Thoughts on Tucson
THE TGB GERIATRICIAN: Balance and Avoiding Falls

A Day in an Elder's Life

category_bug_journal2.gif It's been a dispiriting week. Pretty much everyone in print, on the internets (including me) and on the teevee has had entirely too much to say about the Tucson massacre without arriving at a consensus or even anything constructive.

I think we could all use some calm and ordinariness. So today, I'm going to talk about what else is going on at Chez Bennett – the daily life of an old woman who, nearly six years ago, was forced into retirement against her will.

Since I had never much considered retiring, it was fortunate that this blog was already well under way by then so I wasn't suddenly thrown into inactivity without a plan. It is the centerpiece of my days, as work had been for the 50 previous years.

Apples are a big crop here in Oregon. Markets are filled with a wide variety of them and I've rediscovered apple crisp, something I don't suppose I've made in two or three decades. It's easy to do and it's an almost healthy treat. I'm baking a batch about once a week.

You probably know how to do this, but since last time I mentioned cooking someone ask for the recipe, here is this one. I'm guessing at amounts because – well, that's how I do it. It's hard to get it wrong.

5-6 apples, peeled and sliced
½ C brown sugar
½ C all-purpose flour
½ C uncooked oats
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground nutmeg
5 T butter or margarine, room temperature

Mix together sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until all ingredients are moist. Slice apples into a 9-inch by 9-inch baking pan. Sprinkle topping mixture over apples. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.

Except for Tuesday afternoon when small pieces of actual ice were pouring down from the sky, I walk for 30 minutes or so most days. It's not nearly as interesting as walking the streets of Greenwich Village, but the scientific evidence is overwhelming that even such mild exercise as this, done regularly, helps keep elders healthy in mind and body. So I make myself do it even when I'd rather not.

Some of you have asked about Ollie the cat. Here's a photo:

Ollie Under Covers

Hah! Gotcha! You were expecting a kitty photo, weren't you? But that lump IS Ollie under the covers where he spends some afternoons - his life isn't any more interesting than mine. Here he is in one of his other sleeping places:

Ollie in Chair

Did anyone else receive the new Mark Twain autobiography for Christmas? At nearly three inches thick, it's quite a doorstop and the print is so tiny, I need to buy some magnifying reading glasses before I tackle it.

Meanwhile, I'm having a fine old time reading Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light, by Jane Brox. It's a survey of human lighting from the first stone lamps to the latest CFLs and upcoming LEDs.

I doubt that book is a best-seller, but it's a long-time interest of mine – the history of ordinary things. I have also enjoyed Salt: A World History and Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World and The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell, all from Mark Kurlansky.

These are of a piece with one of my favorite documentaries, Concrete, which I discovered on television a few years ago when I couldn't sleep one night.

Did you know concrete was invented by the ancient Romans and that the formula for the modern version hardly differs from theirs? Also, the concrete in Hoover Dam is still curing.

Mostly, of course, I work on TGB. In times like this week, that can be difficult. Like so many others must be, I'm disturbed and distracted. Dinner with my brother a couple of nights ago was a nice way to take the edge off. We didn't mention Tucson once.

Good grief; your life couldn't possibly be as boring as mine. But I like it this way at this age. I used to jump on planes at a moment's notice, travel the world for my job, I worked on the earliest incarnations of the world wide web. I had a terrific career and now I am equally happy with this life.

Be sure to tune in here tomorrow for the next video conversation with The TGB Geriatrician, Bill Thomas, that we recorded on Tuesday.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joanne Zimmerman: Seeds

<​​p>I am on an overnight trip to Astoria and although there is a list of posts I want to write, most require research or reporting. It's a question of time.

<​​p>Writing yesterday's post, I reminded of this TGB golden oldie from 2007, slightly updated, that some of you may remember, but it could be fun to reprise.<​​/p>

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joanne Zimmerman: Seeds


My life is no more exciting than yours, Ronni, except when I am working, which is not from Jan to March. I recommend "At Home", the Bill Bryson book. If you are a history buff, you will , perhaps, find it fascinating, as I do. It is the kind of history I wish had been taught in school. I can assure you, I would have paid attention.

You don't want to get close to me, but thanks to these miles of ether, I can join you while not infecting you.....achoooo!

The history of just about anything, and I'm there.
Love that stuff.
Well researched historical fiction...
I second Kenju's "At Home" by Bill Bryson, I did the audio version.
Quiet days and quiet nights, good lighting, a hot cup of tea and this whole curiosity shop of a world to explore via books, TV and the internet.
Never would have imagined as a younger version of me, that I would be so pleased.

I was going to mention the Bryson book, although I haven't read it. I've enjoyed his other books. The apple crisp sounds delicious, but I'll have to get a pastry blender. However, that's not as bad as my friend who had to buy an oven to cook Thanksgiving dinner.

Dear Ronni, This blog of yours sounds somewhat depressed. Yes, there is lots everywhere to be worried and depressed about--if you can do something about it--DO IT!
Otherwise, do (mostly) yourself and everyone else a favor, get into some project or other. NO depressing stuff.No 'educational' or 'uplifting' reading! Just do fun stuff for a while.
After retiring (I am 83) I joined the local Volunteer Ambulance Corps--became an EMT and now am a life member (12 plus years). Was it awful as in gory--yes, sometimes. However no matter how ghastly the circumstances it was REWARDING! That day I earned my place on the planet.
Find something, anything that will do for others--you will pull yourself out of the doldrums and reward others as well. Good luck!

Hope those apples are organic!
Sorry but apples carry way too much of what you don't want.
As for "boring", I do believe it's in comparison to your former very busy life. It isn't boring to hear what you do because I have no expectation. You seem busy to me!
My father said often, "Expect nothing and you will not be disappointed." As a child I couldn't get that.
Glad you're happy with your pace. Don't "apologize" for it. Just do it.

Dear Ronni, you are an inspiration. I'm only 33, but reading your post made me realize I aspire to and am pursuing your lifestyle. I voluntarily "retired" from my career at age 32 in order to pursue a life of self-employed autonomy. I fill my days with blogging, making videos, playing with my three-year-old daughter, and cooking. I also love the history of the mundane and was riveted to the documentary on the history of Concrete.

A few months ago, I was moaning to myself about how boring my life/job was. Then, I realized that when I was young, every time my life got really exciting, it was because I was suddenly in danger of losing my job or because I desparately needed to get out of a really bad realationship.

Now, a little older, possibly wiser, life is much more stable and that's good. I know for myself and I think for most of us, there are things out there that one can do and find enjoyable. The thing is not to get so comfortably stuck in your comfortable (and boring) routine that you don't do them.

Please - no assumptions or long distance psychoanalyzing. I am as far from depressed as is possible to be. It's just a more quiet life than during most of my years and quite appropriate FOR ME at this time.

As to lectures on what activities in giving back I should engage in, please don't be presumptuous. That, along with charitable donations, is TO ME a private matter that feels too self-serving to discuss with anyone or publicly announce.

Thank you for a delightfully calming TGB. I had forgotten Apple Crisp and was glad to be reminded . . . it's going to be in the oven later today. Life is good!

Dear Ronni -- I just love it that you care about concrete. For many years I worked in earthquake retrofitting (adding steel reinforced concrete foundations under buildings that had been constructed without them). Wondering through the world, I see concrete and marvel at it. And I am always (annoyingly) wanting to correct people who remark on a "cement" wall -- "no, no, no, cement is just the catalyst for the chemical reaction; concrete is the end product!" Usually I don't say it. :-)

You know, I was shocked to hear that you're 69. I'm 76, and to me 69 seems like a kid. I'm still waiting to feel "old," whatever that means.
Seriously, when would you say old age begins? Are we simply as old as we feel? And what would that mean since it changes from day to day?

Ronni, how strange that you should choose to write on "ordinary day" - I had been thinking of doing the same, then a handy pheasant popped up and I decided to go with that instead. I'm glad you enjoy your nice calm life, and am grateful for all the work you do on your blog. It is a real place where elders can get together, chat and think through what is important. Thanks always.

Love the photos of Ollie! Even the lumpy one. He looks slightly annoyed there in the chair and yet so very comfortable. What a terrific cat.

I'm betting my life is more boring than yours, Ronni, but I like it. I've paid my dues ... time to kick back, do or not do, as I see fit.

I read you every morning before I have my coffee and this morning you did "get me." I thought I was seeing things when I didn't see Ollie.

Did a double-take, kept on reading and saw Ollie was under the covers! Need my coffee now!!

My response to Flora is, as I have said in the past, 69 is "young old" and 85 is "old-old". That's where I'm coming from.

I love apple crisp and make a big batch every week for myself and my grandkids. I melt the butter in the microwave and mix it in.

The most exciting thing that happened to me this week was my computer crashed, and I fixed it MYSELF, much to my surprise. So I am busily backing everything up as I meant to earlier.

My life is quiet this winter. I like it. I can put the sturm and drang of my divorce behind me. I have lots of reading time, visiting with friends and family, and learning not to be a worry wart, a big challenge for me in these times. I've started getting books from the library again and intend to walk there when the walks are not so slippery here. I need to have a goal to get my walking in, groceries, coffee, fortunately where I live this is doable.

The pic of Ollie under the quilt was too funny! How can he breathe under there?

About books... I plan to get the one on light that you mentioned, but you might also enjoy another novel based on the early Tesla/Edison inventions near Buffalo, NY, City of Light, by Lauren Belfer. The heroine is a political leader in the town, spends her time mostly among men and there's a murder mystery also as part of the story! A favorite read for me!


You're right! Ollie was annoyed. I woke him up to take the photo and he wasn't pleased about it.

Ollie is adorable. He reminds me so much of my Charlie who made it to 29
How old is Ollie? My Charlie was a female.

Ronni, I watched that concrete documentary and I am happy to find someone else who found that fact about the Hoover dam fascinating. :)

Ollie is 6-1/2 years old, a male. He's a Savannah cat, 15 percent wild serval from Africa.

My previous cat, Beau Bennett - an Abyssinian - lived to be almost 20.

You are simply splendid. Thank you.

I love hearing about your "ordinary" days. As for boring? Maybe its a matter of semantics. I've been down the boring path but finally reached a place where I can say "I live a simple life." And I find that that suits me more than just fine. My appreciation of "ordinary" just grows and grows.

Great read today. I thought I was the only one who was bored with their life. I, too, had an exciting career and then switched to something less stressful and meaningful. But, alas, I was laid off 3 years ago and tried to get another job at a time when there were no jobs. I reluctantly retired as well.
I am 67 and still feel there is something left for me to do. At the moment my life is less challenging, primarily spent with friends, my dogs and visiting my grandchildren once a week. I am embarking on some volunteer work (Marine Humane Society) which will fill my time with something meaningful.
Thanks for the honesty and connection.

Thanks for the introduction to Mark Kurlansky's book. I haven't read any of them yet, but I appreciate the cleverness of the titles!

I had a stressful job and left that several years ago; did a bit of consulting for a few years and then decided I'd take some time to consider "what next?"
That was nearly three years ago, and I never moved into a major next activity/project. I periodically ask myself if the way I spend my days is OK. And then I note that I read a little, write a little, do a little volunteer work, and am no longer stressed every day.
When I stop to think about this, I'm grateful that I can structure my life this way -- in today's world so many people our age don't have that luxury.

Will look for the concrete video. My grandfather worked on the Hoover Dam. Thanks for that and the book suggestions.
By the way, did you watch Jeopardy this week? One contestant was from Lake Oswego, and I think he won.

Ronni: That apple crisp sounds wonderful, and I will make it for my family on my upcoming trip to Seattle.

I am sure anyone who followed me day by day would say I lead a very boring life. My outings are usually to a doctor appointment or a grocery shopping trip. Sometimes I even get to the printer ink company for variety. ;-)

Why am I not bored? Because of my computer that keeps me involved in the world and in touch with friends and family. I never feel boredom so I am a happy camper.

I am also an avid reader and do watch TV at night. I am so busy doing nothing that the days just fly by.

Here in the "sunny South" of Atlanta Ga I have had no choice but to be bored since Monday. We got 5 inches of snow which then proceeded to freeze up then the temp got down to 15 and tonight it will be about 17 again. Too slick to get out of our town house community until today but decided to stay in again anyway. Streets iced up.

Buddy, our cavalier spaniel, is having fun slipping and sliding away when he has to go out.

I couldn't wait to retire so my husband (who had retired the previous year) and I could do fun things together. One month after I retired my husband was diagnosed with cancer and died 13 months later. So here I am 3 1/2 years later living alone for the first time in my life and not working. Except for missing my late husband, I love it! My time is my own and I can do or not do anything I want. I know that may sound boring to many people but it's not to me. I also realize how lucky I am to be able to live on the little money i take in.

I never view myself as boring or bored. Honestly. And I certainly am never bored visiting here.

I celebrate the ordinary. Every day. Like looking for composting toilets and needing to LEARN about toilets.

I wonder is there a book about them? I must websearch.

I work a little but often wonder how I fitted in everything when I worked full time.


Boring is not necessarily negative. I have had enough badness in my life to be thankful for boring. I'd like to share with you my definition of fun at this stage of my life: fun is the absence of physical pain or mental anguish. I am thankful for the fun, boring times.

I love the boring life I lead now since I have retired.

I am always busy, but I appreciate the choices I now have about my time.

I don't have much money, but I am easily satisfied by my books, my yard work and my pets.

I love to be home just piddling about. Sometimes I feel guilty, but then I remind myself of the many years I spent teaching high school. Now, it is my chance to enjoy my quiet moments.


I did receive the Twain autobiography for Christmas and it intimidates me, unopened on its shelf.

Some days are so much alike that it seems I am continuously going to bed or getting up. At last, I've found a legitimate benefit in the so-called Golden Years: I am so easily contented.

love your everyday life. apple crisp sounds yummy

WWW on Facebook there is a section called Ode to the Commode...

I just love this quiet life and so does my husband. We have our meals together - then he works at his computer doing various surveys etc. and I on mine.

There is the piano to play and the tv to watch - I love stories with no commercials like the lifetime ones "on demand," There are crocheting projects that I have been doing in my amateurish way and maybe one day I'll even finish Atlas Shrugged...the print is so small.

What I love the most is not having to be accountable to anyone any longer. Although I "loved" teaching Hebrew School which I did for 45 years at various synagogues...there were times even then that I wished I had a chance to retire. Ed. Dir. sometimes think they know more then what they do...etc.

God Bless SS and Medicare. (FRD & LBJ)

FDR....Apple Crisp is good. I made pumpkin walnut cookies.

Ronni - you are a gem!!!

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