A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-31

Sanitizing the dining room

We have now had dinner in the dining room for three weeks: two people to a table of seven and a few tables for two along the side. We have no linen table cloths anymore, the tables and chairs are wiped after each diner leaves. Then the table is set again with a paper place mat and a fork, spoon and knife plus a straw, wrapped together in a thin paper napkin. Salad, soup and entree are served on paper plates. Not the usual kind, but very nice, hard carton-like paper, and they are square. A nice look. It is all very practical. Because, for the sake of sanity and safety, the dishwashers are at a standstill. Everything is thrown directly into the trashcan. There is one server and one busser, wearing gloves. And of course everybody is wearing a mask. The busser is not allowed to take empty plates away when the diners are still eating, but when they leave, he or she can pick up everything altogether and throw it in the trash. Then he sprays and wipes the table and chairs all over again and the next two people can be seated. It works. And it keeps us Covid free!

During the first two weeks of our “open dining”, our “silverware” was sturdy black plastic. Now, in the third week, it is white plastic, and a good size smaller than the black. Sort of like the toy “silverware” we had as children. It is not easy to maneuver salad on a fork like that, and the soup could possibly be better drunk, were it not that there are often pieces of meat or vegetable in it. That would make a real mess. The drippings off the little spoon on the paper napkin or the table in between make enough of a mess as it is. So, easy does it. Cutting fish is easy. Cutting a pork chop or chicken breast takes lots of see-sawing and patience. Then, by the time you get a slice off, it is cold. Sigh.

Every day we say we will bring our own silverware from home tomorrow, the real silver set, but every day we forget. That comes with living in a retirement community like this. Everybody forgets things all the time. We have adjusted. And as long as we need to, we will eat with little white plastic silverware that bends when you use it but somehow never breaks.

It is not the kitchen’s fault. The distributor sent this small set when the order called for large, sturdy black. I was thinking about the numbers: We have about twenty vacancies lately. Children took their parents out, but I don’t know what they did with them or where they took them; after all, being independent here means you can still be dependent on a cane, walker, wheel chair, oxygen, adult diapers and pads and more such things. The fact that the parents are in this retirement community  means that the children could not or would not take care of them. Right? So why take them out? Probably because so many people in nursing homes have gotten infected with Covid? But this is not a nursing home, and so far, we have been kept safe for more than four months.

But I digress. Let’s say we currently have 120 residents. In one month, they would need 3600 sets of silverware; add half of that number for Assisted Living, and you get to 5400 sets of plastic silverware per month. That also means 5400 sets of salad plates, large plates and soup bowls; that is 16,200 pieces of hard paper plates. Per month. Over the past four months that was 21,600 sets of plastic silverware. And 64,800 pieces of hard paper plates. Heavens, where do they store it all? And where do they go with all the trash? Ah! No wonder a huge trash container appeared by the back door of the kitchen. It is stationary, but I noticed this week that it had been emptied, because I did not see piled up black bags any more.

The organization of a place like ours struggling through a pandemic is praise worthy. So we complain as little as possible. I only wrote a letter to the Executive Director after the air conditioner had been “frozen” for ten days and the temperature in the dining room rose to over 80 degrees. He responded that they were coming to fix the air conditioners on the roof on Friday. It rained on Friday, so we hoped they would come on Saturday. But Saturday was probably their day off. Virtual church on Sunday would mean our hope is now fixed on Monday. Sigh.

The watermelon

It will be a long time before I will order a watermelon at Costco again. This one was so big that it needed a cutter, and we were lucky that our son could swing by to do that, in exchange for one half. He cut the first half  in small pieces, then I stopped him and asked him to take the other half home. But he said he had an ever bigger one at home! So he cut it in two pieces, and after he left I took one quarter over to one of the neighbors across the street and one to the new neighbor around the corner.

When I served watermelon with lunch, Mike said he did not really like it. Too much water in my mouth and it is tasteless! WHAT? Well, I did not know that about my husband of almost 60 years! He agreed he would take a few pieces a day to help me out, but in the mean time I was stuck with half a watermelon! I like it, but too much is too much. So I called the neighbor across the street again and asked if he would have some more, all cut up. Oh yes! we love watermelon! So that helped me out some. I am eating watermelon at breakfast and for lunch, and for snacking in between. But the best of it? Our neighbor came to return the dish and brought a bottle of Clos Du Bois Chardonnay! Wow! That was a good trade! Thank you, neighbor! Because of my CMO diet I will have to save it for a month, but it won’t go bad and I have a couple of days of watermelon juice left.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,


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