Tag Archives: bitchin’ ol’ boomer babe

Casual Cyclist ©

Cyclist and storyteller: Bobbi Rankin

cyclistI’m one of the casual cyclist.

I like my 7-speed Specialized with its comfy seat and handy basket.  I look forward to a time in my week when all the signs point to a good cycling day.

It’s one of those mornings and I wake up early, but not too early.  I look out the window and see the morning fog is receding back over the coastal hills and the wind, the wind is . . . clam.   I hear my bike calling to me from the garage.  Do you hear it say,  “Climb on board and let’s go for a ride?  Let the wind blow through you hair and helmet” (yes, my girls make me wear a helmet).   I do, I hear it say, “Let’s go cycling.”

The path I frequent meanders along the local waterways.  It is a popular place for the serious and casual cyclist, the wanderer, joggers and folks walking their dogs.  Fortunately for all of us, the path is well marked to keep us going in the right direction, similar to driving your car.

So off I go, casually cycling along minding my own business and there, right in front of me is a person haphazardly walking their dog while taking on a cell phone. Yikes, I ring my bell and I say, “Heads up” in a voice that is sure to be heard.   Just in time I see the dog being pulled to the side of the sheepishly smiling person.

As I come around the next corner, in the middle of the road is a family gathered around a stroller rearranging the baby’s blankets.  I grab my brakes, stand on my pedals and loudly say . . . “Heads up.”  Much to their surprise they see that I’m heading right for them.  I do stop, just in time, cause if I hit them I’d be in big trouble.  I like to stay out of trouble.

Ok, two close calls and as I look far ahead of me I see no more obstacles in my way.  I’m glad to say the coast was clear.

Finally, I’m cruising along without a worry or thought in my head.  When low and behold, before me comes a gaggle of geese mossing along enjoying their day as they waddle across my path on their way to the water.  Well, no bell ringing or yelling, “Heads up” will change the course of these geese that, by the way, think they own this water rich area where I live.  So, all that is left to do is stop and lets these geese meander on down to the waters edge.  Obviously the geese can’t read the well-marked path!

I come to a bench where I can sit to take in the beauty of the marshland and all the activity of the local water foul.  I relax into the bench while eating my lunch and enjoying the peace and quiet. Then I begin to laugh at myself as I admit, casual cycling means just that, casual and not taking myself so seriously.  As usual I’ve enjoyed my day in this cycling friendly area.

The bottom line is, it’s always a pleasure to be a cyclist and be with good friends, my bike and me.

photo by bobbi rankin

BOBB is happy that you enjoyed this story; to get future stories sent to your email Inbox, just –> Subscribe

Sierra Serenade ©

In the Sierra Nevada with Will Jones

sierraIf there is music at the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada it is the music of near silence.  A recent three day hike in the Eastern Sierras starting at the Pine Creek trailhead, a few miles north of Bishop, reinforced that reality for me once again.

Each summer since 2004, except 2010 when I was recovering from an unexpected “cardiac event,” my friend Frank and I have spent a few days backpacking in the Sierras.  We hike in anywhere from six to fifteen miles, establish a base camp near a peak we hope to climb, attempt to summit the next day, spend another night and then hike out.  The peaks are usually in the 13000’+ range, with suggested routes to the top rather than obvious trails.  Our highest summit was Mt. Agassiz at 13891’ in 2006.

This summer we chose Royce Peak, 13200’, as our goal.  On the first day we hiked about nine miles with an elevation gain of over 4000’.  When we reached Pine Creek Pass at 11100’, we left the trail and hiked overland to Royce Lakes at 11560’.  The hike was demanding, like being on a stair master for seven hours, the difference being the magnificent Sierra vistas that accompanied us: clear flowing water, waterfalls, aromatic pines, serene lakes, majestic granite peaks, the stark almost lunar beauty of the landscape above the tree line.

It is above tree line that the Sierras sing their sweetest silent song.  Camped on a patch of sandy ground next to the lake, only a few intermittent notes call out once we quiet our human activity:  murmur of the lake against the shore; a tailless pika’s excited squeak; the wind rustling the sides of our tents.  As night approaches and stars and constellations appear seemingly just above our heads, it is so quiet I can hear the blood surge through my body with each serene heartbeat.

We had company on this trip.  Throughout our two days by the lake, a lone seagull drifted on the water, preened on a nearby rock, soared above the rippled surface with Merriam and Royce Peaks as a backdrop.  It was like a theme in the music of this journey, one better felt than explained. 

And although it was satisfying to reach the summit of Royce Peak, and glorious to return to the trailhead the next day, it is the music of the Sierras that remains with me when I return to civilization, the ancient silence that yields a quiet heart and a peaceful mind, that keeps me right-sized as I walk through an otherwise noisy life.

photo by will jones

BOBB is happy that you enjoyed this story; to get future stories sent to your email Inbox, just –> Subscribe

Volkswagen – Everyone Had One ©

Volkswagen Stories by BOBB readers:  Peter, Alastair, Richard, Katie, & Cathe

VolkswagenPeter’s Volkswagen story I’m a certified VW fan-for-life.  I’ve had 13 VWs – three of which were Bugs. I think my Volkswagen love affair began when my parents brought me home in a square-back VW name Monk.

I bought my first VW from my roommate for $50 – I drove it for 2 years, and then gave it to my sister who had it for another three.  The only think I had to do to it was add a front bumper to pass Vermont inspection.  I didn’t have money for an actual VW bumper, so I bolted a 2 x 8 to the front.  Apparently they aren’t very strict about what constitutes a bumper in VT.

The next Bug I purchase at the Coliseum Flea Market in Oakland for $300.  It was a pristine ’73 Super Beetle in a very yellow, yellow.  Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that buying cars at a flea market might not be the best idea.  The guy who sold it was not the guy who owned it.  This make registration tricky … I drove it for about a year before the engine blew.

My final Bug was a ’68 that a friend gave me.  I had planed to build a Baja rig out of it, however, after leaving it a Todd’s warehouse for a while, it was stolen.  Todd later found it by Kelly’s Mission Rock – back when it was a less savory place.  We went to get it and found two guys underneath with wrenches, scavenging bits and pieces.  I asked if they getting any good stuff off “my” car.  The made them nervous and the stared apologizing and stammering.  So much of the car was already missing that we let them continue.  I pulled the plate and the VIN badge and we left.

Always loved the Bugs – Terrific in the VT snow and so simple.

Alastair’s Volkswagen story  – I never had a VW, but I always wanted one. It would’ve been black.

Richard’s Volkswagen story – I’m guessing just about everyone who was a teener in the 60′s and 70′s has a VW story, many of them love/hate.

 When I was 16 I played a practical joke on a friend and rolled his VW Bug around the corner and parked facing down a hill.  What I didn’t know was that the parking brake wasn’t actually working.  The Bug later slipped loose and smashed into a giant Chrysler.  I spent the rest of the summer painting houses to reimburse my friend. Ouch.  I have section in my store of VW replicas, vans and bugs, which jogs the memory of many customers, and they share their stories, and I would have to say in the collective VW consciousness, there is more Love.

 Katie‘s Volkswagen story – My first car was a blue ’68 Bug.  My dad brought it home in 1976 and told me “you owe me $900″.  He was not into collaborative decision-making. I barely knew how to shift and avoided hills and stops as much as possible in the beginning.  I had that car for about ten years.  It caught on fire TWICE.  The fuel line to the carburetor would rattle loose and poor gas on the engine.  Poof! It had a big black spot on the engine compartment so she became known as SPOT.

On a vacation she broke down one night on the free road.  We hitchhiked into town and came back the next day to find her stripped down to the axles.  They even stole my 8-track player.  Luckily my friend’s mom had a Volkswagen.  We ran home, took her tires and wheels off, ran back, put them on mine and towed her home.  Put his mom’s tires back on her car and she probably never knew.  Eventually I sold Spot to a VW guy who made her into a Baja Bug.  Wonder when she is now?

Cathe’s Volkswagen story – My boyfriend had a VW Bug for over 16 years until someone at the bank (where he parked), had issues and slammed his transmission into reverse, roared back and demolished it.  He would still have the Volkswagen if that had not happened.

photo by shinazy

BOBB is happy that you enjoyed this story; to get future stories sent to your email Inbox, just –> Subscribe

Retired…and Loving It ©

Will Jones, his story about being retired

retiredI retired in June of 2011 after a long career in public education. Ever since, the first questions anyone asks when they haven’t seen me for a while are “How do you like being retired?” and “What are you doing to keep yourself busy?” Some people, who aren’t retired, ask those questions with a good natured edge to their voice, while others, who are or are about to be retired, genuinely want to know how it’s going.

It seems there is some fear out there among boomers that the transition to retirement will be difficult, tedious, boring…even depressing. That hasn’t been my experience. In fact, it’s been just the opposite. So when people ask those two questions, my first answer is “I love it,” and my second is “How much time do you have?”

First of all, retirement meant a huge reduction in responsibility, a significant weight off my shoulders. I immediately felt lighter in spirit and more energetic. With the elimination of constant “work thoughts,” my creative mind reawakened. I started writing articles for a local magazine, keeping a daily journal, starting an online blog and filling a notebook with poems and other ramblings. I also started playing more music (guitar, harmonica) and picked up the tenor saxophone. I have a wonderful seventy-six-year-old teacher who comes to my house every other Monday for a forty-five minute lesson. A friend and I have played at a few events under the name FreeWill, taken from the first part of his last name (Freeman) and my first name. It suits us perfectly and we continue to practice and expand our song list.

I started a book club called The Short Attention Span Book Club, comprised mostly of male friends. We meet once a month, alternately choosing a book from Column A (Classic) or Column B (Contemporary). We have a 250 page limit, and so far it’s working out beautifully. On my blog I post Short Attention Span Book and Movie Reviews, and friends check in regularly for updates.

My wife and I have been on two very rewarding vacations, one last fall to national parks in the southwest (Grand Canyon, Canyon de Chelly and Mesa Verde), and one in the spring to New York and Boston (Broadway shows, historical sites, meeting our new granddaughter, Fenway Park). Regular hikes on beautiful Central Coast and Big Sur trails, backpacking trips in the Eastern Sierras, and golf (no cart) have helped keep me physically fit, along with other exercise routines. Frequent participation in cultural events keeps me psychically fit.

Finally, regular service activities keep me involved in the welfare of the city I love, San Luis Obispo.

Looking ahead, I don’t see the need to make many changes in my new life. I try never to be in a hurry and there is nothing better than the sound of the alarm clock not ringing, although on most days I’m usually up by six anyway. If year two comes close to rivaling year one, my “attitude of gratitude” will grow even stronger, and retired life will continue to get better. “To boldly go where millions of my fellow boomers are going…”

photo by will jones

BOBB is happy that you enjoyed this story; to get future stories sent to your email Inbox, just –> Subscribe

Words ©

Words by Michael Bell

wordsI spear for salmon words
That inhale wind bending the trees…
Or that dance to the conga drum in my heart.

I seek… baptized words dipped…in a lake of contemplation.
For words that wait…hoping for life in a stanza of this poem.
For a plethora of words inside a wicker basket…
For Words…words that skate upon a frozen lake in tandem with
Words that won’t stumble and don’t fall like a Californian new to Maine.

I want to dance to the music of words.
The crashing ocean wave word or lonely howl of dog word.
The colored jewel- kaleidoscope word and fat woman laughing at the beach word.
The spider’s web word.
The sparkle in the eye of a beautiful woman word.
A poem word in the sun’s reflection on a wave off the south coast sea.

I wish…to sip from the golden chalice offered on a grassy knoll in praise to the Word.
To relish the victor’s leap upon word rightly found…


The noon day tintinnabular of an epiphany of words…
In the era when I heard words I didn’t understand,
When I couldn’t speak words…when I couldn’t say…

I drove far to drill into the gusher of words in places I just couldn’t reach…
And tongue stilled… couldn’t say the love I felt for Claudia.
Nor the history of the empire of Rome
Or the image of the Marlboro man…
Or the dim memory of music tuning in my father’s circus band.
The cotton candy at the zoo in my little kid’s hand.


When wind from the lungs of God swayed the branches of the mighty oak on a hill in Salinas,
When the cold wind braced the spirit of my youth…
When the eucalyptus grove wind blew upon a Daly City hill not yet the neighborhood of today.

While not wanting to make of her the only one of my dreams…
I wrote this poem for Claudia.

photo by julie or dan scott

BOBB is happy that you enjoyed this story; to get future stories sent to your email Inbox, just –> Subscribe

My Definition of Nostalgia ©

A Story by Travis Burchart

Super-Conglomerate Retailer Leaves Me Misty Eyed and Nostalgic

NostalgiaWhat is nostalgia? If you’re going by my dad, it’s a bunch of chromatic snapshots from the 1950s: things like orange packages of Teaberry Gum, the smartly dressed milkman stooping over a doorstep, little girls in navy sweaters spinning hula hoops.  If you’re going by me, nostalgia is Wal-Mart.

Nostalgia can’t exist without the phrase “used to.” There must also be a little bit of longing (maybe even sadness) to go with a sense of joy. When my son was four, we “used to” patrol Wal-Mart looking for action figures. We’d leave my wife with the shopping cart and rush off to the toy department. Together, we’d dig through the rows of packaged superheroes – Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman. When we found one he didn’t have, his smile would shine like sunlight. I became so fixated that I used to show up alone on stocking day, anticipating the weekly toy shipment.

But, as I said, we “used to” do this. My son has since grown out of action figures. Now, our trips to Wal-Mart are about DVDs and video games. Our action figure adventures are becoming harder and harder to recall. I desperately wish I could remember the last superhero we bought (that little bit of longing and sadness).

Last week, I found myself alone in Wal-Mart’s toy section. I find myself there quite often, checking out the action figures and thinking about which ones my son might like. Of course, if I bought him one now, he’d have no interest in it. But I’m still interested – interested in the joy that’s rekindled by these miniature, plastic heroes.

Nostalgia isn’t always about rotary phones and toy soldier sets. My dad, he gets nostalgic and a little misty eyed when he hears Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” Me, I get nostalgic and a little misty eyed when Wal-Mart stocks a new Batman.

photo by Fritz Park

BOBB is happy that you enjoyed this story; to get future stories sent to your email Inbox, just –> Subscribe

Traffic School ©

Malati Marlene Shinazy at Traffic School

traffic schoolAwhile back I wrote a story entitled, “Paying Attention.”  It was all about this luscious first date I went on and how I concentrated on every minutiae of the gorgeous man, meal and good-bye kiss.  As I drove home, attention to detail flew out the window, replaced by a daydreaming drive — until I found myself looking up at the friendly face of the law, writing me a speeding ticket…. Flash forward to Traffic School.

As a first time offender, the state rendered a two-fold fine. I had to pay money (approximately $400) and time (Traffic School).

Traffic School was more than just “time spent,” however, as there was an irritating little decision to be made. Do I attend Traffic School:

  • On-line? Or through live delivery?
  • Comedy delivery?  Or lecture?
  • Lecture in posh college classroom thirty miles away? Or lecture in a drab community room two miles from my home?

I chose live lecture in the drab community room, two miles from my home.  Heck, if the perfect summer day is going to be spent as an indoor hostage for 6.5 – 8.0 hours, what do I care if the seats are upholstered or plastic?

My attitude is: Go to traffic school and be done with it.  My insurance company never hears about the speeding ticket and as long as I don’t get another one in 18 months, it disappears from my driving record. End of Story.

But the story doesn’t end!  It took on a new life once I posted a photo of my fellow speed-demon Traffic School hostages on my Facebook page.  By the flurry of responses this post received, one would have thought I had robbed a bank.

Friends felt obliged to scold me for speeding, tell their stories of how “they fought the law and won,” or chide me for getting caught (this reprimand came from a cop friend). Three days later, the tally of Comments approached 20.

The strangest statement was, “Has anyone here missed a mortgage payment?”  The author of that non sequitur is a friend I’ve known since he was a baby MBA from an Ivy League university.  He is now a senior executive for an $8 billion corporation.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say he must have been drunk when he wrote that comment … If he was driving as well, he’ll be the next hostage in Traffic School.

photo by nathan e  photography

BOBB is happy that you enjoyed this story; to get future stories sent to your email Inbox, just –> Subscribe

See Jane run. Run Jane run ©

Run with Shinazy

runAs little kids we all ran.  We ran out the front door.  We ran to hug grandma when she came to visit.  We ran to our bedroom window to watch raindrops stream down freshly cleaned glass.  Then the day came when we thought sauntering was sexier, so we stopped running.  But for some of us another-day came and we started running again, only this time the destination was unimportant.  Instead we did it to reduce stress, to keep our bones strong, to improve our cardiovascular system.

Because we were all children, you would think running as an adult would be a natural activity.  Yes, that would be a reasonable thought to think.  But I am here to tell you … it ain’t so.  I’ve been putting my feet on the ground for 34 years, completing 11 marathons, and I still find it difficult to run after a period of non-running.

I’ve always been active.  In school I was on the track team, hockey team, cross-country team.  So, running out my front door, in my Sears Keds, was a good fit for me.  But do it  consistently … well, I seem to run out of focus. For me, launching running programs requires NASA level effort.

Now, I say ‘programs’ because I’ve started and stopped many times – how many fingers and toes do I have?  There was one year where I started my running program the first of every month – I was unable to get beyond running a few blocks.

Then there was the year of The Back, the day I opened my eyes and was unable to move – it took me 45 minutes to throw my body onto the floor (but, that’s another story.)

Last year, while training to climb the cables at Half Dome, I hiked, and hiked, and hiked.  I was getting strong again and my back was behaving.  I tentatively approached the idea of yet another running program.  Was I healed enough to run?  Hooray!  The answer was ‘Yes”.

How did last year’s running program go?  Well … on an 18-mile hike in the coastal mountains, with the sun peak-a-booing with the fog, I felt invincible.  There I was on a dirt trail, heading down hill and I was overtaken by the desire to run.  Flying I was.  One moment I’m in heaven, the next nanosecond I’m eating dirt: sprained ankle, scraped knees, smashed shoulder, and a bloody nose.  What just happened?  The end of that year’s running program is what happened.

I’ve mostly recovered from that fall and this month I started yet another running program – only this time I’m staying on flat, paved streets.  I decided to duplicate what I did when I started running: 1 mile for a month.  Only then will I know if this program becomes a streak.  And similar to when we were children I can hear myself say, See Shinazy. See Shinazy run. Run, Shinazy, run.

photo by shinazy

BOBB is happy that you enjoyed this story; to get future stories sent to your email Inbox, just –> Subscribe

From LOL to LMAO to ROFL ©

A Story by Bob Deason

LOLI am on my afternoon walk, letting my mind wander as I usually do while walking, and I start thinking about my friend Retha.  As one of her birthday presents, she received a red, plush version of what is basically a blanket with sleeves in it.  The name of this contraption is the “Siamese Slanket,” because it has four sleeves in it so that a couple can snuggle together while still eating popcorn (or something like that).    However, when her son saw it, he put his legs through one set of sleeves and his arms through the other, and ended up wearing it like a toga, a la John Belushi in Animal House.  As I let my imagination run away with her description of the scene, I start chuckling to myself.  This quickly progresses to laughing out loud (LOL), and then to laughing so hard I have to stop to catch my breath (LMAO).

At this point in my walk, I am on an uphill section of my normal circuit, right in front of a pediatrician’s office.  There are people in the parking lot on their way in to see the doctor, and some others coming out on their way to their cars.  Imagine their surprise to see a heavyset man in his 50’s doubled over in the road.  They can’t tell I am laughing, but it is obvious that I am having trouble breathing.  They immediately think heart attack.

So two people come rushing over, and one person runs inside to get the doctor.  They try to make me sit down on the curb, and I try to tell them I am OK, and that I am just laughing at a story.  But that just makes the whole thing funnier to me, so I laugh even harder (ROFL).  I try to explain, but since I am uttering phrases like Siamese Slanket and Toga Party, they assume that I am hallucinating.

Now the doctor comes out, and we know each other because his office used to be in our building.  He says, “Bob what’s wrong?”  I realize people are worried so I manage to compose myself a little and start to explain.  Turns out the doc has seen the ads for the Siamese Slanket, and he thinks it’s hilarious that someone would put their legs through the second set of arm holes, and he starts laughing, which gets me going all over again.  By now the first responders have figured out that I am not having a heart attack. I am merely a lunatic.  So they grab their children (pediatrician, remember?) and beat a hasty retreat to their cars.

This happens to me sometimes.  I start laughing at something, and it turns into a full-on, roaring belly-laugh.  When it is over, I feel so good.  I know it has something to do with the release of endorphins, but I just think of it as a release of stress.  Laughter really is the best medicine (LOL).

photo by Bob’s dad

BOBB is happy that you enjoyed this story; to get future stories sent to your email Inbox, just –> Subscribe

Waste Not, Want Not ©

Malati Marlene Shinazy on Waste

wasteEven as I wrote the title to this story, Waste Not, Want Not, I wasn’t sure what it meant.  It was one of those wise sayings my mother’s generation used in an attempt to control my behavior… I think she meant, “If I eat all of my food (waste not), I’ll never go hungry (want not).”   Sounds good on the surface, but the logic is off.  I digest every morsel I eat; it becomes waste; and then I want more.

In a previous story, Recycling in the Days of Old ©  I wrote about the delight my children took throwing and crashing glass bottles into recycling igloos in the days before curb-side recycling.

These days, we can recycle nearly everything we use.  We just throw the item into the appropriate colored canister if we live in a municipality that has pre-sorted waste.  Or, we throw every darn thing that might be recyclable into a single canister.  The separating of paper from newsprint and glass from plastic occurs somewhere else, by some magic patented separator.

Despite wasting even less than I did before, I still want more, of something else of course, because I am a member of the Tribe of Wanters.

But wait. I may have found a solution for my shame for being a Wanter.  It’s all about balance: Want Less and Waste Less.

I want chocolate, all the time:

  • I want a chocolate mocha for breakfast.
  • I want chocolate fudge after lunch.
  • I want chocolate chip cookies and milk before I go to sleep.

The chocolate itself never goes to waste; it just makes me fat.  If I want to eat a lot then I’d better want to exercise a lot, too – again, balance.  Working out at the gym and yoga recycles the chocolate from my waistline into the great unknown.

But the wrapping?  Mostly, that’s just considered trash.  Although my recycling bin is filled with newspapers and office paper, my trash bin is filled with wrappers that covered some kind of chocolate.

The curbside recycling company wants me to turn my wants into waste.  But my new balanced solution has found an operational component: Terracycle.com.  Terracyclea company started by a couple of smart college kids, will take those wrappers of wants and turn them into something useful I also want, like park benches.

So I’ve joined 30 million other people who are now recycling all kinds of waste from what we want.  We just print a mailing label and Terrracycle pays for shipping the box of empty wrappers.

I’m a member of these Recycling Brigades:

  • Candy Wrapper Brigade
  • Energy Bar Wrapper Brigade
  • Coffee Bag Brigade

There are a total of 48 Brigades at this writing, including a Paired Shoe Brigade and a Flip-Flop Brigade, for footwear Wanters.

This form of “Waste Not, Want Not” may be unfamiliar to my mother, but 2,421,760,561 items of non-trash converted into $4,457,039 of money for charity would certainly be a program she would want.

photo from www.terracycle.com 

BOBB is happy that you enjoyed this story; to get future stories sent to your email Inbox, just –> Subscribe