Sun Cities Today Blog

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Archive for the month “May, 2011”

Memorial Day, 2011.

When visitors come to Sun City, they often talk about looking at open houses and how they wish it were Saturday or Sunday so there would be some. Then we point out they may well find an open house on a Tuesday or Wednesday as much so as on a Saturday and they get that stunned look on their face. “Say what?” That’s right, we tell them every day in Sun City is a weekend day.

For those outside the walls and still stuck in the rut of working, that is a foreign concept. Inside them, those of us fortunate to have retired often find ourselves taking the joy of not working for granted. Every day is another opportunity to get up and ask ourselves, “what will it be today?” How cool is that? Don’t get me wrong, we still have structure and purpose, it’s just the priorities change and we come to understand nothing we do is all that important. Of course the more we get involved in or with, the more time commitments we have, but even then if we don’t show up, we find the sun still rises and the birds are still chirping.

A holiday is even more interesting; because a goodly number of Sun City residents are still working. A day like today (Memorial Day) clearly does have a different feel to it. Walking Phoenix this morning and then riding my no speed bike to the museum, i could sense an even more serene sense of calm within the community. Hard to believe, but it was even more quiet than what it normally is. Fewer cars on the road and more folks up working around their yard and walking the streets. A special day to be savored by those who aren’t quite retired.

The coming and going of holidays is a blessing for us. It fills the void of the same old same old and helps us appreciate just how good life is. We become spoiled when all we have to do is enjoy life. Don’t get me wrong, i’m hardly that hedonistic that i don’t give back to the community on a regular basis. Living in Sun City let’s me be a part of something very special and it was one of the attractions that drew me to buying here.

Enough, other than to say Thank You to all the veteran’s that served and helped protect our way of life. We owe you a debt of gratitude and for that i salute each and every one of you. Now go and enjoy the rest of the day soldier…i know i will.

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Coffee With Hemingway

I suspect Sun City is not unlike other older established communities where seniors have accumulated tons of treasures. Driving through the streets on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday you see the folding tables coming out and garages filling up with stuff.

By Thursday morning, the signs dot the landscape excitedly announcing yet another garage sale. While summer is just around the corner, we still see multiple signs on some corners. There’s no question, winter months are far better for attracting crowds, but early morning bargain hunters are still pounding on garage doors hoping to get a jump on finding the rare old piece.

Perhaps even more intriguing than garage sale’rs are the folks vying to get in to those “Estate Sale’s” that are so common in senior communities. The one thing we know is a given in Sun City is the fact there will always be another one any minute. Some folks even joke when they hear a siren or see the ambulance, “there’s going to be another estate sale.” With an average age of 75, there will always be people moving back to the old homestead, dropping dead or heading off to the nursing home. The best way to liquidate is to sell all that old junk; i mean those treasured old collectibles.

Sun Citian’s have turned bargain hunting into an art form. Seriously, i do believe some days there are more residents hitting those sales than hitting the darn little white golf balls. And if you stop, you’ll see many of the same people week after week. Kind of brings a whole new meaning to finding ways to building friendships (that is until you are both scrapping over the same piece of carnival glass).

Let me help those of you unfamiliar to this phenomenon of garage and estate sale rage, wait till the last day of the sale and everything left is usually half price. Of coarse stuff is pretty well picked over, but most of what we buy is nothing we really need or want anyway. And another little tip (especially if you are on a golf car, bike or on foot), watch out for the crazies in their cars. Right hand blinkers mean nothing, when the garage sale sign says it’s to the left. An open parking space is fair game coming from either direction of the street; it is whomever can squeeze into it first, which way you are pointed is unimportant. (at least to some). Always pretend you only have $6 in your pocket when you want a $10 item and never try to deal down on a 10 cent item, it’s really tacky.

And what the heck does all this have to do with Coffee With Hemingway? Thought you’d never ask…i was riding my no speed bike to the museum one morning and happened upon a garage sale. Stopping to sift through the bargains, i found just one item that caught my eye. This cute little book had a forward by John Updike and looked like something i just had to have. Best of all it was only a buck, though i felt really bad all day long because i paid full price and didn’t at least try to knock it down to 50 cents. Guess i still have lots to learn about how to do this whole garage sale thing.

California Dreaming…not!

Just got back from my yearly jaunt to the Southwest Division Lawn Bowls Tournament; good golly Miss Molly, it’s great to be back within these white walls of Sun City. I flew into the Burbank airport; nice, small and convenient. Took a shuttle to Arcadia and stayed at the Santa Anita Inn. On the way i watched in horror as cars sat on the freeways, often backed up for miles. We dropped a passenger off at a private residence on a hillside. We wound around a road about 10 feet wide and homes with about 5 feet between one another. Cars were parked, maybe stacked is a better word, with barely inches to scrape by.

Somebody help me here, what am i missing? What can possibly be the attraction in that kind of “living?” I know, “it’s the ocean”; but i have to tell you in the eight days i was there, i never saw it. Admittedly, i’m not a water guy. But you can’t tell me those 37 million California residents are all hanging ten on their surfboards can you dude?

There’s got to be something else creating the smugness factor that makes Californian’s feel they are the only ones that have got it all figured out. Let me be clear, i’m not saying they are bad people; it just seems like there is an atmosphere that if you aren’t living in CA, you just aren’t living.

Maybe it will all change now that their former governor is starting to look as bad as the goof we elected back in Minnesota just before i retired and moved to Arizona (though let’s be honest, we’ve had more than our share of mental midget’s in the governor’s chair here as well). Think about it though, both Arnold and Jesse starred in the blockbuster The Terminator so it’s perhaps fitting they both made a mockery of those lofty positions and fooled the electorate into thinking they were real life action figures who could save their states.

To be honest, by the time i was leaving the rain and cold (people kept telling me it never rains there), i was just as delighted to be escaping the 24/7 Arnold and Maria news crush. My goodness, are his pants around his knees antics really worthy of all that? If so, i would think a goodly share of that 37 million would be trying to get out as well.

I got in late last night, caught up on my emails, my DVR’d shows and hugged the wife and puppies. Slept like a baby and quickly got back into the daily routine. The early morning walk with Nixie under sunny skies was great and the no speed bike ride made me feel right at home and back in the saddle (only seems appropriate for Arizona and our rough and tumble image).

The real test was when i could slip back behind the wheel of my golf car and fly down the open road, bugs in my teeth and all. It took me back to my last highway miles in California where the Super Shuttle driver was telling me his last three vehicles had a respective 800,000+, 700,000+ and now his latest 350,000 miles logged on them. I smiled and said “i know the feeling, i bet i put 5000 miles a year on my golf car.” He looked at me like i was nuts.

Maybe i am crazy, but i have to tell you; leaving California and getting back to the sanity of Sun City made me feel like i had just escaped the funny farm. God i love Sun City and the quiet peaceful easy feeling i get when coming home.

Sybil

I suppose we could have called her Sally, but that would have left folks far afield from the reasoning behind the name. Cool, because as soon as i tell people our new puppies name is Sybil, they get it. Almost the first words out of their mouth is; “multiple personality disorders eh?”

So maybe we were/are a little strange for blessing her with such a moniker. With each passing day, it fits better and better. Before we get too deep into the story, let’s recap how this all came to pass. In this thread, Sedona and Phoenix, i took the opportunity to say goodbye to my seven and a half-year old standard poodle, Sedona. She was a sweet, lovable and goofy girl who enjoyed life and all that it brought her (and gave us). Valley fever took her well before her time, but that’s just part of the deal when you have pets; you get the good with the bad.

Like anyone who has suffered the loss of puppy or kitty, the first question is; “should i get another?” Almost invariably there is a sense of guilt that comes with idea of trying to find one to take their place. In the end, most of us rationalize and tell ourselves we’ll never replace the loss we feel. We mope about for days with the quiet and calm and before long come to know we need to fill the void. Emptiness in the house or the heart just isn’t all that good. We break down and start the search, and after days, weeks, months or minutes, we find the “perfect” fit.

In our case it was from a breeder in Arkansas who specialized in standard parti poodles. Smith Poodles had a great selection of gorgeous standards that were just about at the age they would able to leave the farm. Obviously we would have loved to drop to the floor and let them lick our face and crawl through our arms but we decided to take a chance and roll the dice. Funny thing is, as we looked at the pictures of all the little ones available, this one gave us the eye and we knew she was it.

We waited for four weeks, and when the big day came, drove to the airport freight terminal to get her. She was a tiny little ball of fluff; a tad frightened from the long flight and being cooped up in the small carrier. I’m sure we looked odd to her after having been with her brothers and sisters since her birth. Undaunted we took her from the crate, held her close and tried to give her some special loving.

It was all new for the little thing, driving into Sun City (underage and all) but she took it in stride. The biggest fright may have been when she met her new sister Phoenix. She weighs in at sixty pounds and for that tiny twelve pounder, it had to be intimidating (though that hasn’t lasted long). Weve had her now for just a matter of weeks but my word has she grown and become quite the “monster child.”

As you can see in the picture, she looks innocent as all get out. Fact is if you pick her up, she’ll give you a handful of sweet kisses and suddenly those little baby teeth are gnawing away on assorted body parts. Put her down and she looks for anything close to latch on to. And poor Nixie is getting the worst of it. Initially she tried avoiding her, but it was akin to trying not to catch a cold from the spouse…just doesn’t work.

The good news is, Phoenix is growing more comfortable by the day with her new little sister. She’s come to understand if she gets too aggressive, she can grab her by the nape of the neck and quickly knock her to the ground. That’s when the other personalities come out. Meek, mild and loving suddenly replace the nasty little nibbler. Amazing how quickly she can slip from one persona to the other; i suspect it has something to do with an attention span of a gnat.

The funny thing for us is we have always had dogs, but darn, you forget what it’s like to have a puppy. The craziness only last for such a short time, but you’d think how manic they are would be indelibly burned into one’s brain. Not. Between the all hours of the day and night craving attention, the voracious appetite and incessant need for the three P’s (peeing, pooping and playing), they drain enormous energies. Thank God my wife is as nurturing as she is, i sleep through most of it.

Nope, wouldn’t trade her for the moon. In spite of all the baggage she brings she is a blessing to help get us past the loss of Sedona. My apologies to all for straying from the historical tact i usually try to take, but some things are just too fun not to share.

One final note, so you leave with one little tidbit of history: I mentioned we didn’t name her Sally…anyone get it? Even when i threw out the concern of getting too far a-Field? Now? Maybe i am getting really weird in my old age…Sally Field played Sybil in the 1976 drama and won an Emmy Award for her performance. I know, i know…crazier than a bedbug…but honestly, how many of you got it?

“The Finger”

I’d guess i give “the finger” to people at least 6 times a day; more on that later in the blog.

I would speculate most of the readers of this blog are old enough (some maybe too old) to remember The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle USMC and Mayberry RFD. Who can forget that lovable cast of characters created for those series: Andy, Barney, Opie, Aunt Bee, Gomer, Gober and a dozen others that made us chuckle over small town Americana? Heck, those kinds of shows made us feel good and appreciate the little things in life.

And of course, there was the riveting dialogue. Script writers earned their keep back in those days. I was doing some digging (others call it research) and i came across this tidbit that is just too precious to pass up: Jim Nabors: “Hey, Andy!” Andy Griffith: “Hey, Gomer.” Nabors: “Hey, Aunt Bee.” Frances Bavier as Aunt Bee: “Hey, Gomer.” Nabors: “Hey, Opie.” Ron Howard as Opie Taylor: “Hey, Gomer.” Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

Youve got to admit, that kind of exchange would never take place in 2011 on our 55 inch flat panel 3-D screens; mounted on the walls no less. Today we get to hear and see things far more vivid, totally gross or sexually provacative. Then you have to ask yourself; is that better? or worse? Sometime, don’t you long for those good old days? Getting caught up in a nostalgia for a sweeter, simpler time? A place where you know your neighbors and even the town drunk (hey Otis) is really just a nice old man and not some pedophile just out of prison looking for a friendly playground to hang around?

Interesting to me, because i see Sun City as having that same kind of down home, small town feel…if we will just let it. I’ve told you before, the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum has volumes of fascinating glimpses back of how and why it succeeded. Perhaps nothing better amplifies those early years in Sun City when people became instant neighbors and friends than a single legal sized sheet of paper produced by Jerry Svendsen (PR Dept) and called Del Webb’s Sun City Newsletter (sounds like they got the name for it from the Griffith show writers).

They published regular newsletters about who was moving into town, where they were from and what they did. This one caught my eye as it was on my birthday (though i was only 14 at the time) on July 6, 1962. This one paragraph is too good to pass up: How about this one – – – C. L. Wells, who for years worked for Eastman Kodak Company, has never been especially fond of photography. Upon his retirement the company presented him with, of all things – – – a camera. Now, can you picture that! C. L. and his wife Nellie, from Rochester, New York, currently reside at 11836 Cherry Hills Dr. patiently awaiting completion of their home at 100023 Palmer Dr.

Go ahead, snicker if you must, but i think a step back in time to this kind of cornyness would be a good thing. How nice would it be to let knew the community know who new buyers were and where they came from? Obviously you would need their consent, clearly those in the witness protection plan or having bilked their former employer out of several hundreds of thousands of dollars would want to remain more anonymous, but so be it. All kidding aside, wouldn’t it be good to see us better open our arms to newcomers?

All of which brings me back full circle to my own kind of Sun City cool…”the finger.” I’ll be the first to admit, the old finger compared to the new finger is wholly different. Seems when i was driving about while living elsewhere, more often than not, there was more than a fair exchange of 1 fingered salutes between many of us driving cars on packed freeways and bumper to bumper roadways. It was the universal symbol and often triggered more than one incident of road rage.

Now, within these white walls, i have mastered an entire different kind of “the finger.” Here in Sun City we often say hi (nope, not hey) to one another as we pass on the streets. Some would call it downright neighborly. The problem comes when we drive our golf cars, race down the street on our no-speed Schwinn or on that rare occurrence we take our car out, many of us want to exchange pleasantries. Big overzealous hand waves, akin to the beauty pageant winners wrist flick, often leave us feeling foolish; especially when those we are waving at ignore us. The simple answer is for many to develop the ultimate little finger flick. You raise your hand ever so slightly, extend your trigger finger and then just nonchalantly raise it without either pomp or ceremony. If there is no response, no big deal, obviously they didn’t see it. If they give us the finger back, we have touched another human being in a gesture of human kindness and coolness.

Odd, because just this morning, one of the RCSC board members asked me what we should do about angry residents and the problems they are causing. I guess i could have just said, give them “the finger,” but that would have resulted in a far lengthier discussion i wanted to get in at the moment. As i think about it and this idea of running for the RCSC board, maybe i’ll just ask supporters to start saying “hey Pearson.” How fun would that be?

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