Live at the Ryman

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter

By Tom P. Blake – columnist

August 26, 2022


Man In Black by Johnny Cash autographed to Tom Blake on Aug 15, 1975

In September 2019, when Ken Burns’ eight-part film series “Country Music” premiered on PBS, my partner Greta and I watched the series in two-hour segments. We loved it. After that, we started watching more country music programs on YouTube.

This Monday night, I turned on YouTube music while working on a Sudoku puzzle before going to sleep. YouTube music often presents us with a choice of country music selections based on our previous viewings.

I noticed Monday that “Country Music. Live at the Ryman,” was on and featured many of my favorite country music stars. I thought perhaps it was a segment from the 2019 “Country Music” series, but it wasn’t. It was a two-hour show, also produced by Ken Burns, that promoted the release of the upcoming 16-hour “Country Music” series.

“Live at the Ryman” was released in March 2019 and filmed at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, which was home to the Grand Ole Opry for 31 years until the Opry was relocated a few miles away in March 1974. Greta and I took a tour of the Ryman in 2017.

That Ryman tour touched me deeply as my friends Johnny and June Carter Cash, on March 15, 1974, sang the final Opry song at the Ryman, which was “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” (Made popular by the Carter Family and others).

Many of you know that I worked with Johnny in 1975 and 1976 when I was the director of Marketing for the Victoria Station Restaurant Chain (restaurants were built of boxcars and cabooses–Johnny loved trains). Johnny agreed to do our radio commercials.

On the night that his band recorded the music for our commercials at the House of Cash recording studio in Hendersonville, Tenn., Johnny invited some of his friends to play along with the band. Band members included Carl Perkins (Blue Suede Shoes), Larry Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers, Earl “Pool” Ball (piano), W.S. Holland (drums), and Marshall Grant (bass). I think Marty Stuart and Rodney Crowell were there as well. I got to meet them all.

While watching “Live at the Ryman” on Monday night, I started to feel a little nostalgic. Especially when Larry Gatlin sang my favorite Johnny Cash song, “Sunday Morning Coming Down (written by Kris Kristofferson). Once, at the Sahara Resort in Lake Tahoe, Johnny asked me before the show what my favorite song of his was. He opened the show by dedicating that song to me before an audience of 2,000 people.

I have remained friends with Rosanne Cash. When Rosanne sang on the show, “I Still Miss Someone,” a song her dad, Johnny, wrote for her, it was a real grabber for me.

Marty Stuart was on the show. He had played guitar for Johnny and was married to Cindy Cash, Rosanne’s sister for a while.

Seeing Vince Gill playing guitar on nearly every song, regardless of the artist singing was indicative of his versatility and talent. Gil has been a regular at the Grand Ole Opry for years.

When Greta and I were having a private VIP backstage tour at Opryland in 2017, we walked past Gill’s dressing room. He was there receiving lots of visitors, so we did not get to meet him. Our tour had been set up by Johnny’s long-time manager and dear friend of mine, Lou Robin, who was still overseeing Johnny’s royalties, 24 years after Johnny had passed away.

I got to know the Carter family well. Mother Maybelle was a sweetheart, and June’s sisters, Helen and Anita were always nice to me. Mother Maybelle played an instrument called The Carter Scratch. Her best-known song is “Wildwood Flower.”

Anita Carter, June’s sister, had one of the purest women’s voices in the history of country music. Her singing of the song “Peace In The Valley” was breathtaking. Anita’s husband, Bob Wootton, and I became buddies during the two years.

When “Live At The Ryman” ended with the entire cast returning to the stage, and singing, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” I nearly lost it. Rosanne was front and center and she and Dwight Yoakam were having fun up there together. Ken Burns was even on stage singing. I thought to myself, how fortunate I have been to have known so many of these talented people.

By the way, I was so captivated that I didn’t make one entry in the Sudoku puzzle!

In 2015, I published an eBook on, titled, “The Johnny Cash I Knew. A Kind and Caring Man.” The 64-page book details my time spent with Johnny and June. It’s $2.99. I think you’d enjoy it. The link is below. Once it opens, type the book’s title in the search box.


As I often do, I include an appropriate song in my articles. There were many from which to choose but I think this version of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” is exceptional, as many country music people are featured. Johnny opens the video. Watch for the picture of June Carter Cash near the end.

Link to “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”

Dating a younger man

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – July 29, 2022

by columnist Tom Blake

Should she reveal her age before moving in with a much younger man?

Mark, one of my regular weekly eNewsletter readers wrote, “This is from today’s (July 24, 2022) NY Times digital edition, in the ‘Social Qs’ section:

“Just a Number

“I am a 76-year-old widow. For two years, I have been dating a man who is 12 years younger than I am. (I look 10 years younger than my age.) My boyfriend knows I’m older than he is, but he doesn’t know by how much. I have never lied to him, but I have refused to discuss the matter. We are now talking about living together. I know I should tell him my age before he moves in, but I’m afraid it will end our relationship. I’m plagued with stress about this. What should I do?


“If your boyfriend really cared about your age, he would probably know it by now. Your refusal to tell him would not be the final word here. So, it’s possible you’re worried over nothing. It’s also possible that the age gap — and your insistence on keeping it secret — may spook him. (So far, I’ve been a big help, right?)

“The bigger issue, as I see it, is your stress level: Better to tell him and let the chips fall where they may than to worry constantly about something you can’t change. He’s going to find out eventually.”

Champ Althea emailed: “In my dating escapades of the past, I have met many ‘Johns’” (Althea is referring to the Where is John? eNewsletter title from three weeks ago).

“One guy I thought might stick as a good friendship or maybe more. In Feb. 2016, he lived in Nevada, a two-hour drive away.

“Over the 2-3 months we saw each other, he spent a few days with me twice and I spent a few days at his place once. There was no sex. Hugs and a few kisses. He had a female dog – Grace! and I have a dog. Even the dogs got along great.

“I forget what his wife had died from, but I know he had to take care of her for a while, and when he learned of my slowly debilitating arthritis, he called me one day and said this wasn’t going to work between us because he didn’t want to go through caring for a disabled woman again. (That’s what he said in a nutshell). C’est La Vie!

“I had a lunch date with a new man yesterday (July 21, 2022). He’s not a ‘John;’ His name is Jay, he’s 84 and is a widower living in El Dorado Hills, which is a 25-minute drive away. We met on OurTime. He had looked at my profile and I saw that he lived close by, so I contacted him on July 14. I asked if he would like to meet for coffee sometime to see what we might have in common to develop a friendship.

“He wrote back that he had a pet cow named Daisy Mae – that nailed it for me! Lol. He is in a car club that takes a lot of day trips, and like me, his mind hadn’t caught up to his age. He said we could meet for lunch one day and see what happens.

“We exchanged more emails with chit-chat about his cow. He said he lost his dog just a few weeks ago (turns out it was a German Shepherd and he’s had a few over the years, so he’s a dog lover as well.) My next step was to see if he was willing to be completely open and I asked for his full name and phone number. I gave him mine. I got his back quickly and looked him up in the White Pages. He’s for real, so then we made the plan for lunch.

“He showed up early, and so did I, but he was there first. A plus in my book. And he was very nice, made fun conversation with a hint of a sense of humor, and all went well. In the parking lot, he showed me one of his classic cars, a 1971 VW Bug…yellow with yellow leather interior! Very cute. We parted with both of us saying we’d like to do this again, and off we went.

“So, we’ll see. He’s 11 years older; I’m not used to the guy being older, but I figure with my arthritis limitations, being older than me is better at this stage, so I can keep up!

Any predictions?

I emailed back: “Predictions? Not at this stage, but so far so good. To have a new friend at this stage of both your lives is a huge plus. Keep it going. This doesn’t have to be teenage-type love, but the social interaction is beneficial as well. People who love animals likely have warm hearts. I don’t know of any guy who has a pet cow. What a plus. And what fun!

“Continue to be upbeat and appreciative toward him and keep it going.”

Althea responded: “My thinking is the same…an animal lover has a big heart and is a kind, warm person. He struck me that way right off. I’ve always loved cows…my father grew up on a farm and his family had cows, chickens, and a few horses that I got to see when I was young.

“I told Jay I’d love to see his cow sometime so let’s see if he follows up on that. A friendship with him would be a plus for sure. It was brutally hot yesterday, 97, when we went to lunch and going to hit 95 today with all next week in the same area of ’90s, so our next get together might not be for a while.”

Althea may have just coined a new senior dating pickup line. In the past, when a guy was trying to entice a woman to come to his house, he might have said, “Would you like to see my etchings?” Now, he might say, “Would you like to see my cow?”

In 2020, I published an ebook titled, “Senior Dating: Does Age Matter?” In the book, I discuss the pros and cons of dating someone younger and/or older (and considerably older or younger as well). The book’s content is still applicable today.

You can go to the site and read 10 percent of the book for no cost. Smashwords has an online reading option where you don’t have to load the book onto your computer, you just click on “online reader.” Of course, you can download the book onto your reading device. If you purchase the ebook before this Sunday night (when Smashwords’ July sale ends), it’s $2.66. After that, it’s $3.55. Here’s the link:

Chris, Tina, Tom, and Greta – very sadly noted that our dear friend Chris passed away in July, 2022

A mortgage refinance made sense for me

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – August 21, 2020

by columnist Tom Blake

             A mortgage refinance made sense for me and other stories

Last Friday morning, I received an email from a long-time friend who used to be a yacht captain on boats in Dana Point Harbor. He had read the eNewsletter about the homecoming king and queen and wrote to touch base. “Take care. Hope you are well,” Champ Captain Richard Carnesale signed off.

About six hours later, I’m sitting in a rather large waiting room of a large doctor’s office in nearby Laguna Hills, with Greta, who was having an eye examination. It was like mask-city; every person was wearing one. I saw a man emerge from one of the consultation-rooms and walk toward the front desk. I said to Greta, “That man looks like Captain Richard.” I didn’t know for sure because of the mask.

Then the lady at the front desk called his name. He walked there. I moved to within 10 feet of him and said, “Thanks for the email this morning.”

We had a nice chuckle about the coincidence and talked for a few minutes after he checked out.

Ten years ago, Captain Richard and I worked together on a story about a yacht-Ponzi scheme that happened in Dana Point Harbor. Captain Richard had worked with the man for 27 years who swindled several investors. Here is a picture of Captain Richard from an article I wrote in The Dana Point Times on July 13, 2012, about the case.

Captain Richard Carnesale with photo of the man who swindled investors

I also wrote an ebook titled “Dana Point Yacht Ponzi.” You can order it on for .99 cents by using the promo code BM58K

                            From Seattle – A Star Spangled Night

Champ Ellen, Seattle, emailed: “In case you don’t remember me, I’m the lady who sang the National Anthem at the Anaheim Angels baseball game, oh so many years ago, that you did a lovely column about.”

Tom’s response to Ellen: “Of course, I remember. I was seated behind home plate near you. An Angels’ employee came and escorted you to the pitcher’s mound. I noticed your name on the scoreboard monitor. You did a great rendition of the National Anthem.

“When you returned to your seat, I introduced myself. I think we might have had one coffee date. That column was titled, “A Star Spangled Night,” and was published on August 30, 1995, almost 25 years ago to the day. It was the 61st column I had written (now over 4,000).

Ellen added, “I read in your 8/14/20 eNewsletter that you met Diane Sawyer. I’m envious. I have a picture of her in my scrapbook from when she crowned Linda Felber, America’s Junior Miss in 1964. Linda was from a little town 20 miles away from where I grew up.

“I also have a picture with Johnny Cash. He sang at a Luther League Convention when I was in college. I was charged with keeping him comfortable. He was very quiet.  A friend was the President of the National Luther League group, which is how I got the ‘job.’ 

“Earlier, in 1967, I sang for that convention in the Dallas Convention Center. I thought it would be my biggest audience ever: 17,000 young people. But, the 35,000 fans at the baseball game topped that.

“Paul and I have been together for nine years. Our initial meeting was thru business, thru a networking group. Then some years later, someone else that was a referral from that same networking group, also knew him and set us up to meet at a political breakfast. 

“I remembered him; he didn’t remember me. He was in a relationship when we first met. 

After breakfast, we planned to have coffee, but in the end, we got together to see a house jazz concert and the rest is history.

“We are happy to be in Seattle with a little cooler weather. I’m still ‘working.’  Became an insurance agent specializing in Medicare. I keep trying to retire, but it’s hard when you can help people understand this very confusing plan. Fortunately, it’s seasonal.”

More small-world stuff – a common bond in Grand Haven Michigan

On Sunday, August 9, I received an email from a Champ named Larry who travels between a summer home in Michigan, a home in Florida, and the home of his daughters and granddaughters in Laguna Niguel, California. He has been a widower for a year after 45 years of marriage.

He became a subscriber to this eNewsletter (a Champ) by searching online for senior dating in Orange County. He found my website and signed up.

In exchanging emails, we discovered that Larry, and my Uncle, George Pardee, were great friends while Larry was the City Manager of Grand Haven, Michigan. That was like 40 years ago. 

Larry was in Laguna Niguel this week so we got together for lunch at Tutor and Spunky’s, my former deli, in Dana Point. Larry will be back in Southern California in October, November, and December.

Tom and Champ Larry near Tutor and Spunky’s Deli in Dana Point

  My friendship with another remarkable Champ – Les Jones, a World War II vet led to a mortgage refinance for me that made sense

Les Jones has been a Champ and a personal friend for more than three years. He’s also a widower. He’s 94 and lives in San Juan Capistrano. A couple of months ago, we were talking about real estate. I told Les I’d like to refinance my mortgage but three lenders I contacted felt I wouldn’t qualify.

Les said, “You should contact my friend Vanessa Schwartz. I’m working with her on financing some real estate and she does incredible work, especially with veterans.

I called Vanessa. She said, “We can make this refinance happen.” My interest rate was 4.25% at that time.

On Wednesday this week, Vanessa, Les, and I got together for lunch in San Juan Capistrano to celebrate my refinance. My loan went to 2.88%. A vast improvement over the first loan I ever had in Orange County in 1987 at 13%.

As a World War II vet, Les is good friends with Gary Sinese—actor, director, musician, and producer–who sponsors the Sinese Foundation, which benefits veterans.

Vanessa said, “I was so inspired and enlightened by Les’s stories and how so many that had served allow us to enjoy the freedoms that we have today. It gave me such a higher level of appreciation and gratitude. It made me want to help and this seemed like the perfect way to help those men and women and their families. 

“I know the Sinise Foundation is near and dear to Les, not to mention that every dollar goes to those in need (none kept for management). I’m doing this, not to pay back, but to give recognition and appreciation. It really feels good to do this and I hope to write a lot more checks.”

Vanessa can be reached at or email 

Because of our Champ Les, and because I am a veteran, and because Les introduced me to Vanessa, she donated $1,000 to the Sinese Foundation. Here’s the three of us after lunch.

 Les Jones, WW II vet, Vanessa Schwartz, and Tom Blake on August 19, 2020

It was a busy and rewarding week. Knowing so many of you incredible Champs is an inspiration to me. Stay safe.

Where are single senior men?

    On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  May 15, 2020
Where are single senior men? The answer is easier now

by Tom Blake Columnist

The most frequently asked question I’ve received in the 26 years of writing about finding love after 50 has come from women. In the first few years of writing, the question was: “Where can I meet single senior men in their 50s?”

Around 2005, the question changed: “Where can I meet single men in their 60s?”

In 2014, when I sold my Dana Point deli and retired, the question had become: “Where can I meet single men in my 70s?”

In February, 2020, a question was: “Where/How to meet Prof Men?” That question did not come from a Champ, it came from a woman named Judy who contacted me via the website.

When Judy asked that question, she volunteered other information: “I’m a financially secure gal who cannot find local men to date. I joined only to have Match notify me that four of the men they sent me were frauds.

“Also, recommended a university professor, age 75, who is still working full time and has cancer. This seems to be my luck!”

“What on earth? Where can I meet a nice man on my same level in life? At my age, I sure don’t want to drive two hours, which is also what I found on I feel I am classy, attractive, enjoy sports, a golfer and have a nice outgoing personality. Please advise.”

About 10 days after receiving Judy’s email, reports of COVID-19 started to surface. Any advice I could offer her became out-of-date, not usable.

How do I give someone dating advice and in the same breath advise them “to quarantine at home?”

Under normal circumstances, I would have suggested to Judy what I’ve said to all women who have asked that question over the years “Get off the couch, out of the house, and involved in activities you enjoy. Adopt a positive attitude. Smile. Put your best self out there. Staying at home doesn’t hack it.”

It was hard to get more specific with Judy because she didn’t reveal what’s she’s doing to meet men, other than flail away on

I suggested she become a Champ, but to my knowledge, that didn’t happen.

Also, I would have added this to Judy’s advice, “Since you are a golfer, pursue that option. Lots of men golf and go to driving ranges. And they often have an adult-beverage after a round of golf in the 19th hole bar and grill at the clubhouse. Make yourself visible, smile, have fun, and above all, keep your eye on the ball. You know, the golf ball.”

For now, until this virus subsides, and hopefully disappears all together, I can’t give advice to her other than to online date. However, she has a bitter taste in her mouth toward online dating because of her experience with And that shows through in her comments.

I would have recommended—had she become a Champ–that she read our eNewsletter from two weeks ago in which Champ Christine Baumgarten, a dating and relationship coach, talked about “Why now is the PERFECT TIME to date.” I’ve posted that eNewsletter with Christine’s comments on my website.

To access that issue, once on the website home page, note that the ribbon across the top of the page shows an eNewsletters category. That’s a drop-down menu. Click on it and again on Tom’s 2020 and 2019 eNewsletters. The most recent eNewsletter posted is the one with Christine’s advice. It’s the first one you will come to.

What I’ve found during these stay-at-home times is that I’m connecting with many old friends, with whom I haven’t talked in a long time. In some cases, years. That eases loneliness and who knows, for our single Champs, a connection with an old friend might lead to something more? It would have to be a remote connection for now.

And while remote, we still can see people via Facetime on our phones or Zoom or with our computer cameras.

So now, in May, 2020, that 26-year-old question, “Where do I meet men?” hasn’t gone away. But it’s easier to answer now, because the choices that I can suggest are so few. And they are almost all virtual.

Maybe the answer to where to meet men is in the picture of the woman on the cover of my ebook below: Getting a magnifying glass and looking under rocks.  By the way, for the next two weeks, I’ve dropped the price of this ebook to $0.99 (99 cents) on Smashwords for our Champs. It’s normally $3.99. To order a book on, a person will need to get a personal account with Smashwords. It’s simple, just provide your email address and password. Write down your password for the next time you go to Smashwords. Here’s the link to order: . When that page opens, you will see six book covers, click on the one hat looks like this.

Hang in there, Champs. When socializing resumes, I look forward to hearing some positive stories of single seniors meeting online during this crisis, and how these senior singles finally got to meet face-to-face.

FOR NEXT WEEK: Let’s do a column on senior dating sites. Share your opinions, and experiences. I am getting questions that ask what are the best sites for our age group. So, help me write that column by emailing me (

Senior Dating Does Age Matter? And, Ghosts on a ghost ship

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  April 17, 2020

Senior Dating Does Age Matter – See Part 2 below

Columnist Tom Blake

Part One

“It’s like we are ghosts on a ghost ship.”
It could have been us.

The words, “It’s like we are ghosts on a ghost ship” caught the attention of Champs Ron, and his wife, Lee, this past Tuesday, in an online article on, about two ships dealing with the COVID-19 virus.

The reason Ron and Lee took an interest in the article was that they, and Greta, and I , were discussing the current situation in the cruise-ship industry, including the ordeal of those same two ships, during Happy Hour last Saturday afternoon.

“Happy Hour?
Last Saturday?
Four People Together?”

How could that be?

In California, where the four of us live, bars and restaurants are closed, except for take out, and people are supposed to be staying home.

Yes, the discussion took place during Happy Hour, where the two couples were telephone face-timing each other from their respective homes.

Three days later, on Tuesday, Ron and Lee read the online Bloomberg news article in which, Claudia Osiani, 64, of Mar del Plata, Argentina, in a phone interview from her cabin on the Holland America cruise ship, ms Rotterdam, was quoted: “It’s like we are ghosts on a ghost ship. We just want to go home.”

During Happy Hour, I had mentioned the sorry plight of the ms Rotterdam and ms Zaandam. In the same breath, I said how fortunate Greta and I were to not be on one of those two ships. Why in particular those two ships?

Well, Greta and I love to travel. More specifically, we love to travel on cruise ships. Our adopted cruise ship company is the Holland America Line (HAL). All the cruises we have taken have been on HAL vessels, except one Viking river cruise and one short Princess ocean cruise.

On HAL, we are what’s called 4-star mariners, which means we’ve logged a lot of sea days (245) on multiple HAL ocean cruises.

When you spend an extended time on a cruise ship, you start to feel the ship is your friend. You trust it. You trust the captain and the crew. When a cruise ends, and you say good-bye to the crew, there’s a tug on your heart because they’ve become your friends, and you realize you probably won’t see them again.

The ship in the HAL fleet that feels most like home to us is the ms Rotterdam. In 2010, we rode her from San Diego to Lima, Peru, and back for 30 days, stopping in several ports along the way.

In 2013, we boarded the Rotterdam again, this time for 32 days, cruising from Amsterdam to the Canary Islands, back to Amsterdam, and then to Russia, Estonia and Sweden.

    ms Rotterdam visiting Lerwick, Sheltland Islands 2019  photo by Tom

Our third trip on the Rotterdam was last August, from Amsterdam to Iceland, Greenland and Scotland for 22 days. One of our Champs, Marilou, and a friend of hers, Pat, were, by coincidence, on that cruise.

                        Champ Marilou, Tom, Pat, and Greta       photo by Tom

Other HAL ships we’ve taken include the ms Zaandam in 2017, for 34 days, from San Diego, around South America to Rio.

 ms Zaandam in Ushuaia, Argentina in 2017 – southernmost city in world   photo by Tom

In 2018, we were on the ms Amsterdam, the Rotterdam’s sister ship, for 82 days, traveling from Los Angeles throughout the Far East and back. We visited 34 ports, three of which were in China, including a visit to the Great Wall of China. We traveled on trains and buses in Shanghai, mingling with hundreds, if not thousands, of Chinese citizens. We stayed healthy on that trip.

As the COVID-19 crisis started to evolve, Greta and I watched closely what was happening with cruise ships. We visualized passengers being quarantined to 392-square feet staterooms, some with no windows. Ships in all parts of the world were being affected.

We were saddened to hear that the Zaandam was not allowed to stop in a port in Chile because a virus had infected passengers. Four died. Some of the sick, not all, had COVID-19.

The Zaandam made its way to the Panama Canal but wasn’t allowed to transit through to get back to Florida—too many sick passengers on board.

And then, our old pal, the Rotterdam was sent to assist the Zaandam off the Panamanian coast. Oh my gosh, there they were—two Holland America ships that had been home to us for a combined total of 118 days—caught in the heart of the virus outbreak.

When we saw pictures on the news of those two ships stranded together, we looked at each other, saying, “It could have been us.”

Thankfully, the Zaandam and Rotterdam were finally allowed to traverse the Panama Canal, and, received permission to dock in Port Everglades, Florida.

Greta and I have always been impressed with how careful HAL has been with sanitation. Hand sanitizers placed throughout the ship. Constant reminders to wash hands. Staying in your stateroom if sick. Spraying passengers’ hands when leaving and returning to the gangplank. They are perfectionists for health; we always appreciated the crew going that extra mile.

Travel agents have been crushed by COVID-19. Airline travel down 96 percent. Hotels 80 percent empty. Cruising on hold. When things get back to normal, give them a call. They will be anxious to return to work, as the rest of the world will be.

Greta and I will be traveling again someday, and we’ll be cruising. We hope all of you will give your travel agents the green light to book you on a trip—maybe even a cruise. Trust me, the cruise ship companies will ensure those sea-going beauties will be sanitized from bow to stern and back again.

Here is the article link about the ms Rotterdam and ms Zaandam ordeal to which Ron and Lee alerted us:

Part 2 –  Tom has created a  new ebook

With so much spare time over the last few weeks, I got busy creating a new ebook, titled, “Senior Dating: Does Age Matter?”  That book is now on the website, the largest ebook bookstore in the world. It’s all about age and the age difference in senior dating. One chapter features women and what they have to say about age in dating.

Some Champs are quoted in the book.

Another chapter is titled “Cougars.” And another features what men say. Yes, it’s a hot-potato book with controversy. The cost is $2.99. But, I’ve created a 50-percent-off coupon for Champs which will be available for a week. The coupon code is: SC87U

To download the book, click on this link:. . You will see the new ebook cover on the top row. Click on it and click on purchase. Enter in the coupon code box this code SC87U. Your net cost will be $1.50.

The couple on the left: Champs Chris and Tina and Tom and Greta on the right

After you read it, I would appreciate your comments.

Six Incredible Women

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  April 10, 2020
Six Incredible Women

by Tom P Blake

Part 1 – Off the top of my head

What the heck do bloggers write about during a pandemic, besides strictly pandemic news? After 26 years and 4,000 articles, columns and eNewsletters, I never thought I’d be tongue-tied.

But, I am, sort of. Do you really need to be reminded to appreciate your mate and your friends? Do you need to be reminded to beware of romance scams? (Well, one more COVID-19 related scam. See Part 2 below). Do you need to hear my suggestions about senior first date behavior?

No, because while we are all mainly staying home, I doubt if any face-to-face first dates are taking place across our Champ nation.

Persevere Champs. This pandemic will make us wiser and tougher. You men and women are an incredible group. I have vast admiration and respect for you.

There are people out there who need you, your guidance, support and friendship. They are friends, family and strangers.

We must persevere.

Part 2 – More on bank and credit card scams during these difficult times

Champ Loretta, who works for a bank, added to last week’s eNewsletter scam-warning by Citi Bank of fake bank and credit card email scams:

Loretta wrote: “Please note that one should always check the site name in your browser. That is the line that should start https:/

“If the site is not https:/ don’t click. It’s that simple. Many scams are not secure sites. Start there. Then check spelling.

“Go to your bank website and send them an email to their secure site. Whatever you do, don’t provide personal details from an unsolicited text or “Official” seeming email.

“I work for a bank; Internally, as a test, the cyber security department will send us fake emails seeking for people to click. This testing is done to reduce potential phishing and enabling scammers access to bank systems. If we click inappropriately, then we must take a refresher test. Takes 45 minutes to an hour. We have learned: Don’t click if you are rushing. Don’t click or respond if you haven’t reached out to your bank in another manner like their web site with https:/”

Part 3 – “In loving arms”

This is a newspaper column I wrote about an experience I encountered three weeks ago in Dana Point, California, my home city. I felt it would be a nice diversion from the 24/7 bombardment of bad news we’ve all been receiving surrounding the virus. It’s called:

                                           Six amazing women

Saturday, March 21, 2020, was a beautiful day in Dana Point. After being quarantined inside their homes for most of the week, people had a nice opportunity to get some sunshine, exercise and fresh air, while maintaining a six-foot distance from others. At that time, it was permissible to be outside, while avoiding close contact with people.

That morning, my Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) buddy, Russell Kerr, and I decided to paddle from Baby Beach in Dana Point Harbor to Doheny Beach in the Pacific Ocean, and back, about a mile and a half in each direction. Not bad for an 80-year-old dude, and a 72-year-old Kiwi (New Zealander).

Stand Up Paddle Boarding Tom and Russell Kerr in Dana Point Harbor 

Near the harbor mouth, we saw what we thought was a two-foot log bobbing in the water.

(As many paddle boarders and kayakers do, we pick up trash and debris that floats in our waters. Normally, one of us would slide the log on to our paddle board, and, bring it ashore. A log like that, if struck by a boat, could damage the propeller or punch a hole in the boat. We often arrive back to the beach with lots of retrieved plastic garbage on our boards, which we discard in the trash bins.)

Upon closer inspection of the object, we saw that it wasn’t a log—it was a baby sea lion. And it was struggling to get breaths and stay afloat.

We hoped it could make it to a rock on the nearby jetty, 20 yards away. Plus, we saw three adult sea lions about 50 yards away, thinking one might be its mother.

Both of us being age 72-plus, we thought it not a good idea to try to rescue it by hand. Sea lions have razor-sharp teeth, and a bite could have compromised our immune systems during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We looked for help; there were no boats around. We felt there was nothing we could do. Leaving that pup behind broke my heart, and Russell was troubled as well.

Back at Baby Beach, after paddling, we saw a Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) rescue truck pull up.

Two PMMC women, Krysta and Wendy, scurried to the shoreline carrying a blanket.

The sea lion was laying on the paddle board of Candice Appleby, San Clemente, a nearby city. Quickly, Krysta and Wendy put the pup in a blanket and whisked the pup away to the PMMC truck to take it to the rescue center in Laguna Beach, five miles up Pacific Coast Highway

Candice Appleby with baby sea lion on her paddle board

 Photo courtesy of Val Ells

From a distance, I introduced myself to the woman who rescued the sea lion, and told her I was a columnist for three newspapers and asked what had happened out there on the water.

She said her name was Candice Appleby, a resident of San Clemente. She explained that she is a SUP coach and had been out in the ocean instructing a client. She said, “When we came back inside the harbor mouth, I saw three women kneeling on their paddle boards.

“One was my friend Val Ells, Dana Point, (who happens to volunteer at PMMC), and another was Lisa Hazelton, San Clemente. I don’t know who the third woman was.

“Val yelled to me that there was a sick seal pup there and they were trying to get it on a board.

“I paddled over and was able to get it on the back of my board. Val had her cell phone with her, so she called ahead to the PMMC, and was told a rescue truck was being dispatched to Baby Beach.

“When I got back to Baby Beach, the rescue workers were distressed that it was such ‘a baby.’ They rushed off with her.”

I was impressed with the humanitarian act of those six women—four on the water plus the two from the PMMC.

Another woman, standing a few feet away, commented, “Candice is a world-champion paddle boarder.”

“Is that true?” I asked Candice. She humbly admitted she had won The Dana Point Battle of the Paddle/Pacific Paddle Games nine times (a very big accomplishment among paddle boarders, the world over). I asked for her website address:

I was amazed to discover, when checking out her website, that Candice is probably the greatest woman paddle boarder in the world.

In the midst of the COVID-19 dark news, where hundreds of thousands of people across the country and around the world are risking their lives to try to save the sick, these six women were a bright light with their heart-warming act of kindness, in trying to save this precious little sea lion.

And, as we are learning during COVID-19, lots of people can’t be saved. Candice forwarded to me this news from Wendy and Kathy at the PMMC later that afternoon:

“Sad News: I am very sorry to report but sadly she passed. Our team worked on her for three hours straight. She was very emaciated and hypothermic. Her lungs sounded terrible.

But we wanted to let you know she died in warm loving arms.

I admit, my eyes watered. Sad news indeed, but on the positive side, six incredible Orange County women had tried to save this little sea lion.

The PMMC is a charity. They exist on donations. I sent one; they appreciated it.

We’ll get through COVID-19—because of people like these six women and all the workers, women and men, who are involved in the virus battle: Dedicated, willing to give of themselves and risking their own health to save others.

However, there won’t be paddle boarding for a while—the beaches and beach parking lots in Southern California are closed.

As I was finishing today’s eNewsletter, I glanced at my desk-top calendar, which has a photo of animals next to each month, to check today’s date, and noticed, under the month of April, that featured two baby rabbits, a quote by Anatole France:

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”  Wow, so true.

Part 4 –  Free Ebook coupon

Almost 30 of you downloaded the free copy of my ebook, “Italy 23 Days by Train,” on The offer is valid for another week. It’s simple to do, well, a couple of you had some difficultly, but overall, it went pretty smoothly. Go to the Smashwords website, search on Tom Blake, you will see my books, click on the “Italy 23 Days by Train” cover. Where it says, Purchase, click on that but enter the coupon code: LP83M. You will not be charged and can download it or read it online.  Enjoy

See you next week.

Senior scam alert. And free ebook. And beloved ship sinks

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 3 2020

Senior scam alert. And free ebook. And beloved ship sinks

by Columnist Tom Blake

You’d think with the extra time we have on our hands during this stay-at-home restriction we are all under, that writing an eNewsletter would be easy. But, it’s not.

Dating and seeking a potential mate isn’t a top priority for older singles at the moment. Evidence of that? Normally, I receive several comments and questions from Champs about dating and relationships, but those have slowed to a trickle.

I did receive many positive comments responding to last week’s “Beware of scams” article. I appreciate that

Two new scams came to my attention this week. The first was chilling, downright scary.

Scam one – I read about this on a KVVU-TV, Las Vegas, online press release, written by Ashley Cooper. A Las Vegas couple in their mid-20s posted an ad on a dating site. Details weren’t available regarding what site or what the ad said. It might have been an ad for a Menage a trois (a threesome).

A Las Vegas man (age not disclosed) took the bait. He went to the couple’s house where they robbed and killed him.

According to Ms. Cooper’s article, a friend of the woman tipped off police. The couple was seen leaving her home and arrested. These admittedly are skimpy details, but still, how careless, not to mention getting close to strangers during this COVID-19 crisis.

We all know to never meet a stranger face-to-face without doing a background check, and, be sure your friends know where you are meeting and with whom. But, to go to someone’s home, having never met the person, is asking for trouble, which is what the victim got.

Scam two: Even Citi Bank is posting scam alerts on their website for Visa cards. Here is a message on their website:

“We recently discovered a new text message scam and wanted to make sure you’re armed with everything you need to know to avoid falling victim to it. This scam involves sending text messages alerting you that your account has been blocked, along with a link to log into your Citi account. This link takes you to a fraudulent website, and when you log in, your Citi online user ID and password will be compromised.

“Awareness and education are your best defenses against scams

“Text communications from Citi typically do not show a complete phone number as the sender of the text. Shorter codes of 5 or 6 digits are usually used by Citi and could be displayed with or without dashes (for instance, 410-98 or 248487) If you see a full phone number as the sender of the text, this may be a scam. Please confirm the message is legitimate before taking any action.

“In addition, when we send a text with a link to log in to your account directly from the text, the link will always include or Be aware of other variations, like additional punctuation or abbreviations.”

Part 2, So, what have I been doing?

I can’t go Stand Up Paddle Boarding. Baby Beach and the adjacent parking lot and other beaches in Southern California are closed. Previously, when I’ve paddled, one of the sites I enjoy seeing is Dana Point’s tall ship “Pilgrim.” It’s been docked at Baby Beach for years, sort of the symbol of Dana Point. Can’t even do that anymore. Here’s why:


Photo courtesy of Ron Cohan

Hopefully, she will be salvaged and float again.

One project I’m working on is updating my ebooks on the website. Smashwords is the world’s largest ebook-bookstore. Anybody can post their books there and market them at almost no cost. I have eight ebooks available on Smashwords. Two of those eight needed editing so that’s what I’ve been working on.

One is “Widower dating. Gold Mine or Mine Field?” It’s one of my most popular ebooks as widows, widowers and women dating widowers have downloaded it. I spent a few hours reworking that book and lowered the price is $2.99.

The other book that needed updating was: “Italy 23 Days by Train.” This book features a trip to Italy that Greta and I took in 2008. It has 98 photos (that’s pretty staggering by itself). It was fun reliving that trip, which included Northern Italy (Milan, Genoa and Cinque Terre), Southern Italy (Rome, Capri, Sorrento, Amalfi, Naples) and Tuscany. (Florence, Siena, Assisi).

While working on that book, this thought crossed my mind: how different Italy is today under the CORONA-19 crisis: empty streets, restaurants and tourist sites closed, people sick, dying and people quarantined. What a tragedy.

Then I thought, “Why not–during this time when we are self-quarantined at home–invite our Champs to view what Italy was like at its finest in 2008? Why not let them download the ebook, Italy 23 days by Train for no cost for a couple of weeks? So, that’s what I am doing. Here’s what you do.

-Go to and search on Tom Blake. That will take you to my ebook page. Click on “Italy 23 Days by Train.”


Italy 23 days by train cover

Click on the purchase button and then insert this free coupon number: LP83M

You can download that fun book with its 98 pictures and enjoy it. For Kindle readers, download it in the Mobi format. Others might have to download in epub format. You can also send it to your email address, and open it from there.

The free coupon will be valid from today, April 3, until April 17.

If you have trouble downloading it, on the Smashwords page, you can click on “Online Reader” and read online without downloading it.

If you have questions or issues with the download, email me at

If any of you are thinking of publishing a book, is an incredible website for publishing ebooks. Take a look on how detailed and informative their style guide is. Ebooks outsell printed books now, in this day of electronic communications.

And then, when the world gets rid of this deadly virus, perhaps you’ll want to go visit the incredible Italy that Greta and I were blessed to see and experience.

Part 2 Why Greta and I are thankful

During this virus, it’s hard to find a silver lining. Let me tell you one of the reasons we are thankful.

We had planned to take a 10-day Amtrak train trip to Seattle and back to visit Greta’s niece and my cousin, who both live in the Seattle area. Tickets were paid for, hotel reservations made. We were leaving March 7. About a week before, the virus was cropping up in Seattle. We had the common sense to cancel our trip—or at least postpone it—until the virus goes away. We are so thankful that we didn’t go.

Stay well, be positive, help people in need, but keep your distance. Remember, there are lots of lonely seniors out there. Give them a call or send them a text or email.

And speaking of reaching out to old friends, on Tuesday, I telephoned astronaut Joe Allen, a former fraternity brother of mine I’ve known for 63 years, who is living in Indiana.

Joe’s a former astronaut, who went into space twice, in 1982 and 1984. In an EVA (extravehicular activity), also known as a spacewalk, conducted outside of the spacecraft, Joe retrieved a satellite. And held it, as the spacecraft traversed the earth. Pretty courageous stuff.

We talked for over an hour. It gave us both a big lift.

Joe Allen and crew 51-A

Picture of Joe Allen (upper right) and crew members – Space Shuttle 51-A

Photo courtesy of NASA

So that’s it for this week. The world will get through this enormous challenge.