Hell On Wheels

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As one of the girls turns eighty this year, it got me thinking about the rules for renewing a driver’s license. Here in Ontario, Canada, the law requires an individual who drives to take a test when they turn eighty if they intend to continue driving. Now, I don’t know about you, but I would be lost without my car and the freedom it affords me. That being said, it is a scary thought to know that there are even younger seniors on the road who clearly should not be behind the wheel.

The test itself seems to focus on vision. In all honesty, it should probably be a little more intensive. I am the first to admit that most of us develop bad driving habits throughout our life, and it is a given fact that traffic has increased exponentially since any of us got our driving permit at sixteen. Add to that the fact that our reflexes are not what they used to be, and you have accidents just looking for a place to happen.

I remember many years ago driving with my aunt who at the time was in her late seventies. We were on our way to her house, and she kept making only right turns and driving around several blocks until she was going the right direction. I hesitated to question her, but finally asked her why. Well, apparently she didn’t like making left turns because the traffic was too busy, so she drove twice as far to reach her destination. I have since discovered that I have friends who do the same.

Our memories are also a problem as we get older. A friend of mine took the bus home from work one day. When she arrived home, her husband asked where the car was. She forgot that she had driven to work. Oops!

My neighbor who is 84 has recently had her license taken away by her family. She is none too pleased! It seems that for several months previously, she would leave home to do errands, but could never remember how to get back without asking for help. Then there were the days she simply drove around the block 10-15 times and parked in the driveway again. The final straw was the day she came home in a police car having no idea where she left her vehicle or where she lived. The thought of these seniors behind the wheel is scary. 3f40a99b304560ee1bdc409fea525d7a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, if the time comes that we don’t pass the required test, how do we get around? The idea of depending on someone to take me where I want or need to go does not appeal to me at all. Many resort to these heavy duty three-wheel scooters.

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These gals are certainly doing it in style. However, our winters would at some point be an issue.

I, myself, have always wanted to own an electric bike. The way I see it, it is economical, easy to park, and requires no license to drive it. The drawbacks , of course, are the weather, and where would the dog sit. 6b8a05b9c2178413662a94d7bd5933a0

However, I would probably be better off sticking to this version. 086fef432b80d5f8a9fd3a280c7b00f3  Luckily, I still have several years before I am faced with this decision, and hopefully my faculties will not fail me when the time to try my senior’s license rolls around. I do know my days of maybe trying this are well past.

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In fact, my future may look more like this….3ac2c7a4542bd3422c289e19fdd27bf4

Oh, well, happy driving everyone, and stay safe out there!

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Who’s Old?

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Driving to the cottage one weekend with my mom, I asked her, “How do you know when you are finally old and mature?” Without a moments hesitation she replied,” How the hell would I know? I’m not there yet!” She was 81 at the time. Now my mom was an amazing example of the idea that you should “die young as late as possible”. She was still rollerskating twice a week and downhill skiing in her 80’s. e9f84813bed03e5582ce442b45bdb0ef

I am by no means saying that aging is a piece of cake, but when you weigh the options, it’s the best choice. From my own experience so far, it is the physical changes that are the most difficult to accept. In past blogs, I discussed the visual changes of growing older like wrinkles, unwanted hair, sagging boobs, and graying hair, but those are relatively minor compared to other body functions.

One of the most obvious signs of getting older is Menopause. I put a capital on that word because it’s a big deal. In fact it is to blame for many of the things I listed above. I will go out on a limb here and say that no one misses their monthly period, but  who looks forward to those damn hot flashes? Those hot flashes affect you and everyone close by you. I remember when I first started to get them; I was teaching grade one. It was the middle of the winter, and I would throw open the windows in my classroom. One morning the principal dropped by for a visit. There sat all the kids wearing their mittens and hats. The principal looked at me and said,”Should I know what’s going on?” Before I could respond, a little voice spoke up, “Mrs. F. is hot!” My principal could barely contain his laughter as he closed the door behind him. He never mentioned it again.

Changes in our vision and hearing are other problems that creep up on us much more slowly. I remember my arms seemed to get shorter and shorter as I strained to read the newspaper, and I had to keep adjusting the volume on the phone and television. I have been wearing “reading glasses”  for several years now, but I am starting to notice that it is more difficult to see distances when I am driving. I guess there is an eye test in my near future.

9c054ffb4fa960ff23b81a5f2d140bd9  Sitting with the girls at the pub is a good demonstration of hearing deficit. Someone will say something and ultimately someone else will tap their neighbor on the shoulder and ask, “What did she say?”It turns into that kid’s game of “Telephone” where they pass a message down a line.

I was talking to a male friend at the pub one night and after the conversation, one of the girls asked what we were talking about for so long. I said that I had no idea because I can’t hear him very well with the music and talking. She said, “But you were answering and nodding your head.” I replied, “I just agree with everything he says and smile a lot.” She started laughing. “That could get you into trouble.” She’s probably right. I may have agreed to wild sex!!! I am counting on the theory that he can”t hear very well either. 5afd794f8e18a60044af87d79ab1fca4

I think the worst part of getting older is leakage. That’s right! I said leakage. You laugh and you pee. You cough or move the wrong way and you fart. There is no getting around it. www.pinterest.caLuckily most of us are in the same situation, so there is a general understanding among our age group. You know you are not alone with these issues because the store shelves and television ads feature helpful hygiene products that are readily available.

And how many others are up several times during the night to visit the bathroom? I can’t remember the last time that I went to bed and slept through until morning. Eight hours of sleep a night be damned!

Oh, I almost forgot! There is one change that makes the other issues less problematic. Memory loss! How many times a day do I go up the stairs and wonder what I am doing there? By the time I walk back down, I have remembered and head back up again.

0793f1b6c625ca3bcb5f78d34abba691 It’s like an involuntary exercise program.

They say that when you are a senior , you are “over the hill”. Where is this hill and what’s on the other side?  I’m not climbing it unless there is wine.

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I think the best piece of advice that I could pass on came from my own doctor, surprisingly. She said that no matter what, keep moving and living your life because when you stop doing all those things that make you happy, it’s downhill from there. And speaking for myself, I am in no hurry to get to the bottom of that damned hill.

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

 

Dancing Queens

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Like so many baby boomers, we grew up loving to dance, just like the generation before us. Dances were a  major source of entertainment all through my teen years. Not only did we have high school dances, but there were organized dances at so many other venues. Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday was usually spent on the dance floor. We either went with a date or with a group of friends knowing full well there would be someone to dance with there. American Bandstand was a staple for most teens, and we emulated their precision moves. bce286b1e1e6acf582e61af0e14cd1a4Girls and guys alike enjoyed dancing; after all, it was an easy way to meet someone and hold them close to you for the duration of a song. And who can forget rocking it out with a jive or “fast dance” as we called it?

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As I grew older and married, there seemed to be fewer opportunities to dance. Oh, there was always New Year’s Eve and the occasional sports dinner/dance evening or wedding, but it wasn’t the same. By the time my own kids were in their teens, there was only an occasional school dance, and kids seemed to have little idea about dancing with a partner.1a50b5e449a534d8edd1df901340ed88Remember how dancing was even a part of our physical education program? At clubs and bars today, most young adults just do their own thing and move alone to the music. I would venture to say that many younger people have no idea how to dance with a partner. The dance floor is more like a “mosh pit”.

Even though I was quite young, I still recall the movies with the likes of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  38a711c984911b3be6257c3538cbb859They moved to the music as though they were one. I use to  love to watch my parents; my dad was an amazing dancer, but so easy to follow on the dance floor. It is such an extraordinary feeling to dance with someone who moves so naturally and makes up the steps as they go along. Occasionally, I see a couple dancing together and you just know they took lessons; it looks like the entire routine has been choreographed.

I really missed dancing. I must admit that there have been times when I slow danced around the living room alone when an old favorite came on the radio or rocked with the fridge door to a fast song. However, it’s not the same.

Fortunately, a while ago, I found an outlet for my dance itch. Our favorite pub holds a Karaoke night every Saturday. The music, of course, varies with the singers, but I must say we have an unbelievable array of talent that shows up every week. No night is ever the same! Best of all, we dance! Sometimes it is with each other, but some1923eec47f0ded06224fbe18af82f6d1times we find some guys who also like to sashay around the floor with us. And on very rare occasions, you find a guy who can really dance well. That’s the best!

And in the words of Abba, “You are the Dancing Queen, young and sweet, only seventeen
Dancing Queen, feel the beat from the tambourine
You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene, digging the Dancing Queen.”

Dancing keeps you young at heart, so grab every opportunity you can.

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

By the way, if you are ever in my neighborhood on a Saturday night, come and join us at the Tartan Tavern (http://tartantavern.com/). We’d love to dance with you!

 

 

 

Stuff

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Have you ever stopped to consider the amount of stuff a person accumulates in a lifetime? It really can be overwhelming. How much stuff does one really need? These are questions I had never given much thought to until my mom passed away, and we had to clean out her house. My brother and I grew up in that house with my parents, so we were familiar with most of their belongings. We now had homes of our own filled with stuff we had amassed, so it was a challenge to amalgamate hers. To be quite honest, I had no interest in a pink floral sofa.

Several weeks after her funeral, we met at mom’s house to make some decisions about how to proceed with the clean out. So there we were my brother, his wife, his two daughters, my son, my daughter, and myself. We had previously decided on certain items that could go to the family cottage and replace worn out things there. Next we told the kids to take whatever they wanted because they were just starting out and could use many of the items. After several hours, they had each chosen only an armful of things. No one wanted the good China or crystal that my mom had cherished for a lifetime. It wasn’t their style, and I had to agree with them. In a way, it made me sad to think that we didn’t treasure those items as much as she had.

Even more ridiculous was the amount of paper – bills, receipts, etc.- that she had kept in filing cabinets and drawers for things she no longer even owned. I actually had to laugh as I went through each drawer in case there was something important hiding among the things that were headed for the recycling bin. Why do we do this? Some people take it one step further and actually rent storage units to house things they don’t use, but can’t part with, and it has become the premise of a “reality tv” show.

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I have come to the conclusion that accumulating stuff is a carry over from the generations before us who had very little and treasured each and every possession. My  generation, the “baby boomers”, were not only taught to appreciate our possessions, but we also grew up in a time when it was easier to accumulate fabulous, new things. Jobs were plentiful and manufacturing grew exponentially. rubbish-143465_960_720The generations that followed us have so much available to them that things become disposable quickly and easily. Our city dumps can attest to this fact.

 

Just recently, I was moving some boxes filled with mom’s China and crystal  around my basement. When the final clear out came, I didn’t have the heart to dispose of them, and now I was stuck storing them. How truly ridiculous! I was being ruled by my emotions and guilt. How many of you have basements, attics, and garages filled with things you don’t want, but can’t get rid of because of guilt?0516_attic-treasures-intro_390x2202 How many of you are storing things that belonged to your kids? They moved out, but left a lot of things behind.

Stuff weighs us down. It fills us with guilt because we can’t just throw it away knowing it had value at one time. Garage sales are a testament to the fact that most of us are trying to rid ourselves of both the items and the guilt. Somehow, if we can sell it and find it a new home, we have a clear conscience. Have you noticed that most yard sales are being held by our “baby boomer” generation?

All this got me thinking about my own stuff. I know for a fact that my kids will have absolutely no use for most of my belongings. The things that I have collected and treasured for my lifetime have little meaning to them. So I have decided to be proactive and make a more concerted effort to clear things that I no longer want or use from my basement as a start. I have also promised myself not to purchase things that I do not need. I wonder what the reaction will be when I arrive at my kids’ houses with the things I have been storing for them?

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

Sole Mate

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I adore shoes. It is a true love affair. No matter what happens to the rest of your body as you age, your shoe size stays pretty much the same. I think the love of footwear is a genetic thing, so I come by my shoe obsession honestly. My mother was a shoe lover. And as further proof of my premise, my daughter also has a shoe addiction. When she was about 5, she had a sweet doll carriage which she pushed up and down the sidewalk teetering on a pair of my discarded heels. Inside the carriage, was her collection of old high heels, never a doll. The neighbors would marvel at how well she could walk in them.d1e4838e719d3e97f3073a5874787ee7

 

I have worn heels for virtually every job I have ever had. In high school, I worked in Eaton’s and did every shift in heels. When I was a flight attendant for Air Canada, black patent pumps were part of the uniform. In retrospect, they were not very practical or safe, but they looked perfect with the dresses. 15170847_10207355469794691_6948085663310646360_n

After I married, I became a teacher and taught primary grades. Every outfit had matching, color co-ordinated  heels. To this day, I meet former students who still comment on how much they liked all my high-heeled shoes.

Aging has brought with it the inevitable arthritis in my knees. I am certain that a lifetime of wearing heels  has exacerbated the situation, but I am not easily deterred. I recently decided to clean out my shoe closet. It seems to be a spring ritual.

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( This is not mine, but similar.)

I took out each pair and tried them on. Some were old faithfuls that I could grab and wear for many occasions, while others were worn for either very special dress-up events or very casual fun; some for walking distances and others for sitting at a dinner or show. And while comfort is a real plus in footwear, style always seems to take precedence for me.

As I examined each pair of shoes, some elicited happy memories. This pair for example made me laugh as I recalled a trip to Italy with my daughter. 20180407_123527We walked about 2 hours one day following our city map to get to St. Peter’s. Once there we decided to climb the steps inside the dome to get to the gallery at the top which looked out over the city of Rome and the Vatican. If you have ever done this climb you know that the steps get narrower and narrower and the final bit is a rope ladder. Who knew? Not us! There we were in our platform heels. How could I possibly part with these well worn shoes. So back on the shelf they went.

 

And so went the rest of the clean out. By the end, I was able to part with about 8 pair. Now I had room for new ones. I have had my eye on a pair of beautiful coral suede sandals with block heels to wear if we ever get summer. I’m sure my knees will scream when I try them on, but age be damned, I am still not ready to give up my love of heels just yet. I have had to compromise on height; however, flats just don’t cut it.

Even my son knows ALL my weaknesses. Last year for Mother’s Day, he gave me a high-heel made of delicious chocolate and filled with truffles. I felt like Cinderella! 18425232_10208683232707934_8714716909464870522_nI was torn with eating it or saving it, but since it was not my size, well….

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Sex and the Single Senior

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One of my favorite television series was “Sex in the City”, and I now watch it every day in reruns. I always fancied myself as the Carrie Bradshaw character, and here I am writing about sex and the single, senior woman. Dreams can come true! All kidding aside, I get the impression that many younger people think that once we hit a certain age ( I have no idea what that age might be ), we are no longer interested in sex. I am here to set the record straight. Yes, we are still interested! (Except those who perhaps never were.)

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A friend of mine has a mother who is living in a retirement home. She is in her late 80’s. One evening at a large, family dinner, her mother needed something from her purse, and she proceeded to pull several items out to find what she was searching for. Out tumbled a condom package. Her children and grandchildren gasped. She was unfazed. When questioned about the condom, she simply said that they give them out in the “home”.

“You have to be careful, you know,” was all she said as she refilled her purse.

And she is correct. Sexually transmitted diseases are sometimes rampant in retirement homes. The residents may be old, but they are not dead.

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Not so long ago at our weekly pub dinner, the conversation got around to sex, as is often the case. We were laughing and joking, but one of the girls became serious.

“I’m worried that if something happens to me, my children will find my “special drawer” where I keep my vibrator,” she admitted.

The table went silent for about a second. Then another voice piped up, “Just pair up with one of the other girls, and if either of you becomes too ill, the healthy  one will go in and hide the evidence. Problem solved!”

Everyone laughed and nodded in agreement.

Then another friend announced that she had already given this some thought, and she had a better solution. ” Never mind a vibrator,” she said, “what you need is an electric toothbrush. No one will think twice about an electric toothbrush in your bedside table.” We were puzzled for a minute or so. Then we burst into gales of laughter, but she was serious. Now let this idea sink in for just a moment. Are you still with me? Just use your imagination. ( I think the toothbrush manufacturers should be paying me for this plug. )

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“I wonder if I can get a motor for this beauty?”

The point of this post is that age has nothing to do with desire. And while aging bodies do create more challenges , where there is a will, there is a way. As I have said so many times before, life is not finite or predictable. If something is enjoyable and you are hurting no one, then I say go for it. At what other time in your life can you have the fun without worrying about getting pregnant? But as always….be safe!

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Who’s In Charge?

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There is nothing like a health scare to get your attention. Most of my life, I have sailed along enjoying good health and apparently taking it for granted. With the exception of a gall bladder surgery almost 18 years ago, I have not had to deal with doctors or medication. Getting older, of course, brings the aches and creaks of joints, but I try not to give it much thought.

I have lived in my own home and managed just fine for almost 40 years. My independence is my most prized possession and I guard it closely. So, when a recent health issue threatened that possession, I was alarmed.

My problem started with a lovely walk to the hospital to keep a friend company as she sat with her son who was in a coma. It was cool, but the sunshine felt wonderful. I arrived in the I.C.U. department and sat in the lounge to wait for my friend. As I sat there, a pain developed first in my chest, and then between my shoulder blades. Next, I felt chill, but perspiration beaded on my forehead and I could feel a headache gaining intensity. When my friend came to join me, I told her I wasn’t feeling well, and shortly after decided I should go home.

As I walked toward the exit, it occurred to me that I should walk directly into the emergency department, but as I processed that idea, I noticed the taxi phone at the door. I picked it up and called for a ride.

At home my symptoms remained the same, so I took an aspirin and went to bed for a nap. When I woke several hours later, I still felt terrible and in the darkness of the night, I also felt scared. I could have and should have called someone, but I was determined to muscle through this.

By morning, I felt somewhat better. After all, everything seems more manageable in the daylight. The cold sweat had disappeared, but was replaced by nausea. The chest pain was almost gone, but the headache remained.

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Common sense kicked in and I called the doctor and made an appointment. A short while later, my son called. He asked how I was, and I admitted that I had felt better. I gradually retold my experience, and he listened patiently until I got to the part about going home instead of to the emergency.

“MOM! What were you thinking?” he exploded. I knew he was right, but I said nothing.

“That’s it!” he announced. “If you can”t look after yourself, I am going to move in to look after you, or you are going to move in with us. It is obvious that you are irresponsible about your health.”

Well, that certainly got my attention and frightened me more than my symptoms. Remember my closely guarded independence? No one messes with that!

“I am doing no such thing,” I retorted. “You are not my boss!”

“Well, if you aren’t going to take care of yourself, I WILL be the boss.”

I told him that I had a doctor’s appointment and if the pain resumed, I promised to get to the emerg immediately. For the next several days, he called or texted to check on me. Sometimes the message said simply, “Are you still alive?” which made me giggle.

My doctor arranged several tests which did uncover a health concern, and I am now taking medication for the first time in my life. My independence is still intact, and I will continue to protect it with my life. I have a great many things on my bucket list, and I have no intention of jeopardizing my future. So, just a reminder, if it doesn’t feel right, get it checked out. Do as I say, not as I did!

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I’m the one on the right!!!!

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo