We Go to the Movies

12/16/12 I don’t know what it is about winter vacation, but Howard, who does not love going to the movies the way I do, suddenly agrees to see almost anything I suggest. Blame our sudden film buff frenzy on ease of access. When we’re at our house in Chatham getting to the movie theater seems less difficult than it does in New York City, though in actuality, that’s not true. In the city, we can walk to many movie theaters. Here we have to drive. But the ticket prices outside of the city are certainly cheaper. And except for Christmas Day or the opening of a blockbuster new film, we can be pretty sure of getting tickets right before the show. If we want to see a movie in New York City on a Saturday night, we have to make sure we have bought tickets (over the Internet these days or even with a phone app) by 10 a.m. that morning.

Part of the charm of going to the movies in Chatham, NY is the Crandell movie theater, a relic from the old days of small town theaters. Though the place was fairly decrepit from the first time we went there over 20 years ago, the price was right: I believe in 1995 or so adult tickets were $3.50. They now cost $6. Also, we just drive into town a few minutes before the movie starts, and go to the window, and slip our money into the till. They show a lot of junk — they need to make a profit. But most of the really good films play there also. It’s mostly a matter of being upstate (and being free) the same weekend there’s a movie we want to see.

A few years ago, the owner died suddenly, intestate, and the theater closed for several months while the family negotiated with Chatham Film Club. Backers like the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation (yeah, famous artists can be community minded) put together enough cash to buy the building. Local businesses have provided fuel, paint, and workers. The seats have been replaced, and the whole place feels spruced up.

Originally built as a Vaudeville venue, the Crandell has a 13 foot deep stage, dressing rooms (!), organ lofts on either side, and a 112 seat balcony (which, I believe, is almost always closed off. Sigh.)

So we went to see The Hobbit right before Christmas. Unlike most of the world, at least according to box office figures, we didn’t like it. We both felt that Jackson had melted Tolkien’s magic into a huge video game with obvious jokes and overdone battle scenes. Gollum is amazing, though.

Seeing anything at the Crandell, though, is fun. We’re wondering what’s coming next.

We hold little babies

9/9/12 So my daughter’s best friend from college had a baby yesterday, and being that this young woman calls me her “New York Mommy” and that her parents aren’t flying in from the West Coast for a few days (and she has no family here), hubby and I paid a visit to the maternity ward at Mt. Sinai hospital. (An aside: Going anywhere by bus on a NYC Sunday can take way too long.) As most of my readers know, I blogged last week for PBS’s website for Baby Boomers, Next Avenue, about wanting to be a grandmother. I have a grandpuppy, and I used to have grandferrets (they died at age 5 1/2, old by ferret standards, having lived a wonderful life with my son as their ferret-in-chief). Seriously, I’d be pretty shocked and slightly taken aback if either of my children announced that there was an imminent grandma coronation in the works. I do want my young adult kids to settle better into their professional lives before they bring other lives into this world. But, ah, I love children. I love babies. And I love Danielle for letting me hold Jax for a few minutes. Neither Danielle or her partner, Chris, have much baby experience. As we walked in, they announced that they had changed their first few diapers and were getting good at it. Yeah, I know that they’ll have to learn to cope with lots of interrupted sleep and that they’ll have to find ways to comfort Jax once he stops sleeping all day. (That should happen in about two weeks, if my memory is correct.) But the joy on their faces, in their every movement. This is a happy couple. This is one lucky kid. His real grandparents – well they’re great people. Mazel Tov all around.

We Should Think About Medicare

I would say, “I’m shocked!,” except I’m not. In January the Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center for a Secure Retirement released a study that revealed Baby Boomers don’t know much about Medicare, and before I read about that, I didn’t know much about Medicare either. One in seven middle income people under 65 believe medicare is free. (It isn’t.) Most don’t know that Medicare doesn’t cover vision or dental, or that many long term care facilities will not accept medicare. In fact, the only way to get Medicare to cover long term care is to completely go through all your financial assets. The study also showed most boomers don’t understand healthcare reform and the benefits it affords them (the program currently being put into place). So now is the time to educate yourself. Ask your employer (or if the coverage will be through your spouse, your spouse’s employer) how much of your pension will go toward medicare supplemental insurance. If you’re financing your own retirement, research costs. Click here for a primer from Kaiser Health News. An even better source come from the AARP. There was some good news in the Bankers Life study, though. Eight in ten middle-income Americans with Medicare are extremely or very satisfied with Medicare’s access to healthcare (81%) and with the quality of healthcare Medicare provides (83%). Nine in ten (93%) of middle-income Americans ages 47 to 75 feel they have a greater awareness of healthy living now than they did when they were in their 20s. Other studies say they’re acting on it too, trying to eat more healthily and getting more exercise. So if you’re a Baby Boomer, when you finish reading up about Medicare, get up and move. If you’re a younger person with parents who are retired or about to, how about talking to them about Medicare to make sure they know how to get the most out of their Medicare benefits? The healthier our seniors and Baby Boomers, the better off we’ll all be.

We Visit Candy Stores With Little Kids

3/12/12 Over the February school vacation, my niece, Laura, came into NYC for a visit, accompanied by her 7 and ½ -year-old son, Ben, and 4 and ½ -year old daughter, Harper. My sister-in-law (Laura’s mom and the loving grandma) took the train up from Lancaster, PA to meet us! The first stop on our daylong fun marathon was Dylan’s Candy Bar on Third Avenue at 60th Street. What was even sweeter than the three floors of every kind of candy you could imagine was the joy in the two kids’ faces when I walked into the store with my daughter, Ariel – their adored and adoring first cousin. Even 50 years ago, when generations of families tended to live close-by, a day with my great-niece and great-nephew, my niece, her mom and my daughter would have been an ordinary thing. But getting all these generations together is  unusual now when people live even only a four-hour-drive apart. So on the one hand, wouldn’t it be wonderful if family members could walk a few blocks and pop in on relatives. But on the other, visits become special and celebratory. I mean, as amazing as Dylan’s is, you generally wouldn’t find me ooo-ing and ahh-ing over all the different kinds and colors of licorice and jellybeans. But Harper and Ben’s surprise and joy was infectious. CANDY!!!! Ariel and I got in the mood and filled a cellophane bag with treats we may not normally eat, but which came highly recommended by the single-digit set. (And I hate to admit it, but we finished every last piece of scrumptiousness before a week was up.) We had a lot more planned for that day, but sharing candy among three generations – well, it’s hard to beat that. Oh, I had forgotten my camera and had to used my iPhone, but even though the picture is a little fuzzy, I mean, can you imagine two happier kids? One more thing: at one point Harper almost slipped, and I said, “oops!” “You sound like my grandma,” Harper said. “Because I said ‘oops,’” I asked. Harper nodded. Please, everyone, tell me that “oops” isn’t something only Baby Boomers say.

We Teach Our ADULT Children How to Drive

My 25-year-old daughter doesn’t have her driver license. If you’re from New York City and you just read that sentence, you probably aren’t too shocked. Many New Yorkers never learn to drive. There’s no need to. Subways and buses, which go to most parts of the five boroughs, run 24/7. (Or not, depending on the on-going service disruptions due subway construction. This recent article from the New York Times captures our sense of entitlement, frustration and dependence.) In fact, I had a much easier time of the teen years than did my friends in the suburbs, ex-urbs or car-dependent urban areas: I did not have to worry about my kids driving drunk. Sure I had to worry about all the other things parents of teens do — teens do stupid things and can end up in trouble, or, worse, hurt. And it wasn’t until my son was in college that he mentioned that one night their senior year of high school, his friend Ben had taken his grandparents’ car (with permission) and driven them all to Great Adventure down in Jersey. But back to my daughter. While many New York City non-driving kids do learn in college because getting off campus becomes imperative, my daughter went to school outside of Boston, and was within walking distance of the “T.” (My daughter had one friend in college at Emory who owned a car before she managed to get her license, and got in trouble at a routine traffic check because she was driving without a license. As I said, young people can have lousy judgment.) So here she is, at age 25, without a driver license and maybe about to move out of New York City. (Yes, I wrote those words, and I’m sick over it, but that’s another blog.) Her permit had actually run out. But she took care of that. And now we (and her boyfriend) have been giving her driving lessons. I must say that this time around–she actually did try half-heartedly several years ago–she is fantastic. She steers well, keeps to the speed limit, and shows great confidence and determination. She came upstate for a few days and drove the long way to the supermarket (six miles) and the very long way back. We had even thought of making a trip to the outlet mall in Lee, MA on Friday. I90 may be one of the easiest interstates around. But we woke Friday morning to snow, and that killed our outing. No more driving lessons from us for a while. No outlet bargains for us.