Yakima grandmother pulls no punches in her blog
Her house looks like your grandma's house, or anyone else's — miniature figurines, comfortable chairs, grandkid photos and cross-stitch angels hanging on the wall. But, then, wait a minute, what's that shiny new Toshiba laptop doing there?
"My kids bought it for me for my birthday," says Lorrene Lemaster of Yakima, Wash., an 80-year-old blogging grandma.
She's been using the Internet since the early 1990s, when she retired from the Yakima Credit Bureau and found herself bored. And for the past year and a half, she's offered a witty, world-weary and gently acerbic take on everything from her six grandchildren to just how hard it can be to find good potato salad.
See, for example, this excerpt from a recent post about being called for jury duty: "How can you stay awake and pretend you are alert when it's just boring. You can't let yourself nod off because the judge is eyeballing you every minute. I have heard that if you nod off, they shoot you with the Taser gun."
The Internet, of course, is swimming with accounts of people's personal foibles. That is nothing new in the Age of the Blog — short for Web log — when you can sit in Yakima and read would-be writers from around the world describe their daily routines.
The thing is, very few of them are well-written and even fewer are written by octogenarians. So Lemaster kind of has a niche there.
"I get a lot of strange kind of looks when I tell people my grandma has a blog," said Cora Huffman of Moxee, Lemaster's 31-year-old granddaughter.
Internet use by seniors is on the rise, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, which released surveys on the subject in 2000 and 2004. The percentage of Americans 65 or older who go online jumped from 15 percent in 2000 to 22 percent in 2004 and appeared to be on an upward trajectory, the studies found.
"There are a lot of people who are 80 and over who are using computers and the Internet," said Phil Carnahan, a consultant with SeniorNet, a national group that offers computer training to seniors.
Carnahan, a 75-year-old retiree who lives in Sparks, Nev., said most people his age don't blog; but they are online and they use e-mail heavily.
"The biggest reason you have for people who come in (to a SeniorNet center) is they want to be able to correspond with their family," he said. "They want to e-mail their grandchildren."
Still, there is a relatively small proportion of seniors online compared with other age groups. There are older bloggers than Lemaster out there, but among her contemporaries it's still unusual.
"I don't think I've even told any of my friends," she said of her blog, which is frequented by family members and the occasional stranger who stumbles upon it. "They're not into computers. They wouldn't know what I was talking about."
Nor would most of her fellow bloggers understand much about the rest of her life. Her hobbies outside of blogging are stereotypical grandma stuff — knitting baby blankets, crossword puzzles, reading.
"Other than the computer, she's not really too much into technology," Huffman said.
But she sure has enjoyed watching it develop beyond her wildest expectations.
"When they invented the television, I thought that was it," she said with a laugh. "I expect they'll have robots doing all your house work for you one of these days. I can't wait."