Asheville

When Meeting New Friends At This Age, “Memory” Matters!

My husband and I made a decision five years ago to leave Florida and retire to North Carolina.  Leaving friends was the hardest part of that decision. At 65 and 61 years of age respectively, we knew that we would have to be proactive about finding a new circle of friends in our new town.

As a couple, we like to golf, listen to live music, eat at great restaurants and go to (and host) parties. It was important to us to have some friends who enjoyed similar things.

At the five year mark (which we passed in October), we feel good that we have met a lot of interesting people and have developed a handful of special friends.

Initially, reaching out wasn’t easy. We knew only one person when we got to town – our real estate agent. It had been quite some time since we had needed to connect with new people.  It felt like we were starting to date after going through a divorce.

But, we were lucky in several ways: Our neighbors across the street were especially generous with their introductions to new people.  We joined a golf club and attended several events for newcomers where we met other newcomers to the area.  Our real estate agent invited us to a couple of events where we met other friends and clients of hers.   Ray re-connected with a grade school buddy who he hadn’t seen in 40 years and he and his wife have become friends.  We reached out and reconnected with a former business colleague who now lives in Asheville with her husband.  We contacted several people at the recommendation of other business colleagues and Florida friends.  Through these connections, we then met some of their friends and acquaintances.  It’s been fun and interesting.

It has also, at times, been challenging.

As we met people, we had to zero in on those that both Ray and I felt that we wanted to get to know better. Then we had to decide whether to ask them out to dinner, or to our home, or to a concert.

Once decided, we had to “put ourselves out there” and see if they were interested, as we were, in getting together.  Then, once connected, we had to learn things about them to continue to test our mutual compatibility.

Finally, most difficult of all, we had to remember what we learned!

Let me digress.  At this age, neither of us has a great memory.  More than ever, if I don’t write things down, they are likely to disappear off my radar screen. And Ray’s memory is at least as bad as mine.

So, that means that we can have a nice time with new potential friends, enjoy our discussions, decide we’d like to continue exploring the friendship and then promptly forget things we learned about them.

It’s happened more than once – and it happens the other way, too, since many of our potential friends have their own memory challenges.

Here’s an example: While our husbands talked about golf, one woman and I spent close to two hours over dinner talking about our work lives and the fact that neither of us had children but shared daughters and grandkids with our husbands. We also talked about pets and what we like about Asheville.  At our next dinner, about three months later, she asked what I did for a living, whether I had children, how long we’ve been in Asheville, and if we had pets.  Déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra would have said!  I have to admit, I didn’t feel good on the receiving end of this exchange.

Since I’d rather not be perceived as a person who doesn’t listen or remember previous discussions, I am doing two things to help myself and Ray.

First, I hone in on four things to remember when I meet a new person or couple:

  1. What did they do in their careers? (Or what are they doing now for work?)
  2. How many children/ grandchildren do they have? (Separately or together)
  3. What do they enjoy doing for fun?
  4. Do they have a pet, and if so, what’s its name?

I think these are important issues to all of us baby-boomers and have found that using one or all of these pieces of information at the next encounter is appreciated – and often surprising. You remembered that?  People seem especially happy if you remember their pet’s name!

Second, I jot down these few tidbits of information in a notebook as soon as I can. Of course, I then have to remember to pull out the notebook before seeing the person/couple the next time!

I don’t think it’s easy to develop new friendships in later life. But, as one of the many baby-boomers who has decided to retire to another city and state, I have come to appreciate how  important it is to make the effort  – even when it’s uncomfortable or when it takes some extra work and memory tricks.

For me, developing new friendships has been a large part of my journey to feeling connected and happy in Asheville.  (Of course, finding the right hair stylist, nail tech and masseuse have ranked right up there too!)

Cathy Green

PS: Here’s an interesting article I found called 6 Ways Friendships Grow More Complicated As You Get Older”.

My Vagabond Summer (Of Love)?

Some of you may know our lifestyle changed in 2015 to owning just one house in Tucson, Arizona.  We have spent this summer of 2016 trying to get out of the Tucson heat – obviously that hasn’t worked too well.  The whole country seems to be sizzling or pouring rain – sometimes both.  We have driven or flown to various places renting apartments, houses and also staying in between rentals with family and friends.   We have been in Santa Fe, NM, Yardley, PA and Long Island, NY – still ahead are NYC, San Francisco, White Plains, NY, Asheville, NC and Atlanta – all before returning home to Tucson in October. Like most plans, much of what we were certain would happen did not happen (we did not mind being in the witness protection program as one of our dearest friends described this lifestyle), and new things came up that have turned into gems of experience.

Here’s a few highlights:

  1. We confirmed our love for Santa Fe. It is a magical, artistic, historically a very Hispanic town with charming architecture, warm people, nearly perfect weather and a real liberal vibe.  Spending time there is like taking a course in the country’s colonial past, art history, and kindness. We made new friends with an old friend of mine from college who I had forgotten lived in Santa Fe – she and her husband fit all the descriptions above.

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  1. We rented a house in Yardley, PA without a washer or dryer. I referred to this in an earlier blog.  The surprising event was becoming friends with the manager of the store and her niece who helped us figure out how to get back in the groove of Laundromats – we discussed work, getting raises, school, politics, and life and got along famously.  I found the connection with these great people that we have little externally in common with, super interesting and amazingly comforting for the future of our country.
  1. Episcopal churches are everywhere and yet extremely consistent. The churches are beautifully traditional and, of course, old (many were built when towns were founded), situated in the heart of downtowns, and only occasionally more than half full.  One is always greeted by people who recall the 1950s style we grew up with – charmingly formal in the sense of respecting boundaries and not assuming “being your new best friend” – softly open and welcoming, low key and anxious to make you feel you belong. It is the America some of us grew up in frozen in time.  I love these church visits and the sensitive sermons and people – like Stacy, the manager of the laundromat, comforting in these loud mouthed, obnoxious times.

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  1. I read serious books that touched my soul. Among them were Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me; Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, and The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler’s Atomic Bomb by Neal Bascomb.  I feel I actually learned something real, intimate and important about being/growing up African-American, Chinese-American, and Norwegian.  The bravery of these books, their glimpse into realities of people I could never really know expanded my sense of what it means to be a human being.
  1. Finally, I fell in love. With John (not his real name of course), a late 50ish beyond handsome physician (sort of a mature JFK Jr) who is neighbor and friend to friends of ours.  Like the old time falling in love of 1960s it was both intensely sexy (in my dreams) and totally innocent with absolutely no basis in reality of any kind.  I saw him playing fetch with his black lab on the beach looking happy and carefree.  He then was introduced to me and I knew “he was the one”.  Though of course he is totally someone else’s.  Like our fabulous teen/young adult love for Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, and Rock Hudson it was both unrequited and impossible. A reminder that the pure joy of hearing “see you in September” is coming up next.

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Being a vagabond is working for us.  I could share so many more stories about how being loose and moving frequently is making us stay in the present moment and give up judging others.  But to be honest, I admit some nights I am looking forward to being HOME.  We fabulous women love change, our treasured summer memories, and yet miss our comforts too don’t we?

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Should We Get a Second Dog?

Ray and I have begun talking about getting another dog.

Lexie, our Labradoodle, will be 9 years old in July. That’s close to 2/3 of the way through her expected lifetime.

She is the sweetest, smartest dog in the world. I know that’s what everyone says about their dog, but she actually is the sweetest and smartest.

Lexie, 2015

She has a sweet life, too. Because Ray and I are essentially retired, she is with us almost around the clock. When we are home in Asheville, we never leave her for more than a few hours. And that isn’t often. She loves to ride in the car, so we take her with us in her Jeep even when we run errands. Yes, that wasn’t a typo. The Jeep is hers. We bought it several years ago to make sure she has a comfortable riding experience.

She is intimately acquainted with all of the restaurants in town that allow dogs on their outdoor patios and decks, and she gets treats from lots of people who work in dog-friendly stores.

She has three of her own Orvis dog beds, and has learned that our living room couch, chairs and even our bed is not off limits as we cautioned her when we brought her home eight years ago. She gets groomed monthly, her “servant” Greg lives with her when we are out of town, and she is allowed to demand her walk every day at 4pm by nudging, spinning and barking.

Basically she is a diva.

And, we love her and get tons of joy out of watching her run, play and go crazy when we come home.

So, why would we consider a second dog?

Good question. We think a second dog might keep Lexie active and playful as she ages. We think it would be fun to get double dog licks and even more unconditional adoration. And, maybe most importantly, we think it might help us when the time comes for Lexie to leave us.

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At the same time, we have discussed the cons.

Lexie and the new dog might not actually become the buddies we want them to become. Lexie might resent an interloper and consider us the only companions she needs. If they do become buddies, we might be surprised how much trouble they can get in together. And, the cost is not insignificant. As someone once told me, “Two dogs are 10 times the work and 100 times the cost”. Vets, grooming, food, pet sitting, Orvis beds…. the list goes on and on.

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Searching the internet, I found three questions that dog owners should ask themselves about this important decision …

  1. Do you have the financial means to have a second dog?
  2. Do you have the time to train another dog?
  3. Are you healthy enough to take on the physical activity a second dog will require?

Financially, we can swing it, although we have avoided looking too closely at what we’re spending on Lexie. (The Jeep certainly skews the total.) We have enough time, too, since we are in our semi-retirement years. Healthy? So far so good.

Basically, we could do it. But do we really want to?

Here what I’m asking myself:

  • What will it be like having another 55-60 pound dog in the house? (Yep, we both like big dogs)
  • What about having two dogs in the back seat of the Jeep?
  • Would we really take two big dogs to restaurant patios?
  • Will dog-friendly friends feel a little less dog-friendly at the greeting they will no doubt get at our door?
  • Will we be lucky a second time around in finding a dog with Lexie’s temperament and smarts?

We haven’t made a decision yet… although not deciding is kind of like deciding, isn’t it?

All I know is that every time we see a cute little puppy… or two fun-loving dogs playing together … the urge strikes again.

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Opinions welcome. What do you think?

Cathy Green

p.s. Here’s a cute site about the pros and cons of two dogs.

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A 19 Year Old Granddaughter Raids My Closet

This weekend, granddaughter Rainey drove more than an hour out of her way to visit us in Asheville. Ray and I were thrilled. She had been with friends in Johnson City, Tennessee, and was returning to Knoxville where she is a sophomore at UT.

She called us that morning – right after her decision to visit with us – and we invited her to stay overnight. We were even more thrilled when she said yes. Ray and I decided to take her out to dinner in downtown Asheville.

She arrived mid-afternoon, beautiful as always, dressed in short shorts and a tee shirt carrying a small bag. We hugged, we talked, we began catching up on her college stories and, bundled into one of our fleece jackets, she accompanied her grandfather as he took Lexie on her afternoon walk.

Rainey and Lexie

Rainey and Lexie

Around 5:00pm, Rainey casually mentioned that she didn’t have anything else to wear to dinner. She hadn’t anticipated needing anything when she headed out with her girlfriends.

Can I wear something of yours, Grandma Cathy?

I knew immediately that this would be a problem. Rainey is about 5’ 3”. I’m over 5’ 7”. She wears a size 0. I wear a size 12. She weighs about 100. I weigh…. never mind!

Maybe a sundress or something? she said innocently.

A sundress? When was the last time I wore a sundress? 1985? And, even if I had one, it would definitely be a Large and she would need a Small if not an Extra Small.

I’ll come with you to your closet and we can find something! She said brightly.

I knew immediately that this exploration of my closet would prove embarrassing. I was wracking my brain for anything I might have kept buried in a drawer somewhere that could work. An old pair of leggings? A blouse that didn’t fit anymore?

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I reluctantly accompanied her to the closet and watched as she began pushing hangars aside to check out the selections. Looking through her eyes, I saw how big the pants were, how drab the colors were (lots of black) and how big everything was – and I mean everything.

Things were looking bleak and I was feeling ill. Wasn’t there anything that could work? Was I going to have to admit that it would be better for her to wear short shorts and a tee shirt on a cool evening in Asheville than to put anything of mine on her tiny body? Would she remember forever that she couldn’t find anything to wear in her Grandma Cathy’s closet?

And then a miracle happened. I saw it: a dark blue silk pull-over blouse that I had worn earlier in my life over matching slacks. The slacks had gone to Goodwill many years ago, but I had saved the blouse – “just in case”. Well, it was just in case time.

The blouse was over 30 inches long, and Rainey was excited. Perfect length, I thought.

I could wear it with a belt to make it shorter! Do you have a belt I could use?

I opened my belt drawer, once again eyeing all of the Large size stretch belts. But Rainey saw the chain belt before I did and determined that she could wrap it around her body – probably more than once.

Perfect! She said.

And it was. She looked beautiful and elegant. She had a new silk “dress” that she would wear with her pretty sandals. Voila! She was ready to go to dinner.

It worked!

It worked!

Well, almost ready. The blouse/dress was silk and wouldn’t provide much insulation for the cool night, so we went on a mission to my coat closet. Fortunately, I had a beautiful new silky black jacket that fits me perfectly as a jacket. It became a big slouchy silk coat for Rainey. She was set!

So, my blouse became a dress and my jacket became a coat.

And, hopefully, that’s all Rainey will remember of Grandma Cathy’s closet until one of her own granddaughters puts her through the same embarrassing closet raid someday!

Cathy Green

A Perfectionist Tackles The “Game” of Golf

I never wanted to play golf.

No one in my immediate family played, or even mentioned golf when I was growing up. I didn’t have any friends in high school or college who played. I tried it once in my early 20’s and concluded that it took too long to play, I didn’t like men scowling at me on the course, and the clothes and shoes were not flattering.

And then one day a few years ago, as my husband and I were beginning to take more time off from the business and could envision the possibility of retirement at some point he said: Why don’t you take golf lessons so we can play together when we move to Asheville?

I told him I’d think about it and then promptly decided not to think about it. But a good friend, who is also a psychologist, told me that I might want to consider Ray’s suggestion in another way. How many men, he said, invite their spouses into their lives this way? I had to admit that I didn’t know many.

So, I decided to give it a try.

Did I mention that I’m a perfectionist?

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My first lesson on the driving range didn’t go well. I kept missing the ball, no matter how big the golf club head was. I was sure the guys around me were laughing and hoping they never had to play behind me on a course.

Keep your head down, the golf pro said. Down where? Keep your body still but twist your hips, he said. Huh?

Somehow, because of or despite those directions, I finally managed to hit the ball – or more accurately, I hit the ground behind the ball which caused the ball to dribble a few feet. By the end of the hour, I was hitting the ball about half the time and knocking it erratically but at least a little further.

My second lesson was better. I seemed to be getting the “swing” of it and I actually hit the ball 50 yards or so a couple of times.

Ray thought I was ready to play. On a real course.

Will there be any players behind us, I asked. Yes, that’s the way it works, he said. Men? He gave me one of those “of course, darling” looks. But don’t worry, he continued encouragingly, we’ll just pick up your ball and move it along with us on the cart, OK?

Riding around in the cart with my ball – that sounded like something fun to do for 4 hours.

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Let me digress a little. Ray played on a college golf team, but only played occasionally throughout his business career. He once lived on a golf course, though, so I figured he knew everything there was to know about golf and that he had learned everything needed to pick up the game where he left off.

During our first game together, I moved my ball along many, many times in the cart, lost at least 5 balls in the woods or the water, scowled back at the guys behind us and kept tugging on my ridiculous golf “skort” – an item of clothing that should never be sold in any size over 4.

Ray seemed to be playing well, although I was a little surprised that some of his shots weren’t all that straight and some didn’t go very far. Was I interfering with his game, I wondered?

And then he hit an incredible drive. It sailed through the air, maybe 200 yards, perfectly straight – a thing of beauty! And, before I could censor myself, I said…

Why don’t you hit it like that every time?

I knew right away that this was not an appropriate response to his great shot. He scowled in silence. But then he seemed to realize that I had actually made this remark in total sincerity. I really thought that once you learned the game of golf, you would be able to hit the ball well – every time!

Cathy, he said, if I hit the ball like that consistently, our lives would be much different. I would be on the road with the Senior PGA Championship Tour and we would be friends with people like Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer! (I had actually heard of some of those guys).

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Point well taken.

I have now been “playing” this game of golf for a few years. Not often and not well. I threaten to quit every third time I play. I have learned not to make remarks about others’ shots. I occasionally still miss the ball, but if I can get away with it, I pretend it was a practice shot.

I’ve taken many more lessons from many more pros: Keep your head down; keep your head still; place the ball closer to your left foot; twist your body; make sure your belly-button ends up where you want the ball to go; use your shoulders when you putt; chip without bending your wrists; keep your arm straight on the backswing; follow-through; keep your weight on your left foot; don’t sway; lead with your left hand… and on and on and on. I write everything down and usually forget what it means.

But occasionally, just occasionally, I hit a shot that is incredible, if I have to say so myself. The club hits the ball with a solid “thwack”, it soars through the air and lands perfectly in the middle of the fairway and I am close enough to the green that I might actually feel good enough about this hole to put a score on the scorecard. I’ve even been known to pump my arm like Tiger Woods. And, when I make one of those shots, I’m hooked enough to schedule another round with Ray.

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I can’t say I’ve learned to love golf, but the perfectionist in me continues to think that it will “click” one of these days. Who knows? Maybe it will. Most likely, it won’t.

And the clothes? I still don’t like them.

Cathy

p.s. The other day, Ray and I attended a woman’s professional golf tour. As one of the golfers walked up to the tee, Ray whispered … you would look good in that skirt. I stared at him. Did he really mean the silky, form-fitting, short, pink polka-dot golf skirt that was being worn by a tall, thin and athletic 21-year old? He smiled at me and I realized he meant it! I decided to keep my mouth shut. It’s nice to know that he thinks it could be true.

Cathy - May 2015

Cathy – May 2015


Where Is “Home”? Figuring It Out In Your 60s

Several years ago, when I was in my late 50’s and my husband was in his early 60’s, we stopped working full time in our business. With a management team in place, we were able to spend half of the year in St. Petersburg, Florida (where our company is located) and half in St. George, Maine. But we talked often about our future retirement years. Where would we call home? Did we want to stay in Florida or Maine… or move somewhere else?

Not everyone, of course, has an option. Health issues, financial constraints or family obligations might make this a moot point. But for those of us with some freedom to choose, the decision can be fun … and difficult.

A recent article in USA Today reported that retirement moves, which dropped sharply during the recession, are making a comeback. Florida is gaining 55,000 retirees each year, Arizona has seen an 18% increase and South Carolina 6%. North Carolina is a choice for many “half-backs” who don’t want to stay in Florida, but don’t want to return to the North either.

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I’m not sure what percentage of retirees actually make a move to another city, but one survey seems to indicate that if people decide to move, it is usually going to be before age 65.

… 73 percent of people between 18 and 29 would consider a move when it’s time to stop working. That rate drops to 62 percent for people ages 30 to 49, then to 50 percent for ages 50 to 64. Among survey takers age 65 and older, only about 1 in 5 said they would consider moving.

I’ve talked to many people in their 50’s and 60’s, and decisions about moving generally involve sorting through a lot of information… and often dealing with strong emotions.

Ray and I spent a lot of time on our decision journey. We talked to friends. We discussed the pros and cons of staying in Florida or Maine. We explored other cities. We made a decision, reconsidered, and then decided again. Finally, even before retirement, we chose to move to Asheville, North Carolina. Here’s what we considered:

Closeness to immediate family

Given how irritating it is to travel by plane, we wanted to be able to see children and grandchildren (who don’t all live in the same cities) within a 4 to 5 hour drive … a drive that might also be reasonable for them to make to see us. Having brothers, sisters and other assorted relatives within that drivable range was an important consideration, too.

Availability and quality of healthcare

This was a big deal for us, not because we aren’t healthy, but because we hope to stay that way and want to be prepared if (when) we have issues later in life.

Moderate climate

As I write this (April), it’s still snowing in Maine and it is in the mid-80s in Florida. We love both of those states, but it’s 65 in Asheville. A climate that doesn’t get extremely cold or extremely hot was important to us, especially since we both enjoy playing golf.

Availability of things we like to do

We wanted to live in an interesting city with great restaurants and music that also had a wide variety of outdoor activities, including walking trails, concerts and art shows. Did I mention golf?

Probability of friends visiting us

Since we would be moving away from good, long-time friends in both Florida and Maine, we hoped that our new home would be a place they might like to visit.

A special house

We wanted a home that we would love and one that provided a peaceful setting – preferably with mountain views, song birds at our feeder, occasional bears and deer, a place for our labradoodle to run and quiet star-filled evenings.

Probability of establishing new friendships

We wanted to meet people who were interesting – but also, people who were interested in forming new friendships. A city with other “transplants” seemed ideal.

Getting back to our roots

This wasn’t something we consciously put on our list or talked much about when we were considering our move. However, Ray grew up in a nearby South Carolina town and traveled to the mountains of North Carolina as a boy. And I vacationed with my family in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee many times when I was a young girl living in Cincinnati. The mountains felt good to both of us.

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Everyone over 60 who considers moving to another city will have different criteria and priorities. However, one thing seems clear to me: If you’re going to do it, you should probably do it while you’re young enough to deal with the actual move, while you have the energy to work on establishing new relationships, while you are healthy enough to take the time you need to find good healthcare providers, and while you are mobile enough to learn your way around the area and enjoy what it has to offer.

For me, it’s been a great move. Cool mountain air, a fabulous new home, a quirky city, wonderful music and restaurants, many interesting new friends, lots of visitors and a comfortable drive to visit kids, grandkids and siblings.

Half-backs? I guess that’s us.

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Cathy Green

A Lesson from Aunt Polly

Aunt Polly would have been 100 in February. She almost made it! Instead, according to the preacher at her funeral a couple of weeks ago, she will be celebrating her birthday with her daughter, sisters and husbands (two of them) in heaven. I hope that’s true, because she would definitely enjoy that party like she enjoyed parties throughout her life.

Happy Birthday cake

I met Aunt Polly – my husband’s aunt on his mom’s side and the mother of his three female cousins Martha, Mary Ella and Gigi – when I was introduced into the family in the early 90’s. I was embraced by all of the Parkers at that time, but none more so than Aunt Polly. With a big smile and hug, she let me know that I was welcome to join in the fun of being part of the Parker clan and that she expected visits to her home whenever we were in town. It didn’t hurt that Ray – Raymond to her – seemed to be a favorite. Her face would light up when she saw him and since I was there, I got to experience her warm embrace, her smile and those mischievous twinkling eyes.

Over the years, we visited Aunt Polly from time to time when we were in Gaffney. She always seemed thrilled that we were there and asked us repeatedly as we left to tell her when we were coming back. In recent years, with more reasons to be in South Carolina and after moving to Asheville – only 90 minutes away – we were able to see her more often. We would take her candy – which she loved – and would “sneak” a bottle of wine to her, too. Her girls weren’t thrilled with her having a drink, she told us. She was beginning to get frail as she got into her 90’s and they were afraid she might fall. But that big smile would get even bigger when we opened up a bottle, told her we wouldn’t “tell” on her, and shared a glass during our visit. She loved believing she was getting away with something!

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The stories about Aunt Polly that circulate in the family are legendary – and very funny. She loved to laugh – and was always willing to laugh at herself, too. One of my own stories about her happened several years ago when she had fallen and broken a wrist. We were at a family event and I knew from her daughters that their mom’s arm was in a sling, at the insistence of her doctor. When she walked into the party, I noticed that there was no sling and asked her about it. Looking a little sheepish, she whispered to me that it didn’t match her outfit so she decided to take it off!

I should have expected that response, since Aunt Polly was always a sharp dresser. She cared about her clothes, her hair and her shoes – even wearing high heels as long as she could get away with it!

A little over a year ago, at a Parker cousin’s reunion at our house in Asheville, Aunt Polly played boogie-woogie piano to the delight of everyone. She said that she played piano every day to keep her mind sharp. We all knew that she was in her 90’s, but had no idea exactly how old she really was.  She had decided much earlier in life to keep her age a secret and swore her daughters to secrecy, too. According to them, she even tried to keep the secret from her doctors. Only after her funeral did we actually get the full scoop on her age – even the memorial card at the church listed her birth date, but not the year! She would have been so happy!

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Cathy, Aunt Polly and Ray in 2012

But my fondest memory of Aunt Polly occurred when Ray and I were visiting her at her home and Ray was busy with something – probably opening the wine. I took the opportunity to ask her a question.

Aunt Polly, why are you always so happy?

She smiled that impish smile of hers, put her hand on my arm and gave me an answer that I’ll never forget:

Honey, she said, I’m happy because I choose to be happy!

Thanks, Aunt Polly, for a great life lesson. I’ll miss you!

Cathy Green

I Love Fall! (Or Is It Autumn?)

Fall is my favorite season. I have loved it since I was a young Cincinnati girl growing up on Vittmer Avenue, a cul-de-sac lined with large oak trees that turned bright yellow, brown and orange in October.

When I moved to Florida in the late 80’s, I missed fall so much that I traveled with Ray to Maine trying to “time” the peak colors each year. When we finally bought a home there, we stayed until mid to late October when our “leaving” tree would tell us it was time to go. That’s what we called a beautiful birch tree in our yard that turned bright colors before shedding its leaves and ushering in the beginning of winter.

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And now, living in one of the most desirable “leaf peeper” cities in the country – Asheville, NC – I get to see the spectacular changes in color at several different elevations over about six weeks. Traveling on the Blue Ridge Parkway almost every day – only 5 minutes from my home – is incredible.

Here are a few of the reasons that I love fall so much…

  • The changing colors of the leaves always amaze me. I take more pictures in the fall than in any other season and most of them are of yellow, red and orange trees glowing in the sunshine. My cell phone has at least 100 of those photos right now. Here’s one:

Tree in yard

  • The air is crisp and clean. I have good hair days, I can wear light jackets and there’s a spring in my step. Lexie, our Labradoodle, is thrilled because she gets to be outside with us – running around the yard, hiking or going to festivals called Pumpkinfest, Octoberfest or Pecan Harvest Fest in small cities all over Western North Carolina.
  • I enjoy a fall wardrobe. I look better in sweaters and scarves, and they feel “cozy”. Bathing suit and bare legs season is over (thank god!) And, fortunately, orange, yellow and black clothing looks good on me.
  • Halloween is a great holiday. I like the scary ads and ghost stories, the Halloween pop-up stores, corn stalks, pumpkins, candy corn and parties. I don’t go to the haunted houses, but I read about them and might just get courageous enough to walk through one someday.
  • A fire in the fireplace on those first cool evenings is a special treat. The hypnotic flames, combined with the smell and warmth of a fire, makes me want to bundle up on the couch with a blanket and listen to James Taylor and Bruce Hornsby.
  • It’s time for crockpots and chili – my kind of comfort food! And, I love the strange looking squash, the thousand varieties of apples and the weird-shaped pumpkins that are everywhere – in stores, restaurants and at roadside vegetable stands.
  • It’s great to decorate the house with fun things … witches, ghosts, black cats, pumpkins, candles, cinnamon brooms, door wreaths and mums. And, the color orange – a bold, optimistic and uplifting color – is everywhere you look!

Just one thing has been bugging me this fall. For the first time that I can recall, it dawned on me to question why this wonderful season – unlike the others – has two names: fall and autumn. If you don’t know the answer to this either, I found a blog that seems to provide an answer. It seems to be one of those British vs. American things!

Whether you call it fall or autumn – it’s a great time of year, so enjoy!

Cathy Green

 

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