A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 5

Lost and Found 

We lose things around the house. It’s obvious of course, that things got put in a different place than we had them at home. First the ladies who helped us unpack put things away, and later we ourselves forgot where we put things. Anyway, most of the time, almost everything shows up again.

Some things did not get here at all, but we discovered that too late to alert the moving company. Ski poles, a tackle box with tools and a broom never showed up. And today we wondered about a medium size coffee table we had. Where did that go? Did we donate it to someone before we left? If not, we hope it found a good home somewhere in South Carolina, at the final stop of the moving truck. It’s ok, because we would not have had a place for it in our new abode anyway.

Daisy, one of the ladies at our breakfast table, lost a pair of prescription glasses three weeks ago. A real problem for her, because she does not see well, even with them. She looked everywhere, asked the housekeeper to look for her in the house, and we helped her look in the coat closet and the library. She ended up getting two sets of new prescription glasses from her ophthalmologist, but that was an expensive loss.

Last week, Daisy lost her walker. She had two walkers actually, so she could walk from her cottage to the Club for meals and physical therapy, and she could keep one at the Club. It was nowhere to be found for days; not in the coat closet, not in the office, the library, the dining room or the café. After a week she happily told us that she saw it (with the new glasses) being loaded onto a truck ready to leave with donated items for Goodwill. The driver reluctantly gave it back to her. But her name was on it, so he had to.

Laurie, a very nice lady we have not had dinner with yet, lost her wedding ring. Now that’s disastrous. Two days later, a note was put on the bulletin board across from the library that the ring had been found.

One Sunday we had brunch with David and Gloria, a wonderful couple that has been here longer than we have. When we got up, David did not find his walker. We all helped him look. “What does it look like?”
“Red and black, with large wheels. And it has my name on it.”
Gloria and I looked around the perimeters of the dining room; Mike looked outside the dining room against the wall. Then David showed up with someone else’s walker he had found (her name was on it), who was no longer in the dining room. We all assumed that she had taken David’s walker by accident, but we could easily find her apartment, so that we could switch the walkers later. Thus was decided, and David and Gloria went on their way to their fourth floor apartment. Back at the table to pick up my sunglasses, I saw a red and black walker with large wheels against the wall behind the chair David had sat on during brunch: it said DAVID on the front bar. None of us had seen it but it was there all along!

Something worse happened to Richard. One morning when he got up he could not find his teeth. He and his wife looked everywhere, in the bed, under the bed, in the bathroom and in the rest of their apartment, but the teeth were lost. Poor Richard had to have a whole new set made the next week. A good thing was that they were not his front teeth, so he could tell us about his misfortune with a smile. He even considered not to have them replaced at all, but his wife objected to that.

Worse even, Paul appeared at our table for dinner one night with one of his front teeth missing. He said it had happened before, that he had to let the spot  heal for three months and then he would get a new one implanted. A month went by, then he lost a second front tooth. Now that spot has to heal for three months, and the dentist told him he would rather wait and do them both at the same time. So Paul is starting his wait all over. But hey, you get used to everything in life if there is noting you can do about it anyway.

In the hallway is a coat closet. Coming from the cottages, we use it every day to store our hats and sunglasses. The coat closet is a small, walk-in closet. A large carton box full of lost and found clothes, a hat and a cap plus a smaller box with other items and a huge vase with imitation flowers virtually fills the shelves, and nobody ever seemed to claim what they had lost. I is more like a junky storage closet, and looking ahead to the winter months, more people would be using it, I thought.

So today, with the approval from management, I cleaned out the closet. I lined three of the four shelves with our leftover shelf liner, an air freshener was brought in at my request and housekeeping vacuumed the floor. Then I cataloged each item I found in the two boxes, typed up two lists, ranging from clothing to sun glasses to jewelry and a watch, and asked the office to print the lists and distribute them among the residents. They get ten days to claim their property and the rest will be donated to Goodwill. Oh, a friend offered to launder all the clothing that gets donated, so that is great for the people who get it and who may not have a washing machine.

I get to feel at home already. I belong!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,

Ronny

A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 4

Traffic and Language

This area has a maze of freeways and Parkways. I don’t know if it is the same in all of North Carolina but here we have an amazing network of roads, connecting with each other to go north, south, east or west. Big loops take you from one freeway on to another, and I definitely need the navigation system in my car to find my way. If I am not driving in the right direction I am urged to make a “legal U-turn”. I should have counted how many legal U-turns I have made so far!

On the road it’s surely life in the fast lane – all lanes are fast lanes, and I must anticipate whether to take, “in a quarter mile, the next exit on the right” or “keep left”, which sometimes means “go straight”.

The voice of the navigation girl is often hard to understand, and she is very late in her announcement of when to take the next turn. But I am getting used to it. In the first week we were here, three short errands within 4 miles took us three hours, even with the help of the navigator. Now, I can get somewhere in six minutes or five; it is amazing how close we are to everything, from doctors’ offices to dentists, to nail salons and hair cutters, to Costco and Kroger, not to forget Walmart, hospitals and Urgent Care. Always with the help of the voice of my navigation girl of course.

GPS devices default to a female voice. Have you ever wondered why? I checked it out. In American history, female voices have been the radio operators. It was women who gave directions to pilots in World War II. Similarly, women have conventionally taken on the role of secretaries and communicators. As a result, all GPS systems (and Siri systems, the newest technological innovation on the market) are taking on a female voice for roles that have been traditionally female. An exception is Germany, where a BMW GPS was recalled because men refused “to take orders from a woman”. Hah!

The roads, freeways and parkways are edged by tall trees and flowering trees, and bushes; everywhere you look it’s green. It’s like you are driving through a huge park and it’s absolutely beautiful. All along the freeways, nestled between and surrounded by more green bushes and trees, totally hidden from sight, are many different neighborhoods with fancy names on stone gate posts, like Chatham Forest, Windsor Place, Hatfield Commons, Weatherstone, Lochmere and so on. Names sound British, don’t they? Could that be dating back to the British colonization of the Americas, which began in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia, I wonder? Does any of you know that part of history to enlighten me?

Hidden as well behind the dense vegetation are the doctors’ offices, banks, shopping centers and other commercial buildings. The beautiful landscaping everywhere makes it extra difficult to find an address for someone new to the area, like me. “Your destination”, my navigator tells me with her sharp, staccato voice, “is ahead in 200 feet”, but it is nowhere in sight. She inconveniently does not say “it’s on your right or your left,” and all I see ahead in 200 feet is a red traffic light. But hidden among the green on the left and on the right are large shopping areas, and I have toured around in various shopping malls in town looking for “my destination” after making “legal U-turns” when the traffic light turned green.

The voice of my navigator may be sharp, at least most often I can understand what she is saying. I have more problems with the real “North Carolina language”. The very first time I called Waltonwood I could not understand the operator and I thought I had the wrong number. I dialed again, only to get the same voice uttering the same abracadabra. I apologized for dialing the wrong number again and hung up. When the same thing happened a third time, I said, “It’s me again. What exactly are you saying?”
“Good evening, this is Senior Living community Waltonwood. Whom can I connect you with?”
My gosh! I had the right number all along! We’ve lived here now for three months, and I still have a difficult time understanding the lady at the front desk; and there are others that are born and raised in North Carolina or other southern states that I have trouble understanding. So in the dining room you can frequently see me lean over to someone at the table to hear what they are saying, or asking them to repeat the question, yet I definitely do not need hearing aids; it just looks like I do! I fit right in!

Spots and Tattoos

Do you remember noticing that a brown spot or two suddenly appeared on your face, arm, or hand? It was many years ago that I saw my first spot. Beauty magazines called it liver spots or age spots and described them as “very common in adults older than 50”. Oh, but you could do something about them, they said. They sold cremes and serums which would make them fade and disappear. I tried a few of those in my heyday. I had unwanted sun spots that I had to do something about. Oh vanity! I tried to no avail, and in the course of time gave up.

In the course of time, by the way, all my sun spots were showing up, and to this day they are still multiplying. Born in the Dutch East Indies, where I lived until I was seventeen, I was “sun kissed” all over. In those days sunscreen did not exist, and even if it had been invented, the Japanese would have confiscated everybody’s supply. During my young adult life in the Netherlands, having a tan was “in”, and sunbathing in my free time, on the roof of my boarding house and on the beach during vacations, created a nice brown skin on most of my body. When I was a young mother there were bikini’s that let you tan through the thin material: does anyone remember wearing one of those, to get an all-over tan? I’d like to hear from you, just so I know I was not the only one sunbathing without protection in next-to-nothing on my 3′ x 9′ back porch! Well, in the course of time, all those little “sun kisses” have been showing up as little brown spots and bigger brown spots. But there is nothing to worry about since I know now why they are there.

Then came the day, now about four years ago, that I noticed a red spot on my arm, like a bruise. For that one I went to my dermatologist. “Your skin is getting thinner as you age, and you are bruising more easily,” he said. Nothing he could do about it, and neither could I. Except of course, as my husband tells me, move more slowly and carefully. Yeah, right! That’s easier said than done for a person like me. “Why,” I thought, “I am getting old!” Really? Really. But how old is old?

Well, let me tell you, living in a retirement community like ours, I am surrounded by people with spots and bruises and I definitely do not feel old any more! On faces, arms and hands, spots and bruises are in! Nobody worries about them, nobody tries to cover them. They would have to walk around in a tent if they wanted to cover them all, that’s how large they sometimes are. It looks almost like they are worn with pride, like tattoos, and all my worries are over. If you ever worried about age spots, I can highly recommend moving to a retirement community – soon!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time!

Ronny

A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 3

Birds, Geese and a Turtle

We have gotten to know quite a few people by name now, and enjoy having dinner with different ones each night. It is interesting to hear the stories of their backgrounds, the jobs they held, the places where they have lived, the trips they have made to all parts of the world.

One of the couples we befriended is currently on safari in Africa for two weeks and we can’t wait for them to come back and show us their pictures and tell their stories.

Sometimes, when I think I know someone’s name, and see her pass, I’ll call out that name, “Hi Doris!” If she turns around and greets me in turn, I know I did remember yet another one! If she doesn’t respond it could be that she hasn’t heard me; I never know in this place if someone can hear well or not.

The water level in the pond has gone down about three feet, because of lack of rain the past two weeks, and the motor of the fountain broke down. It was only two years old, but sucked up too many algae and died. I’m hoping that, if it does not rain soon, they will add water up to the original level. So far that has not happened.

One turtle calls our pond home. At about 10 inches long, it is not highly visible, and even slower than the geese when it crosses the road, as it sometimes does, crawling up the slope from the pond across the street and across the lawn to the back of one of the cottages. I don’t know if it finds there what it is looking for, but I do know that Pete has a number of bird feeders back there, and perhaps also geese feeders, because the yellowed strip of grass across from the pond to the back of the cottage is a dead giveaway that the geese love to visit him. I saw the turtle back in the pond the next day, thank goodness. I love turtles. I fondly remember swimming behind large sea turtles and watching them, through the mask of my snorkel, slowly “fly” through the water, like birds through the air. I remember, too, the encounters I had with huge Manta Rays, in Hawai’i and Tahiti. Swimming behind one in Mauna Lani Bay, and standing among them, touching their rough, yet velvety skin, while a guide was feeding them fish. Manta Rays also move through the water like turtles, “flying”. I love elephants too, by the way. In Thailand I rode a young elephant, and later on I stood beside a four-year-old, petting her while she glanced at me with her right eye and lifted her trunk in a “thank you”. But I am sidetracking…

Here, we have geese. They are everywhere in the area. Even in shopping centers you can see them crossing the street and cars giving them the right of way. We have been told that they are protected. We sometimes hear them fly overhead from a neighboring pond with the powerful sound of their wings and unanimous cry, and watch them land en masse on ours. Two months ago they had six young trailing behind, then five. By now you can’t distinguish the little ones from the adults anymore. Ten to eighteen of them waddle across our street on their way to the food source behind Pete’s cottage, then back to stand at the edge of the pond to drink, all in a row next to each other, then slide into the water for a little grooming. No idea if the water is refreshing or not, but it will be cooler than the outside air temperature during the day.

One afternoon, looking through the window at the hummingbird feeder we hung in a tree, our new “bird tree”, I saw a little head peeking around the corner of the patio. For a second I thought it was a dog; we are allowed to keep a dog here, as long as it is small, under 40 pounds. Then I realized it was a goose, and when I ran outside, I saw five more. I clapped my hands and waved my arms to chase them away, because we love to look at the geese, but to have them on our lawn or patio is a totally different matter. Did you know that a goose poops every twelve minutes? That is five times per hour. Multiply that by six (geese) and you will get thirty 3″ long productions in one hour. Multiply that by 24 and in one day… you get the picture!

For the same reason we are not going to put out any bird feeders except for the hummingbird feeder, which was discovered on the second day. The hummingbirds here are smaller than in Prescott. Many other birds are attracted by the container of water on top of the hummingbird feeder (which serves to prevent ants from trespassing down to the sugar water). All throughout the day we see and hear many birds, small ones, large ones and even birds of prey. Last week, when we walked back to our cottage after dinner, I saw a small bird chasing a large raven that repeatedly tried to dive into a holly tree. The raven was persistent, but so was the little bird, who was protecting its nest in the tree. I could not help myself and ran towards the raven, yelling caw, caw, caw, waving my arms. I scared him and he flew away.

When I walk around the track early in the morning, I see many worms on the walkway; by the time we go to breakfast they are all gone. The few that are left dry up on the spot and will have been dragged away by ants by the time the sun goes down. We watched similar cleanups in Hawai’i and also on our deck in Prescott. I love watching nature, to a certain extent.

By the way, the six geese did not come back to check out our back yard after I chased them away.

It’s a wonderful life!

Until next time,

Ronny