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Friday, December 25, 2009

My Video: A Victorian Christmas, Musical Christmas Lights Show, and Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens said about Christmas: "I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys."

The theme is a Charles Dickens Victorian Christmas in Florence, Oregon this year, and you see it everywhere. The outer decorations are one thing. But the important part is that many people have opened their hearts to their fellow passengers in life and reached out to others who are going through hard times.

A quiet walk through Old Town Florence on the Siuslaw River yielded this video of an old Victorian with a musical Christmas lights show. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Animal Caregivers - Rescued Animals Return the Favor by Becoming "Animal Super Heroes"

Every day I am grateful for my rescued animals, who have returned the favor with their love and affection. They are "animal caregivers" who have special powers like "Super Heroes." They connect intuitively by using their senses in ways that people cannot.

Pet therapy can be one of the best prescriptions you ever filled.

Rescued animals can provide just the right therapy blend of companionship, affection, comic antics, and playfulness. With their special powers to sense things that humans miss, the animals often really "get it" when no one else does.

Active seniors with rescued pets know the animals are like super heroes, connecting in a psychic way. Whether you have a "Wonder Cat," a "Disney Dog," or another type of "Animal Angel", you know the caring and giving you receive is right on target. It's sincere, it's genuine, there's no hidden agenda.

We know the special senses that animals have make them superior to humans in some ways for sensing and using intuition to relate to us. Animals provide a special therapy in ways that is beyond human ability.

My rescued dogs arrived with their own interesting personal characteristics. The lab mix, panic stricken when alone, chewed $150 worth of library books, and the lining of the car ceiling. The 6 year old skeletal, starved, long haired chihuahua, with her deformed toothpick legs, crouched on the ground unable to take a step.

But we all grew and learned together, and in awhile these rescued new family members responded to care and affection by returning it a millionfold.

Today they both deserve the title "Animal Super Heroes."

Do you have a story about your own "animal super heroes?" If so, please tell us about it in the "Comment" section just below this post. Thanks for visiting, and give your animal caregivers a pat from me!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Active Seniors and Relationships with the Opposite Sex

Retirement and less than perfect health does not mean the wish for companionship from the opposite sex no longer exists. Seniors who have had open heart surgery, who have pacemakers, or who have other health issues sometimes say they feel like they are 35 years old going on 60 or 70.

Divorce or widowhood does not have to mean a life spent without companionship and affection. Chronic health issues do not remove the wish for love and sharing.

My grandfather was once a best man for his long time best friend, who got married again at the age of 80. There was a funny story related to it, as evidently due to lack of a rehearsal he and his friend were standing in the wrong places and at first the minister thought my grandfather was the one getting married. Good thing they discovered the mistake in time! The newly happily married couple went on a honeymoon to Florida and enjoyed years of love and affection.

Getting married can be complicated for seniors because at a later age merging a lifestyle with someone else is difficult when each person has settled into favorite preferences. For harmony they need to be closely matched in terms of daily habits or disagreement will cause tension and conflict.

Often it's less complicated if people simply become close friends, and live in the same town or neighborhood. That way they are close enough to get together with only a short drive, or come to each other's aid if needed. But they are far enough apart to avoid stepping on each other's toes or invading territory.

Having a close friend makes attending social events more fun and people often encourage each other to get out more and be more adventurous. It's fun to have someone with whom to share meals, visit restaurants, or go sightseeing.

Balancing relationships with special personal needs such as finances and health can be a challenge for seniors but that challenge can be met. Reaching the senior years does not mean having to drop out of the social world, or having to spend those years alone.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Active Seniors and Dating - Challenges, Cautions, Opportunities

Active single seniors, anyone over 50, can face the challenge of finding compatible companions. Diversity increases with age, and as we enter our 50's and later years we become more individual, with more unique characteristics. Our tastes and preferences have evolved over a lifetime of experiences. How then, does a single senior who wishes to find a life partner, or a compatible friend, get the word out or meet others?

After I lost my husband I was not in the mood to consider dating, but with the passage of years I did wish to have more company, someone to share activities with, perhaps someone to share caring and committment.

Some years after he passed away I did meet a wonderful gentleman, and we shared several years together, but last Feb. he passed away during heart surgery.

After spending the year processing the grief, once again I wish for some company. Eating all of your meals alone, without conversation, is an experience that encourages one to seek company. We are social beings.

The thought of spending time with a companion, vs.being alone, is again coming to mind.

For those who are active there are many ways to participate in groups and clubs, and to volunteer for good causes. But, even this might not provide a large enough pool of possible partners to find someone who is a good match.

There are online dating services such as but the monthly rate runs about $60. There are also categories under personals on, which is free, but many of the postings are examples of foul language and rude jokes.

At there is a website for single seniors that you might visit.

Another senior dating site is I also came upon Senior Friend Finder on my internet research.

There are many other online services for seniors to meet each other.

Internet communities created with web 2.0 software can offer the chance for online interaction, but meeting people or connecting on facebook or twitter is apt to be just a click on the computer, not a real conversation.

If you have story or suggestion on this topic, please share it by adding your comments below.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Inspiration for Those Who Are Experiencing Dark Times

At you'll find my personal favorite source of inspiration, The Daily Word, from Silent Unity. The excerpt from the December 2009 booklet that is below is an example of the uplifting words that you'll find. For 3 generations our family has read the Daily Word, and it's gotten me through many tough times. You can receive it free each day in your email if you go to their website and sign up.

Today's Daily Word - Friday, December 11, 2009
I trust the light of Spirit to show me the way.
Gazing at the flame of a candle can be a relaxing practice leading into deep meditation and contemplation. The light of the candle reflects the light of Spirit within me and reminds me of the spiritual light that shines within everyone.
I trust the light of Spirit to show me the way whenever life becomes complex or confusing. I become still inside, and when I do, I grow in my awareness of the flame that burns within me as life energy.
The light of Spirit transforms the thoughts I hold in mind, the words I speak and the actions I take. Spirit's light allows me to see the light in others and in myself and respond to life in a whole new way. "

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Video of My Hobby - Spending the Senior Years Observing Wildlife

The video below that I made today of sea lions playing on the beach next to Heceta Head Lighthouse, Florence, Oregon, is an example of how I am spending my senior years. I am using my retirement time to roam the wilderness on the Oregon coast and create videos of wildlife and the stunning Oregon coast. Enjoy!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Free Books and Reading Online - Activities for Caregivers and Seniors

Thousands of free books are available online with listings by genre, from classics to mysteries. Bookworms can click on the following links to read free books online.

Sunday, December 6, 2009 - For Information on Epilepsy and Other Diseases Please Visit

If you have epilepsy or another disease you can visit the website at to obtain helpful information. Sharon Vegoe, of, writes, "Epilepsy has gone from an obscure mental illness, to a serious illness recognized by state foundations. This remarkable awareness, is because of the great work organizations, such as yourself, has done. We here, at, fully support the cause your organization stands for and we are dedicated to aiding in your mission statement. is a website which features disease and infection preventions/treatments. "

"The Gift of the Magi" , Written Between 1903 and 1910, Christmas Inspiration for Caregivers and Seniors from O. Henry's Famous Christmas Story

"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry is a story familiar to many of us that tells a tale of giving and receiving when economic times are rough. In the present economy this classic story, written between 1903 and 1910, featuring a young couple struggling to get started, seems even more appropriate this year. The love and wisdom in the story is what Christmas is really all about. The glitz of the holiday marketing and frantic spending that we have today makes it more like a materialistic, greed oriented time for stores to boost sales. But, the real meaning of Christmas and of giving is in the thoughtful, caring, self-sacrificing things, as the characters in the story show us.

Here is O. Henry's beautiful short story reprinted in full.

"The Gift of the Magi"

"One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name "Mr. James Dillingham Young."

The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pierglass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie."

"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.

"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."

Down rippled the brown cascade.

"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.

"Give it to me quick," said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value--the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

"If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do--oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?"

At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again--you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-- what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."

"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?"

Jim looked about the room curiously.

"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year--what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

"Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first."

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"

And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

"Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on."

The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi."

Literature Network » O Henry » The Gift Of The Magi

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Caregivers Christmas Video: Heceta Head Lighthouse Christmas Open House Last Year on a Stormy Night

Heceta Head Lighthouse on the central Oregon Coast was surrounded by stormy clouds and stormy seas last December when the annual Christmas Open House was held. The lighthouse beacon flashed over the wind whipped waves. With the dramatic clouds over the ocean one could imagine being on a ship out in the storm, guided by the beacon to avoid the cliffs and rocks. The lighthouse keepers house was decorated with Christmas lights, as if Santa would suddenly fly through the storm and land on the roof. I made a video of the scenes, and it is below to share with everyone.