Wilma Rosenow with her daughter, granddaughter and great grandchildren celebrating her 105th birthday.

Wilma Rosenow is almost giddy.  She banters lightly with camera crews from local television stations, at ease with being in the spotlight.  I ask her if it’s alright to take her picture and she asks coyly “what am I supposed to do” while flinging one leg over the arm of an overstuffed chair and posing one hand behind her head  like a movie star and giggles.  It’s her birthday and you can almost feel the electricity zinging through her system even as she takes a moment to pat a hand and check to make sure someone else will get cake.

You could say she looks good for her age but what does someone look like at 105 years old?  The fact is she looks terrific for any age.  She moves with a grace and an ease belying the several decades she’s outlived the average person.

It’s normal to ask someone reaching such a pinnacle what their secret is to longevity.  She says it’s in thinking positive and being positive, getting a “nice night of rest,” and participating in “all the activities you can.”

From her church to the Lakewood Republican Women, she’s always been involved with organizations.  Rosenow and her daughter, Marlene Bostic modeled for Narrows Glen, where she’s lived since 2004 and for the Lakewood Republican Women.  She and three other women founded the Manhattan Dance Club in Tacoma, which still exists.  After nearly 50 years, she still belongs to both the Mountaineers and to the Audubon Society.

She loves traveling and has been to 16 countries including parts of Asia, Europe and Israel and gone cruising six times.  “If there was a trip offered that I hadn’t taken, I’d go,” said Rosenow.  She went to Japan in 1964 because she was told, “if you don’t come now you’ll never make the trip and she went and she’s never quit,” said Bostic.   At 62, Rosenow took skiing lessons.  At 86 she went cross country skiing in the Canadian Rockies with her son, Richard Rosenow.

Her birthdays for the last several years have centered on Harley Davidson’s after Jacquelyn Kleinger, the activities director at Narrows Glen, noticed Rosenow talking to two bikers at a rest stop.  Daryl Ruff announces his arrival with the smoke and roar of his big black bike driving into the entry way of Narrows Glen.  Ruff, a salesman from Destination Harley Davidson in Tacoma has attended her birthdays every year since she turned 101.  At her 101st birthday, Ruff took her riding on his Harley.  He told her then, “don’t worry; I’ve been doing this since you were 65.”  He pledged this year, “you keep having them, I’ll keep coming.”

Marymount Manor residents get together each Wednesday to knit items for charity.

It really shouldn’t be surprising that when you get a bunch of women together, you get a lot of noise.  Well and food.  Lots of food.  Although the noise thing is a pretty good factor, too.  Which doesn’t bode well to the idea that all these women, 18-20 of them each Wednesday afternoon, are doing so in order to knit for charity.  But knit they do.  A year ago in June, Georgie Springer and several residents from Marymount Manor, 317 152nd St E, in Spanaway decided to knit for charity.  They knit lap robes for nursing homes and hats for chemo patients, particularly men as there is a need for them.  They knit baby blankets and baby booties and scarves.  “In the first three months,” said Patricia Marvin, “we made 300 pieces.”

As you can imagine, all those pieces require patterns and few people like to do the same thing over and over again so Springer is always looking for more patterns.   Then someone sent her an article cut from a newspaper and on the back was an article about plarn.  Plarn comes from plastic bags that have been cut into strips.  The strips are then knit or crocheted, just like yarn, into items such as hats, sandals and mats.  The ladies make mats to keep homeless folks off the ground.  The mats also generate or reflect heat.  The additional benefit to plarn is that it’s abundantly available at no cost.  It takes 700 bags to make a mat.  That’s 700 bags that don’t see the landfill, or float ghostlike through the landscape

Anyone can join the group.  You don’t even have to knit.  Barbara Riffle said she’s the mascot and that at 83 years old, she sees her job as keeping the rest in line.   And Janie Hildahl rolls yarn and untangles skeins because, “I was a big tom boy and never learned to knit.”  She adds though that it’s “nice to get together with the girls.” Debbie Walters “rolls the yarn for the girls” and cuts strips.  “I’m left handed,” she said, “and it’s hard for me to do.  It’s just something nice to do in the afternoon…get together and gossip.”  Of course there is a lot of laughter as well.  Char Bowman suggested that the article should be called, “When old ladies go wild.”

Of course someone has to do the work of crocheting or knitting.  Marvin said she’s been crocheting since 1963 and that it’s good for her arthritis.  Ethel Haddentan specializes in crocheting blocks for afghans.  Nadine Abbott knits and crochets and has been doing both for decades.  She makes mittens and repairs and finishes other projects.  She also lauds the health benefits of hand work.  She was in a car accident and her cousin brought her some yarn, needles and instructions.

Judie Denoo prefers to multi-task.  “I cause a lot of trouble.  I’ve been a knitter and then Char (Bowman) taught me how to crochet.  My main job is to put together the squares.”  Denoo added, “We‘ve had family members come in.  I’ve had my granddaughter come in.  She’s just started and she’s better than all of us.”

Denoo and Springer are neighbors.   Springer has the yarn and Denoo hs the finished product.  “Wall to wall yarn,” added Springer.  “Thank God for my computer.”
The group aims for having fun.  “Perfection is not our goal,” said Springer.  “We have fun.  I look forward to Wednesdays.”

If you are interested in donating supplies or becoming a member of the group, call (253) 537-8910.

Whitney Scott in front of a recent class on Mixology held at Franke Tobey Jones Senior University.

Crayons and pencils, paper and erasers.  Stores are abuzz and kids are aghast because it’s back to school time.  If you are retired or semi-retired, you might be wondering why you should even bother thinking about school.  After all when we are children, school is the ladder we have to climb to get good jobs or careers.  So what’s the point of going to school, when you are 60 or 70 or even better?

The benefits can be pretty impressive.   Spending time learning can help your mind build new pathways, allowing it to stay sharp for a longer period of time.  A classroom setting encourages social interaction, opportunities to mingle with people of varying view points and a chance to pursue a hobby or even a new career.

There are as many ways to continue school as there are to begin schooling.  Universities have programs as do senior centers, libraries and the list goes on and on.  In the Tacoma area, one of the easiest ways to slide back into education is by attending Senior University at Franke Tobey Jones.  Classes cover the gamut from educational or cultural to health and finance.   Senior University classes offer community members the opportunity to dip their toes into the waters of additional education by providing free classes in a no pressure, relaxed environment.   In July, community members had the opportunity to learn about summer cocktails and wines or hear from best-selling author and healthy life style expert, Joe Piscatella about current medical information on nutrition and eating.  They spoke with and listened to Democratic Senatorial opponents Jeannie Darnielle and Jack Connelly or boned up on their genealogy.  Instructors come from local universities and businesses and include community members, musicians, entertainers,  and artists.

Whitney Scott, a certified Mixologist and a staff member at Franke Tobey Jones recently taught a summer cocktail class.  Scott and her mom attended a bartending school together.  The school didn’t teach Scott a lot about how to mix specific drinks but concentrated on information on the various components and their history, which she found interesting like the fact that Ernest Hemingway is known to have favored Mojitos but the original drink was for medicinal purposes.  It wasn’t until the use of rum that the drink became recreational.  She showed the class how to mix Sangria, Mojitos, Margaritas, and Daiquiris, which all shared three characteristics: they tasted great, were simple and fast to make.  Scott talked to everyone about methods to make the drinks “pretty” including salting the glass rims for drinks and to try flavors outside their normal repertoire such as making mango daiquiris rather than sticking to always using strawberries.

By David Mackintosh
ISBN 978-1-4197-0393-5

For decades, Americans have embraced the concept of the nuclear family as a point of honor.  Extended family households dropped from about 25 percent of the population to just 12 percent in 1980.   However, job losses, foreclosures and the reality of an aging population have shifted that dynamic so that we are returning to multigenerational families of at least two adult generations according to a study by the Pew Research Center.

David Mackintosh explores that new dynamic in a humorous children’s book about what it’s like growing up with Grandpa Frank, a man without any interesting hobbies, or ability to speak a foreign language.  Oh, what to do, when the only available person in your household is boring and you need to bring him to school for show-and-tell.  As the day draws near and the young narrator of the story continues to list item after item that Grandpa Frank can’t do, he despairs he’ll never find something to talk about for a full minute.
But Grandpa Frank has a trick or two up his sleeve.

The Frank Show is a touching story about finding value in an older generation.  You don’t need a kid to enjoy the book, but find one and you’ll be all the richer for it.