Bird Books and Other Wonders

Filed Under All Posts, Beauty, Melissa Howden, Politics | 10 Comments


Melissa Howden believes in the power and danger, the wonder and necessity of art.

Last week, my friend Stefanie sent me a link to the image above, entitled The Language of Birds. The image of a site-specific installation across from the famous City Lights bookstore in North Beach, San Francisco made me gasp out loud in wonder. The “birds” are books in flight. Below them on the street are phrases embedded in the walk from over 90 authors, as if their words have fallen out of the books. The piece, by artists Brian Goggin and Dorka Keen, was commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Seeing the “bird books” ignited delight and made me thrill at the prospect of a pilgrimage to the site when next I am in the area. The fact that such a piece exists at all, and was commissioned by a public agency for the benefit of all, is also incredibly heartening.

Thanks to my mother who began taking us to live theatre at a very early age (she always got seats in the last row so that we could stand up in the seats to see and not disturb others) I grew up with an appreciation for art as something as vital and necessary as the air I breathe. Art that is successful, no matter its form, has the affect of rearranging my cells, creating a sense of expansion and challenging my beliefs. Read more

Gray Matters

Filed Under All Posts, Beauty, Cathy Fischer | 28 Comments

brainy woman

For Cathy Fischer, being post-chemotherapy is great, but soon she’ll need to make a choice about how she looks and how she might be perceived.

By now you probably know about Susan Boyle, the middle-aged television show contestant whose awkward and dowdy presence had the judges and studio audience of Britain’s Got Talent ready to laugh her off the stage. But when Susan Boyle began to sing, her matronly gray hair and bushy eyebrows disappeared and her enormous talent smacked everyone upside the head.

Like millions who’ve watched the video, I laughed, cried and cheered for the underdog. This real-life morality tale has people examining their own looksist and ageist stereotypes.

Now that I’m finished with chemotherapy, my hair is growing back—on my head, eyelashes, brows—and other places, I’m afraid. (Dang those mother pluckers!) My formerly bald pate is covered with hair soft as duck down, dark with smatterings of silver at the temples and marbled throughout. The Jane Fonda Klute wig I’ve been wearing will soon be a relic, so here I stand at the crossroads: go gray or say nay? Read more

The Dawn of Neurodiversity

Filed Under All Posts, Health, Prudence Baird | 11 Comments

A "brainbow " of neurons in the hippocampus of a transgenic mouse

A "brainbow " of neurons in the hippocampus of a transgenic mouse

April is World Autism Awareness Month. In the United States today, one of every 150 children born will be diagnosed with autism, an incurable neuro-developmental disease that impacts an individual’s ability to interact socially, to communicate and to manage his or her own behavior around transitions, new routines, people and new information.

Prudence Baird is getting a master’s certificate degree in Autism Spectrum Disorders and has a personal interest in brain development, as her youngest son suffered anoxia at birth and has a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome. She shares her views on a different kind of diversity.

One of my dreams is time travel to the time when humans numbered in the millions instead of the billions. Doesn’t that seem exciting—raising a glass of ale with Wm. Shakespeare, hanging with Jesus on the Mount, seeing firsthand the Great Pyramid at Giza being built?

But let’s not fool ourselves. If we should suddenly drop out of the ether into an earlier time, it wouldn’t be that easy for us to blend in with the natives. Our words (even if they were understood) would be misconstrued and misinterpreted. What we take for granted—having our own teeth at age 50 or just being able to walk in public as a single woman—would be considered weird and somewhat threatening. Chances are we’d be burned at the stake or beaten with sticks within moments of touchdown.

Our brains, our reasoning abilities and our collective unconscious have evolved over the millennia, much more so than our bodies. Read more

Spring Break: Taking a Breather

Filed Under All Posts, Miscellaneous | Leave a Comment


We’re coming up on our one year anniversary at Fifty is the New, and we’re taking a pre-celebratory breather.

A bath, a good book, a walk on the shore—fresh air and the scent of spring blossoms…

In the meantime, have you added your 30-word or less definition of spring? >>

How about midlife sex? Read Connie’s tell-all >>

We always want to know what you’re thinking.

We’ll be back in a week or so. Until then…

Come Back Little Mojo

Filed Under All Posts, Connie Stetson, Health, Relationships | 11 Comments


What is it about the libido and midlife? Connie Stetson tells it like it is.

Okay ladies—as Joan Rivers would say, “Can we talk?” I’m going to go there—middle-aged SEX.

When I was young and juicy and single, I was really hot. I was a devotee. When I was in a relationship, I was a faithful and an enthusiastic lover. When I wasn’t committed, I was…let’s see…how did we say it back in the day? Hmmmm… oh yeah, “a good sport.” I couldn’t wait for that breathless, heart pounding, heightened moment of letting go and falling into a hot, steamy embrace.

I loved going out and meeting a new guy. I was a believer in the third date. Delaying, anticipating, teasing and finally releasing myself into that exquisite moment, well, I just looked forward to it so much. It never even occurred to me then, that I would ever feel differently. Yet, here I am at 57, in pretty good shape for an old broad, menopausal to be sure, and yet I almost never even think of SEX. I can’t believe it.

Not all of the older couples I know feel this way. Read more

Is That a Rock in Your Pocket?

Filed Under All Posts, Christie Healey, Miscellaneous | 5 Comments

Santino at the Furuvik Zoo, AP photo

Santino at the Furuvik Zoo, AP photo

Apropos of nothing, I want to share a few stories that tickle my mind.

Is That a Rock in Your Pocket?

A chimpanzee at a Swedish zoo has been planning. Those who know (?) say that animals are not capable of planning for future events; they work more on instinct and spontaneous action.

Previous chimp spontaneity has included throwing pooh. This chimp, Santino, shuns bathroom humor. Each day before the zoo opens he calmly gathers rocks from around his enclosure, carefully stacking them in pre-selected spots. He even watches for places in his compound where the concrete is crumbling so he can gently knock on the loose parts and gather more rocks. Later in the day when an audience has gathered, he launches his missiles. He has terrible aim, so no one has been seriously injured. All the people I know who have heard of the Rockin’ Chimp immediately express their total support for his actions. I wish Santino could get into spring training and develop a good breaking fastrock. Read more

One More Thing

Filed Under All Posts, Carine Fabius, Politics | 4 Comments

President Barack Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Bill

President Barack Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Bill

I think Obama’s not busy enough.

Really, choosing which dog will make his kids and the entire nation happy; whether Michelle should plant arugula or potatoes on the south lawn of the White House; and while he’s at it, trying to convince Michelle that she really doesn’t need any more shoes (I actually read this in the New York Times. He’s really like any other husband, girls.)

There’s still one very serious issue he needs to add to his plate right now: the ongoing rape of female soldiers in the military. You thought I was going to suggest something silly, right? It’s just that it feels so idiotic to suggest the president take on one more issue when he’s already being accused, by some, of heaping too much on his plate. But, even though I feel like writing are you crazy? letters to any interest group that rears its head with a special issue that should not be forgotten, I figure I may as well throw this one at him, too. Kind of like throwing multiple strings of linguine ideas at a wall just to see what sticks! Read more