Slightly Retired

"When I see an older adult in the market whom I’m sure is somewhat older than myself, give or take a few years (and I’m a poor judge of age), I make an attempt, unobtrusively of course, to peek into their basket.Such strange behavior stems from my desire--a desire of every human, or at least those over 40 -- and aren’t we all -- to find the fountain of youth. Who knows, it could be in a basket at the supermarket as well as the swamps of Florida.I got caught doing this the other day. The owner of a basket I was peeking into, asked, “Whatcha lookin’ for?”“The fountain of youth, I answered, and we both laughed and exchanged first names.She had a lovely smile that revealed facial lines made from countless years of good living and abundant laughter. Her name was Eileen. “If you’re wondering about those muffins in there, I got them over at the deli counter, they’ve got chocolate chips in ‘em and they’re the best.” I noticed she had six or more in her basket plus a bunch of fresh looking asparagus spears.Muffins aren’t my thing, but I do like asparagus, so I asked, “Is the asparagus good, Eileen?” “Well, I don’t eat it myself, I’m taking it home to my husband,” she answered. “It’s sort of a special treat for him today--he isn’t feeling so well.”“That’s very nice of you,” I told her. “I’m sure it will make him feel better.” Eileen nodded. “He eats all that kind of stuff. I call it rabbit food and usually I tell him to fix it himself.” Falling back on my old assertiveness training, I asked, “What do you eat?”“I really like these muffins, they’re very filling, you’d be surprised.” she answered as she whirled quickly and still smiling, said, “Gotta be going.” She took off at a much more rapid pace than I achieve while negotiating the market aisles.Have you ever wondered whether it makes any difference what you eat after a certain age? Maybe the secret is in cherishing and delighting in whatever one wants to eat. A placebo effect could be taking place--chocolate muffins may not (supposedly) be good for us, but if we think they are, it works.I wonder about dairy products and the use of hormones, fat content, mucous and other things not to be mentioned in a family column. The state of Vermont prohibits the use of additives in the feed given to their dairy cows. The state also won’t let the cheese makers import milk from other states where there are not similar restrictions. When I found that out, I concluded that Tom & Jerry’s ice cream and frozen yogurt is perfectly safe to put in my body, frequently.At the meat counter in the market, I watch others out of the corner of my eye to see what kind of meat they buy. I envy the ones who obviously have no problem with stocking up on sausages, bratwurst, large pieces of red meat and ham. Sometimes I eat meat, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I eat it and feel guilty, and sometimes I say, “Oh, the heck with it!” and buy a steak with fat on it.Should we be worrying about the contaminants in our water, fruit juice, toothpaste, hot dogs, fish of all types, and much more, including the smoke from the pretty, scented candles we burn in our homes?And what can we believe about eggs? I know we are pitiless towards chickens--locking them up, keeping lights on continuously, and feeding them egg hormones. But it’s cheap protein; one can’t possibly bake without eggs or make a luscious Hollandaise sauce; and some vegetarians eat eggs.How about pesticides on wonderful tasting items like asparagus,artichokes and all the other vegetables? Artichokes are my passion--it’s another case of “the heck with pesticides,” and I cook up enough to keep me in artichoke hearts for a week.The latest media report indicates chocolate is good for us! Hurrah! But how do we get our chocolate? In the usual way, from large chocolate bars, M&Ms, double rich brownies, See’s candies, and no one’s worrying about the sugar except me?Do you think the century-plus oldsters interviewed by the media are putting us on when they say they owe their longevity to cigarettes and bourbon, or gin and cookies, or coffee and chocolate muffins? On the other hand, where are the ones who say their longevity is from eating asparagus, broccoli and tofu?When I reached the check-out, I looked around for Eileen, curious to see what else she might have put in her basket, but she wasn’t in sight. I asked the checker if she knew Eileen and whether she had left. She said, “Oh yes, I know Eileen; she comes in several times a week.”“I’m a bit concerned about her, does she eat other food besides muffins?” I questioned.“Oh my yes, laughed the checker. “I’d say she eats a well balanced diet.” “Ummm,” I thought to myself, “So she was kidding me and maybe I did miss finding the fountain of youth.” AROUND THE SENIOR CENTER:Friday, Nov. 19 and Wed., Nov. 24: Last call for turkey! There are two sittings for the Bayview Center’s Thanksgiving Dinner. RESERVATIONS A MUST, call 321-1600. Entertainment will begin at 11 a.m. and the dinner at 11:45 a.m. at each sitting. A $2.25 donation requested for seniors.Tuesday, Nov. 16: Don’t put off preparedness. At the center at 12:30 p.m.,find out about simple preparedness, no need to spend a lot of money and effort. South Whidbey’s Neighbor to Neighbor program will explain easy steps on your way to taking care of yourself during an extended power outage or other emergency. Information will also be given on the emergency meal packets available from the Senior Nutrition Program.Monday, Nov. 22: At the center, welcome back the young piano students of Maureen Rorex who will present their annual recital for seniors beginning at 11:15 a.m. and continuing through the lunch time.SENIOR CENTER ACTIVITY SCHEDULEMonday, Nov. 15: 8:30 a.m. foot clinic by app’t, 9 a.m. bridge, 9 a.m. tai chi, 10 a.m. stretch & strengthen, 11:45 a.m. lunch.Tuesday, Nov. 16: 8:45 & 9:45 a.m. tai chi, 10 a.m. Time Together, 11:45 a.m. lunch, 1 p.m. writing group, 3:30 p.m. hula.Wednesday, Nov. 17: 10 a.m. quilters, 11:45 a.m. lunch, 12-5 p.m., 55-Alive Class, 12:30 & 3 p.m. computer class, 6 p.m. BINGO.Thursday, Nov. 18: 9 a.m. yoga, 10 a.m. stretch & strengthen, 10 a.m. arts & crafts, 12-5 p.m. 55-Alive Class, 12:30 & 3:00 p.m. computer class, 1:30 p.m. crones.Friday, Nov. 19 9-12 a.m. SHIBA by app;t., 10 a.m. Time Together, 9 a.m. bridge, 10:45 a.m. Fun Band, 11:45 a.m. THANKSGIVING DINNER (reservation required)."

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