Monthly Archives: December 2012

Time Flies

You know. . . Time has a way of moving quickly

And catching you unaware of the passing years.

It seems just yesterday that I was young,

Just married and embarking on my new life with my mate.

And yet in a way, it seems like eons ago,

And I wonder where all the years went.

I know that I lived them all…

And I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams…

But, here it is… The winter of my life and it catches me by surprise…

How did I get here so fast?

Where did the years go and where did my youth go?

I remember well…

Seeing older people through the years and thinking that those

Older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off

That I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like…

But, here it is…

My friends are retired and getting grey…

They move slower and I see an older person now.

Some are in better and some worse shape than me…

But, I see the great change…

Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant…

But, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those

Older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d be.

Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day!

And taking a nap is not a treat anymore… it’s mandatory!

‘Cause if I don’t on my own free will… I just fall asleep where I sit!

And so, now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared

For all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability

To go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!!

Yes, I have regrets.

There are things I wish I hadn’t done…

Things I should have done, but indeed,

There are many things I’m happy to have done.

It’s all in a lifetime…

So, if you’re not in your winter yet…

Let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think.

Whatever you would like to accomplish in your life, please do it quickly!

Don’t put things off too long!!

Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today,

As you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not!

You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life…

So, live for today and say all the things you want your loved ones to remember…

And hope they appreciate and love you for all the things

You have done for them in all the years past!!

Life is a gift to you.

The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after.

Make it a fantastic one.

~ And, Remember ~

“It is health that is real wealth

And not pieces of gold or silver.”


Katie the Famous Cake-Maker Lives In the Retirement Home

She is 94 years old, has a small apartment on the 7th floor and prays regularly for the health of the elevator. “I have been baking cakes since my mother first let me roll the dough when I was 8 years old in 1918,” she says. “I now have 86 years experience behind me and finally I’m getting it right. Yesterday’s cheesecake is just wonderful! Would you like a taste?”

Inside, her apartment was Spartan. A small TV stood on a coffee table in front of two armchairs. Against the wall was a small table with 2 chairs for eating.

“Where are the shelves with all your cake recipes?” I asked.

“I have no written recipes; they are all up here,” she said tapping her head. “I have a recipe for Linzertorte that’s been in my family for 400 years. It is the world’s oldest recipe for a cake. I have been carrying it around for 70 years. On Tuesday I baked a torte and I reduced the sugar by 10 grains. It was a great improvement. I must remember to tell my daughter. She is a great baker; not in my class but pretty good.”

She pushed a small slice of cheesecake over to me.

“Have you ever had a taste of heaven?”

“Wonderful! I cried. “Can I…?”


“When can I come back?”

“April would be good. In April I will be baking the Linzertorte. Yes, I will see you again in April!” She opened and helped me out with a little push.

I have date with the 94 year cake maker in April!


A Face Slap In the Retirement Home

Here’s how it happened: Probably the most common sight in a retirement home are back problems, meaning walking problems. The worst is the shuffle where the foot remains in contact with the floor all the time while the body moves forward. Then there is the bent spine, the straight knee, the limp, the twitch, the foot drag and the foot drop. I belong to the ‘sideways bent’ class. All these ailments lead to one common symptom – the pain grimace. One soon learns who has what and which twitch is which.

The other day I dropped into a couch with a huge sigh of relief at taking the weight off my feet – and thereby my back. Sitting on the couch is a lady who I know by her own particular pain brand – the walking butt[5]

“Are you sore when you walk?” I ask the stupid question as an ice-breaker. It works.

“Sore as hell,” she answers.

“And when you sit?” I say, continuing the questioning.

“Not too bad,” she says, “as long as I lean to the left and I don’t sink into the chair.”

“Hmm,” I say digesting this piece of information before I make my diagnosis.

“How about when you stand?”

“That’s the worst!” she exclaims, wincing at the very thought. “I cannot stand which means I am badly handicapped. No museums, no art galleries, no standing in lines at the bank or the post office or the bus stop and definitely no cooking!”

“Wow!” I offer in sympathy. “That’s pretty bad.”

“Any more questions?”

“What are you like in bed?”

There is a three second pause followed by a loud thwack which rattles my teeth.

“Well, it hasn’t spread to your arms,” I say, running for the door.

Guilt Disappears At 80

The 88 year-old woman sitting next to me in the coffee lounge this morning leaned over and said, “I have to tell this to someone! I took an after-breakfast nap today and I don’t even feel guilty about it! What do you think of that?”

“I think it’s great,” I replied.

“What? That I took the nap or that I don’t feel guilty?”

“Umm, both I guess. I think that at, er, your age, please excuse me, it’s okay to nap wherever and whenever you feel like it. About not feeling guilty, that’s fine too. I still feel guilty about all sorts of things and I never give up hoping that one of these days I will grow out of it.”

“How old are you?”

“79.8. But today someone told me I am actually 79.10 on the duo-decimal scale.”

“Well, as soon as you turn 80 all signs of guilt will disappear. You’ll see.”

“I look forward to it,” I said going off in search of coffee – and feeling guilty about abandoning her.

It’s strange that life-long habits persist in a retirement home. The other day I was on the way to the elevator when the door of an apartment opened and a little old lady leaning on a walker came out holding a small package of garbage. I greeted her and continued walking. All week I was in a state of remorse and guilt at not having offered to take her garbage to the chute. I’m younger, stronger and male, I agonized. That’s what common courtesy dictates, isn’t it?

Yesterday the same thing happened. She emerged with the little package at the exact moment I passed her apartment. This time age-old, deep-ingrained good manners prevailed. “I’ll take that for you,” I said, reaching for the package.

“No you won’t!” She yelled, snatching the package close to herself. “It’s my garbage and I’m taking it!”

“Okay, okay,” I stuttered.

I’m never going to get this guilt thing right…

Goat’s Cheese for Old Goats

On the last Friday of every month we have a sort of cut-down village fair here at the retirement home. A few stall owners set up tables and display their wares. The stalls are aimed directly at the senior population, meaning there are no tee-shirts or brief shorts on display, but there are comfortable clothes, flat heeled shoes, a make-up table with a selection of guaranteed wrinkle remover creams (a big seller) and a few different food stalls. Oh yes, and walking sticks.

The food vendors offer foods not usually found here: sugar-free cakes, too-hard-to-chew toffee, olives, spicy eats, super-spicy eats, ultra-spicy eats, indigestible snacks and my favorite, goat’s milk cheese. After managing to avoid eating it for the past 79.8 years, I have thrown caution to the winds and am thoroughly enjoying myself. Once I get past the odor-barrier surrounding the table I start picking up small pieces and slices that the cheese merchant has set out for tasting. The truth is that I could stand there all day and make a whole meal out of this. In years past I would check the fat content of each cheese, smell it, taste it, examine the color, shake my head and move on. Today I went strictly by taste. If it was good on my tongue, I bought. And then I had to pay. There are no cheap goats in the retirement home!thCA72W255

What makes it different? I don’t know. A few years ago we stayed in a winery in Tuscany and pigged out on sheep’s milk cheeses. We loved those too. For my next cheese adventure I am going to travel 40 miles south to an interesting farm and try the buffalo milk cheese.

Yesterday Upon the Stair, I Met a Man Who Wasn’t There

He wasn’t there again today, I wish, I wish he’d go away.

Why am I on the stairs every day? Simple. The Retirement Center, home to about 250 residents, has 2 main elevators. Technically this is called being “Under-elevated”. Factually it means “You wait!” The elevator is going up when I want down or going down when I want up. In addition it is always full. There’s something going on here at all hours of the day. The dining room is on the ground floor. So residents travel down in search of food. Then they travel back up to their apartments and that’s when I’m trying to go down to the art studio. When I’m finished in the studio I’m trying to get back to my apartment, shlepping bags of art stuff, holding canvases in my teeth and in need of the bathroom. That’s when everyone else is trying to get down to the coffee shop. It’s an ongoing struggle.thCAY2Y3IF

Then one day it struck me that there must be staircases. What if there’s a fire and they switch the elevators off? I found stairs hidden in a corner and now I use them for my vertical travel as much as I can instead of the ever-full elevators which seemed to be programmed to stop at every floor, no matter what.

And that’s where I saw the man who wasn’t there…

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away…

When I came home last night at three
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door… (slam!)

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away

The American educator and poet Hughes Mearns wrote this piece in 1899. I guess he too was having stair trouble in his retirement home.

Thrown Out In A Retirement Home?

Being thrown out of class is a serious business. I’m averaging a couple of times a week here in the retirement home and my punishers are all old women. The past few weeks I have gone down to the hall to the chair exercise class, dropped into a vacant chair and 10 seconds later an irate 85 year old is standing on front of me, hands on hips; “You’re in my chair!” I nod politely, get up and move to another vacant chair with the same result. This one is even more irate and older too. So I move again and I keep moving until the instructor asks me sweetly, “Wouldn’t you like to join the later class? There are a few empty chairs there.” So I change classes and make the same mistakes in the second session – sitting in a chair where another old exerciser has a lifetime lease. I have to learn to arrive after all the others are in so I can find an honest vacant[10]

The scenario is sometimes the same in the coffee lounge. I get a cup of coffee at the counter, find a comfortable seat, open the paper and start work on the crossword only to be interrupted by a not so discreet cough. I don’t bother to look up. I sigh irritably and loudly, fold the paper and move to another place. Finally the penny dropped and few of us have moved in and established our own corner so that we too can use our verbal shotguns on trespassers.

It all goes back to the lessons I learned early in life: “When an older woman is standing in front of you, stand up and offer her your seat!”

But Mom, I thought that was only meant for the bus!

Better Than a ‘Flu Shot

Miss Beatrice, the church organist, was in her eighties and had never been married.
She was admired for her sweetness and kindness to all. One afternoon the pastor came to call on her and she showed him into her quaint sitting room. She invited him to have a seat while she prepared tea. As he sat facing her old Hammond organ, the young minister noticed a cute glass bowl sitting on top of it. The bowl was filled with water, and in the water floated, of all things, a condom!

When she returned with tea and scones, they began to chat.
The pastor tried to stifle his curiosity about the bowl of water and its strange floater, but soon it got the better of him and he could no longer resist.

‘Miss Beatrice, I wonder if you would tell me about this?’ he said, pointing to the bowl.
‘Oh, yes,’ she replied, ‘isn’t it wonderful?
‘I was walking through the park a few months ago and I found this little package on the ground.
The directions said to place it on the organ, keep it wet and that it would prevent the spread of disease. Do you know, I haven’t had the flu all winter.’

Sex at 79!

I just took a leaflet out of my mailbox, informing me that I can have sex at 79.
I’m so happy, because I live at number 71.
So it’s not too far to walk home afterwards.
And it’s the same side of the street.
I don’t even have to cross the road!

What Goes On In Retirement Homes, Anyway?

I have, in recent years become a bad sleeper. From being a faithful 8-hours a nighter I have graduated to fits and bursts of sleep between midnight and 8am. I’m sure that given the opportunity I could knock out 8 hours on the couch if the television set was on and blaring in my ear, but things are different in the dark and quiet of the night. So I wander around, read, grab a snack and the dark hours pass. I sometimes look out of the windows at the moonlit scenery and at the glass-fronted corridors where the only movement is an occasional caregiver changing shifts.

Except for three nights ago. I was standing at the window at about 3am mulling the thought  of a sleeping pill when I saw the door of an apartment across the courtyard open and a figure slip out very quickly. As the person turned I saw it was a man. The door closed behind him and he took off down the corridor towards the elevators. I thought I recognized the face but I wasn’t sure. So the night after, I staked the place out, I prepared a cheese sandwich for myself and a flask of hot milk. It was a long wait but it paid off. A few minutes after 3 the door opened, the guy emerged and someone inside closed the door behind him. In the morning I wandered along that corridor and read the name of the resident on the nameplate.thCAYKOEKH

A bit of detective work at the front desk told me that the lady is a new arrival here. I found her in the coffee shop and checked her out. I sat down next to her and started up a mild conversation, but nothing developed and I left. She is nothing special to look at either, I thought. And extra heavy to boot. Last night I switched from a cheese sandwich to peanut butter and jelly after the indigestion of the previous night. At 3 the nocturnal visitor emerged and walked jauntily towards the elevator.

Yeah, beats me too…