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Bruce Frassinelli: Coronavirus: Will Life Ever Be the Same?

55 PLUS Issue 63 • May-June 2020 For Active Adults in the Rochester Area


Folk Music n VINYL RECORDS Old, young music lovers still attracted to vinyl

n RELATIONSHIP Lifetime pen pals reflect on lost art of letter writing

with flair

Canandaigua folk chanteuse Maria Gillard captures spirit of being human

n SISTERS’ REUNION Monroe County sisters reunite after being raised by different adoptive families

free please share

Rochester Paper Sculptor Ready for a New Exhibit

primary care from your living room. The Physician House Calls program provides a convenient way for you to get high-quality care in the comfort of your own home. For over 10 years, our medical team has provided one-on-one medical assessments, medication review, and care coordination. We’ll work with you to develop a comprehensive care plan that will give you and your family peace of mind. Available to individuals 65 years and older.

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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. July / August May / June 2019 2020 - 55 PLUS



May / June 2020


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Savvy Senior 6 10 MONEY 30 COVER • Ten bad money habits • Canandaigua folk chanteuse Maria Financial Health 8 Gillard captures spirit of being human 12 FINANCES My Turn 14 • Retiring with credit card debt? 35 VOLUNTEER • Longtime volunteer reflects on The Visits 44 16 WORK Little Theatre’s cultural significance • Work from home: Advice from a writer Addyman’s Corner 46 who has done it for the past 20 years 36 RELATIONSHIP Long-term Care 48 • Lifetime pen pals reflect on lost art of 18 CLEANING

• Spruce up the home while quarantined

55 PLUS Q&A Virtual pet adoption. Dianne Faas, 55, of Ontario County Humane Society in Canandaigua talks about her new program 4

55 PLUS - July 2019 May/ /August June 2020

22 ART • Rochester paper sculptor ready for a new exhibit

24 DOWNSIZING • Reasons not to downsize


• Old, young music lovers still attracted to vinyl records

letter writing

38 CROCKET • Greece crocket players say the sport has many elements to it

40 HOUSING • Building a home with bales of straw

42 SISTERS • Sisters reunite after being raised by different adoptive families

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July / August May / June 2019 2020 - 55 PLUS




savvy senior By Jim Miller


Beware of Coronavirus Scams

nfortunately, coronavirus scams are spreading nearly as fast as the virus itself, and seniors are often the most vulnerable. These con artists are setting up websites to sell bogus products, and using spoofed phone calls, emails, texts and social media posts as a ruse to take your money and get your personal information. The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips, and fake information about cases in your community. They also may be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments. Here are some tips to help you keep the scammers at bay. • Click carefully: Don’t click on coronavirus-related links from sources you don’t know in an email or text message. The same goes for unfamiliar websites. When you click on an email or download a file, you could get a program on your computer that could either use your computer’s internet connection to spread malware or dig into your personal files looking for passwords and other information. • Ignore bogus product offers: Ignore online offers for coronavirus vaccinations or miracle cures. There are currently no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges, or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure coronavirus online or in stores. If you see or receive ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the coronavirus, ignore them because they’re not legitimate. • Beware of CDC spoofing: Be wary of emails, text messages or phone calls claiming to come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and/or the World Health Organization (WHO). These scams could take several forms – such as fake health agency warnings about infections in


55 PLUS - July 2019 May/ /August June 2020

your local area, vaccine and treatment offers, medical test results, health insurance cancellation, alerts about critical supply shortages, and more. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit CDC.gov/coronavirus. • Beware of fundraising scams: Be wary of emails or phone calls asking you to donate to a charity or crowdfunding campaign for coronavirus victims or for disease research. To verify a charity’s legitimacy use CharityNavigator.org. But, if you’re asked for donations in cash, by prepaid credit card or gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it because it’s probably a scam. • Beware of stock scams: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people about phone calls and online promotions, including on social media, touting stocks of companies with products that supposedly can prevent, detect or cure coronavirus. Buy those stocks now, they say, and they will soar in price. But the con artists have already bought the stocks, which typically sell for a dollar or less. As the hype grows and the stock price increases, the con men dump the stock, saddling other investors with big losses. It’s a classic penny-stock fraud called “pump and dump.” Making matters worse: you may not be able to sell your shares if trading is suspended. When investing in any company, including companies that claim to focus on coronavirus-related products and services, carefully research the investment and keep in mind that investment scam artists often exploit the latest crisis to line their own pockets. For more tips on how to avoid getting swindled, see the Federal Communications Commission COVID-19 consumer warning and safety tips at FCC.gov/covid-scams.

55PLUS roc55.com

Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto

Associate Editor Lou Sorendo

Writers & Contributing Writers Deborah J. Sergeant, Christine Green, Lynette M. Loomis Sandra Scott, John Addyman


Jim Terwilliger, Susan Suben Jim Miller, John Addyman Bruce Frassinelli


Anne Westcott, Linda Covington

Office Assistant Nancy Nitz

Layout and Design Dylon Clew-Thomas

Cover Photo

Chuck Wainwright

55 PLUS –A Magazine for Active Adults in the Rochester Area is published six times a year by Local News, Inc., which also publishes In Good Health–Rochester—Genesee Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper.

Mailing Address PO Box 525 Victor, NY 14564 © 2019 by 55 PLUS – A Magazine for Active Adults in the Rochester Area. No material may be reproduced in whole or in part from this publication without the express written permission of the publisher. PRSRT STD US Postage PAID Buffalo, NY Permit No. 4725

How to Reach Us P.O. Box 525 Victor, NY 14564 Voice: 585-421-8109 Fax: 585-421-8129 Editor@roc55.com

FREE GUIDE TO SENIOR HOUSING Download at LeisureCare.com/Guides If you’re reading this, chances are you’re already thinking about a move to senior housing. We know this is a hard decision. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you sort through the physical, emotional, and financial obstacles that you may experience on this journey. Your path to a vibrant and fun lifestyle starts here.


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financial health By Jim Terwilliger

Managing Financial Uncertainty


hese past several months are unprecedented in modern times. The COVID-19 health crisis came out of nowhere and quickly morphed into a global economic and financial crisis that will take some time to sort out. How much time? No one knows for sure. The impact on the equity markets was swift and deep. Within the first month alone through March 20, the S&P 500 stock index dropped over 30% from its February 2019 all-time high. How quickly things can change! Just a few months prior to this, it appeared that the 11-year stock market boom would continue forever. But, of course, it cannot. First, by their very nature, stocks are volatile. They are also unpredictable. That is why they offer a premium return over bonds, CDs, savings accounts, etc. Quite simply, they embody the ages-old risk-reward relationship. No risk, no reward. Stocks are behaving just the way


55 PLUS - July 2019 May/ /August June 2020

they are expected to behave. Second, investing in stocks is a fiveto-10-to-15-year (plus) play. Nothing shorter. Investment outcomes should only be measured in such timeframes. Those who measure success or failure in weeks, months or even a handful of years and react to market noise within short timeframes are practicing speculation, not investing. Finally, stock prices over the long-term are related to the financial strength of the underlying companies. Stock prices, day-to-day, tend to be influenced by stockholder emotions and speculative investing. One can argue that the Dec. 31, 2019 stock prices were over-valued. Today, one can argue that today’s prices are undervalued. There is no way the intrinsic value of companies dropped by over 30% in the one-month timeframe noted above. So, what is one to do? n Construct a Plan. I cannot emphasize this enough. Whether it’s saving for a new boat, house, college or retirement, a plan is critical. A plan is based on your goal(s) and time horizon. A plan is a prerequisite t o c o n s t ru c t i n g a supportive investment s t r a t e g y. Investments become the engine that fuels the plan. n Investment Strategy Design. The first step is to choose an overall ratio of stock

holdings to bond/cash holdings consistent with your plan and risk tolerance. Particularly for folks nearing or in retirement, having a reasonable portion in bonds/cash will buffer the portfolio from wild stock market swings, up and down. The next step is to diversify within the stock and bond categories. The key is to have a broad exposure to global asset classes in order to maximize diversification. n Emergency Fund. This also is critical. All households need a cash emergency fund, apart from goalrelated savings/investments, equal to at least three to six months of expenses. This fund must be guarded carefully so that it does not disappear to fund vacations, kitchen and bath renovations, etc. “Emergency” is the operative word here. n Stick to Your Plan. Once your financial plan and investment strategy are defined and working, stick with it. This is the hard part. It is easy to do when the markets are doing well. Not so, when markets are tanking. If your plan or your circumstances haven’t changed, resist the urge to make drastic changes to your investments in reaction to what the market is doing short term. This is not a set-it-and-forgetit approach. It is important to rebalance your holdings back to target percentages on a regular basis. We generally recommend annually. Additionally, if your overall stock-to-bond/cash allocation is driven away from target by 10% or more, consider rebalancing before your next scheduled rebalance. Then

At Your

“Are you in a wealth accumulation mode? Consider a market meltdown as your friend. While you continue to contribute a given amount, say, monthly to your IRA, 401(k) plan, or investment account, you are buying stocks ‘on sale.’” start the one-year clock again. While rebalancing is counter to what your emotions would lead you to do, it is a disciplined way to consistently sell high and buy low, the holy grail of investing. n Managing Market Meltdowns. Are you in a wealth accumulation mode? Consider a market meltdown as your friend. While you continue to contribute a given amount, say, monthly to your IRA, 401(k) plan, or investment account, you are buying stocks “on sale.” Each regular contribution purchases more shares vs. what you had been buying prior to the downturn. Are you retired and in a wealth distribution mode? When you are taking regular distributions, organize your distribution strategy to take only from your bond or cash portions. Leave your stock holdings untouched until the markets recover. Above all, remember that the world capital markets recover from downturns. It’s all part of the volatility characteristic of stocks. The timing for recovery, of course, is very much dependent on the circumstances. Each event is different. Trying to manage through good and bad times is a daunting task. Working with a trusted wealth adviser gives you the best chance for a successful outcome. James Terwilliger, CFP®, is senior vice president, senior planning adviser at CNB Wealth Management, Canandaigua National Bank & Trust Company. He can be reached at 585-419-0670 ext. 50630 or by email at jterwilliger@cnbank.com.

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July / August May / June 2019 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+money Bad Money Habits

… and How to Break Them By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


t this point in your life, you’re probably earning more than ever as you look forward to retirement. If you have a goal for retiring by a certain age, it’s important to break the following bad money habits now.


Making financial decisions based upon feelings. You may feel concerned when the stock market plunges; however, you should focus on the long-term plan. “Be careful to not make emotional decisions at critical times,” said Adam Mark, certified financial planner and president of Wealth Management Group, LLC in Rochester. “Don’t panic when we have big market moves.” Big jumps and plunges in the market even out over time, he said.


Spending m o n e y frivolously. Expensive trips, clothing you don’t need, a few new toys, indulging the grandchildren, memberships y o u


55 PLUS - July 2019 May/ /August June 2020

don’t use: it’s easy to fritter away money without thinking about it. If your ability to retire when you want seems doubtful, you need to “come up with a plan and look at your projection,” Mark said. “Look at dayto-day spending. Spend on purpose and know where your money goes. “How important are the things you’re spending money on? You may need to make tough decisions. If you know where money goes, you know where you can cut back. Save more and save on purpose.” Instead of making saving the last t h i n g y o u do with the money left o v e r, “ p a y ” your savings accounts and investments first, Mark said.


N o t setting priorities. Does it feel like each paycheck could go in a dozen different directions? It’s easy to become distracted and put money into areas that won’t result in a long-term benefits. “I recommend to people to prioritize things,” said Jeff Feldman, Ph.D. and certified financial planner with Rochester Financial Services in Pittsford. “I see a lot of people spending money on things I’d consider non essential projects.” Taking out a home equity loan or withdrawing from retirement savings indicates you can’t afford a $30,000 kitchen renovation. A few choices like this can derail your finances. What’s

worse is that going for the most upscale appointments can result in a house with a resale value that outpaces the rest of the neighborhood so you can’t readily sell it for what it’s worth. It’s better to perform a few small-scale cosmetic upgrades, like refinishing the cupboard fronts and changing out the knobs instead of installing new cabinetry.


Assuming you have enough to retire when you want. “People need to understand how much money they need to retire,” Feldman said. “Some say they’ll retire at 62 and they are of the mindset that when they hit a certain age, they’ll automatically retire.” Feldman explained that to replace a $60,000 annual salary, a person would need to figure what he would receive from Social Security — perhaps $25,000 a year — and what would come from investments. “If you have to take out $30,000 annually from investments, there’s the 4% rule,” Feldman said. “You can take out only 4% a year. You’d need $750,000 in investments to do that. If they have $300,000 saved up, they can’t take out $30,000 a year. They have to be realistic when they approach it.”


Working longer for healthcare benefits. If you have grown tired of your job and want to retire, don’t worry about working for healthcare benefits if you are doing well financially. “Sometimes they over emphasize the health benefits,” Feldman said. “They say they have enough money to retire and they say they have to work until 65 to get Medicare. Health costs are another expense they have to factor in.”

With the healthcare exchange, many people can obtain coverage for $5,000 to $7,000 per year, which Feldman doesn’t view as an obstacle to retiring at 62 if all other financial ducks are in a row.


Carrying balances on high interest credit cards. While most people need a credit card — it’s hard to book a flight, rent a room or buy online without one — balances on high interest cards are a bad idea because you’re paying to spend money you don’t have. This also indicates that you’re living outside your means. “Request annual credit reports to check for irregularities,” said Elizabeth A. Thorley, certified financial planner and president and CEO of Thorley Wealth Management in Pittsford. “The site www.annualcreditreport.com goes through the three credit bureaus.” People tend to rely too much on credit cards because they live paycheck to paycheck. “Have more than three months’ expenses in cash reserves,” Thorley advised. “Know your fixed expenses versus discretionary expenses: what you need on a monthly basis to maintain your lifestyle.”

The cost of nursing home care is around $11,756.00 for a semi-private room to $12,189.00 for a private room per month in New York, according to www.seniorliving.org.


Receiving large tax refunds Thorley advises that any tax rebate that is 10% of your tax liability or larger is too big. Think of it as an interest-free loan to the government that keeps your money tied up instead of doing something for you. “You should be saving or paying down debt,” she said.


Pay off student debts with retirement funds. Sure, you want to help your children or grandchildren obtain their education; however, if you can’t do that along with sufficiently funding your retirement, favor your retirement. “You can’t borrow to live in retirement,” Thorley said. “You’ll need those resources. Adult children will have 30 years of working. Time is not on your side. It’s detrimental unless you’re willing to work more.”

Claiming Social Security too early or too late. Thorley recommends people to wait to collect benefits until they turn 70. “Everyone becomes eligible at 62 but they get the maximum benefit at age 70,” she said. “If you’re a widow or widower, you can claim as early as 60. Your full benefit depends upon the year of your birth.”

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Ignoring end-of-life planning. Death is an uncomfortable topic for most people; however, it’s unavoidable. To lessen the burden on family members, it’s vital to plan for it financially. Thorley said that many people don’t have up-to-date estate documents and life insurance. She advises against term life insurance, since it’s intended for temporary use. “It gets more expensive as you get older,” she added. She also knew someone who worked at a company 30 years and never looked at the benefits only to realize the person’s deceased mother was listed as the beneficiary. “It can generate a lot of additional steps for a beneficiary to claim an inheritance,” Thorley said. “You can avoid the stress in an already stressful situation.” She also wants more people to pay attention to long-term care costs in their retirement planning. “Plan for that rainy day that we all don’t want to consider but we may have to,” she said.


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MONITOR– count your medication regularly

SECURE– lock up any medication you do not want anyone to access

DISPOSE– drop off any unwanted/unused and expired medication to your local disposal site

Medication Drop Box Locations: Bristol: Town Hall

Farmington: State Troopers

Canandaigua: FLCC (Keuka Wing) The Medicine Shoppe Ontario County DMV Office Canandaigua Police Dept. Thompson Hospital (lobby) Mental Health Clinic

Clifton Springs: Hospital (Lobby)

Geneva: Police Station North Street Pharmacy Richmond: Town Hall CVS Pharmacy

East Bloomfield: Town Hall Manchester/Shortsville: Red Jacket Pharmacy Naples: Village Hall Phelps: Community Center Rushville: Village Hall

Victor: Meade Square Pharmacy Questions, please call us at 585-396-4554.

July / August May / June 2019 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+finances Credit Card Debt in Retirement Going into retirement with credit card debt can pose challenge to boomers, experts say By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


o you owe a balance on a credit card? According to MSN.com, 40% of baby boomer Americans are still paying off credit card debt. Local experts say that’s a problem because unlike simple interest on loans such as mortgages, credit card debt compounds interests. Debtors pay interest on interest. Bryce Carey, partner and certified financial planner with NorthLanding Financial Partners, LLC in Rochester, said that carrying credit card debt by this age usually means the budget is unbalanced — or there is no budget. “If they carry that habit into retirement, it’s likely they’ll overspend any distribution from their investment portfolio,” Carey said. “Just missing one payment can compound new spending being added to those credit cards. I work on developing a budget and an emergency savings account before using credit cards.” If the client has insufficient cash flow, Carey recommends consolidating the debt with a loan with a lower interest rate. Refinancing a home may help them use home equity to get out of credit card debt, as can establishing consistent payments with a known end date, all while not using credit cards anymore. “Most find it’s advantageous to downsize rather than loan against it,” Carey added. He said that some people accumulate credit card debt because they over-contribute to their 401k or focus on funding their children’s college education or they’re taking care of their elderly parents. Any of the above can leave them strapped for emergencies such as a vehicle breaking


55 PLUS - July 2019 May/ /August June 2020

down or replacing an appliance. Some rack up debt for luxuries they cannot afford but want immediately, such as springing for a vacation while their children are still teens or young adults. “It demonstrates why having that budget is critical,” Carey said. Elizabeth A. Thorley, certified financial planner and president of Thorley Wealth Management in Pittsford, said that recent data shows the amount of debt among boomers is higher, but those going in debt have more assets to show for it, compared with a decade ago. “When someone’s approaching 10 years or so of retirement, the most important question is how much you need to live on in retirement and if your resources will be able to support that,” Thorley said. “If 20% of your income goes to debt, make sure you have the resources to pay that.” Although not an ideal situation, if a retiree can keep up with credit card payments and not skip any, carrying credit card debt into retirement is still manageable. “We definitely will encourage our clients to think about their debt management as a total picture,” Thorley said. “You don’t’ want to use your 401k as a piggy bank, but sometimes you should think of the

other resources than credit cards. There might be other options that are cheaper than credit cards.” For those looking forward to retirement while carrying credit card debt, Diana Apostolova, financial consultant and owner of Rochester Investments in Rochester, recommends still matching the company 401k while paying down debt. “If possible they should try to refinance the debt into a lower interest rate,” she added. “In addition they should try to eliminate any unnecessary purchases. A good start is to go over their expenses and see if some expenses can be either reduced or eliminated, and if that’s possible to use the money to pay down debt. Another option is to either work extra hours or get a second job, although that may not be a feasible option for many.” Credit cards should be viewed only as a last resort for an emergency, according to Adam M. Mark, certified f i n a n c i a l p l a n n e r w i t h We a l t h Management Group, LLC in Rochester. He also sees credit card debt as an indicator that affording retirement is going to be extra challenging. “You’re earning the most in those years before retirement,” Mark said. “If you can’t afford to pay off credit cards before you retire, the odds of paying them off on a fixed, limited income are going to be a challenge. If at all possible, it should be paid off before retirement. Rarely would I suggest retiring if you still have credit card debt.” He said that a trusted and knowledgeable family friend or a credit counselor may help form strategies that can help knock out credit card debt.

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CNY55 (Rochester) 7.25 x 10 due April 14


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

Coronavirus: Will Life Ever Be the Same?

What has changed since the start of coronavirus crisis? Everything!


little more than four months ago, China reported a cluster of pneumonia cases which became the genesis of the novel coronavirus. A month later, there were about 10,000 cases worldwide, including the first one in the United States. As of mid April, we have seen more than 2 million cases worldwide with more than 120,000 deaths In the U.S. alone, as of mid April, had nearly 600,000 people who tested positive for the COVID-19 and more than 23,000 deaths.. It seems almost incomprehensible that in about four months our lives have been turned upside down by a novel (new) virus for which there is no vaccine and one is not likely to be approved for use for 12 to 18 months. Things we have taken for granted — having dinner at our favorite restaurant, picking up a bottle of wine at the liquor store, socializing with family and friends, shopping, going to classes — are on hold for weeks, maybe months. The simple pleasures of life — attending concerts and sporting events, taking part in church services or seeing our child or grandchild’s performance at a dance or piano recital — are no longer options. Taking a trip to see relatives, planning a cruise, getting ready for summer vacation — they’re all on indefinite hold. High school and college seniors, who typically at this time are planning year-end events and celebrations — proms, graduations, class trips, parties — they aren’t going to happen unless those involved violate the government’s decree to ban events like this. Let’s be honest: There are those who have downplayed this crisis and


55 PLUS - July 2019 May/ /August June 2020

who want to pooh-pooh these dire warnings. Those photos of spring break revelers on Florida beaches made many of us angry at the self-centeredness and callousness of these young people who believed that this was an “old person’s disease.” Now,

they have found out from researchers and health professionals who have been tracking COVID-19 that more than 20% of those afflicted are in the 20-45 age group. Businesses, which until just weeks ago were recording record profits in

‘Sure, we have had disruptions in our lives before. When weather forecasters warned of a major snowstorm or blizzard, for which our part of New York state is especially famous, or other dislocating events, we saw panic-buying at grocery stores, but in those instances we knew that the emergency was going to be of relatively short duration.

an economy that was humming along at unprecedented levels, are shut down and millions of employees are suddenly without jobs or soon will be. The stock market, which seeming set new records daily, plunged into bear market territory and beyond, and most financial experts believe we are already into the early stages of a recession and fear we may even be talking about the dreaded “D” word — depression. Our Individual Retirement Accounts have in some cases been depleted by 40%, more in some cases. We are in unchartered waters where fear, anxiety and panic have become our daily companions. Sure, we have had disruptions in our lives before. When weather forecasters warned of a major snowstorm or blizzard, for which our part of New York state is especially famous, or other dislocating events, we saw panic-buying at grocery stores, but in those instances we knew that the emergency was going to be of relatively short duration. Those of us old enough remember two oil crises in the 1970s because OPEC put the screws on oil supplies. In 1973 and again in 1979, we sat in long lines every other day to get gasoline to fill our vehicles — assuming we could even find any. With this contagion, we do not know whether the disruptions will last two weeks, two months or much longer. Some health experts have warned us to be prepared for up to six months of the types of challenges we are facing today, including product shortages. Even after the immediate danger has passed, we are basically clueless at the moment as to how things will play out after that. We are told to stay home. Do not go to public places. Practice safe-distancing, which means staying three to six feet away from another person. We are given daily reminders to wash our hands for 20 seconds, use hand sanitizer (if you can find any), frequently clean surfaces with disinfectant (if you can find any), don’t allow anyone into our homes except immediate family and take a number of other common-sense precautions. News reports in newspapers and TV are devoted almost exclusively of COVID-19-related information. Each

stamps which they used to buy sparing amounts of these items. But what is unfolding before us with this novel coronavirus is unprecedented in its reach and scope, so we are being asked to act in a manner to which we have never been accustomed. Living in a country such as ours, where we can basically come and go as we please, it is shocking for us to face a new normal for an unknown period of time. We are being asked not to do some of the things that have become second nature — shake hands, hug, kiss, hold hands, touch our face, lick our finger to turn the page of a book or newspaper, etc. This will be one of the biggest tests of what we citizens are made of. We have lived through other scary events. The Great Recession was just 12 years ago when the jobless rate soared and the country nearly went into depression. There was 9/11 two decades ago and the unsettling days and months that followed, yet we came together dedicated to fight the threat of terrorism. Now, as then, heroes emerge. Those on the front lines, especially the health-care providers in all of our communities, deserve our thanks, admiration and praise. We also salute the workers who remain on the job in critical businesses such as supermarkets and grocery stores, those restaurant workers who continue to serve takeout meals and other unsung heroes who put their lives at risk to help us. We got through those scary times, and we will get through this one, too, with common sense, sensible precautions, accepting the sacrifices we have to make for the greater good and by following the instructions of our health professionals and government leaders. We ignore their guidance at our peril and at the peril of our loved ones and the community in general. Let us also understand that we need to conduct our lives with an abundance of caution at this critical moment. This is not a time for downplaying or minimizing what faces us We citizens have an extraordinary track record for meeting challenges and rising up to conquer them. Let us face this challenge with the same fervor. Remember: We are all in this together.

It seems almost incomprehensible that in about four months our lives have been turned upside down by a new virus for which there is no vaccine and one is not likely to be approved for use for 12 to 18 months. day, the virus’s toll is reported — how many infected, how many have died. It seems as if any other kind of news has suddenly stopped. Social media are abuzz with comments and information-sharing posts. Along with the helpful is the misinformation that always occurs in crises. Of course, also a part of these crises are the charlatans and snake-oil salespeople who come out in force trying to make a buck on the vulnerable, fearful and anxious. Despite laws against it, price-gouging has become rampant, too, with outrageous prices being charged for hard-to-find items such as hand sanitizer, toilet paper and a number of food products. During my 80 years, I have lived through other pandemics — the most serious being the 1968 Hong Kong flu virus that killed about a million people, including 500,000 or 15% of the population of Hong Kong. The Asian flu, which struck while I was a senior in high school in 1956-57, killed 2 million people worldwide, including 70,000 in the United States and made some of my classmates really sick. When I was a boy, childhood diseases such as measles, mumps and chicken pox were common. Several of my friends and I had all three and were quarantined at home at various times until we recovered and could no longer spread the diseases to others. There were even quarantine placards on our windows to warn people to stay away. During World War II, rationing was a means of ensuring the fair distribution of food and other commodities that were scarce. Among rationed goods were gasoline, butter and sugar, but, eventually, most foods were covered, and shoppers received ration

July / August May / June 2019 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ work

Working at Home: 8 Tips to Stay Productive Advice from a writer who has worked from home for the past 20 years By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


hether you’re working at home because of a new flex arrangement, minor illness or, let’s say, a pandemic (COVID-19 — you might have heard of it?), try these tips for staying healthy and productive:


Stick with a regular schedule. It may be tempting to sleep in late or stay up late working, but avoid these extremes. If you work your normal hours, your coworkers and clients know when they can reach you and you won’t slack off or burn out. Take time for your normal breaks and lunchtime, too. When your day is done, follow your normal protocol for availability as if you were still working from the office.


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Get dressed. Especially if you don’t video conference, it’s tempting to stay in pajamas all day; however, the cozy duds send your brain the message that you’re not really working today. You might not dress up in a suit or heels while at home, but at least getting out of pajamas and dressing sets the right tone for the workday.


Communicate. You have to stay in touch for the tasks of your job, so choose the means that meets the needs of your audience and remains in compliance with company policy. Talk it over with your boss if it’s not working out well. That client who ignores email may be better reached on the phone. Respond promptly to others’ communication. A delay in

the reply may make the other person assume that since you’re at home, you’re not as attuned to your work as when in the office. It’s also important to stay connected with coworkers socially. An occasional, non-workrelated comment in a text, email or call can help you feel closer to your co-workers and not so isolated.


Minimize distractions. Working at home can make it easy to do a few household repairs or chores while “on the clock.” Discipline yourself to ignore the urge to start a load of laundry or fix that squeaky hinge until you are not working. (Writing down an after-work to-do list can help you make peace with these urges.) If possible, designate a room or at least a space in a room separate from the activity of the household. Set up a work area with all the resources, supplies and tools you need to work effectively. Let anyone else in your home know that during these hours, you’re working and anything that’s not an emergency will have to wait until you have a break. Once you’re accustomed to working at home, treat yourself to the pleasure of working from the back deck or other venue, as long as you’re productive.


Eat right. If you’re accustomed to grabbing lunch out, it may

be inconvenient to go from your home office to the places you have patronized before. Perhaps cut back to a couple restaurant lunches a week or else find new places you like that are closer to your home office. Don’t let the lure of the fridge tempt you into grazing through the day. This may be a good opportunity to make healthful meal choices at home. Stock up on (or prepare yourself) some ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables, yogurts, nuts, sandwich and salad fixings and lowsodium, vegetable-laden soup for easy lunches at home. Eat someplace away from your desk so it feels like a real break. Go outside, if possible.


Exercise. It isn’t just good for your body, but it helps you work better. If you liked to swing by the gym before work and now, you’re at home, you can still stay in shape. Get out and briskly walk or run when the weather’s nice. Look up home-based workouts on YouTube. Invest in some exercise equipment such as exercise bands, hand weights, elliptical machine or a treadmill. Performing some old-school stretches and calisthenic movements like calf raises, squats and jumping jacks can help you stay fit.


De-stress. Exercise helps with this, as does finding time each day to do an activity that helps you let go of stress. The transition to working at home can add extra stress to your life. Plus, when you work at home, it’s harder to shed stress because you don’t have that commute in which to decompress. Take time to do what helps you unwind, like the aforementioned

Writer Deborah Sergeant working at her workstation at home. She has worked from home for 20 years and share some tips on how to be successful and productive. exercise, light reading, talking with an upbeat friend, mindfulness or an enjoyable hobby that’s different from your work.


Enjoy yourself. Minimize the drawbacks of working at home by focusing on the advantages: no more commute, parking struggles or

dealing with bad weather. You can pet your cat or dog anytime you like and wear your slippers all day if you want. All the time you had spent commuting you can use for something to nurture and improve yourself. For most homebased workers, the flexibility and time saved make the shift to home work a great arrangement.

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July / August May / June 2019 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ cleaning

Spruce Up Your Home While Quarantined

20 great things you can do around the house By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


tuck at home because of the coronavirus pandemic? That’s a good opportunity to get in the spirit of spring cleaning and renewal and spruce up your home.


Clear out the closets and other storage spaces. Designate items as recycle, donate, sell, keep or trash and follow through on those designations. While it’s tempting to think that someday you’ll get back to that hobby, clothing size or project, it’s more likely you


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won’t ever need items you haven’t used in the past 12 months.


Clear out the cupboards and drawers. As with closets, toss, recycle or donate items you haven’t used in a year (like the lids with no containers or gadgets that you don’t use). Pay attention to expiration dates on foods, cosmetics, vitamins, sunscreen and medications and dispose of old items properly. Don’t flush medication or place unused prescriptions in the trash.

Many pharmacies accept these items.


Organize your closets and storage spaces. Assess the additional space you now have and arrange your items better. Cascading clothing hangers can help you hang more garments in less space. As needed, install additional shelves and rods. Repurpose storage devices such as a hanging sweater holder to stow lightweight objects like board games in a hall closet or an overthe-door shoe caddy to store spices on a pantry door. Small items tend to pile up as clutter, so categorize them and corral them into containers that make sense for the space.


Organize cupboards and drawers. Small changes like hooks for hanging mugs and tiers to separate stacks of plates can make a big difference in your cupboards’ tidiness. Silverware organizers work wonders

in desk drawers to keep small objects neat.


Improve your creature comforts. Turn your mattress, add a few bright throw pillows to the sofa, break out some scented candles and replace any threadbare sheets, towels and bathmats.


Clear out the fridge and freezer. While you likely clean out uneaten leftovers often, the condiment shelf and freezer are often overlooked. Take every single item out and scrub all the shelves. Go through the freezer and pitch anything past date or that appears freezer burned or that you can’t remember when it went in. Return the shelves what you’re retaining in a way that makes sense, such as by food category. A few small, labeled bins can help make it tidier.


Assess your home’s safety. Do you have smoke detectors in the kitchen, on each level of your home (including the basement and attic), and in each bedroom? How about carbon monoxide detectors? Have you changed their batteries lately? Most experts recommend changing the batteries every six months or on Memorial Day and Labor Day to make it easier to remember. Do you have a fire extinguisher in the garage and in the kitchen? Do you have deadbolt locks on exterior doors? Are all weapons safely stored, separate from ammunition?


Re-grout tile. Whether it’s grubby beyond redemption or in poor repair, grout isn’t that difficult to redo. Select the right grout for the job.


Clean your tools. Room by room, take some time to clean hair brushes and combs, makeup brushes, brooms and other frequently used tools.


Improve visibility inside and out. Add lights where needed to closets, walkways, basement and attic. If you haven’t looked at home lighting options lately, you may be surprised at the number of options available that don’t require an electrician’s experience to install. For some areas, reflective tape may make steps easier to navigate.


Clean your equipment and appliances. When did you last clean the vacuum cleaner, refrigerator coils, computer vents, coffee maker and other appliances in your home?


Purge paper. Fill up the recycle bin with old magazines and newspapers, letters you don’t need, and paper files that you could just as well scan and store electronically. Go through your bookshelves and donate books you no longer want. For the paper items you do need, file in an accordion file or a file cabinet according to a labeled system that makes sense to you.


Organize photos. Whether you have mostly digital photos, print photos or a combination, they don’t do much good out of sight. Sort through them to eliminate blurry shots and organize them in albums. Print and frame the ones you want to display. Pass along duplicate prints to people who would want them.


Deep clean. It’s a great time to get the windows washed, clean the drapes, shampoo the carpeting, scrub all the cupboard fronts and baseboards, behind heavy furniture and appliances and any other areas


Clean up your landscaping. Rake up fallen twigs and leaves, tidy up those flowerbeds and plant some new items to bring some color to your home.

18. you may not typically clean week by week.

12. 13.

Touch up paint and woodwork.

Fix those little items. Most people can handle repairing squeaky hinges, wobbly knobs, loose shingles and more. Gather your tools and go room by room and then around the outside of your house to take care of those repairs you can handle—and make a list of the things a professional should do.

Touch up exterior paint. From trim to siding to the front door, clean and then touch up any chips and blemishes you notice outside. Completely changing the front door’s color can greatly enhance your home’s curb appeal.


Remove outdoor clutter. Objectively apprise your home’s appearance and get rid of junk, like debris from a home improvement project, dead potted plants or broken lawn furniture.


Tidy up pet areas. E x p e r t s recommend periodically replacing litter boxes. Clean pet beds, scratching posts, crates and pets’ eating areas using cleaners safe for pets. July / August May / June 2019 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ rights

Theodore Roosevelt. She also attended six suffrage meetings and four congressional hearings. According to Pollicove, in the early days Anthony’s efforts were met with scorn, hostility, and threats of violence. Decades later, the value of her efforts was recognized, and she was revered and admired as a visionary.

‘Superwoman’ status

A Vote for Equality The 19th Amendment celebrates 100 this year: Local women recall struggle for the women’s right to vote By Lynette M. Loomis


usan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the women’s suffrage movement that eventually changed the lives of all Americans. An avid abolitionist and against all alcohol, Anthony realized that without the right to vote, her voice, and that of other women, would not be heard. The 19th amendment was known as the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment” to honor her work on behalf of women’s rights. The amendment granting all American women the right to vote was ratified Aug. 18, 1920. Anthony died before women won the right to vote. Kit Pollicove, 73, is the chairwoman of the board of trustees


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at the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House on Madison Street in Rochester. Several years ago, she became part of a committee to support the destination point. “Learning about Susan’s B. Anthony’s story was deeply moving and personal for me, and it became clear that her advocacy for women’s rights and equal rights is very relevant for us today. These issues still reverberate for my daughters and granddaughter,” Pollicove said. Anthony was unwavering in her commitment to securing the vote for women. Even at 76, she traveled up and down the state of California, speaking three times a day. After age 80, she traveled to 18 states and to Europe, and interviewed President

On April 9, 1995, a New York Times article, “Celebrating Feminism’s Superwoman,” said: “She was one of the most famous people of her time — ‘Miss Anthony of the World’ — the most popular woman in the United States, feted by presidents and idolized by the press. Her autograph sold for hard currency and newborns were named after her.” Author and news correspondent Lynn Sherr describes Anthony as a “living, breathing, fabulous human being.” As a newspaper columnist wrote after Anthony’s death in 1906: “Her career illustrates again what a life devoted to a single idea can accomplish.” Although Anthony did not live to celebrate victory, she had faith that her successors would persist until suffrage was won. She encouraged those who would follow her, as she contemplated at the end of her life: “When it is a funeral, remember that I want there should be no tears. Pass on and go on with the work.” While several generations of women take this right for granted, many women know it was a hardwon battle. Ruth Hayes recalls her mother’s and grandmother’s involvement in the voting process. “As an 88-yearold retired history teacher, I have had the opportunity to observe the voting attitudes of not only my grandmothers and mother but also my daughters and granddaughters. Both grandmothers were born in Vermont in the late 1800’s,” Hayes said. “They had experienced voting in the Vermont town meetings from the time they were 21. They were very proud to be able to vote for the president. My maternal grandmother always followed my grandfather’s

decisions regarding voting. However, my paternal grandmother, a librarian and a widow by the time I remember her, always spent a great deal of time learning as much as possible before voting,” she added. Hayes’ mother was in high school when the 19th Amendment was passed. “She told about how excited she and all her friends were as they looked forward to the opportunity to vote in national elections. She was always very independent and determined as she made decisions regarding her votes,” Hayes said. “In fact, often she cancelled out her husband’s vote because they rarely agreed.”

Against the grain Vermont was a largely Republican state and Hayes’ mother was the first Vermonter she knew who voted as Democrat in the 1950’s. “Some of her granddaughters and great granddaughters carry the same independent genetic traits when it comes to voting,” Hayes noted.

Florence Prawer will be turning 92 this year. “The women in my life (mother and grandmother) were not politically minded. They were focused on domestic life. My father came here from Poland and assumed that the right to vote came with becoming a citizen,” Prawer said. “She doesn’t take for granted her right to vote and votes in every level of election she can (school, county, state and beyond) — no matter the weather. “I am very mindful and aware of the great sacrifices made for that right. I will always vote because I know it is important. Women gave their lives for that right; the least I can do is make the simple action of voting,” Prawer said. Lydia Boddie-Rice says her mother Bette, 86, learned the importance of voting from her mother Marie, who was born in 1907. Marie never passed up a chance to vote and carefully thought about the options. Both women inspired BoddieRice to create a legacy of change and to champion equality. “Voting is one way to make my voice heard. My

daughters not only know that the right to vote is hard fought for and precious, but that the freedom for them to choose is empowering and transformative,” she said. Mary Church shared a love of the political process with her mother. “My mom and I had many lively discussions about the political process, and these increased in intensity over the years. Mom, who died last year at the age of 90, was very traditional, and she registered Republican on the advice of her husband, whose father was active in the Monroe County political machine in the ‘30s and beyond. However, she was brilliant and an avid reader, followed the news, and cared deeply about current events at the local, state and national levels,” Church said. “Mom viewed her vote both as a cherished right and a responsibility, and she switched parties during her later years. She deeply appreciated the privacy of the polling booth, where she could cast her vote for the candidates of her choice without interference. She viewed that independence as a victory.”

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55+ art

Work by Rochester sculptor artist Jane Notides-Benzing. She works with heavyweight archival paper for her sculptural work. “It allows me flexibility, a painting surface that I can lay colors to. I can twist it, stretch it within reason, wet it and dry it,” she says.

Paper Sculptor Ready for a New Exhibit Artist Jane Notides-Benzing, 82, uses a heavyweight archival paper to create work that is vibrantly alive and fluid By Christine Green


rtist Jane Notides-Benzing works the paper she uses in her fiber art sculptures like she would bread dough: stretching, pulling, kneading. Then she lets it rest and waits for the energy it’s imbued with to speak to her and tell her what else it needs. And, like a baker, she does this all in her kitchen. “My studio is the kitchen, where the first part of my effort — water,


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paint, pulling, stretching, drying, repainting — begins.” Notides-Benzing, 82, believes that every aspect of her home life must intimately interweave with her art.  “I hang the in-progress pieces in the hall and living room where I can see them daily. On passing, as I go about my personal or in-home needs, I can reflect on what each artwork needs next, hoping to give it a sense

of excitement and mystery.” Notides-Benzing attended New York City’s High School of Music and Art then attended Hunter College and New York University where she studied art and science. She’s been in Rochester since 1968 where she did technical writing and wrote training manuals for Xerox before her retirement several years ago. She also used her knowledge of art and art history to teach art appreciation for private clients over the years. Sometimes she would host talks in her home for small groups. In addition, she gave occasional lectures at the University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery. Today she focuses primarily on her 3-D wall-hung paper art and is currently prepping for her June exhibit, “Forever Paper,” at the Geisel Gallery at One Bausch & Lomb Place. Jean Geisel has managed the Geisel Gallery since 1995 when it opened.

Geisel was the second woman to serve as corporate officer at Bausch & Lomb in 1986 and in 1996 she was promoted to secretary of the company. She retired in 2016. Her gallery showcases local and regional artists. “I deeply admired Jane’s work — the techniques and conception — transcending to create works

Jane Notides-Benzing working in her “studio” — the kitchen at her Rochester home.

characterized by layered compositions, indistinct shapes and remarkable intricacy. Her work creates a complex materiality all of its own.” Notides-Benzing uses a heavyweight archival paper for her sculptural work. She wets it, molds it, paints it and manipulates it to create work that is vibrantly alive and fluid. “It’s a commercial paper,” said Notides-Benzing. “But it does what I want it to do. It allows me flexibility, a painting surface that I can lay colors to. I can twist it, stretch it within reason, wet it and dry it.” Her life-long attachment to paper as an artistic medium was the reason she chose “Forever Paper” as the title of the upcoming show. “I was thinking about why this show is called ‘Forever Paper.’ It’s because my fingers have been forever messing around with paper whether it was with a paintbrush as a child and then pencils, pen, and writing in school years and then digital word processing. Now the big focus isn’t with a brush and a pencil or digital, it’s with the flexibility of paper.” Notides-Benzing’s pieces seem to float and flutter, some climbing off the wall like mythical creatures while others mimic the sweeping motion of silk rustled by a breeze. They attract the viewer to move beyond simply experiencing them visually; hands instinctively want to touch and move over every inch of the work. Notides-Benzing says that actually, visitors can touch them if they like. The pieces are sturdy, she noted, and would lose something if encased in the glass of a display case. Don Siuta is the director of the Artists Group Gallery and Art Dialogue Gallery in Buffalo and has been familiar with Notides-Benzing’s work for many years. He believes that her attention to craft gives NotidesBenzing’s work a special quality. “Jane has a really good eye for composition and her ability to take on material and have it form what she has in her head. She’s a good craftsman, you know, and a lot of times that’s one of the defining factors for an artist to be able to execute the concept that they have. She’s very good at being able to do that. And she’s not afraid to explore unorthodox mediums to create what she wants. She’s a very creative person.” Notides-Benzing’s process is a

solitary one. She works by herself in her studio-kitchen and doesn’t rely on the advice or input of others. “When I’m doing art exclusively in my mind and in my so-called studio in my kitchen, I am really on my own. I’m doing it alone and I don’t put any of my fellow artists that I know in the position of adviser to me or critic.” But working alone doesn’t mean that she is disengaged from the art world. She enjoys discussing art and socializing with friends and colleagues in the various artists groups she belongs to such as the Western New York Artists Group in Buffalo, the Arena Art Group in Rochester and the National Association of Women Artists.  She also has adult children living around the globe: Denver, France, Germany and Brazil. Visiting them gives her the opportunity to visit a variety of international art galleries such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Reading about other artists is inspiring to Notides-Benzing as well. She recently read a book about wellknown contemporary artist, Wayne Thiebaud. Thiebaud is a Californiabased painter who is best known for his highly pigmented and colorful depictions of cakes and pastries though he also paints landscapes and cityscapes. “He’s 95 years old and still working every day,” said Notides-Benzing. “So, in comparison, I’m young!” Siuta, the director of the Artists Group Gallery in Buffalo, said that he thinks Notides-Benzing’s maturity gives her an edge over some of the younger artists working today. “She’s not afraid, which is really great. She’s more open than a lot of younger artists to be very creative and do different things.”  

If You Go

Exhibit: “Forever Paper” by artist Jane Notides-Benzing of Rochester Location: Geisel Gallery, Bausch & Lomb, One Bausch & Lomb Place, Rochester When: The opening reception is on June 4 and is free and open to the public. More information: thegeiselgallery.com July / August May / June 2019 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ downsizing Bucking the Trend: Reasons NOT to Downsize

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Many retirees choose to downsize as a way to save money — but they may be better off staying put, experts say By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


nce your children have left the nest and you’re looking forward to retirement, it may seem like downsizing should be part of the natural transitions at this part of your life. But if you want to stay in your home, you have many reasons to do so other than nostalgia. Downsizing may not be less expensive than staying put. “A lot of people consider downsizing and getting a smaller place but not necessarily getting a less expensive place,” said Jeff Feldman, Ph.D. and certified financial planner with Rochester Financial Services in Pittsford. “They move into a townhouse but it’s actually a little more expensive.” While they may not need to pay for maintenance in a townhouse — snow removal and mowing are usually


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included — there may be homeowner’s association dues along with the lease. Often, these communities are in locations where taxes and utilities are higher. “You’re paying so much more for this townhouse and you’re getting so much less,” Feldman said. “I recommend just staying in their house. It’s nicer and they have more space.” There’s also the temptation to buy a nicer albeit smaller house. Even if it’s smaller, the expensive dreamhouse won’t save the retiring couple any money. “Downsizing in theory is a good idea, but it doesn’t always work out how people expect,” said Elizabeth A. Thorley, certified financial planner and president and CEO of Thorley

W e a l t h Management in P i t t s f o rd . “ I t doesn’t always lead to lower expenses. Homeowners usually buy a house that’s at a same or greater value or better location. They Thorley usually pay the same amount of money. Be clear on what your goals are on downsizing.” Your home may represent a significant amount of your equity. Thorley said that people need to view their homes as a financial asset that if they sell, they’ll have money to consume, invest or both.

Jeff Feldman “When people do downsizing, they think of real estate as an investment to supplement their retirement income,” Thorley said. “What is the reason someone is thinking about downsizing?” If you don’t need the money and like your home, staying makes sense.

Thorley added that you should also consider if heirs want your home. One way to do that is to do a private annuity with a family member. “Sell the home to your kids in a private transaction and the payments would give you extra income,” Thorley said. T h e re v e r s e m o r t g a g e w a s overhauled in 2013. Changes in laws offer homeowners more protection, greater counseling and have reduced the upfront cost, making them “a more viable choice,” Thorley said. “They wouldn’t have monthly payments on the mortgage. There’s no payment while they’re living in the home. It can be another alternative for individuals who want to stay in their home and want to access their home equity.” Many people want to age in place where they raised their families and have lived for decades. They feel emotionally attached to the home where they have so many happy recollections. Depending upon your future health needs, “aging in place can be a good alternative to a nursing home because there’s a significant cost to outside the home care,” said Adam Mark, certified financial planner and

president of Wealth Management Group, LLC in Rochester. Staying home with the support of home health aides is definitely less expensive. Mark recommends working with a care coordinator or a service that specializes in elder care to assess any obstacles to aging in place. If you’re undertaking any home renovation projects, keep these suggestions in mind to allow aging in place. Including many of these features can add value to your home once you or your heirs do decide to sell. For example, during a bathroom renovation, choose sink plumbing that comes through the wall and not the floor to accommodate a wheelchair accessible sink. Keep doorways wide enough for a walker and wheelchair.Consider a walk-in shower, first-floor laundry and first-floor bedroom. “Try to plan these things earlier than later to make sure your home is set up for you to stay there,” Mark said. “We talk with clients early on about caring for aging loved ones, well before someone needs this. Start laying the foundation earlier is of huge importance.”

Let our Certified Aging in Place Specialists help design your space for aging in place.

July / August May / June 2019 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ music

Vinyl Still Going Strong Owners of local music shops say old, young music lovers still attracted to vinyl records By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


P and 45 enthusiasts have enjoyed the revival of records for the past decade — and it doesn’t look like the trend is ready to dwindle anytime soon. Despite the convenience and ubiquity of streaming music, to some people nothing beats records for listening to their favorite music. “There are so many reasons why folks prefer vinyl albums over other forms of pre-recorded music,” said Alayna Alderman, vice president and co-owner of Record Archive in Rochester. “There’s the nostalgia of it. We all know how music transports us to another time and place, it reaches us in an ethereal way. Couple that with


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the wonderful graphics and artwork of vinyl and the visual is another connection.” Records give owners of the music a physical object to link them to the sounds they love and the times those songs represent. “When listening to records, you have to interact with it; flip the record, read the liner notes, etc,” Alderman said. Since all retro things are cool, it makes sense that records are popular with younger people. Alderman said that she sees parents shopping with teenagers and they share their favorite bands. “I see it as the only format that

Dan Bogel of Walworth The Record Stereo Console Restoration. He says growth in the popularity of records has also spurred a growth in record consoles. truly bridges generations,” Alderman said. “’You must have this Beatle album or Led Zeppelin,’” she said. “People also take pride in their record collections. It defines who we are and is an important part of our history and culture.” She said that record lovers also prefer the sound quality, especially when compared to compressed digital files. Tom Kohn, owner of Bop Shop Records in Rochester, has been in the record business close to 50 years. He said he never gave up on the popularity of records rebounding.

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“I knew they’d be around for a while,” he said. “Part of it is hipster. The kids are doing what their friends are doing. Not all records are available through streaming services like Spotify.” Kohn said that seeing what the bands look like, along with logos and other illustrations, helps people feel closer to their favorite entertainers. “There’s nostalgia about records,” Kohn said. “A lot of fathers and daughters or fathers and sons come in to explore together. It’s awesome.” He said teens through young adults like classic rock, like Rush, Pink Floyd, David Bowie and The Clash. Kohn said that many music companies have been appealing to people in their 30s and 40s by reissuing rock that was popular in the ‘90s that had never been issued on records before. “By then, vinyl was pretty much over, but if you were a teen in the 90s you can find the music from these music companies, as all those are getting repressed,” Kohn said. Though he prefers the sound quality of originals, he’s glad to see

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records accessible for people who want them. He recommends spending more on a good turntable, not an inexpensive model at discount stores. Among his 20,000-album collection, his favorite music is Oliver Nelson, a blues abstract troupe. Kohn owns copies in both vinyl and CD. The store stocks about 200,000 recordings. “Records will continue just fine,” Kohn said. “They ebb and flow. If we get into a petroleum problem or other economic forces, they may decline, but the desire will always be there. The growth in the popularity of

records has also spurred a growth in record consoles. Dan Bogel of Walworth stumbled upon the console repair business. The 56-year-old works as a project manager for Best Construction in Ontario. One of his customers had a four-foot console repurposed as a plantstand. The customer wanted to sell it, so Bogel bought it for $50. Always up for a challenge, he decided to restore it. By researching resources online and applying his existing knowledge of cabinetry, he completed the project. He did a few more for friends and acquaintances. July / August May / June 2019 2020 - 55 PLUS


His work on consoles picked up steam and he founded For The Record Stereo Console Restoration in 2017, working from his garage and eventually from a 20-by-20-foot addition he constructed. “It’s certainly easier to do the wood than the electronics,” Bogel said. He reaches out to many different mentors when he feels stumped. When Bogel bought the first console, he didn’t even own any records. “In my teens, eight-tracks were much smaller, though a record has a better quality of sound,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of records then because I didn’t have much money.” By the time his income increased and he began buying more recorded music, he began purchasing CDs. Now he owns 3,000 records of all genres except the one he doesn’t like: rap. He stores many unrestored consoles and portable record players at his workshop where clients may come select the model they want. Most are older than Bogel, but some are younger adults who want a console to complement the vibe of their retrofurnished homes. Once clients come to an agreement on the model and its price, Bogel charges a deposit and begins working. Bogel doesn’t upgrade consoles. “Every unit remains intact as it was when it left the factory, except adding Bluetooth capability if desired,” he said. Every part is inspected and cleaned or, if necessary, replaced, as well as the cabinet. Some restorations take months, including a trial period where Bogel plays the console daily for a few weeks. “Once I am satisfied with its performance, the clients may come and claim their console,” Bogel said. “Patience is a virtue I need [that] from my clients.” So far, he has restored only 15 consoles. The cost of restoration starts at about $700. Bogel said most of his consoles are from the 1960s. “History is history and if the walls of the cabinets could talk, they would spin endless tales of families gathered around the precious console to listen to music,” Bogel said. “And that is it—it’s all about the records and the machines that played them.” 28

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Tom Kohn, owner of Bop Shop Records in Rochester, has been in the record business close to 50 years. He says he never gave up on the popularity of records rebounding. “I knew they’d be around for a while.” Next to him is his wife Jann.

LPs on sale at Record Archive in Rochester. Alayna Alderman, co-owner, says, “There are so many reasons why folks prefer vinyl albums over other forms of pre-recorded music.”

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55+ cover

Folk Music with Flair Canandaigua folk chanteuse Maria Gillard captures spirit of being human By John Addyman


eople ambled into the Downstairs Cabaret Theatre in Rochester quietly, smiling and expectant. Every other man or woman who stepped into the dim lighting of the theater had a fiddle, guitar or banjo with them. They settled into comfortable seats, most within 10 feet from the stage. It’s an intimate venue. Onstage, Maria Gillard was placing her water bottle and the microphone in preparation for the set. The members of her trio — Perry Cleaveland (fiddle, mandolin) and Doug Henrie (bass) — were tuning and running through song riffs. Then came some introductory songs from cabaret owner Bill Destler, the former president of Rochester Institute of Technology, and finally, showtime: The Maria Gillard Trio was the featured act for the night. A folk singer, Gillard stepped into the first song.


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She is slim and diminutive — the guitar looks like a large instrument in her hands. She sings the song “Steady Woman,” the first cut on her second CD, “Bound to Happen.” She sings about someone who will open all your doors — the one you’ve been looking for, a steady woman who is headstrong but also a “burning light of genuine love” — a woman to treasure. The song has a honky-tonk feel to it and provides space for Cleaveland and Henrie to swim into the groove to add their own expert flavors. For a little more than an hour, the group does 15 songs, most of them written by Gillard. The audience knows her and her music. They sing along with “Tear Down These Walls,” about a woman trying to break away from the confinements and frustrations of her life. “Queen of the Highway” closes the night and everybody is singing the chorus, “Drop ’em off! Pick ‘em up!” If you’ve had kids and a van, you can

identify with the lyrics. “Little Rose,” a song about a young girl Gillard met on a trip to New Mexico, brought singer Dana Fine out of the audience to help build the harmony, and again, the audience joined in. If audiences have a favorite, it’s “Little Rose.” “I like people to feel when I sing,” she said. “When I’m on stage, I want people to listen to me. My songs are catchy and easy to sing along with. I think people can relate to them on a visceral level. They have felt the emotions I sing about — happiness, sadness, regret, frustration, love.”

Passion for folk music art form Gillard, 62, of Canandaigua, has been singing folk music for 33 years. She was raised in Fulton, has lived in the Rochester area, and spent time in Massachusetts following the folk scene. She has traveled to Africa,

Maria Gillard performing March 13 at the Hollerhorn Distillery in Naples. Photo by Chuck Wainwright. July / August May / June 2019 2020 - 55 PLUS


Maria Gillard and her trio March 11 at Downstairs Cabaret Theatre in Rochester. Photos by John Addyman. 32

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teaches vocal music at Finger Lakes Community College, and is an avid student of the folk music art form, attending workshops and seminars in Texas, Tennessee, West Virginia and New England. She is tuned to introspective vibes. If a group of women, say a bridal party getting together before a wedding, relaxed in a Finger Lakes location and played Gillard’s music for hours, they’d find that she hits every note on love, separation, loss of parents, struggling to be the woman they want to be, family relationships, parenting, personal tragedy, hope and fulfillment. There is such gentle urge and understanding in her voice, such joy and empathy in the lyrics, it’s not hard for someone to think, ‘This is my sister singing about something we both feel.’” But as “Steady Woman,” she is also singing directly to males, young adults and those who have lost both parents. Her dad was a high school vice principal who died in a car accident when she was 7. Her mom was a firstgrade teacher who raised Gillard and her five siblings. After high school, Gillard walked a meandering path to end up in folk music. She got her degree in music education from SUNY Potsdam and did spend time at the Rochester School of the Deaf where she lived on campus and immersed in that environment. “I absolutely loved that. I almost went back to school to get a degree in sign language,” she said. Instead, she took a job in a grade school in Canandaigua. It took her two and a half years to find out being an elementary music teacher didn’t hit her right chords. “I was the only music teacher for 900 kids. I like kids, but I was going insane. After that I said to myself, ‘If I don’t see another kid for 10 years, I’m good,’” she said. To make ends meet, she started a home business, teaching guitar and piano. And the call to folk music snuck up on her. “I started playing music with another teacher, Frank Meyer. He found out I played the guitar. He invited me over for a jam and I sang some harmony. He told me, ‘You’re a great harmony singer, why don’t you come play with me?’” she said. Meyer was an English teacher

and blind. “We played in Irish bars — McGee’s Pub, McGinnity’s Pub. He had been part of an Irish band, so we played the things Irish bands play,” Gillard said. “We became really good friends and we played almost every weekend. I met the Dady brothers and more musicians by going to open mike nights with Frank,” she added. Still underemployed, Gillard auditioned at a dance company as a mandolin player, using skills she had learned from Meyer, and she got the job. “Then they said, ‘Well, we can’t pay you, but you could take free dance lessons.’ I told them, ‘I can’t join the company because I don’t have a job. Can’t you pay me?’” she said. She ended up as an administrative assistant for the better part of a year, and learned how to book gigs for the dancers. She moved on to a job at The Little Theatre in Rochester, and her horizons broadened. “I met a lot of people, and I got involved with the Golden Link Folk-Singing Society,” she said. The organization has been around for 45 years, gathering people who love folk

music, bluegrass, blues and roots. Tuesday night sing-arounds introduce ingénues to veterans. The group welcomed her like an old friend.

Off and running And Gillard got the folk song bug. She went to workshops for songwriters and performers in West Virginia and took classes with John McCutcheon, who achieved fame in the world of traveling folk musicians. She had decided what she really wanted to do, which was to become a touring singer, relying on her own songs. “I got into a core group from Golden Link. We started a little songwriting group. We’d play songs to one another and it was an incentive to write songs. Joe LeMay, one of the Golden Link guys, decided to start his own record company, Local Folkel,” she said. Gillard had started writing songs in 1984. Now it was 1987. “I had enough songs to have my own record, and I asked Joe if I could be on his label,” she said. What emerged was “Snapshots,”

The Maria Gillard Trio — from left, Doug Henrie (bass), Maria Gillard and Perry Cleaveland (mandolin, fiddle, vocals) — during a performance March 11 at Downstairs Cabaret Theatre in Rochester. Photo by John Addyman.

which is only available on cassette and LP formats. And there aren’t many of them left. “For some godforsaken reason I recorded it in Connecticut. There was a lot of angst in the whole thing,” she said. “It was a long way to go to do it, and I was by myself.” But she was doing what she really wanted to do — traveling and singing. But Gillard wasn’t really ready. The record had good songs, but she had a lot to learn about making music that was at least a little commercial. She ended up moving to Massachusetts, which was a hotbed of folk music at the time. But she learned a hard lesson. “I felt like I had pulled the plug out from under myself. I lost my whole support system. I ended up moving back to Rochester,” she said. But she also did some short tours to Wisconsin, Maryland and Virginia with LeMay, who wanted to circulate the records on his label. Was she making money? “No, but I was living with this guy who had a good job as an electrical engineer,” she said. Her mom had died in 1987, and she had some money from her inheritance. She got along. She helped form the Black Turtle Band with John Stevens, Paul and Wendy Swiatek, Marshall Smith and Mike Reeves. “We did some of my original songs and some upbeat folk songs,” she said. The band played at Susan Plunkett’s Jazzberry’s club with many other folk musicians and was together and tight for a couple of years, then unraveled. Gillard did some work booking music talent for the Sunken Room Coffee House in Rochester, then got a job at Borders Bookstore in Henrietta, doing the same thing, and learned a lot more about the music industry. “It changed my life,” she said. “I was super-lucky.” She managed to arrange a Borders Bookstore tour for herself in Colorado and New Mexico, and on the road, wrote more songs. She had gone to the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas with Stevens and LeMay many times and entered two of her songs in the annual contest. She penned “Little Rose” on the western tour. And she found out something about herself and that dream she had. “I didn’t want to be on the road,” she said. “Once I did a couple of little July / August May / June 2019 2020 - 55 PLUS


tours I found out it’s lonely when you’re singing by yourself. If I had been part of a band, I think it would be been different,” she said. “When you’re driving by yourself, eating by yourself, singing by yourself, doing everything by yourself, I longed for home.”

Winds of change In 1997, Gillard got a job as a vocal music instructor at FLCC and left the bookstore. Her voice teacher, Cathy Kamm, was the touchstone for the job. When Gillard was teaching elementary kids in Canandaigua right out of college, she had lost her voice three times. Kamm trained her to sing in the proper range. But Gillard was restless. “My heart wanted to write and perform songs. That was my passion,” she said. As a result, she recorded “Bound to Happen” that year, with “Steady Woman” as the first song. It had been almost 10 years since her first recording and her subject matter had broadened. Scott Regan, a fellow Golden Link songwriting and performing buddy, has some perspective on what Gillard was developing into. “When she sings, it’s like she puts a smile in each person’s heart,” he said. “A little hard to describe, but after playing with and watching her over the last 30 to 35 years, she is like a fine wine that just keeps getting better. “Her songs are about everyday experiences — relationships, mourning a friend, love of family. Her lack of cynicism is disarming, real, and emotionally true. It’s that truth that people respond to, I think. She is totally herself when she sings. No pretension whatsoever. People relate to that.” Three years later, Gillard went all out on her next album, “Little Rose,” in 2000. She hired the Rayni Arbo’s Salamander Crossing band. I love her fiddle playing, I know her bass player. We played for three days and picked the best songs out of the bunch. They were already tight with their band. The production was really quick and it was really good,” she said. “Little Rose” was a hit, selling some 2,000 copies. “Tear Down These Walls” was on this disc. Gillard got ready for her next album in 2008, but now there was an


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obstacle in her path: She had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had started treatment. “I was out for a year,” she said. “I lost all my hair. During that time, WXXI got a grant from the state Council of the Arts to feature a concert. A CD would follow. “I applied for it and was chosen, and right that after I was diagnosed with cancer.” Gillard feared she couldn’t make the concert or the CD. The recording was pushed back to November but even then, Gillard confided to Regan: “What am I going to do, Scott? I’m so weak.” “Put a band together that knows your music,” he advised. So she chose old friends Cleaveland, Brian Williams, and the late Joe Dady. Live OnStage was the product, with “Queen of the Highway” and “Just Ain’t Right” featured tunes, plus a forthright and empathetic tale of her discomfort and image-bending year of treatment, “I’m Bald.” A song that she and Regan wrote, “Broken World,” appeared on her next album with an apt title, “Mending,” in 2012. How that song got developed demonstrates the genesis of the vast cooperative creativity and liquidity in the folk-singing ranks. “Scott, John, Steve Piper and I got together every couple of weeks to give each other lines, to see if each of us could come up with a song,” she said. “Scott came over one day and told me, ‘I have this thought that’s going through my mind, that keeps coming back to me — who’s going to mend this broken world?”

Mending a broken world As Regan explained, “We had been writing songs together for a while when I heard, maybe we each heard, an NPR segment on a peace worker having been killed. She was there helping people less fortunate and rebels took her down. Without

To check a complete calendar of Maria Gillard’s concerts, visit www.mariagillard.com

getting into historical details, the idea of a woman in some poor, remote, warravaged village being shot down as she tried to help those who needed it most struck us in a devastating way. She was not a warrior. Those she was helping were not warriors. The senseless lack of humanity is stunning. Is this how we treat each other, how we treat our world? “I asked Maria to remember that radio segment; maybe we could write something about it. I completely forgot about it months later, but she reminded me. Our generation hasn’t made things much better, so we pass it on to the next. Who’s gonna mend this broken world? It’s a question with no answer.“ Two years after, “Broken World” was written and put on the “Mending” album. Gillard and Regan teamed up for the newest release in 2014 of “A Little Luck,” and re-recorded the song. The album itself is a shared gift. And Gillard found comfort in her life. She had a good job and a loving anchor: in 2006, Joe Conte came to one of her performances. Then they met in a yoga class. In 2016, they married. “He is a warm, friendly and honest guy. We have similar interests in music — folk, jazz and Pavarotti! He also was really interested in family. I have a huge Irish family and he has a big Italian family and that was really important to both of us. When we met each other’s families, we both loved each other’s and they all loved us, so that was a big deal,” she said. And there is so much more to Gillard. She has been to Africa on a musician’s mission to build a home. Her poem, “A Special Angel,” about her best friend’s mom is in the book, “365 Days of Angel Prayers.” She teaches journaling at Writers & Books in Rochester. She wrote and directed a song, “We are the Peacekeepers” with the Mount Hope World Singers. “I’m learning how to put the feeling of my music into the lyric,” she said. “I’m learning how to think emotionally. The thing that makes me happiest is for people to listen to one of my songs and tell me how much it means to them, or challenges them, or makes them feel very happy,” she said. “One of my colleagues says he puts on the ‘Mending’ CD when he cleans his house. He said, ‘It’s just so great — it’s like you’re in the house with me.’ That comment made my whole day,” she said.

55+ volunteer Betty Schaeffer, 79, has been a volunteer at The Little Theatre for 20 years.

and find Linda Moroney is a talented moderator and great at offering documentaries that give me so much,” she said. The films are held at 6:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month along with an encore at 3 p.m. the second Saturday of each month, unless otherwise noted. Schaeffer also works tirelessly to promote The Little. She delivers flyers to different locations every week as well as other flyers for special events. “I have a regular routine for this. I have also helped with development, stuffing envelopes and greeting people when The Little has special events,” she said. “It brings me great pleasure to see good film, meet good people who work there and teach me what is good art in film.”

Added perspective

A Lot at The Little Longtime volunteer at The Little Theatre reflects on its cultural significance in Rochester By Lynette M. Loomis


n downtown Rochester resides a cultural gem, The Little Theatre. As the oldest continuously running independent film theater in the country, it draws a wide range of dedicated patrons and volunteers. Betty Schaeffer, 79, has been a volunteer for 20 years. “I have been doing volunteer work for The Little since 2000. The Little is a valuable art form, one of a kind,” she said. “It creates a hub for the distribution of art in different forms unlike a regular movie theater or a playhouse. There is a wealth of knowledge being distributed to the community, an important point for a lifelong learner. There is a reason

the theater is still in business after 90 years.” One of Schaeffer’s passions is “One Take,” a monthly documentary series that presents a mix of documentaries that are unlikely to be shown anywhere else in the city. Schaeffer is the volunteer coordinator for the One Take Film Festival that takes place at the end of April and has done so since the One Take Film Festival began. One of the goals of the series is not only to present information, but to increase people’s understanding of what they are seeing and hearing through a moderated discussion at the conclusion of the film. Schaeffer enjoys the content and discussion. “I so enjoy documentaries

“I also enjoy talking to people who have watched a movie and help me to gain more insight. I am a heavy-duty attendee for anything at The Little and try to get to films each week. I also attend the opera and ballet simulcasts. The Little never fails to disappoint me with what they are showing,” she said. “So contrary to main line movies, I get more rewards by attending anything at The Little. It brings a rich world to those of us who attend their shows.” In addition to showing films unlikely to make it to mainstream venues, The Little offers live musical performances from local musicians in its café. The setting features a rotating art gallery of local artists. Schaeffer expands: “In the café they have appetizers, soups and salads, sandwiches, entrees and wonderful desserts. The Little is a nonprofit organization so when you dine or buy a ticket, you know you are supporting a unique Rochester legacy. In January 2012, the theater took innovative steps toward sustainability by entering into a parent-subsidiary relationship with WXXI Public Broadcasting. Because of this merger, the community can be assured that as the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods continue to change and grow, The Little will continue to be a bright spot in the neighborhood. Learn more at www.thelittle.org/ history. July / August May / June 2019 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ relationship

Letter-perfect Relationship Lifetime pen pals reflect on lost art of letter writing By Christine Green


mail, text and video chats are all the rage today. But there was a time when writing a letter was a special, sacred

ritual. Some stationery, a roll of stamps, and a good sharp pencil was all one needed to reach out and connect with someone outside of their own life. Letter writing was the tool that helped forge a 49-year friendship between Vivian Begay of Kirtland, New Mexico, and Cindy Buddle Hare of Brockport. It all started in 1971 when thirdgrade teacher Ruth Rath read an article in a local newspaper about a Rochester-area teacher who had taught at the Wide Ruins Community School in Wide Ruins, Arizona. Wide Ruins is a chapter of the Navajo Nation and the school has dormitories where students board during the week. Rath was teaching


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Native American history to third graders at the Barclay Elementary School in Brockport at the time and felt her students could learn from writing to the Navajo Nation children at Wide Ruins. “I considered myself an enrichment teacher my whole life. I wanted to make learning real for children. I wanted them to care,” she said. Rath connected with Wide Ruins Community School and started a pen pal project with one of their grade school teachers. She and her counterpart in Arizona felt that writing letters would help her students improve their cursive writing as well as help them learn about children growing up in a very different environment than what they knew themselves. “I remember the teacher said that we got some mail. He brought up a huge yellow envelope, and he took out a bunch of letters from another

school,” said Begay. She remembered having time in class to write to her new pen pal, Cindy Hare, who lived in faraway New York. Time passed and Hare and Begay kept up the writing through grammar school and junior high. “I enjoyed getting her letters,” said Hare. “I remember laying on my bed and you know, writing letters and mailing it. You would have to wait maybe a couple of months before you get something. So it was very exciting.” They would share details of everyday life, swap secrets, and offer comfort and support to each other. “She feels like a sister to me. I already had two sisters and it just seems like she’s another sister because I know her secrets and she knows mine,” said Hare with a thoughtful smile. As they got a little older, life got busier and the letters slowed a bit.

Begay moved out of Wide Ruins in the mid-1970s and attended school closer to her family’s home. Both girls went through the normal growing pains of childhood, then adolescence, and then the teen years. “There was a time in high school when we didn’t write as much because you know, stuff ’s going on and everybody’s busy,” said Hare. Busy or not they still made time to write when they could and Rath was proud of Hare’s efforts after that year in her class. “They [the Wide Ruins students] put their heart into writing those letters. And then my students did the same and several of my students kept writing the next year. But Cindy always told me she did and she just kept it up. I was so proud of her that she put her heart into it,” Rath noted.

Always in touch While the pace of their writing may have slowed, the letters never stopped completely. Some years there would only be a Christmas card or a birthday message. But the next year more letters would come. The girls became women, they got married and had babies. Sometimes a letter was just a quick note before a child’s soccer game or a little card with a school picture. But those letters never completely ceased.

In 1998 —27 years since they first started writing —they discussed meeting up with each other. Up until then they hadn’t even talked on the phone. After the initial phone call and a few more letters, they met up in June of 1999, families in tow. It was a special time for them that summer. The friends saw their children play together and their husbands talk to each other. Most importantly, they got to sit together face-to-face for the very first time. “We met in Branson, Missouri,” remembered Begay. “And we stayed there for several days. We all stayed in one condo and we just did a lot of things together. And that was the only time we met. And then after that, we continued writing. Then finally Facebook came along and we started contacting and connecting on Facebook again.” Facebook expanded their friendship in a novel way. They could easily and instantly share pictures and comment on each other’s posts. But the letters didn’t stop, not completely. They still wrote to each other, especially during the holidays. When 55 Plus magazine reached out to them about this story, they decided it was once again time for a phone chat. “The other night Cindy called me and asked me about this interview and we talked on the phone for almost four

The duo and their families met once in Branson, Missouri, 1999. “We all stayed in one condo and we just did a lot of things together. And that was the only time we met,” Hare says.

hours,” said Begay. She checked her cell phone to make a note of the exact time they talked. “Yeah, we talked for exactly three hours and 45 minutes.”

Busy lifestyles Both Begay and Hare are busy working women these days. Hare, 57, has been a hair stylist for 38 years. She has a full-service salon (Hair by Hare) attached to her home. She also cuts and styles hair for residents at Brockport’s Elderwood Nursing home and at Monroe Community Hospital. She doesn’t have a lot of extra time for hobbies and travel since she works 12 hours a day, six days a week, but she always squeezes in family time with her husband, kids and granddaughter. “Family is everything,” said Hare. It’s everything to Begay, too, who has an equally busy life. Begay, 58, works at the San Juan Generating Station, a power plant in New Mexico. After work, though, there isn’t much down time. “We have horses that my son and husband ride to round up cattle. We do a lot of that during the warmer months. There’s no free time for me. We are always doing something. It takes two hours to get to the summer camp due to a rocky road up the mountains. That’s where our cows, sheep, and other horses graze for the summer. We all pitch in to care for them. While up on the mountain, we start hauling firewood for my in-laws and ourselves to prepare for the winter months. In between, we all love to go camping and fishing. “My husband and I love to go sightseeing when we get the time. We are a very tight family. Our adult children are always there, helping with whatever we need done. But I love to sew quilts and crochet. Sometimes I’ll take my crocheting with me when we go out.” Hare and Begay hope they can meet up again soon, perhaps this summer in Niagara Falls. Rath is 77 and resides in Hamlin. Knowing that Begay and Hare are still close brings her great joy. “Well, it makes my heart glow warm you know when I hear stuff like that because that’s what I had hoped. And even the students who didn’t continue writing, I think they would remember it,” she said. July / August May / June 2019 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ crocket

Local players at a Rochester Croquet Club tournament range from their 40s to their 80s.

Croquet, Anyone? Greece crocket players say the sport has many elements to it — it’s competitive, social and exciting By John Addyman


nce you’ve racked up a number of years, you start to think about limitations — what you can no longer do, particularly if sports were part of your life. But in your heart, you’re still ready to rip — but rip at doing what? Sue Sherer asked herself that question. “At my age, what am I going to do in playing a competitive sport? There’s not too many sports you can compete in at age 65.” 38

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But she found one. And she’s inviting you to come on down and join her. Greece residents Sherer and her husband, Peter, have found a sport that’s welcoming, competitive, social and exciting, and hugely popular with people in sunnier states. Croquet. Wait a minute — croquet? No, not that croquet, not the backyard game, but the real thing. “Most people think of the

backyard game, but the United States Croquet Association game we play in the Rochester Croquet Club uses professional equipment,” Sue Sherer said. “What you’ve played on someone’s lawn is the easier game, golf croquet, with the goal of getting your ball through all the wickets. For the American Rules game, the lawn layout is different and it’s very much a game of finesse,” Sherer said. “People who are good at chess and who can think ahead several plays — people good at billiards who understand banking and angles and topspin — they’re very good at the game,” she added. The club plays both games, hosting a golf croquet tournament on June 6, and an American Rules event on Aug. 14-16. Peter and Sue are the director and treasurer, respectively, of the Rochester Croquet Club, which has a court at the Grace & Truth SportsPark in Greece. The club is one of 16 in the state,

with just four in Western-Central New York. You can look for events and games, with regular play on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. You don’t have to be a member to play; in fact, the club will sponsor you for three free games, then ask you to join if you wish to continue. And you don’t have to have any equipment, which is a lot more specialized than what you play with in your backyard. The mallet used, for instance, is much heavier and more purposeful, with a siege-engine look to it that belies the origin of the game itself, which was either in the early 1800s (in England) or the mid1880s (Ireland). Lewis Carroll’s Alice and Cheshire cat mentioned croquet in 1865. The wickets (those wire things you have to poke the ball through) in the real game are much higher and narrower (“About a nickel wider than the ball,” Sue Sherer says), and even the ball is heaver than the backyard version. It takes about an hour to play a game of croquet. There are some rules and sequences to learn, and Sherer, who is the club instructor, will patiently teach you how to play the game right. “We always stress court etiquette,” she said. “We try to put that in place from the beginning: there’s a proper etiquette when you address the queen and a proper etiquette if you play croquet.” Sherer doesn’t hesitate to extol croquet’s virtues — physical, social,

intellectual and competitive. “It’s a gentle sport in terms of bending and flexibility,” she said. “You just keep moving and getting steps in — it’s a great way to get mild exercise for people who are somewhat limited. It’s not as physically taxing as golf, but you are bending and swinging a mallet between your legs — a different stance than the backyard game where you swing from the side. “Croquet is very social; it’s not so much about winning. It’s more fun and more equal. Anyone can win in Waterford Doubles tournament [where you’re playing with a partner]. One of the comments we often hear is, ‘You guys are so friendly.’ This is a great sport, a great activity. It would be great for a widow or widower who’s not getting out and about much. It’s a great social outlet.” Sherer said as players elevate to the American Rules game, it isn’t the skill in hitting the ball that’s paramount, but thinking strategically, plotting moves ahead of the competition, and being able to manage trick shots. Croquet can improve self-esteem, provide satisfaction in achieving goals, and provide mental stimulation, she said. But there’s also spice in the competition, Sherer said. As a member of the United States Croquet Association, she has a handicap — like golf — and carries that with her to tournaments, where she plays in a flight of others with a similar handicap, or can be matched with a partner in Waterford play where the handicaps

are much different. “The game can be played by young or old, male or female. I have seen youngsters succeed over mature players and women who compete equally with men. The older we get, the less likely we are to be able to compete nationally in more physically demanding sports, but croquet can feed our competitive bent at any age.” RCC’s court in the Grace & Truth SportsPark, a ministry of the First Bible Baptist Church, has existed since 2007, built by Norm Pike. It uses a special bentgrass, very similar to what’s on a green at a golf course, cut low and tight. That pristine, perfect lawn provides the backdrop for the gentility of a tournament, when etiquette calls for all-white clothing. Blink your eyes and you could be looking at a scene from the British Empire.

Want to Play Croquet? Play at the SportsPark court, once it begins this spring, will be in the morning on Tuesdays and Saturdays, from 10 a.m., and on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 5:30 p.m. The park is at 373 N. Greece Road. You can check on event dates at www. roccroquet.org or send questions or requests for information to Sue Sherer at roccroquet@gmail.com. If there’s a problem with the weather or the course is too damp, play will be called off an hour before scheduled.

Rochester Croquet Club members , from left,Rich Curtis, Andree Boothe, Peter Sherer. July / August May / June 2019 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ housing Building a House with Bales of Straw? Believe it! By John Addyman


inda Draper has a plan. She’s going to build her forever home on a couple of acres of the family farmstead in the town of Gorham in Ontario County. In the process, she’s going to clench her teeth and fight global warming. Instead of allowing carbon to escape from her house, she’s going to capture it — sequester it — before it can ever get started on its way into the atmosphere. One of the prime building materials she’ll use is straw bales, following a movement that is present in Europe and Canada and is gathering speed here. She’ll get the straw from the farm after harvest. It’ll be dried to the proper moisture content, put in bales and placed in the walls of her house, which will be about 18 inches thick. Her home will have an insulation rating exceeding R-50. It will be built to what is known as the “Passive House Standards” — so tightly constructed that less energy will be needed to heat it. She’ll use solar power and believes the home will incorporate air-source heat pump technology to keep things comfy inside. The thick walls will lend themselves to window seats and special design elements throughout. And the house will last at least 100 years. Draper, 56, is a consultant and chairwoman of the board of the International Biochar Initiative, an organization that is pushing to have more industries use biochar — waste material that has been burned in very little oxygen. Biochar locks in — sequesters — carbon. Farmers can use it in the soil. The construction industry is looking at its use in building materials — it can add insulation qualities to cement and provide heat resistance to asphalt. She has co-written a book, “Burn: Using


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Linda Draper is planning to build her forever home using straw bales, following a movement that is present in Europe and Canada and is gathering speed here. Fire to Cool the Earth,” that offers ideas about taking carbon out of the atmosphere and thus reducing global warming. Draper has her Master of Business Administration degree in managing for sustainability from McGill University in Montreal. She worked internationally for Cap Gemini for 23 years until the firm started outsourcing jobs like hers to India. After grad school, “I went wholehog into biochar. I’d done my thesis on biochar, reading extensively on what we could do to bend the corner of the carbon cycle. Biochar was technology I could understand because I was raised on a farm. I decided to see if I could make it work into a career.” As much as she understood about how biochar could help farmers in organic farming methods and keeping carbon locked in the soil rather than the air, she knew if it could expand to use in other areas, she really could make a difference. She didn’t have to look far for help. Albert Bates was a member of the board of the International Biochar Initiative and a former environmental lawyer who is now a lecturer and author living at The Farm, an eco-

community in Tennessee. “I told him, ‘Hey, I think we ought to write a book about non-agricultural uses for biochar.’” He agreed. They did. It came out in 2018. In her house, Draper wants to use biochar in the insulation for the plumbing and septic systems; she wants to mix it with the material on her driveway to make the surface a little more porous.

Why straw bales? A straw bale house can be very easy to assemble without a lot of special skills or tools — and it’s normally done with a team of workers — once the posts and joists are up. A “pre-fab” process can be used to lay the bales down on plaster (which may contain biochar), then plaster the bales on top, let things dry, and erect a whole wall at a time. Or, the bales can be laid down in rows like bricks, tied and wired together. They’re cheap and they’re close at hand for Draper — just two miles away on the farm. Using straw bales prevents them from being burned or decaying, thus saving carbon from entering the air. They are biodegradable. If a home needs to be torn down because of age or other reason, the straw bales can be plowed back into the earth. Straw bales are actually somewhat fire retardant. Because they’re dense, they tend to smolder instead of bursting into flame. The first steps of building her new home will happen soon: she needs the foundation and framework completed before she’s ready to use all those straw bales. That will happen this spring or early summer. And using straw bales requires a certain set of new skills that aren’t readily available in the area. Draper said there’s a straw bale house in Seneca Falls, and another in the Rochester suburbs, but she’s asked for help from the Endeavour Centre in Petersborough, Ontario to help her find an instructor/construction manager who can lead the process. “I haven’t started advertising too much for workers,” she said. “I’m waiting for the instructor. I’ve had a lot of family and friends who said they’d help. There’s a rhythm to the

construction once you get started.” She should know. Draper recently attended a week-long straw bale house-raising (1,500 square feet) outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan, part of a 40-person team. She said an instructor may favor a 12-person team to build her house, rather than a crowd. Her single-floor house will have 1,750 square feet of space. Once the house is built sometime this fall, it should come in at less than $200,000. “It should be cheaper than a normal house,” she said. “And my ongoing costs should be much

reduced. There will be no fossil fuel heating costs and if I do it right with the current solar power incentives, my costs could be close to zero. As I age, I want to have predictable low costs, and this is one way to achieve that.” There is so much cutting-edge equipment and ideas going into this house, Draper knows she has a busy year ahead of her. “The challenge is going to be finding people who can install these types of things,” she said. But when it’s done…it will be something.

The floor plan for Draper’s straw bale home shows just how wide the walls will be and the room at each of them for a wide shelf or window seat.

An example of straw bale home. It can be very easy to assemble without a lot of special skills or tools — and it’s normally done with a team of workers — once the posts and joists are up, said Linda Draper. July / August May / June 2019 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ sisters

Diane Cook (left) and Karen Zempel found each other decades after their adoptions. Of the many things the sisters have in common, baking is a shared passion.

In Search of a Sibling Monroe County sisters reunite after being raised by different adoptive families By Lynette M. Loomis


iane Cook, 57, and Karen Zempel, 64, are sisters, not raised together but adopted into different families. This is not uncommon. Due to choice or circumstance, many biological parents have not raised their own children. The Adoption Network reports that 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year. Currently, about 7 million Americans are adopted. In the 1930s through the 1950s,


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adoption records were sealed to protect the reputations of parents who conceived a child out of wedlock as well as to prevent the child that no one wanted from being called a bastard. Many babies were placed in loving homes, often matched according to race or ethnicity. Basic information — such as birth date and birth weight — was shared with adoptive families and with the adoptees themselves, but everyone involved was promised anonymity. Asked for genetic history

about heart disease and diabetes, adopted children have nothing to say. So how was it that Cook, who lives in Spencerport, and Zempel, a Fairport resident, were able to find each other? Both women wanted medical histories. For other adoptees, it is a need for knowledge to fill a hole that can’t be easily explained to people raised by birth families. It is neither unhappiness nor a lack of love for their adoptive families; but rather some way to fill the gaps in their identity and gain a greater sense of self. Cook and Zempel completed paperwork for the New York State Adoption Registry. They waited. Within a short time, they received each other’s names. Enter Facebook and learning that they shared a common friend. More amazing was the fact that Zempel had been Cook’s college instructor in the 1980s. “I couldn’t believe we lived in the same county, much less having been within five feet of one another for months, with no idea we were related,” says Cook. Cook says that she now has a sister and best friend. “But on a deeper level there is what I can only term a ‘cosmic connection,’ and what I mean by that is we just ‘get’ each other — whether it is a food preference we share or an outlook about life, truly I cannot begin to name them all. “I see now it is so true that DNA cannot be refuted or denied. When I am sad, lonely or upset, my sister soothes my heart like no one else. We cheer each other on and revel in each other’s successes and happiness. We share a deep bond. I love my sister with all my heart, and know she feels the same.”

Like characteristics Zempel says some of t heir mannerisms are remarkably similar. “We both love most of the same

foods, including our passion for mint chocolate chip ice cream and all sweets. We love jewelry, fashion and purses. Neither of us has ever ordered a beer in a restaurant because we hate beer, are totally awful in math, and we have zero mechanical abilities. Neither of us likes sports. We are also both lefthanded!” she said. “Finding Diane came at the perfect time for me. My kids were almost grown — both of them are adopted and couldn’t be loved more — and my husband had recently died. My heart had so much more room for inclusion and expansion. I realized that this student I had so admired was my younger sister and wanted me in her life as much as I wanted her. It was life-changing,” Zempel added. The sisters agree they were loved by their parents but wanted to know their health history. In the process, they found each other. “For us, personally, we never had the need or desire to contact or know birth parents, because we have always thought of our [adoptive parents] as our only parents,” Zempel said.

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Sometimes adoptive families feel threatened about their children seeking birth families while others are open to the idea. Cook’s adoptive father was living at the time of her search. Finding Karen, her dad was “absolutely over the moon.” “He said, ‘Honey, you could not have found a better sister!’ I’ve gotten to know Karen’s mom, now 100 years old, and her sister- and brother-in-law. They have been very loving to me. Our adult children are accepting of us finding each other. It has been a winwin situation,” Cook said. The sisters realize it does not always work out well, and some families may have trouble accepting a new biological family member. The sisters have fun together, whatever they do. They enjoy going out for dinner, going to casinos, shopping, cooking, and attending plays, movies and concerts. They have traveled together. “It seems we are always on some adventure. God has blessed us,” Cook said. “We wish adoptees searching the same happy outcome we have enjoyed.”

Advice for Searchers Looking for Relatives • It takes time to search. Some people might suggest you are “obsessed.” •  Your original birth certificate might contain the name of your birth parents. •  Be realistic about your expectations. Rejection is as much of a possibility as is acceptance. •  It takes time to get to know each other; you cannot really make up totally for all the lost years. • Both parties need to want this new relationship. With the advent of DNA tests and newer open laws surrounding privacy issues, there are no more “secrets.” However, DNA testing does not guarantee you will find biological relatives. Half siblings often appear as “first cousins.”



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McCauley Mountain in Old Forge is famed for skiing but the ski lift to the summit runs year-round offering panoramic views of the beautiful mountains and lakes.

10 Things to Do in Herkimer County Herkimer County: A diversity of things to see and do By Sandra Scott


rom the Mohawk River to the Adirondack Mountains, Herkimer County has Revolutionary War sites, history, art and several unique sites, including diamond mining for Herkimer Diamonds. The county named for Revolutionary War hero General Nicholas Herkimer offers fun, learning and relaxation for the entire family all months of the year including snowmobiling, hiking, and swimming.


General Herkimer Home: Visit the Georgian-style mansion that was home to General Nicholas Herkimer, the Revolutionary War hero who helped rout the invading British and Loyalist allies at the Battle of Oriskany. Repelling the British invasion along the Mohawk River area led to the unsuccessful completion of the British


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plan to conquer New York state and win the war. The state historic Site is along the Erie Canal with a visitor center, 18th century garden and Herkimer’s final resting place. It is also home to the county’s historical society.


Erie Canal: The Erie Canal made New York state the Empire State and was responsible for settling the Midwest. Part of the 363-mile canal traverses Herkimer County. Mules no longer pull the canal boats but on one of the various canal boat cruises offered in Herkimer visitors will learn about the canal, its construction and how it influenced the history of the area, as you travel through the lock that was based on the design of Michelangelo.


Diamonds: Go diamond hunting for the unique Herkimer diamonds.

They are rare double-terminated quartz crystals f that resemble real diamonds. The local Native American group, the Mohawks, were called “The People of the Crystals.” There are several places to go “hunting” and most will supply you with your own hammer and a bag for your treasures, along with a video on the diamonds and how to best find them. Many of the larger Herkimer diamonds are on display. Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, has been known to wear a necklace of Herkimer diamonds. There are campgrounds adjacent to the mines.


Old Forge: The village is a destination unto itself with some people arriving at the historic train station in nearby Thendara. Old Forge is a year-round destination. McCauley Mountain is famed for skiing but the ski lift to the summit

runs year-round offering panoramic views of the beautiful mountains and lakes. Moose River is noted for white water rafting. Shop at the unique Old Forge Hardware Store and other quaint shops. The mail boat has been delivering mail during the summer on the lake for 100 years and also takes passengers.


For art lovers: The Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts in Little Falls is a nonprofit organization supporting all art forms located. The 401 Art Gallery has several shows a year including juried art shows. They offer a variety of performances including musical presentations, student performances and readings. The center offers a variety of workshops and classes in watercolor, oil, and representational painting.


Good old days: Check out the only “kissing bridge” in Herkimer County. The Salisbury Center covered bridge is where, in days of yore, young lovers would steal a kiss. It was built in 1875 to span Spruce Creek. Today the Yale-Cade Octagon House is a private home but it is worth a drive by. The adjoining site was the factory of Linus Yale, the inventor of the cylinder lock and founder of the Yale Lock company.


Unique: The Fort Herkimer church, built by Palatine settlers in 1753 of native limestone was used as a defensive structure and refuge during the American Revolution.

There was a swivel gun in the tower and a wooden palisade around the building. In June 1775, the people erected a liberty pole, which may have been one of the first in the state or even the country. A liberty pole showed the commitment of the people to the revolutionary cause. Near Jordanville visit the Holy Trinity Monastery, a male stavropegial monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church. Founded in 1930 the monastery is not cloistered so it is open to the public and welcomes pilgrims and visitors to tour the grounds, visit the museum, and attend services. They also have a seminary to train priests.


Remington Arms Museum: The museum in Ilion showcases the 200-plus year history of the Remington Arms Company. The museum, located at the company’s manufacturing plant, tells the history of the gun industry with exhibits that include antique, modern, and custom firearms. Also included are Remington’s other developments including the Remington Standard Typewriter and the Remington Sewing Machine.


For the fun of it: Enchanted Forest Water Safari with more than 50 rides and attractions is New York state’s largest water theme park. The Old Forge park includes 32 heated water rides offering family fun for all ages plus there are storybook characters, a circus, and private cabanas. Let the fun continue at Calypso’s Cove right next to Enchanted Forest where there are go-karts, rock climbing, miniature golf, and a zip line. There is a campground and a hotel very close by.

Hunting for Herkimer diamonds is one of the top attractions in Herkimer County.


Out-of-doors: Herkimer County has a variety of day-use and camping parks. West Canada Creek offers campsite hookups, tenting, and cabins. There is hiking, fishing, and tubing on the West Canada Creek. Hinckley Reservoir offers day use for swimming, picnicking and a variety of sports along with hiking and biking trails. The county is part of the Erie Canalways for biking and hiking.

The historic train station in nearby Thendara in Old Forge.

The Holy Trinity Monastery near Jordanville is open for visitation. July / August May / June 2019 2020 - 55 PLUS


addyman’s corner By John Addyman Email:john.addyman@yahoo.com

Time to Paint


y wife and I have had five houses in three states, through our married life. We are now in what we hope is our very last home, in Newark. Although we’ve been in this house for 13 years, I haven’t done one of the things I did in every other house we’ve had: I haven’t painted it. This month I get started. I was never smart enough to buy a ranch house. All our houses have had at least two stories. So, to paint our houses, I have had to get on a ladder. Unfortunately, ladders are not my friend. I have a tendency to fall off them. I’ve never gotten seriously hurt, but when I start to go up a ladder, adventure ensues. When we lived in Altamont, outside Albany, we had a modest pale


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yellow Queen Anne Victorian house. I decided to paint it Yorktown Blue with beige trim. I made it a family activity. My 3-year-old daughter Elisabeth painted most of the back stairway and attic entrance by herself, and she got almost as much paint on the walls as she did on the floor and herself. She wasn’t precise, but she was enthusiastic. Somehow, my reputation with ladders got to some of the locals. We lived on a corner lot, with the two roads going by our house either leading to the fairgrounds at the end of the street or the elementary school in the other direction. Which meant that whenever I did anything on either of those sides of the house, a lot of people noticed. When I started the project, I decided to begin on the west side of

our house, where I could reach a lot of surface from an 8-foot ladder, and use my big 24-foot ladder for the areas under the eaves. And that went well. I only had one ladder crash when I didn’t move it carefully. Usually, when I’m painting a house, I have at least one instance where I have to jump off the ladder when it starts to respond to gravity. “Heard you had to jump off the ladder,” said Jim, the mayor. He had stopped his drive up the street to the fairgrounds to talk to me. “Yep.” “You okay?” “Fine, just fine.” “I mean,” he said, “are you okay?” “Not a scratch,” I said. “But are you okay?” he pressed. “I mean, in your head: are you okay?” “You mean am I nuts for painting my house myself?” I asked. “No, that’s a worthy goal,” he admitted. “I meant, are you nuts for getting on a big ladder?” I looked at him. “People are wondering if you’re going to kill yourself coming off that ladder,” he said. I started to protest that I’d be just fine, but Jim interrupted. “No, John. People want to know when you’re going to paint the other side of the house — the high, steep side?” “Why?” “Because they want to watch. This is a quiet town. You might be all the excitement we have around here this summer.” “You’re kidding.” “I’ve got chairs and beverages in the car,” he said, motioning with his thumb over his shoulder at his car that was parked at the bottom of the driveway. My faced was all screwed up. Finally I told him, “I won’t be painting the other side of the house for another day or two. I’m going to finish this side first.” “Okay,” Jim said brightly. “Let me know when you’re ready to do the other side.” “Sure will,” I said, giving Jim a big wink. He smiled and off he went. It was awhile before I got to the other side of the house. I was using latex paint and I took a chance one afternoon and did a lot of work, quitting just as the first raindrops started to fall. Next day I looked at

the side of my house and saw a Monet impressionist painting. I waited a couple more days for everything to really dry, then repainted. That side was done. “When will you be painting the other side of the house?” my wife asked when I went in for dinner. “Sunday afternoon, in the shade,” I told her. “That will be nice,” she said. “I’ll let people know.” I was in the middle of washing my hands and doing some thinking, so I really didn’t process what my wife said right away…and then her last sentence did an instant replay in my cerebral cortex. “What did you say?” I asked. ”I’ll let people know,” she said. “What people?” “The people who want to watch you paint.” “Please tell me you’re kidding.” My wife went on to explain that she understood that people were going to set up a picnic across the road, on the grass in front of the school. “All I’m doing is painting the house,” I told her. 7.25 x 4.75”

My sweet wife smiled and said, “But we all know you’ll do something nutball tomorrow. Everyone is looking forward to it.” I shook my head. This had to be a joke. The next afternoon, I came out of the garage with a can of paint and a couple of brushes and, sure enough, Mayor Jim and his wife had set up chairs with a cooler between them. I stopped in my tracks. They applauded. I brought the ladder around from the other side of the house and looked across the road. Sure enough, there were people there, but they were being polite enough not to stare at me, pretending to have a picnic. I did what I always do when I paint, I pulled out my boombox and got some music playing, and up the ladder I went. “You forgot the paint,” said Jim. I had a brush in one hand but nothing in the other. So I came down the ladder. And someone applauded. It was a long afternoon…

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long-term care By Susan Suben


The State of The LTC Planning Industry

f my memory is correct, I wrote an article about the long-term care (LTC) planning marketplace two years ago. I’ve always stressed the importance of planning for the sake of your family, so it’s good to know how LTC coverage is performing and what your current options are to protect your future. Let’s start with the old standby — LTC insurance. To date, 7.5 million people have purchased coverage. Those who purchased coverage 10 years ago or more have seen premium increases for the same reasons I reported two years ago. Interest rates and lapse ratios remain low. Claims continue to rise. In 2015, the companies paid $8.14 billion in claims. In 2019, they paid $11 billion. This is a 35.11% increase, according to figures from the American Association of Long Term Care Insurance (AALTCI). Can LTCI pricing be trusted and how stable are premiums on new policies? Consensus in the market is that LTCI companies have more conservative assumptions and new policies have higher margins. “These factors combine for higher premiums, but also for a lower chance of future rate increases,” according to the AALTCI. If there are to be increases in the future, they will probably be in the 10%-12% range as opposed to the higher increases seen on older policies. Future increases are also more likely to be minimal because the companies now have 20 years of claims data and claim cost assumptions are 25% to 50% higher. I can attest to the fact that of all my clients who received premium increases only one chose to lapse her policy. Policyholders are holding on to their policies, see the value of the coverage and are using their benefits. In terms of current policy design, LTCI is considered a safety net. Twenty


55 PLUS - July 2019 May/ /August June 2020

years ago, policy benefits were geared toward nursing home care, therefore higher daily benefits. Today, benefits are geared toward home care and assisted living. Cadillac policies are dinosaurs. Most individuals select a $150-$250 daily benefit, two to three years coverage with 3% compound inflation. This keeps the premium reasonable. According to AALTCI, 51.5% of claims begin in the home and 43% end at home. 24.5% begin in an assisted living facility and 26.5% end there. Approximately, 25% begin and end in a nursing home. The sweet spot to purchase LTCI is still 45 to 64. Individuals aged 50 to 59 have a 21% declination rate; aged 65 to 69, 32.5%; aged 70-74, 44%; and 75 and older, 51.5%, according to AALTCI, based on 2019 figures. Other statistics include: 59% of women policyholders go on claim; men, 41%. 50% are married; 40% are not married. The leading claim is for Alzheimer ’s. The average time between purchasing a policy and going on claim is 13.5 years. 52% go on claim between the ages of 81 and 90, according to AALTCI. Even though LTC planning still remains a crucial part of retirement planning, individuals shy away from LTCI because they don’t like the idea of paying premiums on a policy they might never use. The marketplace responded to this by introducing an expansive line of life insurance products with LTC components. The sale of these policies has increased dramatically each year. Hybrids are one such policy. If LTC is not needed, the policy works like a traditional life insurance policy with a tax-free death benefit paid to the beneficiary. They are usually universal or whole life, require a single premium or paid-up option, provide two years of LTC coverage, have same triggers

as LTCI, reimburse for actual expenses and require life and LTC underwriting. The death benefit can be leveraged for LTC by adding an extension rider with or without inflation. If you have a CD or received an inheritance that you do not need for retirement, consider using these funds to pay the premium. You may also exchange your current life insurance for this type of policy The life policies with accelerated death benefit allow you to take 2%, 4% or the federal per diem amount ($11,000) for LTC. They are universal or whole life, have the same triggers as LTCI, and pay cash so anyone can take care of you. They do not have inflation protection and provide approximately two years of LTC coverage. Only life underwriting is required. Consider exchanging your current life policy. Life insurance policies with chronic illness riders are for individuals with more severe medical conditions. When the death benefit is accelerated for LTC, there is a hefty administrative cost. LTC planning should be a very important part of your retirement plan. Today’s LTC marketplace is more stable, more creative and more diverse. There is a plan for everyone. You just have to take the time to find the best plan for you. Susan Suben, MS, CSA, is president of Long Term Care Associates, Inc. and Elder Care Planning. She is a consultant for Canandaigua National Bank & Trust Company. She can be reached at 800-422-2655 or by email at susansuben@31greenbush.com.

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Virtual animal adoption process now available at the Ontario County Humane Society in Canandaigua Q: Describe the virtual adoption program you started because of the coronavirus epidemic. A: The way it works is that we do a live Facebook video where we take a walk through our shelter and we tell everyone about each animal. We mention their age, type of animal as well as each of the animal’s personality. We let people know how they interact, if they would do well with small children, if they would do well in a home with other dogs and cats and if they would do well with one-on-one situations or if they love larger groups. People contact us and they tell us which specific dogs or cats they could be interested in and we do a virtual meet and greet with those animals where they can ask additional questions. Finally, once they select the animal they want, then we schedule them to meet the animal in person and see if it is a fit. This is the next best thing we can do in this current situation. We have about 40 dogs and 35 cats. Q: What has been the reception from the virtual adoption? A: This is the first time we have done this and it was done out of desperation since we were closed to the public and knew we had animals that we wanted to go to happy and loving homes. But we have been shocked by the overall response. Our video was seen by more than 3,000 people. We had 18 to 20 people fill out applications in the first week. We may

have a combination of doing a virtual adoption video every other week and then in the following weeks we may feature some of the animals that have been here for some time so we can find them homes. This may be something that we incorporate even when we can return back to normal practices. Q: Why do you think animal adoptions are so essential now? A: Animals are unique because they love unconditionally. They are able to be a great comfort in times of stress and we are living in stressful times now. They just love being loved and they show you affection. A great animal can take the edge off of a long day or just send positive vibes especially when we are all quarantined together. Q: What is your personal connection to animals? A: I have always been an animal lover. I grew up on a dairy farm and I always saw the importance of having animals around b e c a u s e t h e y a re beautiful and living things. I’ve had cats, dogs, beef cattle, sheep, goat and llamas. Once a farm girl, always a farm girl.

Dianne Faas of Manchester is shelter manager at Ontario County Humane Society in Canandaigua. Because of COVID-19, the organization is offering virtual adoptions. 50

55 PLUS - July 2019 May/ /August June 2020

Q: Tell me about the Ontario County Humane Society A: The humane society has been around since 1989 as a not-for-profit organization. We serve the cities of Canandaigua and Geneva as well as many other towns around the area. We are labeled as a no-kill shelter and 90% of our animals find homes. We have great success stories such as a dog that came from a drug dealer and had attitude issues, but our staff members worked hard and took the time to get to know her and her personality has changed. It is a winning situation for everyone. We strive to place the appropriate animals with the right person. But we also recognize that sometimes that doesn’t work so we have a policy if the pet doesn’t fit in the homeowner’s life for any reason we take them back whether that is six months or 10 years. Q: How has the organization been doing with the current pandemic? A: I think we appreciate that everyone in our organization is working hard. We could not do this without all our volunteers. We rely on them a lot and they are a godsend.


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