A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-5

Cleaning up the house

One of my New Year’s Resolutions proves to be not that easy. When I started in my office one morning, I came across several things that did not belong where I found them. So I had to take them somewhere else, but where? There were the calendars of two previous years with gorgeous pictures of the granddaughters. Surely, I could not throw those away! I selected three of the best pictures, put two of them in frames that I had and hung them in the gallery in the garage. The third one needed a large frame. So I got on the Mac and ordered it from Amazon Prime: it arrived the next day. The frames are simple, load-from-the-front, and they are ready to hang. So I did. But in the mean time it was the following day and I had only thrown away two calendars out of one of my drawers! Do things like this happen to you too?

Then there was the large roll of address labels I had ordered before Christmas. I put part of it in the empty container on Mike’s desk and put the rest on my office desk, where it now waits for further transport into a drawer that I first have to organize. I took care of several business phone calls this morning, but that took all morning, then I had to make lunch and before I knew it I had to go to PT for my hip, and after that walk the dog. When she did her production I found out I didn’t have a baggy in my pocket; only a Kleenex. I had the choice of going back to the spot later to pick it up, with the chance it would be raining and the certainty we would be late for happy hour, or use the Kleenex. I chose the latter and was happy to go home, throw it all into the toilet and wash my hands with warm water and soap. I grinned as my thoughts went back 74 years to the WWII camp, where Mamma wrote that even the outside latrines overflowed and she and her roommate had to clean up the filth and did not even have soap to wash their hands. (Have you read my book Rising from the Shadow of the Sun? You should!) How blessed I am to have warm water and soap!

We were on time for Happy hour at the Club, but they ran out of red wine after a half hour, so nobody even had any red wine with dinner either. At the end of the day I had not contributed to noticeable cleanup of our house at all! And so it goes. Life continues, I am happy to be alive and able to enjoy it all, with the understanding that I still have eleven months to finish my resolution.  However, I realize that I need to stick to doing one thing at a time and finish it.

On another morning I cleaned up a big part of the garage with leftovers of Christmas. Not edible leftovers, but things like bags and rolls of  ribbons and boxes with decorations. I finished that.

Dog tails

On Monday I made a decision: I ordered a prong collar for Lani. I can’t go on with physical therapy three times a week that gets undone immediately when I walk my pulling dog, however little she is. Twenty pound jolts will keep my hip, back and shoulder in continuing pain and I had had enough. First we had a regular leash and collar; she pulled. Then we bought her a “non-pull” harness; she still pulled. Then we put two leashes on the harness – no result. She got her “Good Citizen” diploma from the AKC and walked on a loose leash, but only inside the building where she had been trained and only for three minutes. The last thing we tried was a “Buddy Leash”, where one leash goes around my waist and another from there to her collar. The sudden jolts were even more painful, and once she almost pulled my whole body off the sidewalk. Enough. The prong collar was recommended by two friends here and Amazon delivered it in one day. I did watch two videos on how to use it, as they recommended, because the collar looked like a torture collar, and that for our sweet little Lani. I got her used to it inside yesterday, and took her for her afternoon walk today. Hooray! Success! She walked with me at my pace, the leash was long enough so she could get into the grass, and she did not pull and the prongs did not seem to hurt. On two occasions she darted out at another dog, but yelped and I did not feel a pull. Then she wanted to pick up something from the grass and dove, but the prongs stopped her. She kept looking at me, and I kept praising her.

And guess what? We could walk to the Club tonight, and my back is feeling great, and I am so happy. Hopefully we can finish PT soon, I will have more free time and we can walk again in Wimbledon and the other trails in the neighborhood. Ahh! Life is good again.

Thought for the day:

Get up with determination
Go to bed with Satisfaction

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,


A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-4


Since the beginning of the New Year we have lost three friends here in Waltonwood. Considering the ages and ailments of the residents that is not amazing. There is a Privacy code so that some people just disappear, and we don’t know whether they went next door, to Assisted Living or Memory Care, moved away to be with family, or passed away. Perhaps I wrote about that before. For many, that is disappointing. It leaves voids, even though most of the time you have not been really closely connected.

On the other hand, some families want to honor the memory of their parents, and they do that in a variety of ways. Once, a Memorial Service was held in the Theatre downstairs, with someone playing the guitar. Just recently, one family put a beautiful flower arrangement next to a picture of the deceased with his or her husband. Today, a family arranged for a Memorial Service in the Garden Room. A lovely, small room full of potted plants and a view of the garden provides seating for about twenty-five people plus an overflow of walkers and wheel chairs into the hall. Afterwards, people could talk to the family members and enjoy a small reception. It was a lovely memorial for a good friend. They handed out a wonderful poem that I want to quote below.

Usually when we think we have it all under control
certain events happen
with such swiftness and such intensity
that they point our lives in a direction
that they were never meant to go.

They leave scars that can never be erased.

Those around us may try to help
but ultimately
they feel helpless in their inability to undo
what can never be undone.
No one can change these events.
We can’t pretend they never happened.

For those of us who have gone through experiences
that may have altered our destinies in one way or another
the only sane option we have is
to fill up our lives
with enough kindness, enough trust and enough friends
so that the painful memories are diffused,
dimmed by the knowledge that the right people
are always thee when you need them.

And those people, the ones who really listen
should forever be cherished and protected
because they are the ones who help us heal.

Food for thought…

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,


A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-3

The Celebrations continue!

We celebrated our 59th wedding anniversary, on January 10, with the family in the course of two days; with a delicious dinner at a new Mexican restaurant the night before, when everybody could make it, and with phone calls, cards, a special delivery of two bottles of my favorite champagne and a lovely flower arrangement. On Sunday, we invited the family for brunch and celebrated our youngest grandson’s tenth birthday, a milestone for him.

I prepared for another presentation on Monday, this time on a small scale, for a bible study group at the Methodist church close by, where I had spoken for the Men’s breakfast group more than a year ago. By small scale I mean not in a large auditorium with a large screen and a projector, but in a smaller room with a TV. The same tech that helped me the first time was there again to set me up with the TV. He had the cords, I had the adapter, and everything worked, including the sound. These days, I have learned to do the slide presentation including the trailer, straight from my iPad, which is easy to take in my little attaché case, together with Mamma’s journal and some handouts.

My presentations vary, based on the audience and the time I get to speak. In December, I spoke for 30 minutes for the largest Cary Rotary, and the presentation, I felt, was sort of businesslike, just perfect, one of the best I had done. This time, when I stopped – at the end of WWII – after thirty minutes, but said I could show more of the years after the war, they all asked me to please continue, and I did, for about another half hour, then answered many questions. That is always a joy, because it means that the audience was genuinely interested and had listened closely enough that they were questioning some things.

So this time, my presentation was more personal, and there was time to tell the stories of the wedding bible and the little boy who died on his way to the Netherlands after surviving the whole long war as a toddler.

Afterwards, two pieces of chocolate cake came back home with me and, since I could not resist the temptation and ate them half an hour before dinnertime, I ended up taking a nap and have dinner at home instead. That meant soup and crackers, because I don’t cook anymore, but Mike is always happy with whatever I serve, and always cares about my wishes. What a jewel he is!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,


A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-2

January 2020

A fantastic jazz band with a wonderful singer filled part of our New Years’ Eve after dinner. It was a lively event, with wine and a champagne toast from the Café. The fact that the band had only been hired for one hour, from 7 – 8 p.m., due to budgetary restraints, was disappointing to many. However, the band members came and set up early and started – free of charge – at 6:30 p.m.

The first week of the new year continued with PT sessions for my left shoulder three times a week, until my right hip became so painful (SI joint or spinal stenosis, whatever) that when I got a PT prescription for my hip the therapist decided with me that I should continue with home exercises for the shoulder and start work on the hip immediately. So far, I had good results, so I am happy.

At the same time, I bought a Buddy Leash for Lani; the adjustable belt wraps around my waist and an adjustable leash, coming from my waist belt attaches to Lani’s harness. I have used it for two days and I think I will finally get her to stop pulling. She will figure out that it is much more difficult to pull my body than pull my arm out of the socket. With all these measures I hope to be completely well again by March, because guess what I got for Christmas? A new yoga mat! A 10 mm thick one to protect my fragile bones :-). My previous mat was 4 mm and I never got to buying myself a newer, 5 mm one. But now, I found a 10 mm blue mat with carrying strap under the Christmas tree!

What will happen in March? I signed up for an all-day Yoga retreat with OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at NCSU and I am so looking forward to it! I started taking Yoga classes back in Hilo after I watched someone do a Warrior Pose on the beach. How beautiful that was. And what a perfect spot to do yoga. No mat needed; solitude, quiet, with only the sounds of the ocean in the background. (I am talking about a little black sand beach in Hilo, not one in Waikiki!) I continued Yoga classes in Arizona, when they were offered, and also Pilates. I loved Pilates almost more than Yoga. These days I saw that a combination of Yoga and Pilates is offered at the Cary Senior Citizen Center. It is called Piloga. Piloga is the combination of Pilates and yoga designed to build strength and tone your muscles while improving flexibility and fostering mind and body harmony. Classes tend to start off with Pilates exercises, then move to yoga positions, and then finish with more Pilates movements. Now that would be a class after my own heart, and perhaps it will be in my future. But first comes the Yoga retreat in March.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,


A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-01

New Year’s Resolutions

Do you have any? What are they? Did you have any in previous years? Did you succeed in meeting your goals? Often? Sometimes? Never? I have always set goals at the beginning of each new year. But to tell you the truth, I forgot whether I reached my goals – I had so many! This year, I have only two. One of them is to organize the house – clean up closets, desks, and the garage. The second one is to lose a few pounds because we are looking forward to a beach reunion with all fifteen members of our family; four families, that is. Now, my weight has not changed since we came here, I just want to lose a few more pounds than I weighed before. I will be happy with a loss of five by the end of May. That is an easy goal, don’t you think? Will you join me in this? Clean up your house and lose one pound per month until summer? Let’s do it!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,