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February 2015

January 2015

Ping Pong

For twenty-one straight days, we walked by the shiny new Ping Pong table in the recreation area of the condo complex where we have gone to escape the cold.   On the twenty-second day, I challenged Peter to a game.

The nice guy I am married to has a lot of challenges, including poor balance.  But he will do almost anything to please me.  So we took up the paddles and started hitting the ball back and forth.  In the beginning, it looked like an easy victory for me.

Then, the next thing I knew we were playing a serious game.  Peter’s old competitive spirit came to life and suddenly my early lead was in danger.   Bottom line, the better man won 24-22.  And it wasn’t me.

Not to worry—we’ve scheduled a rematch.  I just have to work a little harder at keeping my eye on the ball.

The Nature of January

I’ve gone to Alaska, Botswana and the Galapagos Islands to see animals in their natural habitats, but I never thought of Sarasota for wildlife…until now.  

Here on Longboat Key, I can’t get enough of watching the waves lap at the shore while sandpipers skitter fast-forward-like pecking for their dinner in the wake of the retreating waves.  I say “Good morning” to the cormorant that dries his (her?) wings on a rocky ledge on the pond in front of our condo as I make my way back from the gym.  At sunset I watch the sky turn red and orange.

The yellow tufts on the heads of the male egrets or pelicans or herons or whatever the birds were, who visited the dock at the fish “shack” in Cortez where we ate our lunch the other day, were irresistible.  Even the trunk of the palm in front of our balcony, swaying like a metronome in the breeze, makes me smile.

The most surprising delight, however, was far from the beach.  We visited Myakka River State Park on a perfect early summer-like day.  We saw ospreys, pink spoonbills, egrets, tri-colored herons, buzzards, hawks, terns and vultures.  We saw wild pigs.  We took a guided airboat ride and saw at least fifty alligators sunning themselves peacefully on the shore.  We did the Canopy Walk.

It was a magical afternoon.

I will try to keep all this in my mind’s eye when I go home to the short days and blackened snow of Massachusetts.



TV or Not TV

Some say that retirement is an endless vacation.  Not so, in my view.  The obligations add up.  So we are enjoying being on a real vacation--having to only decide whether to eat in or out, walk the beach now or later or go to the hot tub or pool. Should we go on an outing or stay home?

But last Sunday night was different.

In our rented 1200 sq. foot condo, there are four TV’s, one in the kitchen, the living room and each bedroom.  We invited friends from Boston who are staying in a nearby hotel to come watch the New England Patriots football playoff.  Joe is a huge (and knowledgeable) fan.  Peter and I and Joe’s wife Meg, not so much.  On our own, we probably would have watched only the last quarter of the game.

Our plan was that we would all watch the football game from 6:30 – 9:00, then leave Joe with the big TV in the living room while Meg watched Downton Abbey in the guest bedroom and Peter and I watched The Good Wife in our bedroom.

At 9:00, we left the living room to Joe with the Patriots slightly ahead.  But, as luck would have it, the TV in our bedroom didn’t work.  So, we joined Meg to watch Downton Abbey, knowing we could watch The Good Wife later on our computer.

The Patriots won their game easily.  Downton Abbey was pretty good.  And we’ll get to the episode of The Good Wife before Sunday.

This should be our most difficult vacation problem.



My Friend Inventory

Friendships have been on my mind lately.  It didn’t take all the research that’s out there about the importance of friends as we age to convince me that they are crucial to our well-being.

Here’s my inventory of friends:

Friends I’ve known the longest—both named Barbara—both known since I was four years old.  One—we just exchange birthday cards; the other—we exchange multiple emails, phone calls and visits.

Friends from high school:  Two live in Greater Boston, and we talk regularly. 

College:  My closest college friend now lives less than two miles away.  I love having her nearby.  We’ve shared so much over the years and still are sharing.

Work:  Close work friendships are harder to keep up now that I am retired, but I see three friends regularly and have lunch occasionally with others.

Former neighbors:  My across-the-street neighbor in the house where our children grew up moved away in 1989.  Twenty-five years later, we still talk every Sunday (except if one of us is out of the country).  And in the last few months, we’ve got together with two other friends from that neighborhood even though we’ve been gone for twenty years.

New friends:  I think I started to think more about friendships because of our newest friends.  We met them in an elevator just a year ago.  They are Canadian.  They are gracious and loving and generous.  We saw them in Toronto last summer.  Earlier this week, they gave a party for us here in Florida so that we could meet all their friends. It’s wonderful to have new friends that are so special.

I am grateful for all my friends, especially my best friend of all. 

His name is Peter.

Two Bucks

Two bucks ain’t what it used to be.  But you can still buy a Starbucks coffee, a Hershey’s chocolate bar with almonds, a gallon of gas (in some places) and, believe it or not, an almost-first-run movie at the Parkway 8 Cinema in Sarasota, Florida. Canadian friends who have been coming to Sarasota for years invited us to join them for a Saturday matinee, and who could refuse?  I’d see almost anything that cost less than the popcorn at my movie theater at home.  (Truth-in-advertising: If you go after 6:00, the cost jumps to $2.50.)

That’s how we found ourselves seeing St. Vincent, a movie with Bill Murray, Naomi Watts and an endearing kid named Jaeden Lieberher last Saturday at 4:20pm.  I worry that we don’t laugh enough, but this movie is full of belly-laughs. And, I have to admit, I also shed some tears.

Best two bucks I’ve spent in years!




Happy Birthday to the 70-something Blog

Yesterday was the seventh anniversary of  That means that, in a little over a month, I will be seventy-seven years old.  This is my 737th post, and I am arrogant (audacious, cocky, presumptuous?) enough to think that I still have something to say.  True (sadly), I am not the same person that I was on January 10, 2007.  That’s a given . 

I’m definitely more vulnerable (see Fear of Falling).  I worry even more about Peter who is amazing, but approaching eighty-five.  I’m retired and that is huge.  Our grandchildren are real people now.  They laugh with us and at us, unlike when they were one and four.  The world still has many challenges, but that will never change.

And so do I (have challenges), but I plan to do my best, and I hope you will stick with me.

Thanks for reading.

Seeking Warmth

This is the second year that we have sought respite from New England’s winter in Florida. When we come home at the end of this month, the days will be longer and spring not quite so far away.

Here in Sarasota, it’s not dark at 4:15 pm as it is in Boston.  Sunsets—Turner-like landscapes of pinks and oranges—arrive close to 6:00 pm.  Sure, it gets light later in the morning, but that’s great for sleeping in.  And although the temperature can be iffy in January, it’s never as frigid as it is at home.

Of course, there are downsides.  We’ve rented a small condo.  But it’s not ours, and it takes a while to get to know it.  It took forever to find the Wi-Fi code, and if you don’t think it’s stressful to be without internet access, you need to get a life.  Light switches are in the oddest places as are placemats (finally found in the guest room closet!) and other necessities.

Then there is our rental car.  No instructions.  Just get in and drive.  Fine.  But when we pulled into a gas station to fill it up, we couldn’t find the release button for the gas tank cover.  We tried all kinds of buttons. Three strangers tried to help and one finally figured out all it takes is a tap on the cover.

Forty-eight hours after we got here, we had food (and wine!) in the house and had already met up with friends from Canada and from home. 

I remember when I visited my parents vacationing in Florida, I swore that would never be me…



Legacy--an Update from Peter

I’m going to be eighty-five in March.  And, according to the conventional wisdom, that’s a big deal.  I’ll be “old-old” after ten years of being “young old” (75-84).  Looks like it’s time to think about my legacy.

Our sons and grandsons, who are big part of that legacy, live far away and we talk to them more via electronic gadgets than face-to-face.  Seth, our older son, is in Brazil, working on a book and going to the beach.  When he was in New York in December, writing, directing and starring in his zany “Amigo Gringo” videos, he told us that he now  (very occasionally) listens to Mozart on vinyl, as his parents did when he was a child.  

Jeremy, our younger son, is in Maryland, trying to keep a school financially solvent.  Today our grandsons Leo and Grady will get the dog they’ve been wishing for “forever”.  And Katrina will soon have a new kitchen.  Jeremy will continue -- but hopefully not complete – his attempt to eat in the hundred biggest fast-food chains in America.

They’re our legacy.  I’ll be sorry to leave them but, while I’m still on this side of the grass, they make me smile.






January 1

In my blog post on December 25th, I urged everyone to be with and enjoy their loved ones for the holiday.  Wisewebwoman commented on that post. “Some of us are alone,”  she wrote. 

I did not mean to be insensitive to those who are alone-but-not-by-choice on Christmas. So wisewebwoman, my apologies to you and the many others for whom holidays are not easy.  Thanks for calling me on it.

And that brings me to my New Year resolutions.  In 2015, I want to tell people more often how much they mean to me.  I want to laugh more.  I want to complain less. I want to be more tolerant of people’s shortcomings and hope that they will be more tolerant of mine.  I’d like to do something to make the world even just a little better.

Happy New Year.