Our theme for this May/June issue is “Inside the Great Outdoors.” Summer is my favorite time of year, and I spend a lot of time outside enjoying the sun, the heat and yes, even the humidity.
The best part about being outside are the plants and trees that change daily — sometimes hourly if you’re watching closely. I start most mornings in my flower beds with a walking tour in my pajamas, drinking coffee and pulling an occasional weed. I go back in the evenings, usually spending an hour or two tinkering.
The worst part about being outside is the animals — snakes, specifically; horses more broadly.
Animals fall into three categories: Animals I Love, Animals I Don’t Like, and Animals That Terrify Me. Dogs, birds, cats, turtles and bees are in the Love It category. I’ll toss in amphibians and most farm animals, reptiles, insects and mammals.
Fleas, lice and yellow jackets are in the Don’t Like category. I haven’t experienced bed bugs, but I’ll go ahead and throw those in there, too. I’m guessing I wouldn’t like them very much.
During my first trip to the Spicy Lamb Farm (our cover story), the dynamic owner Laura Minnig introduced me to her horses, casually warning that one “tends to eat clothes.” That’s just one of my issues with horses.
I’ve given horses a chance — lots of them. It’s never worked out. They’ve kicked me and thrown me. One gave me a concussion. I don’t trust animals that are so intuitive that they sense my fear — at least that’s what their owners always tell me. I’ve been married to a dear man for 32 years who isn’t half that intuitive.
Because it was chilly when I visited the Spicy Lamb, I didn’t see a snake. I know they’re there....
What are you celebrating today?
We tend to think of celebrations as big events. Weddings. Fiftieth anniversary parties. The birth of a grandchild.
Nick and Judi on our cover are celebrating one of those milestone events: college graduation. It’s a big deal at any age, but it’s especially impressive doing it later in life with all of the distractions and responsibilities that come with age.
While big celebrations are fun and splashy and certainly joyful, not all celebrations come with an engraved invitation or a party.
The older I get, the more I appreciate the smaller celebrations in life. I try to look for something to celebrate every day. Sure, I’m looking forward to my son’s wedding in September and a nephew’s high school graduation later this month. Yet, it’s the small stuff that keeps me going.
HERE’S WHAT I’M CELEBRATING RIGHT NOW:
• Finding four bird nests in my yard (one unflappable mourning dove, two implacable robins and a sweet wren).
• Improving my eyebrow game. After chemo 4 1/2 years ago, my eyebrows never grew back. It’s taken me a while (and a few hundred dollars in pricey pencils), but I’m finally figuring it out. Some days are better than others (think Groucho Marx). I celebrate the good ones.
• Raising chickens. My neighbor and I ordered 12 chicks that should be arriving by mail (really) around the time this magazine comes out. The coop is under construction. Let me know if you want eggs.
Something else I’ll be celebrating is bike riding season. I have an upright, coaster-style bike with a basket, a bell and a light. I use it to run errands around my small village. From time to time I’ll meet up with my 82-year-old dad, and we’ll ride on the Towpath Trail in Peninsula — definitely a celebration-worthy activity....
Gas station attendant or convenience store clerk. It’s a toss-up which was my all-time favorite job (besides being editor of this magazine, of course).
I worked at a Medina gas station during college break in the summer of 1979. It paid slightly more than minimum wage — a big selling point. I pumped gas, checked oil and washed windshields.
My boss was aggressively crazy but fiercely protective of her student employees. She encouraged us to make up cash shortages by “hanging the pumps” — dangling the handle in a way that didn’t reset the pump. The next customer’s sale then started at a slightly higher amount.
Tied for best job was my summer at the Stop N Go store in Hinckley. I worked the 3-to-11 p.m. shift; Slush Puppies and popcorn were free.
Never great at math, I soon got fast at figuring out change because the cash register tallied total sales but didn’t calculate cash back. A low point was when my underage brother and his friends came in just before closing, grabbed several cases of cheap beer from the back cooler and plunked a wad of cash on the counter. I spent weeks afraid that I’d be arrested and have to delay my return to Miami University.
I’ll save my worst jobs for another column, but cooking Roman Burgers at Mr. Hero is right up there.
Jobs, careers, whatever you call them, finding the right fit has a lot to do with luck, education and a certain amount of pluckiness. An open mind helps, too. Skills acquired from a job build on each other, putting together invaluable knowledge that comes in handy in unexpected ways.
If you’re looking for a change, regardless of the reason, check out our package of stories starting with our cover couple, Debbi and Rick Sands (page 22)....
Do you remember making the shift from a gift-getter to a gift-giver?
It happened to me in my 20s — late by some standards, for sure. One Christmas Eve I realized I was more excited about the presents I was giving than the ones I was getting. It was a good feeling, this newfound generosity. All the sappy carols and sentimental cards suddenly made sense. Like the Grinch, my small heart grew three sizes that day.
The volunteers featured in this issue and on our cover are givers, and in Northeast Ohio we’ve got a lot of them. Unlike me, they didn’t require a holiday epiphany to jump-start their generosity. Instead, they saw a need and enthusiastically stepped forward to help, donating countless hours and a dizzying array of talent.
All of them have gotten something in return for their big-heartedness, and it’s got nothing to do with money or gifts. They’ve made new friends, sharpened skills and have grown in ways they never expected. Volunteers give, get and then give again and again. All of us benefit.
I hope you’ll like reading about some of these givers (and getters) in our story on page 30. Feel free to be inspired.
In keeping with our “Give” theme this issue, we’ve got plenty of stories about how, when and where to give.
If you like to give parties, check out our story on page 20, filled with fanciful yet frugal tips to celebrate the season. Nothing says the holidays like a low-key gathering with friends and family. We’ll help you get started.
Feel like traveling? Then give yourself a road trip. Our story on page 24 offers three delightful destinations to put you in the Christmas mood. Take in the lights, cross a few items off your gift list, and enjoy the scenery — all you need is a couple of tanks of gas and a sense of adventure....
Last fall we kicked off Northeast Ohio Boomer and Beyond magazine as an innovative publication for active adults 50 and older in Greater Cleveland. We have been thrilled to see the support that has come from numerous expected and unexpected places.
From the Medina Community Recreation Center to the Brecksville Women’s Club to the Menorah Park cafeteria, we thank you for welcoming Boomer and Beyond into your homes and businesses. We also thank those advertisers who have supported the magazine’s launch by believing in the reach and impact this publication can make.
We look forward to year two with anticipation and openness. We want to hear more from you, our trusted reader. What information do you need? What’s on your mind? What joys do you want to share and what concerns you? Reach out to me or to our editor Marie Elium and share what’s in your heart.
LEARN & GROW
Now for this issue. Almost no one exemplifies the spirit of “Learn & Grow” more than radio favorite Jimmy Malone. The popular WMJI morning co-host has made a second career out of raising money for scholarships and mentoring young people as they navigate college and careers. Read more about Jimmy on page 26.
You’ve heard it said many times — Northeast Ohio is a melting pot. For more than a century, refugees and immigrants have made this region their home. You could say it’s a “learn-learn” opportunity; they figure out how to navigate their new neighborhoods, and long-time residents learn about different cultures and customs. A story about Akron’s newest residents begins on page 20.
Finally, this is the time of year for fall festivals and foliage, pigskins and pumpkins, and Medicare — specifically, Medicare enrollment. It’s a complicated subject. Our panel of experts clarifies the process. Their columns begin on page 32....