Conquer Your Inner Hoarder!

I’ve become fascinated with the hoarding shows on television. A&E offers Hoarders and TLC airs Hoarding: Buried Alive. The basic premise of both shows is that hoarding is a type of obsessive compulsive disorder whereby people become incapable of throwing out anything, and I mean anything: broken hangers, empty soda cans, and the hoarders’ classic, old newspapers. Their stuff has taken over their homes, their lives, and their relationships. The hoarders often fight their families, well-meaning organizers, and professional therapists about why they need to keep such items as a ceramic bunny that was bought five years ago and still has the sales tag on it.

Besides the television shows, the recent nonfiction book Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee uses case studies to explore the world of hoarders and tries to understand why more than six million Americans suffer from the disorder.

Why am I so fascinated with hoarding? It’s quite possible that these shows allow me to look around my home and think, “I’m not that bad…even though three loads of laundry need to be folded, and this morning’s dishes are still in the sink, and the pile of papers I need to shred date back to 1998.”

Boomers were born during one the greatest eras of prosperity in the history of the United States. Boomers were also the first generation to grow up with television, a great peddler of stuff; so we bought stuff…and lots of it, for example, McMansions, SUVs, and complete DVD sets of M*A*S*H. The late, great George Carlin even had a bit on what our stuff means to us.

Most of us aren’t classic hoarders but we certainly can use a little more organization in our lives. We posted about decluttering on the blog before, and maybe it’s time for a refresher. There are books available at the Library to help get yourself organized and finally get rid of that stuff:

Throw Out Fifty Things by Gail Blanke

Go Organize!: Conquer Clutter in 3 Simple Steps by Marilyn Boh

How to Cheat at Organizing: Quick, Clutter-Clobbering Ways to Simplify Your Life by Jeff Bredenberg

Clutter Busting: Letting Go Of What’s Holding You Back by Brooks Palmer

Kick the Clutter: Clear Out Excess Stuff Without Losing What You Love by Ellen Phillips

Are you ready to conquer your inner hoarder? What belongings are you ready to finally let go of? What organizing tips do you have for others? Leave us a comment and let us know!



October 26, 2010 at 10:36 pm Leave a comment

Boomers Got a Bum Rap?

The October issue of Atlantic Magazine features a provocative cover story focusing on the Baby Boomer generation and their responsibility for and contributions to the country’s present situation. Whether you agree or disagree, Michael Kinsley has written an essay that will make you think. The issue also includes response commentaries from “experts.”

Personally, I appreciate Mr. Kinsley’s willingness to voice a different spin to the “self-absorbed and self-indulged” view of Boomers, for example, “the Boomers not the Greats … forced the nation to address Civil rights…the Greats were the ones who got us into Vietnam and the Boomers were ones who got us out…”

Atlantic Magazine is available at the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library. Links to specific articles may also be accessed through the Library’s EBSCO full text magazine database.

Share your feelings about the Boomer generation by leaving a post below. We welcome your comments.

October 22, 2010 at 7:46 pm 1 comment

ACK! and the Single Girl

Cathy Guisewite has penned the final panel of that forever dieting, forever shoe-shopping, forever everywoman, Cathy. For more than 30 years, Cathy was the picture of the stressed-out career woman trying to juggle love, work, body issues, mother-daughter relationships, and whatever else modern society threw at her. Cathy ran in 900 newspapers, won an Emmy for an animated special, and had even been parodied on Saturday Night Live. And now she’s gone to that great “four panel” in the sky!

But Cathy was also a product of the Boomer generation. Guisewite was born in 1950 and came of age during the rise of feminism. “You’ve come a long way, baby,” may have become the slogan of Virginia Slims in the late 1960’s, but the growing feminist response was “No, we haven’t, and don’t call me baby.” By the time Cathy was first published by the Universal Press Syndicate in 1976, it was during the push to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified by enough states before the 1982 deadline.

Cathy was not seen as a feminist role model. Even though there were very few female cartoonists at the time, the strip was considered anti-feminist. As Guisewite related in a recent New York Times article, “A big problem at that time was you had to be in one camp or the other. There wasn’t a camp for ambivalence. You were a liberated woman or you were or a traditionalist. To even voice vulnerability if you were a feminist was wrong and to voice interest in liberation if you were a more traditional woman was wrong.”

Guisewite was willing to voice that ambivalence and found an audience of other Boomer women who struggled with the same things Cathy did. Cathy was that girlfriend you could laugh with about insecurities, guilt, and doubts that modern women weren’t supposed to have. At its height in the 1990’s, Cathy ran in more than 1400 newspapers. Obviously, she spoke to other generations, too.

Cathy evolved from a single gal to married with dogs. And although the strip has ended, her life will continue with even more adventures. You can read the last strip here.

If you need to reduce the stress of dressing rooms, an overflowing “to-do” box, and men who don’t understand the need for fifteen different pairs of black shoes, the Library carries a couple of Cathy collections:

Another Saturday Night of Wild and Reckless Abandon

Wake Me Up When I’m a Size 5

The library also has comic strip collections by other great Boomer cartoonists:

Were you a Cathy devotee?  Do you have a favorite among the cartoonists listed above?  Post a comment and share with our readers.


October 18, 2010 at 8:16 am 4 comments

Fun and Easy Canning (Yes, Really!)

The end of summer means many fruits and vegetables are at their peak and it’s time to take advantage of them by canning and preserving…and it’s not as difficult as you may think!

Canning’s last heyday was during World War II along with victory gardens, as part of the home front war effort.  But the end of the war brought prosperity, supermarkets, and more processed food so many Boomers grew up with Swanson’s TV dinners instead of Mom’s canned green beans.  For those of us who were around in the 1970’s, Ruth Hertzberg’s best-selling book, Putting Food By, generated some interest in making use of the bounty from home gardens.  I recall several friends bringing in homemade pickles and jams to work and sharing such goodies with less “domestic” friends such as myself.  Now some thirty years later there’s been a resurgence in canning as people look for ways to cut their food budgets and eat healthier.

A recent story heard on National Public Radio, “Overloaded From Your Garden? Just Can It,” had me swooning over the recipes described on air.  Canning is a great way to preserve the flavors of the season and just thinking about spicy peach salsa or pickled green tomatoes made me want to learn how to do it and encourage others as well.

The first step on one’s canning adventure is to obtain the necessary equipment. Canning jars, complete with lids and seals, are available from many hardware stores. Other basic tools you’ll need for canning are a jar lifter, magnetic wand, jar funnel, and a non-metallic spatula. Canning starter kits may be purchased at local stores such as a Target or Walmart, as well as many online retailers, for as little as $15 – $20. You’ll also need a pot for your canning, and if you don’t want to buy a boiling water canner with a built-in rack for the jars, you can simply use a stock pot with a homemade rack of lid rings wired together.

Next, you may want to visit the Torrance Certified Farmers’ Market, held each Tuesday and Saturday, 8am-1pm, to stock up on seasonal goodies. Torrance’s Farmers’ Market has been a tradition at Wilson Park for twenty-five years. More than sixty farmers and vendors from throughout California bring their fresh wares to the market, so there’s plenty of fresh products to choose from. And don’t be shy about trying the free samples!

Finally, you’re ready to can, pickle, and preserve your way to healthier eating.  The library offers many books on canning to help walk you through the process, and there are plenty of yummy recipes, too!  Listed below is a sampling of some canning and food preservation materials available at the library:

Do you have any favorite canning recipes you’d like to share with us? Please post in our comments section below!
– mz

October 12, 2010 at 1:20 am 6 comments

Eating to Sleep

I have often reflected on my inability to fall asleep and hoped that as I grew older I might fall prey to those little cat naps I often caught my parents indulging in.  No such luck for me and my insomnia has only gotten worse as I’ve aged.  In my Boomerhood, I have tried some of the typical remedies recommended by friends – aerobic exercise during the day (not shortly before going to bed), warm milk, decaffinated tea, and while it was in vogue, tryptophan.  None of these seem to affect me and as such, I read with great interest a recent article in the Washington Post, “More Foods Hinder Than Help Sleep,” by Jennifer LaRue Huget

Ms. Huget researched foods that might help individuals sleep better and rather than find that wonderous substance that might send me off to dreamland, I did learn what to avoid!

First and foremost, it seems I have to change my diet. Based on research conducted by Dr. Michael Grandner (University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology), the biggest culprit associated with getting less sleep is fat. In tracking the diets and sleep habits of women enrolled in a 15-year study, the more fat the women ate, the less they slept. No more late night chocolate chip cookie binges, coffee cake, or ice cream for me! Another finding, if eating fat stops you from sleeping, being fat also affects your sleep. Grandner is quoted, “People who are obese sleep less and report that the sleep they get is not as good.” He relates this to the possibility that some obese individuals may have undiagnosed sleep apnea or that the hormones that control feelings of hunger and being full are disrupted when sleep is disrupted.

A few items to avoid:
• Caffeine
• Spicy foods
• Alcohol – it disrupts the sleep cycle by delaying the onset of and
   shortens REM sleep (restful sleep)

Another medical professional quoted in the article, Dr. Christine Gerbstadt, mentions that melatonin, a hormone that has sleep-inducing properties, is found in red and white wine, but rather than risk alcohol’s interference with restful REM sleep, one might benefit from eating red grapes with the skin on to get a little boost of melatonin.

Both doctors stress that foods such as milk and herbal tea may help by making one more relaxed, they are calming foods, and ingesting calming substances might enhance a person’s ability to fall asleep by reducing anxiety. However, Dr. Grandner says, “when it comes to calming foods, there are a number that may have calming effects, but honestly the evidence suggests that it is mostly placebo.” In other words, if you believe that having a warm glass of milk calms you down enough to go to sleep, you may just fall asleep!

In addition to eating or drinking recommended substances, I’ve tried other suggested methods to help myself fall asleep – read a boring book (my problem with this remedy – no book is boring to me!), listen to soothing music on a personal disc player or iPod (calming music makes me nervous), watch television, engage in a repetitive non-stressful task such as folding laundry, and most of the time I’m still wide-eyed and wondering if I’m ever going to fall asleep. Personally, deep breathing associated with yoga (pranayama) has helped to slow me down and get my mind to focus on something other than the problems of the day, what I want to accomplish tomorrow, etc. Practicing yoga breathing has allowed me to relax and while I may not fall asleep, at least I generally don’t become more anxious about my lack of sleep.

Working in a library certainly has its advantages and I have checked out several of our excellent collection of books on insomnia and sleep disorders. Here’s a small sampling of titles to get you started if you wish to do some reading on the subject:

Do you have trouble falling asleep?  Have you found any techniques or remedies that work for you?  Please post a note below and share your experiences!

August 26, 2010 at 6:42 am 6 comments

Mega Stores and the Hawthorne Curse

Mayor Isen, Jonny Weissmuller, Ricardo Montalban, and Soupy Sales entertained thousands at its opening. Its iconic façade was hailed as a mod masterpiece. Its 130,000 square feet, 1,500 parking spaces and 45 departments selling everything from electric fans, fashions and flashlights, right in the center of Torrance was seen as a plum city asset. It even had a grocery store and a place to redeem Blue Chip stamps. It was hoped that it would attract shoppers and their money, from as far as Inglewood and Palos Verdes. It was not dogged by anti-development or NIMBY protesters. It was the White Front and it was 1963.

I remember Mom taking me to the White Front (or “white elephant” as we called it while it sat empty) to cash in her Blue Chip stamps. It was a great place for a kid, large enough to run around in and made of material that echoed well when young lungs needed testing. I remember it only in its decline. When it opened in 1963, it was the leader in large scale “bargain” retailing. In short, it was the Wal-mart Superstore of its time.

Torrance Herald, 1963

But it didn’t last. White Front was only in business from 1963 to 1974. The famous façade came down in the early 80’s while the Marriott Hotel went up in the late 80’s. The bankruptcy of the parent company, not the indifference of Torrance shoppers, was cited as the reason the store closed.

It was the largest store Torrance had ever seen. It was 180,000 square feet (a Wal-mart Superstore is about 185,000 square feet and Costco is only 147,000 square feet). It boasted 350 employees and had inadequate parking. It also had an unique silhouette with the tag line of everything “Under the squiggly roof.” When it closed, it had room for three large “big box” stores to move into the space. It sat on one of the busiest corners in the city, just blocks from the White Front. It was the Treasury and it was 1970. The Treasury, like White Front, would also last little over a decade.

Ground breaking at the Torrance Treasury, Los Angeles Times - 8/31/69

Skip forward a few years.  It was one of the first “membership discount department stores.” It anchored one of the most ambitious and successful redevelopment schemes in the city (Meadow Park). It cost over two million dollars to develop and at 102,000 square feet was one of the larger retailers in the city. Like its competitor a few miles north on Hawthorne, it sat on one of the busiest intersections of the city. It was Gemco and it was 1973.

I loved Gemco. We always tried to sneak in without Mom’s card. Usually walking in behind another family worked. The snack bar and toy section were first rate. (Of course the best greasy spoon around was any of the three Newberry lunch counters! But that’s another story). Opened just one year before the final collapse of White Front and eight years before they shuttered the Treasury, Gemco closed its doors in 1986.

From ad in the 10/23/73 Los Angeles Times

Mega stores have not done very well in Torrance.  With an average life expectancy of a decade, one wonders if the owners of Costco (1998), Sam’s Club, or Home Depot (early 90’s) are worried. Of course, judging by the traffic in the Costco parking lot located near the intersection of Lomita and Crenshaw, it looks like these stores will be with us for a long while. Maybe only mega stores located on Hawthorne Boulevard should worry.

Do you have any memories of the early mega stores? Shopping in Torrance before the Del Amo Fashion Center? Trying to find parking by Sam Levy’s store? Please feel free to share your memories.

– mg

August 12, 2010 at 10:47 pm 2 comments

H.E.L.P. is on the way!

Do you have elderly parents, relatives, or friends that need assistance with planning for their future? Are you a “sandwich generation” Boomer seeking to help parents with their life needs? The Torrance Public Library is pleased to be hosting a series of life planning classes that will be provided by H.E.L.P. H.E.L.P. is a non-profit agency dedicated to empowering seniors, their families and caregivers to make wise choices. H.E.L.P. offers education and counseling programs focusing on elder care, law, finances, and consumer protection.

Beginning Wednesday August 4, 2010 and continuing on successive Wednesdays through September 15, 2010, individuals may attend classes on a variety of essential topics. Each two-hour session will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Class Dates and Topics:

August 4                Staying in Charge of Your Health Care and

August 11             Wills, Probate, and Probate-Avoiders

August 18             Trusts and Taxes

August 25             Elder Care and Residential Choices

September 1        Long Term Care Insurance: Pros and Cons

September 8        Medi-Cal for Nursing Home Care

September 15      Safe and Independent at Home

All classes will be held in the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library Community Meeting Room.  Classes are free; however, there is a suggested donation of $10.00 per person per class.  To reserve a spot, please call 310-533-1996.

August 2, 2010 at 4:26 am 5 comments

Older Posts Newer Posts



  • Get On Your Feet…Get Up and Make it Happen! May 10, 2011
    Listening to NPR this week, I heard a story on the dangers of too much sitting,” Sitting All Day: Worse For You Than You Might Think” that reminded me of Baby Boomer, Gloria Estefan’s great song, Get On Your Feet.  So many of us have sedentary jobs and/or we come home from work (whether required […]
  • Tweet This January 25, 2011
    Having recently viewed the popular highly regarded film, The Social Network, it got me thinking about my use of computer technology and how much I personally depend on social networking to stay in touch with friends and family.  I remember when the Internet was still referred to as the Information Superhighway and dial-up modems were the […]
  • ‘Tis the Season to be Reading December 9, 2010
    It’s that time of year again! Families are coming together to visit and remember past holidays and traditions. Some of us are lucky enough to live close to our children and grandchildren, but there are those of us who aren’t so fortunate. We want to keep in touch and be more involved in our loved […]
  • Cooking Light (and Veg!) for the Holidays November 22, 2010
    I love the smell, taste, and feel of fall – the crisp, clean air, the warmth of vegetables roasting in my oven, and getting cozy with a steaming hot cup of cocoa and a book.  Fall is also a time of holidays and for many of us Boomers, a season of abundant eating and quality […]
  • Rich Retirement – Smart Retirement November 14, 2010
    It’s time for a round-up of recent magazine offerings on the topic of retirement, a chief concern of most Baby Boomers I know. Money Magazine’s October 2010 issue includes their Retirement Guide 2011. Penelope Wang’s cover story, “Seven Secrets to a Richer Retirement,” examines the latest research in the field of behavioral finance (a blend […]
  • How to be an Empowered Patient November 5, 2010
    Mick Jagger probably said it best, “What a drag it is getting old.” Eyesight gets blurry, knees go bad, back goes out, menopause hits…and let’s not forget hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, and a host of other chronic health problems. As we Baby Boomers age, we usually make more visits to the doctor. According to Centers for […]
  • Film Festivals Part Deux – AFI Fest October 30, 2010
    It hardly seems possible that it’s been a full year since we posted about the pleasures of attending film festivals.   One of the biggest and best, the AFI Fest, is about to begin this coming week. AFI Fest is Los Angeles’ longest running international film festival and the 2010 event will be held in Hollywood, California, November […]
  • Conquer Your Inner Hoarder! October 26, 2010
    I’ve become fascinated with the hoarding shows on television. A&E offers Hoarders and TLC airs Hoarding: Buried Alive. The basic premise of both shows is that hoarding is a type of obsessive compulsive disorder whereby people become incapable of throwing out anything, and I mean anything: broken hangers, empty soda cans, and the hoarders’ classic, […] […]
  • Boomers Got a Bum Rap? October 22, 2010
    The October issue of Atlantic Magazine features a provocative cover story focusing on the Baby Boomer generation and their responsibility for and contributions to the country’s present situation. Whether you agree or disagree, Michael Kinsley has written an essay that will make you think. The issue also includes response commentaries from “experts.” Personal […]
  • ACK! and the Single Girl October 18, 2010
    Cathy Guisewite has penned the final panel of that forever dieting, forever shoe-shopping, forever everywoman, Cathy. For more than 30 years, Cathy was the picture of the stressed-out career woman trying to juggle love, work, body issues, mother-daughter relationships, and whatever else modern society threw at her. Cathy ran in 900 newspapers, won an Emmy [… […]

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 12 other followers