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(Address your letters to or to the article author if their email is published on their author page)

Dear Rose,

I am 86 years old and driving my own car. I just filled up the tank and had the usual problem of how to do it, though I have been doing it myself for several years now.

My husband always did it or one of my sons did, but it was easier then. Oh, for the days when you drove up and a nice young man or woman asked how they could help me. I have a small car  that only takes 10 gallons to fill the tank, but until recently, I only had to fill once every two months. All that time the gasoline companies were "improving" the dispensers and each time a new routine was in use. Or else I would forget the procedure. 

In case you think that I shouldn't be driving, I recently passed the written and driving tests with flying colors. I am not demanding my right to drive, but circumstances make it necessary at this time  I imagine you have already addressed this subject in your own way, but  if you haven't, you may quote me or use my words.

If you have, I would love to read it. If you could indicate which of your articles is on this subject, I can read it at SWW. I first read your letter in Dear Abby and have been a fan ever since. 

Jean Leinweber, Harper, Tx

(Editor's Note: Rose Mula will be addressing this subject in her next essay. We also recommending reading: Driving Miss Daisy: Providing Alternative Transportation Services for Seniors — Many of the drivers who volunteer in the ITN program are themselves elderly. They earn credits to use later as they grow older, or donate to family members or the poor. Seniors who use the service pay an annual membership fee of $40 for an individual, or $65 for a family)

Dear Editor,

I was thrilled to find your website at! I Found it when looking for information on Mary Delaney: Mrs. Delaney and her Circle, at the Yale Center for British Art). I've been thinking about the state of women globally with deep concern. Is there a call on the Web for the 'lionesses to roar', so to speak, or for women to take action to help our sisters?


Dear Jill,

[The correspondent recently viewed the Met's Lucia, via the HD system reviewed by's author and reviewer, Jill Norgren. Am I the only one who thinks that the photography of the most recent broadcast of the Met's Lucia was was appalling? I was seasick after the first act from the constant zooms. The director should be banned from ever using the zoom again. Why doesn't the Met hire Robin Lough, who directed Phaedre so brilliantly, He really knows now to shoot stage productions, whereas the directors who have been hired by Met HD so far have shot according to commercial standards. No shot longer than two and a half seconds, no matter what the music or scene says.

To the Met, please get some new directors like Robin Lough.. You'll have even more ecstatic audiences  Incidentally Natalie Dessay was really magnificent as Lucia.  I cried my eyes out, her mad scene was so moving. Thanks for that.

Gladys Richards

Dear Julia,

When my granddaughter was learning to talk (see A Grandmother By Any Other Name by Julia Sneden), she pronounced "s" as "z". So Su became Zu, which she doubled, and I've been Zuzu ever since! The story of how she renamed me has become family legend and always makes her smile & my heart sing!

Zuzu in Milwaukee, WI

Dear Editor,

I think there should be a petition that goes to all the major bathing suit makers (see Julia Sneden's article, Utterly Unsuitable) to get their attention. I, for one, need a suit with a skirt all around because at my age and slender frame, I have no derrière! I have found some very pretty suits that I like, but they only come with skirts in sizes 12 and above. Suits in smaller sizes with the same patterns and maker, are more high cut with no skirt or a half skirt in the front only which does not help. I guess the manufacturers think all older women only come in large sizes, which is not true.

No matter whether I swim at a pool or in the ocean, I want an attractive, comfortable, reasonably-priced suit.

Thanks, A.Kane, MA

Dear Editor,

I was sent an article entitled The Stranger in My Mirror by Rose Mula ... damn she's here now ... loved it ... great site too ...

Thanks, Sharon from W.C.H.

Dear Editor,

My first visit to your site. WOW.  Very nice.

Didn't miss the AARP-type stuff: Depends, varicose veins and everything else that makes you feel everyone over 60 is ready for the great beyond. I'll be back & I'll invite friends.

Thanks again,

Margie in St. Petersburg, FL

Dear Rose,

“She lives in my house/mirror,” yes she does.  As I  approach my 60th birthday I am gradually accepting the fact that I will never again look as I did when I was 30, or 40 – even 50.  Rose, you have expressed the thoughts and reality of every woman as she ages. And you have done it with so much humor that I am able to laugh at my own vanity. 

Kudos to you.  You will at the very least help me grow older much more gracefully.

Sarah at 60

Dear Editor,

I enjoyed this very well written, informative article by Margaret Cullison, Cemetery Chronicles.  The subject was most interesting and the descriptions were so vivid.  I have passed it on to others who will now become familiar with the website.

Thank you, LaVerne Kayne

Dear Julia,

Somehow, History by the Thimbleful, found its way by email to Kiev, Ukraine to my computer via a college pal of the 50's named William.  He's a retired university librarian and sends me articles of interest.  It's a neat story. 

The essay reminded me of an old book, *A Lantern In Her Hand about early day life in Nebraska.  That book reminded me of my mother's life. I think Mom wore out a few non-gold thimbles while we were growing up in Western Oklahoma.

Thanks for the story, Jim

By Bess Streeter Aldrich, 1881-1954

Dear Rose,

The article about Nancy Drew (Nancy and Me) captured my feelings entirely.

I was in the 6th grade when a family moved in next door and the daughter had the Nancy Drew books.  I read the first one and was hooked.  Thankfully, they let me borrow them one at a time and I couldn't get enough of that roadster and the adventures.  I actually read them all again when I had a daughter and bought them for her.  I also bought and read the Hardy Boys with my son. 

Thank you for a wonderful walk back in time. 

Lynda Carpenter, Hillsborough, NC

Dear Editor,

Thank you, ladies, for your thoughtful inclusion of timely topics, like health care.  I truly appreciate your dedication to debunking the myths.

Patti Winker

Dear Ms. Sneden,

I just came to your article on the grandparent naming issue.  My son, Rob, has always called my father Grandbob, but none of the other cousins or family picked that up.   Rob married and soon had a daughter Celena.  As soon as she started talking she called me Ya Ya.  Many years later we learned that is Greek for Grandmother only spelled Yia Yia.  We have no Greek history or associations, this is just the name my tiny one coined for me.  Now there are two brothers, and I'm YaYa to all of them.  I love the name and it makes me ponder the reincarnation possibilities.  Celena always claims that she forgot the rest of her Greek.   


Dear Editor,

A search is underway for women who served as secretaries in politics and government in the nation’s capital and are interested in preserving their experiences in an oral history project. The announcement of The Washington Secretaries Oral History Project was made in conjunction with “National Administrative Professionals Week,.

Research is being directed by Lillian Cox, a freelance journalist with The San Diego Union-Tribune and former secretary at The White House during the Nixon administration.  “Since the 1930s women have been the backbone of the clerical workforce in the nation’s capital,” Cox said. “Many came to Washington initially to support the war effort during the Roosevelt presidency and later forged careers with subsequent administrations. “My goal is to chronicle the important role these ladies played in American history and politics, a role that in many ways has been overlooked in historical literature.” Cox said she will be compiling the research for a book and museum exhibit.

“In the course of my research which began six years ago I have been impressed by the volume of rich anecdotes about former Washington secretaries,” she said. “A realistic account of the nation’s capital in times of war and peace would not be complete without their voice.”

For more information about The Washington Secretaries Oral History Project visit or email Lillian at

Dear Editor,

I am new to your magazine and a friend pointed out Suzette Haden Elgin’s article "Why Are Old Women Older Than Old Men and How Can We Fix That?". It has seemed to be an age old (pardon the pun) discussion among women friends, about how older men either age better than women or their aging seems to be accepted more readily than that of an older woman.

My belief is that is partially our fault. We are so conscious of trying to continue to look as we did in our twenties (and seem to be encouraged to do so by the public and media) that we do not age gracefully. An older woman who dresses, uses makeup and hairstyles more appropriate to a younger woman/figure, actually seems to look older. I prefer to see an older gal dressed in stylish but traditional clothing, with whatever degree of graying she has showing, and in a short, neat style, with a minimum of makeup (which tends to collect in the natural facial lines anyway).

Ms. Elgin's article also made the point that there is more to a woman (or anyone) than their physical appearance. Behind the façade is a lifetime of wisdom and experience, seldom appreciated by enough people. That is one reason I had hoped to be able to vote for Hillary Clinton for president. It is far beyond the time that a woman should be given a chance to lead this country and regardless of your political party, it is obvious that she had experience, knowledge and tenacity. She and others like her would be good role models to our country and the world. 

I am 77 years old now and am told I look better now than when I was younger. My hair is gray, cut moderately short and I am fairly trim from tennis and yard work. I am satisfied with the way I look and recognize that aging is a work in one day when one of my 21-year-old twin grandsons told someone, "My grandma’ is so cool. She plays tennis and you would never know her age."  

Charlie Hall

Dear Editor,

The article The Met: Live in HD by Jill Norgen left me speechless, being I'm an opera fan.

I didn't know this existed. I live in Central Florida and have not heard word of it. I do remember listening to the Met on radio when I was a child with my father. I'm also lucky when I lived in New York I got to see my first opera Tosca second row front and center. Miles played the part and I swooned over the bad guy.

Thanks again for the info Live in HD, and I love your site at my ripe ole age of 66. It's great to see us old gals coming back. I'm so sick of the young announcers on TV and radio, as someone said, "you just don't understand them."

I don't know if the website came to me just at the right time in life. I see you've been around for ten years, I wish I would have happened upon it sooner.

Rose Lamatt

Dear Editor,

Amen, to the article by Julia Sneden on the topic of the "new" voice of the young American woman.  They seem to not only be nasal, but louder than necessary (as in the need to be heard).

I thought it was just me that was unable to tolerate the twang of these young women on television.

Thanks for the good article!

Jeane in Tucson, AZ

Dear Ms. Rapp,

I read about your African experience and found it quite interesting and very helpful since we are planning the same trip in October of this year. It will be our 45th anniversary in November so it was interesting to read it from a senior perspective!

This will be our third Tauck tour.  Did Alaska two years ago and loved it so much we did Ireland last year with them.   Hoping Africa will be like the other two. 

Thank you,  DS in Vermont

Dear Editor,

I really enjoyed Joan Cannon's article, Relativity. I am pleased because I sent the Senior Women site to Joan and now she is here. Great. Your site is just the best and the writing you present is outstanding. The writers and the writing is more relevant to me than anything I read — print or online.

Thank you so much for having this site for older women. Here we are not ever invisible.

Glenda in North Carolina

Dear Joni,

We just received the 2009 Exotics brochure from Tauck and plan to take the China tour in 2009. While reading Tauck's message board I came across info on the article you wrote for Senior Women. I just wanted to say THANK YOU for all your wonderful advice. It has helped us greatly on deciding when to go, what to pack, and what to expect.

Thanks again.
Barb in Connecticut

Dear Julia (if I may be so familiar)

Just wanted to say a word of thanks for your incredibly concise and sensitive précis of that great Undset novel, Kristin Lavransdatter. I read it in the thirties and have never forgotten it. The description of childbirth in a chapter I think was entitled "Wages of Sin" in the edition I read colored my life ever after. Perhaps the best part of reading your review was that I felt satisfied by it to the point that I think I shall not reread it. Too harrowing for an old woman, perhaps. And yes, it was indeed a favorite of mine. How lovely to find another coeval (as Nabokov calls it) who felt as I did, or seems to.


Joan in North Carolina

Dear Editor,

We work for the Citizen Media Law Project at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. When doing some online research we came across your blog post on our site ( ).

We just wanted to say thank you so much for highlighting our work — it's  heartening to see it being referenced on the web as a good legal  resource.

Staff Attorneys, Citizen Media Law Project
Berkman Center for Internet & Society
23 Everett Street, Second Floor, Cambridge, MA 02138
Telephone: 617.495.7547

Dear Joan,

My husband and I are scheduled for departure for China and I must say I am nervous on several levels about this trip.

We have traveled with Tauck for years so my concern is not with them but with the possibility of how rigorous this trip might be. Were there many health issues among your fellow travelers?  I’ve heard the air is quite dirty; did you find this to be true?  Is the Yangtze River part of the trip worth the effort?  Is the boat nice?

Thanks, Rochelle in Connecticut

Editor's Note: Joan James Rapp's two-parter, Yin and Yang on the Yangtze; A Senior's Adventure in the People's Republic of Steps, answers many of Rochelle's questions.

Dear Doris,

So enjoyed your article, The Check Is In the Mall, on's website today!  Devoutly wish it could be circulated everywhere at this time in our country!   

Helen in Davis, California

Dear Joan,

I read with much interest the articles you wrote for  They were very, very fascinating.  My husband and I were in China on a ChinaPlus tour ( )in September.  We left home on the 6th and returned home on the 28th.  While our tour did include Tibet, we crossed paths with those on the Tauck tour several times, primarily on the Yangtze cruise, but also in the hotel in Guilin and on some of the flights.  Our tour was fantastic, just as I hope yours was.  At the time, we were both 67.  Because of arthritis in both knees, I do have some mobility problems.  With cortisone shots in both knees prior to our trip, I was mostly able to keep up with our group, although I did forego some parts of the tour, particularly Fendu, the ghost town, on the cruise.  Miraculously, with the help of my husband, our wonderful TD, and a cane I bought before our tour, I did make it up the 360 steps to the top of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet!

My husband, who is much more able bodied than I am, got separated from our tour group in the Forbidden City when he stopped to take pictures and didn't realize when we moved on.  Fortunately, he had enough sense to find out where our group would exit and did meet us there, but if I'd been the one to be separated, while I'd have known in which hotel we were staying, I'd not have had any Chinese money to pay for a taxi.

Sue Bryan

Dear Ms. Gray,

Thank you very much for posting an excerpt from Your Brain on Cubs on your wonderful website.   It was with extreme pleasure that I passed your site along to my friends, family and colleagues.

Again, thank you. Best regards,

Leticia Barnes, Director of Marketing & Publicity, Dana Press,

Dear Julia,

I just read the account of your greatgrandmother's "wedding dress." What a touching story and how precious those memories are.  I agree that incidents of family are so very important to pass down to our children for nothing is more precious than "family". Thank you for sharing your special memory that was passed down to you.

I am an 83 year old greatgrandmother of many and will be blessed in July with my first great great grand child. One of my nieces has recorded some of my memories from the past and I have been contemplating doing more for those who would be interested as well as to each of my descendents.

Rosaline at Wenatchee, WA

Dear Editor,

Just a few lines to say how very much I enjoyed Jane Shortall's article, Ring Them Bells: A Novel in a Month.   It displayed a good mix of factual information, nostalgic and humorous memories and a spirited and inspiring account of NaNoWrimo.  

Lessons can and should be learned from Jane's literary toils and journey. From one who didn't manage to finish that particular race.  

Mary Sheerin Dublin, Ireland

Dear Editor,

I was browsing your site today — and getting deeper and deeper — and loving it. I thought I'd copied an article about Aunts to sent to — my nieces! But apparently I lost it.

Can you help me, please? Thanks.

Anita in El Cerrito, CA

Editor's Note: We informed Anita that the article she's referring to by longtime treasured contributor, Julia Sneden, is Aunt Envy.

Dear Julia,

I just finished reading your 3-part article, *The Slippery Slope on  I felt compelled to thank you for writing about your experiences and those of your friend. I found the article for me as a caregiver to be very supportive.

My father is 86 and has dementia.  I could easily relate to passages about short-term memory loss. There was a time when I did not tell my father about an event until the day it was happening. If I told him ahead of time, he would call me at least once an hour around the clock to ask the details. Sometimes my husband and I could maintain a sense of humor about it, but other times it was very frustrating. Looking back, I can say, I wish he was still calling me.  Now, he doesn't remember an upcoming event long enough to ask about it.  He is much more confident telling stories of his childhood than with talking about what happened this morning, an hour ago or even a few minutes ago.  The best part of his story-telling is that he seems to come alive, the old twinkle in his eye returns and his smiles are genuine and wide. He becomes clever and humorous. When the story and all of the conversation it brings has ended, Dad lays back in his favorite chair. There seems to be little to talk about.  He is tired and not following what I have to say.  It is time for me to go and let him sleep.   

Reading your article, I realized how important it is to talk with other people who are caregivers.  It has inspired me to join a support group.

Thanks again for sharing.  Susan in Oakham, MA

Three part series, The Slippery Slope:


Dear Julia,

I just read your article on swim suits and couldn't agree more. I've had some designs in mind for awhile and have just recently started thinking seriously of making and marketing them. Your list of things to keep in mind for the designs are exactly what I've been thinking of. I've never designed clothing before. I am professional quilter and quilt shop owner. But no one else seems to be taking this bathing suit design thing seriously so I'm gonna give it whirl! So, I just wanted to thank you for your help and inspiration.

Sincerely, Alice, Lisbon Falls, Maine

(Julia Sneden replies to our reader: I bought my present suit from, an outfit that does have a couple of suits that aren't too extreme, and guarantees against chlorine or stretching for one full year. Their suits aren't cheap, but so far they're as sturdy as advertised. I don't know who does their designs, but their fabric is — so far — pretty good.)

Dear Editor,

This is such a great site.  I have really enjoyed the articles and letters.  I am only 49 so I don't qualify to join, but keep up the great work so when I am old enough, your site will still be around.

Lynna Rushton in Ridge Spring, SC

(Editor's Note: We replied to Lynna that she's not too young and there's no joining, just reading.)

Dear Rose,

I was just looking at my AARP The Magazine on line which led me to SeniorWomenWeb and two essays you wrote The Stranger in My House and A Time To Be Born and a Time To Die).   I enjoyed them more than I can say; they were an affirmation of my feelings. 

I have to say thank you but it's scary how you got into my head!  You have taken my innermost fears and thoughts and expressed them perfectly.  So perfectly that I didn't know whether to laugh or cry (so I did both). 

Thank you again. Geri in Brooklyn, NY

Dear Editor,

This is some kind of awesome and wonderful web site.  It fills a great void in our lives.  I'm 69 and so glad to be alive.  Try to stay active, healthy and keep my sense of humor.  Kathryn Hepburn was right when she said "getting old is not for sissies"!!! 

I really cannot say enough about your site.  It is a blessing.  We need to get the word out that it is there for us, thanks to you. 

Thanks, Pat in Edgewater, FL

Dear Editor,

I will continue to visit your web site, and will tell my lady friends about it too.  'Have you thought about publishing a newsletter or magazine, in order to reach those women who are not technically savvy?  It seems to me that the information and topic areas you have on your web site have the potential to fill many "voids" for senior women.  I will return to your web site to get any history that you provide regarding the development of your site.  It is a tremendous idea, and, I feel, exceptionally well done!  Congratulations on all that you have accomplished so far!

Pat in Colorado

Dear Joan,

My husband and I just finished reading your Seniors on Safari; Game drives on the veldt, rescued elephants and a 47th anniversary in a Botswanian honeymoon tent  web pages, and I just wanted to thank you for the most comprehensive description I have found after much time on the internet.  The links in your article make it possible to take a look at all of the sites we will visit, without having to do a search to find them.  Thank you so much for taking the time to tell others what one could expect on this tour.  We love Tauck Tours, and had already decided that this South African and Botswanian trip would be our next adventure.  Now we know that the time of year you went seems ideal, and we will be booking the trip in the next few days.

We, too, are retired, and will celebrate our 46th anniversary in June, 2007.  We live in Huntingdon Valley, and I was a teacher for almost 20 years, starting at the age of 44.

Your information about preparing for the trip is far more informative than any I have found, and especially relevant since we live fairly close to you, and we, too, can take advantage of Penn Travel Medicine.  In fact, I have already bookmarked the site.

We wish you more wonderful adventures to come. Thanks again, Judy in Huntingdon Valley, PA

Dear Joan,

This is just a short note to say thank you for your postings about your trip to Botswana (Seniors on Safari; Game drives on the veldt, rescued elephants and a 47th anniversary in a Botswanian honeymoon tent by Joan James Rapp).

We are going this August with Natural Habitat ( ), the Secluded Botswana trip. We got some good pointers from your write up. 

Thanks again. Ed in Summerville, SC

Dear Editor,

I am happy to have found your web site. I enjoyed Julia Sneden's essay on Kristin Lavransdatter, and wish you would do one on The Master of Hestviken (also by Sigrid Undset), which in my opinion is an even better book.

But a book that I really wish would be better known is Margaret Kennedy's The Feast, written, I think, in the late 40's. It is a brilliant, crisply-written, witty and absolutely terrifying novel about the seven capital sins, which I have reread again and again.  

Bernadette in Montreal

Dear Julia,

I love the article Chipping Away!  So true. 

I also was a teacher and had other jobs in my life.  When I retired and settled down in the NC mountains with my retired husband, everyone  back home asked,"What do you do with yourself?" 

We are busier than ever, but now we do things we really enjoy.  I have time for my writing, taking classes, and in May I will tutor an adult who wants to learn to write.  Lately I have been saying what I want to do in my next life time because I know there is not enough time in this one to do it all.

I relate so well to the way people dismiss you when you can no longer say "I'm a teacher, etc."  It seems they have nothing else to say.  This isn't true of people my age, so much, however.  But younger folk think in those terms.  I will continue to check in to read more of your articles.  

Glenda in North Carolina

Dear Editor,

I went online to look for the Dragon Wing Begonia when my 21-year-old granddaughter called to ask if I could find something about them after she'd bought one.  I found this site on Google and I think it gave the best description and instructions.  She was thrilled with the information.  Grandma doesn't have a green thumb at all but can still help her by finding these articles.

So you see you reach the younger people too!

I've book marked this site to use as a reference in the future. Thanks to Linda Coyner's article in the Garden Edition May 2001.

MD in Wyoming

Dear Joan,

I just read, with great interest, your travel log [and article, Seniors on Safari] of your trip to South Africa.  Bravo!  It was written in a style that allowed me to begin to feel familiar with where I am going in August, for 15 days, with an Elderhostel group. Your comments about luggage weight also reinforced with me my plan of only one small travel bag and to wear a travel vest.  Another thank you!   I've traveled in jungle and high desert so this trip is not out of my comfort zone.

Was there anything you didn't take that you wish you had? 

Sincerely, Patty Rosen, Bend, Oregon

Dear Julia,

As a child during World War II, I would spend summers in Greenwich Village with my adopted father's mother and stepfather. She would take me to all kinds of places and together we explored Manhattan. We were great friends all of her life.  Early on, she suggested that we think up special names for each other; I called her PAL and she called me PEP which were as descriptive as anything one could have thought of.  The whole family called her PAL for the rest of her life.  No one picked up on calling me PEP, however. I guess I lost a lot of that quality as I grew older, but she was always PAL.

I enjoyed your article (A Grandmother by Any Other Name) very much as I now have three grandsons and would like to come up with some special names with them.

Love, Helen Marshalleck

Dear Editor

How glad I felt when I found your website! Especially the article Sexual Desire Beyond 50 struck me. It is so very true. And what a relief to discover that other women, too, experience ups and downs in sexual desire.

Until recently I had a very satisfactory sex life, but due to all these hormone changes, I now feel dumb and deaf. As if my body doesn’t recognise the sexual input any longer. A desperate experience. But apparently it doesn’t mean you're going to lose everything when you go through such a period. And this shift certainly is not due to other issues like my kids creating a life for themselves or because my husband cannot count my wrinkles anymore, he needs glasses, too.

There is so little common knowledge about women’s sexual desires and the hormone changes after menopause. As there is little, far too little, scientific/medical knowledge, about dysfunction and what to do to relieve it. As if women over 50 are no longer entitled to a satisfactory sex life. (You almost should think mother nature herself feels about it that way by playing hide and seek with your functions after the eggs have gone).

Older women aren't looked upon as sexually attractive and one wonders how this leading opinion might influence all kinds of decisions concerning research and (medical) attention.

But in the first place women should tell each other about what happens and what they want, what they can expect. In the Netherlands, where I live, a wallthick silence surrounds this subject.


Your initiative, gathering information from women and sharing it, is worth following.  

I really enjoy your site. Always knew elderly women don't have a face in society. You never see them in commercials, hardly a leading role in filmscripts etc, few women in leading positions to model. But when being absorbed by daily life and yet not feeling oneself a part of the senior society I did not fully realise what that meant. Until aging came around with unmistakable features. Now I desperately look around for women who experience the same and just refuse to submit to the invisible life society planned for us.

More than once I feel like screaming out, but that would do no one any good, it's more productive to transform my anger to action.

Thank you, Ardine Korevaar, Netherlands

Dear Julia:

 I just wanted to say thank you for putting the words to the Cream of Wheat commercial on your website.  I had been trying for a long time to find all the correct words to the jingle. I could only remember some of them.  I listened to Let's Pretend on the radio every Saturday morning.  Brings back many wonderful memories. 

Thanks again,

Jan Atanay, Delton, Michigan

Dear Editor,

I recently discovered your website and am amazed at how many articles hit my nail on the head. Wow. Good job and thanks.

Julie Zuckman, Northampton, MA

Dear Julia Sneden,

Well, I really struggled over the subject of grandmother names!  (A Grandmother by Any Other Name).

I didn't want to be called any of the traditional "grandmother" names, like Nanny, Grandma, MamMaw, etc.  I have always been called Aunt Prissy by my nephew and his daughters because he couldn't say Frances when he was little.  I love that name, but it didn't quite seem to fit being a grandmother — Grandma Prissy? 

My husband's grandchildren (he has six from his four children) call him PawPaw Ronnie, but they just call me Frances.  The oldest of my five children is expecting the first grandchild on our side of the family, a little girl, this Halloween, and I struggled and struggled.  Until, one day I was shopping and found a sign that reminded me of one of my favorite movies The YaYa Sisterhood. I bought it strictly because of that movie and then was sitting in  my den a few days later watching TV and looked over at the sign in big gold letters and thought, "That's it!"  I will be called YaYa! 

I immediately called my daughter and she was thrilled, too.  Now there is no telling how little CJ will pronounce this and it may turn into something entirely different, but I hope not. 

Thanks for! Frances Moore, Executive Assistant/NCCUL

Dear Editor:

I am elated to find mention of my Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest win on your pages, especially so since I am a senior woman now a few years past Medicare entry age.  This was my first time to enter and I was delighted to have won a place (actually two places, as I also had a Dishonorable Mention win in the Adventure Category) in this years BLFC.  This contest is now international in its scope and receives thousands of entries annually.  Although it lacks the status of a Best Screenplay Oscar win it's still my "fifteen minutes" and I had many weeks of great fun picking through the most illiterate corners of my brain for the best of my bad writing talent. 

Mitsy Rae, Danbury NE

Dear Ms. Mula,

A long time ago I wrote you of my appreciation of your article on Julie Harris. Now I must thank you for the wonderful story of how you became friends with Joan Fontaine — and what a nice person you found her to be!

The co-moderator of the J.F. online fan list found your article and passed it on to the rest of us. We are delighted to know of your relationship with "our Joan" — and how it developed from your job with the Chateau de Ville. I came to see Forty Carats and Cactus Flower in Randolph, MA,  and visited with her out front.

Over the years I saw eight or nine of her summer-stock performances, including The Severed Head in Hartford, CT — a very great distance from Boston. How exciting and fascinating, to have become such good friends with Miss Fontaine as a result of your job with the C. deV!

You are indeed an excellent writer, and I look forward to reading the other articles that Liz found online.  Keep on writing. All the best,

Ginny Arnold

Dear Editor,

Thanks for one of the few intelligent sites for senior women. I always find something of interest here.

I wonder if anyone is doing any research about affordable, safe retirement living for senior women — especially single senior women? I see very little that is affordable in CA, short of trailer parks! Is anything available out of the US, for instance? 

There are starting to be some creative ideas about retirement communities. Recently my husband and I were invited to look at a community in NM where the focus is on ecology and preservation, with everyone expected to donate a little time and labor toward those ends. I also heard recently about a community (Birds of a Feather in NM) for gay and lesbian partners, and there is an architectural "village" in Tucson (Civano, AZ) that is supposed to be about integrating various age groups within an ecologically sensitive community where everyone can walk to work.

Thanks again,  Kay in California

Editor's Reply: We asked a former colleague and author, Susan Tifft, former Time magazine colleague and co-author of two acclaimed biographies of media families, currently at work on a book, for Penguin Press, on the advantages women have as they face the joys and challenges of age. Susan is looking for women to share stories of women helping women at this stage of life — inventing new housing alternatives, starting new businesses, sharing their wealth and wisdom, etc.

The Co-Housing Company, based in Berkeley. The address is and Another organization, has a list of stateside projects. Two articles on the movement: Ten Great Reasons to Live in Co-Housing by Rob Sandelin and Cohousing: Communities Where You Can't Not Know Your Neighbors by Sharon Hamer.

Cohousing Association of the United States offers many helpful publications on their site at:

Elderly Housing: Federal Housing Programs and Supportive Services can be found at:

Openly gay retirement communities growing, Cox News Service

Dear Julia Sneden ,

Just read your review and would like to know if you have material or discussion for book club presentation of Middlesex. Enjoy immensely.

Thank you so much, Carole Stephens  

Editor's Note: We don't have materials for a book club presentation or a discussion but perhaps these sites will be of help: and

Dear Editor,

You know, there are a lot of women like me — 62, attractive, surprised at ourselves.  Why surprised?  Because I was brought up in a very traditional way and only got to be a teacher because of government financial help, my own efforts and sheer cussedness.  My future held marriage and children and obedience to a husband. 

Okay, I did get married and had three children in short time but I worked outside the house throughout that marriage which ended in divorce after more than three decades leaving me unexpectedly in financial distress.

I didn't expect three successful careers with a fourth in consideration.

I didn't expect to travel by myself in the `60s.  I didn't expect to travel and live between two very distant countries — back and forth — the common model of a mixed nationality marriage.

I didn't expect to find myself, five years after the marriage really ended, looking for another partner to share the rest of the adventure with.  I didn't expect to find myself excited about the `whatever is going to happen next-ness', at this age.

Like many women, I'm often not even sure I want there to be any next-ness. I'm exhausted.

It's been hard.  There was no roadmap and there were no models. The barriers we had to overcome had to be overcome in a lady-like way. We did it with a ruthless finesse.  We just kept going.  We were brought up to seek permission but we knew that wasn't going to happen so we also have had (and still have) to work against the conditioning we received as children.

What I could use are some friends like me, who have led lives that were surprising and different, and who are rightly proud because we're still standing.   And I'd like to see them celebrate themselves on your website.

Cheers, Pat

Dear Editor,

Love this page.  It's more me — not ailing, not wailing — just me but better — could use a mate but the men my age are almost dead already.

Thanks for the only page that recognises the person and not the age.

Patricia Beurteaux, Jordan, Ontario, Canada

Editor's Note: Pat has become a writer for our website since this letter.

Dear Editor,

I’m a certified coder with a medical group, always in search of good resources.  I stumbled upon your “health links” in your Senior Women Web, Health, Fitness & Style” site. I salute you for amassing such a complete and astounding collection of links to medical resources.  I shall refer others to your site frequently, as well as visit it often myself. Thanks so much for your amazing work! 

Deborah Rooth CPC, LVN; Lake Forest, Calif

Dear Editor,

I used the Google search engine to look for biographical information on Alice Koller and I clicked on Senior Women.  I did enjoy Sharon Charde's writing (The Life Cycle of a Therapist), and she did mention An Unknown Woman by Alice Koller.  I did read that powerful book and I am now re- reading Stations of Solitude by the same author.  I am intrigued to find out where Ms. Koller is living and what she has been doing since her last book was published in 1990.  This woman has changed my life — twice.  If you have any information it is very much appreciated. 

I do consider Alice Koller's books not only as beautifully written "self-help" manuals, but wonderful reference books to turn to over and over, no matter what is going on in my life.

Thank you,  Judy Wright, Austin, Texas

Dear David,

After reading your wonderful Dodyisms story, I laughed so hard and identified so much with the article. I haven't had time to go read more, but I will.

The site is an eye opener. We are always hearing what 'older women' can't do and aren't wanted for — this site shows otherwise.

Norma McMullen, Bristow, OK

Dear Tam,

I am delighted to see the review of my work and the links to my web site Also please pass on my thanks to the writer of that Arts page. (Note: The editor writes those pages)

Something very positive is going on. Just this year, Artists To Watch — a small greeting card publisher in MN —  launched a new card line of 14 of my images of mainly older women matched with meaningful quotes. 

With best thoughts, Deidre

Dear Julia,

I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed your article, To Market, To Market.

My name is Joe Territo and I live in Cranbury, NJ. My family was also in the food business and I have been running a Kings Supermarket in NJ for the past 36 years. My father (who is no longer with us) and 4 of his 6 brothers were also in the food business, but they were mostly in the produce end of the business.

I took a trip to Sicily a few years ago and visited the small town that my grandparents came from and found out that my grandmother ran a small retail food store or fruit stand there prior to her migration to America.

I guess the Territos have an affinity with the food business since two of my children are also in the food business. My oldest daughter, Donna Banks-Ficcio is the national director of warehouse groceries for A&P and my youngest son Ed is a Produce Manager for a local supermarket chain. I hope this didn't bore you and I do agree that the mega stores of today really take away from the interpersonal relationships that existed when life was simpler. I also have memories of being sent to the butcher shop or the deli in my neighborhood to purchase the pound of ground meat or the 1/2 pound of bologna for lunch and the men in the store knew my name and asked how my Mom and dad were doing.

Today has it's benefits but I still miss the past. Thanks again, Joe Territo

Dear Julia,

I so enjoyed reading your article A Grandmother by Any Other Name.  Here are the grandparent names in my family:

My great grandmothers were called Little Mammaw and Big Mammaw, both nicknamed due to their their size. One of my mother's grandmothers, an invalid most of her life, was called Grandma-in-bed. My mother and father were Mammaw and Pappaw. My sister is called Mammy by some of her grandchildren. My ex-husband is Grandpa and his parents are Gramma Sue and Grandpa Joe. My great grandfather was Bappy. 

I am Mammaw to my, so far, one grandbaby.  This was at my daughter's request.  I love being a Mammaw.

Rita Lehman, Martinsville, IN

Dear Editor,

I was searching for a recipe for vintage fabric soak and the review of The Clothesline was featured in the list provided by the search engine. After I read the article, I was intrigued and started viewing other articles on the site. You have done a fabulous job.

I intend to go back and read the other articles I didn't have time to read. Thank you!

Pam Patterson

Dear Editor,

Was looking for site about senior women fitness and came across yours. Am very disappointed in the contents. I first clicked on the Speedo swimwear ad and found that only one or two suits were suitable for most senior women, and it took me awhile to find them as they were not specifically listed. Most senior women are slightly overweight with bellies that they would like to hide. It'll never happen in those swimsuits.

Then I clicked on fitness and went to an article about cycling. It was also an article written for the masses, younger masses. Among other things it recommended that you get more iron and calcium. I think most doctors would disagree that the iron addition is appropriate for senior women.

I didn't bother to read any of the other stuff. If you are going to have a meaningful site for us don't include a lot of stuff that we have to wade through. Our time is more valuable than that and we just won't go there anymore.

If you're trying to print items that appeal to ALL women than your not really a senior women's site.

Kathy S.

Dear Liz,

I love your columns on I'm probably shouldn't be dropping in at my age — time enough for that later some might say — but, shoot.

I'm closing in on 40 so fast my head is spinning, am in college with a pile of 20-somethings I just don't get; cuddle with my 7-year old daughter every morning during the "precious moments" of my life, and love reading that it all won't end on my next birthday!

*Both you and Julia write the most delightful essays ... And in every line there is the same 'life and living-life' tone that I felt in my teens, in my twenties, today — and apparently can plan to feel for the next several decades! (Yes!)

Ramona G. Thompson

*Authors Liz Flaherty and Julia Sneden

Dear Julia,

My husband and I are about to become grandparents for the first time and I read your delightful article (A Grandmother by An Other Name), hoping for some tips on names.

My grandmother was born in Sitka, Alaska, before it was part of the United States. She called her grandparents Dedu and Babushka (which somehow got changed to Bokedy) because so much Russian was spoken there.

We called her Grammy Bird (her last name was Peacock).

When my mother (Grammy Bird's daughter) and stepfather became grandparents, my mother wanted to be called Bokedy and because my daughter couldn't seem to say Stuart, he became Toot. Bokedy and Toot were names which stuck with them for years (even friends and neighbors called them that.

Now we need to choose names and my daughter (mother-to-be) wants me to be called Bokedy. Although I always will associate that with my mother, I think it is a great honor that my daughter wants her child to call me that. We live 3,000 miles from our daughter and son-in-law, so she wants to be sure to refer to us by name and not wait for the child to name us.

My husband wants to be called Granddad (I think it sounds like whiskey). He thinks is doesn't sound as "old" as some of the other names. Little does he know that it doesn't matter what he is called!!! I'm so glad I came upon

Thank you. Nancy in Massachusetts


Dear Editor,

I have not yet seen a topic on travel buddies.

I want to know how women of my age (71) go about finding other women of similar interests (drawing & painting, in my case) from all over the country to meet about once a year at some appropriate spot for a week or so to work on a common activity. I had heard of a few such groups several years ago but not lately.

Thank you for your help, Ann Marie

(Please respond to

Dear Liz,

Just finished You Can't Be In Love Everyday (by Liz Flaherty). I could of written most of it ... except that I am [celebrating] 48 years of marriage. Married at 20 when he was 26 and how those six years difference altered our relationship along the way! I look back now at the best of times and the worst of times. His career impacted him, my growing up (finally) impacted me and [the age difference] definitely impacted our marriage. Somehow through all the ups and downs we have stayed together and mellowed with age ... most of the time.

What I learned was no one is perfect, not even the guy I married and at that time was so sure he was. Most of all and to my surprise, not even me! Thank you for your article.

Barbara Kothman

Dear Julia,

I just finished reading your piece, For the Birds, and I wanted to take a moment to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I live on a small island in Greece, where the bird traffic is immense, especially in the fall, when all of the birds are migrating to Africa for the winter, and they make my island a stop off for rest and feed.

I am very interested in what you said about the Monarch butterflies taking three to four generations to complete shier migration. I will do research on that very soon.

Sherry, Salamina, Greece

Dear Julia,

I just found the senior women's website this morning, and had fun reading your essays. Re swimming: For some, there's marvelous relaxation in the solitude of the Y swimming pool. For others, there's companionship and sharing. My Virginia Beach Y has classes in arthritis movement, water aerobics and ai chi, the water version of tai chi. I've graduated from the arthritis into water aerobics, where women meet, exercise and become friends and supporters.

In terms of age range, we have a girl pregnant with her first child and we have an amazing woman in her 80s who's the ultimate "Sophia" (only recently learned that's where the word "sophisticated" is derived!). There's really beautiful empathy in this group, most of whom are in their 60s and beyond. Then recently, we started an ai chi class, a mind-body-spirit blend of movement, stretching, deep breathing and meditation in water. It's like prayer for the body. I can come in tense, anxious, running on empty, do ai chi with the group, and float out utterly soothed yet energized.

I am a freelance writer, still very much in business at 64, supported a large family, brought a beloved husband through Parkinson's to a peaceful death, and am now exploring all that's available to women who've previously been too caught up in home and family to discover what's out here for us in our world. I am delighted you mention the Y. Of all the places where we get together, I'm convinced it's one of the most exciting, uplifting and life-enhancing. Thanks for a chance to tell you this!

Marybeth, Virginia Beach, VA

Dear Editor,

I feel relieved and happy to know I'm not the only 82 year old gal who keeps moving and doing. I just wish I could find a 48 hour clock and I wish the media, Madison Avenue and the fashion industry would realize there are many, many older human beings who don't just sit, who buy classy looking clothes (when we can find them) read, cook healthy meals and just enjoy life.

Michigan is known for its shopping centers but trying to find fashionable clothing for a senior gal is very hard. We once had a Crowleys where older gals could find dresses, etc. that were fashionable and not dowdy looking. And that is what we want .... fashionable clothing, not frumpy or dowdy looking .... do you hear us fashion industry? .... you better, 'cause the baby boomers are coming up fast to their senior years.

Am very glad I found your site and am going to let my friends know about you gals.

Thanks again, Jo Bango in Novi, MI

Dear Editor,

I just found your site looking for a recipe for linen water. I am a laundry obsessive and — like you — associate some happy moments in my youth with the smell of clothes clean and fresh. In my case, the most evocative smell was one of my grandfather's clean handkerchiefs, hung on the line to dry and ironed with some lavender water.

However, just to tell you that, not only did we have a mangle when I was young, but that I have just bought an ACME mangle in a junk sale that works as well as it did some 50/75 years ago. It is wonderful and makes laundering starched sheets much easier.

Thank you for sharing your memories.

Kind regards,

Linda Camp and James Meyer, The Old Mill Oakridge
Lynch Gloucestershire, England via email:

Editor's Note: Linda is referring to my review of The Clothesline by Irene Rawlings & Andrea Van Steenhouse, published by Gibbs Smith

Dear Julia Sneden,

Your columns on the Senior Women website are wonderful. I love the ones on grandmothers: grandmother teachings, laundry on the line, ironing, etc. I have been researching grandmothers for several years as a sociologist, and I am a grandmother of a wonderful; 10 year old girl. My web site: gathers grandmother stories. It currently averages 15,000 hits per month.

I am also part of the founding group of The First Grandmother's Club" which is dedicated to educating grandmothers and bringing grandmother energy to benefit underprivileged children in our communities.

Thanks for your good words and good work.

Jean Giles-Sims, Ph.D., York, ME

Editor's Note: Julia's columns can be accessed through her author page

Dear Tam Gray,

I was delighted to stumble onto an excerpt from my new book, Singular Intimacies, on the Health Page of your website. Thank you for linking it back to the Beacon website. I spent some time on your site and was quite impressed; it somehow manages to feel both comprehensive and intimate at the same time.

I was wondering if you ever have online book discussions or book clubs? I've seen a few on other sites and it is a nice way to link people from many places.

All best, Danielle Ofri (

Dear Julia Sneden,

I've just found out that my husband and I are going to be grandparents for the first time and we're trying to figure out what we want to be called — like we have a real choice. (Read Julia's A Grandmother by Any Other Name). The reason behind this is due, in part, to my husband's parents "picking" their grandparents names when we announced that we were expecting twenty-two years ago. The grandmother picked "Muv" (rhymes with love) as her new name and the grandfather picked "Boo-Boo" (a nickname he acquired by children of close family friends). Those names have stuck through 7 grandchildren and all of my children's friends as well as mine call them by those names as well. It is too funny.

Is there a "list" somewhere that I can peruse in search of a "cute" grandmother name?

Lee in Burlington, NC

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