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Oh yes, it’s different

rainey

“He’s 92 and I’m 88 and we’d like a divorce,” she said.
The attorney asked, “Why did you wait so long?”
Said she, “We didn’t want to do it when the kids were alive.”

Disgusting, right? A bit sick, too? Yep. But, when you live in one of three adjoining 55+ communities comprised of about 90,000 seniors, you hear “jokes” like that. Few folks seem to take offense and often have one to give back.

Though we moved here when I was past four score years, we’ve learned a lot about retirement we never knew. Things no amount of “due diligence” visiting would have uncovered unless you lived here awhile.

For example, normal driving here doesn’t exist. It’s rubber tired bumper cars. Our insurance rate went up 40% – same car – same driver. Most companies use zip codes in their factoring of rates. After six months here, it’s easy to see why we got a hike.

As I said, I’ve passed four score years. But, we got a new state driver’s licenses with no written or behind-the-wheel testing. So did everybody else it seems. Crazy! So, pick a violation. Aw, go on. Pick an imaginary driving aberration. You can’t come up with one we haven’t seen. Daily.

Despite the fact a lot of our major roads are six lanes wide – excellent roads – many oldsters drive “souped up” golf carts. Hundreds and hundreds of ‘em. Not your usual country club variety. No Sir! These have been updated with “mechanical steroids” to go 30 mph! Seat belts, mirrors and (unused) turn signals added. State licensing and liability insurance required. Imagine yourself sharing those six lanes with these miniature hotrods being driven by 80-somethings.

Church is interesting, too. At ours, the director of our wonderful music program is a pro. Stickler for detail in everything. When he wants the choir to stand or sit, he wants them to all move at the same time. Boom! But, with a couple of dozen hip and knee replacement choristers in their 80’s, the ups and downs look more like exposed cylinder heads in an idling Chevy V-8.

“Snowbirds” are a pain for permanent residents. “Birds” come from all over – even Europe and Asia. Canadian “birds”can only stay for six months so they’re usually here first – come down in September. Rest arrive in October and leave in April/May.

When “birds” are here, tee times at the dozens of golf courses in the area are booked out days-weeks in advance. Lines at theaters and restaurants are never-ending. When your gas gauge is on “empty,” you’ll make eight loops around the gas pumps looking for a spot. Beards can grow just while waiting in checkout lines.

The better grocery stores are an experience. Because folks come from all over, shelves are stocked with not only the usual wares found at Safeway or Fred Meyer, but with larger kosher and outsized Hispanic departments. Even Norwegian and Swedish. For the Michigan-Minnesota-Dakota crowd. And, for those who want a little more in a shopping experience, one of our local markets has a large wine and beer bar right in the middle of the store. Opens each morning at eight and seating goes on until evening. Nice rest stop between frozen foods on one wall and bakery across the huge store on the other. And you meet the nicest people. Usually after you’ve been there awhile.

Almost no residential grass here. Which attracted me. Fool! Most “lawns” are crushed rock with citrus trees and cactus for greenery. What we didn’t expect is that the rock needs to be “raked” because, somehow, it moves. People walking leave footprints or kick it up. Our resident coyote leaves the extract of his digestive tract. Birds, too. Rain (yes, rain) exposes the black vapor barrier. Underground digging critters leave holes and unexpected gravel piles. The yardwork may be different. But it’s still damned yardwork!

Unusual businesses. Rabid rightwing politics. Very different utility practices from the Northwest. Unusual ecology efforts for- well – unusual ecology. More grist for future columns.

Oh yes, there is this one other thing. Nearly every building material for houses and all other buildings for dozens of square miles is stucco. Top to bottom. And, nearly all are the same color – tan. Entire subdivisions of tan stucco. Far as you can see. Every subdivision. Every where.

Makes it damned hard to find your way home after a grocery trip. And an extended layover at that wine bar.
 

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