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SPECIALIZING in YOU Have a doctor on call before the next sniffle, sneeze or fall. Don’t wait till you’re sick or injured to look for a doctor. Get to know one now at the Jackson Clinic. We offer convenient same-day appointments, on site lab, electronic medical records and after hours urgent care – plus Jackson Hospital is right next door.

Learn more or schedule an appointment at 334-293-8888.

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February 2012



Brookwood Features LEED Home,

the Cutting Edge of Energy Efficiency Veteran Realtor Karen Davis has sold several homes in the development that now numbers about 100 families, she said.

Upgraded plumbing fixtures will create the savings on water bills, Davis said:

One of the selections on the market is an energy-efficient home built by Davis’ son, Matthew Davis of Davis Construction.

‘We used plumbing fixtures that had a less gallon per-minute rate than your average fixture,” he said. “We also upgraded our toilets to dual flush toilets. And the irrigation system is monitored by a rain gauge to control waste.”

The home is at 322 Natures Trail. Matt Davis said the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) was instrumental in helping Davis attain LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification on the home. “LEED is a third-party certification endorsed by USGBC and is recognized all over the world,” Davis said. “According to the USGBC director, this is the first LEED home in the Montgomery area. “The goal of building the home was to see the actual cost difference in building a LEED certified home, and to see if there was a market in this area for this product. It was to my surprise that it was not astronomically more expensive to build this home LEED certified.”

“When we had a blower door test performed to see how tight our seal was we were very pleased to find out that we. only had a 1.2 percent air leakage in the entire home,” he said. “Most new homes have an average of 18-20 percent air leakage.” Windows and exterior doors were upgraded to Low-E glass, which is more efficient, Davis said. Low-emissivity (Low-E) coatings on glazing or glass control heat movement through windows with insulated glazing, according to the federal department of energy.

“This is the first LEED home in the Montgomery area”.

He said the extra cost would be returned to the homeowner in a few years by savings on power and water bills. “You also will have a healthier home,” Davis said. Davis insulated the home using the Energy Seal method that included caulking and foaming every penetration, hole or crack in the walls and ceiling. Additional caulking and insulation also was done. Davis’ team caulked the top and bottom plates, and then used extra thick insulation in the walls and special blown insulation in the attic.


February 2012

“We upgraded our HVAC unit to a 14.5 seer unit making it more efficient,” he said. “We also upgraded our water heater to a Whirlpool heat pump water heater that is more than twice as efficient as a regular water heater. We used energy star appliances, exhaust fans and lights” A Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating of 14.5 is considered an Energy Saver by the federal energy department.

Dual flush toilets allow the user to select the volume of water that is necessary. With the tighter sealing used in construction, Davis had to allow a way for fresh air to come inside the house. ‘We attached a mechanical damper to our return air system to the outside of the house so we could circulate fresh air into the home,” Davis said. The neighborhood connects to Scholars Drive, where the new Redland Elementary is located. “Having the school this close definitely adds an appeal to the development” says Davis. Brookwood also offers the clubhouse with a large gathering room and fitness center; a salt water pool, a covered pavilion with an outdoor fireplace, a pond and a paved jogging trail that runs around the perimeter of the pond. Brookwood sounds like its miles away but is less than 15 minutes from Gunter and 15 minutes or so from Eastchase shopping via the Emerald Mountain Toll Bridge.

Source: Realtor Karen Davis and Multiple Listing Service

The River Region’s 50+ Lifestage Magazine

The River Region’s 50+ Lifestage Magazine

r i ve r reg i o n b o o m . co m

February 2012




February 2012

The River Region’s 50+ Lifestage Magazine

BOOM!, The River Region’s 50+ Lifestage Magazine


February 2012

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”

Volume 2 Issue 7

Carl Bard

Thought Relationships Taste Inspiration

Humor Advice Health Community

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” C.S. Lewis

3 Jackson Hospital’s Health News 4 LEED Home 8 Publisher’s Letter 17 Vintage Olive Recipes 20 BOOMER & BEYOND HUMOR page 24

21 Art & Soul “Get Your Art On”

Features 14 Brain

10 ways to help your brain.

18 The Magic Room

A boutique where every bride has a story finds itself in the thick of one.

Departments 10 This and That

28 {12} Things

Stuff about our community & more.

Plan your month with a few of our suggestions.


22 Healthy Hearing: Make a SOUND investment…

24 Give, Give, Give How much more can grandparents give?

26 Greg Budell I (HEART) FIRST CLASS!

30 Sherry Debray Christian perspective, At Home in His Love


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page 10 BOOM! magazine is published monthly by River Region Publications, 8637 Harvest Ridge Dr., Montgomery, AL 36116. The phone number for voice and fax is 334.523.9510. Copyright 2012 by River Region Publications. No part of this publication can be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. Opinions expressed in BOOM! magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the owners, nor do they constitute an endorsement of products and services herein.

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February 2012



publisher’s letter

I’m Just Saying... The mission of BOOM! is to serve the folks of the River Region age 50 plus with information and ideas to inspire new experiences, better quality of life and new beginnings.

By now most of you know that 2012 is a Leap Year and because I wanted to know more, I surfed on over to Wikipedia. Once there, I found that most years that are evenly divided by 4 are leap years. In each leap year, the month of February has 29 days instead of the normal 28. By adding this extra day every four years we compensate for the fact that a period of 365 days is shorter than a solar year by almost 6 hours. If we didn’t make this adjustment every four years we would be out of sync with the seasonal year and eventually drift through the seasons too rapidly. There’s more.


Jim Watson, 334.523.9510

Associate Editor Kelly Watson

Contributing Writers Sandi Aplin Dr. Wes Ashford Barbara Bonds

Dr. Bettie Borton

Greg Budell Carly Gannon Barbara Graham Patricia Montemurri

Cover Photography Fredrick Brock Photography


Jim Watson, 334.523.9510

Monette Mottenon, 334.523.9510

Design & Layout Lake House Graphics


Network Delivery


Publications Press, Montgomery, AL 334.244.0436

I also discovered there’s an ancient tradition that says during leap year women can propose to men! Some say this “privilege” is available only on February 29th, others contend the whole year is up for grabs if a woman Jim Watson, Publisher wants to do the deed and propose to her man. Now I’m in love with a traditional woman who probably expects any marriage proposals to come from her man, but in light of this newfound information regarding the leap year exception for marriage proposals, she now has a perfect opportunity ask me. I’m just saying. Speaking of marriages, we have a feature this month about The Magic Room, a place most of us men don’t know about until we’re told to come along. The Magic Room is a place where women go to shop for wedding dresses and is the subject of a new book by author Jeffrey Zaslow. Some of his other books include The Last Lecture, Highest Duty and Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope. Many of you will connect to the women in The Magic Room. As grandparents, we have a unique desire to spend money on our grandkids. And do other things too, from education to camps, to you name it. Well we’ve got some guidelines for you to consider when you ask “How much should I give.”

The BOOM! Cover Profile for February is Barbara Bonds. Many of you will know Barbara from her years in the local real estate business, her involvement in church, and her work with local non-profits. She recently made some major changes in her life and she’s very enthusiastic and positive about her future, but recognizes the huge challenges facing all of us in the Boomer Community. I want to thank Barbara for sharing some of her life story and attitude with us. It’s good to know you. Hopefully, we’ll see some of you down at the Montgomery Pinot Noir Festival on February 22nd to taste some top notch pinot from Oregon as well as a few other wine treats. You can get the tickets at Ted, The Wine Guy & Co. on Zelda Road. There’s plenty more to do in the River Region. There will be terrific opportunities to create new experiences like the new Cloverdale Playhouse production of The Gin Game. Or when an old dude like B.B. King shows up at 86, you’ve got to go and experience something to tell your grandkids about or better yet, take them with you. He’s a legend! The love songs of Elvis and Buddy Holly will probably make you want to relive some special memories of young or old love. Check it out at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Thanks for all of the positive feedback you have shared with me. Encouragement is good. Please continue to help us build a Boomer Community here in the River Region, we’re getting stronger everyday! Enjoy your new experiences this month!


Please Recycle This Magazine, Share with a Friend!


February 2012 334.324.3472 cell/text 334.523.9510 office

The River Region’s 50+ Lifestage Magazine

I WILL often pretend to understand what people say. Even when my surroundings are quiet, it can be hard to


My wife says that our relationship would be so much


if she didn’t have to repeat herself so often.


YEAR  is our year. I’m doing it for us.

Doctors Hearing Clinic Helping People Hear!


MontgoMery | 7025 Halcyon Park Dr, Suite A oPeLIKA | 2204-D Gateway Dr

Bettie B. Borton, Au.D., FAAA

CALL TodAY foR YouR  AppoInTmEnT!

Board Certified Doctor of Audiology Former National Chair of the American Board of Audiology

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February 2012




This & tHAT

It’s a Date! You’re invited on a date with ETHEL, Feb. 10 & 11. The featured group for our 2012 Festival Week and hailing from New York City, ETHEL is considered America’s premier postclassical string quartet. Think electric, energetic and amped up. Not a bad way to spend a winter weekend or to celebrate ClefWorks’ 5th Birthday. You’ve got two different chances to hang out with ETHEL: “Present Beauty” on Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Capri Theatre in Old Cloverdale and “After Silence” on Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m., also at The Capri. You don’t want to stand up ETHEL, so get your tickets here now at

Textile artist Arianne King Comer featured in Rosa Parks Museum exhibit The work of textile artist Arianne King Comer will be featured in an exhibit at Troy University’s Rosa Parks Museum starting Feb. 1. Based in Charleston, S.C., King Comer specializes in the traditional techniques of indigo dyeing and batik. Her work depicts her Gullah ancestry, along with images of the Caribbean and the southern coastal United States rendered in vibrant colors and patterns. The exhibit “My Spirit Speaks” will be on display in the museum’s exhibit hall through the end of March. King Comer will discuss her work during a gallery talk at the museum on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 11 a.m., and will then present a demonstration of batik art at the Cleveland Avenue YMCA starting at 2 p.m. Admission to both events is free and open to the public. King Comer has been an Artist in Residence on the Old Navy Base in North Charleston since 2006. The exhibit hall at the Rosa Parks Museum is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. For more information contact curator Viola Moten at 334-241-8701 or

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February 2012

The Youth of St. James United Methodist Invite YOU to a night of FUN, FOOD, & FANTASTIC DEALS At the Annual Auction for Missions 2012 On Saturday, February 11, 2012 St. James UMC 9045 Vaughn Road Doors open at 6:00 PM Items include: gift certificates from local salons & boutiques, antiques, furniture, oriental rugs, original artwork, trips, restaurant deals & MUCH MORE! Come enjoy the fun & snag a good deal while you support the St. James Youth Missions for 2012: “Sending out the next generation of believers” For more info call 334-277-3037.

The River Region’s 50+ Lifestage Magazine

BOOMERS, share your stuff with BOOM! We Love to Bring BOOMERS Together, send info and pics to

The Gin Game, Cloverdale Playhouse February 2 – 12, 7:30 pm. Weller Martin plays a lot of solitaire at his retirement home. When Fonsea Dorsey moves in, Weller finds a partner at the card table and a foil to his curmudgeon’s view of the world, not to mention a formidable match in the gin game he makes her constantly play. This Pulitzer prizewinning play from D.L Coburn has become a gem of the American theatre. Funny, moving, compelling, challenging…both souls who occupy this powerful piece play the cards that are handed to them and then some. * Contains Adult Language * , 334.262-1530,

Montgomery Pinot Festival

Wednesday, February 22, 6-8 pm. For those who are unfamiliar with this event, it is a large wine tasting of Oregon wines with a special emphasis on Pinot Noir. Montgomery Pinot Festival is held in downtown Montgomery at 129 Coosa, a wonderful special event venue. Over 100 wines will be open for tasting, and many winery representatives will be on hand to talk about their wine. Discounts on wines ordered will be significant. Ticket Prices (including tax): $27.50 in advance. $33.00 at the door (cash or check only, please) Tickets Available @ Ted The Wine Guy & Co., 3062 Zelda Rd, 395-9911 or scotty@

Walmart just announced the launch of Get on the Shelf. Anyone can enter Get on the Shelf for the chance to get their product sold on and even in Walmart stores. Any product in any category currently covered by Walmart is eligible ranging from housewares and electronics to toys and apparel. The nationwide contest from WalmartLabs is similar to the popular American Idol television show, where contestants will create videos of their latest inventions and the public will vote online for the winners. For more information, visit

Dog lovers are getting ready to celebrate Relay For Life with their four legged loved ones by participating in the American Cancer Society’s Bark For Life of Montgomery Metro. The American Cancer Society Bark For Life is a noncompetitive walk event for dogs and their owners to raise funds and awareness for the American Cancer Society's fight against cancer. “We are so excited about our first annual Bark for Life event in our area,” said Suzanna Wasserman, Community Representative for American Cancer Society. Bark For Life will be held on Saturday, March 10 at Winton M. Blount Cultural Park from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. The community is invited to bring their best canine friend and join us for a fun-filled day starting with a walk, then continuing with demonstrations, contests, games and vendors. Entry fees for Bark for Life are $20 per canine. Participants can register the day of the event starting at 8 a.m. or online at For more information on how you can get involved in Bark For Life, please contact Suzanna Wasserman at (334) 612.8177 or

Bark for Life

Mardis Gras in the River Region!

Taoist Tai Chi Society USA A goal of the Alabama Branch of the Taoist Tai Chi Society USA is to help others. While that goal is primarily met by helping people improve their health through practicing Tai Chi, members have big hearts and reach out to help people in their communities in a variety of other ways. Members in Montgomery helped children of homeless families decorate cookies for the homeless at the Friendship Presbyterian Mission.

Millbrook Mardi Gras Festival and Parade will be held February 11. With a parade measuring over one mile long, a festival featuring classic Cajun and traditional fare from four states, along with arts and crafts, live entertainment and children’s activities, the Millbrook Revelers are proud to host the largest Mardi Gras celebration in Central Alabama. The festival begins at 9 a.m. and the parade kicks off at noon with lots and lots of beads and other traditional throws. Vendors open until 3 p.m. The City of Prattville’s 8th annual Mardi Gras Parade is scheduled for Saturday, February 18th. The parade themed “Mardi Gras, Prattville Style” will roll out from the Autauga County Courthouse at 3 p.m. and wind its way through the streets of downtown, with plenty of beads, candy and MoonPies for everyone. Local vendors will be selling beverages and food, beginning at 1 p.m. at the Partners in Pediatrics parking lot, located next to BankTrust in downtown Prattville. A children’s fun area will be set up as well. For more information, please call at 334-358-0297.

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February 2012




Barbara Bonds, Hotty Toddy This month’s BOOM! profile is Barbara Bonds. Barbara is a real estate broker who recently started her own brokerage business after more than 20 years of working for a leading real estate developer in the River Region. Let me repeat, she decided to go out on her own and launch a new business even though she was at the age many folks would be contemplating their retirements. Needless to say, Barbara is confident and committed to growing her a business, to make a difference in the local real estate market. It’s this can do attitude that made us want to share Barbara’s story with our readers. She is an inspiration to those of us who are reigniting our careers, our passions, and our desires to pursue new experiences. Barbara sat down with us recently and shared some of her life’s journey and we think you’ll find her as interesting as we did. No, we didn’t buy a house, but we’re sure she can sell one. Hope you’ll enjoy getting to know Barbara as much as we have. BOOM!: Please give us a brief biography, i.e. where you’re from, education, what brought you to the Montgomery area, did you raise your family here, schools, married, family, etc. Barbara: Well, I am an Air Force brat so I was lucky to have lived in a number of places. I was born in Weisbaden, Germany, then lived in Arlington, VA followed by life in Honolulu, Hawaii. I graduated from the University of Mississippi and before moving to Montgomery in 1987, I called Memphis, TN home. I have twins, Allison and Rob. Allison is a loan officer with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Montgomery, and my son is a financial analyst with Sandler O’Neill in New York City. BOOM!: As an entrepreneur tell us about your business, what motivated you to start Barbara Bonds Real Estate? There are many competitors out there, what gives you an advantage?

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Barbara with Colonel Rebel (Ole Miss Mascot)

Barbara: That is a great question, and I have asked myself that same thing over and over again. I used to tell everybody when I started in this business that the only difference between me and other real estate agents is that I returned my phone calls! Anyway, sometimes I can’t believe I actually get paid for doing this because I love my job. Every day is a different situation and a different challenge. People are unique and their needs are completely unique. I love helping folks make their dreams come true, or on the total opposite end of the spectrum, help them get out of a really bad situation. Real estate is about a lot more than basic shelter! BOOM!: What was the most difficult thing in deciding to open your own real estate office? What advice would you give to other Boomers wanting to start their own businesses?

Barbara: It was really scary. I had been with the same company for over 20 years so making a change at my age was really tough. I knew I had to make a change, so I prayed very hard to try to have an understanding about what I should do. It became so clear to me and from that point on I have been incredibly blessed with my business. I pray every day for God to give me the knowledge and wisdom to grow a successful company. It has been quite a ride so far.

BOOM!: Many Boomers are experiencing a renewed sense of purpose, new goals, new careers, especially if they’ve experienced the empty nest syndrome of their kids moving on. How would you describe this sense of renewal in your life? Any advice for the rest of us seeking renewal? Barbara: There are really no words to describe my sense of renewal. I knew I still had purpose and importance in today’s environment. You have to know that your life experience is worth more than anything. Every day is a challenge and an amazing opportunity. I am just so grateful that I have put myself in a position to grow daily. BOOM!: What are you most passionate about? Barbara: I am most passionate about making a difference in my industry and the people that I work for and with. This is a really tough real estate market , but it is on the upswing. I am so excited about the future and what it holds. I look forward to helping people buy and sell homes and keep the American dream alive and well.

The River Region’s 50+ Lifestage Magazine

BOOM!: How do you like to relax and wind down from a hard day’s work? Barbara: Besides wine? I love reading , and I love spending time with my friends and family. I also love my four legged children, Dean and Deluca, and consider myself blessed to have them to greet me in the evenings. BOOM!: Favorite vacation spot? Any travel dreams planned for the future? Barbara: My favorite spot in the world is Italy, and my friends who are reading this will completely understand. No real plans for the near future but my son lives in New York City so I visit him regularly. My daughter is a marathon runner so I love to go when she runs. Recently she ran in Washington, D.C., Chicago and New York so those were great mini vacations. BOOM!: As a busy entrepreneur, do you have time to be involved in community, civic or other activities?

BOOM!: If you weren’t in the real estate business what kind of work would you be doing?

BOOM!: Do you have any hobbies or other activities that grab your attention?

Barbara: Oh, I don’t have a clue! I have done this full time since 1987 so I really don’t know what else I would enjoy more. I could see myself as a lobbyist for the real estate industry or something with the homebuilding industry. BOOM!: What is it about living in the Montgomery/ River Region area that you like?

Barbara with daughter, Allison, New Year’s 2009

Barbara: I love the people and the energy. I am not originally from here, so fitting in has been interesting. I love the location of Montgomery because you can drive three hours any direction and be somewhere fabulous.

regardless of your fitness level.

Barbara: I love to travel and read. I also am into cardio fitness and enjoy Metro Fitness. It is a first class gym that has classes and opportunities for everybody,

BOOM!: What future challenges do you have? Would you like to expand your business? Start new ones? Barbara: My children are my biggest cheerleaders. My son said “let’s go global!” I could not ask for any better support than I have had from my family and colleagues. Right now I need to focus on the task at hand and get these houses sold and move folks around. We have to stimulate the economy one family at a time. I am so committed to doing just that, and I am more than grateful for the opportunity.

Barbara: I feel like you absoBOOM!: As you’ve lutely have to aged, how have give back. I have your ambitions been so blessed, changed? BOOM!: What’s the secret to selling real Barbara with son, Rob, New York and I need to be estate in the River Region? a blessing to others. I am on the Board of Barbara: Obviously, I am a really old entreDirectors for Hospice of Montgomery and preneur!! All I have ever wanted was to Barbara: Someone I respect so much once also for the Montgomery Area Council on make a positive difference in an industry said “People don’t care how much you know the Aging. Both organizations are amazing that has been until they know how much and incredible in how they serve others. given a bad rap. you care!” I totally believe Hospice of Montgomery will have their My goal is to be a that, and I know that I have major Monte Carlo fund raiser on April 19th positive Christian to work so hard and so smart and all the money raised supports this noninfluence in the and I WILL make a difference in profit organization to help people die with Real Estate industhe market. I am so pumped dignity in their homes. MACOA supports try and to raise about the future of real estate meals on wheels and is in desperate need our image as Realand the growth possibilities for of donors to help feed our seniors who so tors to a higher Montgomery. need our help to have one good meal a day. standard. There are hundreds waiting for food. MAIf you have any questions for COA will have the Culinary Caper luncheon Barbara you can reach her at BOOM!: Give us to support meals on wheels on March 4th. 334.215.4492. We want to thank three words that Barbara and photographer Fredrick This event is loads of fun and features the describe you? Brock for the cover photo used for best chefs in the tri -county area. I have this month’s BOOM! Cover Profile. been a member of Frazer United Methodist If you have questions, comments or Barbara: Positive, Barbara with Dean and Deluca Church since 1987 and this church is on fire suggestions, please send them to passionate and for the Lord. If any boomer needs a church protective home, they should give us a visit.

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February 2012



10 Ways to Help Your Brain

Getting healthy is a top New Year’s resolution. But keeping your brain healthy as you age also should be a top priority. Dr. Wes Ashford, an Alzheimer’s Disease expert and creator of the consumer memory screening test MemTrax, offers these 10 tips to on keeping your brain healthy: S EXERCISE YOUR MIND: Education is associated with decreased Alzheimer’s risk. So try taking a class, learning a new language or working math or word puzzles to keep your mind stimulated. There also are personalized braintrain programs, like those at HAPPYneuron ( S GET PHYSICAL: Physical exercise is an important part of keeping your mind healthy. Adopt a regular exercise program, incorporating both aerobics and strength training – and don’t forget to stretch. S BE SOCIAL: Making and keeping friends has great benefits for your brain. Staying active with friends, getting involved in the community and just enjoying a good conversation are easy, ongoing ways to stimulate your brain. S EAT RIGHT: If your mom told you to eat your veggies and take your vitamins _ she was right. Ashford recommends vitamin E, vitamin C and a multi-vitamin with folate and no iron. He also suggests you with your doctor about your B12 level, it should be above 400, and have your vitamin D level checked. S WATCH YOUR WEIGHT: Being in good shape physically helps you mentally, and exercising and eating right can help with both physical and mental health. S PROTECT YOUR NOGGIN: Trauma to the head has major effects on your brain, including your memory. Be smart about protecting your

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head – wear a seat belt in the car and a helmet during any activity in which you could fall. Try exercises that improve your balance as well, one of which is as simple as practicing standing on one foot. S SEE YOUR DOCTOR: A variety of other health factors can affect your cognitive health, so it’s important to see your doctor regularly. Consult your physician about any joint or muscle pains, and take non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) if they are recommended. Keep your hormones stable; this includes regular monitoring of your thyroid. S LOVE YOUR HEART: Take your blood pressure regularly – the systolic pressure should always be less than 130, with diastolic blood pressure less than 85. Watch your cholesterol and, if they are recommended, use statins that cross into the brain. If approved by your doctor, take one enteric-coated baby aspirin each day. S SLEEP TIGHT: While physical activity is important, so is rest. Be sure you’re getting enough sleep, and try to keep stress levels under control. Yoga might help. If you have trouble falling asleep, consider trying 3-6 milligrams of melatonin at bedtime. If you snore, consult your clinician about sleep apnea. S REMEMBER YOUR MEMORY: As you get older, monitoring your memory should be another regular to-do item. Have your memory screened regularly after age 60, or use an at-home memory-screening test. Consult a doctor immediately if you find yourself having difficulty with your memory. Dr. Wes Ashford is the Chair of the Memory Screening Advisory Board of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and Clinical Editor of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. (c) 2012, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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February 2012

The River Region’s 50+ Lifestage Magazine

The River Region’s 50+ Lifestage Magazine

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February 2012



The Magic Room

By Patricia Montemurri

A boutique where every bride has a story finds itself in the thick of one hour shift, many of them staying for two to three hours as they pull dresses from the racks and line up to pose in the Magic Room. “I’ve never seen a time when something, some emotion, doesn’t take over in here _ when the bride or her parents are crying or just so happy,” says Becker Mueller.

Every mirror along its walls proclaims, “You’re Beautiful at Becker’s.” All, that is, but the mirror in the Magic Room, where it goes without saying.

Under its golden light, each bride-to-be poses atop a raised marble pedestal, her figure corseted and caressed by the finest of fabrics and reflected back to her in illuminated mirrors. The room envelops all who inhabit it with awe, warmth and optimism. So much so, that the stories that spill from this room at Becker’s Bridal are the subject of a new book, “The Magic Room” (Gotham, $27), by West Bloomfield, Mich.-based author Jeffrey Zaslow.

The bridal emporium in the tiny central Michigan town of Fowler overflows with 2,500 one-of-a-kind white, off-white, beige, ivory, silver and golden wedding dresses.

Recently, 22-year-old Trisha Erndt of Holland, Mich., had her mother wiping away tears as she watched her oldest daughter pose on the pedestal. Her father, Harold Erndt, saying he “wouldn’t miss this for the world,” wielded a digital camera, even as he seemed stunned by his daughter’s image. “Will the room tell me what to buy?” Trisha asks.

“If you listen, sometimes it will,” says Becker’s Bridal owner, Shelley Becker Mueller.

Just six dresses and an hour after arriving, the Magic Room did just that. Trisha Erndt chose the first dress she tried on _ a ruched, light gold silk stunner _ for her Oct. 6 wedding to Cole Van Buren, whom she met when both were Ferris State University students. Last year, some 1,650 brides-to-be from around the Midwest found the dress of their dreams in this space. Even as it

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draws customers from as far away as New York and Texas, the store isn’t as well-known among those in southeastern Michigan, who make up less than 20 percent of its customers. That’s likely to change because of the book and the media spotlight now shining on Becker’s Bridal and the fourthand fifth-generation family shopkeepers who run it.

Zaslow’s book chronicles the personal and business savvy of Becker Mueller, who makes the family business her own through a combination of guts and gut instinct, even as she navigates a personal life that saw her marry young and deal with her now ex-husband’s problem drinking.

Amid the rows of wedding dresses, Zaslow also weaves stories of eight women who find the perfect dress at the store, including a bride who doesn’t experience her first kiss until her engagement day and a widow surprised to find joy again after her husband’s death. There are two times as many dresses in this store as there are people in Fowler. In the week between Christmas and the New Year, the store handled 107 brides. Saturdays can be chaotic, when the staff may serve as many as 65 brides-to-be and their entourages during a seven-

Prices range from a few hundred dollars to about $2,000, with most dresses going for less than $1,000. There’s a section for destination weddings, featuring lighter, flouncier, barefoot-in-the-sand type gowns. There’s a section for plus-size brides.

Across the street, Becker Mueller’s two younger sisters run Becker’s Formal with 1,100 bridesmaid dresses, 400 prom dresses, 300 mothers-of-the bride gowns, and 40 flower girl frocks. Becker Mueller says she’s inherited an eye for style, dating back to her paternal grandmother, Eva Becker, who came to work every day in the family’s general store in a feathered hat and apron. Eva Becker veered into bridal gowns when she purchased a wedding dress in Chicago for a townswoman waiting back home in Fowler circa 1934. When word spread, others clamored for Becker to find a gown for them on her trips to the big city. The Beckers eventually acquired the bank building next door, and over the next decades, the general store gave way to a bridal mecca. The store’s decor is refined, tasteful and sleek, kind of like Becker Mueller. She comes across as fashion-model savvy and slim. She’s 6 feet tall in her everpresent 3-inch high-heel black boots. Her employee and one-time neighbor, Bill Goldman, says that when he first laid

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eyes on her, she was mowing her lawn in heels.

Becker Mueller acknowledges that: “I do my gardening in heels. They get muddy. I throw them out. I don’t own a pair of tennis shoes. I feel comfortable in fashionable things.”

She’s 46 and _ except for a few months spent working for a surgeon 11 years ago before she approached her parents about taking over the family business and renovating _ has only known Becker’s Bridal. She married a high school sweetheart at age 19, raised a daughter and two sons with him while working for her parents at the bridal store. In the book, Becker Mueller allows Zaslow to openly dissect her failed marriage, her onetime husband’s alcoholism and her own frank appraisal that she married more for convention than passion. Becker Mueller’s own mother, Sharon Becker, works the store counter on Saturdays and does alterations at home. She left daily management of the business in 2001. The book looks to the future through the aspirations of Alyssa Mueller, 25, who studied fashion management at Central Michigan University, studied in Paris and worked with a bridal manufacturer in New York.

“She’s kind of like grandma, says Becker Mueller of her daughter, who accompanies her on buying trips. “She’s got an eye for it.” The store clearly strikes a chord with repeat customers. Cindy Bewersdorff, 57, of Portland, Mich., visited the store recently with The River Region’s 50+ Lifestage Magazine

her 29-year-old daughter, Anna, who’s engaged to be married in 2013. Bewersdorff bought the first wedding dress she tried on when she visited Becker’s 37 years ago, and has been back to buy prom dresses and other finery since.

“I remember the feeling that you got that you weren’t pressured and it was a family atmosphere,” Bewersdorff says. Becker Mueller says she sizes up every entourage that comes to the store, looking for the group’s persuasive voice. Often, it’s the mother. Sometimes, it’s a sister. But she and her salesladies are careful about juggling tender motherdaughter dynamics. She’s seen daughters hurt by a mother’s negative opinion of a dress she loves. “I swear this job is much more being a psychologist, with being a saleslady on the side,” says Becker Mueller. There’s no sales pressure, she says, because once a dress is bought, there’s no exchange, refund or credit. And if a woman walks out with a dress that’s not of her choosing, “It’s all they think about when they leave here _ that she didn’t get what she wanted.”

Such a thought weighed on one such bride a few years ago. She came in to the store to pick up her dress on the day before the wedding _ the one her mother liked and paid for.

“I hate this one,” she told Becker Mueller, before asking if she could try on the one she really fancied. She walked out with that one, paying for it herself and telling her angry mother by phone: “I’m just going to do what I want and you’ll be surprised.” (c)2012 the Detroit Free Press. Distributed by MCT Information Services

About the author of ‘The Magic Room’ By Patricia Montemurri

When author Jeffrey Zaslow trains his talents on a subject, a best seller usually results. And when bridal store owner Shelley Becker Mueller allowed Zaslow to document her life in his latest book, “The Magic Room,” she joined a list of people whose journeys have been chronicled in perceptive chart-topping prose by Zaslow, 53, a Philadelphia native. “It’s like sitting down with a brother,” Becker Mueller said of allowing Zaslow to park himself for days inside Becker’s Bridal shop in rural Fowler, Mich. “He’s very comfortable to be around. And there was never a feeling that ‘I can’t answer this’ when he asked a question.” Among his bestsellers, Zaslow has co-authored “The Last Lecture,” (Hyperion, $21.95) with the late Carnegie-Mellon University professor Randy Pausch, about Pausch’s reflections as he faced a deadly diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Zaslow also profiled Captain Chesley ( Sully) Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot who successfully landed a distressed airliner full of passengers on the Hudson River in New York in “Highest Duty “ (William Morrow, $25.99). Last year, he also documented the saga of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman, as she recovered from a bullet wound to the brain after a gunman shot her and killed six others. Along with Giffords’ husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, Zaslow co authored “Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope” (Scribner, $26.99). Zaslow first shot to notoriety when, as a Wall Street Journal reporter writing about a national contest to replace Ann Landers, he ended up winning the contest to become her replacement at the Chicago Sun-Times. He currently writes a column about relationships for the Wall Street Journal. He’s the father of three daughters, Jordan, 22; Alex, 20, and Eden, 16. When a young women steps into the magic room, it’s the culmination of her life to that moment, says Zaslow. The mother who’s gazing at her is thinking about her own dress and marriage and, perhaps in some instances, her divorce. “Until I walked in there, I didn’t see it fully,” says Zaslow. “In that room, there’s a lot of conflicting feelings.” When it comes time for his daughters to pick a dress, he’ll recommend Becker’s. “My job will be not to tell them what to pick,” said Zaslow. “My job is to tell them I love them when they pick out their own wedding dresses.” r i ve r reg i o n b o o m . co m

February 2012



LOL A distraught senior citizen Phoned her doctor’s office. ‘Is it true,’ she wanted to know, ‘that the medication You prescribed has to be taken For the rest of my life?’ ‘Yes, I’m afraid so,’ the doctor told her. There was a moment of silence Before the senior lady replied, I’m wondering, then, Just how serious is my condition Because this prescription is marked ‘NO REFILLS’.’

BOOMER & BEYOND HUMOR An older gentleman was On the operating table Awaiting surgery And he insisted that his son, A renowned surgeon, Perform the operation. As he was about to get the anesthesia, He asked to speak to his son ‘Yes, Dad, what is it? ‘ ‘Don’t be nervous, son; Do your best And just remember, If it doesn’t go well, If something happens to me, Your mother Is going to come and Live with you and your wife....’

Two guys one old one young are pushing their carts around Wal-Mart when they collide. The old guy says to the young guy, ‘Sorry about that. I’m looking for my wife, and I guess I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going. The young guy says, ‘That’s OK, it’s a coincidence. I’m looking for my wife, too...’ I can’t find her and I’m getting a little desperate’ The old guy says, ‘well, maybe I can help you find her..What does she look like?’ ‘ The young guy says, ‘well, she is 27 yrs old, tall, with red hair, blue eyes, is buxom...wearing no bra, long legs, and is wearing short shorts. What does your wife look like?’ To which the first old guy says, ‘Doesn’t matter, --- let’s look for yours.’ An attractive blonde from Cork, Ireland, arrived at the casino. She seemed a little intoxicated and bet twenty thousand dollars in a single roll of the dice. She said, “I hope you don’t mind, but I feel much luckier when I’m completely nude.” with that, she stripped from the neck down, rolled the dice and with an Irish brogue yelled, “Come on, baby, Mama needs new clothes!” As the dice came to a stop, she jumped up and down and squealed... “Yes! Yes! I won, I won!” She hugged each of the dealers, picked up her winnings and her clothes and quickly parted. The dealers stared at each other dumbfounded. Finally, one of them asked, “What did she roll?” The other answered, “I don’t know I thought you were watching.” MORAL OF THE STORY Not all Irish are drunks, not all blondes are dumb,..... but all men...are men!

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Art Auction

Art & Soul

By Sandi Aplin

“A Two Woman Show”

2012 Museum of Fine Arts

featuring Julia Wallace and Cecily Hulett at Gallery One Fine Art.

Lara Lewis, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts graciously shared the information about their Art Auction 2012. This is a biennial fundraising event to benefit the acquisition, exhibition and education programs at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, and is set for the 23rd and 25t h of February. The two-part event consists of an exhibition with a Silent Auction and a Gala with a Live Auction.

Julia Wallace is our newest member and we are very pleased she has chosen Gallery One Fine Art for her first show in Montgomery. Wallace has been painting for many years and like most very good, visual artists, she has photography, interior decorating and a love of flower design in her background. Her use of color, be it with a brush or palette knife, is dramatic in texture and composition. Wallace says, “I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and I feel the study of anatomy was a tremendous help with my figurative drawings. Then I took drawing/figurative lessons with Denver, Co painter, Kim English and my artist mentor, Barbara Flowers who taught me about color paths and working with a palette knife.” Most of Julia’s paintings in this show are still life and figurative works.

“Our biennial fundraiser is a wonderful opportunity both for the novice collector and the seasoned connoisseur,” said Lewis. “Over 500 works of art in all media, sizes, styles and price ranges are available for bidding”

Cecily Hulett, also in this show, joined Gallery One in May of 2001, already an established painter. She describes her work as a combination of color composition and chance. Hulett’s paintings are in numerous private and corporate collections, including seven paintings purchased last year by her alma mater, the University of Alabama for the Capstone School of Nursing.

Sponsored by Merrill Lynch, Art Auction 2012 will offer works of art including oil paintings, watercolors, prints, sculpture, jewelry, glass and fine art crafts from artists such as Bill Berra, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Frank Flemming, Milt Kobavashi. The Art Selection Committee, comprised of volunteers, has traveled the country seeking works of art in all media to tempt the collectors of Montgomery. Special favorites are to be found in extensive offerings from New York, Santa Fe, and the Southeast.

This show opens Thursday, the 9th of February from 5 to 7:30 PM at Gallery One Fine Art, 423 Cloverdale Road, here in Montgomery next door to Filet and Vine’s excellent deli and wine store. This show closes April 14th with our next Opening May 10th featuring new works by Shirley Esco and Carol Barksdale.

Lewis said, “The Art Selection Committee has scoured the country for works appropriate to Montgomery’s tastes including special trips to New York and Santa Fe. They have worked with some of the most renowned galleries in the country – many of which work with museums on their own acquisition projects – and the committee has met with some of America’s foremost artists to select the broadest range of art for this auction event.” Volunteers working on Art Auction 2012, under the leadership of Chair Lucy Jackson and Co-Chair, Emilie Reid, include Camille Elebash-Hill, Ginny Cumbus, Benita Froemming, Eddie Scott, Melissa B. Tubbs, Brenda Hellums, Ashley White, Katrina Keefer-Belt, Lisa Capell and Katherine Harris. The exhibition opens for bidding on February 4th and there is no charge for a bid number. Early bids and reserve bids will be accepted until the ticketed events. The Silent Auction, featuring cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, begins at 6:30 PM on Thursday, February 23rd. On Saturday, February 25th, the gala begins with cocktails at 6 PM followed by dinner and the Live Auction conducted by auctioneer, Don Groesser. Tickets are $50./person for the Silent Auction and $150./person or $250./person (preferred seating) for the Live Auction, which includes admission to the Silent Auction. To bid early and bid often at the Art Auction 2012, visit the Museum’s website or to make reservations call MMFA 334.240.4333.

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February 2012



Healthy Hearing

by Dr. Bettie Borton Au.D.

Make a SOUND investment… Seek Hearing Healthcare and Get the Most from Your Hearing Aids

Patients who come to my practice always present with different perspectives about hearing healthcare, but one concern is universal: Hearing instruments represent a significant investment, and patients and their families Dr. Bettie Borton Au. D. want to be sure they’re making a sound investment (no pun intended!). So, if you or your family member suspects hearing loss, how can you be sure that your investment in hearing instruments is a wise one? There are several ways to be sure that the hearing healthcare experience, particularly if it involves the purchase and use of hearing devices, is a good investment of your time and resources. Be an informed consumer, and talk with the right professional. Ask questions and be investigative! First of all, get your hearing evaluated. Everyone should have a baseline audiological evaluation by a licensed audiologist to ensure that their hearing thresholds are normal. I said everyone. Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health condition in this country (behind arthritis and high blood pressure), and is often called “the invisible handicap”. Since most hearing deficits present very gradually, it’s common for those with hearing loss to be blissfully unaware of their limitation, or to assess it as someone else’s problem (“my wife mumbles, talks to me with her back turned”, etc. )

Do your homework! If hearing loss is identified, seek assistance from a licensed audiologist with a proven track record. As a starting point, talk with friends and family members for a recommendation, or visit the website of the American Board of Audiology (ABA) to find a Board Certified Audiologist in your area ( The American Board of Audiology® (ABA), an autonomous organization, is dedicated to enhancing audiologic services to the public by promulgating universally recognized standards in professional practice. The ABA encourages audiologists to exceed these prescribed standards, thereby promoting a high level of professional development and ethical practice. If you’re going to make an investment in your hearing, seek out the most experienced and

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knowledgeable professional available. As a consumer, understand the differences between hearing aid dealers and audiologists, and determine what qualifications your provider has attained. Remember, audiologists graduating today hold a 4 year post- 4 year doctoral degree, and are the only professionals that have graduate level training in amplification. In today’s competitive healthcare market, it’s consumer beware, and not all providers and practices are equal. Don’t tell the audiologist how to select the best product for you! Many patients who come to my practices looking for hearing devices have a friend or family member who’s been very successful with a particular product or style of hearing aid. While this is good information to explore with your audiologist, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the best product for you. Degree and type of hearing loss, lifestyle, budget, special features, and a host of other considerations may be different for you, and there are many products to choose from. If you’ve selected a professional whom you trust, let them give you several product recommendations, and then decide. Also, look for a dispensing practice that offers a wide range of products, and steer clear of franchises that limit their product line to one or two manufacturers. Device selection should be dictated by your specific needs, budget, lifestyle, and hearing parameters – not those of a particular dispenser, family member or manufacturer.

When cheap is really expensive… when evaluating products in terms of value, don’t underbuy, but don’t over-buy, either. Talk frankly to your audiologist regarding the demands of your personal and professional listening challenges, as well as your budget constraints. While it’s true that higher end technologies often offer a more prescriptive fit, better noise reduction features, and many other “bells and whistles” (such as Blue Tooth capability, remote controls, TV adapters, etc), some features are more important than others, depending on your hearing test results and specific activities.

Avoid the large, discount store dispensing operations. These facilities are often staffed by hearing aid dispensers on a sales commission, not audiologists. If purchasing hearing devices becomes “all about cost”, you may end up making a very costly mistake. Hearing aids are similar to other healthcare devices…they need regular maintenance, knowledgeable service providers, and ongoing availability of service to

ensure that performance is satisfactory. Trying to deal with a provider embedded in an institution that does not value personal service, may only provide service at certain hours, or whose sole focus is not hearing healthcare can significantly compromise performance with hearing devices … and that “lower cost” instrument can quickly become a bad investment.

Don’t be afraid to utilize state of the art assistive listening technology. Many patients are surprised when I tell them that, given the severity of their hearing loss, hearing devices will not necessarily meet all of their listening needs. For example, all hearing aids, regardless of price or style, have a microphone range of about 20-30 feet. So, when Mrs. Smith complains that she does not hear well in church, even with her new hearing aids, are the instruments at fault? Not if she’s seated more than 20-30 feet from the minister. The personal listening systems provided at many churches will, by the nature of the technology, outperform Mrs. Smith’s hearing devices. However, that same listening system cannot be taken to the grocery store very conveniently. So, patients need to accept some limitations inherent to hearing devices, and explore alternative technologies to supplement their performance. If hearing devices are not working well for you with the TV, try one of the devices made specifically for listening to and amplifying the TV. Or, discuss options available in newer hearing aids that utilize Blue Tooth technology for TV, cell phone, and telephone usage. Finding it hard to change programs on your hearing devices? Maybe you’d benefit from units that have a remote control. Your audiologist can help you examine the possibilities now available, and find the very best solutions for you. Remember, an investment in hearing healthcare and hearing devices is an investment in your relationships, your profession, your activities…. Your quality of life! Make the most of your investment by being an informed consumer and working with the most qualified hearing healthcare professional – an audiologist who holds Board Certification from The American Board of Audiology® (ABA).

To learn more, visit or call for an evaluation at (334) 396-1635.

Dr. Bettie B. Borton is a licensed audiologist in Alabama, was the first board certified audiologist in Montgomery, and recently served as National Chair of the American Board of Audiology. She and her husband, Dr. Tom Borton, are the only audiologists with ABA certification in the Montgomery area.

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Do the little things today for a healthy life tomorrow.

It is all about me! a healthy 1-800-545-1098

This publication was funded in whole or in part by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, under Grant No. 6H5MMC20275


How much more can grandparents give? How much can I give? It’s one of those eternal questions that grandparents ponder _ and it leads to even more questions, like:

How much can I afford? What form should my contribution take? Should it be a loan or a gift? A college fund for the future, or help now with clothes, child care, or other expenses? Am I jeopardizing my own future or doing a disservice to my adult children by giving too much? And what’s my motivation? What, if anything, do I expect in return? Gifting the grandkids has little to do with income bracket. In fact, according to a 2009 Met Life Mature Institute Survey, 63 percent of American grandparents provided financial help or monetary gifts to their grandchildren during the previous five years. The average contribution was $8,661, for a whopping estimated total of $370 billion. Raising a family may be pricier than ever, but grandparents are certainly doing our share.

The thing about giving money _ or in-kind gifts _ is that it’s not always about the money. Money can also be used to express just about every emotion in the book: power, need, hope, longing, desperation, you name it. The stakes can feel especially high for grandparents. We have so little say in our grandchildren’s lives, and offering gifts or money is one sure way to make an impression.

Yet, even though we may take great pleasure in helping our adult children and their children, some grandparents, myself among them, grapple with trying to figure out the best _ that is to say, the least emotionally entangled _ ways to contribute.

To get a handle on the subject, I reached out to a dozen grandparents for their perspectives. I also talked to Stacey Bradford, the mother and columnist for CBS, as well as the author of “The Wall Street Journal Financial Guidebook for New Parents.” The conclusions of my informal sample are far from scientific. Still, 10 common themes, and very useful guidelines, emerged.

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By Barbara Graham 1. Give only what you can afford. Let’s face it, the needs of young families are bottomless. The needs of aging people (I know, I can’t believe I’m one either) are also bottomless. Make gifts to the grandchildren a realistic line item in your budget, then get in touch with your inner Warren Buffet and protect your assets. The worst thing you can do, for your adult children, as well as yourself, is to risk your own financial security. Ironically, Bradford says, women, who tend to outlive men and, therefore, need more post-retirement funds, tend to be the most generous toward grandchildren, even when they can’t afford to be.

2. Give only what feels right. You may be able to help out financially, but if you have qualms for any reason, think twice. “When I see my son and his wife struggling, I want to make it easier by giving them money,” one grandfather said. “Yet I also feel their struggle is an important part of their growth, and I don’t want to foster the emotional baggage that would result from their dependence on me.” Another grandparent put it this way: “I feel good about helping to lighten my son’s financial burden to the degree I can, but I would not feel so good about taking on that burden.” 3. Clarify your philosophy of giving. Some grandparents allocate resources to help their grandchildren when they’re young, while others commit the bulk of their contributions to college savings funds. Most of us can’t afford to do both in a big

way. This is not to say that grandparents contributing to college funds don’t buy birthday presents for the kids; of course they do. But they might not also buy entire wardrobes or help pay nursery-school tuition. Decide, pending discussion with your adult children, where to put your resources, and make sure that you and your spouse or partner are on the same page as well. 4. Respect the values of your adult children. For starters, most young parents take pride in their financial independence, even if that means cutting some corners. They don’t necessarily want bailouts. What’s more, Bradford says, “I teach my children that we buy the things we need and only sometimes the things we want. So instead of bringing a gift every time they visit, I encourage my parents and in-laws to share an activity with our kids, such as baking or going to a museum. And because my husband and I value education so highly, early on we let our parents know that we prefer contributions to college-savings funds over expensive presents.”

5. Be aware of your own expectations. We all know that money can’t buy us love or heal troubled relationships, but sometimes grandparents who feel marginalized develop amnesia on this one. One woman told me that during a difficult patch with her son and his wife, her knee-jerk, anxious response was to send the kids more and more presents, which she could ill-afford

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but which she hoped would ease tensions. It didn’t. Only when they all sat down to discuss the real issues did things improve. Now this nana spends more time with the kids and buys them fewer, more modest gifts, and everyone is happier.

6. Communicate responsible financial values. Grandparents have a golden opportunity to teach kids the value of a dollar by not overindulging them. One grandfather told me that he used to drop loose change into his grandson’s piggy bank whenever he came to visit, but kicked the habit when the boy started meeting him at the front door with his hand out. Grandparents also can be role models when it comes to helping others. Bradford suggests that by the time children reach the age of six or seven, they’re old enough to learn about charitable giving, whether it’s contributing a portion of the money they receive from Grandma or Grandpa (maybe one dollar out of five) to a charity they choose together, or to donate books or toys they’ve outgrown to children who need them. 7. Share your resources. To head off hard feelings or messy family battles, adult siblings and their children should be equal-opportunity recipients of

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grandparents’ generosity, to the degree that this is possible. However, if one family is in a jam and requires more assistance right now than his or her siblings, adjustments may be made in estate planning to balance things out later on.

8. Gifts and loans are two different animals. When you give a substantial (for you) sum of money, be very clear about whether it’s a gift or a loan. If it’s a gift, you may choose to earmark the funds for something specific, such as summer camp or gymnastics lessons, or offer it for general support. If it’s a loan, be specific about the terms of repayment and put everything in writing. In either case, though, be sure you’re on board with how the money will be spent _ or resentment will breed like mosquitoes in a swamp. 9. Set firm boundaries and discuss them with your adult children. Be open, honest and unapologetic about what you can and cannot offer _ not just taking into account their needs, but also what feels right to you. Many grandparents want to rush in and make everything better for our kids and their families _ but if we do, there’s usually an emotional price tag as well as a financial one.

10. Adjust limits as circumstances change. If and when your income decreases, you’ll probably need to cut back on spending. For example, one grandmother who routinely buys airplane tickets for her daughter’s family of five whenever they come to visit told me that she won’t be to do this once she and her husband retire. On the other hand, some grandparents may offer more than usual if their adult children are going through hard times in the current twitchy economy.

As for me, well, full confession: I’ve had come up with these sensible guidelines as an antidote to my own wanton tendency to shower my two little granddaughters with ridiculous piles of presents. In fact, I’m certain that when comedy writer Gene Perret quipped that grandchildren are “the only people who can get more out of you than the IRS,” he was talking directly to me! (c) 2012, Distributed by MCT Information Services If you want to share comments about this article text Jim Watson, 324.3472 or email to

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February 2012



By Greg Budell

I (HEART) FIRST CLASS! When you’ve had it all and lost it all and got it back and lost it again and are managing to rebuild one final time, expectations change.

ATL is always packed. People move through it like floodwater, sort of flowing to the right concourse or gate.

On a recent trip from Montgomery to Ft. Lauderdale I was simply happy to get a decent fare (the cheap seats always go on sale at 4PM ET- try it!). A window or aisle seat is a bonus.

Going with the flow is the only way to go in Atlanta.

However, the flight out of Montgomery was delayed several times and making the Atlanta connection that night became an impossibility. I called Delta.

She informed me that Delta had been trying to update my account for 23 years because I had accumulated 25,000 miles on my account. So now I was one of those annoying people with miles, too. A recent survey of the flying public showed overwhelming support for an airline dress code. Since there isn’t one, I established my own. Flying first class? Look the part. I live my life in Casual Land, spending my days in sweatpants and t-shirts (the radio dress code). After some searching (and auditioning various pants) I found a nice pair of slacks that didn’t seem inclined to hike, a smart shirt all topped with my cool new black blazer. Assembly completed, I looked like a first class passenger- though probably not a “real” one. Very few people who travel in 1st actually buy the seat. A round trip from ATL to FLL is about $14,000. They use the comfort of this section to reward idiots like me who forgot they were Skymiles customers for 23 years. I happily endured the 24 MINUTE flight from Montgomery to Atlanta, departing on time at 5:30 the next mornin.

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Behind the curtain in coach, I could only imagine Frau Blucher firing muffins out of one of those air cannons they use to launch t-shirts into the stands at Biscuits games. It was all sooo nice.

The lady who took my call was really nice and rebooked me for the next morning- and put me in first class on the flight from Atlanta to FLL. There is no first class out of Montgomery because the commuter aircraft- which I affectionately call “Barbie’s Big Jet“- offers only one-size-fits-all seating. Before concluding the re-book, the Delta lady asked if I had ever lived on 34th street in Miami. At first I thought someone had stolen my identity but then I remembered- I did live there- the first time I had it all.

Once we were airborne, Barbie came by with a luxury basket of breakfast goodies- muffins, biscuits and strawberries so fresh they still had the little green fig leaf on top.

Moving about ATL is far more tolerable when you know you have 1st class accommodations waiting for you at the gate. Our plane was a Boeing 757- a long tube with 3 seats per side in coach. It’s a fine jet, but if you end up in Row 114 at the back end, it takes almost as long to deplane as it does to fly the 800 miles. Airlines try to board the flights from the back end first but the people in the middle rows always jump in early. I love it when the gate agent proclaims “final call for this flight” and you rush to the ramp only to find yourself standing behind a ponderously long line of people going nowhere. That’s because someone in the middle rows boarded early and the luggage wrestling into the overhead compartment is 2 of 3 falls or a coating of Vaselinewhichever comes first. As I hopped aboard my flight I noticed an immediate distinction between 1st and coach. The flight attendant working 1st looked like “Grown Up Barbie“- or a former runway model or Posture Queen who for some reason, decided to become a Glamorous Flight Attendant.

When we landed, I grabbed my jacket from the overhead bin, did an about face, and was walking down the jet way after a winsome “goodbye” smile from Delta Barbie. I think we were opening Christmas presents when the last of the peasants finally exited the Tube With Wings. In the Golden Age of Air Travel (when airlines like Eastern and Pan Am were still around) they flew around us radio folks for free- and always in 1st, asking nothing except some positive PR. I don’t think I sat in coach once during the Golden Age- and stupidly took it for granted assuming it would last forever. Then came the tough times when I couldn’t afford the lowest coach ticket and didn’t need one anyway because I had nowhere to go and no one who wanted me to fly in and see them anyway. You see, when you’ve had it all and lost it all and got it back and lost it again and are managing to rebuild one final time, it’s not just expectations that change. Your attitude makes an adjustment too. Thanks Delta!

Frau Blucher was working coach. When Barbie came to my seat, she put down a piping hot coffee with real cream- all in ceramic containers. Frau Blucher looked like she’d be running a garden hose down the aisle asking people if they’d like a swallow.

Greg Budell lives in Montgomery with his dog Hershey. He’s a 25 year veteran of radio who hosts the Greg & Susan morning show 6-9 am and Happy Hour 3-6 pm on Newstalk 107.9, Greg can be reached at The River Region’s 50+ Lifestage Magazine

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February 2012



February 2012

{12 Things} and more

for active boomers and beyond



Black Heritage Tours Feb 1-29-Black Heritage Tours Throughout the month of February, Old Alabama Town is offering heritage tours to honor the great sacrifices and struggles endured by Alabama’s early African Americans. Call 334.240.4500, 888.240.5100 or visit www.

The Love Songs of Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly features Scot Bruce as Elvis and John Mueller as Buddy. CNN raves that “Scot Bruce is the closest they can get to Elvis in the flesh.” Mueller won a Drama Desk award for his portrayal of the title character in the musical smash The Buddy Holly Story. He was also featured in the national tour. Scot and Mueller performed together at ASF two years ago to a packed house singing classic tunes such as Love Me Tender to Suspicious Minds and Oh, Boy to That’ll be the Day. The two icons will be backed by an outstanding four-piece band of Nashville session musicians. Call the box office at 1.800.841.4273 or visit

Black Heritage Tours OLd Alabama Town February 1-29, 9-12 pm

MONTGOMERY CLOVERDALE Cloverdale Playhouse, The Gin Game, by D.L. Coburn February 2 – 12, 7:30 pm

Weller Martin plays a lot of solitaire at his retirement home. When Fonsea Dorsey moves in, Weller finds a partner at the card table and a foil to his curmudgeon’s view of the world, not to mention a formidable match in the gin game he makes her constantly play. This Pulitzer prize-winning play from D.L Coburn has become a gem of the American theatre. Funny, moving, compelling, challenging…both souls who occupy this powerful piece play the cards that are handed to them and then some. * Contains Adult Language * , 334.262-1530,

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Love Songs of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly ASF February 13 & 14


Wicked: A New Musical BJCC Concert Hall, Birmingham February 15-March 4, 7:30 pm

Take a magical Broadway musical about witches, wizards, weird looking whimsical creatures and high flying animals and stage it at The Magic City itself and It doesn’t get more magical and fantastic than this. This is Wicked, the Tony Award winning musical that changed the landscape of musical theatre over the last decade. The musical comes to Birmingham, Alabama on February 15, 2012 and will run at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center until March 4, 2012.Ticket prices vary. Visit to learn more or www.


Presentation on the Potential for Local Foods in Alabama! Wednesday, February 15, 10-11:30 am Alabama Dept. of Agriculture and Industries Auditorium The Hampstead Institute is excited to announce a special presentation by national food system expert Ken Meter entitled, “Local Foods: Potential to Create Wealth and Health in Alabama.” The Institute collaborated with the Food Bank of North Alabama on Ken Meter’s study to gauge the potential of local foods as a catalyst for economic development. During the February 15th presentation, Ken Meter will discuss the study’s results and implications for building Alabama’s wealth, health and community self-reliance through a strong local food economy. To reserve seats for the free presentation, call 334.240.7100


Birmingham Home and Garden Show BJCC Arena, Birmingham February 16-19 times vary This event brings the biggest home, garden and lifestyle celebrities to town and showcases all-new products and services for the home and garden. Admission charged. Visit www.

MONTGOMERY DOWNTOWN Swan Lake Montgomery Performing Arts Center February 17, 18

The River Region’s 50+ Lifestage Magazine

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The Montgomery Ballet, in partnership with the Alabama Ballet, presents the River Region premiere of Swan Lake at the Montgomery Performing Arts Center February 17th and 18th, 2012. For the first time ever, Alabama’s premier ballet companies collaborate to present Swan Lake in its entirety for three performances in the capital city’s performing arts center. Swan Lake, the most renowned ballet of all time, is a classic fairytale filled with princes, princesses, sorcerers, evil, magic spells, and true love. Performances are Friday and Saturday, February 17th and 18th, at 7:30p, with a matinee performance on Saturday, February 18th, at 2:30p. Tickets are $42.00 for Orchestra seats, $32.00 for Mezzanine, and $22.00 for Balcony. Children, student, senior, and military tickets are $35.00, $27.00, and $16.00. Tickets are on sale at the MPAC box office (334.481.5100 or 800.745.3000) and online through Ticketmaster.


Lunch with Martha Hawkins Capital City Club FEB 17, 11-1pm Author of Finding Martha’s Place and owner of what used to be the soul food restaurant of Montgomery, Martha’s Place, Martha Hawkins’ life is a testament of faith, dreams, love and hope. Come to the Club and hear her motivational story and enjoy a delicious lunch with friends! Call the Club today for your reservations at 334-834-8920. Open to the public.


Bill Cosby Alabama Theatre, Birmingham February 17, 6 pm (2 shows)


followed by high tea. Admission charged. For more information, contact Julie Crane at 334.277.3505 or visit

Learn more about the animals that live in the zoo and discover new facts about some of your favorites. Admission charged. Call 334.240.4900 or visit


Animal Enrichment Day Montgomery Zoo February 18, 10-2 pm


Critter Crawl 5K Alabama Nature Center Pavilion, Millbrook FEB 18, 9 am Five miles of boardwalks and trails cut through the 350 acres of forests, fields, streams and ponds that all make up the Alabama Nature Center. Awards will be given at the end of the run. Fees apply. Registration ends February 15. Call 334.285.4550 or visit

MONTGOMERY DOWNTOWN B.B. King February 19, 8 pm

His reign as King of the Blues has been as long as that of any monarch on earth, yet BB King continues to wear his crown well. At age 86, he is still light on his feet, singing and playing the blues with relentless passion. Time has no apparent effect on BB other than to make him more popular, more cherished and more relevant than ever. BB King is alive as the music he plays and a grateful world can’t get enough of him. Ticket prices vary. Call 334.481.5100 or visit


Orion Quartet February 19, 3-5 pm Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Enjoy this classical music quartet and see why they are one of the most sought-after ensembles in the United States. Performance The River Region’s 50+ Lifestage Magazine

Fat Tuesday Party Tipping Point, Hampstead February 21, 6 until

The Tipping Point - Fat Tuesday Party featuring live jazz with The John Bull Band. Tickets $5 per person.


Black Jacket Symphony Presents U2’s “The Joshua Tree Montgomery Performing Arts Centre February 24, 8 pm The Black Jacket Symphony offers a unique concert experience by recreating classic albums in a live performance setting. Ticket prices vary. Call 334.481.5100 or visit


Orange Beach Seafood Festival and Antique Car Show Orange Beach Sportsplex February 25, 10-5 pm Major fundraising event with arts, crafts and vendors featuring local artisans with handmade wares. Enjoy live music and an impressive car show including classic cars, hot rods and newer models. Call 251.981.1524 or visit

MONTGOMERY DOWNTOWN Vince Gill Saturday, March 3, 2012 at 8 pm

During his storied career in country music, Vince Gill has consistently set the bar higher and higher for himself. The singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist has recorded more than 17 studio albums, sold more than 26 million copies and won 20 Grammys and 18 CMA Awards. The twotime CMA Entertainer of the Year is the only man to ever win five consecutive CMA Male Vocalist of the Year awards and the only songwriter to win Song of the Year four times. r i ve r reg i o n b o o m . co m

February 2012



A Christian Perspective

“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love.” (John 15:9 MSG) What an inviting and welcoming feeling this invitation gives us.

Sherry DeBray

At Home in His Love

the Lord, to help me love like Him, it changed an enemy into a friend.

I love hearing those words from a friend; “make yourselves at home.” Have you had a friend or family member that made you feel like their home was your home? I have.

My friend Janet, who now lives in North Alabama, is that kind of friend. To this day, miles apart, I know I could show up at her home, unannounced, and feel as if her home was my home. I remember in the earlier years of sleeping over or eating at her table, feeling as comfortable as if it were my own. Never was I made to feel I had overstayed my welcome: quite the opposite - she and her husband wanted our family to extend our stay. How blessed I have been to experience such a love. As wonderful as her open invitation is to my family, there is one invitation greater: one you don’t want to forget to respond to before this life has ended. He, Jesus, invites us to make ourselves at home in his love; love that forgives, forgets past errors, and is patient with us as we mature. Even those of us who have made ourselves at home in Him sometimes forget to extend the invitation to others, especially those who are hard to love.

Loving the unlovable It’s easy to love the lovable. It’s easy to be nice to someone who is nice. Jesus reminds us there is not much reward in that type of love. Loving the way the Father loves goes deeper and wider than loving just the lovable. In Matthew 5:44 we are challenged to love our enemies. (The unlovable) “What, love someone who is rude to me and has wronged me?” Yes, that’s what He is saying. Anyone can love those who love them back, even the evil ones do that. We are called to a

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higher standard of loving. We, as his followers, are called to love like God loves. So, how does God love? Think about it this way: God brings the same sun and rain to those who do not return his love, as he does to those that do. (Matthew 5:45) He gives his gifts to the righteous and the unrighteous as he patiently waits for his creation to respond to his love.

So, why love like this? Because God first loved us, the sinner. He sends us an invitation to be at home in His love. 1John 4:19 He still loves us, with our short comings, bad thoughts, rebellious ways and lack of holiness. (Not the sin, but us.) God loved us so much He sent his only son “Jesus” to die for our ungodliness. He sacrificed his son so He could be with us. (Remember God can’t be where there is sin. He is holy.) John 3:16 Another good reason, given in Matthew 5, is that when we are confronted with a rude person or one who accuses us unfairly, it’s an opportunity to let it bring out the best in us, not the worst. The Message says it like this; “When someone gives you a hard time , respond with the energies of prayer…” Too, often I have failed in this area and responded defensively to the one backing me in a corner. The times I have called on the power of

To love is to be loved - God’s Way In 1 John 4:17 from the Message it says; “This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day…” Love that has the run of the house, your heart - my heart, settles down growing us to loving the unlovable. I really like the idea of love having the run of my house, instead of conflict, jealousy, fear or worry.

Hard to Love Do you know people who are really hard to love? I do. I may even be the unlovable to someone; I hope not, but... I may be. I’ve not always seen eye to eye with everyone in my life. However, when we apply the love of God, a love that is patience, willing to say I’m sorry, shows forgiveness to others and then holds no hard feelings, we find love matured in our hearts. 1 Cor. 13 It’s true, we won’t like everyone we meet, but we are called to love them with the love of the Lord. Those we pour out our love on may not respond as we had hoped. Still, we are to love.

This February 14th when we are sending gifts to those who are easy to love, I challenge you to love someone that is hard to love. Start with the “energies of prayer” over the person or persons. Who knows… you may feel right at home with them in the future. I know. It happened for me. Pray this with me: I love you, Lord. Help me love like you and forgive me when I fail to love as you. Now go and love one another.

Sherry DeBray Owner of It’Za Gift & Interiors Author of: The Teacher’s Gift & Desperate Christian Women You can write Sherry at sherry.debray@

The River Region’s 50+ Lifestage Magazine

BOOM! February 2012  
BOOM! February 2012  

The River Region's 50+ Lifestage Magazine