Monday, 30 April 2012

#236: Stop Me if You've Heard This One Before...

Two businessmen in the centre of Perth were sitting down for a break in their soon-to-be new shop...

As yet, the shop wasn't ready, with only a few shelves set up.

One said to the other,

"I bet any minute now some pensioner is going to walk by, put their face to the window, and ask what we're selling."

No sooner were the words out of his mouth when, sure enough, a curious old woman walked to the window, had a peek, and in a soft voice asked,

"What are you selling here?"

One of the men replied sarcastically, "We're selling ass-holes."

Without skipping a beat, the old dear said,

"Must be doing well... Only two left."

This Aussie laugh is courtesy of our retired friend Alexis who says she aspires to be like the woman in the story.

Me too.    

Sunday, 29 April 2012

#235: I Love Retirement Because.....

What do you like best about retirement? is an inquiry I often make of recent retirees.  

I put that question to a guy I met last week and he was quick to give me a familiar answer: “I listen to my partner head off to work, and I go back to sleep!  And then I get up and have a leisurely breakfast while I read the Globe and Mail.”

What?  Is that the best he can do?

I’d like to suggest that men give less interesting answers to this question than women, but alas, loads of women trot out this very reply.  In fact, pretty well every new retiree has some version of “leisurely start to the day” on their list of favourites.

No-one ever says “Now I can learn to play the ukulele” or “I’m going to clown school at Ryerson”, or “I’ve incorporated my own charity to aid homeless teens.”  There must be people who do these things, but they are never at parties I attend.

I did press Mr. New Retiree about his former life.  What did he do, and where?  It turns out that he taught at a school in Mississauga, about 80 kilometres and a 1 hour drive from his Kitchener home. Except that no morning drive on the 401 ever takes only 1 hour.  Not unless you head out the door at 6:30 or earlier.  So he would likely be getting up every weekday at 5:30....


I get it.   

Saturday, 28 April 2012

#234: GrannyMobile?

I know older people who have given up their cars with great reluctance simply because the challenges of Driving While Elderly were insurmountable.  It is a sad day when a bus pass is your ticket to freedom after a lifetime of driving.

But in Great Britain where the percentage of older drivers is higher than in North America, scientists are hoping to keep older drivers on the road longer, confident and safe, with an “emotionally intelligent” electric car designed especially for the over-sixty-five crowd.

Their intuitive car, a modified Peugeot iOn, will make up for drivers’ declining skills with some amazing abilities of its own. This vehicle, which gives new definition to the phrase “smart car”, can monitor heart rate and cardiovascular health, driver's concentration, stress levels and driving habits. (I wonder how the car responds to a dangerous reading.  Does it call 911 for you?)  Further modifications will allow the vehicle to perceive nearby obstructions so that the driver can avoid a collison, or park more easily.

This sounds to me like the sort of car we should make available to all comers. No need to prove you are pensioner in order to drive safe.  How about an iOn for everyone who is guilty of Driving While Distracted/Tired/Hurried or just plain Stupid? 

Friday, 27 April 2012



Today I actually read my OMERS newsletter, the quarterly missive that comes from the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System with news about my pension fund.

I do consider it important reading—it is about money, after all-- but for almost a year I have avoided finding out anything other than essential OMERS info: how much am I getting and when does it arrive?  I think I might have been in retirement denial.

Still, in spite of my recent behaviour, I can’t promise I’ll read the next newsletter, although I’m not throwing them out.  I like to have a pile of suitable reading material as a hedge against insomnia and the OMERS Retired Member News is clearly written, nicely designed, full of practical information and about as exciting as the manual for my microwave.

But I did read the Spring edition. What does this mean?

Perhaps I am becoming a real retiree. 

Thursday, 26 April 2012

#232: More "Magic"

De-briefing my daughter about the Kreskin date that she initiated, I realized that one of the pleasures of the evening was the realization that Bruce and I were probably the oldest people in the audience. 

Glenn Gould studio is a smallish venue (300 seats) so we could clearly see the rest of the group – families, students, young and middle aged couples, but hardly any folks that I would describe as “senior”. 

Nice.  Being an older person in a predominately young crowd makes one feel trendy and hip.

Conversely, when you are among the youngest in an audience, you begin to consider the advantage of pre-paid funerals.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons so few symphony- goers are on the sunny side of 60.  Who wants hang out with a bunch of seniors who nod off the moment the conductor picks up his baton?

Advice to struggling orchestras (and other arts organizations):  attract a younger crowd and everyone will have a good time.   

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

#231: Yellow Peril

There is a reason that many retirees have such great yards.  You know what I mean: dandelion free lawns, well-swept sidewalks, mulched beds.

I am tempted to say that these folks have nothing better to do, but that would be unkind. Because I am retired, too, I know that the Yard Nazis just have different priorities and perhaps a bit more free time than the rest of us.  

I should get the dandelions in check, however.  I can see them marshalling their forces on our front and back lawns and it won’t be long before we are surrounded.  My proactive, retired neighbour has already been on the job with his special dandelion weeder (the kind that looks like a really sturdy fondue fork) and proudly announced that in just a few hours he had removed 58 dandelions, roots and all.

Good for him.  At that rate, I will be spending the next two weeks in the yard.

Or perhaps I can try my Kiwi friend Elizabeth Macmillan’s trick with salt.  Take a box of salt, and pour about a teaspoon into the center of the dandelion before the flower has formed.  Except that Elizabeth made it sound like jolly fun when she advised me to “pour the salt down their little throats and watch them shrivel!”

Then again, I could just learn to embrace dandelions--eat a few, pick a few, and enjoy my yellow lawn.  They don’t last that long, anyway. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

#230: Magic

About 45 years ago, when I was still in university, a nice young man and I went on a first date.

I suggested, when asked, that we go to see Reveen.  What did I know? No-one had ever asked for my date night suggestions before, and this show by the charismatic magician was so well advertised that it must have seemed like an appropriate way to spend a Saturday night. I had no idea what the tickets would cost.  I can truly say that this little fact never crossed my mind.

And so I found myself out for the evening at Edmonton’s premier show-place, The Jubilee Auditorium, with Bruce.  I still remember the occasion, and how revealing it was on so many levels.  My new—dare I say--boyfriend was funny, smart, and not a little concerned that he might wind up on stage in front of 1,000 people, hypnotized and clucking like a chicken. 

Much, much later in our relationship I discovered that Bruce had probably paid 10 times as much for this night of magic as for a regular movie. He never did tell me the price of the tickets, nor did he seem to regret it.  Thank goodness we had a good time.

Our children know this story, of course.  I told it as a cautionary tale: Don’t bankrupt a guy on a first date, but if you do and he asks you out again this is a very good sign.

Tonight Bruce and I are being sent to see Kreskin (Reveen is not currently touring) by our daughter who could not resist the appeal of recreating the first date experience, even on a Tuesday night.

We’ve already made plans to leave for Toronto a bit early.  (I can do that now that I’m retired.) We need to make sure that our seats at the Glenn Gould Studio are unobtrusively situated. Kreskin does not do chickens, but who know?  My dear husband still has no desire to a magician’s helper.