A New Life! Retirement at its Best 59

Casino! Casino! Casino! Casino! Casino! Casino! Casino! Casino! Casino! Casino! Casino!


Last Friday we had brunch and no dinner in order for the staff to get the Club ready for Casino Night to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. In about three hours they created a miracle. At a table at the entrance Daisy was handing out free chips to play with and selling various raffle tickets. 50/50 raffle tickets and tickets for prizes. The prizes were displayed on a table in the Players Club: a large TV, various baskets with games, Christmas things, beers, wines, four garden chairs, tickets to the Symphony and much more.

Black and red drapes were put up at the entrance to the dining room, and underneath stood a table with a plethora of pupus: sliced cheeses, sausage, salami, crackers, and across from it a chef’s warming table with Oysters Rockefeller. Now those are absolutely not my taste, but a glass of Cabernet poured by our charming new physical fitness trainer hit the spot. In the center of the cheese table, elevated, stood a lovely ice sculpture of a dolphin. Inside the dining room stood a Blackjack table on either side and a large Craps table at the far end, backing up to the fireplace was surrounded by many people.

The doors to the Assisted Living were and remained open, and walking down the hall sipping my wine I noticed another ice sculpture, a large swan, surrounded by similar delectable finger foods. A Craps table still had no players, for there were not many people yet, and I found the same quiet atmosphere downstairs in the Theatre, where two Blackjack callers were waiting for customers. There was also a Roulette I was told later, which I didn’t see because I went back upstairs, where people had started streaming in. There were many people and friends and relatives from outside, and visitors and residents were decked out with masks, feather boa’s, sequined jackets and twenties style dresses. The atmosphere was warm and festive. I went back to the entrance to buy raffle tickets and then back to the Players Room to select the prizes I wanted to win. All prizes went to other people, however, as we heard when the numbers were read, starting at 7:00 p.m.

It was a wonderful, lively and fun event. Because of the many “normal” people from the outside, I mean people without canes or walkers or wheelchairs, it felt like being back in the real world again and that was great.

Sometimes I feel surrounded by too much misery. Take Donny. Two days ago, on our way out after dinner, we met Donny’s son and daughter at the front desk. We said hello and then Paul said, “Did you know that Donny died?”
“No! We did not know that. When did he die?”
“On Monday. He had some issues and went to the hospital twice, and on Sunday we took him again and he got sepsis and passed away. He was reading your book, Ronny, in the last week before he died.”
What a shock. Donny was a very nice 84 year old man in an electric wheelchair, whose son always accompanied him at Friday afternoon’s happy hour and sometimes for dinner afterwards. How sudden his passing happened; we couldn’t say goodbye. And that is something to remember in life. If you want to say something to somebody, something nice or important or loving, do it now! For you may never pass this way again.

Tomorrow afternoon we will be among “very abnormal” people at the Halloween party; last year many came disguised, and we have great plans. But that story will have to wait a week!

It’s a Wonderful World!

Until next time,


A New Life! Retirement at its Best 58

The Calendar showed four weeks of “open days” as we call it. No doctors’ appointments, no other obligations of any kind either, promising a wonderful time for walks and reading and writing and getting ready for our little puppy, who left the brothers and sisters of her litter and went to the trainer last Thursday. But before we knew it, things happened and free time fleeted.

Last Friday I picked up our antique Spanish clock and hung it on the wall. It did not run. When I  manoeuvred it to get it to hang more straight, crash! It fell down. Thank goodness it did not fall on the floor. A wooden box, it would certainly have been damaged beyond repair. No, it was saved by my right shoulder. The same shoulder that I had surgery on last April! What luck! It was quite a loud crash; my shoulder has a titanium screw in it, and I wondered for a second if that caused the loud sound. But then there are flesh and bones in between, so I imagine the sound was caused by things inside the clock crashing. The blue spot on my shoulder will disappear in a few days.

Back on the wall, the pendulum then hit the wood on one side. The clockmaker, whom I told only that the clock didn’t work, gave me the choice to come back to his store to have him check it out or have him come to my house for $125. That choice was easy! And today, the clock is finally hanging in its proper place on the wall after more than ten months. It is ticking and chiming every half hour and keeping proper time! We are delighted.

Stars and Stripes 

On the freeway today, a rock crashed against my windshield and a little star appeared in the glass. Oh shoot! Now what? I never had that happen before. On the way home the star suddenly sent out a line to the left and one to the right: the window started cracking. Back home, Mike called the insurance and a glass repair shop, and before we knew it we had an appointment to have the window replaced, the day after tomorrow. Plans for tomorrow were already made: I will take the car in for service; that will take a few hours, so I can sit and read and sip Keurig coffee.

Printer problems

After lunch today I climbed in the phone with HP and then with Spectrum, our WiFi server. We have had problems for months, not being able to print from the Mac or to air-print from the iPad without first manually disabling the WiFi! Crazy!  But now we have a brand new HP printer and it still does not work properly. Talking to the techs took a good two hours, but finally all tablets were synched with the Mac and it worked. The question is, will it still work tomorrow? We’ll see. Tomorrow is another day. Remember who said that? Let me know!

What a joy that I did not have to prepare dinner but we could just walk to the Club in the already lower temperature of a sunny fall afternoon to enjoy a delicious dinner and chocolate pecan pie for dessert!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,




A New Life! Retirement at its Best 57

Houseguests are a great way to get out and see what’s out there! Mike’s sister and her husband came to stay with us for four days. It was wonderful. They took three weeks to travel down the coast from New York and are driving back up through the Blue Ridge Mountains after their stay in Cary. We have a second bedroom that serves as my office with desk, computer and printer, and we have a daybed for guests. To pull out the trundle however, is not only a major task (for us), but it leaves just a narrow path to the computer and virtually no room for suitcases. So after two experiences with houseguests, the first one with our daughter and granddaughter, leaving the trundle in the down position, and the second one with our two adult guests, with the trundle up, the two twins being the total size of a King, we decided that from now on we will welcome one guest at a time to stay with us. But for two guests there is a great solution: at the Club they have a studio we can rent. It’s on the third floor and has a kitchenette with fridge, microwave and a stovetop, a sitting/bedroom and a spacious shower. It is fully stocked. The bathroom is stocked with towels, soap, shampoo and toilet paper, and so it is perfect for two guests. It gives them the experience of retirement living; we had breakfast and brunch together in the dining room and tea and coffee are always available in the Café.

On Sunday we attended a concert in a historic building in Durham by the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle of which Dennis is a member. It was a beautiful concert, titled A Toast to Women, and it was a delight to hear and watch Dennis on trumpet. Afterwards we had supper at Dennis’ house with the other four members of the family.

On Monday I took them to the South-Point Shopping Mall, the largest mall and farthest away, where I had no difficulty getting all my 10,000 steps in, and then some! On Tuesday we enjoyed the NC Museum of Art, which I had not seen yet either. That is definitely a place for us to go back to.

Doggie Days

I went to see our puppy again before she will go to her trainer. She is beginning to look like a dog and weighs 4.5 lbs. When I put her on the floor to watch her move, she immediately ran the full length of the barn so fast that I did not catch up until she was ready to dart out the door. I almost fell over my own feet and had to grab the door jamb with one hand for stability while reaching for the puppy with the other. I will need a permanent leash for this little one, I thought. And we have a name for her: Lani. A Hawaiian name, it means Heaven, heavenly, royalty.

My next trip was to Lowe’s Home Improvement Store, where I selected parts of a black metal fence, 30″ tall, to go around the area behind the house so we can let her out quickly to go potty when we are not ready yet to take her. Dennis et al will pick up the fence in his truck and put it in the ground when he can find the time in his busy schedule. Three grandsons come in handy! We will end the day with a festive dinner. Dinner out, that is, because I ain’t cooking anymore!

Dining room Hostess seating

At 4:30 p.m. sharp, residents used to race into the dining room with their canes and walkers to get a seat at their favorite table with their favorite people. Then there were not enough waiters to take their orders and the kitchen could not keep up either. So everyone complained about all that and it would take all but two hours to get finished with our dinner. Recently, our table, the four of us from Arizona, suggested to Management to have us seated by a hostess, like they do in restaurants. We started the new program last week. People for the first seating are all still queuing up in a big mass in the hallway, but nobody gets seated until they have all people for a table of 7 or a table of 4 together, and listed with the hostess. She then lets them in, table by table, overseeing the waiters who are taking orders; when they are done, another table gets seated. Another new thing that got implemented two weeks ago is an electronic tablet, on which the waiters text the orders of a table directly to the kitchen. As soon as the orders are filled, kitchen waiters bring out the plates and the waiters take over again and serve the dinners. It sounded kind of complicated at first, and hard to understand for the many older people here, but it is already starting to flow, and we have finished dinner by 6 p.m. or even sooner three nights already. That gives us a nice long evening.

Events, Lectures, Bingo and Bridge

Many activities are scheduled at the Club every week, but being on the outside, in our cozy cottage, we have not participated in many of those; we still have so many other interests of our own. This Friday there will be an art show of fellow residents we will be going to. Several of the residents are painters, we have one woodworker, quilters, and more.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,





A New Life! Retirement at its Best 55

Wildlife in our back yard

Last Friday morning at dawn, the sun was not even up yet, I picked up my coffee cup to take it to the kitchen. Looking out to our back yard I saw, in a flash, a red fox running by our patio. How beautiful! I had never seen a fox but recognized it instantly. He was running towards the creek, parallel to the Divide, as I call it, a bushy tail straight out back. “Was it not a cat?” asked Mike, “or a dog?” Definitely not. It was a red fox! I am thrilled that, coming from Prescott Arizona, where we frequently saw javelinas and deer, and off and on a bobcat down below our deck in the back yard, we again have wildlife to watch. Other than the fox last week, I once saw two small deer drinking down below by the stream; frogs, some large, some very small, are jumping with a splash into the water of the creek or of the pond close by when I am on my early morning walk before breakfast. I have seen Larry flying by in a flash and heard the death screams of a little bird that he had caught in its sleep in the tree by our bedroom window. Larry is the neighborhood hawk, given his name by the former handyman who used to live in the cottage across the way when this retirement building with the cottages was being built eight years ago. Then there are the squirrels, mostly across the street, where the neighbor has bird feeders on two poles. Birds are everywhere, red, yellow, very small hummingbirds and more. It is unimaginable that all these creatures can exist in a corner of land surrounded by parkways and freeways. Most of this wildlife can only be seen very early in the  morning or at dusk. Very logical, because this has been a very long, hot summer with temperatures in the nineties. I myself have joined them, walking in the mornings after coffee, watching the sunrise during my campus rounds or evenings after dinner when the sun is setting behind the trees. It is cooler then, but always humid, which makes my hair curl, which makes me smile!

When I was a young teenager, my long hair was as straight as you can imagine. Living in Surabaya, in the tropics, I used to wear it in a pony tail. One day, aching for beautiful curls, I went to a hair dresser with my mom and got a permanent-wave. That’s what it was called, a permanent-wave, creating the image of beautiful, long lasting wavy hair. When I was done, it was a disaster. I have very fine hair, and the chemicals had created a bunch of kinky strands. To make matters worse, when we came home, my dad started laughing and called my pony tail a bunch of carrot tops! I cried hot tears. Mamma tried to save the situation and set out to wash my hair with shampoo right away to get the chemicals out, but the damage was done, and I had to let the “waves” grow out. And now, in my golden years, I live in a place where my hair has lovely, natural waves without any effort on my part. I do think back to my carrot tops pony tail every time someone says, “we are bright eyed and busy tailed” and the person who said that before every hula performance was my Prescott hula teacher Kumu Kehau. If you want to read more about her, you can click on this link or find it in the right margin of my website page under Memberships:  Halau Hula Napuaokalei’ilima  . I danced with her for eight years. Now this is story telling: how I got from a red fox in Cary, North Carolina via a pony tail in Surabaya, Indonesia to Hula dancing in Prescott, Arizona.

Strengthening my core

After many weeks of PT, first for my neck, then after shoulder surgery for my right shoulder, I had totally neglected my core, my abs and obliques. But since all those body parts are functioning pain free by now, with only slight sensitivity with stretches, I felt the need to do Pilates exercises again. I have taken years of Pilates and years of Yoga in my previous life as we say here. I like Pilates best, but always add some favorite yoga poses. On the premises we have a young veteran, who leads well attended chair exercises every morning except weekends, and brain exercises, and one-on-ones with anyone who needs extra attention for balance and the likes. He wrote down a set of five abs strengthening exercises for me to do three times a week and another set of five also three times a week. Last week I got out my Pilates mat, rolled it out on the living room floor and started my routine. Each day it takes at least a half hour, and when I add a few Yoga poses it becomes longer, but I love it. It does mean that I can only walk a half mile in the morning, but hey, it stays dark till about 6:30 a.m. anyway, and we have to go to breakfast at the Club at 8:00. So I walk a little shorter but make it up later in the day: my goal is 4.5 miles every day. Just imagine the luxury of having a personal trainer free of charge, right here on campus!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,