Category Archives: Location Location

Things Change

We have taken another step towards what we always suspected was the eventual place to which we would return. That being largely done, I have turned my thoughts daily to those things that will change for us.

Some of them are very great. I will save those for later. And, some are very small, very mundane. They occur to me in the course of an ordinary day, a day that is largely like any other that I have experienced here on the Bluff. Yet, they are in their very small ways profound. They provide a real contrast between that which we left behind nine years ago, that which we have lived here in the interim, and that to which we return.

Here is the first of many. I’ll try not to burden you with all of them. Perhaps I’ll reduce them to a list at some point. Okay, here goes.

Composting. In our  previous home we, i.e., Ray, raked leaves every fall many times over. They were deposited in a leaf compost pile behind the house. They were oak leaves, and they were like shoe leather. It took years for them to decompose. Still, it was the right thing to do. We did not put them in plastic yard bags and send them to the dump.  The kitchen waste went down the disposal. All gone.

Coming to the Bluff, we had no garbage disposal. It would have been a strain on our septic field. Moreover, we have 17.9 acres of land. It was not long before we bought the cage that became the compost pile. We have deposited yard and kitchen waste there for years. I am amazed that so much organic matter piled into that cage decomposes into such a small amount of soil. No matter, Ray has dug it out and used it in the vegetable garden.

Meanwhile, back in the burbs, we would go to our condo with its scary Badger disposal. I was bemused that I would prep a meal and turn around to look for the compost pail – a fixture on our counter on the Bluff.  What to do with all this marvelous organic matter? Well, I did what I had learned to do over those many years before: put it in the disposal. Still, it seemed awkward to us.

Now we return to the burbs. I have to acclimate myself to the former ways. Since we live in a covenanted community, we are subject to the prevailing rules: no prospect of a compost pile in our yard.

We’ll be fine. But, I will cherish the years when we were able to turn what we bought and raised for food into nutrients for the next generation of plants. Perhaps I can slip some of the larger deposits into our daughter’s compost pile down the road. Her family has raised their composting to an environmental commitment.






Things are moving fast!

When we last wrote about our own transition, we were in the early stages: closing on the condo that we were selling (done) and looking for a possible next home (not as easy as one might think.) We were guided in the hunt for the next place by a long  trusted realtor who has also become a friend. Little did we expect that the pace would accelerate to warp speed.

We expected that we would rest after selling the condo and mosey through the next home buying process. We would continue to live here in our beloved Finger Lakes and keep an eye out for a place that met all the attributes that we have promoted on this site. Well, that’s not how it has happened.

Evelyn, our realtor and friend, started – at our request – giving us a sense of the market and what properties could meet our wish list. We were assessing what we might find in good time.  When we were down to see the family, we would go to open houses and Evelyn would show a possible property. We stuck our necks out on one that was certainly a compromise but during the home inspection turned out to have standing water in the basement! Thanks to Evelyn and daughter Marjorie for being on the scene. No deal.

Whew! We were back to moseying. What a relief. But…, only for a week or so. Daughter Marjorie was riding home one evening and saw a realtor’s sign “Coming soon.”  It was almost perfect. Not as close to the shopping and restaurants that we had entertained with other places, but in great shape. And the greatest bonus: we would be a ten minute walk from Marjorie and family and would be in our old neighborhood.

We bit. And we got it. Now we have to work out all the technicalities and legalities of getting from one place to another, one state to another. Think financing, selling the current home, getting insurance, transferring voter registration, registering cars. You get the picture if you have ever done an interstate move. Let’s not talk mail and magazine subscriptions. We’ll save that for another day.

We’ll close the deal the end of this month. We’ll start moving things into the next home. The condo contents will be delivered. Items not needed here will be transported. We’ll be back and forth for a period.

Stay tuned.






Leisure World Living

California’s Rossmoor 55+ community, where Lynne Kerwin lives, was once one of the Leisure World communities, developed by Ross Cortese, starting in the 1960s. The prevailing view at the time was that most seniors wanted to remain in the communities where they had always lived, close to family and friends. Many did, and many still do today, but Cortese realized that others would prefer to live among other active adults in communities with lots of amenities — pools, golf courses, restaurants and the like — and lots of things to do.

Ultimately, seven Leisure World communities were built. Today, they are independently operated, and some no longer use the Leisure World name, but this website gives links to them all. Each has its own website as well.

These are large communities — Laguna Woods Village in California claims 18,000 residents — but that means that there’s plenty going on. The list of clubs at Laguna Woods takes up several pages, starting with the American Association of University Women and ending with the Yoga Club.

The Leisure World and former Leisure World communities are not senior living centers with dining rooms and medical services. Residents are living just as they would in any other community, relying on the hospitals, doctors, supermarkets, services, and shopping centers around them. As a result, seniors don’t have to pay a large upfront entrance fee to get in, but simply buy their homes through a real estate agent.

Here’s a list of homes currently available at Lansdowne Woods, a former Leisure World in northern Virginia. Prices for condos range from about $180,000 to $675,000, with most somewhere in between. Monthly condo fees at Lansdowne vary with the price. On a two-bedroom, two bath at $219,000, you would be looking at $532.49 per month.

If you’re looking for an active life in a beautiful location, one of these communities might be just right for you.


Life at Rossmoor, in Walnut Creek, CA

Here’s our first reader contribution on places where seniors live. It’s from our friend Lynne Kerwin, who spends time in the summers here in the Finger Lakes of New York State. The rest of the year, Lynne can be found enjoying life in a 55+ community in California.

“Moving to Rossmoor is like going to college your freshman year. There are about 10,000 people here that have come from somewhere else. They are eager to make new friends, pursue their interests and try new activities.

“The residents are educated and eager to learn. The problem here is too much to do, not too little. There are four pools, 27 holes of golf and every imaginable sport plus over 200 clubs and organizations. Because so many services are provided by the staff, we have lots of time to participate in the activities, to volunteer, and to work or just relax if we wish.

“We are located in a heavily treed valley surrounded by hills and mountains in Walnut Creek, California, just east of San Francisco. Most days the sky is blue and the weather is warm. The community was established in the 1960s and has grown to capacity over the years. There is a variety of housing, although most residents live in condominiums built over several decades.

“We have our own library, event center, fitness center, restaurant, counseling center, theater, arts and crafts, music rooms, wood shops, and much more. The recreation staff plans many of the activities and entertainments but so do the residents and their organizations. We have a weekly newspaper in Rossmoor thicker than newspapers in many larger cities. That is how we communicate all that is happening in Rossmoor.

“During our first hours visiting Rossmoor, my husband and I knew this was where we wanted to spend our days in California. My sense is that most if not all homeowners think we live in paradise.”

What’s the Plan?

Downsizing continues here at Common Sense for Seniors headquarters. Yesterday, in the latest departure, our kayaks, nestled on their little trailer, went out the driveway. They were headed over to the Finger Lakes Museum, which has an active paddle program.

So where is all this headed? Will we end up living in an empty house? (Still a ways to go on that one.)  What’s the plan?

We do in fact have a plan. We are going to purchase a home in Reston, Virginia, which will eventually become our permanent residence. We’ll keep our house in the Finger Lakes for a while, and hope we can visit back here for years to come. But time marches on, the moving finger writes, and time waits for no man or woman.  Over the long term, life in the country, which we love, will simply no longer be possible.

Reston has many advantages — public transportation, for one. Buses run throughout the community and connect up with the Washington Metro. It’s possible to call a taxi or summon an Uber driver. Doctors and a large hospital are minutes away. Homes can be found that are within walking distance of a supermarket and restaurants. Reston has a network of walking paths and swimming pools that will be great for exercise. We know our way around, since we lived there before we retired and kept a small condo afterward. Most important, our daughters and their families, including our grandchildren, are nearby.

Of course, there are disadvantages too. One level living is probably not going to be possible. Since land is expensive in this “urban suburb,” builders simply don’t construct many one-level homes, so we’ll almost certainly be living in a town house. We’re looking for one with a manageable stairway. We’re not too sure about the summertime heat in Virginia either, after years of enjoying Finger Lakes summers.  We’ll have to be careful of the traffic, whether we’re driving or walking. A senior was recently killed in Reston in a hit and run.

It’s not perfect in every way, but that’s the plan. We hope we can pull it off. There are all sorts of arrangements to be made, as we’re learning. Right now we’re focused on getting the little condo transferred to its new owner. After that, we’ll have to actually find the new home we’ve been thinking about. We’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, we’d love to hear from readers about the living arrangements they’re devising for their senior years.



The Times They are A-changing

Dear Readers,

We are back from a week in Virginia and an even longer absence from this site. We have, however, not been idle. Much happens in these voids.  I want to share with you the most recent happening and decision.

As you have probably sensed from our earlier posts, we believe that decisions should be made throughout our lifetimes, but most especially at times of significant change or in anticipation of same. We have written about some of them, including becoming aware of when we are no longer able to maintain a large house and grounds; when we are not able to assure our personal safety; when we are not able to account for and control our personal affairs; when we become an inconvenience to our family members who love us and want to be present for us; and, when life gives us another reason to review our situation.

Ray and I love every minute of our lives in our truly privileged place. I and a dear friend have for years shared our thrill that we wake up every morning to the most incredible views and will never take them for granted. Whenever I return from places far or near, this feeling is reinforced. I love where we are. It is a place to be cherished forever.

In recent visits to family we have come to recognize that our older grandchild will be off to college next year and the younger is so engaged in activities that it will be difficult for them to visit us here. Add to that the fact that their parents have full-time jobs and other commitments that can take them away for periods of time. Younger daughter and son-in-law are no longer in the immediate area of our condo, so we have to travel farther to be with them. Our condo is not adequate to host the entire clan.

Our grandchildren were born in Washington, DC (which is where our second daughter was born, by the way) and we lived in suburban Virginia for 30 years. Despite a brief hiatus to Africa, the older child was in daily reach of us and the younger one was until we abandoned them both at ages 9 and 7. (That’s a story for another day.) It was a mile  down the road. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Well, the short story is that we want to experience as much time as possible with these children and their children.  We are now six and a half to seven hours away from the first two. From here, we are eight to ten hours from the younger ones. We are certain that we need to be closer.

So, (the word usage that the grammar/language mavens voted to remove from the language this past year) we are selling our small apartment in Virginia and will be looking for a larger place that can accommodate all the family. We want to be able to gather in the family again, as we did for twenty plus years, and to be close enough to enjoy and visit them all, as we did for so many years past.

The condo is on the market; we have a contract; and, we are working toward finalizing it. Next step will be to find that next gathering place. We live in anticipation.





Being Here

It has been eight years plus since we moved to the Finger Lakes area. Friends could not fathom how we would move from the Washington DC area to what various ones described as frigid, remote, isolated, even desolate.

Well, it has been anything but that, except for the distance from our children and grandchildren. Still, that distance has not been insurmountable, and we have had the luxury of going to see them when we wish. Friends here travel even greater distances and many directions compared to ours to see loved ones and old acquaintances. I find it interesting to reflect on our cultural concept of where we should be/retire.

Demographers tell us that we are an increasingly urbanized society. Adding to this, environmentalists tell us that this is for the good: the higher the concentration of population, the lower the carbon footprint from automobiles will be. I don’t take issue with these observations. Still, some members of our society have to produce the foods that the rest of us consume. I am privileged to live in a place where those foods are produced in abundance and at great personal and financial peril to those who engage in agriculture. The current drought has tested our farmers and vineyardists to a degree not seen in many years.

I am  so grateful to all of them. I hope that the year works out well. Despite the ravages of low rainfall, everyone I meet from the agricultural community maintains an optimistic -notably not fatalistic – outlook. And, recent rains have given us all hope for a better ending to the season. Remarkably, the corn that we have eaten these last few weeks from a favorite Mennonite farm has been sweet and tender. There were optimum times in past places and eras when I couldn’t say that for the local produce. As I said, I am grateful. And I won’t go into the other vegetables. All is well.

Hope you are enjoying the local fruits of your home town.


Be Cautious in Signing Nursing Home Agreements

Seniors who must go into a nursing home, or who are helping a loved one who must do so, should be careful about the agreements they sign.

If you’re helping a loved one — an aging parent, say, or a sibling — watch out for a “responsible party” clause. A nursing home representative who asks you to sign such a clause isn’t looking for a contact person. Instead, you are being asked to become personally liable for paying the bills. The responsible party clause may not spell that out — the harsh reality may be buried in a definition later in the contract.

A binding arbitration clause should also raise a red flag. Anyone who signs such a clause gives up their right to sue the nursing home in the event of any sort of abuse or neglect — and such things happen. You will have no right to a judge and jury to hear your complaint if you sign, nor any right of appeal. Ordinary legal procedures, such as the right of discovery of evidence that might be in the possession of the nursing home, will not be available.

Your case will be heard in private by an arbitrator who must be paid, and the entire process may be more expensive than a court proceeding. Since the arbitrator will have an interest in doing repeat business with the nursing home, the process will could well be stacked against you from the outset.

ElderLawAnswers advises that if you encounter responsible party and binding arbitration clauses, cross them out. Several sources say that you can’t be denied admission for refusing to sign — so don’t be pressured.

Binding arbitration clauses are also turning up in continuing care retirement community agreements, so watch out for them there as well. Things can go wrong in CCRCs, however pleasant they may seem. Promised services might be taken away, for example, or maintenance might be neglected. You’ll want to have the right to sue in your back pocket.

Your best course of action, whether you’re considering a nursing home or a CCRC, will be to have an attorney review all agreements before you sign.

Being Here

We are two plus weeks back from a month away – the longest we have ever left home. Living in the Finger Lakes, water is assumed to be ever present but not so this year. Our neighbors looked after Ray’s plantings in his new cold frames. Seeds sprouted and leaves emerged. Friends gathered the harvest, thanks be. They kept the shoots and greens emerging. But that was a closed environment.

We could not have imagined that we would come back to a three week (as near as we can figure) drought. The land we had had cleared in the fall then tilled and seeded upon our return went totally dry. Turkeys strutted into the soil that was waiting for rain to sprout grass and brazenly wallowed in the dust.

We despaired. But, I must share this most instant moment: we had a lovely drenching shower just now. We had to retreat from the front porch to the back deck to avoid being soaked. It was brief but reassuring, accompanied by a small rainbow and followed by sunshine.

Weather is quixotic, nothing to take for granted. Two years ago we were inundated by hundred year floods. Today, we pray for rain.