Sun Cities Today Blog

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Archive for the month “March, 2011”

Sedona and Phoenix

And then there was one.

We moved to Phoenix in may of 2003. We were blessed to be able to retire at 55; to leave the cold Minnesota weather behind for the glorious sunshine of Arizona. I had grown to dislike the snow, freezing temperatures and the constant state of gray. Coupled with the fact that i loved the Sun City way of life and it was an easy choice.

We had decided not to have kids; with both of us working full-time plus, we knew parenting wouldn’t be our strong suit. In place of them, we always had dogs, loved them to death as they became our “children.” Pet lovers always get that, while those without often question that relationship. It’s okay, everyone has their differences, their particular likes and dislikes.

In any event, once we arrived, i had both knees replaced (never did understood the word moderation). Consequently i paid the price and was hobbling around with a walker after the surgery. We had gone pet free for nearly a year before our move and we needed to have those little furballs back in our lives.

I started watching the local ads and came across a woman selling standard poodles. They are great dogs; smart, loyal and full of energy. We had several over the years in Minnesota and they were our first choice for out here. I was just weeks through the knee replacements when i saw the ad. We knew better than to go look, but we couldn’t resist.

The woman brought out 3 little balls of fluff (they were only 6 weeks old) and immediately a little chubby girl came running over to me. The other two were boys and we asked if there was another girl. The owner brought out two more, and one of the girls went scampering over to my wife Lori. She was the most unusual color of red, almost like she was carved from the red rocks of Sedona.

For anyone who loves animals, you know the immediate problem of picking one of them up and letting them lick your face and snuggle in your arms. There’s no turning back, and though i was nowhere near ready to be taking care of these little cuties, we drove off with the two we fell immediately in love with (though i still think they picked us more than we picked them).

We got them home and of course here we were; new to Arizona, an adobe style house filled with Southwest decor and a need to name them. We loved the idea the red would be Sedona and what could have been more natural to name her sister Phoenix. People would always give us a double take when told them their names. Shows you how taken we were by the area i guess.

It was a little crazy around the house for the first six months. We needed time to get to know each other. Loving them is easy, caring for them as puppies is always more challenging. Thank God my wife has the patience of the pope, i had very little at the time. As in every great love story, it all came together beyond our wildest imagination.

We were retired at 55, had two new little ones, a great way of life and we could not have been happier. In my humble opinion, there is no better place to live than Sun City. The girls grew and became near on 60 pounders. Sedona was tall and lanky, Phoenix was shorter and built more like me. They became the center of our lives that was filled with fun, frolic and volunteering. It has been the best of all worlds.

Unfortunately Sedona has had physical issues for most of her life. She had allergies to almost everything and in spite of all the physical problems she had, she never let it get her down. She became our Rufus; just a big goofy happy-go-lucky sweet heart looking only to be cuddled, walked and to add to our joy.

A very dear friend of mine who reads my blogs and posts told me i write with what seems a true sense of serenity. I’ve always tried to do that, follow my passions, my heart and write what i felt. Lord knows it’s not grammatically perfect, but it usually touches people in a way that makes it all worth while for me. I find it cathartic, perhaps more written for me than for those reading it.

So here’s the rub: Months back Sedona was becoming very lethargic. It looked like she was holding her neck funny and struggling. We brought her to the vet and he diagnosed her with Valley Fever. Animals contract it just like humans and it can be deadly. The vet gave us medications and said she may be okay. We watched Sedona over the last four months battle back and forth. The disease moves through your body and at times her back legs would go out, her front legs would collapse and a myriad of other problems would surface. Through it all she was a trooper.

This past weekend was the worst. We had her on prednezone but even that couldn’t mask the pain she was going through. We carried her around hoping for a miracle. None came. We’ve put more than our share of our little loved ones down as we held them and we knew it was time to let Sedona go. We scheduled it for Wednesday afternoon, dreading walking in with her and out with nothing but a hole in our hearts and tears running down our faces.

On Tuesday i was signed up for a lawn bowling tournament and went off to it, not much joy in my heart. I came home after the second game for a break and my wife was kneeling on the floor in front of the couch sobbing and holding Sedona. She had just minutes earlier died in her arms of a heart attack. She was able to hold and kiss her as she slipped off and while it crushed her, Sedona was able to leave us as she came to us, surrounded by love and caring. It’s why we have pets, it’s all about the love.

I carried Sedona out to the car and i was telling her about how the boys (we always had male dogs) were waiting for her on the other side. No more pain and free to romp and play without leads and harnesses to hold her back. Odd how we try to comfort ourselves as we lose something so precious and special. Perhaps there is nothing more helpful than this Dog’s Prayer by Norma Beth Harris.

A day has slipped by without her now and there’s no question, it’s different. Lori is hurting really bad and only time will help heal it. Sedona was just over seven and a half years old and should have had a lot more time with us. The one thing we all find out in life is we aren’t the one to decide that. Our place is to do the best we can, love whenever possible and try to give back more than we take. After that, we have to be able to accept what we are given. Sometimes, we just have to learn to let go.

Thanks Sedona for all you gave us, we’ll miss you baby.

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Life BR/AR.

My sister, her husband and son left the other day to go back to the frozen tundra of Minnesota. They stopped by as they were headed to the airport and we chatted. It’s funny, when they first got here they talked about how slow the pace of life is in Sun City. As they were leaving i commented on that slower lifestyle and they had amended their first impression. They found the pace was whatever they wanted it to be. While it was a short stay, they managed to squeeze in dozens of things, and my sister liked that idea.

Imagine that; she found what countless others had discovered over the years (including me). She was a block away from being to the gym for a quick workout, a stroll in the pool, a quick game of tennis or a go on the mini golf. They took in games at the Peoria stadium where the Cactus league was going on. Late in the afternoon they stole away to one of our eight golf courses for nine holes.

It all makes me smile and think back to my life BR (before retirement). I was a flaming workaholic; the more hours the better. I thought life was all about how well one could multi-task. I saw life as a contest and the winners were the ones that could keep the most balls in the air at once. It was an endless cycle of rush, rush, rush.

The day i first came to Sun City is when i had my epiphany. I saw something so foreign, so unique it took me a bit to get my arms around it. Nope, it wasn’t the fact i had fallen in love with the community, i just struggled to understand a pace where it could be as little or as much as i wanted or needed.

We bought the house when we were 51 (one of the smartest things we ever did with a dollar). We rented it out during the peak winter months and would come down before and after the rental season. It needed work and when we would come it was always at a breakneck pace to get as much done as possible. Even though we owned, we couldn’t bring ourselves to live the Sun City way of life.

When we retired, that all changed. Within months we grew to understand we could do what we wanted, when we wanted and if we didn’t get to it that moment, that day or even that month, oh well. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not irresponsible. We have just grown to understand, we can live life on terms that are much more suitable to enjoying what we have.

Some days we do lots, some days we do nothing; but most days are a wonderful mixture of both. Playing, volunteering, reading or sitting in front of the computer are all just part and parcel of a life well lived. I really enjoyed what we did to get here, but now i know there is a better way to live than chasing my tail and hoping to save the world.

All this is just another way of saying; life is good in Sun City. For those afraid of retirement and being away from the job…don’t be. I’ve come to the conclusion that work is way overrated. It’s an old adage to take time and smell the roses, but it’s about as accurate it gets. So for those of you trapped in life’s bustle; plan for, look for and then long for that sweeter simpler way to live. In my opinion, there is no better place to do that than in Sun City Arizona.

The Past Meets the Future


Cool eh?

Attached to the back of the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum is the very small original sales office that sat on the corner of 107th and Grand Ave. This diminutive structure, maybe 8 ft by 8 ft, was saved from the wrecking ball (i think a sledge-hammer would have done the trick) back in the early 90’s. We used it as the Marinette Room for years but of late have made it into our sales theater. It houses the old ads, the movie “The Beginning” and many of the tools and techniques used by DEVCO to attract and bring people to see Sun City.

Pictured above are Museum board members Ed Allen and Ed Cirillo. They are watching the launch of a new display showcasing one of the most valuable collections we have. Buried in a back closet are 23 folders of original newsprint ad slicks from Sun City’s earliest years. They are simply works of art that are far too good to leave removed from the maddening crowd.

Two months ago the Arizona Questers Yucca Chapter made a very nice donation for a flat panel television so we could show the ads to the world (thank you so very much gang). New board member Hal Lind had suggested we shoot them on a high-resolution digital camera, place them on an SD card and let them loop through as one of our new displays. It was a brilliant idea.

We still have lots of work to do, but the first of them are up and running. The advertising was that good and once completed you will see first hand how this community was marketed and why it worked so well. And of course, as these ads make it to the screen in the theater, they will also be saved on our website for the world to see as well.

As cool as it is to walk into the Museum and see what it looked like opening day, using these new technologies has allowed us to become far more aggressive and do things we could never have imagined. It’s like the perfect marriage. Nice.

C.O.P.’s

A really good friend of mine from Langely British Columbia is heading back home tomorrow. He bought in Sun City three years ago and is able to steal away for a month or two each year after the Christmas holidays. We were off to a lawn bowls tournament in Sun City West one day and he was chuckling as he drove. He’s an early riser and was telling me he goes up to the CVS Drugstore on Bell Road and invariably he sees people there fighting over the dumbest little things. He said day-to-day the moans differ, but it can be as simple as who is first in line, whether their coupon is still good or did that nasty old man pushing the cart ram into them.

I laughed and told him it wasn’t the majority of us in Sun City who are like that. Retail operations tend to bring out the worst in people and he just happened to hit days where the COP’s are out. Huh he asked? To help clarify, i put the period (.) in the proper position; C. O. P.’s. The look was still there. It was just ramblings off the top of my head but i really liked the new acronym.

I know, i know, here’s what it means: Crabby Old People. The fun thing is i had two presentations this week and had a chance to talk about COP’s. Nope hardly anyone even close to being in that category in the room. I was addressing the SammyRides group and those seeing them off and the volunteers from the 50th anniversary. People that volunteer and are active are less likely to be COP’s.

I always preface this; COP’s are good, C.O.P.’s are bad. Okay, so you got that speeding ticket and you were angry at the officer giving you the citation, admit it and suck it up, it was your own fault. On the other hand, if you are one of those pissing and moaning about anything and everything, angry at the world and looking for someone to scream at, lighten up. Find something to be happy about and try an enjoy what is right in front of you. Life is that good and if you aren’t happy, try looking in the mirror for the source of your angst.

And always remember it could be worse, you could be on your way back to the frozen tundra of Canada.

Fabulous…SammyRides

2400 miles, 60 days, 4 riders…only one word can describe it…Fabulous. It’s been 2 years in the making, a hundred meetings and planning that would make the most proficient wedding planner blanch. Throw into the mix an average age of 70 plus, some speed bumps from participants along the way and one can only wonder how the heck they got this far along without losing their minds (or their heart).

Let’s face it, when one looks at the reasoning behind it, it’s easy to see why the core group never waffled, never were overcome by the overwhelming task of crossing half way across the United States on bicycles. They were driven. SammyRides was bigger than all of them and raising money for pediatric cancer and honoring the memory of Sammy Rotman was a motivation that helped see them through.

Here’s the exciting part; the starting day came and they are on their way. On a bright, sunny Sun City Arizona morning the riders gathered at the Sundial Rec Center amidst a throng of cheering (and kind of envious seniors). I mean let’s be honest, as enticing as it is to be part of the ride, how many of us could or would actually endure the aches and pains coming from this kind of challenge? Just the thought of my big old butt stuck on a bicycle seat all those miles, gives me hemorrhoids. Nope, not a pretty picture.

Knowing just how challenging this ride will be, i have nothing but admiration for Mike, Adolph and Mike (and John who will be joining them once recovered from some surgery). And to Lois who is driving the support van along side of them, good luck kiddo, you have your hands full; thank goodness she took that EMT course, i suspect along the route it will come in handy. There is no question in my mind, as fun as the first two plus miles were, the next 2398 will test your strength, endurance and commitment. Without doubt though, having gotten to know you, you’ll be just fine.

Thanks to those who turned out at the sendoff, it was a blast. For those who missed it and want to donate, go to the SammyRides website and get the information on how to be a part of something very special. To my new friends from Sun City Center Florida, thanks for coming into our lives and allowing us to be with you at the beginning. Ride safe gang, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Today’s the day before the day at Sun Cities Today?

Say what? Okay, let me explain, albeit very quickly. It is Tuesday March 1, significant for reasons other than we can throw away the February page of the 2011 calendar. Today marks the day we take the SammyRides folks around Sun City, show them off to the residents of the original Sun City before they head off on their most amazing journey (don’t you hate that word? I do since the advent of reality TV shows it has become the most overused word in the English language).

As usual, i digress and travel down roads in my own mind and of little interest to others. Back to SammyRides; We are starting off at the beautiful and abundant Bell Rec Center at 9:30 am. We’ll give them the nickel tour and introduce them to the hundreds of folks working and playing at the clubs,pool and fitness center. From there we’ll head down to the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum for a brief walk through of our history. They have a luncheon stop at one of the Rotary clubs, a pleasant presentation at one of the independent living units and then to the Pearson household for dinner. From there we will be showcasing them at the Next Gen club’s meeting at the Fairway Rec Center. That starts at 7 pm in the Arizona Room with cake, coffee and other delicious offerings. It is open to the public.

Hardly seems fair to wear them out before they take off on that 2400 mile bike trek tomorrow, but they are obviously a fit bunch of seniors and you only go around once. Wednesday is the big day, so stay tuned and will fill you in as we continue towards countdown.

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