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90 Plus and Still Going

I’m writing a mystery novel set in a retirement village….

Who Is Creative?

kid for blogI get so bored with standard thinking parroted as Truth. For instance, I’ve heard forever that children are so much more creative than older people. So when I took my five-year-old niece to a gingerbread house decorating party one year, I stood back to watch all the young kids create with the candies and other doodads available to decorate their own gingerbread house.

Didn’t happen. The little types looked to us adults. “What should I do?” some asked. “How do I put these things on?” asked others. In the end, the results were. . .unimpressive. There was no creativity, no spontaneity, no imaginative results. The houses that made it through the process were, shall we say, banal?

What passes for creativity in young children is actually ignorance sometimes converted, for the traditionalists and with parental indulgence, into “a fresh look.” Actually, the kids don’t have much information or experience to draw from so they do the best they can. That’s why tree trunks are brown and straight with a green ball on top. Somewhere they’ve been told that tree trunks are brown and leaves are green. They don’t have sharp observation skills, so girls are drawn with a pillar on each side of the face representing hair. I could go on.

If you want true creativity, you have to go to the olders, sometimes the older the better. Older people with imagination, sharp observation skills and a wealth of information and experience to draw from. With these older people, you can get original, creative expressions in art and literature.

They’ll look at a tree and see the individual tree with its rutted bark in shades of gray, perhaps, and individual leaves in shapes that differ according to species. Older people know that hair grows around the head, not just on the sides, and can be groomed in a huge variety of ways.

Older people with imagination and skill will beat the pants off the most creative child with the freshest of looks.

96 and Still Falling – On Purpose

96 and Still Falling—On Purpose

As our friend Bob grew into his 80s, he began falling. No particular reason for the falls—he didn’t trip or get knocked, he just started keeling over and then he’d be on the ground. He suffered a broken hip first, then a broken neck that kept him in rehab for almost a year. At last he was released, but at home, he fell every day, finally landing back in the hospital. He had to give up his apartment and is now in assisted living.

No one seems to be interested in why he falls or ways to prevent the falls, just repairing the damage after he falls. So I sat up with interest to read about a 96-year-old named Elliott Royce who says he falls on purpose at least five times every morning and estimates that he has fallen down at least 15,000 times over Continue reading “96 and Still Falling – On Purpose”

Learning New Tricks

For months now I’ve been seeking a focus for this blog. Since my cozy mysteries feature the 90 year olds at Whisperwood Retirement Village, I give a talk called “Able, Alert, and Active – Acting Your Age at 90.” The talk is well-received—the audience says it is inspirational and motivational. Suddenly, my blog had a focus: Motivating, inspiring and countering all the little voices in our heads that tell us why we can’t or aren’t or shouldn’t; motivating and inspiring despite the rejections (I’m a writer); motivating and inspiring despite whatever our age or circumstances. That is what this blog is about. Enjoy.

Here goes. . .

Let me introduce you to Captain James Arruda Henry. He was a lobsterman who lived for more than 90 years without being able to read and write. Then he heard about another man Continue reading “Learning New Tricks”

Act Your Age: Ammunition for Active Aging

Act Your Age: Ammunition for Active Aging

My 90s Club cozy mystery series features able. alert, and active people in their 90s who live at Whisperwood Retirement Village. The inspiration for the series came from meeting a woman years ago at a pool party. She was slim, attractive, the only one in the pool, and she was swimming laps. She was 91 years old. 91! I hadn’t realized until recently that, from that moment, she became my role model for someone in their 90s. That’s what I visualize and expect. That is the possibility.

When the writers in my critique group read the draft chapters for the series, they objected to the idea that a 91-year-old could do anything but sit in a wheelchair dribbling Pablum. My characters were Continue reading “Act Your Age: Ammunition for Active Aging”

Never Too Old

I’m on the cutting edge with my 90s Club mystery series. My 90-year-olds are able, alert, and active, and more and more medical studies are showing that old age isn’t what sinks you into decrepitude. No matter what your age, here’s what will do the job: Diabetes, obesity, no exercise, poor diet, hypertension, stress, and depression.

I spent yesterday morning at a 90-minute workshop given by Dr. Majid Fotuhi, MD, PhD, author of Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance. In a fast-paced workshop, Dr. Fotuhi described Continue reading “Never Too Old”

More About Old Dogs: Will Do is Better Than Can’t Do

My 90s Club cozy mystery series continues to raise eyebrows. Some readers tell me of the 90- and 100-year-olds they know who do remarkable things like drive long distances, win tennis matches, canoe across lakes, etc.; other readers shake their heads and say they find it hard to believe that anyone in their 90s or 100s is up for anything but a rocking chair or the Alzheimer’s unit.

The 90s Club series concept came from watching a slim attractive, fit woman swim laps at a pool party. Then I learned she was 91 years old. So for the nonbelievers, I add another person to my list of very senior but functioning citizens: Helen Crossley, a former school nurse, who turned 105 in August 2013. She held her nursing license until age 96 and, although legally blind since age 99, she still gets around with and without a walker. (Washington Post, 8-24-2013).

The older I get, the more I hear people fall into line and repeat that sad refrain, “I’m too old.” I’ve heard people in their twenties say, “I’m too old for…” In fact, it seems to me that most popular aphorisms that pass for “wisdom,” are intended to limit and control rather than encourage and support. So I say phooey to all that stuff about what a person can and can’t do at any age.

Just saw a wonderful movie called Quartet, about a group of elderly musicians at the Musicians Retirement Home in England. It’s directed by Dustin Hoffman, stars Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay and includes cameo appearances by many formerly well-known now retired musicians. A love story develops as these musicians put together a gala to save their home and try to persuade Smith as a troubled opera diva to join three other singers in the Rigoletto quartet. Highly recommended.

Available Dec. 1: The 90s Club & the Whispering Statue, second in this cozy mystery series. This time, Nancy Dickenson and the 90s Club at Whisperwood Retirement Village head south to Fort Lauderdale to rescue one friend and find another. Four attempts to murder Nancy’s long-time confidant Peter Stamboul have failed, but in the placid lifestyle of his retirement condo, who would want to kill Peter and why? Adventurous young Jessica Cantwell took a job as crew on a boat, but when the captain is murdered, she disappears and becomes a “person of interest.” Once again, murder and mayhem stalk Nancy and fellow 90s Club members Louise and George as they race to save Peter and Jessica’s lives and, ultimately, their own.

The Sapper’s Plot, a tough, action-filled mystery-thriller, is the latest book by M.L. Doyle, author of books about “women in combat boots.” Army Master Sergeant Harper is assigned to accompany a TV news team to a remote construction camp in Honduras where U.S. troops are providing engineering support for the project. The TV team is supposedly following one of the construction units on the mission, but Army public affairs suspects the team has another agenda. When the group arrives at the camp, they discover the body of one of the workers buried alive in concrete. Harper takes command of the investigation and fights her way through the cover-up attempts, rigors of rough jungle living, army protocol, and male chauvinism. The descriptive details add much to the realism and mood of the story. This is a fast-paced, gripping read that builds to a thrilling climax and final unmasking of the killer.

The Roads Less Traveled

I read obituaries, not to satisfy a gruesome interest in death, but to expand my imagination about the many roads less traveled and the consequences of taking them. I’m interested in the people who refused to let popular wisdom carve their path through life. Because my cozy mystery series is about people in their 90s, I focus on articles about them.

And so in the July 25th Washington Post, I came across the obituary for Betty Brown Park who died at age 95 from a brief illness.  At age 92, she retired from her position as Senior Attorney at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  She began her 68 years of government service as a lawyer in 1941. This was at the beginning of World War II, when women were recruited for all types of jobs.  Despite this need, before, during, and after the war, most professional women were routinely asked, “can you type?” Most people also bought into the idea that women could either have a marriage or a career. Once you married, you either quit or were let go. She married in 1942 and continued working while raising three children. During her years of  service, she received many awards including HUD’s Distinguished Service Award.  She also traveled extensively, volunteered in various associations, and was a musician.

She’s the kind of person I write about in The 90s Club & the Hidden Staircase.  They’re the people who don’t look outside themselves for social approval of what to do in life but inside at what they want to do. They don’t, for example, assume they are feeble simply because they are old. People who make such assumptions and perpetuate them live life by prescription. They’re the ones who say, “I’m 85 (or 65, 55, 75), therefore I’m too old to [fill in the blank].” This may be true for them, but it’s the “therefore” that I quarrel with. That’s why I focus on people in their eighties, nineties, and one hundreds who are or were active, alert, busy, and out adventuring in the world—even climbing mountains. They don’t let the standard “wisdom” stop them.

So I salute Betty Brown Park and all the men and women who refuse to let prescriptions for living block their way on the road less traveled.

This just in: Singer and actor Tony Martin died July 27. He was 98. At age 95 he performed in a nightclub act where he introduced one selection by saying, “I first sang this song at Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration.”

Eileen Haavik McIntire 7/31/2012

Marta Eggerth, still singing at 99

Now that my latest book, The 90s Club & the Hidden Staircase, is out and available, I have even more reason to tout the triumphs of people 90 years old and older.  The 90s Club members in my book are the protagonists who sniff something rotten at Whisperwood Retirement Village and almost lose their lives as they track the villains.

Since members of my critique group raised eyebrows at someone that age doing anything but dribble Pablum, I continue to blog about people over 90 who are active, alert, and even working. The latest is Marta Eggerth who turns 100 on April 17 and is quite “bemused at having survived so long with all her faculties intact,” according to Anne Midgette in The Washington Post.

Here’s another item, this time an obituary of Raymond Aubrac, who died April 10 at age 97. After his wife died in 2007 at age 94, he devoted himself increasingly to speaking to schoolchildren about World War II. Aubrac was a French Resistance leader who escaped Gestapo torturers, including the infamous Klaus Barbie, with help from his pregnant wife. She told Barbie that she was Mr. Aubrac’s unwed lover and pretending to be desperate, she begged Barbie to allow her to marry Aubrac before his execution so their baby would not be illegitimate. He refused, but she bribed another Nazi official who agreed to the wedding. Meanwhile, she had arranged for the truck carrying him back to prison after the wedding to be ambushed by the Resistance. During the ambush, Aubrac and more than a dozen prisoners escaped and several Gestapo officers were killed. What a story!

Speaking of retirement villages, my husband Rog and I had dinner last night with friends at Riderwood Retirement Village in Silver Spring. I had beef tenderloin with onion rings and Rog had roast duck with plum sauce. That’s the kind of dinner the residents get every evening. At home, I’d probably fix up a quick macaroni and cheese or maybe tuna fish casserole. Just saying.

Coming soon - New mystery by Eileen Haavik McIntire

Coming soon –

The 90s Club & the Hidden Staircase,

a mystery by Eileen Haavik McIntire

I’ve been posting items about people 90, 100 years old and older who are still active, still pursuing interests and activities like the rest of us, and some still working.  I’ve come across them in researching my new mystery, the first in a series featuring The 90s Club of Whisperwood Retirement Village.

Beneath Whisperwood’s luxurious lifestyle bubbles a simmering brew of thefts, murders, and exploitation. Whisperwood’s 90s Club piles up clues like tricks in a bridge game to uncover the culprits—and almost lose their lives.

Leader of the club is Nancy Dickenson, drawn from a 91-year-old woman I saw swimming laps at a pool party.  The mystery is well-researched and, except for the evil underfoot, accurately portrays life in an upscale retirement community while spoofing stereotypes about the elderly. The characters play off each other, and the dialogue is often humorous. The plot turns upon subtle possibilities for exploiting the elderly, often the targets of scam artists. The villains in this novel, however, walk, talk, and play with their victims.

The book will be available later this spring in both print and e-book editions.  My previous novel, The Shadow of the Rock, is historical fiction that Midwest Book Review called, “a riveting story of time and humanity, highly recommended.”

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