provides a rejuvenating effect on the skin.

5. Smoking. If knowing that smoking causes heart disease, infertility, bladder cancer, high blood pressure, and lung cancer isn’t enough, it also is terrible for the skin and the aging process. Smoking deprives skin cells of oxygen and cause pale and uneven coloring. It also breaks down collagen and causes skin to sag. Puffing on cigarettes also creates deep wrinkles around a smoker’s mouth.

6. Too much sun. While being out in the sun can provide certain health benefits, too much sun certainly has a down side. In addition to the increased risk of skin cancer, UV rays weaken skin cells and blood vessels. This is what causes that tanned, leathery look. It can also make us more susceptible to bruising.

A recent four-year study in Australia determined that daily applications of sunscreen reduces the risk of skin cancer, fights wrinkles, and keeps skin smooth and resilient.

Highly Recommended

Since retiring, my wife Trisha and I have had the opportunity to travel throughout the United States and many countries around the world. In this new section of my blog called “Highly Recommended,” I will be sharing travel locations, hotels, cruises, and restaurants that we have found so compelling we want to share them with readers.

In this case, because my wife’s passion is cooking and my passion is eating, we want to share one of our favorite local places to eat in the bay area city of Brentwood. It’s a little hide-a-way place called Oodles of Noodles and More. They serve Asian-style cuisine in a very casual setting. The price is very modest and they use no MSG, no frozen meats, and all fresh vegetables. They have a variety of spicy sauces from mild to hot and spicy. Each customer gets a bowl and goes through a salad-bar style area to fill their bowl with their favorite veggies and other goodies. You then pick out your meat and sauce. My wife and I like to combine Pineapple Teriyaki and Spicy Mongolian. The chef then grills your food right in front of you, along with your choice of noodles or rice.

Family_eats

We have never been able to eat all of our serving and take the remainder home for a delicious lunch or dinner the next day.

Oodles of Noodles and More

6670 Lone Tree Way, Ste. 5, Brentwood, CA

Trisha Parker Oodles of Noodles

Trisha Parker
Oodles of Noodles

zzzzz close

 http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com

 

Next Page »