A New Life! Retirement at its Best 54


If you have ever seen a litter of puppies at 4 weeks old and you have to choose one, you will know how difficult it is to make the right choice. They are all so very cute! I drove to the breeder last Saturday morning. Mike was not feeling well, and the grandkids had other activities so I went by myself. On the way out I took the 64 East instead of West, discovered it right away, but it cost me fifteen minutes. Navigation wants to send me via the I-40, like last time, but that route is half an hour longer. So I had looked at the maps and AAA gave me a TripTik. Do you remember TripTiks? We used those all the time in the sixties and seventies before there was navigation in cars. I felt pretty good about the TripTik, until I had to look at it (no passenger to do it for me). It was kind of scary to look at it while driving at 60 mph but anyway, I made it to the kennel.

Three of the eight females were black, so we had a choice of three; but at 4 weeks old, one of them appeared to have grey streaks over her eyes and two grey legs. They called it a Phantom black.
I sat on an upside down bucket in a small fenced area and observed two four week old black minis, one smooth haired with a pink collar and one curly haired with orange. They did not really know what they were doing there away from all the others (the litter counted twelve!) and aimlessly wandered around. Toys did not get their attention until Pinky gave a little shove to a bunch of knotted ropes. Orange took a few steps back – she appeared more timid. The choice was difficult, but I ultimately opted for Pinky, the smooth haired one. And later, after Mike had seen pictures and heard my observations, he agreed. So I will add some pictures of our new little bundle of joy: we are calling her Lani, the Hawaiian word for heaven, heavenly, but also majesty. Her current weight, at 4 weeks, is 2.5 lbs. She was probably born before Orange, who was 100 g lighter.

Thinking I could just use the TripTik in reverse to get home, appeared to be a mistake. Somehow I got terribly lost. I first asked a woman who was pulling weeds somewhere across the road; hers sounded like an easy way, but was not. I kept driving on the same roads in opposite directions. A gas station attendant would surely know! But he was from India, had never heard of Cary and when I said Raleigh he pointed me to the I-40. No way. Then back to my car navigation twice, and finally I recognized where I had come from. I stopped the car by the side of the road in the shade of an enormous oak tree and ate my cheese sandwich and grapes. The total time I lost was 45 minutes! But finally I made it home. After talking to Mike I took a quick nap before dinner and was good as new again.


It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,


A New Life! Retirement at its Best 53

Hurricane Update

Following the destruction all along the coast, and listening to all the flood warnings, we feel blessed. The rain and wind did not start until Friday afternoon, and all the storm drains on campus have been open after a thorough cleaning, so the water runs down the street on both sides and down the drains. Next to our house is an enormous catchment area, a drainage basin, which fills up when we have a lot of rain, like now. The water comes in through a cement tunnel on the street side. We don’t know what will happen when that basin gets full. Overflowing is not likely because it is very deep, but the water could go back into the cement tunnel and up to the street, and then we would get flooding. That is what happens along the coastline: the storm surge pushes the water back up the rivers which then causes flooding. But so far, it does not look like our basin will get that full. At the very bottom of our property water came rushing out of another cement tunnel like a whitewater river, and next to it was a narrower flow of water coming along the lawn from the back of the cottages. At the very bottom all the water takes a right turn and flows as a creek in the direction of the large pond in Wimbledon. I can’t wait to see if that creek overflowed: it is along that creek that I walk through “the divide” to Wimbledon. When our grandsons were over earlier this week, they tied orange duck tape on all the barbed wire that sticks up out of the ground along my path. I hope it will prove to be waterproof because I want to be able to see where not to walk when there is snow on the ground or when I am carrying my little puppy to safety.

Grandparents’ Day

Last week, the Club celebrated Grandparents’ Day. They offered hamburgers and hot dogs with all the trimmings for lunch, plus strawberry milkshakes, brownies and pop corn. Many of the Residents had their kids and grandkids over for lunch, and hop scotch and hula hoop on the driveway. Nobody did the sack hop on the lawn, but the whole area outside and inside was bustling, and they played music of the fifties. The staff was dressed in bright pink poodle skirts and shoes with bobby socks. My grandkids were all busy, so I went to the Café by myself and sat down at a table for two with my friend Jay, who is in his nineties. He did not have any grands with him either, and said to me that he would pretend I was his visiting great grandchild. We had fun with that. He told everyone who came to say hello that I was his great grandchild, and people stared at him and looked at me questioningly, is Jay developing Alzheimers? Then we told them it was just for the day 🙂

Pill Boxes

Grandparents’ Day happened to also be Janice’s 80th birthday. Janice and her husband Ben are the distant cousins, who moved here a year before us. We see them in the dining room and at special events, but, as Ben says, we are not joined at the hip. I took a vase of orange Alstroemerias up to their apartment and while I was there, their son Jim called. First Janice talked to him, then Ben got the phone. While he was talking, another bell kept ringing in the kitchen. On the counter stood a round plastic box the size of a breakfast plate, half full with a variety of pills. A red light was blinking and the bell kept ringing. It was eleven o’clock. I pushed the red light to no avail. Then I took the whole box to the living room and held it up in front of Ben, who kept talking and then made a motion of turning the box upside down. I did, and the bell stopped ringing, the light stopped blinking, but Ben’s eyes grew big as something fell out of the box: he pointed to the floor. Oh, I noticed a small yellow pill had fallen on the floor, like a vitamin C and picked it up. Ben held up three fingers. Three pills? A nod of his head, still talking to Jim. Bending down, I found another yellow pill and a long, orange one. That made three! I gave them to Ben, who then finished his phone conversation. I said, “You did tell me to turn this box upside down, didn’t you?”

“Yes, I did, but over the counter!” We all laughed as we had never laughed before! This large pill box has slots for different kinds of pills which he has to take at various times of day, and a bell reminds him that it is time for the next round. Turning the pillbox over on the counter puts out the exact medication for that time. Isn’t that fantastic? I will have to remember that for when the time comes that Mike or I need that many pills. For now, I dole out our vitamins three times a day, and Mike does not have to turn me upside down to dispense them!

This morning, passing the dining room at the club, I noticed that six ladies were still having breakfast at one table in the far corner. I walked up to say hello when Jenny, a spry 97 year old, got up, and, holding on to her walker turned around. “Oh, I dropped my pill box!” she criedThe only one being able to do that (but then, I am not even 80 yet), I went on hands and knees and found her small pill box in between chair and table legs. She counted them in her hand, “Half a green one, a pink one, a large white and a small white. They are all here! Thank you!” She is blessed to be able to keep all her pills in a small box. And that at 97! I am hoping I can keep using my grandmother’s small silver pill box until I am 97 or beyond. But after that, should I need many more medications, I will turn to Amazon to get me a big one!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,


A New Life! Retirement at its Best 52

Hurricane Florence

A very threatening hurricane is coming our way. Two days ago the stores were all out of D batteries for our flashlights, and when I decided to stop at Costco I could barely get into the gas station area, which has eight pumps with lines of nine cars each. I decided to stay, and had a fill up half an hour later. All these people are preparing for disaster and we live a couple of hundred miles away from the coast!

I had gone all the way to downtown Raleigh that morning to drop off our antique clock. But when I walked into the store the guy said, “I’m sorry Ma’am, but I am not taking in anything this week. The hurricane is coming in and my store will be flooded.”

“Really? Has it happened before?”

“Oh yes. So I have to prepare but I will be back in business after a week or two.”

I asked him to please look at the clock, fearing he would say that he could not fix it, it was too old. But no, he recognized the type, told me that in the eighteen hundreds traveling salesmen would sell them door to door. And that was exactly right, so the story will continue when he is back in business and I hope his store will not be flooded too badly or rather, not at all.

Our cottage is at the lowest end of this campus, so we may see a river of sorts floating by, and walking may be impossible for a while. But the facility is prepared and so are we. My presentation on Thursday has been canceled and, sadly, we cancelled our trip to see the puppies. We have another picture of the three black females at 17 days old, their eyes barely open. One of the three will be ours at Thanksgiving! Do you have a favorite?

It’s a Wonderful World!

Until next Time!


A New Life! Retirement at its Best 51

Clock work

I am so upset! Does not happen often, but I have reached the limit of my patience and just have had it! In the first week of last December I dropped off our antique Spanish clock at the home of a clock repair service here in Cary. It was a dark, tree-filled neighborhood, a messy place with clocks and parts of clocks everywhere I looked. An old man took my clock, told me he was the only, and the last good clock repair man in all of the Raleigh area, and he would fix it but could not make any promises as to when it would be ready. Perhaps three months or so. To make a long story short, it was not ready in March, and not in July, and then he said he had to go in for surgery again. First on his hand, then on his lung! I expressed empathy and understanding, but to no avail. Today he called back and said, “You can come and pick it up. I can’t promise anything until after the first of the year.” After some thinking I said I would pick it up. “Give me a couple of days to put it back together, call me and make an appointment.” Yes, in July he had told me he had it on the shelf already and was working on it. Then why not finish it? I feel so uneasy about the whole thing that I have asked our son to go with me when I pick it up. Just imagine he can’t put it back together, or does not give me back all the parts, or charges me for whatever, arrrghh! I will call him on Wednesday and arrange the pickup on Friday late afternoon so Dennis can go with me. And I will keep you posted.

Today I got a referral for a great clock repair man from a friend who had her grandfather clock repaired. I connected with him through phone and email and if I can pick up the clock this Friday afternoon I will drop it off at his place on Monday morning. He said, “Two to three weeks and you’ll have it back.” Music to my ears!

In the mean time I have arranged for pickup this Friday afternoon with Dennis. He will come straight from work and we will meet in the parking lot of a dentist nearby and continue in one car. Once in a while I feel I need a strong young man by my side to take over if someone thinks that little old lady is a pushover! Why did I not check out any other clock repair people in the area, you may ask. Well, his ad on Google was clever, alphabetically the first: Advanced Clock Repair Services. It was an impressive ad, in large print so I fell for it. Anyway, soon we will have our clock back!

Labor Day Feast

The kitchen staff went out of their way on Labor Day afternoon to prepare a wonderful barbecue feast for us. The grill and buffet were set up outside on the large deck adjacent to the dining room, a table with decadent brownies and cup cakes stood inside. There were cheeseburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken breasts, green salad and potato salad, corn on the cob, and all the trimmings. I decided to try some amber beer (they did not have wine) and that actually tasted good.


Ever since we broke away from the table of eight we had been sitting at for dinner, we have enjoyed every night. The table of eight, I may have talked about it in the past, became too small when “members” came back from having been on a cruise and from the hospital, and instead of eight we had eleven contenders. It still is a race for a table every night, nothing has changed in a year! People want to sit at “their” table with their friends and they stand in line at the two entrances before the dining room is officially open. The ones with walkers stand in front, because they walk slower but they still want to get there first. That leaves a few chairs open at tables here and there for newcomers, and this way you never get to talk to them. Aside from the fact that we did not like to be “allowed” to sit at the table of eight only five nights out of seven in order for the others to take their turn, we did not like the subjects of discussion, most of the time dealing with health issues of them or other people in the room, ad nauseam!

With permission of the maître d’ we started a new table with another couple we met three months ago. They came from Arizona as well, and we connected easily. Now, the four of us share a round table of seven. Different couples and singles join us every night, and discussions are interesting and fun. We started taking turns bringing an unknown tropical fruit or vegetable to the table, to be explored (cut, tasted, smelled). One night Fred talked about the creation of black pearls in the Cook Islands, how a small piece of sand or shell gets inserted in an oyster through a crack, how the oyster encapsulates it while hanging in a net in deep ocean water, and how three years later the pearl is carefully retrieved and taken to market for sale. The next evening I brought the two outer shells of an oyster to show at the table. We got those at Taha’a, an island in Tahiti, where we had seen a similar process of creating cultured pearls. And… Mike bought a black pearl for me :-). The pearls come in many sizes and colors; I don’t know why they are called black pearls, but mine is a beautiful blue-green, the color of the ocean and my eyes. I am extremely blessed, I know, by having traveled to so many places and having received so many special gifts from the places we visited. They vary from a black pearl from Tahiti to potholders from Colombia to a wood trivet made in Pitcairn Island with wood from nearby Henderson Island. It was made and signed by Dennis Christian, one of the descendants of Fletcher Christian, who was one of the nine mutineers of the Bounty in 1787! They got stranded on Pitcairn Island, where a few years ago, when we visited, the population was around 55. Every year, on January 23, a replica of the ship, built by the islanders, is burned offshore to commemorate the day in 1787. Young people go to New Zealand for higher education and many return to their island. Why New Zealand? If you want to know more, Google it – it’s fascinating!

It’s a Wonderful World!

Until next time,