55 Plus CNY 90, December/January '21

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Bruce Frassinelli Parenting: Kids Are Now in Charge


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Issue 90 – December 2020 / January 2021

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area


Matt Mulcahy As he turns 55, awardwinning TV anchor talks about decades-old career, running routine, technology and more


Newlywed couple drops everything to sail the world n INSPIRATION

Poet Georgia Popoff inspires hundreds through her writing workshops

46 Things We Love...

...That Are 55 or Older

Longevity Gap: Wealthy Outlive Poor by 10 Years

Had a Stroke. Back on Stage.


Central New York music legend Todd Hobin knew nothing about stroke — but he does now. That’s why he’s raising awareness about stroke risk factors and its signs and symptoms.



A. S.



Fact: Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S. Important to know: Stroke can happen to both men and women — at any age. Good news: Stroke is preventable by managing medical risk factors and healthy lifestyle choices. What to do: Time lost is brain lost. So it’s vital to know the signs of a stroke — F.A.S.T. Four words to live by: Call 911 and say, “Take me to Crouse.“ When it comes to stroke, every moment matters. As one of just 10 hospitals in New York State tohave earned Comprehensive Stroke Center status, and with the region’s newest ER and hybrid ORs, Crouse offers the most advanced technology for rapid stroke diagnosis and treatment

Read Todd’s story and learn more: crouse.org/toddhobin.



Give a Gift That Will Last All Year! Bruce Frassinelli Parenting: Kids Are Now in Charge


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Unique Destinations on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail


Stimulus Check Still Have any money left? Experts suggest what to do with it

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Poet Georgia Popoff inspires hundreds through her writing workshops

talks about his walking habits


— 21 years and counting — and what he gets out of it

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VISITS 10 Great Things to Do in Madison County

Why New Yorkers Continue to Flock to Florida

Financial Help for Retirees Affected by COVID-19



Issue 84 – December 2019– January 2020

Issue 89 – October-November 2020


...That Are 55 or Older

Columnist Bruce Frassinelli

Your Money How to Approach Market Volatility

As he turns 55, awardwinning TV anchor talks about decades-old career, running routine, technology and more

Newlywed couple drops everything to sail the world

103 and Still Going Strong

Onondaga County Commissioner of Health Indu Gupta uses science, calmness to lead community through pandemic storm

Maryann Roefaro: Age does not restrict long-distance running

46 Things We Love...

Ruth J. Colvin:

Leading the Way



Ancestry of Names


Born to Run

Matt Mulcahy



For Active Adults in the Central New York Area

Celebrated jazz singer continues to wow audiences in a career that spans several decades

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area

ANCESTRY Beyond the List

Issue 88 – August-September 2020

The Irresistible Nancy Kelly



Issue 87 – June-July 2020

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area

Issue 90 – December 2020 / January 2021

Leave a Legacy: 8 Steps to Writing a Great Memoir

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area


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Radio Celebrates its Centennial

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area

cny55.com Dining Solo

Behind the United Way President Nancy Eaton steers agency through changing, challenging times

Six tips for solo diners. Plus: Want to find company for dinner?

Square Dance Members of Fulton Shirts ‘N’ Skirts still swing their partners ‘round and ‘round!

Travel Feel the France vibes of Quebec. 10 things you shouldn’t miss

Roger Burdick Driver’s Village founder and president talks about his faith, philanthropy and how he built one of the largest auto dealerships in NYS

■ Presidential Elections

Trump, 74, vs. Biden, 77 Is age a problem? ■ Traveling


Longevity Gap: Wealthy Outlive Poor by 10 Years

Bargains abound for those willing to travel

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More People Going Gray, Thanks to the Pandemic

Savvy Senior: Beware of Potential Census Scams


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PLUS Issue 86 – April-May 2020

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area

Name_____________________________________________________ Address___________________________________________________ City / Town_________________________State_________Zip_________

Does the term ‘senior’ bother you? How about ‘elderly’? Credit card debt in retirement? Better think twice Finances: gifting minimum distributions to charity

Still Rockin’

Two years after two brain-debilitating strokes, musician Todd Hobin is more active than ever. He shares his experience

Bruce Frassinelli: 118 Passwords and PINs. Oh, My!

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Bruce Frassinelli Parenting: Kids Are Now in Charge


Dec. 2020 / Jan. 2021

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Story ideas? Information about advertising? Email editor@cny55.com or call 315-342-1182


Issue 90 – December 2020 / January 2021

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area


Matt Mulcahy As he turns 55, awardwinning TV anchor talks about decades-old career, running routine, technology and more

46 Things We Love...


Newlywed couple drops everything to sail the world

...That Are 55 or Older


Poet Georgia Popoff inspires hundreds through her writing workshops

Longevity Gap: Wealthy Outlive Poor by 10 Years


www.cny55.com Like us on facebook



Savvy Senior 6 12 ADVENTURE Gardening 8 • Once in a lifetime: Newlywed couple drops everything to sail the world Dining Out 10 My Turn 26 16 WRITING • Poet Georgia Popoff has inspired Golden Years 31 hundreds through her workshops at the Aging 34 YMCA Downtown Writers’ Center Golden Years 36 18 BOOKS Druger’s Zoo 44 • Author Paul Kocak publishes not one Life After 55 46 but three books in 2020

20 MEMORY LAST PAGE John Halleron, 68, business adviser from Baldwinsville, talks about working from home since March. Page. 50 4

55 PLUS - December 2020 / January 2021

• Things we love that are 55 or older

22 SECOND ACT • Retired nurse operates Christmas tree farm

24 GIFTS • Stumped for grandkids’ gifts? Consider subscription boxes

55 PLUS 34


28 COVER • CNYCentral anchor Matt Mulcahy reflects on decades-long career


• Long-term care planning: Essential to retirement plan


• The last word: Writing your own obituary

39 LONGEVITY • Wealthy outlive poor by 10 years

41 INSURANCE • Time to review your insurance policies

42 MAKEUP • Is it time to update your makeup?

48 VISITS • Cortland County: Gateway to the Finger Lakes

We’ve Got What It Takes to Keep You Safe. At St. Joseph’s Health, we’ve watched these past few months bring out the best in our community. And we continue to work every day to keep you healthy as we emerge from this crisis. Here are some of the measures we’ve got in place to bring you a higher level of safety and care.


Enhanced Cleaning

We’ve got temperature and symptom screening for everyone who enters our facilities.

We’ve got increased frequency and intensity of cleaning — using robust disinfecting processes.

Required Masking

COVID-Free Zones

We’ve got masks, and we require that staff and visitors wear them at all times.

We’ve got COVID-Free Zones in many of our facilities where we provide care only for people known to not have COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms.

Separate Staff We’ve got separate staff to treat patients in each zone — so you won’t be treated by doctors and nurses who are treating patients with COVID-19.


WeveGotThisSJH.org © 2020 St. Joseph’s Health. © 2020 Trinity Health. All rights reserved.

December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS SJH20022_FY21_Resize_Reopening_Safety_7.25x10_No-Bleed_v01.indd 1


11/9/20 11:26 AM

savvy senior By Jim Miller


What Happens to Medicare if Obamacare is Overturned?

f the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — also known as Obamacare — gets repealed by the Supreme Court next year, it will weaken Medicare and increase costs for beneficiaries. Here’s what you should know. Currently, about 60 million people are covered under Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people 65 and older and people of all ages with disabilities. Even though the main aim of the ACA was to overhaul the health insurance markets, most people don’t realize that the law also touches virtually every part of Medicare. Without the ACA, Medicare beneficiaries will have to pay more for preventive care services, which are now free; they’ll have to pay more toward their prescription drugs; their premiums and deductibles will rise faster; and Medicare will face insolvency much sooner because of lost funding and cost cutting measures. With the help of Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, here is a more detailed breakdown of what happens to Medicare if the court invalidates the law. • Preventive care services will no longer be free: Thanks to the ACA, there’s no copayment or deductible for potentially life-saving screenings for cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses. Flu shots and annual wellness visits are also free. Before the ACA, beneficiaries had to pay 20% of the cost for most preventive care services, after their deductible was met. • The doughnut hole will return: Since 2011 the ACA has been steadily closing the prescription drug coverage gap, also known as the doughnut hole, in Medicare Part D by requiring drug manufacturers and insurers to pick up more of the cost. The hole was finally closed this year with seniors paying 25% of the


55 PLUS - December 2020 / January 2021

cost for both generic and brand-name medications and manufacturers picking up 70% of the tab, while insurers kick in the remaining 5%. Before the ACA, seniors paid 100% of Part D prescription drug expenses while in the doughnut hole. • Medicare premiums and deductibles will rise faster: The ACA also curbed Medicare payments to providers to help keep Medicare Part A deductibles and copayments in check. Similarly, Part B premiums and deductibles are much lower than projected before the ACA became law. From 2011 to 2020, Part B premiums increased 23%. From 2000 to 2009 — the nine years before the law’s passage — Part B premiums rose almost five times faster, increasing 112% over that period. • Medicare Advantage plans will be more expensive: The ACA requires Medicare Advantage plans to spend 85% of premium dollars on health care, not profits or overhead. The plans also can’t charge more than traditional Medicare for chemotherapy, renal dialysis, skilled nursing care and other specialized services. Those restrictions dramatically lowered costs for Medicare Advantage plan enrollees. Since the ACA became law in 2010, the average Medicare Advantage premium has decreased by 43% while enrollment has increased 117%. • Insolvency accelerates: The ACA extended the solvency of the program’s trust fund by eight years to 2026, mostly by finding new sources of revenue and slowing the growth of payments to all providers. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that reversing those changes would cost the program $700 billion over 10 years, which would make Medicare almost immediately insolvent.

55PLUS cny55.com Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto

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Deborah J. Sergeant Mary Beth Roach Margaret McCormick Christopher Malone, John Addyman


Bruce Frassinelli Marilyn Pinsky, Harold Miller Jim Sollecito, Marvin Druger Michele Reed, Sandra Scott Eva Briggs (M.D.)


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Office Manager Nancy Nitz


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Chuck Wainwright 55 PLUS –A Magazine for Active Adults in Central New York is published six times a year by Local News, Inc., which also publishes In Good Health–CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper. Published at 185 E. Seneca St. PO Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126. Subscription: $21 a year; $35 for two years © 2020 by 55 PLUS – A Magazine for Active Adults in Upstate New York.

No material may be reproduced in whole or in part from this publication without the express written permission of the publisher.

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gardening By Jim Sollecito


Don’t Get Stuck

e are at the conclusion of an unforgettable year and the conception of yet another unknowable one — with many of the same unanswerable questions. No need to become overwhelmed at what may or may not happen. As we look every day for something positive to build on, two things are apparent: 1) Nature always wins and 2) We don’t get to make the rules. Of course, change is difficult. But if you stop changing then you stop growing. And the ability to persevere and grow is like having an emotional muscle. And all muscles need exercise. Use it or lose it. We can accept the fact that much of what we commonly enjoy is on pause and likely will be for some time. We can deal with that. In the meantime, find out what’s inside of you. Grow your soul. Do things this year because you enjoy them, not merely because you are good at them. If you do a variety of things that stretch and teach you, life will be more interesting. It’s not as much fun growing older as I had hoped. It’s weird being the age that I used to consider old. One of the reasons I cherish my time fishing is that as an older person I choose to do it at a different pace. I take the time to make the next cast just a bit crisper than the previous one. I work on the process, instead of merely focusing on the results. Fly-fishing forces me to focus on the next few seconds, not the future in general. I find it helps cleanse my mind of some of the debris that clutters positivity and creativity. When I am not physically on the water, I am mentally rehearsing. You may not fish but you probably have a goal in mind. Imagine the possibilities. What you lack in experience you can make up with passion. And as we hope that our new normal eventually reprises some of the old, here are two light posts


55 PLUS - December 2020 / January 2021

that have helped guide me for more decades that I can remember. 1) I’d rather look back on my life and say “I can’t believe I did that” than think to myself “I wish I’d tried that.” And 2) One of the happiest moments ever, is when I found the courage to let go of what I could not change. I still struggle with that one. I consider myself very lucky in my nearly half-century career and I anticipate I will plant until I am planted. Plants always make people happy. Our team just keeps getting better. And I am so very excited

about the new varieties we have planned for spring. Improved plant selections stay smaller and produce more flower color with less work. As together we meet and greet 2021, let’s not get stuck. We’ll keep gaining positive traction. Let’s see where this journey takes us. And by the way, this old truck is not wearing its mask correctly. Look where it got him. Remember Walter Cronkite? He was “the most trusted man in America.” Fellow Cornellian and scientist Dr. Anthony Fauci is my beacon now.

Stuck truck is not wearing its mask correctly. Look where it got him.

Social Security

Q&A Q: Is it true I can save about $4,900 per year if I qualify for Social Security’s Extra Help with the Medicare prescription drug program? A: Yes. If your income and resources meet the requirements, you can save nearly $5,000 in prescription costs each year. Resource limits for 2020 are $14,610 (or $29,160 if you are married and living with your spouse). Income limits are $19,140 (or $25,860 if you are married and living with your spouse). If your income or resources are just a bit higher, you might be eligible for some help with prescription drug costs. To learn more, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ prescriptionhelp.

Q: My spouse died recently and my neighbor said my children and I might be eligible for survivors benefits. Don’t I have to be retirement age to receive benefits? A: No. As a survivor, you can receive benefits at any age if you are caring for a child who is receiving Social Security benefits and who is under age 16. Your children are eligible for survivors benefits through Social Security up to age 19 if they are unmarried and attending elementary or secondary school full time. Keep in mind that you are still subject to the annual earnings limit if you are working. If you are not caring for minor children, you would need to wait until age 60 (age 50 if disabled) to collect survivors benefits. For more information about survivors benefits, read our publication Survivors Benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.





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• Colorful Flowering Shrubs Colorful Shrubs • Hardy Perennials & Grasses • Ornamental & Shade Trees

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December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


DiningOut By Christopher Malone



Great dessert: Oreo French toast.

Mother Bruncher


Notable Syracuse diner fills bellies

o offense to chain restaurants — wait, I’ll stop there because that statement would be a lie. I’ll gladly offend. When it comes to grabbing a satisfying brunch, local diners are the way to go. Whether it’s Mother’s Cupboard, located at 3709 E James St. in Syracuse, or one of the other countless and locally run greasy spoons, there’s no need to consider a “grand slam” breakfast. Mother’s Cupboard has everything stomachs crave: omelettes, pancakes, French toast, burgers, sandwiches, home fries, hash and more. Breakfast is served from 6 a.m. to early afternoons, and typical lunchtime options are available during the weekdays. Featured in numerous articles


55 PLUS - December 2020 / January 2021

and on television shows, such as the original “Man v. Food,” Mother’s Cupboard is known for generous portions. Take note of its gigantic frittata and foot-long pancakes. It’s important to bring an appetite, too, because sharing food what you ordered comes at a $1.99 extra charge. Don’t worry, takeaway boxes are available if cleaning a plate seems like an impossible task. Speaking of takeaway, due to COVID-19 and its impacts, the diner is offering that option. Since Mother’s Cupboard works with a small dining area, even fewer patrons are permitted to eat inside, saving the outdoor picnic tables as alternative options. Limited seating also means longer waits for tables to open up. If you’re far down on the list, a 30-min-

ute wait may creep past an hour. This depends on eaters savoring the experience and food. In short, be sure to plan ahead. After staff called us in and apologizing for the wait, we cozied up at the counter and were immediately served coffee and waters. The diner counter, the best seat in the house in my opinion, gives a great view of the food prep operations. The wood paneled walls and countless photographs cannot be over looked. Listening to staff banter and engaging in conversation with them are such perks. On top of the regular menu, a list of specials was provided. Our original decisions then strayed. We opted for the breakfast burger with home fries ($10.95) and the pumpkin pan-

cakes with chocolate chips ($9.25). Our waitress, Kate, thinking we were done, said these were great choices and “a lot of food.” Then we ordered the quarter-sized frittata with cheddar ($9.50) and Oreo French toast for dessert ($8.25). With two coffees and tip, the meal was less than $50. The quarter-sized frittata can easily be shared among three people. Mother’s world-famous generous dish is a high pile of Italian sausage, pepperoni, sweet peppers, onion, broccoli, and eggs. There’s nothing like the crunch of crisp broccoli to pull a frittata together. Plus, there’s toast. Even the smallest portion isn’t for the weak-kneed. Leftovers were taken home because the other options needed our attention. The foot-wide pancakes — we were going to get chocolate chip and banana — were sacrificed for the pumpkin pancakes. ‘Tis the season. However, the flavor of the breakfast staple was well worth it. They were light, fluffy, and generously filled with chocolate chips (for an additional dollar). The glop of cinnamon cream cheese was delightful and just sweet enough. The amount of topping was a perfect amount to cover the four saucer-sized pancakes and not overpower the flavor of the pumpkin and chocolate. The burger was insane. The medium-rare cooked beef patty was topped with two strips of maple brown sugar bacon, cheddar cheese, onion jam, a sunny-side up egg, sriracha mayo, and the standard lettuce and tomato. The home fries with onion were dusted with a seasoning with a slight kick. The onion jam was a flavorful, stand-out condiment. The stacked burger was easily shareable. One of the cooks approached us with paper towels — “You’re going to need these.” We certainly did. French toast is great. French toast with Oreos — that’s something to get people talking. It’s a balance of sweet and savory, of course, with the former having an advantage. The light, French-toast-style Italian bread slices are placed on a dish decorated with drizzled chocolate sauce. They’re topped with crushed Oreos, chocolate butter, and powdered sugar. Just — wow. The two of us left stuffed and satisfied. Mother’s Cupboard served up a huge homecooked meal on a perfect sunny, cool autumn Sunday. The staff did their part to offer a

safe and clean atmosphere during this pandemic. For the amount of food and price tag, it’s an affordable experience. I’ve said it before and will say it again: Keep supporting local businesses during this time. Chains are one thing but Mother’s Cupboard and others offer a uniqueness and are part of Central New York’s vitality.

Mother’s Cupboard Address 3709 E. James St., Syracuse Phone 315-432-0942 Website/Social • yelp.com/biz/mothers-cupboardsyracuse • facebook.com/MothersCupboard-Fish-FryDiner-111628725542944 •Instagram.com/ motherscupboardsyr

Pumpkin pancakes with chocolate chips.

Hours Daily: 6 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Order of the quarter-sized frittata with cheddar. Good for three people.

Breakfast burger with home fries at Mother’s Cupboard: It is insane. December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


55+ adventure Once in a Lifetime Newlywed couple drops everything to sail the world By John Addyman


ou get to this time of your life — the kids are out of the house and on their own, the job has matured, and you’re really, really settled down‚ and you ask, “What’s next?” Simon and Carla Fowler got to that point five years ago — two days after they were married in Barbados with their four grown children as witnesses. “Carla suggested to me that we should sell everything, buy a boat and sail the world,” Simon said. “I thought about it for all of a few seconds and replied, ‘Yes.’ “Just 14 months later we stepped onboard our boat, Ocean Fox, in Croatia for the first time and began to make the dream a reality.” Simon, 61, and Carla, 55, are British. He was the managing director of a Live Events Agency in the UK. “I’ve staged corporate, sport and government events in 44 countries, including the G8 Summit in London,” he said. Carla owned a real estate agency in Portugal, then came to London and worked as a personal assistant. “I always say we met at High Wycombe Railway Station for the first time, which we did,” Simon said, “but we met online while living in London. Initially, the relationship did not progress any further — until the summer of 2015 that is. It was then when I sent Carla a text asking if she would like to meet up again. “At that moment, Carla was on 12

55 PLUS - December 2020 / January 2021

Two days after Carla and Simon Fowler married in Barbados, she suggested they pull up stakes, buy a boat and sail the world. Simon agreed. Their journey has covered more than 20,000 nautical miles (about 23,000 miles) and it’s still going. Photo provided a layover in New York with her two girls and fortunately set her phone to roaming. She agreed to meet up with me the following weekend after her return to London. “Over a glass of red wine, we agreed to give the relationship a go for a few weeks and see how we would get on. We never missed a weekend and slowly but surely, our relationship blossomed and 18 months later we tied the knot — just after Christmas.” To get their dream of sailing the world’s oceans in motion, they needed funds. Ocean Fox, a 6-year-old 40-foot catamaran, cost somewhere between €250,000-350,000 (or about $300,000 and $400,000 U.S. dollars). They sold their home and just about everything they owned. They flipped houses for more than a year. Carla worked five jobs. Simon had been a sailor since the age of 10. “I’ve owned four monohull yachts before and sailed around the south coast of the UK and over to France and the Channel Islands,” he said, “but I’d never sailed anything

as large or as powerful as Ocean Fox. “I had never sailed before, when we decided to make this a way of life,” Carla said. “As a child I grew up first in Angola and then in Brazil. My parents always had motorboats for fishing. When we moved on to Ocean Fox, my sailing experience was one weekend in the Solent and a five-day sailing course in Spain: this was a huge step up, to go from there to crossing the Atlantic.” Could someone who owned a large sailboat on Lake Ontario translate those skills to a craft and a lifestyle like Ocean Fox? Simon had some advice: “The smaller the boat you have, the more you have to hone your sailing skills; on a larger vessel, things tend to happen a little slower. For example, going from a sailing dinghy to a small yacht is quite simple as you have the sailing skills. You may have to expand your knowledge of navigation, pilotage, tides, those kinds of things. “A good idea is to go on a week’s ‘live-aboard experience,’ this is different from a charter. The idea is,

The Fowlers sold their home and just about everything they owned to fund their adventure. They bought Ocean Fox, a 6-year-old 40-foot catamaran for more than $300,000. The Ocean Fox was built in 2012 and carries two motors, three sails, and has three cabins. you give people the real experience of living on a boat, the good and the bad; for example: checking in and out of countries, how to make fresh water, how to change and refill the gas, the ongoing toilet issues, provisioning and cooking on a boat. It is a great way to see if this lifestyle is for you.”

46 countries in 29 months Ocean Fox was built by Lagoon of France in 2012. It has three cabins, two heads with showers, two Yanmar 30HP engines, three sails, and can carry 400 liters of fuel and 600 liters of fresh water. It was purchased in Croatia, and the Fowlers weighed anchor and headed south to Montenegro, Greece, Crete, Corfu, Italy, Sicily, Ustica and Sardinia. They went past Gibraltar and Spain, then crossed the Atlantic by way of the Canary Island, Cape Verde to Barbados. They weaved through Caribbean islands, went on to Columbia and Panama and Mexico, then came back across the Atlantic via Bermuda, Barbados and the Azores, back to Carla’s home town of Viana do Castelo in northern Portugal. “We have visited 46 countries in 29 months — 22,000 nautical miles,” Simon said.

Along the way, the Fowlers became YouTube stars, regularly recording their adventures and places they visited. Watching Carla climb the mast and unfurl a sail in episode 129 is noteworthy. They learned a great deal about themselves on the way. “We have discovered that we can do whatever we want with our lives. Before we set off, Carla had not really sailed and I had not for 15 years, nor had I crossed an ocean. We had never run a YouTube channel or edited a video. I knew nothing of social media. But we learned together, and slowly we have realized, probably for the first time in our lives, that anything you want to do is possible. You just have to have a passion, a desire and learn quickly. Now we feel if the will is there, we could take on far greater challenges.” There have been some moments. “Coming back across the Atlantic was a hard passage for the two of us,” Simon said. They had a crew on the way west, but came back to Portugal alone. “The journey from the Bahamas to Europe by the way of Bermuda and the Azores was a long way: the lack of sleep, the constant movement of the boat and the ever-changing weather. It felt a long way and we were both

exhausted for a month afterwards.” On a trip from Portugal to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, the Fowlers ran into the tail end of a hurricane. “We had 63 knots of wind in the original blow, and over 40 knots for the rest of the passage. The seas were like office blocks and just kept coming one after another,” Simon said. “We stayed hunkered down inside for the total time. Carla was seasick for the whole passage and after the third night, I was delusional and hearing things. But it came to an end as we neared the island. It was soon forgotten after our first meal in four days…and a cold beer.” Alone on the ocean, the best time of day is 1200 hours (noon). “We plot our position and calculate how far we have traveled and how far to go. We can travel anywhere from 140 to 185 nautical miles in a day,” Simon explained. That distance translates into 161 to 212 miles. “The daylight is spent resting, catching a nap, eating or reading. Starting at 7 p.m. in the evening, we split the night into three-hour watches: Carla normally does the 1900-2200 [710 p.m.] and the 0100-0400 [1-4 a.m.] watches and I cover the other two. We tend to listen to Podcasts at night to help the time pass away. We are December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


monitoring the boat and watching out for ships or boats on the AIS system [Automatic Identification System] or lights out at sea. We limit the sail changes at night, but if we have to make some, we both go on deck with

our life jackets and harness on — we don’t want to go over the side at night.” Carla prepares most of the meals before they leave dockage to cut down on the cooking time during

The Fowlers fish a lot. They kept to a low-carb Mediterranean diet on their voyage and eat lots of fresh fish.

Simon Fowler checks the boat’s position and charts how far they’ve come and how much of the voyage is left.

The Fowlers’ Adventure

the passage. “We follow a low-carb Mediterranean diet and make little changes when we are at sea. We do fish a lot and we both enjoy having fresh fish to eat, including mahi mahi, tuna, barracuda, yellow jack and snapper,” Simon said. Their best day in the boat? “I think the time we spent in Los Roques, a group of islands off the coast of Venezuela,” Simon answered. “There are about 135 islands and all except three are deserted, the waters are blue, beaches are white and totally empty. We were in heaven for a week with island after island to ourselves.” Do they miss anything, being on the water alone for so long? “This life is very fulfilling. I did think we would miss our friends, as we were very sociable back in the UK, but it is so easy to meet likeminded boaters — you just pick a boat, knock on the hull and invite them over for sundowners. Material things we just don’t miss, but when we were in the Caribbean we did miss good supermarkets, bananas, and the chance to buy clothes from the brands in Europe. “Carla and I feel very close, closer than we would have if we had not entered on this journey. We rely on each other for everything, including our lives at times. It is a small space and a long time with just the two of us. “ I would not recommend this lifestyle if the two of you did not get along well.”

Carla and Simon Fowler started and will continue to sail as long as emails. I asked questions and they their voyage in April, 2018, 15 they can. responded in detail. Then I asked months after getting married. Their To write this story about their a fresh set of questions until I had ship, Ocean Fox, is their home. Carla adventures on the seven seas, I enough for the story. has family in Portugal, so they have contacted them by email while they I now enjoy keeping track of tended to do a lot of sailing there were off the coast of Portugal. For them through their YouTube site, — but they have been to many, the next week or so we exchanged “Sailing Ocean Fox,” their Facebook many countries — 29 page of the same name, and counting. They and their website, may stay in a location sailingoceanfox.com for a week or more, (where you also help or go from port to sponsor them and check port, in a short clip, or out a lot of photos). travel a large expanse Some of the content of ocean — they've is travelogue, some is crossed the Atlantic wisdom and humor, and twice. In essence, some is do-it-yourself they're still traveling Los Roques, a collection of deserted islands off the coast of yacht repair. Venezuela, was a favorite spot for the Fowlers. 14

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Vicki Brackens, ChFC is a senior financial planner at Brackens Financial Solutions Network.

I remember how important it was for me in my professional journey to get that first ‘yes.’ I wanted to give other budding entrepreneurs the opportunity to get on the right path, and I knew the Community Foundation could help me figure out a way to do it. My dad always told me that the best way to eat an elephant was one piece at a time. The Community Foundation helped me to formulate a plan, one piece of which was opening the Jelly Bean Angel Fund for Innovation. This fund supports programs that bring together entrepreneurs and academic institutions to develop innovative ideas. I am able to grow this fund over time and take advantage of the Community Foundation’s resources and community knowledge. I firmly believe that entrepreneurship is fundamental to a thriving community. The Community Foundation helped me turn my big ideas and passion into a concrete program that makes a difference in this area.


Read more of Vicki’s story at cnycf.org/Brackens

315 . 4 2 2 .9 5 3 8 | C N YC F. O R G December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


55+ writing

‘Community Poet’ Promotes Creative Writing Poet and arts educator Georgia Popoff has inspired hundreds through her workshops at the YMCA Downtown Writers’ Center By Carol Radin


oet and arts educator Georgia Popoff emphatically believes that “All poems are living documents!” It is a compelling characterization from a writer who, at every opportunity, lifts her own poetry and that of her students up out of isolation and into a community of ideas and energy. Popoff has been the workshops coordinator for Central New York’s YMCA Downtown Writers’ Center 16

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since 2012, working with Executive Director Phil Memmer to offer classes in all genres taught by experienced published writers in the area. Popoff herself usually facilitates workshops in poetry-writing and non-fiction writing, inspiring adult writers of all ability levels since the Downtown Writer’s Center opened its doors in 2000. The Syracuse Downtown Writer’s Center is the only literary arts center

between Albany and Rochester, according to Judy Carr, a member of the board of managers of the YMCA’s arts branch. The center publishes an awardwinning literary journal, “Stone Canoe,” gives annual awards to local authors, and has a Visiting Authors reading series of both local and national writers each season. D W C ’ s c l a s s o ff e r i n g s a n d enrollments are on a significant upswing since the transition to online Zoom video/audio classes during the pandemic. The fall 2020 session offers 23 writing workshops and literature classes, up from 16 last spring. They cover poetry, short stories and novels, plays and scripts, non-fiction writing, and even photographic essays. The online catalog labels workshops by beginner, intermediate and advanced, so new writers need not feel daunted. As the person who organizes the workshops, Popoff finds the online classes work well, not only for social distancing but for physical distancing as well. For instance, retirees and other travelers who are out of town need not forgo their writing workshops. New students from across the country can join. In a testimonial on the DWC’s website, long-time student Susan Burgess gratefully comments that she can “enjoy this wonderful community again” even though she moved across the country. Popoff’s classes, like others at the DWC, are small, usually eight to 12 students, so participants have time for sharing and discussing works-inprogress weekly. As a teacher, her style is to hold back, listen and offer comments only after the students themselves critique the strengths and potential of their classmates’ work. In the process, students find their voices, value that of others and engage in self-discovery. Carr, who’s taken several of Popoff’s workshops, considers the “nurturing of new talent” to be one of Popoff’s greatest strengths. Of the beginning writers in her classes, Popoff remarks that once her students are hooked on the writing life, they will often say, “Wow, writing is a lot of work!” At that Popoff jumps right in. “Yep, it is. But it is joyous work!”

“Spring Fever” The neighbors may think me mad gardening in the midnight rain. Perhaps they have grown used to my naïve, sporadic methods, my swift technique for carving dandelions from soil. I covet things the way stubborn roots grasp the ground. Though I break their anchors with a determined twist they seize territory and propagate. I drive the weeder deep, cleave a crescent in the dirt to lift the plant clear. Buckets of spent crabgrass carried to curb make room for lambs ears, pinks, and lemon balm, white and gold daisies like dreams. — from Psalter: The Agnostic’s Book of Common Curiosities by Georgia Popoff. Georgia Popoff herself says that her own poems can start off “overwrought” in the first draft. So for both herself and her students, she stresses revision — re-working words and phrases, verb choices, sound and musicality. She encourages experimentation — trying another point of view, another stanza form, a narrative vs. a lyric. “Every word has to earn its way into the final draft,” she asserts. With no degree in writing and with little formal training in the strategies of education, Popoff’s intuitive sense of how to put head and heart on paper and how to help others do the same is the greatest resource she can share. A native Syracusan who grew up in the neighborhood now fondly referred to as the Westcott Nation, Popoff has been teaching writing for over 25 years, both to young people in school districts across New York state and to adults in the Downtown Writers’ Center. As a writer, she has published four books of poetry, co-authored an award-winning book of poetry instruction, and co-edited an award-

winning anthology of essays on poet Gwendolyn Brooks. Her books of poetry include “Coaxing Nectar from Longing” (Hale Mary Press, 1997), “The Doom Weaver” (Main Street Rag Publications, 2008), “Psalter: The Agnostic’s Book of Common Curiosities” (Tiger Bark Press, 2015), and her recently published “Psychometry” (Tiger Bark Press, 2019). Though the shapes and language of her poetry are widely different and wonderfully surprising, the reader will discover themes that are familiar and relatable: the dilemmas — and wonders — of daily life, family, love, and commitment. “Psychometry,” her most recent poetry publication, is a series of portraits of women, some famous, some obscure, all bound in the intricacies of gender and culture. Popoff reflects that she had always approached the book as “a feminist statement.” It is divided into four sections: I. “Psychometry”, with portraits of iconic women from history or pop culture as told through the point of view of inanimate objects, i.e. Harriet Tubman expressed through her wire dress form and Janis Joplin expressed through a cowbell; II. “Epistle,” letters from the voices of imaginary characters; III.” Voice,” anonymous poems written, explains Popoff, by “any woman on any particular day, in deference to women who were not able to publish;” and

finally section IV, titled “I Am,” a selfportrait in 24 poems. “I do a lot more work internally before putting it on the page,” Popoff reflects. “I listen to the work telling me what it wants to be and then I respond.” Popoff describes herself as a “community poet” on her website, and “community” is integral to her life as a writer. In the 1990s, she was active in the Poetry Slam movement, which sought to popularize and energize poetry as performance. She has been a senior editor of “The Comstock Review,” Syracuse’s own poetry journal, for 20 years, and she has published works in the DWC’s “Stone Canoe.” In education, another one of her teaching passions is developing youth writers in the DWC’s Young Writer’s Academy, which she started in 2012 with six students. Today the academy averages 20 students, who currently participate online each Saturday. Popoff can recount with pride the young people who go on to more serious writing pursuits after their time with the academy — the student who earned a Master of Fine Arts at the University at Buffalo, another who earned a film degree and is now in Los Angeles hoping to break into film. To those young people yearning for a voice, Popoff says it best in “Our Difficult Sunlight: A Guide to Poetry, Literacy, and Social Justice in Classroom and Community,” written with Quraysh Ali Lansana. Popoff’s chapter two begins, “Let me make this very simple for you. Words are power. The more words you know and can recognize, use, define, understand, the more power you will have as a human being.” (Teachers and Writers Collaborative, 2010) To read this explanation of Popoff’s passion for words is to understand that her message is intended for all her students, no matter their age, as well as for herself, and that those living documents she affirms are words that empower the people who create them.

For information on DWC writing classes, contact Georgia Popoff at gpopoff@ymcacny.org. Popoff’s own website and blog is https://georgiapopoff.com. December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


55+ books Local Author Publishes Three Books in 2020 Paul Kocak’s books discuss isolation, physical distancing, his love for Tuscany, Italy By Margaret McCormick


aul Kocak is a man of many words. Many, many words. Kocak is a prolific and prodigious author. He is perhaps best known for several books he has written about baseball, his lifelong passion, including “Chasing Willie Mays,’’ “World Serious: One San Francisco Giants Fan’s Pilgrimage’’ and “Baseball’s Starry Night: Reliving Major League Baseball’s 2011 Wild Card Night of Shock and Awe.’’ This year alone, Kocak has published three books on Amazon. “Shades of Tuscany’’ is a love letter to Italy and to Italians. “Failure to Thrive: COVID Quarantine Chronicles’’ explores themes of isolation, physical distancing, uncertainties and new realities. “Monologues in Stereo’’ imagines conversations with one’s self and with others, including famous people. Publishing on Amazon, rather than with a traditional publisher, allows Kocak to maintain ownership of his content, publish quickly, reach readers around the world and publish print-on-demand paperbacks and directly to Kindle, for those who read on devices instead of the printed page. There is no charge to upload books, and authors receive royalties from sales. Kocak works with a graphic artist on book design. He does his own marketing and promotion. “Their publishing platform sure makes it easy,’’ Kocak says of Amazon. “Overall, I’d recommend them, for ease of operation.’’ Kocak, 71, comes to the title “author ’’ after a long and varied professional career. He grew up in Stamford, Connecticut, and attended St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, for a year before


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transferring to Le Moyne College, where he earned a degree in English. He taught English for five years in the Marcellus Central School District. While there, he got to know an editor at The Post-Standard and that connection led to a job. He joined the copy desk and worked as a copy editor for several years. “What I learned working at a newspaper is that the most important thing is deadlines. You have to get the job done, period. That really helped when I worked for companies.’’ Kocak left Central New York to work in the publishing industry for a time. At Random House and McGrawHill, he produced audiovisuals and other educational materials for the school and library market. He returned to Syracuse in 1989 and later took a position with Galson Corporation as a technical editor and proposal writer. He would go on to work as

Cover of “Shades of Tuscany,’’ by Paul Kocak. a technical editor and marketing specialist for several environmental firms, including O’Brien & Gere, ARCADIS, Environmental Design & Research, and Abscope Environmental. He left the corporate world in 2008 to launch his own business, Kocak Wordsmiths Ink, and started lining up clients. Freedom of Espresso on Solar Street in Syracuse became his “office.’’ He left some business cards there and some local clients found him that way. Others found him by word of mouth. Still others he courted or pitched. Says one former client: “Paul is my go-to word guy! He has a very keen sense of language and nuances of word choice. He listened, captured the culture of our organization and breathed life into very dry/technical content.’’ Technical writing can be “hard, dense, difficult and challenging,’’ Kocak says. Working for himself has allowed him to focus on a “softer,’’ more creative style of writing for advertising, brochures and websites.

Author Paul Kocak at Salt City Coffee on West Onondaga Street in Syracuse. He has published three books this year.

“It came to be that I like copywriting and website writing the most,’’ he says. “You have to let go of some of the words. Writing for a website is so lean. It’s like poetry.’’ Kocak says he sort of “backed into writing books’’ with a subject he knows and loves — baseball. First came “Baseball’s Starry Night,’’ published in 2012. “Starry Night’’ examines the events of Sept. 28, 2011, the last night of regular-season baseball play, which some have called the most memorable and entertaining night in Major League Baseball history. It was such an intense and exhilarating night, Kocak thought someone should write a book about it. So, he did. In doing so, he spoke to 20 baseball fans from around the country — and the world — who had tuned in to watch their favorite teams and were mesmerized. “This is a magical book about a magical night,’’ historian Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote in a jacket blurb. “This beautifully told story captures baseball at its very best.” Kocak has visited more than 20 Major League ballparks and has traveled to Iceland, Italy and other places. He has three adult children

and lives on the west side of Syracuse, where he enjoys walking, exploring the neighborhood and meeting new people. His walks throughout the area inspired one of his books, “Tipp Hill Litanies.’’ The author says he is retired in the sense that he collects Social Security, but he still works on select projects for clients. Just before quarantine, he helped a local research and marketing start-up with its web content. He currently is enjoying a new project: coaching someone on their first novel. “It has been mutually rewarding. A new thing for me, but I like it; it draws on my experience years ago as an English teacher. It’s especially rewarding watching the client (a successful consultant in the manufacturing field) learn and grow and develop as a writer.’’ As much as Kocak likes words, he doesn’t like the word “retired.’’ “If you use it, you’ll never get work. And if you say semi-retired, people won’t hear the ‘semi,’’’ Kocak says. “It’s a word I never like to use. This could be my own hang-up with age.’’

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December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


55+ memory Things We Love That Are 55 or Older By Margaret McCormick


he world has changed dramatically in the last 55 years. Some of the things we take for granted today were new or new-ish back then (in 1965). Others have been around longer than you might think. Just for the fun of it, we decided to do some agerelated background checks on places and things we know and love. You might be surprised to learn how old some things are — and how relatively recent others are.

E.M. Mills Memorial Rose Garden. 1922.

55 Lifestyle

• 55 Plus Magazine: We’re young born in 2005. • AARP: 1958 (now with more than 38 million members).


• Borio’s Restaurant, Cicero: 1960. • Luigi’s Restaurant, Syracuse: 1954. • Coleman’s Authentic Irish Pub, Syracuse: 1933. • Rudy’s Lakeside Drive-In, Oswego: 1946. • Mac’s Drive-In, Waterloo: 1961. • Heid’s of Liverpool: 1917. • B’ville Diner, Baldwinsville: 1934. Originally Grady’s Diner. • Scotch ‘n’ Sirloin, DeWitt: 1967. • Nibsy’s Pub, Syracuse: 1890. Considered the oldest pub in Syracuse. • Wegmans: 1916 (Rochester); 1969 in Central New York (Route 57 at John Glenn Boulevard) • Harrison Bakery, Syracuse: 1949. Moved from Harrison Street to West Genesee Street in 1961. • Columbus Baking Co., Syracuse: 1895. • DiLauro’s Bakery and Pizza, Syracuse: 1908. Originally known as Venezia Bakery. • Central New York Regional Market: 1938.

Rudy’s Lakeside Drive-In. 1946.

Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park. 1914.

Out and About

• Green on top traffic light, Tipperary Hill, Syracuse: 1925. • Onondaga Lake Park: 1933. “Central New York’s Central Park’’ • Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park, Syracuse: 1914. Originally known as Burnet Park Zoo. • E.M. Mills Memorial Rose Garden (at Thornden Park), Syracuse: 1922. • Crouse College, Syracuse University: 1881. • Manley Field House, Syracuse: 1962. • ShoppingTown Mall, DeWitt: 1954. A shopping center before it morphed into a mega mall. One a Day multivitamins. 1940. 20

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• Soldiers and Sailors Monument, downtown Syracuse: 1910.

Around the House

Crouse College, Syracuse University. 1881.

• Riding lawn mower: 1946. • Snowblower: 1925. A Canadian import. • Electric drip coffee maker: 1954. Developed in Germany. The wellknown Mr. Coffee didn’t debut until the 1970s. • Air conditioner: 1902. Thank you, Willis Carrier. • Microwave oven: 1946. Developed by American engineer Percy Spencer. • Weber kettle grill: 1952. Invented by Weber founder George Stephen. • Kitchen-Aid stand mixer: 1919. And still making mixing marvelous. • Tupperware: 1946. Developed in Massachusetts by Silas Earl Tupper. • Pyrex: 1915. The iconic primary color four-piece nesting bowl set debuted in 1945.


• E v e r s o n M u s e u m : 1 8 9 7 . Originally known as the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts. • The current building, designed by I.M. Pei, opened in 1968. • Erie Canal Museum: 1962. Housed in the Syracuse Weighlock Building, which dates to 1850. • Landmark Theater: 1928. Built as a Loew’s State Theater. • Eastwood Palace Theatre: 1922. • Westcott Theater: 1919. • Manlius Art Cinema: 1918.


CNY Regional Market. 1938.

Hearing aid. 1898.

Snowblower. 1925.

• Hearing aid: 1898. Early models were large and not very portable. • Grecian Formula: 1961. The first hair coloring designed for men. • Geritol: 1930. A dietary supplement for “iron poor blood.’’ • One a Day multivitamins: 1940. • Special K: 1955. Once a single cereal, now with many options. • Stationary bike: 1965. There were earlier models, but when Schwinn introduced its first stationary bike for the home, the Exerciser, a slew of copycats followed. • Crutches: 1917. Emile Schlick patented the first commercially produced crutch. • Walkers: Early 1950s. First U.S. patent awarded in 1953.

December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


55+ second act

Retired Nurse Operates Christmas Tree Farm By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


hat began as a business to help pay for her children’s college tuition grew to become a Christmas tree destination for Central New Yorkers. Cathy Jo Brown, now 72, started the farm with her husband, Robert, in the 1980s not realizing that children grow up much faster than Christmas trees. The children were grown and gone by the time the first group of trees was ready to harvest. Known as Three B Tree Farm, the Jordan-based operation has stayed low-key over the years while many other farms have added petting zoos and other forms of entertainment. T h re e B o ff e r s v i s i t o r s a n experience more like a nature retreat as they hike out to the woods past the


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three farm ponds with their sled with a hacksaw to look for the perfect tree, accompanied only by the crunch of snow underfoot and the occasional skitter of wildlife. Despite a choice to avoid the razzle-dazzle of some tree farms, Three B has expanded to 33 acres they own and 15 more leased acres. This spring, they plan to plant 4,200 more trees on another parcel. The Browns live in Norfolk, St. Lawrence County, where they began their tree operation. In addition to pre-cut and you-cut trees, the farm also has a small gift counter of locally made ornaments and photo opportunities on the picturesque grounds. Growing Christmas trees was not either Brown’s first career. She worked

as a nurse for 40 years, mostly in the North Country (Massena Memorial Hospital, Canton-Potsdam Hospital and Lake Placid Hospital), teaching for 32 of them while Robert worked for Alcoa. While maintaining a farm may seem tough for a pair of septuagenarians, Brown said that the farm requires maintenance every other week throughout the year to shear trees and mow between them. They hire help to make wreaths and they typically hire high school students to assist with sales during the busy season. Hiring teens is one way that Brown likes to connect with the community. She also gives a “Baby’s First Christmas” onesie to infants making their initial trip to the farm. Last year, they gave out more than 70. The Browns participate in Trees for Troops, a program of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, that provides a Christmas tree to US military bases worldwide through farm and patron sponsorship.

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Cathy Jo Brown The farm also sponsors a thirdgrader program, where children from Jordan Elbridge Elementary can help plant their own trees — between 90 and 120 each year. All the profit from the sale of those trees funds their Dollars for Scholars program, which is awarded to students interested in nursing or agriculture on alternate years. The farm also hosts scouts and other events for youth. “We want to teach young people about the value of trees and wildlife,” Brown said. The farm works in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and Ducks Unlimited to maintain their ponds as a wildlife habitat and restoration area where seasonal migratory birds visit. The farm also hosts turkeys, foxes, deer, and other wildlife. Brown has been pleased to see the younger generation interested in farming and its tie to environmentalism. At first, she feared that the “go green” theme was a fad, but “it’s continued to grow,” Brown said. “If we were younger, we might have bought more land.” The Browns plant two trees for each tree they cut. “Being around younger people keeps us young,” Brown said. “We’re always working so we’re not sedentary.” Though the normal free cocoa and popcorn will not be available this year, Brown hopes that everything else will stay the same, since cutting a Christmas tree together is a tradition many families enjoy together.

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December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


55+ gifts Stumped for Grandkids’ Gifts? Consider Subscription Boxes By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


t can be difficult to know what grandchildren want to receive, especially if they live far away and you are not able to spend a lot of time with them. Most include free shipping and will send the boxes directly to your grandchildren. It works like a magazine subscription, only instead of receiving a periodical, the subscription box offers unique goods that aren’t available in most stores. For one price, the recipient receives a box each month containing a set number of items or the supplies they would need to do or make something, like pot a plant or bake a treat. All you need to do is know the age and basic interest of your grandchild. Alex Morgia is owner of MonthlyBoxer, a Watertown-based company that packages and ships boxes for subscription box companies. He said that subscription boxes have become popular because “it allows you to spread a gift out; you give them gifts all year to spread the joy.” While one could certainly shop every month for four to eight small items to give to a grandchild, Morgia explained that subscription box companies buy in bulk so that their items often cost much less than at stores or retailers’ sites. There is also the element of surprise. “It’s nice for children to get


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something in the mail with their name on it,” Morgia said. “It’s special to get something when you’re a kid and you can’t buy stuff for yourself.” The “unboxing” is also part of the thrill, as subscription boxes often come with custom boxes, internal paper wrapping, and little details like stickers to make it special. (Tip: search for unboxing videos on YouTube to see what a particular box is like.) Morgia said that most companies offer a one-time box, three-month subscription or year-long subscription. Here are a few examples:

Girly Girls

• Calmbox ($35/month). Stressed teens would enjoy these gifts intended to help them relax and unwind, like scented candles, tea and essential oil diffuser and oil. • TheraBox ($30.99/month). Spaloving girls can pamper themselves with this indulgent box that includes

skincare items, aromatherapy products and other feel-good delights. Compiled by therapists, the box promotes wellbeing and good vibes. • HopeBox ($29.99/month). Give the gift of coziness with HopeBox, which delivers books, candles, healthful snacks and bath and body items, all vegan and not tested on animals. • mintMONGOOSE ($12.99/month). Choose gold, silver or rose gold finishes for the three pieces of fashionable jewelry that arrive each month. • Nail Shack ($8.75/month). Your granddaughter can glam up her nail routine with Nail Shack’s four sets of nail polish trips, nail file and cuticle pusher. The company offers a children’s option for younger girls. • LD Accessories Box ($30/every three months). Jewelry, scarves, sunglasses, make-up, and more arrive every three months to keep your granddaughter at the top of fashion. The items can be customized to her preference, too.

• Glamour Jewelry ($14.95/month). Older girls and teens will appreciate the grown-up appeal of the three pieces of jewelry provided in each Glamour Jewelry box.

Arts and Crafts

• The Adults & Crafts Crate ($30/ month). If your teen granddaughter is “over” the kiddie foam crafts, the Adults & Crafts Crate takes her skills to a higher level with projects like engraving, wood working and handnailed yarn. Each project results in an aesthetic or functional item (no googly eyes or pipe cleaners included!). • Paletteful Packs ($22.33/month). In addition to the four to five full-size, high quality art products included, recipients also get an artistic goal each month to help teen artists improve techniques or learn new skills. • We Craft Box ($25/month). Each kidoriented box offers three or more craft projects each month with crafting tools and instructions included. • Green Kid Crafts ($19.98/month). Using sustainable materials and STEMoriented project, this box mashes together science and crafts to equal fun for middle school children. Each box includes supplies and directions for making six art/science projects. • Stickii Club ($10/month). Select sticker styles of cute, retro, pop or assortment and your grandchild will receive stickers and stationery items. And maybe you’ll start receiving thank-you notes.


• Lovevery ($36, every two months). Tots through age two will engage with these toys meant to promote brain development. A parental guide is included. • Matter ($29.99/month). Science whiz kids will receive between five to six items each month, including scientific specimens, vials of periodic elements, and crystals. • Kiwico.com ($19.95/month). Select from a variety of educational interests

at each age level to find boxes that offer educational crafts, projects and games. • Little Passports Box ($13/month). Children aged 3 through 9 can learn about geography and worldwide culture with this global-oriented box’s stickers, booklets, cards and maps.

Green Thumbs

• House Plant Box ($11.25/month plus shipping). Receive a new plant to nurture each month, including herbs, air plants and more conventional houseplants. The company provides answers to plant questions, too. • The Plant Club ($23.33/month). This box provides the plants, tools, soil and directions for growing a healthy plant each month. • Succulents Box ($4.75/month). Growing a succulent garden inside is easy with this subscription. Succulents are easy to grow and perfect for younger children who may forget to water plants. • My Garden Box ($35.50/month). Everything’s included to grow a bevy of beautiful plants with My Garden Box.


• SnackSack ($21.50/month). If your grandchildren enjoy trying new snacks, SnackSack brings healthful nibbles to their door. The company offers many different choices, such as vegan, gluten-free, organic, non-GMO, and fair trade. • Universal Yums ($14/month). Let them travel the world with their tastebuds with snacks from around the globe. Each box includes sweet and savory items from a different nation, plus a booklet with information on that country and recipes. • Jerky Snob ($15/month). Any jerky aficionado will enjoy this box of specialty assortment of jerky treats from a variety of sources. The recipient can try unique jerky types not available in stores. • KidStir Cooking Kit ($20/month). They can cook up a good time with this

culinary kit for kids, which includes children-scale tools, shopping list and simple recipes for ages 5 through 10. • Marshmallow of the Month Club ($9.75/month). Natural ingredients and accompaniments like graham crackers, chocolate and beverages make this one sweet box for lovers of s’mores. The cute presentation is also very appealing. • Elevate ($29.99/month). Athletic and health-conscious kids and teens will appreciate the thoughtful choices in the Elevate box as they enjoy postgame refueling on protein bars, nuts, sport beverages and more. • Fresh Baked Cookie Crate ($20/ month). If you’re not available to bake for your grandchildren, this crate has you covered. The box includes all you need to bake a batch of cookies from ingredients—not a mix. Maybe order the kit for yourself so you can virtually bake together.


• GeekGear (£14.99 GBP/month, ships worldwide). Harry Potter fans can indulge their wizarding aspirations with this box that includes both unique and licensed products, from T-shirts to teas. • My First Reading Club ($16.99/ month). Children will receive age-rated books to help them learn the joy of reading with three books to read each month, plus an activity book. Choose from board books, picture books or chapter books. Want more ideas? Visit www.cratejoy. com or www.amazon.com (type subscription box in the search menu) for other subscription boxes that may interest your grandchildren and others on your gift list. December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


my turn By Bruce Frassinelli Email: bfrassinelli@ptd.net

Parenting: Kids Are in Charge Now

Many parents have put their children in the center of the universe. The result is that these kids are losing perspective on what’s important


he other day, I stopped at a diner near my home. At the table next to me was a mother with two children. The kids looked to be about maybe 10 and 13 years of age, and the older one was tapping away at his phone. The mother apparently was looking for some quality time and interaction with her sons and nicely asked him to put away his phone. “Shut up!” he bellowed and continued tapping away. I was so shocked that I dropped my fork. The mother looked embarrassed but said nothing. I thought to myself what would have happened to me if I had ever told my mother to “shut up.” As we used to say during my youthful days growing up, “I’d be spitting teeth for a week.” Today, of course, Mom would be charged with child abuse. Has it really come to this, I wondered, or was this just one out-ofcontrol kid? When I got home, I started researching the question and came upon a recently published book which convinces me that what I had recently witnessed might be the new normal. “The Collapse of Parenting” by Leonard Sax of Exton, Pennsylvania, a family physician and psychologist for 27 years, says that American families are facing a crisis of authority, because now kids are in charge. Sax recounted an experience similar to mine, except it was in his office where a mother had taken her 10-year-old son because he had a stomachache. Sax said the boy was playing video games on his phone and ignoring him. The mother began


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describing the boy’s stomachache to Sax when the boy chimed in and said, “Shut up, Mom, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Sax said this kind of behavior is becoming common. “Children — both boys and girls — are disrespectful to their parents, to one another and to themselves,” Sax said. He said the culture has changed dramatically in a short period of time, causing significant harm to children. His book is about the transfer of authority from parents to children. Sax said that he believes parents should treat older kids like grown-ups. “You should expect them to be mature and

to behave,” he said. He said you now find young children with cell phones in their bedrooms at 2 a.m. He advises taking the device at night and putting it into the charger, which stays in the parents’ bedroom. “No child should have a phone in their bedroom unsupervised,” Sax said. He also laments the disappearing family dinner. “Research shows that having a family meal at home without distractions is important,” he said. Sax said that by communicating that time at home as a family is the highest priority, parents send the message that family matters. “So many kids are in the race to nowhere, trying to add things on to their resume through extracurricular activities with no sense of why,” he complains. “They just burn out at 15.” Sax also recommends no use of phones in the family car. “The time in the car is for you to listen to your child and for your child to listen to you,” Sax said. He believes parents should teach their children humility, which he claims is now the most un-American of virtues. “When I meet with kids, I ask them what they think humility is,

‘Children are not born knowing how to behave. We parents must teach them right from wrong, and some are doing a poor job of it.’ and they have no idea,” he said. “In fact,” he added, “the high school kids are more clueless than younger ones.” “They have been indoctrinated in their own awesomeness with no understanding of how this culture of bloated self-esteem leads to disillusionment,” Sax said. “We keep telling these kids how amazing they are, then, when they are 25 and working in a cubicle in a lowwage job, we wonder why they are so resentful,” Sax observed. In an article she wrote for Boston magazine, Julie Suratt said, “We’re lavishing our kids with unwarranted praise, trying to be their BFFs (best friends forever) instead of their parents, and giving them anything they ask for. Where have we gone wrong?” Suratt asks another provocative question: Why is it so different now than when we were growing up? “We can point to peer pressure, rampant materialism, pop culture and the media, but the truth is: It’s our doing, and it’s high time we own up to it.” R i c h a r d We i s s b o u r d , a psychologist and senior lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and author of the book “The Parents We Mean to Be,” said we have become a generation of nurturers producing a generation of children ill-equipped to handle life’s “slings and arrows.” Children are not born knowing how to behave. We parents must teach them right from wrong, and some are doing a poor job of it. Many parents have put their children in the center of the universe. The result is that these kids are losing perspective on what’s important. Instead of instilling concern in children about reaching out to others, it has become all about them, all the time. We are growing a generation of self-absorbed narcissists which does not bode well for humanity.


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55+ cover

Matt Mulcahy Chasing stories through the years. Award-winning CNYCentral anchor, who turned 55 in October, reflects on decades-long career in front of TV cameras By Margaret McCormick


att Mulcahy didn’t grow up knowing he wanted to be a newscaster. His career plans were a question mark when he graduated from Liverpool High School in 1983. And at Ithaca College, his initial major was “exploratory undecided.’’ He knew he was interested in English, writing and research, and he knew that Ithaca had a strong communications program. One day, his roommate headed over to the college television and radio stations to check them out and Mulcahy decided to join him. He liked the hum of activity and the enthusiasm of the student journalists. He found his niche. “I remember getting there initially and thinking, ‘boy, the people who are here at this TV station working on newscasts and radio newscasts and doing everything from sports playby-play to directing programs and DJ-ing — all these things that were part of media pre-digital, especially — boy, they spend a lot of time here.’ I can’t believe how much time. And within a year I was one of those people spending all that time there. I kind of caught that bug. It turned out to be a great convergence of interests and talents I had with regard to writing and


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performance and curiosity, wanting to know what was going on in the world but also wanting to be part of what was being covered. To tell people what was going on in the world… I found that very appealing right away.’’ Mulcahy went on to get a degree in broadcast journalism and become a respected, Emmy-winning television reporter, anchor and producer — and one of the most longstanding and recognized faces on Central New York TV news. He got his start as a reporter and anchor at a cable news station in Ithaca before joining WBNG-TV in Binghamton as a reporter and anchor. In 1990, he returned to his home turf, joining WSTM-3 in Syracuse. He later spent seven years at WTVH-5 before returning to WSTM. WSTM and WTVH are operated by Sinclair Broadcasting. The stations merged in 2009 to form CNYCentral and they share a reporting staff. Mulcahy is anchor and managing editor of the NBC3 news at 5, 6 and 11 p.m. on weekdays, as well as the CW6 news at 10 p.m. He anchors the early evening newscasts with Megan Coleman and the 11 p.m. news with Meghan Bragg.

Turning 55 Mulcahy, who turned 55 in October, says the recipe for the nightly newscast hasn’t changed much in 30plus years — but technology and the demands of the job have. Seasoned professionals like him make it look easy, but a lot goes on behind the scenes and before he stands in front of the cameras each night. Mulcahy’s unofficial workday begins when he wakes up and checks his phone to see what’s going on in the world. If it’s nice out, he gets in a run at Green Lakes State Park with his wife, Jamie Pomilio-Mulcahy. His official workday begins around 2 p.m., when he heads into the studio on James Street from his home in Fayetteville and has a phone conference from his car with news editors, producers and station management about the day’s stories and how they’re shaping up. A larger, more formal news meeting takes place when he gets in the office. On a late-summer weekday, the stations were sending a reporter to SUNY Oneonta to report on the surge of COVID-19 cases that forced cancellation of in-person classes and

Matt Mulcahy has received 19 nominations for New York Emmy Awards — and won four. The most recent is for his 2019 documentary on the Heidi Allen case, “Heidi Allen Files.’’ Photo by Chuck Wainwright. December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


Summer of 2012. Matt Mulcahy with wife Jamie Pomilio-Mulcahy at a black tie charity fundraiser.

March 2013. With wife Jamie Pomilio-Mulcahy and Bentley, the couple’s dog.

October 2012. Photographer Andy Wolf, Matt Mulcahy and photographer Dave Fulkerson–– in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City cover the canonization of Mother Marianne Cope. 1999. Embedded with the 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum in Tuzla, Bosnia, covers the refugees and U.S. military mission.


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another reporter to SUNY Oswego to cover COVID-related developments there. Most days, there’s an hour or two before the early newscasts that allow him to carry out phone and Zoom interviews for stories he’s working on, make plans for his “Matt’s Memo Conversation’’ on Facebook and update social media. Thirty years ago, Mulcahy says, he couldn’t have imagined today’s digital revolution and how it would affect what he and his colleagues do on a daily basis. “We’re constantly thinking about what are we tweeting out, what are we posting on Facebook, what are we putting on our website, what’s going on our mobile app, what’s going on our Instagram page, what usergenerated content is being created and what people are gathering for us that we can then turn into something more,’’ Mulcahy explains. “If we have a great development, we want to get it out before syracuse.com or Channel 9 or somewhere else and get it out there digitally for all our news consumers who are getting their news that way.’’ One aspect of his job that Mulcahy particularly enjoys is “Matt’s Memo.’’ It started out as an email newsletter then morphed into a blog, where Mulcahy shared thoughts on everything from life in Central New York to the lure of the ocean to NCAA infractions at Syracuse University to a snapshot of his 35th high school reunion. In recent months, it has evolved into “Matt’s Memo Conversation,’’ a half-hour (or so) chat on Facebook featuring questions and comments from viewers. Mulcahy goes live on Facebook, usually around 9 p.m., several times a week. In March, when Gov. Cuomo ordered schools, restaurants, entertainment venues, shopping malls and more closed and encouraged people to stay at home to help “flatten the curve” of coronavirus infections, the conversations attracted upwards of 25,000 viewers a night and featured mainly questions and concerns about the pandemic. “People really became engaged in that conversation and came to rely on it,’’ Mulcahy says. “And some are still relying on it. Our audience is definitely smaller now than it was then, and I think that reflects the obvious: people aren’t as intensely concerned and aren’t as in the dark about COVID. Everything about it is less heightened

now than it was at that time. But I’m still sticking with it.’’ More recently, Mulcahy has discussed things like the Syracuse rally for Breonna Taylor, budget cuts at City Hall, COVID-19 and children, the presidential election and the Supreme Court nominating process. (Find out more about Matt’s Memo Conversation here: www.facebook. com/MattMulcahy4/ )

Long days If you’ve watched Mulcahy since his early days on local TV, you’ve seen his hair transition from youthful brown to distinguished silver. Some of the most memorable stories he has covered include the blizzard of 1993, the Labor Day storm, the September 11 terrorist attacks and the canonization in Rome of Saint Marianne Cope, who ministered in Syracuse and Hawaii. He’s especially proud of the reporting and writing he put into “The Heidi Allen Files,’’ an hour-long investigative report that uncovered documents containing information not previously shared with the public about the disappearance of teenager Heidi Allen in Oswego County in 1994. The documentary, which aired in 2019, earned Mulcahy his fourth New York Emmy Award. Megan Coleman, who co-anchors 5, 5:30 and 6 p.m. newscasts with Mulcahy, says there are some days her friend and colleague is so caught up in gathering information for stories he’s working on that she doesn’t see him until shortly before the news.

October 1998. Mulcahy covers John Glenn’s return to space at Cape Canaveral, Florida from media workspace.

Summer of 1996. Mulcahy with WNBC Chopper 4 covers the explosion of TWA 800 off the coast of Long Island.

Summer of 2000. Interview with First Lady Hillary Clinton in WTVH studios as she prepared her run for senator from New York.

And the Emmy Goes to...

Matt Mulcahy has received 19 nominations for New York Emmy Awards — and won four. The first was for a 2000 documentary he completed while at WTVH-5, “Bosnia: Returning Home.’’ He earned two more for anchoring newscasts: one for a field newscast on the conviction in the murder trial of Dr. Robert Neulander (2015) and another for a newscast devoted to a deadly fire on Martin Street in Syracuse that left six people dead. The most recent is for his 2019 documentary on the Heidi Allen case, “Heidi Allen Files.’’

May 2000. Mulcahy reports from the Scottish Court in the Netherlands on the start of the trial of the accused bombers of Pan Am 103. December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


1998. David Muir, Chris Hart (photographer), Al Lauricella (photographer) and Matt Mulcahy cover First Lady Hillary Clinton’s visit to the Harriet Tubman House in Auburn during her Save America’s Treasures Tour.

Fall of 2000. Syracuse news anchors: Carrie Lazarus, Jackie Robinson, Maureen Green, Matt Mulcahy, Ron Curtis and Liz Ayers gather for the retirement of anchor Ron Curtis (WTVH). 32

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“One of the things that I appreciate the most about Matt and have tried to learn and study is his dedication to a story,’’ Coleman says. “What I mean by that is when he picks a story he’s going to follow, he’s living it and breathing it day in and day out. That is what makes Matt one of the best investigative journalists. He’s not someone who just sits at his desk and makes a couple of calls. He really digs in.’’ Mulcahy’s days are long — he leaves the station on James Street around midnight each night and often winds down with a selection on Netflix with his wife and their dog, Bentley. When he’s not at work, he spends time with his family (his parents still live in Liverpool), gets out on the golf course and assists his wife with The Shamrock Fund, the nonprofit organization they founded to help people with limited financial means get needed veterinary care for their pets. He goes to sleep grateful for a job that connects him to the community and brings him professional and personal satisfaction. “I like what I do,’’ Mulcahy says. “I’m out there every night anchoring the newscast and engaged in our daily news gathering but also able, thanks to management and ownership of our stations, to work on interesting stories and investigative stories that give me sort of two paths ongoing that keep me engaged in process of doing quality work that’s a little bit different than the daily newscast.’’

10 Things About Matt Mulcahy 1. Astrological sign: Scorpio 2. Favorite color: Blue (“always looks good on TV’’) 3. Favorite sports teams: Syracuse Orange, New York Yankees 4. All-time favorite musical group: Chicago 5. Favorite book: Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy 6. Favorite movie: The Godfather 7. Favorite TV show: Mad Men 8. Favorite food: Chicken Parmigiana 9. Favorite destinations: Green Lakes State Park and Cape Cod 10. Favorite sport to play: Golf

Matt Mulcahy on Running... I run nearly every day, at least five days per week. Over the last several years, I have combined my running with indoor spinning classes, although COVID-19 shut down the gym and pushed me outdoors to run even more. In fact, during the early quarantine period back in April and May I put in more miles per week than I ever recall running before. As many as 50 miles per week. I typically run on the trails of Green Lakes State Park where there are numerous paths including a variety of flats, hills, wooded areas and open fields. The four seasons of CNY transform the park from the robust colors of autumn to the gray scale of winter. The rebirth of spring to the energy and light of summer. My wife Jamie and I usually go over to the park together mid-morning. She walks her route while I run, then we grab coffee before heading home. That mid to late morning time fits well with my work schedule that has me into the television station by 2:30 each afternoon. Over the last 30 years there

‘During the early quarantine period back in April and May I put in more miles per week than I ever recall running before. As many as 50 miles per week.’ has been an ebb and flow to my commitment to running. But I always come back to it. Sometimes I find focus and goals leading up to a race such as the Mountain Goat or the Boilermaker. I am not a threat to win the first place medal, but the competitive nature combined with the community spirit and energy of a road race deliver a true thrill in being part of the combined human effort. My goals with running start with staying fit. Pre-COVID-19 I was still

Mulcahy runs on the trails of Green Lakes State Park Oct. 7. Photos by Chuck Wainwright. playing a pick up basketball game every Saturday. The running ensures I can keep getting up and down the court with endurance that often is greater than guys who are quite a bit younger. But I also value the everyday running experience. It creates space and time to break away from the stresses of life and work. It provides an opportunity to be outdoors, amongst nature. Often, I catch up on favorite podcasts or new music releases. It’s not just about getting the body moving, but also freeing the mind to think. While in the middle of covering a story or writing an in-depth piece, I have often generated a fresh idea or resolved a complex issue while out running on the trails. There are private moments of exhilaration when a few miles into a seven-mile run you suddenly become aware of pace, fresh air and the surrounding setting. Running brings joy. December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


aging By Marilyn L. Pinsky

Festival Cooks and Their Favorite Recipes


Part 2 of 2

ll great festivals depend on volunteers and many of the original volunteers have turned over their knives and stirring spoons to a new generation. Therefore, though the people interviewed for this article are mostly not old enough to be featured in this magazine, the recipes and organizations do qualify.

Grace Khairallah St. Elias Church

One of the young ‘uns is Grace Khairallah, from the Middle Eastern Cultural Festival put on by St. Elias Church. “When my husband took over as chairman of the festival five years ago, I got involved in the cooking end. I am Lebanese and brought my own recipes with me.” Even though she now cooks for hundreds of people, “when I first got married, I didn’t know anything and had to learn from the basics on up.” A registered nurse, not working at the moment, Grace learned to cook from her mother, mother-in-law and sister-in-law. “My favorite dish is tabbouleh and I make it all the time. It is one of those dishes that are made differently by different cooks. For instance, I use 34

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Italian parsley and a specific type of tomatoes, Campari. Depending on the ratio of parsley to tomato, the dish can be mostly green or more red. I then finish it off with fresh lemon juice and the best olive oil I can get.” Being a failure at anything with parsley, I took the opportunity to ask Grace how she gets the dirt out and I will pass this tip on to you. “Fill the sink with water and white vinegar and put in the parsley; soak for a half hour and most of the dirt will fall to the bottom. Then fill the sink with just water. Soak for 10 minutes and then give it a good shake. Dry on a rack set on top of a towel for half to one hour. Cut the stems after drying.” “I consider myself more a cook than a baker,” says Grace, “and I usually cook most of my dishes with lamb that I buy by the box from Samirs. Though I make a number of lamb dishes, I’m going to give you one that you probably won’t have from other cooks — baked lamb shanks with vegetables.

Lamb Shanks with Vegetables

6 lamb shanks 1 small bunch of celery (cut into sticks) 4 large carrots (cut in circles) 2 medium size zucchini (cut in half circles) 3 medium onions (cut in quarters) 4 medium potatoes (cut in quarters) Seven spices mix (buy from any middle eastern store) Salt (to taste) Tomato paste (dilute with water) 2 Cinnamon sticks Pat-dry lamb shanks and rub seven spices on all sides and fry for

three minutes on each side or till browning. Then take out of the skillet and arrange the lamb shanks in a pan. Add the cut vegetables and cover up with the tomato paste dilute with salt. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and cook in the oven for three hours on 400 F. Then uncover the pan and cook for an additional 30 minuts. Enjoy with a side of couscous or cooked rice with vermicelli.

Stephanie Armatas St. Sophia’s Church

When asked where she learned to cook, Stephanie Armatas said she learned from her mother. “And you’ll get that answer from any Greek — our mothers, grandmothers, godmothers. Sundays are family days and we always cook a very traditional big meal as a family, my father and brothers joining in as well. Cooking is love and love of cooking provides camaraderie.” “This would have been the 47th year of the Syracuse Greek Festival and my father and my godparents were among the earliest organizers. We all grew up cooking for the Greek Fest and have carried on that legacy from our parents. Many of us are second and third generation and now we also have the next generation cooking with us. They love, appreciate, and value the tradition.” When asked what dish she is best known for, Stephanie said baklava. “It helped put me through college. My father had a food stand at the New York State Fair and each of us children managed a part of the booth — we had to make and sell our own product and that money went towards our tuition.” “My favorite things to cook though, are grape leaves or spanakopita, as those were the first things my mom taught me to make. When I cook them, I feel her presence.” Stephanie loves to travel, whether for business for Bank of America, where she has been for 30 years, or for pleasure. And having family there, she often goes back to Greece.

Baklava (9x13 inch pan) 1 lb phyllo dough (#4) 1 lb chopped walnuts 3/4 lb unsalted butter

Marla Jabbour Columbian Presbyterian Church, LaFayette

Ground cinnamon Simple syrup 2 cups sugar 1 cup water 1/2 a lemon 1/4 cup honey (or to taste) Whole cloves (if available) Stick of cinnamon (if available) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop walnuts finely and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 1/3 of walnut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough and butter. Repeat two more times, using 1/3 of walnuts for each layer. Use remaining sheets to create top layer. Buttering between each layer of phyllo, for about 6 - 8 sheets. Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. Bake at 350 F. until golden brown. about 50 minutes. Make a simple syrup while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until the sugar is melted. Squeeze in lemon and add honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes. If you have whole cloves and a cinnamon stick add some while simmering the syrup for added flavor. Remove baklava and let it cool completely. When ready to serve, warm the syrup and pour over the baklava. Cut and serve.

At the age of 8, Marla Jabbour joined 4-H and learned to cook and sew with her troop. With her blueberry muffin recipe, she entered contests in the town fair near Canandaigua and still remembers the admonition to ‘not stir too much as you get air bubbles.’ “Sure enough, the first time I stirred too much, the blueberries burst. But I did learn to cook from scratch and that is the same way we cook at the LaFayette Apple Fest. It doesn’t take that much longer than using mixes.” Having left full-time work, and, “after painting every room in the house, like lots of volunteers, I needed to find something to do.” In addition to volunteering to cook, she also works as a part-time secretary at the church. “I am not the heart of the church; I am just the person who answers the phones and speaks with the media. I am one cog in a finely-tuned machine and credit should go to the efforts of the many people who wish to remain nameless. They volunteer their time for the apple pies, chicken barbecues, chicken and biscuit dinner and election night dinner.” “In non-pandemic times we have our annual Cookie Cafe [December] and A Taste of Chocolate [February] events where our wonderful bakers make hundreds of cookies and chocolate confections to raise money for the LaFayette outreach food pantry. Those have been postponed during the pandemic.” “The following recipe is from our election night dinner,” explains Marla, “for which I make the potato rolls. The recipe I use is from Brother Rick Curry’s book, “Secrets of Jesuit Bread Making.” And my secret for making large batches of rolls? Instant potatoes.”

Potato Rolls

In a small bowl, or a cup liquid measuring cup, stir 1 tablespoon active dry yeast and 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar into a half cup warm water [105115F] and set it aside for five minutes to proof. In a large bowl, combine 2/3 cup scalded milk, half cup vegetable shortening, 1 cup hot mashed potatoes,

LaFayette Apple Fest’s famous apple crumb pies. 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons salt. Mix these ingredients together until the shortening melts and let the mixture cool to lukewarm. Add 3 large eggs and the proofed yeast. Beat the mixture vigorously for 10 minutes. Gradually mix in [1/2 cup at a time) about 6 ½ cups of all-purpose unbleached flour until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Cover the dough with a sheet of plastic wrap and let it rise till double. Lightly flour a clean work surface and turn the dough out, kneading the dough for 8-10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary to prevent excess stickiness. Grease a large clean bowl and set the kneaded dough in it and cover with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in the refrigerator to rise overnight at least 8 hours. Grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust it with cornmeal, or prepare muffin pans. Cut the dough into pieces [40 rolls] and shape the pieces into balls or other shapes. Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter, cover the pan or pans with a towel and let the dough rise one more time for about 1 ¼ hour, until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes or until they become golden. December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


55+ insurance Long-Term Care Planning: Essential to Retirement Plan By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


ou have likely worked with a financial adviser for saving and investing money for retirement; however, if you have not considered your long-term care options, your plan still misses a very important piece. A debilitating accident, stroke or other reason for long-term care can wipe out the assets of someone who has worked hard throughout life in a matter of months. The cost of skilled nursing in an institutional setting in Syracuse is an average $416 per day for a private room or $399 for a shared room, according to 2019 figures from the American Council on Aging. The average stay length is 835 days, according to the National Care Planning Council, amounting to nearly $350,000. What will the cost be by the time you need it? About half of adults living now will need long-term care. “When you look at those kinds of numbers, one can rapidly deplete savings paying for care,” said Randy L. Zeigler, certified financial planner and private wealth adviser at Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. in Oswego. Zeigler said that some people purchase long-term care insurance policies so their families have g re a t e r f i n a n c i a l f l e x i b i l i t y i n providing care for their family members. Although residents on Medicaid receive the same treatment as those paying out-of-pocket, facilities can choose to whom to provide the next open bed, since private pay patients pay a greater amount of money for their care than does Medicaid. “Just because you qualify for Medicaid doesn’t mean that any nursing home is going to accept you,” Zeigler said. “You apply for a bed.” Where the bed is located is not a priority for the Medicaid system.


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The Medicaid-eligible individual may need to live in a nursing home a substantial distance away from where their friends and family live. The cost of long-term care insurance may be prohibitive to people signing up later in life. In the past 10 years, rates have increased dramatically; however, those grandfathered into earlier plans generally pay lower premium costs than those charged for new policies. As one grows older, the rates increase. Zeigler said that people should have long-term care coverage in place by the time they are in their late 40s or early 50s. “It has the potential to create a level of financial flexibility that might enable them to avoid applying for Medicaid,” he said. “It is an estate planning tool. I have a difficult time discussing this subject with people in their 50s and 60s who are in good health and can’t perceive they’ll ever be frail and needy in their later years.”

He gives a written warning to those who are able to afford to purchase quality long-term care insurance coverage, but refuse to buy coverage, so their children do not come back later claiming he did not give their parent sound advice. That is the weight Zeigler puts on long-term care insurance within estate planning. Many companies no longer sell long-term care insurance because the costs of care rose faster than anticipated and average length of claim has been longer than originally expected, although companies honor the policies they have already sold. Many people believe that Medicare will pay for long-term care. This is not true. Medicare typically covers the first 20 days for live-in rehabilitation. From day 21 to 100, it covers 80% of the cost. The income eligibility threshold to receive Medicaid benefits for longterm care is $875 for singles, $1,284 for married couples (both applying) and

$875 for only one spouse applying. The asset threshold is $15,750 for singles or one spouse applying and $128,640 for the non-applicant spouse. Trying to qualify for Medicaid long-term care expense reimbursement requires that the applicant own a relatively small amount of financial resources. Simply giving away the excess money does not work unless it is five years prior to the need for Medicaid, with only a few exceptions. “You can use irrevocable trusts and gifting strategies to reduce resources, but you’re releasing control of assets and money,” Zeigler said. “Systematic gifting strategy put in place years in advance can be a good idea, but seriously consider the trust issues and financial stability of the recipients. If you want them to hold those gifts in case you need them in the future, you’d have to know they’re financially stable.” There is also the chance that a trustworthy person could lose the money because of divorce or a lawsuit. Mary Tone Rodgers, chartered financial analyst and professor of finance at SUNY Oswego School of Business, said that people with enough financial resources can purchase less long-term care coverage and cover some of the expenses out-of-pocket. “People often think they can’t afford long-term care insurance because they’re shopping for complete coverage, Rodgers said. “Reframe your shopping to be looking for a partner in sharing the risk of long-term care costs, not for an insurance company to cover the entire load of covering expenses.” Part of this strategy could include delaying institutional care by aging in place and, once needed, relying on family to help with activities of daily living. That could help a nest egg and last longer, which is important considering many policies offer a maximum of three years’ coverage. Rodgers cautioned about having too little insurance. “Make sure you consult your insurance professional because the consequences of under-insuring can be grave,” she said. While it is still early to see the consequences of COVID-19 on nursing home use, Rodgers said, it may cause more people to receive care at home and forgo institutional care.

golden years By Harold Miller

Email: hmiller@mcsmms.com

A House Divided


was born in 1933 in the depth of Americas’ Great Depression. The times were much like today’s COVID 19 with many people out of work and hundreds of companies closing their doors — never to open them again. My father lost his small business of caning chairs, selling paint and model airplanes. He closed his doors mostly because our government was stockpiling materials for fear of a war with Axis powers. He went to work for the U.S. government as a railway mail clerk. My mother, in turn, took in laundry from our neighbors to pay the rent of our modest apartment in Auburn. Even though President Roosevelt knew that eventually America would be drawn into World War II, our country was totally unprepared when, on Dec. 7, 1941, Japan made a sneak attack on our naval force at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, crippling our Asian force. The real miracle was that overnight our industrial might switched from building cars and appliances to tanks and war planes. Admiral Yamamoto who planned the attack at Pearl Harbor for Japan later said, “I fear all we have done is to awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.” Our nation was forced into World War II against Japan and Germany (whom we turned into allies after the war). The result was that America became the world’s first and foremost super power. My generation had a slice of history that ranged from horse and buggy, to landing on the moon, to computers and artificial intelligence. America’s dynamism made and keeps us the most powerful economy in the world. U. S. industries are quietly but continually renewing our power and strength. The major reason is a mix of technical genius, marketing savvy and a sophisticated financial

network. All of this combines to support our entrepreneurs who in turn are changing the world. Information and communication are the foundation for our unmatched military power that ties it all together. As long as U.S. companies remain on the leading edge of key technologies we will be undefeatable. American defense planning for any conflict has advantages others simply do not have. Even as China plans to catch up with our tech wizards they are decades behind. However, there is a fly in our ointment. As the Godfather said; “All of our ships must sail in the same direction.” As seen in the recent election, our country is split down the middle. We live in a house divided and as the saying goes, “A house divided cannot survive.” We used to consider the other side as opponents — now they are the enemy. Where do we go from here? Our new President-elect Joe Biden has thrown down a challenge of a bipartisan relationship between the right and left. Is our great country mature enough to try it?

December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


55+ obituary The Last Word: Writing Your Own Obituary By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


nless you plan to have your memoirs published posthumously, writing your obituary represents your final chance to connect with loved ones and friends. It’s not a bit macabre to write your obituary. “We’re always happy to share novels we liked; why can’t we share obituaries?” said Linda Lowen, a writer, reviewer for Publishers Weekly and instructor at Downtown Writer’s Center at the YMCA in Syracuse. “You’ll have complete control.” It’s also a gift to free your family from this task. First, you should select a style that reflects who you are. If you’re always there to build up and help people, inspirational might work for you. Focus on encouraging those you leave behind to carry on and do good, but don’t sound like you’re extending expectations from the grave. Practical and down-to-earth? Try a more biographic style, stating the facts of your life in a chronological, linear fashion, from birth to death. “Don’t include every single job you’ve held, community group you’ve been involved with and every volunteer position,” Lowen said. “It sounds like a resume or CV for the dead. This is not what you want in an obituary.” Include a few interesting anecdotes to keep it from becoming dry. “Focus on unique details that make you different from other people, not a strawberry birthmark on your


55 PLUS - December 2020 / January 2021

shoulder, but something that is part of the fabric of who you are that you want to be remembered by,” Lowen said. Be specific but not prolific in what you list. Lowen advised that picking just a few examples is better than a blow-by-blow account of your life. If you enjoy teaching, an educational tone is good. Share the lessons you’ve learned throughout your life to help others with a touch of gratitude for those who have helped you. That way, you won’t sound preachy. If you’re the life of the party, use a humorous. Yes, it’s OK to be funny even in death since humor is part of the human experience and appropriate to reflect your life if you’re a lighthearted

person. While gentle joking is fine, keep in mind that those who read it may be emotionally raw. Unsure of your style? It’s okay to mix up a few elements from each of the above as long as it’s true to you. Lowen recommends reading others’ obituaries for ideas. You can write in first person (“I grew up in Manlius…”) or third person (“Maria Rodriguez grew up in Manlius…”); however, it’s important to keep the voice consistent throughout the document. Lowen prefers third person, as it makes the process easier. “It’s very hard for people to write about themselves,” she said. Anthony Farone, licensed funeral director at Farone & Son, Inc. in Syracuse, encourages obituary writers to include close relatives, such as parents, spouse, children and grandchildren. The list should be divided between “preceded in death” and “leaves behind” — those still living. Read a few published obituaries to understand how this is done. In addition, “list the residence, and sometimes age is important and

where you were born. List your education, work, civic interests, hobbies and if you like, re l i g i o u s affiliation,” Farone said. List any educational and career Linda Lowen highlights, awards and military rank, branch and service locations. Talking about special trips, hobbies and collections can give a glimpse of what is important to you. Make sure your obituary is among your final arrangement documents and that your children are aware you have written it. Periodically review your obituary to update it as needed. For example, if one of your children divorces and remarries, you’ll want to have the correct spouse in the write-up. Avoid mean-spirited jabs or unpleasant subjects. Writer Fred Wilson, owner of WilWrite, LLC in Camillus, said that a divorce is one example of topics to avoid; however, if you had children with a former spouse, it’s OK to mention the ex’s name in association with your mutual children. “This is a time for positive things,” he said. “An obituary is not a legal document, but there are things that don’t have to be mentioned. Follow your own judgment. It should be written with feeling, not objectivity.” He encourages obituary writers to include a recent photograph, not one from 40 years ago, since it’s likely you’re not recognizable. Since newspapers charge for obituaries by the word, it’s good to be concise. “It shouldn’t be more than a few paragraphs long,” Wilson said. “The kids can add ‘Special thanks for the staff at the hospital’ and when and where the service will be.” Wilson added that having someone look it over can help you ensure you have eliminated grammatical and spelling errors. Said Lowen, “The idea is that when there’s going to be an accounting of your life, wouldn’t you like to have a say in that and not who others believe you to be? That’s why writing an obit in advance is an essential last gift you give to yourself.”

LONGEVITY GAP Wealthy Outlive Poor by Nearly 10 Years By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


esearchers with University College London recently published a study that correlates wealth as the greatest factor that indicates when a person’s health will begin declining with age. Wealthy people in the study of more than 25,000 adults over age 50 in England and the U.S. lived more than nine years longer in good health than poor people. The study indicated that wealthy women were expected to live an average of 33 years without age-related disability compared with those with less money, who live only 23 to 24.6 years in good health. Well-to-do men could anticipate 31 healthy years but poor men could expect 22 to 23 years. One reason behind the gap is where a person lives. According to the New York State Department of Health, of people in New York state who died before age 65 years, 31.6% lived in what researchers considered a low-income ZIP code while 20.9% lived in a high-income ZIP code. “It’s very complex and it’s never one thing,” said physician Sharon Brangman, department chief of geriatrics and distinguished service professor at Upstate Medical University. “It’s usually a compilation of different things and finally you get one problem that pushes you downhill. Health and poverty aren’t just one thing; it’s a compilation of little things that affect everything you do every day. Over time, that has a marked impact on your life expectancy.” Brangman doesn’t see the link between health and poverty as an issue affecting only minorities living

in inner cities. “This goes across racial lines,” she said. “If you look at poor people who live in the South or Appalachia, their problems are similar. It’s not racially based per se but is a problem of being poor in this country — the price you have to pay to exist.” She added that the difficulties of being poor — trying to figure out how to make ends meet — add significant stress to life. Lower income makes people 154% more likely to have diabetes and 224% more likely to have a depressive disorder. Chronic stress effects these statistics and other measures of health. Brangman said that chronic stress raises blood pressure, blood sugar and heart rate. “This can lead to hypertension, heart disease and diabetes,” Brangman said. “These are now being looked at from a health standpoint in terms that chronic stress plays. When chronically stressed, your body makes inflammatory chemicals. That is associated with cancer and autoimmune disease. If it’s chronic stress and chronic inflammation, that can take a toll on your body. A lot of research is looking at the role that chronic inflammation has on your body and certain disease processes.” Simply packing up and moving to a better place to live is often out of reach for people in poverty, as saving up first month’s rent, last month’s rent, a security deposit and moving expenses is impossible. Brangman said how people get stuck in the rut of poverty is that a lack of education leads to fewer employment choices. “Dead-end” jobs with little chance of advancement means that an individual has fewer December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


HERPES BUT HONEST Professional Male Seeks

Professional non-smoking woman 50-62. Must be understanding or have gone thru the same unfortunate experience. Reply to: thisplace77@ gmail.com options for where to live and what to eat. People working two part-time jobs to make ends meet do not typically receive health insurance benefits. Neighborhood factors such as high smoking rates can significantly reduce life expectancies. As of June 2016, HealtheCNY.org states that the adult smoking rates in Syracuse ZIP code 13208 is 25.6%. According to tobaccofreecny.org, Onondaga County’s smoking rate is 17.2%; in Oswego County, it’s 29%; in Cayuga, 21% smoke and the rate is 17.3% throughout Upstate (any county not part of New York City). Living in a poor neighborhood often means that people live with lifelimiting factors such as limited access to healthful foods, places to exercise or affordable healthcare. “If you look at the typical poor neighborhood, there’s more liquor stores or convenience stores than grocery stores,” Brangman said. “Dollar stores don’t sell anything fresh; it’s all prepared and frozen foods. When they move into an area, the rates of diabetes and obesity goes up.”

Again, some of this goes back to education. Fewer people know how to cook anymore and even if they can afford good food, few poor people have the leisure time to learn to cook it. Many schools have cut home economics and if children do not learn at home, they rely more heavily on processed foods, take-out and prepared foods, all of which are generally higher in fat, sodium and simple carbohydrates than food cooked from ingredients. Poor people prioritize rent, food and utilities over things like fees for a personal trainer or gym membership. While walking and playing in a park is free, it’s not always safe in poorer neighborhoods. Brangman said that she once performed a study on how a community environment affects the tendency for residents to exercise. An area that is run down with few trees, cracked sidewalks and higher rates of crime discourage exercise such as walking or playing in parks. Access to healthcare also makes a big difference for preventing pre-term birth, chronic health problems, and emergency room visits. “If you don’t have good healthcare, you don’t have coverage for expenses,” Brangman said. “You have to pay more to have work-ups, tests or to buy medication.” Michelle Brown, director of Community Health and Well-Being at St. Joseph’s Health, said that the various factors that poverty brings to healthcare “make it difficult for prioritize health needs” when the negative outcomes of neglecting health are long-term, such as diabetes after years of eating a cheap but poor diet.

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55 PLUS - December 2020 / January 2021

Neglecting the immediate needs brings short-term outcomes, such as becoming homeless because the rent was not paid. Brown said that these social influencers of health “are really all the factors that contribute to health outcomes, that have nothing to do with clinical care.” Protective factors include family and social support, community safety and education. Not everyone who has a low income is uneducated. For example, an artist or childcare provider may have a good education but not make a lot of money. Their education helps them make better lifestyle choices about health. “Education is a social influencer toward greater health outcomes,” Brown said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that adults who are 25 and lack a high school diploma can expect to die nine years earlier than college graduates. According to Healthecny.org, approximately 16.62% of Central New York residents have bachelor ’s degrees, lower than the statewide rate of 20.17 percent. Brown also thinks that communitybased organizations can improve the public’s relationship with healthcare providers, which she believes would improve prevention and management of chronic disease—two drivers in healthy longevity. “Our community partners are helping us understand the community we’re trying to serve,” Brown said. “We’re much stronger if we’re working with the organizations that know our community best.” Visit www.healthecny.org to read more about the area’s health statistics.

55+ insurance

Time to Review Your Insurance Policies By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


erhaps you have worked with the same auto and homeowner ’s insurance for most of your adult life. Maybe those policies are tucked away in your desk and you only look at them when it is time to renew — or not at all. Regardless, it’s important to periodically review your home and auto policies to ensure accuracy and optimal savings. “It’s critically important to periodically review your insurance policies to ensure that your exposures have not changed, creating gaps in coverage, and the potential for unnecessary financial risk,” said Kimberly Allen, agency development manager and New York state insurance broker with Eastern Shore Associates Insurance Agency, based in Fulton. “It’s also important to review property valuations, vehicle and equipment schedules, and liability limits for adequate coverage in the event of a loss or claim.” Eastern Shore also maintains offices in Syracuse, Pulaski, Rochester, Camden, Walworth and Waterloo.

Although many older adults develop loyalty to their insurance company, much may change in 20, 10 or even five years. A bevy of life changes can affect how much coverage is needed to remain adequately insured; other changes can waste money on unnecessary coverage. “Our needs change as we age,” said Dave M a n l e y , principal agent and vice president of The Insurance Place Agency in Oswego, and Fulton. “The insurance needs of a 16-year-old are different Manley than someone in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. It’s important to review the policies to make sure they’re adapting to your changing lifestyle.” When you first applied for insurance, you may have been in an entirely different financial situation

than you are now. That is why it is wise to review the deductibles. Manley said that for pennies a day, a driver can obtain adequate liability insurance for a loss that could otherwise wipe out their life savings. “People are conditioned to call around and get the cheapest insurance they can at 16,” Manley said. Continuing that habit through the decades can result in being underinsured. Manley said that agents selling on price alone with lower limits “protect only themselves by capping losses instead of looking at the best interests of the client. Their assets are at risk.” He also encourages clients to get uninsured motorist insurance. If it has really been a long time since you peeked at your policy, you may have age-related discounts you have been missing. Although these are usually applied automatically, make sure that you get it. Some companies offer a lower rate for retirees if you ask for a pleasure rate instead of a commuter rate owing to the fewer miles you plan to drive. (If you plan to December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


do a road trip across the U.S. once you retire, you will not qualify.) Now that the kids are grown and gone, perhaps you can better afford to pay the policy in full rather than month-to-month. Also, make sure you remove any children who no longer need to be on your policy. To lower the auto insurance rate, take a driver’s safety course. Available online, the course costs only $40 and its completion qualifies drivers to receive a 10% discount for three years. If you have different companies for auto and homeowner’s insurance, look at bundling them, which often garners savings. Many policyholders do not know about equipment breakdown endorsements. This coverage replaces things like air conditioning units, freezers, electric panels and electronics in case of an electrical or mechanical failure, even after the warranty on each item has expired. Costing only $25 to $50 annually for $50,000 of coverage, equipment breakdown endorsements usually have a $250 to $500 deductible. If you lost numerous items at once through a power surge, for example, that would count as once incident. Homeowners should also make sure that their coverage keeps pace with their home’s value. If the fixerupper has seen upgrades through the years, the policy should stay current with replacement cost, not its original price. “The biggest shame of it is when someone realizes that for an extra $200 year, they could have had all the coverage they need,” Manley said. One example is sewer and drain backup coverage, which costs about $30 a year. Paying a firm to remediate this type of damage costs thousands of dollars. Manley said that many renters do not understand that the landlord carries insurance on only the structure but not their renters’ belongings, liability, or if they are abruptly displaced and need a different place to live. That includes senior apartments and communities, common steps in downsizing. “A lot of people sell their homes and have never rented and they don’t think about what may happen,” Manley said. “Having the proper insurance will make a difference between having a bad moment in your life and having it become a life-altering change.” 42

55 PLUS - December 2020 / January 2021

55+ makeup

Update Your Makeup By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


f you have not changed your cosmetics routine within the past 10 years, you are probably due. Skin changes over time and if your skincare and makeup routine don’t change with it, you will likely look dated. Beautiful makeup starts with healthy skin. Harsh cleaners can exacerbate dryness. That is why Marcela Tobar recommends mild cleansers, exfoliators and the proper moisturizers. She works at Syracuse Plastic Surgery as a licensed esthetician and offers skincare consultations. She also operates MT Makeup in Clay, offering makeup for photo shoots, prom, bridal parties, fashion events, and film and television shoots. “It’s essential to focus on skincare,” Tobar said. “Once you start with an exfoliated and hydrated canvas, it’s easier for makeup to be applied and look more natural.” Whenever cleaning or applying products, use upward strokes. Without properly preparing the skin, makeup settles into fine lines and wrinkles. Sun exposure contributed to this damage, as well as to the age spots you may see in the mirror. It’s never too late to prevent future damage. Tobar said that it’s vital to consistently wear products containing sunscreen.

“ E v e n i n t h e w i n t e r, i t ’ s imperative to wear SPF because of the hyperpigmentation that comes out as we get older,” Tobar said. Begin with a moisturizer containing sunscreen and touch up with a powder containing sunscreen throughout the day. Shade your face with a large-brimmed hat and large sunglasses. Skin care professionals can also recommend chemical peels and facials to improve skin texture, which can improve makeup application. Tobar favors sheer foundation for older skin rather than foundation that’s heavy, which tends to settle into lines. “We want to focus on hydrating the skin so it’s plumper,” Tobar added. She said that with properly hydrated skin, women do not need makeup primer. Tobar said that women should have their brows professionally shaped and use a color gel or powder, not a harsh pencil. Many women express concern about dark circles under their eyes. Tobar uses concealer containing a little color corrector to even out the tone, applied lightly with a finger. “Definitely have a little pop of color for the eyes,” Tobar said. “People can get away with any color, but the

technique is blending that eyeshadow to the point where it looks like it’s part of the skin. There’s no wrong color. Blend the eyeshadow so it’s not so ‘Here I am.’” For women 55-plus, Tobar uses matte eyeshadow so it’s not too sheer or just a little shadow with shimmer. She uses soft eyeliner tapered to the eyelashes, avoiding encircling the entire eye. That strategy actually makes eyes appear smaller. Adding a touch of mascara without clumps finishes the eyes makeup. “As women get older, they feel they need to go crazy with the eye makeup,” Tobar said. “You have to focus more on the skin, making it look youthful versus harsh makeup. Apply just enough to enhance.” She applies cream blush starting with the apple of the cheekbones and blending up towards the hairline. Like the rest of the face, lips need exfoliation before makeup application. Then, Tobar applies lip primer so the lipstick stays put. As for lip color, Tobar said that it should coordinate with the clothing and the occasion. A darker or bolder color is more appropriate to a formal evening event, for example. Lip liner can help people who want to

enhance the shape of their lips. Katie Lane, owner of Image Solutions Salon in East Syracuse, offered a few tips for makeup issues that a lot of older women encounter. “With hooded eyes, you often have to create a crease above where the natural crease is,” she said. “When the eye is open, any eyeshadow you put on disappears.” Many light-skinned women feel their skin tone fades as they grow older. Lane said that a cream blush and bronzers can add color. Blending is key for these products, as well as placement. Bronzers should go where the face would naturally appear sun kissed after exposure: the brow, a bit on the nose and the chin. As skin tone changes — or if one has always had skin tone difficult to match — it’s hard to know what foundation to pick. “That’s why l like mineral loose powder,” Lane said. “You don’t want to look like a porcelain doll. You also don’t want a color that’s not your skin tone. You may want to go with tone corrector. It’s a little more sheer and lets your skin breathe. Full coverage can look dry and cakey. It can sink into dry lines.”

She uses concealer to touch up age spots. Thinning eyebrows plague a lot of women over 55. Lane advises sticking with brow products matching the hair’s natural color. For gray or white eyebrows, look for gray or taupe color. Unsure of what to do with your skincare and makeup regimen? Many makeup experts offer a free consultation so you can figure out what steps to take next.

December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


druger’s zoo By Marvin Druger and Victoria Bartling Email: mdruger@syr.edu

Beyond the Second Date


ou may have read my article “On Meeting a New Companion” in the OctoberNovember 2020 issue of 55 Plus magazine. Wagner Dotto, editor and publisher of 55 Plus magazine liked this article and he wrote to me, “Fun to read it Marvin. Loved reading your latest article. Victoria should have gone on to explain more. She stops right there at the end of the second date. We want to find out more…” Also, “It would be great to have a follow-up article. I enjoyed reading the first installment.” So, Victoria and I decided to write another article that describes our relationship since we first met at Wegman’s in Dewitt about six years ago. Hopefully, this article will cause you to reflect on your own relationships and life experiences. When my daughter found out that I was 20 years older than Victoria, she exclaimed, “Dad, she’s after your money.” I told Victoria, “My daughter says that you are after my money.” Victoria quickly responded, “I am!” More recently, I said to Victoria, “My daughter still thinks that you are after my money.” Victoria responded, “You’re not worth it!” In the past six years, Victoria and I have traveled together and shared many adventures. We have enjoyed trips to a dude ranch out west; the Grand Canyon; river cruises in France, Italy and Germany; Quebec City; Montreal; Canadian Rockies; and have explored local destinations such as Ithaca; Niagara Falls; Albany; New York City; Cooperstown; and Lima (the foundation for Syracuse University). In our six years together, Victoria and I have had only eight arguments. I used to have at least eight arguments a week with my dear, deceased wife, Pat, most of which were trivial. Pat and I finally decided to have silent arguments. I knew what bothered Pat and she knew what annoyed 44

55 PLUS - December 2020 / January 2021

me. Knowing that these arguments would not lead to a divorce, we finally decided to have “silent arguments.” When a disagreement arose, we would just be quiet, and the angry feelings would disappear very soon. Most of my disputes with Victoria came from my excessive talking when I would say something stupid or offensive. I learned that, once words leave your mouth, you can’t take them back again. I convinced Victoria that I would never knowingly say something that would hurt her feelings. I learned that words should come from your brain and not from your mouth. I’ll mention one of our memorable disputes. We were traveling on a ferry in Venice. I insisted that we had to get off at a particular stop. Victoria disagreed and became annoyed at my self-righteousness. She stormed out of the cabin into a raging storm outside and sat there in the fierce wind and rain. I went outside to try to calm her down. She remarked, “I like it better out here!” It turned out that I was right about the stop that we should get off at. Victoria and I have different perspectives, and she recalls things that I barely remember. Here are some of her thoughts about our six years of our relationship.

Victoria’s Perspective At the conclusion of our last article I wrote, “what am I going to do with this guy?” I found Marv to be smart, funny, good looking and kind — but quirky. What kind of a person, in a grocery line at Wegman’s, raises his arms high and announces that he is a famous professor? After I had confirmation that he was a famous professor and had had lunch with him, I was still intrigued, and wanted to get to know him a little better … but slowly. You see, I had a committee of three family members

who had appointed themselves to oversee my major decisions. Left to my own devices I could jump into things out of curiosity or a sense of adventure, only to regret my decision later and have to crawl out of it. I met with the committee and they allowed me to continue to date Marv, but no more than once a week. Period. End of discussion. Our next date was having lunch at Wegman’s food court in DeWitt, the place of our first meeting. Marv had arrived early and had purchased a plant for the table. I don’t remember any particular details about the lunch except that he was still funny, sparkling, smart and quirky. I mentioned that I had a subscription to the Friends of Chamber Music and that I would be attending a concert on Saturday, but that he could not attend with me as we had used up our one date a week allotment. When I arrived for the concert, I took a seat near the end of the row, and wouldn’t you know Marv showed up and sat next to me. He sat like a stone, did not look at me or speak to me the entire time — his way of spending time with me without breaking the rules. I was curious about how Marv was perceived by others. I had gathered information that he was well known on the SU campus and had earned a reputation for unique and innovative approaches to teaching. Examples included riding a donkey on the campus, throwing answer keys to exams out of a second floor window, conducting a televised “Bio Answer Show” following an exam to give the answers, and many more antics. (Just ask him, he’ll tell you). The opportunity arrived for me to see him in action. He invited me to one of his tours of the SU campus. One and a half hours long, he has carefully researched buildings, murals, chancellors, sculptures, focusing on details that are interesting and

important but not commonly known about. We arrived at the campus and he headed straight for the bookstore. Halfway down the stairs there was a life-sized image of Marv standing there with outstretched arms. He took a picture of me standing by the cardboard Marv. The statue had become the mascot of the bookstore. Occasionally it would be adorned with jewelry and other accessories. Marv proceeded to introduce me to his friend, Kathleen Bradley, a former manager at the SU Bookstore, and we went to her office where there was ANOTHER life-sized image of Marv. Shortly, the tour began and I watched for clues as to how he comes off and is perceived. He began talking and as he conveyed information, sometimes in excruciating detail (like how many pipes are in the organ at Setnor Auditorium at SU). I noticed that his audience was captivated, listening, smiling, engaged. He would briskly walk from one point to another and continue with still another interesting, lesser known detail. This went on for almost two hours. I came away duly impressed — “this man is a fabulous teacher,” I thought.

In time I was invited to his lake house, and it was more spacious and beautiful than I had imagined, on an Owasco Lake beachfront with fabulous views, particularly at dusk. Marv got me a glass of wine and opened up his book of poetry and read EVERY one, without stopping, then went on to the other books, i.e., “The Misadventures of Marvin,” “Mr. Moocho and the Lucky Chicken,” “Mr. Money and the Lucky Chicken,” etc — without pausing. I must admit that I love his writing; He is clever, writes effortlessly, and delivers it well. But, the percentage of Marv talk time to Victoria talk time was 95%/5% ratio. I was forgetting how to talk. I have observed that Marv’s mouth is activated as soon as he turns on the ignition of his car. He is able to talk non-stop while driving, telling stories, jokes, anecdotes, recalling previous trips along the same route, all without expecting any response or interaction. So, I turn on my ears as soon as he starts the car and settle into listening. I acknowledge that he is interesting and entertaining, but to help my ears I began to take a hand-sewing project along on our car trips. Thousands of

stitches went into my quilt, now titled “Listening to Marvin.” With Marv, I have had opportunities for experiences and meeting people I never would have had otherwise. Look who is in the chancellor’s box at an SU football game? And in the front row at the New York ballet at the Met with his NYC friends, Perry and Mitzi Pazer? I love the Met and frequently went with friends on bus trips to an opera from Philadelphia. I sat in nosebleed seats. Once I was seated at the highest row and unable to see the top of the stage for the finale of Turandot. But when Perry walked us down the aisle further, further and further to his season seats in the front row overlooking the orchestra, I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. I am deeply grateful for all of the experiences Marv and I have enjoyed together, the places we have visited, meals shared, concerts, plays and musicals attended. Marv and I have traveled extensively. Canada has been one of our favorite destinations — highlights including the Insectarium, Signaling Museum an d Prison Museum. We have looked out for each other and kept each other in our hearts. No one can predict what the future might bring; a 20-year age difference means nothing when literally “anything can happen.” For now life is good, the relationship is sound, and we continue to give each other more than either of us would have had without the other. Maybe we are both “lucky chickens.”

Final Comments by Marvin If you are alone, I hope that the above commentaries may have encouraged you to seek a new relationship. Some of you may have lost a spouse and are reluctant to go out into the world and seek a new companion. After 60 years of a wonderful relationship with my wife, Pat, I was reluctant to do so. Marriage is not the goal. The goal is to have someone, other than family members, to share what remains of this complex, wonderful, amazing period of time called “life.” To contact the authors, email Marvin Druger at mdruger@syr.edu or Victoria Bartling at victoriabartling@ icloud.com. December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


life after 55 By Michele Reed bazanreed@hotmail.com

Photos by Bill Reed

Peace of Mind, An Ocean Away


his October marked a full year since we’ve been back to our home in France. We had tickets to fly March 1, but canceled Feb. 28, as COVID-19 made its first appearance 10 miles from our little village. With subsequent U.S. travel restrictions and just plain common sense, we didn’t reschedule. As I write this, the French government has banned visitors from America for the foreseeable future and has gone back to 24/7 lockdown as the second wave hit. One of the frequent questions we hear from friends and readers is, “Aren’t you worried about your house, when you are away for so long?” While we miss our home — and our dear neighbors — enormously, one thing we don’t do is worry a lot about the house. Thanks to a property management company, Housemartins-France, and our manager, British expat Vicki Trowers, we have peace of mind even from an ocean away. Vicki and her husband, Charles, started their business in 2004, a year after deciding to make France their permanent home. Vicki had worked in sales and customer service, where she acquired the skills to manage a business. Charles, who worked in fine dining and wines, brings his fluency in five languages to help serve the couple’s 52 clients, who include British, Americans, Dutch, Swiss, Belgians, Norwegians and Germans. For little more than the cost of a café au lait and croissant a day, Vicki visits the house twice a month. She airs out the place, checks any damage and brings in the mail. She sends us photos of the house, inside and out, and any incipient problems we need to keep in mind. The neighbors’ fig tree is growing over our roof, and she is keeping an eye on that, and will visit


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We miss the dramatic sunset over the rooftops of our village neighbors, seen here from our terrace. Vicki goes up to check on the gutters and roof on every visit. (Bill Reed file photo, 2016)

From our village church’s terrace, you can see for 30 miles. We hope to return soon to enjoy this beautiful vista. (Bill Reed file photo, 2015) him to get the problem resolved. Any mail of importance, she will scan (with our permission), translate and even help resolve any issues. For example,

this month the electric company needs access to our house to change the meter to a new Bluetooth-enabled one. She will unlock the house and

remain while they are there to do the changeover. If the house needs repairs or upgrades, she arranges with local craftsmen and repairmen, gets an estimate, and after we give approval, she will again be on site while they perform the work. Housemartins forwards us the craftsman’s invoice, and takes care of making sure they are paid. Each time — when our roof leaked, the oven broke, the fridge died, and we wanted a railing installed — we relied on Vicki for help. She even drove us to the local tax office, in another village, and translated while we set up automatic payment of our taxes. For an extra fee, we have Housemartins thoroughly clean the house after we leave each trip and if the weather doesn’t cooperate with my laundry plans, since I have to hang the wash on the roof (dryers are rare in France), they can launder the sheets and towels. If relatives or friends want to stay at our home while we are away, Vicki will pick them up at the train station, give them the key, stock the fridge with food and clean up after they leave. Anyone with property overseas can just search online for “property management” to find a similar service in their country or region. Housemartins is a big part of our peace of mind while we are away. Other strategies that help us sleep soundly half a world away include automatic bill pay for everything from our taxes to the cable bill, online banking, checking our electric and water service accounts online and much more. The French have a program called “tranquiliite vacances ” or holiday tranquility operation. Homeowners sign up to indicate they will be gone, and the police or gendarmes check on the property periodically to make sure nothing is out of order. And I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that, like small towns everywhere, our neighbors know when we are scheduled to come and go, and keep a careful eye on the place. So we miss our lovely home in France, and Rosa, Gilles and all the neighbors. But we know that, thanks to our “crew” on the ground, our house will be safe and sound until we return.

This is the view you see when approaching our village from the highway. We can’t wait to see it again. (Bill Reed file photo, 2016)

Flowers on our windowsill in February? Just one of the things we missed during our year away from our French home. (Bill Reed file photo 2019) December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


55+ visits Cortland County

Gateway to the Finger Lakes

10 things you must do when you visit By Sandra Scott


here is always something interesting to see and do in Cortland County regardless of the season. One unique way to explore the county is with its Experience Cortland Geotour, which takes visitors along the rolling hills to some of Cortland’s secret and not-sosecret hideaways. Nature: The beauty of nature is everywhere. The county has over 30,000 acres of state forest land perfect for hiking, cycling, mountain biking and snowmobiling. The Finger Lakes Trail passes through Cortland County. Lime Hollow Nature Center has 12 miles of hiking trails, free of charge. It offers special programs, adventure camps and programs designed for pre-school and homeschooled children. Paddlers will enjoy the thrills of paddling on Otselic and Tioughnioga rivers. Homeville Museum: It is now called the CNY Living History Museum and it is the perfect museum for people who love anything and everything with wheels. There is a large model train exhibit. The extensive military exhibit has a World War I ambulance and a recreation of a trench where so many soldiers hunkered down during WW I. During that war, the western front in France was fought using trench warfare, an integral part of the war. As part of its fire truck display there is a 1925 Brockway fire truck that four people drove 17,000 miles from Argentina to Cortland. History: The inventor and industrialist Chester Wickwire and his family and servants lived the good life in what is today the


1890 House Museum. The limestone house recalls the architecture of the chateaus of the Loire Valley of France. The beautiful woodwork and stained glass would be difficult to reproduce today. It is on NYS’s Haunted History Trail. The Cortland County Historical Society and Suggett House Museum preserves, collects, and interprets artifacts and documents germane to Cortland’s history. Agritourism: The rolling hills and climate are perfect for many agricultural endeavors. There are cider mills, u-pick farms, and many places selling fresh produce. Fall is time for a family favorite, the


three-mile long Trinity Valley Corn Maze. Check out locally produced honey, maple syrup and unique items such as locally fermented treats like sauerkraut, pickles and kimchee. There are several alpaca farms including Tartan Acres which also operates a B&B. They sell alpaca wool which is warmer than sheep’s wool and very soft plus offer classes for those interested in raising alpacas. Arts: The arts are alive and well in Cortland County. The Cortland Repertory Theater is one of the longest running professional theaters in New York state. The Center for the Arts of Homer is the venue for a





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One of the most unique distilleries in CNY is the Dragonfyre Distillery outside of Marathon.

variety of arts from stage performances to a gallery with a focus on local and regional artists. There are several small galleries and studios. Located in the historic corset factory the Cinch Art Space showcases the work of dozens of artists and craftspeople. The Eric Kroot Art Trail at Lime Hollow Nature Center has been set aside for nature inspired outdoor art exhibits created by young people and local artists. Libations: Visit the newest craft beer place in Homer. Sip one of Homer Hops brew on the patio overlooking their field of hops. Cortland Beer Company was the first brewery in Cortland County. The owners have created their own brand of vodka, whiskey and gin. At the Finger Lakes Tasting & Tap Room, imbibers can try a variety of local beers, wines, spirits and ciders. One of the most unique distilleries is the Dragonfyre Distillery outside of Marathon. A sign on the country road leading to their distillery advises visitors to “Beware of low flying dragons.” Don’t miss the bright blue Hobbit door and fairy doors. Guinness World Book of Records: Homer ’s Men & Boys Store is home to the world’s ‘slargest pair of pants, according to the Guinness World Book of Records. But, what really is amazing is the piles and piles of all sorts of merchandise. Their motto, “If we don’t have it you don’t need it,” rings true. They store has been family run since 1951. Shipwreck Amusements also made the book by having the World’s Longest Miniature Golf hole at 459.5 feet. Winter wonderland: Cortland County is a premier winter destination. There are a couple of ski resorts, including Greek Peak where visitors will enjoy downhill skiing along with cross country skiing and tubing. If you get tired of snow fun, its resort has an indoor waterpark. Toggenburg Ski Resort, Greek Peak’s sister resort, is the northern part of the county along with Labrador Mountain and Song Mountain Resort. There are many snow-covered trails perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing and over 200 miles of maintained snowmobile trails. Fair weather fun: Snow season may be Cortland County’s busy time but there is plenty to do when there is no snow. The


A 1925 Brockway fire truck that four people drove 17,000 miles from Argentina to Cortland during WW I.




Tartan Acres, an alpaca farm, which also operates a B&B. It sells alpaca wool which is warmer than sheep’s wool. Outdoor Adventure Center has a zip line, a high aerial challenge course tour, and a mountain coaster. There are plenty of places to go biking and there is also a downhill mountain biking course. The Tioughnioga River and other waterways are perfect for fishing, canoeing and kayaking. If golf is the exercise of choice, there are five great golf courses from which to choose. There are also several mini golf courses. Festivals: Regardless of the season there is always something interesting going on. Start the year off with the Homer Winterfest.


Music lovers won’t want to miss the yearly multi-day music festival. Spring means the Marathon Maple Festival, a 50-year tradition. There are many music events scheduled during the summer, including the NEEMfest, known as the “Woodstock of Electronic Music.” Cortland hosts the annual National Brockway Truck Show and the Homeway Museum has a yearly Civil War Reenactment. Fall means it is time for the Trinity Valley Dairy Corn Maze and Family Fun Days and the brave should check out the outdoor Haunted Hospital. Little York hosts the Fiber Arts. December 2020 / January 2021 - 55 PLUS


last page John Halleron, 68

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Business adviser from Baldwinsville talks about working from home Q: When did you start working at home? A: St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. We were told to ‘get out.’ Q: Had you ever worked at home before? A: No, I have not. Q: What are your typical job duties and how does working at home affect accomplishing these tasks? A: Fortunately, most of the work involves editing busines plans, and doing projections, which can be done anywhere. The biggest liability is I can’t see and talk to my clients face to face. I’m kind of a visual sort of guy and I like the interaction. It’s a lot easier to find a common ground — and I do that with all my clients — when you’re sitting across the table from them. Q: What has been the most challenging about working at home? A: We have office meetings via Zoom both with Office of Business and Community Relations and my Small Business Development Center crew, where you at least get to see someone but it’s not the same. A lot of the stuff you need is up in the office. You don’t have it at home, like paper files. Q: Did you have a learning curve when you started working at home? A: I had used Zoom before. I’ve been on a few different platforms, though Zoom is the most popular. I did Go To Meeting for my September

Oswego County Micro Enterprise class. Q: What has surprised you about working at home? A: Saving money on gas. The biggest surprise is how you just adapt. I have a great little office set up. It’s amazing what you can do with a card table and filling cabinet. I did order a desk and chair from Amazon but Peg, my wife, is using that. We both had headsets so when we do Zoom we don’t interfere with each. She in upstairs and I’m downstairs. She is with Mercer Milling, director of safety and quality. She spends part of the day here and part at the mill. Q: How has your work/life balance been while working at home? A: As long as you get the job done, I find it easy to balance the work life. I haven’t had a problem with that. Q: What do you enjoy the most about working at home? A: I’ve a c t u a l l y e n j o y e d watching the wildlife around the house. I have a birdfeeder set up and

John Halleron, a Baldwinsville resident, is senior business adviser at SUNY Oswego’s Office of Business and Community Relations (OBCR) and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). He is also an instructor at Oswego County Micro Enterprise program. 50

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I watch birds and squirrels coming and going. I’m communing with nature. Our dog splits her time between my wife and I as an admin assistant. Q: Do you think in the future you will work at home at least some of the time? A: I’m thinking that might be the ‘new normal’ I hate to say that because it’s beaten to death, but I think it will be a new way to work. People can do the same amount of work at home. It’s easier without the stress of commuting and travel. I’d love to spend part of the time in the office and part of the time at home. Q: Do you think that the pandemic may be viewed as a paradigm shift as to where businesses want their employees work? A: If I had a young child or elder I was caring for, I’d love the ability to stay home, do my job and be available. A lot of employers are seeing this as a viable solution. If the work gets done, it gets done and they’re doing their job. If it doesn’t get done, you may have to look at another alternative.





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