The Living Desert Palm Springs Zoo

rhino ticket stubs
Ticket stubs featuring the new rhinos at the Palm Desert Zoo
Ticket stubs featuring the new rhinos at the Palm Desert zoo
On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – November 25, 2021

by Tom Blake Columnist


On Monday evening of this Thanksgiving week, Greta and I were sitting on the patio of our Palm Springs, California, vacation home. We were facing west, looking at the magnificent Mount San Jacinto Peak (10,804 feet). I told her how blessed we were to be able to enjoy our time out here.

“However,” I said. “Lately, I’ve been reflecting on our Champs and friends who have lost partners, and others whose health is failing. Plus, the news is depressing with mass shootings and cars driving through crowds, road rage running rampant, and saber-rattling by countries threatening other countries. Not to mention Covid-19. It’s a downer and sad.” 

Greta said, “Yes, there is a lot of sadness in the world. If we dwell on those sad things too much, it will drag us down. But we must remember how fortunate we are, at our age, to have lived such good lives. We need to focus on the positive and enjoy the time we have left together.” 

I had a glass of chardonnay; she had a margarita. We toasted each other. In Palm Springs, we try to relax, exercise, and enjoy ourselves. We are thankful that fate led us to Palm Springs three years ago. 

Greta added, “Think about last Wednesday when you asked me out on a date, which I thought was cute. You said you wanted to show me something. We had some spare time, so we drove out to Palm Desert to visit the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. It was wonderful.” 

I had read that there are two new black rhinos at the zoo. We hoped to get a glimpse of them. The animals are magnificent out there. The zoo is another thing for which to be thankful. The picture on the ticket stubs reflects the new rhinos (black rhinos are gray, not black). The rhinos were camera shy. We did get a glimpse of Nia (pronounced Nye-A) who was across the grass in the new Rhino Savannah four-acre area resting in the shade. We were told that Jaali (pronounced Jolly) was in a barn. 

We strolled through the zoo, seeing several other animals. If you would like to read about our brief visit to the zoo, and see a few animal pictures, click on the link below to our travel website,

On the home page, the visit to the zoo opens first automatically. In total, there are approximately 189 of our trips posted to that site. Greta and I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving and hope that the pictures of the beautiful animals will lift your spirits and remind you of the positive things you have in your life. 

Happy Thanksgiving, God bless you all. We are thankful for you Champs. Love, Tom and Greta 

P.S. Please email me at with your comments, questions, and experiences. They help other Champs who are dealing with similar situations.
giraffes 8 of em

Which online dating site is best for seniors?

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – November 19, 2021

by Columnist Thomas P Blake

Which online dating site is best for seniors? 

During the pandemic, most single seniors didn’t interact face-to-face with people, so many of them decided to give online dating a try. Several were frustrated with the experience. Some seniors don’t internet date at all. Connie emailed me about the difficulty she’s had when trying to meet men. She wrote, “I have never been on an online dating site. I prefer the old-fashioned way (of meeting men).”

I assume what Connie’s “old-fashioned way” term means to her is networking through friends and/or going to public places where she might by chance meet a guy.

I’ve often been asked by seniors, “Which online dating site is right for me?” 

Take Ellen for example. She wrote: “I am a widow, 66, and recently retired. So, I’m starting a new chapter in my life. When I think of the future and see myself alone for the rest of my life, that makes me feel sad. However, when I look at my life today, I am happy–busy with kids, grandkids, hobbies, and church. 

“I tried online dating for a few years. Tried them all: eHarmony, Plenty of Fish (POF), Catholic Match, Senior Dating, and OurTime. I met some nice people, but nothing clicked.“More times than not when I emailed someone, I never got a response. After a while, it just wasn’t worth the work anymore, and Internet dating is a lot of work. I keep my options open, but I figure at this stage I am pretty well done with online looking. But I am certainly open if I meet someone in person.”

 I’m not an Internet dating expert. After all, I’ve been with Greta for 24 years and have never been on an Internet dating site. So, how do I advise women like Ellen to find the right dating site?

I turn to an expert dating and relationship coach I’ve known for 20+ years, who is also a Champ. Her name is Christine Baumgartner; she lives in Orange County, California, and calls her business “The Perfect Catch.” She helps clients all over the United States, not just in the OC.

Recently, Christine posted comments on Facebook under the title, “Which Internet dating site is ‘the best’ one?” I felt what Christine wrote was so informative for single senior daters that I chose to share some of her highlights in this week’s eNewsletter.

When Christine is asked by a client which dating site is the best one, her reply is, “This may surprise you, They’re generally all the same.”

But she points out that certain sites have a particular focus such as religious beliefs or sites that cater to a variety of age groups, including sites for seniors.
Christine said, “In reality, the outcome of a person’s online dating experience or your own experience often has more to do with some of the following…

“Your attitude toward yourself, the opposite sex, and dating in general. In particular, many people tend to struggle if they have negative opinions about the opposite sex (due to past dating experiences).”

“Profile content and photos. Many of us are tempted to lie about our age or touch up our pictures.” She stresses that singles should be honest with what they post.

“Persistence. Some people give up quickly when dating doesn’t turn out to be what they were looking for.” Christine recommends people adopt a stick-with-it attitude.

Christine concluded, “I have clients who have met their significant others on dating sites after we worked on these things together. I’ve found that it’s usually not the site causing a person to not find the right date…it’s the person not using the site to that person’s best advantage.”

If I were single and trying to figure out how best to meet someone, I’d contact Christine. She’s a widow and has walked the walk. Not to mention that she is one of the nicest human beings one will ever meet. No wonder she does so well at helping senior singles who are struggling to find their way. Here is Christine’s picture:

Photo courtesy of Christine Baumgartner

Christine’s email is christine@theperfect and her website is

Contact her, you’ll be pleased that you did.

New York Times Wedding for our Champ

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – November 12, 2021

by Columnist Thomas P Blake

Part 1 – Great news!

I think most of you will remember our Champ Ginny, age 80, from articles written April 23 and April 30, 2021, in our eNewsletter. Ginny met an old friend, Harry, who was shooting pool with his buddies at the Pennsylvania senior center where Ginny volunteered.

We first wrote about her in April. Although Harry is seven years older, they had known each other for 65+ years. Harry was a widower who had been married for 59 years. Ginny and Harry started dating in 2013 but he emphatically stressed to her, “No marriage or living together.” 

The couple’s situation started to change this summer. Harry’s hard-core position on marriage softened. Ginny kept us posted. A wedding was planned for November 2021. Then the wedding was moved to September.

Then, this started to happen: One of our Champs and loyal followers is New York Times wedding columnist Tammy Lagorce. Tammy asked for permission to contact Ginny and then Tammy did what all good columnists do–dig in deeper, getting the facts.

Tammy wrote an article on Harry and Ginny’s wedding, which appeared in the Times on November 5. Wedding pictures included. It’s awesome (the link is below). The featured picture at the opening of this column is not Ginny and Harry. It was a wedding couple that Greta and I saw in Praque in 2007. They might have been 20 years old, not in their 80s.

After reading last week’s eNewsletter about Abba, Tammy emailed: “Thank you so much for pointing me in her (Ginny’s) direction, and please keep me posted on other Champs who are ready to tie the knot. You are a treasure trove of great stories! I appreciate you.”

So, Champs, if you are thinking of tying the knot, let us know so we can pass the word on to Tammy.

By the way, Ginny and Harry have a unique relationship: a LAT-M (Living Apart Together-Marriage).

Link to NY Times link about a Champ’s wedding

Part 2Two websites that help seniors combat fraud and romance scams 

Do you know that a “friend request” you receive on Facebook, or an offer for a free COVID-19 test on Instagram might be from a romance scammer trying to steal your money? 

Are you aware that a phone call from a number you don’t recognize might be from a con artist claiming to work for the IRS who declares if you don’t pay delinquent back taxes that very day you will be jailed? 

Romance scammers are con artists. They are experts at defrauding people. Romance scammers slowly gain the trust of vulnerable, lonely people, often seniors or widows, and sooner or later start asking for money. Millions of dollars have been stolen from unsuspecting seniors. 

The United States Senate Special Committee on Aging is so concerned about seniors being scammed that it publishes an annual interactive Fraud Book that anyone can view online by searching on “Senate Interactive Fraud Report.” The book is free to download. Do not download other fraud books that cost money that might appear on the search page.

In a recent Senate Fraud Book I read, the opening Dear Friends letter said: “In 2020, the FTC estimated that Americans ages 60 and older lost at least $602 million to fraud, scams, and financial exploitation schemes.” The Fraud Book supplies tips from the FBI, FTC, and FCC on how to spot romance scammers and information from the FBI describing common techniques used by romance scammers, and details about Covid 19-related romance scams. The book includes a toll-free Fraud Hotline to report scams. 

Another valuable tool for seniors for reading about romance and other scams is provided by the AARP Fraud Resource Center. The AARP Fraud Resource Center lists information on 76 different types of scams and fraud plus other valuable information. It can be accessed online by searching on “AARP Scams & Fraud.” 

After studying the Senate Fraud Report and the AARP Scams & Fraud pages, I compiled a list of 10 tips for seniors to avoid fraud and romance scams 

Tom’s 10 romance scam tips

1. To be better informed about fraud and scams, seniors should read and study the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging’s Fraud Report and the AARP Scams & Fraud pages. 

2. If a person on a dating site says he or she is working overseas, it’s a red flag. Stop communications with that person 

3. Trust your instincts. If someone sounds too good to be true, that person is likely a scammer

4. If a person says that meeting you was fate and he or she is quickly falling in love with you, it is a lie. A person cannot fall in love with someone he or she has never met face-to-face 

5. Do not send pictures of yourself or supply personal information such as your home address to someone you’ve never met 

6. Don’t be fooled by simple trinket-type gifts a person sends (if he or she has your address). The scammer gets the gifts for free from the scamming company 

7. If a person says he or she is planning to visit you, and then cancels, he or she is likely a scammer 

8. Never send money to anyone you don’t know personally or do not help a friend send money 

9. Do not answer your phone if you don’t recognize the number calling you 

10. Discuss your doubts or suspicious activity with friends or contact someone like me for an opinion. Or call the fraud hotline number listed in the Senate Fraud Report. Let’s put an end to romance scams. Beware of those social media “friend requests” and other warning signals. 

Here are the two most important links I have provided to readers in the 26 years of writing newsletters and newspaper columns: AARP Fraud Watch Network
Link to AARP Fraud Watch

U.S. Senate’s Fraud Report
Link to Senate Fraud Report


Tom Blake and Greta Cohn at ABBA the museum on opening day

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – November 5, 2021

by Columnist Tom Blake


Most of our readers have fond memories of music from the 1970s. For many, including me, one singing group stole the show. I first heard of the group while having a glass of wine with Australian friends in September 1976 on a patio overlooking Sydney Harbor.

I remember my friends saying, “Have you heard the Swedish singing group ABBA?” They have exploded in popularity in Australia.” 

From that point on I started listening to ABBA and loved them. From 1973 to 1981, they recorded eight studio albums and became one of the most popular singing groups in history.

My favorite ABBA songs: Dancing Queen (1976), Take a Chance on Me (1977), and Chiquitita (1979) (see link below). In the spring of 1982, ABBA stunned fans worldwide when they split up. They had sold approximately 400 million records. 

Thirty-one years later (April 2013), my partner Greta and I were in Stockholm, Sweden on a cruise. We heard that ABBA THE MUSEUM was opening soon somewhere in a park in Stockholm. We had nothing scheduled on our last day in Stockholm, so we decided to try to find it. 

After an hour on a bus, we spotted a building in the park with a red carpet leading to the front door and people milling around, which we thought was possibly the museum.

We got off the bus at the next stop and walked back to the building. We were thrilled to learn it was ABBA THE MUSEUM. We went to the ticket window and were told that it was opening day and the museum was sold out for a week. We couldn’t go in. 

Greta explained that we were from Southern California traveling on a cruise ship that was departing at 4:30 that afternoon. They made an exception and sold us two tickets. There Greta and I were, on the museum’s opening day, enjoying the interactive exhibits (you could be on stage with them virtually, doing your own version of ABBA, being photographed with two ABBA lookalikes, and subsequently watching Natalie Morales from the Today Show interview Bjorn and Anni-Frid, two of the four members of ABBA.

We were standing four feet from them. Before they appeared, we could hear Natalie saying, “Yes Matt (Lauer), I hear you clearly,” when she was doing sound checks. Being at ABBA THE MUSEUM on opening day and seeing Bjorn and Anni-Frid up close were the highlights of our month-long cruise. 

Fast forward to October 27, 2021. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read in a New York Times article written by Elisabeth Vincentelli that ABBA had secretly recorded a new album titled, “Voyage,” which is being released today, November 5, 2021. The album includes the first two tunes written by the group since 1982. 

A specially-built, 3,000-seat, ABBA Arena will open in London on May 27, 2022, where a live holographic show will take place. Meaning: It won’t be Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha, and Anni-Frid in person, but avatars with their faces from four decades ago superimposed on the digital figures. The 10 album songs will be performed digitally. A 10-piece orchestra will be live at the show. 

Songs featured on the album include, “Just A Notion,” “Don’t Shut Me Down,” and, “I Still Have Faith In You.” I’m excited to acquire the new album. Humm, should Greta and I go to London for the opening of the ABBA Arena? It could be another first.

Below is a photo of Bjorn and Anna-Frid arriving on the set of The Today Show at ABBA THE MUSEUM to be interviewed by Natalie Morales. Greta and I were standing about four feet from them when they were being interviewed.

Link to ABBA singing Chiquitita
(173,000,000+ views)
Bjourn enters
Pictures from opening day May 7, 2013