Happy Mother's Day

You cannot think of the month of May without thinking about Mothers.  Here is a poem from one of my favorite writers that sums up Mothers:

"Someday, when my children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates a mother, I'll tell them...
I loved you enough to bug you about where you were going, with whom and what time you would get home.
I loved you enough to insist you buy a bike with your own money, which we could afford, and you couldn't.
I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover your hand picked friend was a creep.
I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your bedroom, a job that would have taken me 15 minutes.
I loved you enough to say, "Yes, you can go to Disney World on Mother's Day."
I loved you enough to let you see anger, disappointment, disgust, and tears in my eyes.
I loved you enough not to make excuses for your lack of respect or your bad manners.
I loved you enough to admit that I was wrong and ask for your forgiveness.
I loved you enough to ignore "what every other mother" did or said.
I loved you enough to let you stumble, fall, hurt, and fail.
I loved you enough to let you assume the responsibility for your own actions, at 6, 10, or 16.
I loved you enough to figure you would lie about the party being chaperoned, but forgave you for it...after discovering I was right.
I loved you enough to shove you off my lap, let go of your hand, be mute to your pleas and insensitive to your demands...so that you had to stand alone.
I loved you enough to accept you for what you are, and not what I wanted you to be.
But most of all, I loved you enough to say no when you hated me for it. That was the hardest part of all." 
--Erma Bombeck

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5 Money Moves in your 50's as you Ramp up to Retirement

Max out your accounts
One way to get in shape is to kick your retirement savings into high gear. Starting at age 50, you can stash an extra $6,000 in catch-up contributions in your 401(k) or similar employer retirement plan-for a total of $24,000 in 2016-plus an extra $1,000 in an IRA, for a total of $6,500. 

But there's more. If you have a high-deductible health plan that qualifies you for a health savings account, you can save another $3,350 a year if you're single ($6,750 for families) in 2016, with a $1,000 catch-up contribution if you're 55 or older. Not only are those contributions sheltered from income tax, but the money also grows tax-deferred-and you can withdraw it tax-free for medical expenses. 

Plan for long-term care
Sticker-shock alert: The median annual cost of a private room in a nursing home in 2015 was $91,250 (about $250 a day), according to Genworth, an insurance company, and the cost is much higher in some areas. A year in an assisted-living facility ran $43,200 (about $120 a day), about the same as hiring a home health aide for 44 hours a week. Two years of care could top $100,000-and the cost grows every year.

If you're relatively healthy, you can buy long-term-care insurance to cover these expenses. But premiums have become much more expensive over the past few years. A more affordable option is to cover some of the potential costs from your savings and income and buy enough insurance to fill in the gaps. 

If you have health issues, it can be difficult to qualify for coverage. Another way to cover potential costs is with a deferred-income annuity, which delays the start of income payments, usually until you're in your seventies or eighties. That allows you to spend down your savings earlier in your retirement. You can use the money for anything, not just long-term care. 

Create a retirement budget
Start with your current expenses, separating the essentials-including food, housing and clothing costs-from nonessentials, such as travel, entertainment and dining out. Some expenses, such as payroll taxes, retirement saving and commuting costs, will disappear in retirement, while others-say, for travel, health care and hobbies-may go up. Don't forget to include nonĀ­recurring expenses, such as replacing a furnace or buying a new car. Also factor in inflation: Figure on an annual rate of 2% to 3%.

Then identify retirement income, including Social Security benefits, payouts from pensions and annuities, and distributions from retirement accounts. One rule of thumb is to withdraw 4% of your total nest egg in the first year of retirement and to adjust it each subsequent year based on inflation. That strategy can work well when the markets are healthy, but you may want to tweak withdrawals in a down market.
Plot your Social Security strategy
Deciding when to file is a biggie. You can claim benefits as early as age 62, but for each month you wait, your benefit grows. Claiming at full retirement age (currently 66) gets you 33% more than at age 62. Wait until age 70, and you'll get 76% more than at 62, plus all the cost-of-living increases in between. Unless you need the income now or don't expect to reach the average life expectancy (84 for a 65-year-old man and 87 for a 65-year-old woman), plan to hold off as long as you can.

Tap your home's equity
If you want to cut housing costs in retirement, consider downsizing to lower-cost digs now. The sooner you do that, the more wealth you can accumulate. But before you put out the For Sale sign, calculate the costs of selling your place and moving to a new one. Include closing costs on the mortgage, moving expenses, homeowners insurance and property taxes-and, if you buy a condo, homeowners association fees.

You may conclude that staying put is a better idea. In that case, look into a reverse mortgage. These deals, available to homeowners age 62 or older, give you access to home equity. The loan does not have to be repaid until the last surviving borrower dies, sells the house or moves out for at least 12 months.

Clean Foods for Sleep

5 Surprising Foods That Will Help You Sleep All Night Long

1.  Mozzarella Cheese -- You know that  turkey  is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that prompts your body to produce more of the feel-good chemical serotonin, which ultimately helps you chill out and doze off. But ounce for ounce,  mozzarella cheese  packs nearly twice as much tryptophan as the lean protein. Who knew, right?

2.  Salmon -- Are you even surprised? One recent  study  found that getting 600 mg of  omega-3  fatty acids per day helped people sleep nearly an hour longer and wake up 7 fewer times throughout the night. Have some wild salmon for dinner, or if you don't do fish, pop an omega-3 supplement.

3.  Almonds -- A handful delivers almost 20% of your daily  magnesium , which can relax your muscles and help you feel calmer, so your mind isn't  racing  when your head hits the pillow. They're a decent source of tryptophan, too. So you know, double whammy!

4.  Oatmeal -- Have you heard that cherries are a good source of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin? Well, oatmeal's got the stuff, too. And since it's loaded with carbs that'll make you feel sleepy anyway, you might be conked out before you even finish eating a bowlful.

5.  Bananas -- These starchy fruits are rich in magnesium as well as potassium, another potent muscle relaxer. Plus, like mozzarella and almonds, they deliver plenty of grog-promoting tryptophan. Best of all, they satisfy that near-universal urge to eat something sweet before bed.

"The Circle of Healing"
by Jeff Guidry

Every day at Sarvey Wildlife Center we witness first hand the incredible battle for life that our animal brothers and sisters go through. This is a story of one Bald Eagle's magnificent spirit and sheer will to live.

It was mid-summer when a call came in reporting a fledgling Bald Eagle had fallen out of a nest on a Seattle golf course. Our very own Crazy Bob went to the rescue and transported her to the Center. She arrived with two broken wings. When asked to take her to the vet, I jumped at the chance.

When I load this hurt and terrified baby into the car, she neither whimpers nor fights; she can't even stand. This is not a good sign; she is obviously in very bad shape. As I drive to Sno-Wood Veterinary Hospital, I constantly look back to check on my very special passenger. She stares at me with big beautiful brown eyes, her mouth slightly agape. I drive a little faster-this Bald Eagle must live!

She is operated on and has both wings pinned; they are now immobile. Back at Sarvey we lay her in the bottom half of a huge carrier filled with shredded newspaper for support.
The fight for her life begins.

Twice a day a tube is pushed down her throat so that food and medicine can be pumped into her. A week goes by with no change; she still cannot stand up. At three weeks, there's a slight change, but it's for the worse. I'm getting scared for this young Bald Eagle.
Working at the Center, you begin to recognize a look, a look that indicates death is winning. This bruised and broken Bald Eagle was losing the battle but not her dignity. The struggle for her life was not over.

Every chance I get I talk softly to her, telling her to hold on, to fight, to live. Why I felt such a connection to this particular eagle, I do not know.

Four weeks go by and she is still on her belly. There is nothing so heartbreaking as seeing the life force of this majestic bird slowly slip away.

At five weeks we are approaching the end.

Sarvey Wildlife Center believes in giving every soul that comes in a chance to live; but when it is painfully clear that death is the only way out, the decision is made to let that particular spirit continue on its journey. We were at this juncture; this beautiful baby eagle was given one week to see if she could, or would, stand up. This was a crushing blow. Every day that next week I checked to see if she was up. The answer was always the same... "No."

On the following Thursday I could barely face going to the Center. As I walked in not a word was spoken but everyone wore a huge grin. I raced back to the young Bald Eagle's cage, and there she stood in all her glory!

She was standing! She had won. This girl had cheated death by a mere 24 hours. She was going to make it. She was going to get her second chance.

After another week the pins in her wings were removed. Her right wing was perfect, but her left was not. She couldn't fully extend it. We tried physical therapy and hoped a little time was all she needed, but there was no significant progress. Her wing was too badly damaged. She would never fly, never soar the skies with her people. At least her life was saved, but for what? Was she doomed to live her life in a cage? Not exactly, for this was a special soul.
Bald Eagles normally want nothing to do with humans and will go to great lengths to get away from them. This girl liked people; she wanted to see what you were doing, to follow where you were going, and to see whom you were going with. She was very curious.

About this time our director suggested that I try to glove train her. She had the right temperament; maybe she could do educational programs. Wouldn't that be something? Very few eagles are able or willing to be handled, much less remain calm in front of large crowds. The week began.

I started getting her used to the glove, a little at a time. At first she was thinking, "OK, I'll step on your hand but only with one foot." Then, "OK, I'll use both feet but only for a second." Later, "Yeah you can take me part way out of my cage, then I'll jump right back in." And finally, "OK, I'll let you walk around with me on your arm. Hey, this is fun!"

At this point, every day a volunteer would take this Bald Eagle out for a cruise around the clinic. It was time for her final test-jesses, the leather straps that attach to the ankles of birds-of-prey to give control to the handler and to protect the bird from injury or escape. I put the jesses on her-a piece of cake. It was as if she were born with them on. This was certainly a very mellow Bald Eagle.

Now it was almost time for her first program, but she needed a name. None that we could come up with seemed right, and then Paula, a volunteer, said, "Hey, what about Freedom?" That was it; that was her spirit and her spirit was why grandfather sent her to us. She was ready.

Freedom is now four years old and one of Sarvey Wildlife Center's premier ambassadors. She clearly enjoys our programs and really knows how to turn on the charm. She is a star. Freedom has been on television, on the front page of major newspapers, and is known across the state.

She is also one of the great loves of my life. She will touch her beak to the tip of my nose and stare into my eyes. At that moment our spirits are one.

I am the luckiest person on Earth.Thank you, Freedom.

Jeff said, "Why I felt such a connection to this particular eagle, I do not know."
Now we all know why:

Freedom is alive because Jeff fought for her life, and there is no doubt that Freedom sensed his love and commitment. Jeff gave Freedom the support she needed to want to live.
When Jeff was later diagnosed with a serious illness requiring chemotherapy, he found himself turning to Freedom for support. Two or three times a week, whenever he felt well enough, he would drive from Bothell to Arlington to walk with Freedom around the grounds. Now it was Freedom's turn to give Jeff a reason to fight for his life.

Only a short time ago Jeff was informed there was no trace of the disease left in his body. He immediately left for the Center.

When he took Freedom out for her flight, she did something she had never done before: She extended her wings and wrapped them around him.

The circle of healing was now complete.

In Praise of Older Women

One of the perks of dufferdom is an increased capacity to appreciate people. Friends. Spouses. And, for me, women. All women. 

When I was 20, I had eyes only for girls my age. Any woman over 30 was ancient, over 40 invisible. Today, at 65, I still appreciate the 20-year-old for her youthful looks, vigor, and (occasional) sweet innocence. But I equally enjoy women of my own age and beyond, and every age in between. I've learned that each has its own special wonders, attractions, magic and beauty. 

As I grow in age, I value older women most of all. Here are just a few of the reasons senior men sing the praises of older women: 

An older woman will never wake you in the middle of the night to ask, "What are you thinking?" An older woman doesn't care what you think. 

An older woman knows herself well enough to be assured in who she is, what she is, what she wants, and from whom. By the age of 50, few women are wishy-washy. About anything. Thank God!

An older woman looks great wearing bright red lipstick even in glaring sunlight. This is not true of younger women or drag queens. 

And yes, once you get past a wrinkle or two, an older woman is far sexier than her younger counterpart! 

Her libido's stronger. 

Her fear of pregnancy gone. 

Her appreciation of experienced lovemaking is honed and reciprocal. 

And she's lived long enough to know how to please a man in ways her daughter could never dream of. (Young men, you have something to look forward to!) 

Older women are forthright and honest. They'll tell you right off that you are a jerk if you're acting like one. A young woman will say nothing, caring what you might think of her. An older woman doesn't give a damn. 

An older, single woman usually has had her fill of "meaningful relationships" and "commitment." Can't relate? Can't commit? She could care less. The last thing she needs in her life is another dopey, clingy, whiny, dependent lover! 

Older women are dignified. They seldom contemplate having a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won't hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it. 

Most older women cook well. They care about cleanliness. They're generous with praise, often undeserved. 

An older woman has the self-assurance to introduce you to her women friends. A young woman with a man often will ignore even her best friend because she doesn't trust the guy with other women. The older woman couldn't care less. 

Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to an older woman. They always just know. 

Yes, we geezers praise older women for a multitude of reasons. These are but a few. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coifed babe of 70 there's a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year-old waitress. 

Ladies, I apologize for us. That men are genetically inferior is no secret. Count your blessings that we die off at a far younger age, leaving you the best part of your lives to enjoy and appreciate the exquisite woman you've become. Without the distraction of some demanding old fart clinging and whining his way into your serenity.

*Written by Frank Keiser

Crock Pot Strawberry Cobbler

  • 4 cups sliced strawberries or other fresh fruit
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  1. Spray bottom and sides of crock pot with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium size bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup flour with strawberries and toss. Pour into crock pot.
  3. In the same bowl, mix remaining 1 1/2 cups flour, remaining 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt and melted butter. Add milk and whisk until smooth.
  4. Pour batter over strawberries. Do not stir.
  5. Crock on low for 2 hours or until crust is done and bubbly.
  6. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped topping.