Thursday, August 15, 2013

Keyless Nightmare

At one time, every key I needed was on one ring, including the key to my classroom.  This helped me avoid having to spend hours each day retracing my steps, looking for my keys. I could not start my car unless I had all my keys, so there was no chance any needed one would remain in a purse I used the previous day. If I had to get into my parents’ home and eventually my children’s, there was no chance the key wasn’t with me.

Throughout my teaching career, I had a spiral stretchy on my key ring. After I parked at work, I opened my belt—those were the days my tops were always tucked into my pants—and slipped it through the stretchy. I was able to open every door and file cabinet throughout the day without once having to search for my keys. Never were my keys left in the ladies’ room or in the teachers’ planning room. They did not come off of my belt until I returned home at the end of the work day.

The only snag to my plan for a stress-free life with respect to my keys was the whereabouts of them within my home. I had (and still haven’t) disciplined myself to put them in the same place when entering the house. Since this was an ongoing problem, like finding my car in the supermarket parking lot, I made sure the keys were on top of my purse before turning in for the night otherwise I risked being late for work.

I shed the stretchy when I retired for only one reason. Friends said it didn’t make a positive fashion statement. After I drove to my destination, the keys were tossed into my purse. When departing, it was not unusual for me to have to dump the contents of my bag to find my keys. However, once I realized that what goes in eventually must come out and provide me with the necessary tool to start my car, I no longer fretted about my keys.

Last year, we needed a new car. My husband insisted we purchase a keyless one which meant I would need a fob to start the car. As long as it is near the vehicle, it could to start. Hubby’s rationing was that this engineering was the wave of the future, and if we bought an old-fashioned car that used keys, it would have less resale value. Cars come under his domain in our home—cooking and laundry is mine—so I listened. Big mistake.

First, the fob feels like a one pound lead weight. When I did my daily power walk with it attached to my other keys, it felt like I was walking with a weight in one pocket. Obviously, it had to come off the ring. For the first time in the 53 years I am driving, my house keys and car “key” are no longer on one ring. I keep the fob in my purse, but this in itself causes a problem. I have lost count of how many times I have left the house, locked the door, got in the car and it would not start. Angrily, I had to retrace my steps and retrieve the purse I carried the day before where I would find the fob nestled in a pocket.

Reverse the above frustration. I drove to our community’s clubhouse only to discover my keys needed to open the locked door never made the trip. Things have gotten worse, not better.

The other day I went food shopping. When done, I exited the store and headed for my car. I placed my hand on the magic spot near the trunk and nothing happened. I stood in the blazing South Florida summer sun and searched my purse to no avail. I dumped the contents into one of the plastic shopping bags. How on earth was I able to drive here?  Then I remembered Hubby Dearest was standing next to the car when I started it and backed out of the garage…






Thursday, August 1, 2013

Words With Friends Friends

Words With Friends Friends

During my lifetime I have developed different categories of friends, as we all have. Like most people, I have family friends, social friends, work friends, organization friends, and neighborhood friends. There are inner circle friends—the ones on the wedding and special occasion celebration lists—and outer circle. They are people you like, but for a zillion reasons never you invited each other to dinner, but will send get well cards if needed.

During the last decade, I developed a totally new class of friends—social media friends. My Space was where I got my feet wet. On this site few folks used their real names for fear of the unknown. As my “friends” on this site fled to Facebook, our aliases were discarded. Clever folks found ways to circumvent the false names and eventually most of us “friended” each other on Facebook. These people became my core group of the newest category of friends, Facebook Friends. Not only did I have these fantastic literary friends to share with, but the best part of Facebook was allowing me to renew contact with relatives I otherwise would have lost touch with. Seeing their families as they grow, gives a new closeness that otherwise might never have developed. The highlight of my day is when my grandkids post pictures or are tagged in pictures. It gives Hubby and me the feeling that even though they are grown and miles away, we still actively share their lives.

About a year ago, Facebook introduced a new category of friends to me: Word With Friends friends. The scrabble-like game has become addicting. Even as I write this, I stop every few sentences because I am playing games with my Atlanta son and two of my friends. Luckily, none of us has a boss that can look over our shoulder.

Words With Friends has reunited me with a cousin’s ex, someone in a zillion years I would never even think of calling. (This cousin doesn’t read my blog, so cousin who does…it isn’t your ex J ) This gal is a Words With Friends “high scorer.” I’m getting there, but still have a bit to go. Anyway, I play Mah Jongg with another WWF high scorer. I handed her my cell phone—the one I bought so I could play WWF no matter where I am—and asked her to play against this person for me. She put in a 42 point word allowing me my first win. (But there have been others that I have won without cheating.)

I’ve also reconnected with friends from the past, some who were just acquaintances, others outer circle, but through this game, it seems like we were and still are BFF. What amazes me the most about this game is people who have no time to make phone calls, spend all night playing. I even sent an instant message to one friend during a game who I haven’t spoken with in months. “Time for a chat?” I wrote.

“Too busy,” she replied.

Facebook, which shows who is connected, showed me that this friend didn’t turn her lights out for hours. Communicating for her, like other loved ones, is best done by playing the game.

Last week it rained all Sunday, both here and I think Atlanta. For one hour back and forth I played WWF with my son, just as we once did on rainy days when he was a child—only then I had to pretend I “goofed” so he would win. Now when I win, I think he is pretending he didn’t see he opened a triple-word score for me.

Words With Friends has answered the question that has perplexed me about the younger generation since texting became the rage. How can we communicate without communication? (I know this is from Flower Drum Song) It’s a common complaint my generation has about the “texting generation.”  But now I know how—start a WWF game. When the player responds, you know he or she is alive and well. If not, if they are friends who have crossed over the border to phone friends, you can call and inquire about their health. Otherwise, assume the obvious—they played too well for you or you to well for them.

I would make a dinner party for all my WWF friends, but I’m not sure we would have much of a conversation now that we spend hours each night communicating with mainly two or three letter words, some even ending in “q.”


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Camp Paws and Post Menopause

A friend just told me that the local Humane Society has a one-week day camp for elementary school-aged children. The experience gives the students an opportunity to  learn the needs of animals and how to care for pets.

 As I listened to my friend tell about the things her grandchild learned, my head was spinning with ideas. I thought that it would be a great idea for active senior communities like mine to run a day camp for local children. It should be done in conjunction with the Humane Society where the children would spend the first week.  By the end of the second week, which is the one spent in Seniorville, the young ones would realize that both pets and folks on Social Security have a lot in common.

Pets and old folks have unconditional love for little ones who are kind to them.  Pets give sloppy kisses to humans. Seniors give candy kisses (when parents allow) and real kisses also, unless of course the children are at the age where it will mortify them. It’s weird they never mind Fido’s kisses, but somehow Granny’s and Papa’s hugs can be embarrassing to preteens. 

Another thing seniors and pets have in common is we don’t like to be confined.  Dogs like going for long walks or to Dogie Parks. Children can accompany hosting seniors to local amusement parks or game rooms that permit children—or even on a neighborhood walk where they can share experiences. Verbalizing might be hard for some youngsters who usually only text the old folks in their lives. I’m sure they learned at Camp Humane Society that they had to talk to the pets because Fido doesn't text. After a week, the kids might even enjoy the archaic way of communication.

Pets love attention and have their spirits uplifted after an afternoon or evening frolicking with their owners. Likewise, grandparents glow when showered with attention from children…of any age. True, few grandparents can run as fast as Fido does after a ball, but many are still capable of shooting baskets or playing a decent game of tennis  with the visitors. For those “campers” who prefer water sports, they can join the elders who are participating in water aerobics or pool volley ball.  

Seniors who use a walker or cane don’t want to be excluded from fun just like a limping pup wants attention too. There are lots of table games that youngsters could enjoy playing  with their elders—and these games aren't restricted to those gray-haired folks with aches and pains.  Like pets, plenty of people of all ages and physical conditions prefer being in air-conditioned comfort. There are numerous other non-physical games for children of all ages such as Gin Rummy, Dominoes  Chess, Bridge, Canasta or Mah Jong. These games, like rules pets must learn, are filled with rules players must master.

In Camp Humane Society, Fido gets the treat at the end of each activity from the “campers.” The roles are switched in Camp Seniorville.  Here the visiting children would be receiving the instant gratification rewards from their “owners. “ In fact, in this one category, camping with the elders is quite superior to Camp Human Society.  In Camp Seniorville, the children can be taken out of the community for a treat at any time during the day, be it ice cream or an indulging shopping spree. I know firsthand, the hosting seniors will gladly spring for the bill!  Now y’all know that is something Fido would never do!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

If the Key Fits

Thirty odd years ago, I sat in my much older sister-in-laws’ kitchen ridiculing her then in style “old-lady” Vera blouse, the same as my mother’s. She cautioned me that every generation has its “uniform” and mine was jeans with tops. She said as far as she and her peers were concerned, we we were wearing laborer's clothing as dress apparel.  Hubby and I still wear them, but so do my kids and grandkids, so denim pants certainly are not just for the over 65 set.

 For 35-years I have yet been able to pinpoint an “old people” style for mine. A very funny Facebook post a Facebook friend recently shared hit me like a brick as to my generations “uniform,” and it isn’t one to be found in clothing stores. She wrote about how she and her 3 young children exited a super market, piled into a van, packages and all, only to have one of her son’s say, “Mom, this isn’t our car.”

Clothes don’t define my generation. Our cars do. My young friend’s post was about vans, trucks, whatever you may want to call them. I guarantee you will find few seniors on Social Security driving 7-passenger vehicles unless the owners live near all of their grandkids and have to drive their carpools.

Fifteen years ago most of my peers drove a white anything-manufactured by Toyota, cars. Through the years we switched to gray ones but recently white full-sized cars by various manufacturers seem to be making a comeback as the “old-people uniform” automobile color.

As I’m writing this, my memory has been jogged about a parking lot incident with my friends about ten years ago.  My Mah Jongg group had met for lunch. Three of the five of us had driven.  After lunch, we returned to our same model, different year, cars. Two of us could not open the doors. The third, along with her passenger, started to laugh. “I guess I’m lucky,” she called to us. “My car is a different shade of gray.” 

So, sister-in-law up in heaven, you were right. Each generation has their uniform.  Do I dare say that “texting” belongs to the next generation? 


Thursday, June 20, 2013



If my parents had a cell phone or computer, I would have had to resign from teaching in order to have enough time to handle their technology problems in addition to their doctor visits.  I haven’t actually clocked the hours spent on the phone with the Comcast tech support team and AT&T customer service, but it is getting to be a full time job.
 Immediately after I purchased my fancy phone and used my passwords on my cell phone to set up email accounts, dialogue boxes on my computer haunted me every time I wanted to open my email. Each time I went on, demands greeted me insisting I retype my password.  Each evening, after dinner, as Hubby sat down to watch television, I called Comcast tech support to find out why the computer wasn’t remembering the passwords. Computers, unlike humans, shouldn’t have dementia. Every night, someone else got access to my computer, fidgeted around with settings, and declared the problem fixed.  One young man informed me that my Outlook email passwords were different from my Comcast. He informed me that I must go to both sites each time I change my password. Wonderful. I didn’t know they were two different sites.
I have two Comcast email addresses. I questioned each tech person if the fact they had the same password was the cause of the problem. I was assured it was not. Finally, one expert, who must have reached the last step in the help manual, changed the passwords for each account. Viola!  Bye, bye dialogue box. Hello to trying to keep track of which account has which password.
My joy was short-lived. I could no longer get email on my cell phone. Now I discovered that just like Comcast can operate my computer from far off lands, AT&T can get inside my Galaxy phone. Guess what they discovered...the email account wasn’t set up properly.  Could that have been the cause of the password problem on my computer’s email? To make matters more frustrating, my Facebook, Google and Yahoo passwords had to be changed within a short time period. I forget the reason why and not sure if the Gmail account is the same as Google.   
My meltdown occurred when Hubby’s phone would not take a charge. We had no choice but to drive 30 minutes north to the only AT&T service center in our county. To me, that’s like having one service center for all of Manhattan. Thankfully no lines, and once again joy was short lived. The tech dared ask my spouse for the password for HIS phone. He looked at me. Tears were in his eyes.

 He was passworded out. Cell phones don’t have a “forgot  your password” feature for cell phones.
I could go on with another 500 words to tell you about the next 48 hours of password horror until his phone was working again, but it ended with the two of us having a huge argument over something we never, ever fought about before—who’s in charge of remembering which passwords.  It seems he thought that along with cooking, ironing and cleaning, remembering his passwords should become my job.
And yes, our phones and computers are functioning now, and I think better than me.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I'm Back

I’m Back

For several reasons, I stopped blogging a few years ago. First, if I blogged on other sites, they did not want to see the blog on my weekly post. The second reason—time.  After Hubby and I moved to Seniorville, we became busier than we were in our “previous life.” Our life is like living on a perpetual cruise ship.

The upside of our move only 45 minutes north of our old homestead was we were able to keep all of our lifetime Florida friends. The downside of the move, as predicted in a chapter in my book, is we go out to eat too much.  New friends, old friends, and recently retired to South Florida New York friends, and vacationing visitors fill our evenings almost nightly, especially during season when the “snowbirds” descend. Days find Hubby and me, not basking in the sun—we are Floridians—but either at meetings or playing Bridge or Mah Jongg (just me). We force ourselves to keep a few hours clear now and then for errands and chores.  A recently retired friend, one who thought he would be a nobody without his job, finally agrees he loves his new, busier than ever, retired life.

 Unless you live in what is justifiably called an Active Adult Community in South Florida, it is almost impossible to explain how those collecting social security can have a social calendar set months in advance.  Today’s generation of parents, whose kids are committed to umpteen afterschool activities, will be better trained for Seniorville. They are used to no free time. Our kids, I think, were the last generation that had some free time after school.

My writing has taken a back seat to my Seniorville social life, but, alas I must confess, my avid reading is also is sleep mode—the cause?—Words With Friends.  Instead of reading at night or while waiting for hours on end in various doctors and dentists offices, I now play this addicting variation of Scrabble with up to 20 friends and relatives at one time. The upside of this new habit is unlike socializing over wine and food, it is calorie free.