Senior Singles Avoid Wasting Time

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter February 17, 2023
More about Senior Singles List Making
By Columnist Tom Blake 
Keep the list short
More about making a senior-love list

Last week’s eNewsletter was titled “Make A List.” In that newsletter, I suggested that senior singles make a list of the characteristics they want in a mate and in their relationship. The purpose of a list is to help a person avoid wasting time, money, and emotions on a relationship or a person who is not right for her or him. At our age, we don’t have time to waste.

The above paragraph reminds me of the song, “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights,” by the incredible Tejano/rockabilly singer Freddy Fender, which he wrote in 1959. See the link at the end of today’s column.

A list is merely a dating tool. There is no right or wrong list. And there is no perfect mate. We all have our faults so don’t judge someone too harshly or too quickly. Be flexible.

Many Champs responded to that eNewsletter. Champ Virginia asked, “Is there a list that a man would make?

I responded: “I’ll be happy to do that at the end of today’s article. But I stress that each person’s list will vary according to their values, desires, and experiences. Keep the list short.

The list last week was close to my list, give or take a few items.
Here are comments based on last week’s eNewsletter.

LJ (woman) “I quit dating a very nice man because every room in his house had at least one or two large photos of his deceased wife. One large 2′ x 3′ portrait on the living room wall was a bit overwhelming. Many smaller ones all over. I understand that he loved his wife. That’s very touching. And shows he is a good guy. 

“But I felt like she was constantly looking at us! Perhaps this is my problem. Probably is. But it was unsettling to me.  “I never said anything to him about the photos but I quit going out with him. I felt like I would never measure up. And that I would always be compared to her. I suppose this is my perception.

“Also, he paid for his son and spouse to live in a condo next door to him. I could see he wanted his intact family close by, at his expense. It was not something I wanted to be a part of. The last thing I needed was somebody glued to the old family.”

Bruce, newly divorced, mentioned a few of his list items. “I will not date someone of the opposite political party

“Also, regarding availability to date. Some women are so busy with activities that they don’t have adequate time to date, which is very different from men. “Another is geographic distance. I am trying to limit the distance to a 50-mile radius but it seems like the more desirable potential mates are in major cities, 100-200 miles away. 

“The last no-no for me is smoking in any way, either casual or regularly.” 

Champ Patty said, “My husband died in July, but had dementia for years. I met a nice new man on Zoosx, in December. We spoke for two weeks, via phone and text, every day. We met for coffee, spoke countless hours on the phone, and then spent the day together. It’s been growing since. He’s a retired firefighter and was patient with me and a complete gentleman. He kind of checkmarked everything I asked for.” 

Rosemarie, South Africa, “I will send your column to a friend. We have only seen each other two times in a year. He works in the Seychelles, is divorced, and is a bit younger than me. He has three kids and he’s from a large family, one of nine children. On a visit, he made advances toward me. I told him no. So, the next time he was in my country he didn’t contact me.

“He is a preacher of the Bible. I told him he doesn’t practice what he preaches. Did I do the right thing?”

I responded to Rosemarie, “Based on what you explained, I think you did the right thing.”

Ray said, “I never have made a list but it kind of makes sense. Also, in concert with the article, I have never sought a replacement for my wife Mary. On the other hand, I do seek a person with some similar traits she had.”
Wayne emailed, “Liked your list. Many women want to be on ‘scholarship.’”
Knowing Wayne, I think what he means is that some women he meets want to be on a free ride and not share expenses. They expect him to always pay.

Janet wrote, “Good advice. I had no idea where to start. The list is the perfect place.” 

Mack emailed, “Re: Joan, from last week; her thoughts, perhaps to the extreme, are not atypical. I think it is normal for a man or woman to compare a new person with a past mate(s).

“I, for one, will never get over losing my first wife back in the 90s. There is never the same innocence of a young relationship down the road in later life.” 

More than two years ago, Champ Cheryl wrote this about making a list: “Having children or grandchildren live with them is a deal-breaker for me because I was in that situation in my marriage. The blood relatives of a man seem to come before the new partner.” 

“Plus, the political thing has become major. I have met some very nice men with whom I clicked, and then they find out which candidate I support and they break it off immediately.” 

Also, two years ago, Champ S (a woman) wrote, “The first attraction is physical. Then we go from there…” I agree with “S.”

Here’s a possible list from a man: (Remember, what this dude wants, he must be willing and able to provide her with the same qualities. Love is a two-way street). 

Tom’s suggested characteristics-wanted list 

1. There must be a strong physical attraction between us 

2. There will be differences from having lived different lives, especially as we’ve aged. We must be willing to compromise. This is where different political beliefs can be lessened to make each other’s views tolerable enough to keep the relationship intact 

3. She must be willing to communicate openly and honestly 

4. She must make me her top priority (and I must do the same) 

5. She must be financially self-sufficient and willing to share expenses (not specific dollar-to-dollar amounts or switching who pays every other time they go out together, but in general) 

6. She must be available to see me 3-5 times per week and live within a few miles from me 

7. No smoking or drugs 

8. Our religious beliefs can be different, but no zealots for me. I believe in a higher power, but I do not attend church. She can attend church, which I respect, but I won’t be attending with her.  A plus, she must enjoy sports.

9. She must be kind, considerate, positive, and upbeat, and she must love animals 

10. She must take care of her health and we must enjoy being together and feel totally comfortable. 

Link to Wasted Days and Wasted Nights by Freddy Fender https:///

Five Songs

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  October 30, 2020

By Columnist Tom Blake

                                                 Five Songs

One of the offshoots of the pandemic is that Champs are tapping into their personal reservoirs of creativity.

Several Champs have mentioned they are working on creative projects. Perhaps it’s because they have more free time than usual. Or, they are reflecting on their lives and what’s really important to them. It’s interesting that several men are working on writing projects such as autobiographies, blogs, or books. Women are painting, gardening, and exercising more.

Patrick Hynes, a native of Australia, is writing a postcard blog that he emails to his friends. It’s titled, “Patrick’s Brief Encounters…Snippets of my life in America.” Working as the Public Relations Director for the Anaheim Hilton Hotel years ago, he met many famous people. Each weekly postcard contains a photo and about 150 concise words. Patrick’s first postcard was about meeting Muhammad Ali. Here’s the photo of him and Ali:

Patrick’s first postcard (July 20, 2020) photo (courtesy of Patrick Hynes)

Other postcards have featured President Reagan, Madonna, Buzz Aldrin, Joe Dimaggio, Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, Sean Connery (James Bond), and Kobe Bryant.

Champ Pam Peters, San Diego, has created more than 100 paintings during the pandemic. She has created boxes of gift cards that feature her paintings. (By the way, Pam happens to be my sister; she’s the creative one in the family). Here’s one of the 100 she’s created during this pandemic.

                  Come for dinner – Shrimp Provencal

Champ Sandy,
 Sonoma County, California, also paints, “I have been painting more and creating cards from it…just a lot of fun. I’ve been dormant on writing but have started writing in my head again..and I can feel it about to jump out.”

Champ Rick O. is writing about his career as a former professional baseball player. His writing project is temporarily on hold while dealing with several serious family-health issues, which, understandably, take a higher priority than the writing.

Champ Teresa has been creative in a different way, one that has taken time and patience but is changing her life. In the August 21 eNewsletter, I wrote about refinancing my home. Teresa capitalized on the information. How so?

This week, she emailed, ‘Wanted to thank you for the referral to your broker Vanessa Schwartz. My refinance/loan closes Tuesday, a day after my 64th birthday. Yea! I am really jazzed as my monthly payment will be about $300 less than before, allowing me to stay in my home for a few more years after I retire at 70, probably (Italics by Tom). My neighbor refinanced with Vanessa as well. We are both grateful for this opportunity to lower our interest rate and payment. 

“I’m doing a little ‘happy dance’ right now, in honor of your willingness to help a stranger.”

In a coincidence, Teresa and I (and Patrick Hynes) worked for the Victoria Station restaurant chain, eons ago, but we didn’t know each other.

I’ve been friends with Rick Lenz for merely 65 years—we were classmates at Jackson High School, in Jackson, Michigan in the 1950s. Rick is a retired successful actor (played opposite Ingrid Bergman, John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Walter Matthau, and Peter Sellers among others). He has written several books, including his latest novel, which will be published early next year.

Here is my favorite piece of art that Rick has created. This painting hangs on my wall.

                  Old Friend by Rick Lenz

   Check out this creative man at (Lots of wonderful art like this)

Another high school classmate is Carmen (Carm to me), who lives in Barra de Navidad, Mexico. Carm was featured in our May 29 eNewsletter which is posted on the website. Carm is writing an autobiography. He and Patrick Hynes often send me rough drafts of their work for my comments.

Last Friday, Carm sent a draft of Chapter 10, titled, “My Life with Karen.” Carm was a friend of Karen and her husband Charlie, and when Charlie died, Carm spent time ensuring she was doing okay. The relationship grew and they had five special years together before she passed away on August 1, 2019.

As I was perusing Carm’s Chapter 10, I noticed he included a cluster of four pictures of Karen and him. The caption under the photos reads:

Loving her was easier than anything I’ll ever do again.  –-Kris Kristofferson 

That caption blew me away. You’ll see why in a minute.

During Greta’s and my 23 years together, I’ve occasionally mentioned to her that when I pass away, I don’t want a funeral. An upbeat, fun, small, positive, memory-celebration is ok, but only if five songs that express how I’ve felt about her, are played on a video for the people attending. I wrote down the titles of the five songs on an old, tattered, envelope for her to keep in her files.

Three weeks ago, Greta left that envelope on my desk with a written request to put those songs into a word document, so she could access them on her computer desktop (I don’t know why she made that request, perhaps Greta knows something I don’t know!). 

Here are Tom’s five songs (and the links to each)

1) Loving her was easier than anything I will ever do again (written and sung by Kris Kristofferson)

Note from Tom: That’s the same song Carm used in the caption under Karen’s pictures. That’s why I was blown away. I found it hard to believe that a guy I’ve known for 65 years and I picked the same song to honor our partners.


2) If Tomorrow Never Comes (written by Garth Brooks and Kent Blazy, sung by Garth Brooks)

3) Sunday Morning Coming Down (written by Kris K, sung by Johnny Cash) 

4) Dreaming My Dreams (written by Allen Reynolds, sung by Waylon Jennings)

5) Dry Your Eyes (co-written and sung by Neil Diamond)  

Note from Tom: This Neil Diamond video I took on my phone at one of Neil Diamond’s last concerts, August 2017, at the Forum in Los Angeles. It’s not a perfect video as I didn’t zoom in until later in the video. But the sound is terrific. Note the trumpet player solo near the end. He is spectacular. It’s nearly impossible to find videos of Diamond performing this song–he rarely played it in concerts. It was originally written honoring Martin Luther King after he was assassinated. 

Do you have a song that has special meaning to you or to a loved one? Are you working on a creative project?  If so, please share it with us and tell us why it’s special.

Woman, 60, says, “I won’t settle!” But she already has – for 4 years

 On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – July 10, 2020

By Columnist Tom Blake

“I won’t settle,” a senior single woman says, but she already has – for four years

Stacy wrote, “Have any Champs ever mentioned that they don’t understand the relationship they are in and don’t know how to accurately describe it? I feel that way.

“I am 60, a senior single woman, successful in my career, have three grown children, take care of myself, own my home, and repeatedly have been told I am attractive.  

“After 26 years of marriage, I divorced my husband in 2014. In 2015, I met, Bob, a wonderful man on Plenty of Fish (POF). We live 50-60 minutes by car away from each other. We instantly hit it off. We share many similar characteristics, likes and dislikes, temperaments, values, and life priorities. I knew early on that he was a man of integrity and quality.

“When we met, Bob had been divorced 13 years after a verbally and emotionally abusive marriage but hadn’t healed from the scars. While I was happy and feeling hopeful about our future, Bob always held back.

“During the first two years of dating, Bob broke up with me twice. I was devastated the first time; we reconciled after a week. The second time, I was hurt and confused but each day became easier. We reconciled after three months. We have been dating each other for two years since.

“Bob has always told me he didn’t want to remarry and that I should date others because he knew I wanted a lifetime partner.

“I won’t ask him questions if I don’t think I’d like the answers, fearing they likely would be hurtful and might cause the relationship to end.”

“We continue to spend most weekends together. Plus, we call and email during the week. We both are busy in our work. Right before our third anniversary, I had an uneasy feeling after an evening phone call with him. He sounded vague, suspicious. I checked his POF profile and yes, he was looking for other women to date.

“I was so upset, at 10:45 p.m., I drove an hour to his house. I confronted him about his profile. He was reassuring, saying it didn’t mean anything, he just liked reading profiles, and that no one ever contacted him. I wanted to believe him, but it took a lot of soul-searching and determination to try again. I asked him to take down his profile and be exclusive. He agreed.

“Now, into our fourth summer, and with the COVID-19 virus making seeing each other more difficult, we have had and continue to have our ups and downs. We spend as much time as we can together, but we both took extended vacations to visit family and have been apart quite a lot.

“Last week, I began to wonder if I should resume dating other men. He seems content with our situation. However, he is unwilling to involve himself emotionally. He keeps up a guard, a wall.

“He does not allow himself to be put in vulnerable situations. He goes to great lengths to avoid confrontation. And yet, I can see love in his eyes and in his smile. However, he has never told me in four years that he loves me.

“I saw an ad on Our Time and decided to look at it. Guess what I found? A profile that matched Bob’s 100%! No picture or words this time, I’m guessing he doesn’t want to pay. I cannot tell you how hurt I have been. I didn’t mention it this past weekend because I don’t want him to know I know.

“I went online this evening and he had been active within one hour of me leaving him. I don’t see how he would have time to meet and date women. I think he is just reading the profiles as a hobby.

“I stay with him because I cannot imagine any other person making me as happy as Bob makes me. It doesn’t matter what we do, we have fun and enjoy being together. We finish each other’s thoughts and sentences. He is smart, funny, clever, and kind. He is very easy-going and accepting of others.

“I want him to stop looking at dating profiles! I’d settle (bold face and italics entered by Tom) for some kind reassurances and travel plans. Bob needs to find a more appropriate hobby.

“I would appreciate your opinion.”

                                Tom’s answer to Stacy

“Stacy, I’m trying to be respectful and diplomatic. However, it’s probably not what you want to hear.

‘You are part of the problem with Bob. In the second to last paragraph, you said, “I’d settle for…” You already have settled. You have settled for four years of not being told he loves you. You have settled because you are afraid that the truth will be painful. You are afraid if you rock Bob’s boat, you will be alone, possibly forever.

“For two people to succeed as a couple, there must be open, honest communication. You don’t have that with him because of your fear.

“You have settled by thinking his studying online profiles of other women is just a hobby and you are not facing the reality that he is looking for another woman who will make him happier. A man of ‘integrity and quality,’ as you referred to him, does not do that.

“You have settled for him telling you to date others, while not knowing if he has or is dating because you fear knowing the truth.

“You see love in his eyes and his smile. But, his actions don’t connect with love. This is a man who hasn’t healed 17 years after his divorce. Bob is not going to change,

You need to:

1. Identify what you want from this relationship

2. Open communications and get the cards on the table, not just about his “online hobby,” but about all things important

3. Be prepared to be on your own because that’s likely going to happen

4. Find self-esteem and courage

5. Stop settling

If you don’t do these things, you will be stuck in the same rut you’ve been in for the last four years.

Your situation reminds me of the title of my favorite Robert Earl Keen, Jr. song, “The road goes on forever” (and the party never ends.) 

The party never ends at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli in Dana Point (prepared and delivered 600 sack lunches in 2013)

Link to “The Road Goes On Forever (and the party never ends): You can click on “skip ad” when the video first appears.

Iceland and Greenland August 2019

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – August 30, 2019

By Columnist Tom Blake

Iceland and Greenland August 2019

After visiting Ireland for 10 days, Greta and I flew to Amsterdam on August 18, 2019, and boarded the MS Rotterdam, a Holland America cruise ship. Our 20-day itinerary included stops in the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, the Shetland Islands and Scotland. The ship was at full capacity with 1,400 passengers and a crew of 600+.

In our travels, we are always surprised at the personal connections and coincidences that occur. This has been especially true on this month-long European adventure.

On our second morning at sea, while having breakfast in the Lido dining room on level nine, I thought I heard someone—other than Greta who was elsewhere on the ship—say “Tom.” I turned around but saw no one.

Then, I heard “Tom” again. I looked up and a woman was standing at my table.

She smiled and said: “I’m Marilou Heckman, one of your Champs, from Dana Point.” I was surprised, almost speechless.

“A Champ AND from Dana Point?” I replied.

Marilou explained that friends of hers had read in the Dana Point Times newspaper column that Greta and I would be on the Rotterdam. And then, she said I also mentioned the ship in an eNewsletter.

Later in the day, Greta and I saw Marilou again and she introduced us to her friend Pat Moch, also from Dana Point. Simply amazing: four of us from Dana Point on the ship among passengers from multiple different countries around the globe.

Of course, Greta and I saw Marilou and Pat several times around the ship and we enjoyed dinner together one evening.

The Dana Point Four – Marilou Heckman, Tom Blake, Pat Moch, and Greta Cohn

As of this writing, the ship has visited three ports in Iceland and three ports in Greenland. The names of the six cities will tie your tongue. Today’s eNewsletter features Iceland, Greenland and has a short section on the question: Is a cruise-such as this one-a good place for women to meet potential mates?
1.    Iceland
In Iceland, the ports were Eskifjordur, Akureyri, Isafjordur. We’ve been lucky, we’ve haven’t been rained on in any of the ports, except for a few sprinkles. We’ve even had sunshine along the way. In each Icelandic port, the ship was able to dock at a pier, so we could just walk into those cities.

In the first two cities, Greta and I rode local city buses, which were free, and we were able to see enough to get a good feel for the people, the shops, the homes and the churches. We did lots of walking in each city, so we were able to get our exercise in as well.

The most impressive of those cities was Akureyr. It was in the Northwestern part of Iceland, and yet the temperature was about 60 degrees, with plants and flowers evident everywhere. It has a bustling population of 18,400.

While waiting to board a city bus, we introduced ourselves to another couple that we surmised were also from the ship. They were going to the large botanical garden and we decided to go there as well. Originally from Viet Nam, they now live in Washington D.C.

In the small-world department, Thuan, the husband, and I discovered that we both attended the Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. Not at the same time, but we both became Ensigns there and both were in the Viet Nam war. Thuan was in the South Viet Nam Navy; I was in the U.S. Navy.

And we were both based—at different times–at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California.

Isafjordur is a city of about 2,571. No buses, strictly a walking city. On foot, we saw all things recommended by the ship’s tour director in a couple of hours. The highlight: St. John’s Church. Behind the altar, there were 760 clay birds mounted on the wall. Very unusual and impressive.

  St. John’s Church  Isafjordur Iceland

The ship will be stopping for two days in Reykjavik, the capital, this weekend.

2. Is a cruise like this a good place for women to meet a potential mate?
The average age on this cruise was about 70. I estimate that single women outnumber single men by 10 to one. Greta and I talked to several women on the cruise. Many of them are widows, not seeking a man. A woman named Honey from The Netherlands said she travels alone and loves it because she can do exactly what she wants.

Another widow said she doesn’t want to meet a man on board because she wouldn’t want to take care of him—she had to do that with her husband; she said: “never again.”

Our two Dana Point friends, Marilou and Pat, are both widows. They enjoy traveling together because they enjoy doing many of the same things. Furthest thing from their minds was meeting a man on board.

Overall answer about meeting a mate: A cruise like this is not a place to meet a man. Of course, it could happen but none of the women we interviewed were counting on that. That being said, it’s a great place to make new friends and enjoy one’s self.

      3. Greenland
Greenland is the largest island in the world that is not a continent (Australia and Antarctica are considered continents). An ice cap covers 80 percent of the country. The population is 57,000. It’s located between the Artic and Atlantic Oceans. While it’s part of the North American continent, it’s an autonomous country of the Kingdom of Denmark. It is the least densely populated territory in the world.

The majority of the residents are Inuit, who migrated from Alaska, across Canada, to settle here.

Before stopping at Greenland ports, the ship spent a day cruising Greenland’s incredible Prince Christian Sound, a breathtaking 60-mile long fjord. The ship captain had informed us in a talk the day before that the weather might make navigating the sound (and the ports) difficult, even impossible. He mentioned that on a visit last year to Greenland, all three ports had to be skipped due to inclement weather.

Before entering the sound, the wind was blowing at 50 mph and the seas were rough.

However, day-after-day on this vacation, the weather has smiled upon us.  And that day the sun was out and the weather a balmy 48 degrees.

Greta and I saw Marilou and Pat on the stern pool deck, sitting in deck chairs, relishing the views of the fjord—jagged peaks, patches of snow, glaciers, small waterfalls and small icebergs floating by. Pat said, “This is the most perfect day we could have asked for!”

 Iceberg near ship
Marilou agreed: “Not a cloud in site, only blue skies.” Here is another photo of the four of us on deck.

Tom, Pat, Marilou, Greta
I n Greenland, the port names are even tougher to pronounce than in Iceland.

Our first stop: Qaqortoq, with a population of 3,000.

The ship’s tour guide said, “Every home in this city has a million-dollar view.” He was right. And how lucky were we? Again, blue skies, about 55 degrees, and calm seas. The latter was important because the ship had to anchor, and the smaller tender boards took passengers ashore.

Again, this was a walking-only city. Greta and I spent a delightful three hours enjoying our stroll. We popped into a local market, to check out prices. A bottle of 7 Deadly Zins Zinfandel, which costs $12 to $15 in the states, was $50.

View from Qaqortoq – note the two cruise ships anchored

The tender transfers to and from the city were comfortable. Our first day in Greenland was magical.

Greenland port # 2 – Paamuit.

Another tender port—this one took about 30 minutes after boarding the tender to get on the shore. A tender carries 150 passengers. This photo shows how careful everyone needs to be.

  Carefully exiting a tender

Paamuit has 1,400 residents. The church is constructed of wood.

                 Paamuit wooden church  
Inside the church, a ship’s male passenger spontaneously sang a hymn in Latin for two minutes.

Some of the native Inuit people had three card tables with local items they made for sale. A woman from Berkeley, California, purchased a small carving made from reindeer antlers. She paid $250 USA. As she counted out the money, the other Inuit natives broke out in applause, they were so thrilled for the sale.

 Purchasing a carving made from reindeer antlers

Holland America always makes considerate gestures for its passengers. The temperature in Paamuit was about 48 degrees and damp. The ship’s crew provided hot chocolate for passengers who were waiting ashore to return to the ship.

The ship personnel also served hot chocolate to the local Paamuit children. They were thrilled as they sat under the Rotterdam easy-up.

  Greenland kids like hot chocolate

Greenland – Port # 3 – Nanortalik

Our third and final port in Greenland was Nanortalik. Population around 1,500. 43 degrees, hazy, no sun until afternoon.

When we first came ashore, an Inuit man was playing his guitar near the pathway singing in his native language, “The Wreck of The John B,” a song recorded by The Kingston Trio in 1958 and in 1964 by The Beach Boys as “The Sloop John B.” I sang along with him in English briefly and tipped him.

Singing “Sloop John B” in Nanotalik

Greta and I visited the fish market and the church and headed back to the ship by tender after an hour and ½ ashore. The wind was picking up and it was getting cold.

We had gone ashore in all three Greenland ports, something we wanted to accomplish—such a beautiful and isolated island.

Have you been Catfished?

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – August 2, 2019

by Columnist Tom Blake

Have you been Catfished?

OK – so this is not a catfish, it’s a trout, but you get the idea (Photo by Tom)

Catfished–a relatively new senior dating term.

Last September, Champ Rabecca emailed, “Have you ever written about ghosting or being ghosted?”

I replied, “What the heck is ghosting?”

Rabecca said, “It’s a term used in dating.”

Her question led to the creation of two eNewsletters. The first, dated September 14, 2018, was titled “Ghosting” and the next week, September 21, the second–as a follow up–was titled, “Who hasn’t been ghosted?”

All previous eNewsletters, including those two, are archived on the Finding Love after 50 website. if you’d like to read or reread them, see the link at the end of today’s issue.

The Urban Dictionary defines ghosting as: “The practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.”

At least 25 Champs responded to the first eNewsletter and most of those responses were featured in the second one. Most everyone has been involved in ghosting—on one or both sides of the coin.

                          And now another new term (at least for me)

Recently, Champ Joel Blackwell brought attention to another new term, at least to me, and, Joel said, to him as well, “catfished.” Joel posted a comment on our Finding Love after 50 Facebook group page that resulted in responses from people who are members of that closed group. As of today, there are 522 members.

(A “closed” group means to join, people must request permission from me, the founder of that Facebook group. I keep it closed to keep intruders with evil intentions from getting into that group to protect our members.)

Joel provided the definition of “catfished” as stated in The Urban Dictionary. It’s luring someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona. He saw the term “catfished” in a New York Times Modern Love article, titled, “When a Dating Dare Leads to Months of Soul Searching,” by Andrew Lee. The link to the article is also provided at the end of today’s Finding Love After 50 eNewsletter.

Facebook member Marilyn wrote, “I was ‘catfished’ while on He was charming and intelligent and said all the things I wanted to hear to open the lines of communication.

“He claimed to be a widower, well-traveled, ready to retire, etc., First red flag: there was always an excuse why he couldn’t meet in person, although he claimed to live locally.

“Second red flag: after a dozen or so emails and phone conversations, he started suggesting I join him on an incredible European investment deal, but he needed to use my name and bank account info to hold some funds for him. Hah!

“A little online research revealed this man (from Nigeria) used the same profile pics, verbiage and tactics on all his contacts and I was only one of many selected. It was eerie how he used the very same lines on each of the women. Even when confronted, he claimed I had misunderstood his intentions!”

“Catfish lessons learned: if the topic of money or finances comes up after a short acquaintance, Run! If he says all the right things, Run! If he finds reasons not to meet with you, Run!”

The story in that New York Times Modern Love article is well written, informative and interesting. I won’t tell you how it ends. You can read it yourself. Joel provided the link to it:

New York Times Dating Dare article

So, there you have it, another online dating term to add to your vocabulary. If someone is “catfishing” you, i.e., using fictional online persona, that person is up to no good as Marilyn explained with her online experience. It’s often the precursor to an attempted scam.

“Ghosting” and “Catfishing.” Two ugly dating terms, although not exclusively applicable to seniors. “Ghosting is mainly being inconsiderate, the chicken way to move on from someone.

Catfishing is posting bogus information and being dishonest. Being catfished can lead to more serious issues, like losing money or putting oneself in danger.

Just be aware. It’s a complicated dating world out there.

The link to all 2019 and 2018 eNewsletters is:

Once there, go to the right-hand column and under Archives, click on September 2018 to read the “Ghosting” and “Who hasn’t been ghosted?” eNewsletters.

Meet and Greet information for Dana Point, California area for August:

Monday, August 19, 5 to 7 p.m. The city of Dana Point Recreation Department is starting a mixer called Active Lifestyle Connections for 50+; Dana Point Community Center – Garden Cafe 34502 Del Obispo. Light refreshments (no alcohol). For information, call Monique 949 248-3507. No cost.

Thursday, August 22, 5 to 7 p.m. Meet and Greet for 50+, Tutor and Spunky’s, 34185 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point. This is our usual 4th Thursday event. Greta and I will be out of town, so Maria Olamendi, has offered to act as hostess. Food complimentary. Beer and Wine $5 each. Greta and I will be at the September event. Details on where we will be in August will be in next week’s eNewsletter.

Never-married woman in LAT (Living Apart Together relationship) unsure if she should breakup with man friend of two years

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – June 28, 2019 

by columnist Tom Blake

Two parts today: Part 1 – Never-Married woman in LAT

and Part 2 – Meet and Greet in Dana Point

Never-married woman in LAT (Living Apart Together Relationship) unsure if she should breakup with man friend of two years

Champ Judy, not her true name, emailed, “I’m 78, never married (not yet, haha), though I had proposals. I met one man in my 30s who I would have married, he was nine-years-younger, his parents broke us up. We were so happy.

“He came back a year later to ask me to marry him, but I broke the date, not knowing that’s what his plan was. We didn’t get back together, and, he eventually married someone else.

“I compare everyone to the wonderful relationship we had. I know it’s ridiculous to hang onto the past and the hope I could meet another like him.”

Tom’s comment #1: Yes, Judy is right. Hanging on to a relationship for 45 years–give or take a few years–is looking back instead of forward. With a nine-year age difference back then, who knows how that relationship would have played out?

Judy continued, “I’ve been in several relationships since him, three asked me to marry but I knew they weren’t right. I can’t believe I let my whole life go by without the experience of marriage or children.

“I’d love to know if any other Champs are in the same situation (never-married but thought they would eventually-didn’t happen. How do they deal?).

“I lived with one person several years and besides the three marriage proposals after my 30s, I had several prior to that. Why I didn’t realize I should have built a life, a family, I don’t know? Fear?”

Tom’s comment #2: Perhaps some of our Champs will respond to her “never married” statement.

                       A high school classmate enters the scene

Judy added, “Two years ago, a high school classmate, also 78, and I began a relationship. He was married for 53 years; his wife had dementia for several years, he cared for her until he couldn’t anymore. She went into assisted living. He was there every day. I’d see him at reunions, he looked sad, we’d chat.

“After his wife died, he came to see me often, helping me move, buy a car, he remembers our anniversary of our first holding hands, our first kiss, and incidents like when he says he thought of me all the way home (hour and 1/2 away). Our feelings grew and we declared our love.”

Every relationship has baggage

Judy said, “Situation is he’s a country boy and I’m a city girl. When I stay at his place, I feel like I’m in the boonies and when he comes here, he cannot stand traffic. He curses at traffic, or if he drops something, or, when he can’t find his phone, etc.

“I can’t stand someone getting upset in traffic or because he has to wait while handling something on the phone, etc. It cuts into the peace we are experiencing and really affects me.

“He would like me to move up there, but it’s really rural. Nice house, but mostly still set up when his wife was there.

“He’s not sure if he wants to keep up the work of three acres, an extra guest house, but it gives him exercise and a sense of accomplishment. He loves fishing and does that often. I’ve ridden in the boat twice. I used to go boating when younger, but it’s not the most thrilling thing, though his place is peaceful and beautiful.

“We just talked a few moments ago, as he’s up at his place and I’m at my home. He had been here several days and needed to get back up there.”

He loves me but he’s controlling and jealous

Judy mentioned more, “He misses me and loves me. For the first time, instead of rolling his eyes when I want to go to my church group, or other places I like to go, he’s encouraging me to do so.

“I try to please him. He tries to please me too, but up until today, he complained. Today, he said he didn’t want to be someone who controlled my life. That was new because in fact, he tries to.

“He is jealous that I’ve been in several relationships prior to ever knowing him.

Tom’s comment #3: This couple has a LAT—a living-apart-together relationship. Sounds ideal for them, considering the plethora of aspects Judy doesn’t like about him.

                                Senior sex

Judy continued, “He’s constantly wanting sexual activity to the point I think he’s obsessed. Is this normal?

Tom’s comment #4: Look at it this way: he finds Judy attractive. At 78, many men can’t even whistle Dixie, let alone have sex. Is he over-sexed or is she under-sexed? Some women would consider this an asset, not a liability.  What’s the problem?

Judy said, “Having said all that, he’s truly a fine person and the reason I got involved to begin with. There’s much I love about him.

“I’ve thought about moving up to his place and building a new life. It’s just that I like civilization. I also love his friends, they’re fun, great people. Also, He’s remarked, he thinks about moving into my place, thus no yard to mow, hedges to trim, repairs to make and the like. He’s conflicted and so am I.

“If we break up, I figure it would be my last chance at a relationship whereas he could find many others as a man (In Florida, where I live, there are lots of men). All relationships have adjustments the older we get.

“Today over the phone, when he called to say I love you, he also said he wants me to do things I want. I do love him. We love each other, but we’re so different.

“He has a large family, consisting of siblings, nieces, nephews who all love me, are happy for us and I love them, they’re a lot of fun. He has a son with a girlfriend who doesn’t want children, and a daughter, granddaughter and a great grandson. We all get along great. I enjoy being with them and love for him to spend time with them.

“My writing is convoluted I realize, and any comments will be welcome.”

                          Tom’s closing comments to Judy:

The most important sentence you wrote is highlighted in yellow above: “We love each other, but we’re so different.” That’s the beacon of light under which your relationship functions.

 Five additional comments:

  1. You love each other so why at 78, would you break up? Perhaps your propensity to break up is why you never married. Instead, simply make adjustments as necessary
  2. You didn’t marry before, why would you marry now, when you are so different from each other? Marriage might screw up a nice relationship
  3. You say you’re both “conflicted” about relocating. He loves the country; you love the city. Neither would be happy living permanently in the other’s environment. Problems would quickly arise. Keep your respective homes. Don’t sell them or move
  4. You are in a LAT—a living apart together relationship. You live an hour and a half away. Seeing each other as often as you want is a luxury. Many people would envy your situation. Have you looked in the mirror to see if the problems you describe are not his, but yours?
  5. You say he’s controlling, jealous and wants too much sex. Do you think that’s going to change if you both lived under the same roof? However, he sounds as if he is willing to change.

Why change anything? If you miss each other and want to see each other more often, simply do it.


Last night at the deli. From left. Regina, Samantha (owner Tutor and Spunky’s), Greta, Tom Patrick and Mipat (spelling ?) But, there were 120 more who attended)

The event was incredibile. An estimated 125 people attended. I didn’t realize that two people who met at the June M & G have been dating for five weeks. See, love can happen at our age! Details next week on the event.

Cutting the cable TV cord

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – March 29, 2019

by Tom P Blake 

Cutting the cable TV cord

Cutting the Cable TV cord

At the end of last week’s newsletter, I included a short paragraph about cutting the cable TV cord. I asked if any Champs had done that, thinking the question was a little off topic from the dating and relationship issues we often discuss. I didn’t expect much of a response.
Instead, I was astounded by the number of Champs who shared their experiences of doing just that. Oh my gosh, so many of you are way ahead of the game. You amaze me.

A little background is in order. In 2014, the cost of Direct TV at my home was $120.00 per month and the cost of Cox Internet was $60 per month, for a combined monthly total of $180. Each year since, I watched the cost of those services go up.

At the start of 2019, Direct TV had reached $156 and Cox Internet $80, for a combined total of $236 a month, or $2832 a year. Spending that much on TV and Internet is unacceptable.

Three weeks ago, Greta and I were visiting friends who showed us this cool TV remote control streaming device called Roku. I asked, “What’s that?”

“It’s a way to watch TV without paying for cable service, it’s called cutting the cable TV cord.” My ears shot up like a rabbit’s.

I researched cutting the cable TV cord for a few days, and then ordered two Roku Express devices (one for each TV) from Amazon Prime, for about $31 each, and returned the Direct TV equipment, ending their service. Immediately, we started using Roku, learning the ins and outs. The potential savings: $1,872.00 a year.

The Roku Express (and there are other more expensive Roku options) uses a simple remote control, and a tiny box that is perched in front of the TV. The box connects to the back of the TV via an HDMI cable, which was provided with the purchase.

Roku Express remote and black box

For Roku to work, the TV needs an HDMI slot in the back. I use the same slot where the Direct TV cable box was plugged in. And we had to keep the Internet.

What we’ve learned after three weeks without cable TV:

  1. It’s not just with Roku that you can cut the cable cord. The Amazon fire stick 4k, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Nvidia Shield also work. The prices of those devices vary, depending on the features offered
  1. If you choose Roku, you begin by signing in to and create a free Roku account. You need to give them a credit card number to create the account, in case you want to sign up for any of the premium services offered by different channels that Roku offers. Getting a Roku account is a snap
  1. I recommend Roku users immediately sign up for the free Roku blog and research the blog’s previous articles. The blog is invaluable in providing information on the ins and outs of how Roku works
  1. You must have Internet at home for Roku and other streaming devices to work. Hence, getting rid of the Internet provider wasn’t an option so that expense remains. If someone only wants nearby local channels, a small antenna that plugs into the TV can be purchased for $15 to $30 (I use Amazon Prime). I’ve read they work well in some locations and one Champ told me it won’t work where they live. She said bad weather hurts the reception. There is no other cost besides the purchase of the antenna but try to get some opinions before buying an antenna
  1. The picture and sound quality have improved compared to Direct TV, which was always out of lip sync
  1. With Roku, there is access to many free channels. The Roku blog lists them and explains what’s on each one. However, to watch some premium programs, people pay a monthly fee–like Netflix, we pay $15 for their premium version, but they have cheaper options. However, I had to pay that for Netflix on Direct TV in addition to the $156.00. Since, we were paying extra for Netflix on Direct TV, I don’t consider having Netflix as an added cost with Roku, but for people who don’t have it, there is an extra cost
  1. If you are an avid game-show watcher—thinking Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, for example—and you want the current version, you’ll likely have to use one of the premium channels provided by Roku for $30 (or more per month) to get them. Consider this before taking the Roku plunge because you do lose most of your current local TV programming that you are used to
  1. Watching 60 Minutes on Sunday on CBS has always been a favorite for us. To be able to watch that, I simply signed up for CBS All-Access at a cost of $6 per month. And the basketball March Madness coverage is included in All Access. It’s like having your local CBS channel at your fingertips
  1. One of the paid channels on Roku is Amazon Prime. If you already subscribe to Prime for your shopping, then access to it on Roku is at no cost. It has tons of viewing options. Amazon Prime for shipping is now up to $128 per year.
Before you “cut the cable cord,” do the research. As mentioned, there are other options besides Roku. With us, we purchased a Roku Express system and experimented with it on one TV. Remember: you need a good Internet connection and that HDMI slot in the back of your TV.

If where you live only has sluggish DSL service, this cutting the cord option may not work for you. Or, if you live too far from a city that has TV service, the antenna may not work either. But it sure the heck is worth looking into.
There is a free website called Broadband Now where you can type in your zip code and get a list of Internet providers in your zip code.

You might sign up for one of the premium channels on Roku such as Hulu + Live TV or You Tube TV and give it a test run. You can cancel a subscription at any time. One or the other would cost you an estimated $45 a month and might be adequate for all your needs.

Beware, the cable companies don’t want to lose you as a subscriber and will do all in their power to convince you not to leave them. Like keep you on hold forever. They will offer promotional rates for a limited period to keep you attached to them. Direct TV came back to us and offered $35 per month for a year.

How do we feel about what we’ve done? We are seeing concerts, documentaries and shows we would have never seen on Direct TV. And boy, are we ever thrilled! Not just for the cost saving, but for the programming we would have never seen.

For example, on Roku, I mentioned the You Tube channel (totally free) and the You Tube TV channel, which costs $30+ per month. On the free You Tube channel, we’ve seen concerts by the Doors, ABBA, Neil Diamond, Sergio Mendez and Brazil 66 that have been incredible. On Wednesday night, we watched a Bruce Springsteen video of his Broadway show (Springsteen on Broadway) on Netflix that was incredible with him narrating and occasionally singing. His tribute to his former E Street Band Saxophone player, Clarence Clemons,  was very moving.

I’ve figured out how to watch the sports events I want. So far, we are flabbergasted and thrilled with new-found enjoyment. Not to mention, saving more than $1800 a year. The biggest issue: discovering how to watch the favorite shows, local news, and programs we were locked into.

I’ve read that the biggest group of cord-cutters is in the age 18-44 bracket. So, if those young whippersnappers can do it, so can we. (However, you might need to eat a little senior crow by asking one of them to come over and show you the ropes).

What our Champs said
I am including a few of the comments Champs made. You sent in incredible info. I couldn’t include everybody; here are a few of the highlights.

Trent: “I live in San Diego and we are pretty much held hostage by Cox for our TV and Internet cable service with their ever-increasing rates. We recently opted to go with just Internet and ditched cable. We have purchased the Roku Ultra for one TV and use an older Apple TV on our upstairs TV.

“We subscribed to YOUTUBE TV for $39 per month and it has all the channels you want (local news, network stations, pretty much all the cable stations we had before). If you want Premium channels like HBO those would cost an additional $15 per month. We can share the YOUTUBE TV on up to 6 devices with family and its even viewable from our phone while traveling. The ROKU player was about 50 dollars online and even has voice command. The apple TV also is good and can be picked up for around 100 dollars.

Alex (Tom’s website guru, a youngster, whiz)

“I’m all about the Amazon fire TV stick and the Apple TV. You may want to touch base on Apple’s streaming service, they announced it on the 25th. Rumors are saying it will be great.

Loretta, “Roku is Ok. Not for current events such as nightly or regional news. It’s a decent alternative to paying for boxes. You still need high-speed internet and a good signal. Boosting the internet signal may be needed to have a good experience.

Subscriptions to channels you can’t live without are available. Make sure you have the right length cable to install the device. Take a photo of your internet password so you have it and you are not chasing it down.

Sandra: “Apple TV 4K in CT. I have been off grid for 8 years with a digital antenna and Apple TV. Wonderful selection of programs delivered at your convenience.

Dee, “Partner and I have the Amazon Firestick (2 years now) and take it with us when we travel and must spend time in our room. This way we are not stuck with the hotel viewing offers. At home it is always convenient too and is now connected to the 2nd TV.

“Last summer, I purchased Ron a larger screen Roku (to my initial distaste…why have a bigger TV? I thought), and we both enjoy the ease of it.  We have simple internet connection though AT & T, for which we pay $60 per month, then we have various subscriptions which change depending on our needs or wants of the season.

“Currently we subscribe to Netflix and Hulu in addition to being Amazon Prime members. To me it gives us more control and is less expensive than the Cox TV/Internet choices.”

Terry, Connecticut: “I cut that cable cord several years ago and haven’t looked back. My setup: I have a an outdoor HDTV antenna (screwed to the top of my condo privacy fence and cable snaked through the AC wall opening) for local news and broadcast stations (including 3 kinds of PBS), along with two Roku devices, one for each of my TVs (I like the “box” rather than the stick).

“I have more television/streaming than I’ll ever be able to watch. Paid services via Roku: Netflix, Hulu (the cheap version with commercials) and Curiosity Stream (documentaries, channel by the fellow that created the Discovery Channel).

“ I like movies, documentaries, comedy, and certain TV series. Admittedly, am occasionally transfixed by YouTube (so helpful for DIY research, travel, arts, crafts, and amusing otherwise).

“All together I pay $17.14 a month for Netflix/Hulu, and $35 A YEAR for Curiosity Steam. Cut that cord, folks!  You will save TONS of cash. (However, I will eat cat food before giving up my internet.)

“Service outages sometimes happen when the landline has issues with storms, car taking down a pole, etc.  Every so often I need to reboot the modem to “refresh” the internet connection.  Minor annoyances for the much cheaper cost.”

So, that’s it, Champs. Do your research. What might work in one location might not work as well in another. I hope you save some money.

In senior dating, do multiple marriages matter?

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter –  March 1, 2019 
by Columnist Tom P Blake
Senior Dating. Multiple Marriages – do they matter?
In last week’s e-Newsletter, Champ Lisa said she had gone to counseling for 18 months to try to understand her “three failed marriages.”That comment gave me an idea for an e-Newsletter topic. So, at the conclusion of that newsletter, I wrote, “When seniors are dating and meeting new people, does having had multiple marriages, on either person’s part, matter? Would that be a deal breaker? Red flag? Or, non-issue?”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and define “multiple marriages”–for this discussion only–as three or more.

Some Champs shared their opinions.

Lynn, emailed, “Regarding the ‘failed marriages’ issue, I have been married three times, and have viewed each one as a much-needed lesson learned about myself.

“People come into our lives for a season, a reason or a lifetime. It was always important to me to embrace whatever I could learn from the marriage experience and part gracefully and remain friends. I loved that person at one time and love can change.

“It was also important to help my ex’s, to ensure nobody failed—life happens; we control very little. It stings to see so much anger and or hurt when a marriage/relationship ends.”

Tom’s reply to Lynn: “I appreciate your enlightened view on marriage ending. Also, I think Lisa’s definition, ‘failed marriages,’ isn’t quite the right term.

“‘Marriages that ended’ might be a better description. I don’t view my three divorces as failures although at the time they happened I did. They turned out to be blessings in disguise—it just takes time to recognize that.”

Rhonda, two marriages, said, “I find that a future man in my life who has been through some of the same things I have been through to be a plus, while four or five marriages would be a potential red flag.

“I also think a person who has never been married may be a red flag as well. My insight to both of my marriages and what I have learned from them makes me who I am today.

“Experiencing the demise of what once was a seemingly great relationship can help people move forward in some ways. Seeing what didn’t work and what I can do better hopefully will make for a solid relationship the next time around. I see now how valuable communication and true friendship is in a happy couple (like you and Greta).

“I would be somewhat apprehensive to be in a relationship with a man who has no kids. Why? Because I am extremely close to my adult children and I don’t know if someone who isn’t in that same place (at least a bit) can fully understand.”

Champ Kenny wrote, “Potential red flags dating a woman three-times divorced? It would depend on the woman’s intentions/goals in any future relationship. If her sole mission was to remarry for a round four, I’d be running as fast as I could in the opposite direction.

“But on a positive note, Champ Lisa apparently has many great qualities. She seems upbeat, cheerful, super-active and fit while enjoying her Florida retirement lifestyle.

“Not to be judgmental, but I can’t fathom a three-times divorced 70+ age women looking for yet another husband? Better to date casually and if Mr. Wonderful does once again miraculously appear, maybe they should work as a couple into a LAT (Living Apart Together) relationship.”

This past Tuesday night, at the WomanSage panel discussion in Costa Mesa, California, (six Champs attended out of the 44 women guests), Champ Carolyn indicated to me that she would likely avoid any man with three or more marriages.

In my archives, I found a column I wrote on this topic 10 years ago. I picked out what I think are some of the more salient points and am including them here.

A woman named Marjorie had written, “I met a man two weeks ago at a musical theatre performance. I am 63, he is 66. We have been out twice, but we talk every two or three days.

“I have been married three times and think I am a fairly good choice, but he is somewhat reluctant to reveal the number of times he has been married, although I am aware of at least three.

“I haven’t pressed this issue. He has an excellent relationship with his children and grandchildren. It is obvious his most recent marriage was short-lived and bitter. How many marriages before it becomes a red flag?”

I responded: Egad, woman, give it some time! You’ve only been out with him twice, and talked to him, what, maybe five times?

If you press the issue, you may chase him away before you even find out how many times he’s been married. If he’s reeling from a recent bitter marriage, the last thing he wants is to defend himself or talk about it. Why not enjoy the moment and forget about his marriage tally?

Why are you concerned about how many times he’s been married? Are you so intent on getting married again that that’s all you’re worried about?

And besides, Margorie, you aren’t a golden angel yourself, with three divorces under your belt. So, what if he’s had four? That’s only one more than three. If he’s had five or six, now that’s a bit of a red flag, but only if you are eager to get married again.

It isn’t uncommon these days for people our age to have had more than two (or three) marriages. Does that make us tainted? Are we bad people? No. We just lived life.

Were our decisions to marry mistakes? No, they just didn’t last. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember what we were thinking when we decided to marry in our earlier days. Most likely, we thought getting married was the right thing to do. So, we did it.

How about the people who’ve been widowed? They had no choice in losing a spouse. Some have even lost two spouses. Should it even matter how many marriages they’ve had? (Well, if they’ve had four, and all have died under suspicious circumstances, then that might be a red flag).

I’ve had three marriages, and Greta, my partner of 21 years now, (back when this was written, it was 11 years), has also had three. Having the same number of marriages was one of the things we had in common when we were sharing information on the first date, so it was a positive thing that we both had ‘multiple marriages.’

And despite three marriages each, we have the best relationship I could ever hope for (still true after 21 years). We live together but are not married; neither of us feels that it’s necessary (still true after 21 years).

I guess it’s because neither of us would want the number four emblazoned in scarlet upon our chests—but that’s not the reason we haven’t married.

It’s simply: why mess up a good thing?

Also, I’ve never had children. And yet, I’ve got four kids, eight grandkids, and three great grandkids, thanks to Greta. I love them dearly, and I’m pretty sure they appreciate me, so why risk changing that dynamic by getting married?

So, for people “our age,” whatever the heck that means—60, 70, 80, or 90–should the number of marriages really matter? I don’t think so…but when the number reaches four, it’s time to scratch your head. Five or more, well, it depends on the circumstances, so obviously proceed with much caution.

Marriage number one for this Shanghai couple

This column on multiple marriages reminded me of Simon & Garfunkel’s song “Mrs. Robinson,” from the Bookends album, and of course, the movie, “The Graduate,” with Dustin Hoffman. Probably because of these words:

“Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio…Jolting Joe has left and gone away. Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey.”  The link follows: