Sunday, December 19, 2010

Retired NOT Expired

It took longer for me to perfect my book than it did for me to complete college and my master’s degree. Being a perfectionist causes two major problems. One, it made me chicken to be published—“What if” nightmares woke me many a night. The fear of not writing the perfect book, having one comma out of place, had me standing at the pantry in the middle of the night looking for something to crunch hard with my teeth. (If I write another book, someone please buy me a teething ring.)

This week, after years of deleting and rewriting, spending the same amount of money on reams of paper and gallons of ink that a cruise would cost, my “baby” arrived in the mail. I had barely opened the carton when eager readers were at my door wanting to be my first sales. Today, an email arrived from one of these readers, Jill D., that said. “Eda, warn your readers they’ll need a diaper while they read this book and not because of age but because of constant laughter.”

Hopefully, more comments like this one will bring an end to emotional eating and my pants will soon zip again without me having to lay on my bed to zip them.

Retired NOT Expired is available on line at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

In my satirical book, Retired, Not Expired, I share my experiences as I paddle upstream into a new “anything but dull” life as a retiree. Readers will enjoy learning how I handle the daily challenges that await the aging baby-boomers—entering the Dorian Gray Generation, the leading cause of heartburn—splitting very uneven restaurant tabs, planning the party they’ll never attend—their own funeral, and deciding if or when they should move to a retirement wonderland. And the readers DO NOT have to be on social security to enjoy the book. Not one of the below endorsements was written by anyone over (or near) the big 50.

“Retirement can be scary, unless you’re Eda Suzanne, a wise and witty woman with a can-do approach to life. Her book will warm your heart and make your belly ache from laughter.”
M.M. Anderson  Author of Werewolf Dreams

“Eda Suzanne’s stories will keep you laughing whether you're 30, 40, or 70. It’s a great read and should be on every bookshelf, coffee table, and waiting room in the country!”
Elizabeth Bonet, PhD  Marriage and Family Therapist

“Eda Suzanne’s writing shows a rare blend of humor, insight, and compassion. Sure her stories make you laugh, but they also portray a meaningful new approach to retirement.”
Sherry North Author of Because You Are My Baby

The book is in stock and ready to be shipped at Amazon. Let me know if you laughed because that was my goal.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Senior Phone

I only use my cell phone for making and receiving calls when I’m away from home or if my husband is using our house phone. That’s it. I’ve learned how to text but don’t. I prefer to read my emails while sitting at my desk. Discount store coupons are downloaded from my computer before I leave home. Talking on the cell while driving is not my thing—I’m a blue tooth failure. If I happen to receive a call while behind the wheel, I disconnect as soon as I need to change lanes. I never knew my cell phone could take pictures until my granddaughter asked me to borrow the phone so she could take a picture of something to show her mother. It’s the only time that feature was ever used. On the extremely rare occasion I find myself away from home and need SOS information from Google, I call someone, usually Florida son, who has immediate computer access.

Recently, a friend showed all the features of her new Smart Phone to a group of my friends. It has every gizmo on it from a way to store bar codes for shops she frequents to the ability to Skype. I’ve had a Skype for over a year on my home computer and have yet to learn to use it, nor have I received one call on it.

All I could think of while my friend proudly demonstrated her proficiency in maneuvering from one feature to the next and “everyone” was expressing a desire to get one like hers was security issues. What if it is lost of stolen? Does each site she uses have a secret access code protecting her confidential information, or will this private information literally be an open book allowing thieves to do her harm? (Those who follow The Good Wife know that stored texts are foreshadowing a future story line.) Will the information available on these phones become more lucrative to thieves than stolen diamonds?

While my friend continued to show all the phenomenal potential her phone has and I don’t want, my mind wandered back about 25 years to when Hubby and I went to buy my then 82-year-old mother her first micro. The salesperson advised us to buy a “Senior Micro.” He explained that old people have trouble with too many choices when they use the micro. Would this same salesman today call my simple phone a Senior Phone?

Well, if he would put my generation down, my peer was proving him wrong. Seniors don’t need simple “Senior Phones.” The only reason I don’t want one like my friend’s is I have no need for it. It has nothing to do with the fact that the first time I used my fairly new SIMPLE phone someone literally had to yell at me to press “send” when it was ringing, and I couldn’t figure out how to answer it. (My old phone had a “talk” button. )And it has nothing to do with the fact that I still can’t enter phone numbers in my phone. If I really wanted a very complicated phone, I’m sure I could master all that is involved. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Real Deal

“Look,” I called to my husband across the store in Paris. “Your favorite French aftershave is only 30 francs.”

He responded that after converting francs to dollars, the same product was $5 less in Macy’s.

We’ve made several trips out of the United States since the above incident, and Hubby’s job is to make sure I am aware of the real price before I buy something. I am not a good shopper, and I’m fully aware of it. I tend to buy by need, ignoring the cost. (On the bright side, I tend to shop for need not for something to do.) Once the cashier in the supermarket embarrassed me into not purchasing the fresh red peppers I wanted because the out-of-season price was “so ridiculously high, even the Rockefellers wouldn’t buy them.”

Our guide during our most recent trip warned us to be wary of the street venders since their merchandise was genuine copies. I warned my fellow travelers that the same scarves prominently displayed by all the hawkers were cheaper in various American discount stores. With the exception of three stops on our recent trip that sell high end merchandise—and you can put your own spin as to why we had to see how cameos are made or learn how to select real leather merchandise—little time was had to buy trinkets for our family, friends and ourselves. So, when the opportunity did arise to buy meaning remembrances that were under fifty dollars, (way under), I had to shop fast. With Hubby by my side making sure I understood the actual cost of each woolen scarf I examined, the local art work I liked, or wooden carvings in the original Pinocchio store I liked, my purchases were made. Other than Halloween, I never buy bars of chocolate, especially for souvenirs. What processed me to do so in Switzerland, I can’t answer. If Hubby hadn’t taken that moment to search out a “smilee,” (see last week’s blog) I probably would have placed the “great deal” back on the pile. It wasn’t until I was home that I realized the price on top of the box was in Euros, and I spent more on chocolate for my friends and family than I do on food some weeks in the supermarket.

After unpacking, my stash of souvenirs was piled onto my dining room table. Fortunately, since Chanukah was this week, many of the “why did I buy all of this?” items could be used as gifts. Hopefully my grandchildren can figure out what to do with the mini-clothes pin that is glued to a wooden character from the story of Pinocchio. I can’t. When I bought them, I thought they were refrigerator magnets and didn’t realize my error until I started to wrap them. After I was done wrapping and giving the gifts to various people, I was left with one extra Pinocchio dangling from a cord, one key chain, one of the clothespin gizmos, and two bars of chocolate. I thought that since everything I purchased was made in Italy, my presents would be unique and certainly cheaper than what I would pay here.

I was wrong. First my son teased me for buying him chocolate filled with American whisky. Then, when I was in one of the chain discount stores the other day, there was the same chocolate I lugged home from Italy—identical brand, bar, and ingredients. The only thing different was the price. It was less here, much, much less.

I won’t tell Hubby. I don’t want to ruin his good mood. The electric bill arrived today. It’s our first bill under three figures since we moved out of our one bedroom apartment back in the sixties! What a great deal. If we leave home for three weeks, we can actually save money—as long as we wait until we get home to buy the chocolate.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Great Company, Great Smilees, Great Vacation

We’re back from a fabulous two-week bus tour of Italy. Kudos to our fantastic guide, Alfredo. Hubby and I saw and did things we no long thought physically possible, (keep your thoughts pure), and we ate every morsel put in front of us. My pants still zip—which proves daily walking the length of 10 football fields or more will keep weight off. A requirement for this trip was to have the ability to walk a football field without difficulty, but by the end of the first day, I realized the tour salesperson meant one field an hour, not a day.

My laundry is done and put away. Our pictures are developed—all 372 of them. Now the challenges are to mach the rocks in each photo to the correct ruin and tourist attraction, and what I should do with some of the stuff I brought home. (Next week’s blog will be about this.)

Every vacation we’ve gone on has had something that’s made it unique from all the others. This trip had two, and nothing to do with the amazing tourist attractions. One was the fantastic group of folks with whom we traveled. Within one day, our tour guide molded a group of strangers into a caring family, and he was the role model for all of us to follow. Not a dysfunctional “relative” was on our tour—and Hubby and I have been on some tours with passengers that made us yearn for the days of “walking the plank.” Our group picture is on my refrigerator along with my grandkids’ photos. Everyone knows that spot is reserved for “in” people— those you really care about and who care about you. It’s hard to believe 33 strangers rapidly morphed into a caring family and there was not one “nose out of joint” the entire trip. If everyone’s large, extended family holiday dinners go as smoothly as our peer relations did on this trip, our holidays will be beautiful.

The other unique memory for Hubby and me was Alberto’s name for the toilet. He didn’t refer to it by any of its common names such as “water closet” or “bathroom.” “When people, especially those who had great need, come out of the bathrooms, they smile,” he explained. “So I call them smilees.”

The new name caught on, and not just with our group. Evidently, the places he frequents with his tour groups use the name because when we walked into one establishment, the woman behind the counter took one look at my face and before I said a word, said, “The smilees are upstairs.”

There’s been a big change in European public smilees since our last trip to the continent. Our bus didn’t stop once at a glorified out house or unisex, minimum privacy, bathroom. The EU highway facilities in Italy accommodate the urgent biological bathroom needs and habits of pampered folks like me—plenty of free toilets and plenty of soft paper. Obviously, since almost everyone we told before we left that we were traveling abroad cautioned, “Bring your own toilet paper and make sure you have coins to pay to use the facilities,” I wasn’t the only one who has had a problem with European public toilet customs.

Only once was a relic from yesteryear sitting waiting for a tip, and I think the “donation” was given more out of pity for a person whose job no longer exists than out of a requirement to enter the smilee.

If anyone is planning a trip to Italy, remove toilet tissue from your packing list and forget getting the proper coins as soon as your plane lands. Finding smilees in tourist areas in Italy, be it highways, restaurants, or stores, is no longer a challenge. Take the roll of super soft American toilet tissue from your suitcase. However, make sure you pack the plug adapter for the camera battery charger. The concept of free smilees with plenty of soft paper maybe catching on in many European countries, but different electrical currents are still the cause of frownees for Americans who forget that plugs made for AC outlets don’t fit into those made for DC outlets. (You have one guess as to what I didn't put in the suitcase.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Head to Toe and Away I Go

I think I am falling apart. Last week I was diagnosed with the Shingles for the third time. That’s right. Three times. Perhaps it will be like baseball and the Shingles virus will have been struck out—way out of my body. As usual, my symptoms were atypical, so atypical it took visits to two dentists (who thankfully refused to pull out all my upper teeth to relieve the pain), and two doctors until the verdict was pronounced. The medicine is working—a sure sign the fourth professional made the correct diagnose, which was hard because the rash was not in plain sight. It was hiding in my mouth, out of plain sight even to me.

With the pain in my head decreasing daily, today I went back to the foot doctor to find out why my toes still felt numb.

“Your shoe is too confining,” the doctor told me. “That’s why the toes aren’t healing.”

“But you told me I had to keep my sneakers on all day in order for my heal to heal,” I responded in a most confused voice.

I have a heal spur on one foot and some sort of cyst between the toes of the other foot that needs plenty of space—no squishing of toes like sneakers do—to go away.

Could someone—anyone—please tell me how I’m to go on my upcoming, long-awaited vacation by wearing a sneaker on one foot and sandal on the other? Am I to tell the gawkers that it’s a new style created in South Florida?

On the up side, even though my shoe-style is laughable, my illnesses are curable.

I’ll be away from my computer for a week or two for all good things. I’ll keep you posted as soon as I can. Be well, and remember, my book Retired, Not Expired will be read sooner than I think!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Punctuation Ogre and the Letter Lapper

Remember Thermostat Jeannie, the one who moves my home thermostat up to Hubby’s comfort level? Well, her two best friends, Punctuation Ogre and Letter Lapper, live inside the grammar and spell check feature in my Word program.

When I write anything, be it a blog or article, as soon as I hit “Save,” the two of them get to work. Punctuation Ogre moves commas, or even worse, inserts them in places they don’t belong. I know the proper use of commas—I taught that skill for 35 years. Then she turns quotation marks, especially the end quotes, in the wrong direction. Her other tricks are switching commas and periods, sprinkling quotation marks around words, and misuse of the parenthesis.

Letter Lapper devours letters from words, leaving them grossly misspelled. Sometimes she only nibbles part of a letter, thus changing an “e” to a “c” or an “m” to and “n.” The other day, I typed the word FUNdraiser on a flyer, a word one of the charity organizations in my Seniorville uses. The next day, I received an email saying I omitted the “d.” I know the letter was there when I hit “Save,” but alas, it wasn’t when my friend received the flyer to proof read.

Errors in print mortify me. One reader asked if I ever heard of the grammar and spell check feature. He didn’t believe me when I told him about Punctuation Ogre and Letter Lapper.

I recently received the layout of the manuscript for my book via email. I opened it up to see and voila—each page contained proof Punctuation Ogre and Letter Lapper performed their destruction once again. Since I know the errors were not there when I hit “Send,” the damage had to be done in cyberspace while the book made its way to the publisher. With tears in my eyes, I realized I could no longer fight this war by myself. I sent out a call for the Punctuation and Spelling Warriors.

The Four Star General of Punctuation and Sensible Sounds responded—perhaps because his wife loves my blog and knows how the Ogre and Lapper have frustrated me since I’ve started to write. He carefully fixed the wounds in my manuscript, making him eligible for the Proof Reader’s Medal of Honor. Now if only he would develop a foolproof grammar and spell check program to be installed in all computers, he could be richer than Mark Zuckerberg, My number one fan deserves such a reward!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hometown? Hmmm

“Where are you from?” a new friend asked my visiting cousin.

“How far back do you want me to go?” was my cousin’s response. He was born in one city, went to college in another, and lived in two other cities where he did graduate work before settling in the Midwest 40-odd years ago. So where is he from? His multiple moves are par for many, including me. I have two states and several areas within those states that I refer to as, "hometown," depending on the questioner.

After my brother’s and my families moved to the same area on Long Island in the 60’s, a mutual new friend said to me, “I thought you and George were brother and sister?”

Since we are, his question made no sense, and I said so. He replied that my brother said he was from Brooklyn, whereas I claimed Queens as my home. We moved out of Brooklyn when Big Bro was ready for college, but I still had Junior High and High School to attend. Hence, I consider Brooklyn as my place of birth, but Queens, where I spent my teens and college years as the place where I'm from.

I’ve been in South Florida for over half my life. My sons grew up here. Florida is one of the states like California where many people my age were born somewhere else. Occasionally I meet folks who were actually born here—occasionally. Yes, they are true natives. But what should I answer when asked where I’m from? The place I lived for 30 years before I moved South, or South Florida, the place I lived for over half my life? A comic who entertained in my development a few weeks ago settled the issue for me.

“You’re a native Floridian,” the comic told his audience of retirees,” if you were here before I-95.

Those in the audience like Hubby and me who qualified as Floridians according to his definition howled. The others had a blank look on their faces. They were clueless that all the interstates weren’t in South Florida until around the turn of the century—just a bit more than ten years ago, right around the time many in the audience relocated south.

When we moved here in ’73, from Long Island I was amazed that Florida was not crisscrossed with highways and parkways as the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut was. The last “rail” of I-95 that connected the northern part of the country to South Florida was completed about ten years after we arrived. I-75, wasn’t complete until around 15 years ago. Florida’s turnpike extensions to bring it to the tip of our peninsula shaped state also weren’t complete until long after our arrival.

I have friends that won’t drive on an expressway—and some hail from Manhattan and never owned a car until they retired! To me, driving for 45 minutes on a highway is as easy as walking across a room. Learning to enter and exit highways was part of my driver’s ed. Did all the years of accepting bumper to bumper traffic for hours until I reached my destination—usually work or visiting “nearby” relatives, zooming onto an expressway at 50 mph to merge with traffic prepare me to view an hours drive as “nothing?” Yes. And I definitely didn’t pick up those skills in Florida. There were no highways here when we arrived. I brought them with me, along with the attitude that a 30-minute trip doesn’t require an overnight stay.

So, when asked where I’m from, I may answer South Florida, but my driving ability and outlook as to what constitutes a “long drive” definitely demand I give the city of my early years proper recognition.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wait, I Have a Great Excuse

I sat in an extremely noisy restaurant with three of my friends waiting for one more to arrive. I love the latecomer dearly, but after being friends for over 25 years, I know the only way to get her somewhere on time is to lie to her about the meeting time. I accept her flaw because other than her dysfunctional internal time clock, she’s a terrific person. When we formed this Mah Jongg group years ago, we should have told her we would meet at 11:30 for lunch before heading to one of our homes to play Mah Jongg. If we fibbed, maybe—just maybe—she would arrive at the real time, 11:45 most of the time. As soon as one of the gals told Ms. Perpetually Late the real gathering time, I knew she’d rarely, if ever, show before noon.

After several years of playing with her, we’re used to her tardiness and listening to all the upheavals that justifiably delay her—excuses that make us forget she is late. She, in turn, has learned if she’s late and wants to eat, she has two choices. If she’ll only be around 15-minutes late, she can call one of us on our cell and tell us what to order for her. More than that, she needs to order take-out and eat on the run. None of the players in our game wants to spend a half-hour waiting for her to order and finish eating if we’re about to pay the check when she arrives.

She’s far from the only person who is always late. My manicurist tells a story about a client of hers who was always a half hour late, and like my friend, always rushes in with legitimate excuses. She said the client thinks she has a 2 o’clock appointment, but it’s really 2:30. She told me that the one time the client was “on time,” she was livid she had to wait!

Back to my story—this week, by the time the waiter came to take the order, my friend still hadn’t called, which I must admit is unusual for her. Our meals were being served when she rushed through the front door laden down by her up-to-date, over-sized, and over-stuffed bag.

“None of your phones are answering,” she exclaimed. “I’ve be calling all of you for an hour.”

One by one, we reached into our bags. One phone said no service, the others said “Missed Call, listen to the message.”

“See,” she said. “I did try to call.”

Since it was obvious the noise in the restaurant muffled our phones, I placed my phone in my pocket so I could hear it. I didn’t bother to dial my voice mail. Instead, I listened to a first hand account of all the calamities that occurred that morning causing my friend to be 45-minutes late.

When the afternoon was over, I called my husband to tell him I was on the way home.

“It’s about time you returned my call,” he almost growled.

Whoops. I guessed I had more than one message in my voice mail.

Now what creative excuse could I come up with for not checking my voice mail? I couldn’t. Instead, I told him if it was that important, he should have called back. Nothing works better, than turning the tables if you can’t come up with a valid excuse.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Synchronization Needed

“That didn’t happen last year,” Hubby said to me while we were walking this morning. “It was only four months ago.”

I sighed. The concept of exactly when the year begins and ends has always given me a problem. I may have stopped teaching in 2001, but my mind still considers the first day of school as the beginning of the year and the last day of school signifies the end of the year. July and August are in the twilight zone.

To reinforce my confusion as to when the new year begins, the Jewish New Year is in September. So, after spending two-thirds of my life thinking of the new year as September because of my career and religion, the concept that “last year,” ends before summer is engraved incorrectly in my brain. To me, January 1st signifies the end of the Christmas/Chanukah holiday festivities and the beginning of crash dieting.

I did a report on the Gregorian calendar, the official calendar for the Western World, while in college. I remember coming across information that the New Year wasn’t always January first. Through most of the last millennium, many parts of the world did begin the year in September and other parts began it in March.

Perhaps in my previous lives I was a member of the culture whose year began in September, thus I was born with a genetic tendency to resist the January first date. Or perhaps its time for the people in charge of calendars to realize that since folks spend the first 20 or so years of their lives viewing September as the new (school) year, that its time to make September the official beginning of new year. Either that or have graduation in December and begin the next grade in January. That way all the teachers and students in the world will stop confusing others and/or being momentarily confused when they say or hear, “last year.”

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sins

It’s not easy to simplify the meaning of the holiest Jewish High Holy Day, the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, but I shall try. G-d can’t forgive you for sins you commit against fellow man. You must clean that mess up yourself and ask those whom you hurt in any fashion for forgiveness. However, he can forgive you for sins you committed for not living according to the good book. To me, Yom Kippur is a day for fasting and praying and reflecting on how I can be a better person. Hubby and I attend services and there are two aspects of the day that “reach into my very being.” One is an inner belief that when the day is over, my fate is sealed for the future.

The other is a prayer which enumerates the vast amount of sins one may have committed and should atone for. Many of the sins are written in almost Biblical language. While it is recited, some Rabbis “bring the sin alive” or restate it in every day language. Usually this causes a stir of discomfort to some worshippers who up until then were simply reciting words without digesting their meaning. Each time I hear a Rabbi do this, I wonder if maybe the prayer should have an addendum, and I even thought that if even a similar prayer exists in other religions, they also might be interested in my updated addendum that might give potency to things like the sin of “baring false witness.”

I do not mean to be disrespectful, but Hubby and I just completed a ten-hour drive home from Atlanta and while looking at some drivers weave around the road this idea came to me.

We could ask for forgiveness for the following:

The sin of texting during the religious leader’s sermon.
The sin of texting while driving.
The sin of talking on the cell phone while driving.

The following ones popped into my head after listening to various politicians on the talk shows last night.

The sin of lying to the voters while you are running for political office.
The sin of lying to your constituents if you are an elected official.
The sin of lying about your opponent while you’re running for office.
The sin of distorting facts.

Anyone else have any other sins that everyone should be atoning for, regardless of what House of Worship you attend?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Insincere Question

The most insincere question is “How are you?” Most people don’t want to hear anything other than “fine.” The only reason most people ask the questions is somewhere in polite society we were brainwashed that a conversation or letter is supposed to begin with “Hi, how are you?” Most people back away from people who constantly exaggerate and/or dwell on doom and gloom news, especially in Seniorville where almost everyone deals with something.

Years ago I learned not to ask certain of my relatives who are in fairly good health how they are feeling. Their answers can make the listener think the kvetch is within hours of impending doom. Some of these complainers will even give you a drip-by-drip report of their body fluids. Perhaps these folks feel the only way they will get and hold center stage is to have everyone think they are near death. I’ve discovered, truly ill people rarely complain. When I call people whom I know are fixated on finding something wrong with their daily health or making their problems sound worse than they are, I make it a point not to ask how they feel.

The other day friends and I were in the cafĂ© in our clubhouse having lunch before our Bridge game. One of my friends smiled at an acquaintance of hers and politely asked that dangerous infamous question—the one that the only one who wants to know the real answer is your doctor—“How are you?”

Well, the lady—who looked fit enough to be on the cover of a Senior Glamour magazine— spent a full ten minutes giving what I call a “daily medical briefing”—you know like doctors do at news conferences in hospitals when an important person is sick. Yes, the women has physical problems, but far from fatal. Her husband has real problems, but somehow I feel he would probably be mortified if he knew how much his wife divulged about his bowl problems.

By the time my group headed for our bridge table to begin our afternoon of leisure we had all agreed that at our age many of us have serious, albeit not fatal problems we must deal with daily. However, we have to focus on the positive in our lives and not dwell or even talk about each ache and pain as if doom was waiting around the corner. We all also agreed that an update if one of our near and dear has real concerns is expected and accepted. Then without a word being said, one player dealt the cards—after putting her back brace on her chair—two other players put prescription drops in their eyes, and I took off my shoe so I could put my swollen foot, which was injected with cortisone that morning, on an ice pack.

The complainer, who was sitting at another table, stared at us. Never once did she come to our table to ask, “What’s the matter with you?” Sadly, life has taught me that the biggest complainers have no real interest in how others are feeling. They don’t like to share the spotlight, and if they find out what your ailment is, they rush to the nearest doctor to see if they have it also—or they already have it and spend half an hour telling you theirs is worse. I wonder if anyone ever read them The Boy Who Cried Wolf?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Alzheimic Day

Before you read this blog please understand that when I’m really afraid—like when I haD cancer years ago—I use humor to reduce stress. I know Alzheimer’s and Dementia are horrible conditions, and fear of being diagnosed with either is something many seniors have, especially if like me, they watched it destroy a parent. I deal with my fear of this illness with humor and that is what this blog is about—laughter is still a great medication, especially as we age. I do not mean to minimize the illness.


Alzheimic Day

Every time I took my mother, who suffered from Dementia, to her various doctors they would immediately ask her the date to check on her state of mental awareness. She always knew the answer, even long after Dementia had claimed most of her gray matter. My memory of her rapid response scares the heck out of me. I rarely know the date since I stopped writing it on the board each morning in my classroom about nine years ago. Today, one of my recently retired friends confessed on Facebook she doesn’t even know which day of the week it is anymore!

Last week, I had my first Alzheimic (new word) Day. Until then my memory lapses rarely lasted more than the infamous senior moments I’ve been having since I was a senior in high school.

Once a week, I play Mah Jongg in the clubhouse of our development and the gals in my game alternate driving. To all of us there is nothing dumber and more wasteful than seeing women or men who live on the same neighborhood all driving their own cars to go to the same place at the same time.

Anyway, my friend honked her car horn to announce her arrival. Hubby went outside to tell her I was searching for my eyeglasses. Prior to cataract surgery, I always wore them, so they were never misplaced. Since the surgery, I spend half my day looking for my specs and the other half looking for my car keys. After 5 minutes of rushing and hunting, Hubby informed me that he found them—they were dangling from my shirt. I then went to my kitchen cabinet to get my Mah Jongg card* and the few dollars in change I needed to play the game. I glanced at the label on the card—you know the kind we use for return addresses—and it was my old address, which meant it was an old card.

Since someone in my game always has an extra Mah Jongg card, I left my house and drove with my friend to the clubhouse. As we were walking in, my cell rand. It was another player in our game. “Where are you? I’m beeping and no one is home.”

It was the caller's turn to drive. This made me feel better about my forgetfulness because the person who picked me up is 4 years younger than me. Not only didn’t she remember she wasn’t driving, but both of us forgot to pick up the other players. By the time we started our game, we both were up another notch on our fear that the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s or Dementia—the undoing of both of our Momshad arrived.

By the end of the game that day, my forgetful friend and myself were the “big” winners—I think we won a couple of dollars each. We both decided to panic about having the beginning stages of the dreaded illness when we forget how to play the game, not when we forget where we put our card or who is supposed to drive.

My glee lasted until I came home and picked up what I had earlier in the day thought was last year’s card and resumed my search. The card had 2010 on the front and the address label was clearly that of my new home. Maybe if I stop wearing my reading glasses around my neck and put them on my nose, I’ll go back to having “senior moments” and not “Alzheimic Days.”

*Each year the Mah Jongg League prints a card with “hands”—combination of various tiles—that the player must match with the tiles he or she gets when he or she picks—kind of like gin rummy but with tiles in lieu of cards.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Down and Down Some Grow

My husband insists he’s still 6’1” because his pants aren’t dragging on the floor. I insist he’s close to 5’10” because I’m not straining my neck to look at him in the eye and he’s now the same height as Atlanta Son—who officially turns middle-aged this week so is obviously beyond his height growing years. I informed Hubby that his bones don’t shrink, which is why he still is wearing the same size shirt and jeans. It’s the spaces in-between the vertebra that close up as you age — at least’s what I’m told which is why the inseam of shirts and pants don’t change.

When it comes to my height, it is another issue. I lost half an inch and that is it. During the past year I’ve noticed peers who once towered over me are now my height. Others who were once my height and now up to my chin. It’s weird. Why aren’t I shrinking at the same speed? None of us have any physical problems that would cause friends my age to be dropping height while I’m not. We all take the “right” vitamins and eat well.

I am now looking for logical reasons for the lack of shrinkage. Could it be that I’ve always stretched almost daily? Some, not all of my friends do, so that rationalization doesn’t go far. How about the fact I’ve always had close friends years younger and being surrounded by those younger than me not only keeps my thinking young, but my body too? It’s not genetics. Ma went from 5’2” to 4’10”. Dad dropped inches also. Also, my older sister is no longer inches taller than me and big bro isn’t so big anymore.

Or could it be that I am Alice in Wonderland and will one day wake with a full head of gray hair (it’s still 95% black/brown) and be inches shorter? Did art imitate life in the book?

You can ponder the reasons and let me know. I’ve got to do my daily stretching!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Skype Farewell

I heard a sad story a few weeks ago. Good friends of good friends had been trying to gather all their children and grandchildren to come together to celebrate their 50th anniversary in Florida. When I was little, having grandparents alive to celebrate their 50th was a big deal. Sadly, somewhere along the way, the celebration has lost its glitter and this couple’s family was too busy to take a weekend off and travel to Florida, even if all expenses were paid. By now you can predict the ending—they had no trouble making it here for the funeral.

This week I received a sad email notice—the only negative in living in seniorville where this news is posted for all to see, and in a large community, we get them all too frequently. A well-respected person had passed away. His funeral, the email informed me, would be on Skype. Intellectually, I can comprehend the many reasons this is good. Loved ones who can’t afford the plane fare or friends who are confined to their home can still be part of the final send off. Having funerals televised is usually just for well-known people and now the service is available for we common folks.

However, all I could think about was of the family who was too busy to celebrate a joyous milestone while their loved one was alive. If someone in that clan had thought of Skype, would they have instructed the widow to hire someone to Skype the funeral so they would only need to have taken an hour off from their hectic schedule?

Today one of my friends informed her daughter that she and her husband had prepaid the entire cost of their funeral and intended to be buried in Florida in lieu of being shipped back up North. Her daughter was stunned and said, “You mean we all have to pay to come down for a funeral?”

My friend thought fast and said, “No dear. We’ll use Skype.”

Sad, but it is probably the next socially excepted idea to help the overcommitted who have no time to smell the roses much less sing Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary to loved ones in person.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Portable Phones

Portable phones were meant to give people mobility around their home while talking, and the occasional hunt for a ringing piece of misplaced equipment is worth all the conveniences the portability of a phone offers me. Unlike me, Hubby has a minor fit if a phone is not returned instantly to its rightful cradle the moment a call ends.

Before my husband retired, as the time approached that he would be coming home from work, I made sure all phones were perched like sentinels in their respective cradles. At first I thought he was the only nut when it came to portable phones being recharged continuously, but a few years ago a dear friend confessed her husband did the identical phone inspection each evening when he returned from work as mine did.

This is the same friend who years ago made the pact with me that when it was time to retire we would have our husbands in one apartment with the AC set at 80 degrees and we would room together and keep our AC at 74. We are both now wondering whatever happened to this plan, especially since our husbands are now both retired. Our habit of not returning phones to their rightful cradles at the completion of each call keeps our Hubbys busy because they both roam the house checking to see if the phones are in their rightful place.

By now I’m used to it, but Hubby’s fetish can be embarrassing when we have sleep over company—they tend to think of my husband as a closet tyrant, which he isn’t. He’s usually a dear, except if he is freezing because the AC is set for my comfort level, not his, or the phone rings and he can’t find it because I left it in another room when I ended my call.

This week, Hubby’s “where’s the phone” rant happened while Atlanta son was visiting. Hubby was upset because the office phone wasn’t in its cradle when it rang. Since I had answered it and needed information from the kitchen calendar, I dared to move the phone to that room and, as usual, I didn’t return it the split second I hung up. Even worse, the bedroom phone was also “missing.”

Atlanta Son watched as his father performed his phone ritual, ranting about potential dead batteries. He didn’t let up until all the missing phones were rescued.

“What’s the sense in having portable phones if you don’t want them moved?” was our son’s logical question to his father. “You’d be better off with the phones attached to the wall like you had when I was a kid.”

I laughed. Hubby’s birthday is in four weeks and I have a pretty good idea what he’s getting for his desk and his side of the bed.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Midnight Games

Midnight Games

There are two stages of life that most humans sleep in three to four hour segments— infancy and old age. As a wee one, when you awoke in the middle of the night, you were fed and then either fell back to sleep or were rocked back to lullaby land in your Mama’s arms or something snuggly like a carriage or cradle.

But, alas, the same two methods don’t work for we old(er) folks. If I conk out before ten—way before—I’m up for “the night” around midnight. When this habit started a couple of years ago, I raided the fridge for a midnight snack. As healthy as this is for wee folks because the calories are needed for their growth and well-being, it doesn’t work the same for old folks like me. We’re at the age where we’re shrinking lengthwise, and extra calories will have us growing outwards instead of restoring height. Even worse, a few sips of warm milk may make me sleepy, but unless the milk is accompanied by warm chocolate cake or several chocolate chip cookies, I gag. Obviously, the late night snack is not a sleep remedy for me. Being “rocked” in someone’s arms is a bad idea in my house also. Snuggling next to a husband who has a tendency to snore in my ear won’t ever lull me back to sleep.

Lately I have noticed a tremendous amount of the jokes I’ve received have been sent during the hours most folks prefer to be sleeping. One friend, when asked why, told me when she wakes from her early evening night “nap,” she finds spending time at the computer lulls her back to sleep like rocking probably once did. At her suggestion, I “hit the computer” at midnight a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, the first email I opened was politically toxic so it had quite the opposite effect that I yearned for.

Since then, the only “midnight” emails I open are obvious jokes or message of how blessed I am to have so many fantastic and wonderful friends. Smiles and compliments usually relax me enough to be able to hit the sack again. Last night, however, when done reading and sending the belly laughs or sentimental slop on, I still didn’t feel the urge to return to bed. Instead, I switched to Facebook to “spy” on my kids and grandkid’s lives. When reading anything my family posts on Facebook it is best for me to never comment, no matter how much I want to do so. I surmised this because just about every one of my comments is instantly “hidden.”

Anyway, back to the point. I glanced at the “who’s on” list on Facebook and immediately realized I had enough gal friends who had also arisen from their “evening nap” to either make a Bridge or Mah Jongg game. Does anyone know of a site we can all access simultaneously so we can play a game together instead of just chatting our sleeplessness away? It seems like such a waste of time to simply write, “You up too?”

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Ultimate Insult

A bit of a background for this week’s blog:

When you’re young, you want to look older. Remember how we tried to look 18 when we were 16 or 17 so we wouldn’t be carded when ordering an alcoholic beverage. (I hope my grandkids aren’t reading this.) Then when we hit 25, we were insulted when someone thought we were still a teen and carded us.

Now that my peers are at an age discounts are available for seniors in restaurants or such, it’s a great feeling when you’re hugging 70 and the teen at the register asks to see your driver’s license when you ask for the discount.

Now to the point of the blog.

A friend called to say she’s very depressed and in a real funk. I wanted to know what set her blues off.

“I asked for the senior discount, and I wasn’t carded”

It took a minute for me to realize what this implied before saying, “Ouch.”

“It’s worse than you think,” she added.

“How?”

“The same waiter always cards my husband.”

Double ouch.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Diagnosis: Nagging Jam

My husband, my sons, my computer, and my printer have something in common.
The other day, I was in the middle of printing what I pray will be the last semi-final copy of my manuscript, so I could bring it to an expert to proof read. Half way through, I had a paper jam. Hubby fixed that part easily enough, and then I hit the button that commands the printer to finish its job. It didn’t listen. Over and over, I retyped my command. A dialogue box on the screen flashed a warning that the printer was off-line. Again, my husband maintained he could fix it, but, alas, it didn’t respond to his commands anymore than it obeyed mine. It was on strike.

I called Florida Son who said he would come over in a few hours to help. While I was waiting for my PCP—personal computer paramedic—I decided to see if I could comprehend the difficult directions offered in the trouble shooting section of advice. I followed each command, and after each step checked the box saying the printer still wasn’t printing Then came the ultimate suggestion: Turn your computer and printer off for several minutes. The directive was followed.

Ten minutes later, I turned everything on. Without me sending a command, the printer was making its grunting noises indicating it was ready to spew paper, and within seconds begin to complete the task I commanded it to do so hours before. Evidently, the computer and printer like Hubby and sons, totally ignores me—or shuts down— when I nag.

A minute later, Florida Son came in front door. I guess that’s what happens if I only ask once.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Late-Bird Specials

Hubby and I are now officially stereotype seniors. July4th will be the date that I will set aside to celebrate my admitting to myself and all those who could read my mind, “I’m old, and so are my friends.”

The weather, as usual, was sweltering—nothing unusual for South Florida for this time of the year. It never deterred my peers from joining the festivities before, but this year was different. Not one friend wanted to join the crowds watching the fireworks along the beach.

“Too hot.”
“I can’t schlep the folding chair from the parking lot to the beach.”
“I can’t handle the crowds…too dangerous…too many germs…may get sick.”


What was most depressing after hearing all my suggestions shot down, I was relieved no one wanted to do any of the fun things the local news suggested we do to celebrate. The Souza marches blasting from the various national celebrations that were on TV were more than satisfying, as was my development’s coral group’s performance on the 3d. Sitting soaked to my skin in my own perspiration never appeals to me, but I usually go along with the crowd.

My local area has drastic population reduction from the beginning of May until late October. The snowbirds flee north to avoid our horrible heat—although I have suggested to them that they return home since this summer it’s actually cooler in South Florida. Thus, to stay alive when these folks flee, local restaurants have fantastic deals. Unless one wants lobster, you can get a pretty good dinner for $8-$10 dollars tops—and, if you like Mexican or hamburgers, less than that. I would be the biggest liar in the world if I denied that my crowd isn’t walking into every restaurant with coupon or cash in hand to take advantage.

After the decision was made not to join the movers and shakers who were celebrating outside, I suggested I barbeque. “Why?” asked a friend. “One restaurant has a $6 hamburger special, including drinks and fries.”

Any shopper knows I can’t invite people and get away with spending less than $12 on food and drinks. On July 4th, as the fireworks blasted along the beach, a local restaurant was filled with seniors who celebrated by eating the special in air-conditioned comfort, only it’s no longer served before 6 as it was in my parent’s day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

DASHING THROUGH THE MANUSCRIPT

Up until last week I thought there were only two horizontal punctuation marks: dashes and hyphens—I’m not sure what category underscores come under, and right now don’t care. The uses of dashes and hyphens are clearly explained in my three punctuation “bibles” for standards in writing and/or editing—and I looked in the obviously outdated manuals again before I started to write this blog. Since my computer has no key for a long dash, I use the hyphen symbol instead with the hope my readers understand my intent. Sometimes when I hit the hyphen, and I clearly want the dash, the genie inside my computer puts in a dash for me.

Last week, when I sent the manuscript for my book, Retired, Not Expired, to the editor, I asked her if the person who sets the font can help me out with the dash/hyphen error. She told me that I needed to do that edit myself, and explained how to get the dash, but alas, her next instruction through me a curve ball. “Remember, you want the ‘em’ dash, not the ‘en.’” I had no clue what she was referring to, but am proud to say, thanks to her directions, I set up a command key not just for the “em” dash, but also the “ellipse.” (…) I have one for the “en” dash in case someone is kind enough to explain to me when to use it and if I should or should not leave a space before and after the symbol.

Fixing, the ellipse was easy. I just had to use the “find” and “replace” feature—not so with my incorrectly used hyphen. If I use find/replace for that, then all of my correctly hyphenated words would have an “em” dash in lieu of the hyphen. As you can imagine, I am now correcting the old-fashioned dash, one dash at a time. GRRR

If the name of the “inventor” of all the new punctuation rules now that computers set the type had a phone I would call him. I can understand why he ditched the two spaces between sentences, but how “—“ is more cost effective than “-“ is beyond my …scope of reasoning!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dueling Tiles

At least once a week I’m on the phone with our friends who moved into their 55+ development in Georgia around the same time as Hubby and I moved into ours in Boynton Beach. We constantly compare notes about our adjustments. This week we both discussed the root of many conflicts in both of our developments. What are they? Hold onto your hats—Mah Jongg, Poker, and/or Canasta.

How? Well, it’s like this. If the men are playing poker for money, now and then they play with a sore loser. If the winner's wife is friendly with the wife of the sore loser, then expect a strain in that relationship. And if both poker players were once part of the same social click, then their group is going to have to make big decisions as to which couple they will go to the early bird special.

My favorite game, Mah Jongg, causes problems too, especially if you are playing with someone who hasn’t improved since the day she graduated the Mah Jongg Academy—and even worse, the player is a close friend or your daughter’s-in-law mother. I mean, no one wants to take a chance and hurt someone they care about. Still, few players want to sit and drum on the table while one person spends ten minutes trying to decide what to throw. The problem then becomes, “What to do about Mary?”

Since the other 4 players are chicken to come out and politely tell Mary she needs to return to Mah Jongg school, the better players drop hints like repeating, “Whose turn is it?” every minute. Some people would hear the frustration of the other players in their voices, realize the game isn’t for them, and bow out. Sadly, bad players are also bad at taking polite hints. They don’t even notice the other players rolling eyes, pinching each other under the table or even playing hangman on a piece of scrap paper while waiting for her to discard a tile.

So, when the hint fails, and the bad canasta or Mah Jongg or Bridge players don’t exit graciously, the problems in Seniorville begin. In both my friend’s development and mine, we’ve been told that asking someone to drop out of a Mah Jongg or Canasta game because their slow playing is driving all the other players bonkers can begin a Hatfield and McCoy feud.

Now, since no one really knows what started that infamous feud, I have a question. Did researchers check to see if either of their wives every played Mah Jongg or Canasta with each other?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Influencial Dreams

Last night I had a nightmare about a heated argument with my husband that he won. His anger – which is rare – was so realistic that I awoke literally shaking. I stepped out of bed, washed up, and went into the kitchen to pour my coffee. Through each step of my morning ritual, I felt silly about still feeling agitated after losing a spat that that never occurred. Those who know me know I am not a good loser. My unsuspecting and truly innocent husband was sitting on the rear patio reading the morning papers. I took my mug, went outside, and snatched one section of the newspaper from bewildered Hubby. That set the tone for the next few hours until he went to the gym.

With him safely out of hearing distance, I called a friend and confessed. “I’m snapping at him over every thing he does from the way he folded the paper to not helping me with chores I never want him to help me with. I’m still mad because he yelled at me in my nightmare!”

We both literally giggled at the absurdity of the situation and by the time we hung up, my uncalled for anger had dissipated.

A friend once told me you should only do things or look at things that don’t ever upset you before you go to bed. “If you keep family pictures in your bedroom and one of them is aggravating you, it’s not good to look at his or her face right before you turn out the lights. You’ll have bad dreams.

Well, the only pictures of my children and grandchildren in my bedroom are infant pictures. Infant pictures make me smile. So, I had to think, what subconscious action caused the nightmare? The reason hit me like a brick. I couldn’t fall asleep the night before. I came out of the bedroom and headed for the frig and the leftover chocolate cake Hubby thought he had hidden in the rear of the freezer. My personal stay-on-your-diet enforcer, was right behind me. He literally blocked the frig. Consciously, I knew he saved me from night binging, but I must have gone to bed with subconscious anger towards him because I really wanted that cake. All I could remember about the dream was him making me stop something that I wanted to do. Hmmmm. Do you think his actions in real life influenced my dream?

I shared the story with him when he returned from the gym. He wasn’t amused, but he did comment. “It’s good to know that for once I won an argument with you – even if it was in your dreams.”

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hat's Off to Tipper and Al

Most of my galfriends who are married 40 plus years and suddenly find themselves for the first time living with their husbands 24/7 agree with my list of reasons as to why another perfect couple is untying the knot around the same time the social security checks reach their mail boxes. (It is not as unusual as the public thinks.)

Let’s start with the number one deal breaker: A/C. They will now be home all day together and he likes the house at 78 and she likes it at 74. Now 4 degrees makes a massive difference – especially if the one who likes a cool home does the cooking and ironing while the one who likes it warm rarely overexerts him or herself.

Another marriage breaker is suddenly having to be with each other 24/7 when one spouse – or both – have been traveling out-of-town for most of the marriage. Heck, some of these folks have nothing left in common except their kids and grandkids.

Taking the last reason to the next level – could it be possible that when HE retires, HE expects his wife, (who hasn’t cooked or cleaned for him or anyone else, except herself, since their last child married about 10 years prior ) to become the chamber maid and waitress as well as wife? Does he sit down at the table and wait to be served? Even worse, when he’s finished eating, does he hand HER his dirty dish even though she’s still eating?

We can reverse the sexes in the last paragraph. I have female peers who did the traveling while their spouses combined their local jobs with Mr. Mom. The challenge these marriages faced was when She retired and wasn’t sure of her role at home – even though the kids were grown and gone. Running the house was his turf.

So, for those of you looking for a reason why after that “great kiss,” Tipper and Al split, there can be plenty – and not one has to do with infidelity. Let me know if you have any I didn't sort of mention.

For my parents’ 50th anniversary I wanted to send out boxing gloves saying, “Round Fifty.” My aunt wouldn’t let me and I still regret it. No couple should stick it out for the children and then as my dad would say, “For the grandchildren.”

Hats off to Tipper and Al. You have great memories and no need to mess with that when you both can afford to move on to the next batch of great memories with or without a spouse or significant other or whatever.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

OUCH! Them's Fighting Words - Sometimes

When Hubby and I flew to Atlanta the other day on a full flight, the person in the window seat next to me reeked from body odor. Hubby had the aisle seat. If he didn’t have giraffe-like legs I would have thought of a way to con him into switching seats with me – his nose is not as sensitive as mine. I was glad Mr. Smeller went right to sleep and didn’t attempt to chat since I feel obliged to talk to everyone who talks to me – including wrong numbers. I kept my head turned towards Hubby and breathed through my mouth the bulk of the thankfully short flight out of West Palm Beach. Silently, I hoped that the incident wasn’t an omen of mishaps to come – you know like a black cat.

Since the plane didn’t spend more time circling Atlanta before landing than flying to it – something that those who fly in and out of that airport on a regular basis know is common – I began to think I was wrong. However, Stinky did turn out to be a bad sign. Since that flight, I seem to be having a run of problems that have no satisfying endings. On the trip home – we only went for 2 days – instead of a person stinking, we were too close for my nose to the bathroom. The flight was also full. When you book late as I did, you don’t have a great choice of seats if you like to sit together.

Yesterday, my daily horoscope predicted I would need comfort food by day’s end. Since these predictions are usually so broad and general, I don’t live my life by them – still I am addicting to reading them every morning. However, around noon yesterday, while speaking to a relative on the phone (not my kids), I was verbally jabbed for the third time in as many days. In each instance, the insulters were clueless of their hurtful dagger, and in the first two cases, experience has taught me it is best to heal my wounds with comfort foods than to respond. Saying something to the offender usually ends up making mountains out of molehills and the end result is rarely worth winning a point for my self-esteem.

Yesterday was different. Someone once told me stupid people need to be told, and despite my reason for not using her philosophy in the previous paragraph, I decided to try it again. The advice was still wrong. On the rare occasion I say “ouch,” – like yesterday - the relationship never heals completely, if at all. As soon as I responded in self-defense, a new mountain range was created. The offender’s mouth, like lava from a volcano, fired more hurtful observations that were best not uttered.

If I haven’t developed thick skin at this stage of my life, it just is not going to happen. In my old age, in order to prevent scars, I have learned to deal with toxic situations by either walking away if I can, deleting the toxic folks from my social calendar, or, if I don’t want to end the relationship, taking the batteries out of my hearing aides. I regret not getting off the phone immediately as soon as I detected hostility in this usually friendly person’s “Hello,” when she picked up her phone. My gut feeling is she was mad at someone else and I was her convenient punching bag.

Hubby wasn’t home to defuse the anger caused by this person and talk me out of eating comfort food. Each time I walked into the kitchen – between each sentence I typed – I mentally heard his words as I approached the cake I made for company. “One bite and the (fat) enemy wins.”

Now those are fighting words – how appropriate for the holiday. Only for my private war on fat and toxicity, I can’t call in our terrific military. Sadly, the horoscope was right. Hopefully, I just lost a battle and today the Smeller’s lasting odor on my luck will be blown away in the early morning storms that are closing in right now.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Electronic Gotcha

The good thing about technology is it stops people from rewriting history, especially their own. Politically, it has been the kind of week that a couple of candidates on both sides of the aisle have had a difficult time backtracking because their original comments were caught on film for the world to see and hear.

Politicians aren’t the only ones stepping into bear traps because of modern technology. Everyday folks are finding it difficult to back peddle also. Somebody sent me an email not meant for my eyes. She must have had me on her mind when she filled in the top of the email because I received the original and the intended recipient received the “cc.” I did the polite thing, sent her back the original, and told her it made no sense to me. She has sent me three emails since insisting she doesn’t know how her name got on the “from” box. Perhaps someone else used her computer, but that doesn’t eliminate the electronic fact that the original email to me came from her email address. Luckily, the electronic facts (emails) will hold up in any court of gossip to prove I didn’t give away the surprise but the genie who used her email address did.

Technological evidence got another friend’s hubby in big trouble yesterday. She was trying to reach him all afternoon. She left message after message to no avail. She needed some information ASAP. When her husband came home, she justifiably asked why he ignored her texts.

He maintained he didn’t receive any.

“Look at your phone messages,” she instructed.

He pulled his zillion-dollar phone from his front pocket, turned bright red and left the room.

See, candidates aren’t the only ones who get into deep &*^%$ because of modern tech.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Seniorville Adolescent Behavior

After this past week, I’ve decided I’m officially reliving my second teenaged-hood. My rejuvenation became apparent during Hubby’s and my recent weekend getaway with many of our neighbors. Even though everyone on the bus is either collecting social security or soon will be, we sounded like a bunch of middle schoolers on a class trip to Disneyworld, (the age I taught). None of our extended group felt like snoozing or reading – the incorrect stereotype of my peers. Instead, we decided to play Geography. (For those of you who never played this “keep the kids quiet” car game, one player will say “TexaS,” and then the next person says, “South DekotA,” and the next players needs to say a place on the map beginning with an “a.” The player is “out” if he/she repeats a place or are caught bluffing.)

It didn’t take long for some of the correct or not so correct responses to inspire comments, which led to giggles and laughter. The game continued until the two buses from our Seniorville stopped at a rest area. After we returned to the bus, one couple was missing. Our “leader” informed us they requested to be transferred to the other bus from our community with the more “mature” grown ups. (They didn’t get their expected results because that bus was filled with people talking over videos some unknown person on he bus thought old folks would enjoy. Perhaps my unhappy docile neighbors, like the video player didn’t understand the words “ for active seniors” when they bought a home in our development.)

Today, my group of friends again displayed middle-school behavior. We were having lunch in our Seniorville cafe when someone said she read an article that one of the side effects of Viagra is loss of hearing. Just as she finished delivering this tidbit of info, a neighbor came into the cafe and walked over to his wife who was chatting with her friends at a nearby table. He handed her something and then turned and headed towards the door. On his way away from the table, she called his name. He didn’t respond until she shouted his name again several times.

“Lately you never hear me,” she said in a voice loud . “I think you need a hearing aide.”

I sucked my lips in and bit them with my teeth. Another friend stuffed her sandwich in her mouth and almost choked. The other “girls” headed quickly for the bathroom and later admitted they made it just in time.

If it is true about hearing problems for those on Viagra and the person taking it doesn’t want others to know, I have a suggestion: Get your hearing checked regularly!

Knowing my sick sense of humor, I know that every time I see an older fellow with a hearing aide, or one of the men I know complain they can’t hear, I know what I will be thinking.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mother Innovation

Our Seniorville home came with three challenges. To break up the height of the wall, the architect put plant shelves in the entrance hall and along one wall in the living room and dining room. Some homes I have been in have all sorts of fake or real antiques, vases, wooden animals, wire sculptures, and/or artificial plants decorating the shelves. One person has a collection of ticking clocks that ring, chime, ding or dong every hour on the hour. (I took off my hearing aides until I left her home.)

I’ve seen plants and bric-a-brac on high shelves in restaurants, but restaurants have professional cleaning services to climb up and dust. After a year of staring at the empty shelves in my home, I decided to compromise. We put some colorful stuff on the foyer shelves but left the living room and dining area bare. Since I do not intend to dust the sky-high bric-a-brac on a weekly basis, I figured the dust would not be noticeable in the dimly lit foyer. However, since those guests who have had cataract surgery would be able to spot it in the bright light of my dining room, those shelves are dramatically bare.

Another challenge we had to deal with was the A/C filter that some “genius” installed in an 18-foot ceiling. I don’t know of any acrobatic senior who dares or desires to climb up a 12-foot ladder once a month to replace a filter. The first time I saw a ceiling filter was when my brother moved into a Seniorville near me 9 years ago. “How will you change the filter?” Hubby asked, pointing to the sky-high filter.

Big Bro, who never had central air until moving South, replied, “It’s a permanent filter – we paid extra.”

He was not happy when Hubby explained that permanent meant you could hose it down monthly and then put it back up.

Obviously, necessity is the mother of invention because someone invented a sealed filter that can go into the A/C handler even if it is in the garage. You know who bought it as soon as we replaced our 9-year-old A/C a few months ago. Now, instead of doing it ourselves, it will replaced once a year when the A/C is serviced. Cost conscious Hubby quickly informed me it was much cheaper than hiring someone to climb on the ladder to change the filter monthly and even cheaper that the box of filters we used per year.

The third problem acted up today. Our fire alarm started chirping this morning. It is also perched in our 18-foot hard to reach ceiling. If it was up to me, I would yank it out, but Hubby told me if our house burns down, we won’t be insured. Please let me know if this is true – one friend asked how anyone would know since I’m not connected to the fire station but Hubby insists we are connected to something. In the meantime, he is off to the store to buy a 5-year nine-volt battery. It’s expensive, but since the handy man who climbs the ladder to change the battery charges more than the battery, it isn’t that expensive. Since he can’t come until tomorrow afternoon, I am trying to figure out how to shut the stupid “bird” up so I can sleep tonight. I would throw a shoe at it, but unlike a noisy pigeon on a windowsill, it won’t fly away. Instead, I will go to bed with cotton stuffed into my ears and try to become Mother Necessity in my sleep and invent something that will be successful so I can continue to pay for all these new cost saving items.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Senior Moments

Hubby walks the 2-mile track that circles the inside of our community with me three times a week. (He works out with a physical therapist the other days.) The days I go solo, I like to make phone calls where I can discuss “girl-talk” without chancing Hubby hearing and then commenting about my conversation. Today, I was almost home when I realized my phone wasn’t in my pocket. “My phone is missing,” I exclaimed into the phone to my friend. “I didn’t hear it fall.” I continued voicing my panic while I backtracked to see where the phone dropped until I realized how stupid I was. Senior moment?

One hour later Hubby and I were headed north on Florida’s Turnpike to Palm Beach to consult with Dr. Bigshot at a nearby medical school about Hubby’s worsening double vision and ripening cataract . He agreed with our usual MD who sent us there for a second opinion. After an extensive examination it was determined the cataract still had a few years to go before it would need surgery so stronger prisms were all that were needed to correct the problem. The cost – a mere $520. This isn’t bad considering his first pair of transitional lenses with prisms, progressive lenses and more were $700. (That averaged to about $19 a month for him to be able to see.) Obviously, as with my hearing aides, medical schools are sometimes much less money than a chain store.

I know the glasses are big bucks, but they are cheaper than the divorce we would have gotten if I would have to chauffeur him much longer. Last week I put a giant brown bag into the car with us and threatened to put it over his head if he criticized my driving ability once more. “Remember, you have double vision and the car isn’t as close as you think!” I screamed after he screamed a car was going to hit us causing me to stop short which caused the car behind me to also slam on its brakes thankfully before hitting us.

My day ended well. Not only did I win 75 cents in Mah Jongg that I can put towards Hubby’s new glasses but also I figured out why the volume on my computer doesn’t work – it was turned off. Another senior moment?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Menopausal Computer

Did you know computers are females.? I know this because mine is definitely showing signs of menopause. Not only does my computer feel hot lately, but she refuses to work until she cools down. My computer’s mood swings the past few weeks have been making it almost impossible to get my work done. For the past month, many times when I hit a key, there is a delayed reaction until the letters appear on my screen. The other day when I went to write a blog, my curser froze and I had to shut down and pray the mouse would work when I rebooted up. Was she mad because I was away and never checked my messages?

I took hormones when I hit menopause. The equivalent of hormones for my computer seems to be a daily virus scan. Every morning when I boot up, MacAfee warns that I need to scan my computer. This takes time – usually the time I have allotted to write. Now what? Trade it in? My husband didn’t trade me in during my mood swing period. He was patient. I’m trying to be patient, but I didn’t prevent Hubby from working.

Maybe the slow down is more than menopausal mood swings. Lately a sign in the bottom right corner keeps flashing that the computer’s virtual memory is low. It tells me where to click, and when I do, I get no response. Does this mean my computer is finishing menopause and starting Alzheimer’s?

I’ll nurse my faithful friend until I can find a computer doctor who can diagnose her problem. Hopefully, the stubbornness is only menopause. There is life beyond that stage of a woman’s life.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Shh! Only My Facebook Friends Can Know

To me, Facebook is a socially acceptable way to snoop on my children and grandchildren’s lives. I know there are lots of up things about using Facebook to stay in touch, but the snooping part still amuses me. The same teens who lock themselves in their rooms so no one listens to their private conversations, think nothing of posting most of it on Facebook. I’ve learned there are some rules I must follow. Once I commented on something my teenaged grandson wrote. I thought my comment was funny. He deleted it. I got the hint. Grandkids don’t want their friends to know their conversations are being monitored by anyone over 16.

My son posted on his Facebook wall details of his overcommitted boring schedule for the day: chauffeuring his 2 teens from place to place all day. Moments after his comment popped up on my wall, his daughter posted about all the fantastic plans she had for that day. Identical schedule, different point of views. Her aunt, who has a keen sense of humor, wrote a comment and asked my granddaughter if she was going to also post when she brushed her teeth. I wondered if my granddaughter would delete it as her brother deleted my comment. I also wondered why her aunt didn’t write the same comment to my son.

It has not ceased to amaze me the minutia highly educated, overly committed adults write on their wall for all to see. One friend writes either about how blessed she is to have two fantastic and beautiful teenaged-daughters or about her minor medical ups and downs. Like my over-committed son, this friend finds it easier to post about her day-to-day life than to make a phone call to her many friends and relatives.

Another friend keeps touting how perfect her almost middle-aged daughters are and how blessed she is to have these two caring daughters. Sometimes the stuff she writes about her “girls” is so personal, I feel as if I am listening in on a party line.

Today, when she posted for all to read how miserable her day was, she wrote, “Daddy’s office was flooded.”

Since her own father passed away over 30 years ago, I commented, “Daddy???????”

One of her daughters followed my comment with, “Ma, don’t you realize all of your Facebook friends are reading these messages?”

Hmmm. Now how many other people don’t realize the difference between Facebook and email and does this explain why some of them post stuff that only immediate relatives or friends really care about?

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Shortest Love Affair

I woke this past Monday wincing with lower back pain. It was too acute for me to drive the hour to my old neighborhood to the doctor who usually gives me the magic shot that calms the spasm caused by a couple of degenerating disks. The time had come to try the local orthopedic doctor.

I called his office as soon as it opened and his appointment giver’s response was predictable. She asked the standard, “How fast can you get here?” question. I learned years ago that unless the patient answers “immediately,” the appointment is put off for a month. I was given a mid-morning appointment.

After the x-rays were taken, the doctor saw me. He rattled off the name of my condition, which was not news to me. He agreed with my old doctor’s diagnosis. He told me he was giving me the magic shot to reduce the inflammation – also expected. He then fired away new orders – orders my previous doctor never uttered. He explicitly told me I could not bend my back – no bed making, no laundry, no cleaning bathrooms – nothing that could put a strain on my lower back. “Total rest for a week and the spasm will be gone.”

I was in seventh heaven, delighted in my decision not to travel to see old reliable. I had found a perfect doctor. I wished Hubby was with me because I doubted he would believe this new magic cure. Dream doc ruined our perfect relationship when he added, “And you need to loose 20-30 pounds.”

He pointed to my “Seniorville 20” - the spare tire I put on around my waist this past year. He explained that the weight dangles from my hips like a lead weight and strains my disks, especially when I exercise or tie my shoelaces.

I think next time my back is in spasm, I’ll go back to my old doctor. His spare tire is bigger than mine is.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Case of the Passover Potato

If you know the story of Passover, skip to the second paragraph. If not, read this paragraph first. Passover is the Jewish Holiday when the elders in the family retell the Biblical story of Exodus to the guests gathered around the table. The process of telling the story is called a Seder, and unless you are very Orthodox and don’t deviate from the “script,” each family has their own traditions when it comes to conducting the Seder and the specific recipes used for various traditional foods served. The Exodus story is told in two parts – before and after a huge holiday meal. Foods used to represent various aspects of the story are pictured in many editions of the Hagaddah, the book that contains the story. One ritual is the use of a small dipping bowl filled with salt water to represent the tears of the slaves. Green vegetables are to be dipped into the water so all those hearing the story can be reminded of the tears the Israelites shed while they were slaves. The dipping part occurs almost at the outset of the 1-5 hour Seder – the length depending on the traditions of each family and how many details of the Passover story they retell. And now to my anecdote.

When I was little, I was always confused because my grandmother used a boiled potato for the green vegetable we dipped into the salt water. My Hagaddah had a picture of parsley for the green vegetable, yet I placed a potato in my bowl of salt water before eating it. I was glad we had the potato instead of parsley because that tasted yucky when raw.

My mother and aunts continued to serve the potato at their Seders after my grandmother passed away. The first time I shared the Passover holiday with non-immediate relatives was after I was married and moved to Florida. It was then I learned that all my new Floridian Jewish friends served a real green vegetable – usually celery or parsley. No one ever heard of serving a potato for a green vegetable. Curious me phoned my older sister who was then living in D.C. I asked why our family used potatoes, and she explained with complete authority that “Grandpa and Nanny were from Poland and they probably had no fresh green vegetables to serve during Passover – it was still winter. They probably used the potato as a substitute and continued the tradition in this country.”

Her answer made sense. And since it was my job to peel the potatoes and my average Seder had 20-30 people, I felt no guilt in messing with my Nanny’s Passover menu if it meant less work for me. I stopped serving potatoes and started serving celery. Unlike my mother and grandmother, I had no help in the kitchen while preparing all the other foods to be eaten. My brother, who flew down from NY with his family for the holiday, complained bitterly that I was not respecting a family tradition. I told him if he wanted potatoes, he was welcome to peel them and wash the pot after they were cooked. That incident occurred about 35 years ago, but his wife still serves the potato at their Seders.

Last week, my cousin, 7 years my senior, informed me that my sister was wrong. First she reminded me that my grandmother came to this country as a toddler and my grandfather was around 14 – which blew my sister’s Poland theory of what my grandparents served in Poland. Then my cousin explained that my grandmother served the potato because all the men (usually 5-7)) were coming to the Seder from work and were hungry. She wanted to fill them up so they wouldn’t be cranky from hunger after a day’s work and would be able to “last” until the meal was served – at least an hour after the dipping in the salt water ritual. (In those days guests would not dare to tell the Seder leader to read faster because they were hungry.) My cousin then told me she hasn’t served potatoes in years – she places a plate of cut up vegetables for her guests to dip and nibble until the meal.

I repeated this story to a friend. She said, “Okay, then why did my grandmother serve the potatoes?”

Probably for the same reason as mine. Unfortunately, this is one question we can’t Google.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Does Your Car Tell Your Age?

About 35 years ago, when every senior citizen in South Florida was bedecked in Vera print polyester shirts or dresses, I made fun of their “uniform” to my sister-in-law who was 22 years my senior.

“Someday your peer group will be identified by their uniform just as mine is, and I will expect you to call me and tell me I was right,” she said to me.

There are no phones in heaven, but today after I could not find Hubby’s car when I came out of the store. I looked up and told her she was right – sort of. You see, we don’t dress differently from our kids. Everyone I know from 9 months to 99 years wears jeans unless going to a formal wedding. Our tops depend on the season and the occasion. The uniform of my generation is not clothing. It’s the color and models of our cars. Drive through any clubhouse or supermarket parking lot in the retirement neighborhoods of South Florida and you’ll rarely see a car that’s not silver or tan.

About 25 years ago, Hubby was circling a parking lot near my parent’s over-55 condo. I was picking up something in a store for my mother. When I got back into the car, he informed me, “Almost every old man in this parking lot is driving a white GM car.” He then pointed to al the Buicks, Cadillacs, and Oldsmobiles.”

Every foreign or different colored car we spotted entering or exiting the parking lot was driven by drivers closer to college age than retirement. “I’m never buying another white GM car again – it’s an old man’s car,” said my white-haired husband who was nearing his 50th birthday. GM had no idea that their problems were their cars were loosing popularity because men like Hubby thought they had become cars for old people.

Hubby kept his word because he switched to a foreign car when his had to be replaced, and dared to get a blue one instead of our usual white. But I stuck to white because unlike him, I parked outside all day. White doesn’t show the dirt as much as a dark car nor does it need as long to cool down from baking in the oppressive Florida sun all day. I did switch from an “old people car” to one of the Toyotas when we bought my next car, and my next. The last car we purchased was after I retired. Since my car would now spend a good part of the day in the garage, Hubby convinced me it was time to change colors – and I did: Silver.

That’s around the time I discovered that the uniform of my generation was not our wardrobe, but our cars. Every place I went, it seems someone had the same car as mine, although some were a year older or newer. Even though one of the player’s cars is a different manufacturer, it is still a shade of silver. When my Mah Jong group meets for lunch before we play, we’ve sometimes headed to the wrong car – especially before two of us had our cataracts removed. When the five of us are parked in one driveway, we look like a convention of silver car owners.

Since the players in my Mah Jongg group will all be replacing our cars in the next year or two, we were kidding around the other day to see if we should all get the same color again. After searching the rows of silver and beige cars for 10 minutes this morning until I found Hubby’s car, I decided on a color for our next car. Now all I have to do is convince 4 other very conservative prim and proper ladies like myself that strangers will think we’re years younger and we won’t even need to use Botox. All we would need to do is purchase hot pink cars.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Too Cool for Dieting

Remember the freshman ten – those ten pounds you gained when you left home for college and started living on Ritz crackers and peanut butter and jelly because you hated dorm food? I didn’t shed them until after college when Weight Watchers or its’ equivalent became my way of life.

For the last 40 odd years, I’ve been successfully fighting the battle of the bulge, but since moving to Seniorville, I haven’t won a round. I went clothes shopping this week and the only thing I dared to buy were pants that can hide the extra weight and, if a miracle happens and I get a virus and can’t eat for two weeks, the pants won’t look big – unless the elastic waist is stretched out.

It’s hard to diet when your social life revolves around dining out or having company over for Bridge or whatever. How can you not serve something to guests? I never had anything I would be tempted to pig out in my old home after my sons left for college unless I was entertaining. Hubby’s and my old life style didn’t lend itself to “come back to my home for dessert” or cocktails before dinner. In those days, my northern friends were still working. Now most have to spend a week visiting me in our new surroundings – and I am truly thrilled they do. Even if I only serve “diet” food, when I sit around the table I tend to eat too much of it, and calories do count – even healthy ones.

The cold weather is also preventing me from sticking to any good weight reduction routine. It’s not conducive to drinking glasses of cold water, something that usually fills me up. Instead, I’m sipping diet hot chocolates and cups of salty broth called instant soup. Northern visitors adore walking or jogging in our brisk weather as the sun comes up over the horizon. Usually I’m out there on the trail with them, but the cold chill has been keeping me under the blankets until the sun has had a chance to warm up the air a bit. Yes, we have heat, but it has to be truly freezing inside for me to use it because it sets off my asthma – as does all the extra pollen in the air from the leaves falling off the trees due to the unusual cold – the biggest reason I’m not walking outside.

Even worse for my diet, the crazy cold weather Florida has had this winter demands cover-up clothing – sweat pants and/or long sleeve shirts. The elastic waists allow me to eat a little more than my zipper-front Capri’s would permit and the long sleeve shirts hide the cellulite on my arms. Gone ate the constant visual reminders to seal my lips when dessert is placed on the table.

This year, it’s been cold here for months instead of weeks. I’ve worn the few winter clothes I have that still fit to the point they are beginning to fray – something that hasn’t happened to my winter clothes since moving South in 1973. Usually they go out of style and are in mint condition when I give them to charity. Tonight, when I took one outfit out of the closet to steam it for a luncheon I need to attend tomorrow, even my husband, who rarely remembers what he wore the day before, remarked, “You’ve worn that outfit the last 3 times you got “dressed” to go out.”

“It doesn’t matter,” I told him. “None of my friends have an abundance of dressy winter clothes, so the fashion rule this year is “if it’s warm and fits, it’s in.”

Even if we wanted to replenish our winter wardrobes, the stores have restocked the sweater department with bathing suits and cover-ups. They’re more optimistic than me. Right now I can’t remember what it felt like to be so miserable and hot last Fall when I prayed for a cold winter. As much as all my neighbors are hoping the weather warms soon, I’ll bet I’m the only one anyone knows who is praying for the return of our hot and humid weather so I’ll be able to shed ten pounds.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Missing: Tact Gene

When people want my advice or start to vent about personal problems, I usually have a pat answer, which works in most instances. “If you don’t want my real opinion, please don’t ask me for it. I don’t have a gene for tact.”

At this point, some talkers are stopped in their tracks. They realize they should ask their questions to their reflection in the mirror and vent into a tape-recorder. They really are not interested in the truth unless it’s what they want to hear.

Now and then, someone in that category still presses the issue. Recently a friend asked my opinion of her new hair color – orange with blond highlights. I repeated my pat response. She told me, if she didn’t value my opinion, she would not have asked. She lied.

I told her I don’t like hair color that isn’t natural looking, but it’s her hair and she’s the one who needs to be happy. My response got up her ire. “I should never have asked you. You live with old people and have no clue about what’s in. I teach high school, so I do. Purple, blue, and pink streaks are “very in.”

If living with “old-people” prevents me from thinking clown-like hair for women broaching 65 is “in,” I’m glad I reside in Seniorville. The entire episode made me think of a hairdresser incident many years ago. He was cutting my hair when another customer stopped to ask what he thought of her new hairstyle. “Your hair looks great,” he replied.

When she walked away, I told him I would never value his word again. “She looked stupid. It’s puffed out like cotton candy. It makes her face look awful.”

“Listen carefully,” he said. “I told her that her hair looked great. I didn’t say she looked great.”

He had a skill I’ve never developed - tact. That’s why if you want the absolute truth as I see it, ask me.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Senior's Sneakers

“Don’t wear white sneakers,” a young friend counseled me before Hubby and I traveled abroad a few years ago. “Only Americans wear white sneakers.”

Since I had no desire to be an easy target for a terrorist whose goal was to kill as many Americans as he could, I hunted the shoe stores until I found comfortable black sneakers. Under great duress, my husband, who had two pair of comfortable white sneakers, bought a pair of black sneakers. He felt my fear of being an easy target was silly. “You think only sneakers make you look like a tourist? What about your tote bags stuffed with souvenirs?”

The two of us were the only tourists on the cruise ship wearing black sneakers. Hubby pointed this out daily. He also pointed out that the cruise ships put different color stickers right over each passenger’s heart before we disembarked from the ship for each day’s excursion. The purpose of the stickers is to make it easy for the tour guides to know who is in their groups. It also would make it easy for a sniper to kill us – as the comedians pointed out during the evening shows on the ship.

By the end of our vacation, I knew the advice about the color of the sneakers was wrong – in a way. White sneakers are the “uniform” of my generation. Most young people will wear sneakers in every color. No matter what country we were in, if the local folks were our contemporaries and dressed causally, they had on white sneakers. Hubby took delight in pointing it out to me. By the time our vacation was over, I came to think of white sneakers as an age indicator. Hair and sneakers matched.

Because of a foot problem I developed two years ago, I need a special brand of sneakers. I order a new pair when I need them and the color choice is usually limited to one. When we moved into my Seniorville almost a year ago, I was the only senior on the walking trail or in the gym whose sneakers were not white. Mine were purple and gray. I was eternally grateful when this year’s color choice for my sneaker included white. I once again fit in with my color-coordinated peer group.

Hubby asks me to tell him if I think he’s dressed like an old man – meaning out of style – his stereotype for old men. The other night, while dressing for dinner, he put on his white sneakers with jeans. “Put your black sneakers on,” I insisted. “You look like an old man in those sneakers.”

He did. Then we went to the restaurant where we were meeting several other couples from our development. Hubby was the only one of the men NOT wearing white sneakers. I winked at him, and said, “I’m with they youngest old man in the room!”

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The 21st Century Fountain of Youth

I think I’ve discovered the reason my generation looks much younger than our parents did at our ages. No, nothing to do with Botox or face-lifts. You see, many of my contemporaries are really modern-day versions of the Six Million Dollar Man. Obviously, life imitates art, not the other way around.

Let’s start with Hubby and his repaired knee. In July, he couldn’t walk to the front door. When he did walk, his face was crunched with pain and his body bent over. It’s been four months since his knee surgery. He’s back in the gym daily and can do his usual two-mile stroll. Then there’s my neighbor down the block. He has had repair work on his stomach or intestines, (not sure of the specifics). When that healed, he was the recipient of a new knee. Within weeks he was joining the movers and shakers in our social hall.

Years ago, when people’s eyelids began to droop, nothing could be done. People with this condition looked years older than they really were. Today, if droopy eyelids interfere with your vision, insurance will pay to have them picked up. Hence less seniors have the eyes of a hound dog and all the wrinkles that accompanied them.

As my parents generation entered “late middle-ages,” and their arthritic pains and other aches took them off the golf course or tennis court, the doctors gave them shots or medication for the pain. This treatment provided temporary relief, but the pain always returned. Not so today. Today the doctors go "out with the old and in with the new."

One of the golfers I know received one new hip last year, and she is just about ready to get her other one done. Her knee was replaced several years ago. I can name three close friends and two neighbors who also have had these procedures done. It is the "in" thing. More popular than botox! People are constantly having surgery on injured rotator cups or other joint-related damage. After all these “bionic” folks heal, they return to their previous life of “running” around – only pain free! Pain makes wrinkles. When the surgeon removes the worn out knees, hips, and what nots, he removes the source of pain. Hence, thanks to surgery, my generation will become known as the Dorian Gray Generation.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sinful Senior Community

The other night my active senior community had a Valentine’s Dance. There are two advantages for me in attending a dance in my development. First, the DJ plays the slow, romantic music of my generation, which means my husband knows the dance steps. The second advantage to dances in my community is the DJ play vocals by singers like Johnny Mathis or the Platters all night. Those crooners didn’t scream and groan and call it music like too many of today’s musicians. At our dance, if people wanted to chat for a moment, they didn’t have to leave the room to hear each other. They could hear each other’s voices while others danced to Frank Sinatra’s songs.

During one of the dance breaks, our perky social director – who must have had her training for the job on a cruise ship - decided it was game time – just like on the cruise ship. The game – the Not So Newly Wed Game – was the same as the one played on the cruise ships we’ve gone on. Experience has taught Hubby and me that if the DJ or Social Director makes eye contact with us, we risk being picked – something neither of us loves. We immediately looked down when they circulated the room the other night for volunteers.

The DJ thought he was being funny and asked if there were any newlyweds in the group. He obviously didn’t think he would get a positive response from a crowd where the average age was around 68. One couple responded that they weren’t newlyweds, but would be within a few weeks. They were picked to participate in the game. Two other couples who made the mistake of smiling at the “cruise director” as she circulated the room were also selected. It wasn’t until everyone was on the stage that our social director realized only one of the three couples was actually married. Wow! Is my very nice development in reality a modern day Sin City? The many couples described as “Significant Others” (aka S-O’s) who reside here give new meaning to the word “active” in Active Adult Community!

There are many logical reasons the S.O.’s prefer their status, and I respect and understand their choice not to be hitched. For folks like Hubby and me who are still on marriage number one, the best part of having so many S.O.s for friends is “new lovers” surround us. Their behavior rekindles our own dormant romantic streaks. Normally Hubby would say no to attending a Valentine’s Dance. We went, and he forgot about his aches and pains and danced. I can’t remember the last time my husband did that willingly. He even remembered to buy me a Valentine’s card this year – before Valentine’s Day. I’m glad I live in a Sinful Senior Community. It makes life more fun than printable!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sorry Northerners, Blame It on Me

Folks up North have been having a really miserable winter, and I think it’s my fault and I’d like to apologize. Let me explain. You see, when we first moved to Florida in 1973, we had many cold days during the winter – just not as many as we are having this year. (I even remember seeing snow fall in Ft. Lauderdale in 1978.) Back then, each December the tourists wore shorts while my family was dressed in long sleeved shirts and long pants. We have pictures of me sitting bundled up in winter clothes watching my nieces and nephews swim in my parent’s condo’s heated pool. By the time they flew back to New York, they were sick, but at least they could brag they went swimming in Florida.

In the early 1990’s things began to change, which is why I believe in global warming. By the turn of the century, we had heat and humidity 12 months a year with little relief. Oh, the temperature would show some change, from 95 in the summer to 75 during the winter, but the humidity never seemed to take a vacation. The tourists and snowbirds were ecstatic.

The locals – like me - dreamed of the days before global warming when December through February brought a bit of relief from the heat and humidity. The only exception was those whose livelihood depended on tourists. Northern visitors wouldn’t plan another winter vacation in Florida if they were cold while here. Next time, they would head to Aruba or Puerto Rico when they wanted a break from the cold winters up North.

This summer, during Hubby’s and my daily 7 AM walk, (after 7 the tropical sun is too oppressive to walk), I prayed aloud that this winter should be cold enough that I would need to wear sweaters everyday. My prayer was answered and that’s the cause of your weather problem up North. You see, whatever our weather is, the North is usually about 30 - 40 degrees colder depending on the season, which means instead of having icy rain this winter, they're getting all that white stuff.

As I said, my husband was with me when I said my prayer for an old-fashioned cold Florida winter. This morning, as we slid into our lightweight winter jackets to wear during our morning walk, he asked me if I could pray we win the lottery this weekend.