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Finale: The Books

It has been a good while since we talked about our book dilemma. The Wine and Cheese/Book Takeaway was a great success. Prior to this we had donated boxes/bags of books to the local library for its Friends sale. Still, we were left with the remains of a near lifetime of buying/reading/ absorbing/harboring  texts that have been important to us. Add to these volumes a good number of books that had been passed down from the previous generation.

As luck would have it (I can’t believe that I am using this phrase, but it’s true), our hairdresser Maureen, who has been with us for the long term, told me that she knew of a book dealer – a son-in-law of a client – who deals in books. After placing a call to said person, we were introduced to a most charming young man who has a passion for books in a way far greater than ours, I concede. Tom thoughtfully looked over the remaining books, gave us a quick take on the overall situation, and agreed to work through them.

Tom came by to report on his assessment this week. It turns out that we had a good number of books that were in limited supply on-line and some that were of particular interest. He is glad to take our entire collection, the least and the most of it, and make it part of his inventory. Based on this assessment, he gave us a check which we feel represents the potential value of the books, his risk for any that are not of real value, the cost of retaining them, and, most important, the value of his time and expertise.

It has been a long process of detachment and release, but we are experiencing a sense of relief and also satisfaction. The books have gone to people who will read them or pass them on to others who seek them. We realized some monetary gain, but that was not the point. After all, we left the “sale” to the end. No, it’s just knowing that we have completed this phase of our transition.

Friend Bonnie, who took some of our offerings for herself and her son, asked me recently what we kept. Looking over the shelves and reflecting on what we have boxed up, I find that we have saved many classics (Greek, Roman and others), my medieval history books and related novels, background books for Ray’s historical novel Benediction, and many children’s books that I can not relinquish because of their association with our daughters’ youth and my time volunteering at a local elementary school after retiring. Ray kept his collection of books on FDR and the North African campaign of 1942-1943, thinking he still might write something — possibly a novel — on that era. Add in a good number of favorite novels and writers, and that about sums it up.

Regarding children’s literature, I would say that there is a great deal of pleasure in it for adults, particularly if you can share the books with young ones – your own or others. As for all the Shakespeare that we let go, we concluded that we can easily get his works from the local library. Besides, so many of them were yellowing paperbacks.

That pretty much wraps it up for the books. Now we need only resist the compulsion to hold on to the next reads.

Another Straw in the Wind

Here’s another straw in the wind suggesting that the times are becoming unfriendly to seniors.

House Republicans have unveiled preliminary outlines of their health care reform agenda, with the intention of moving forward with major changes in coming weeks. Changes to Medicaid are a high priority, and Republicans are considering either (1) giving states a fixed amount for each person enrolled in Medicaid or (2) giving states block grants to carry out the Medicaid program as each state sees fit.

Either choice could be a serious problem for the 4.6 million seniors with limited incomes who have dual eligibility for both Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare pays for their hospitalizations and physician services, but Medicaid is vital to these seniors for coverage of nursing facility care, prescription drugs, eyeglasses, and hearing aids.

The cost of skilled care in a nursing home or assisted living facility is a great worry for seniors and their families. Many simply do not have the resources to pay for either. Others have some resources, but not enough to pay for long term care. Typically, a senior in this situation who falls ill may be sent to a rehab facility after a hospital stay for the 100 days that Medicare allows, and then have to stay on or move to another facility at their own expense. With the average cost of a nursing home at $6,235 per month, and assisted living at $3,500, it doesn’t take long for even middle class seniors to deplete whatever savings they may have.

But the saving grace today is that once their resources are depleted, seniors can enroll in Medicaid. They are allowed to keep their house, if they have one, and they don’t have to bankrupt their children to pay for their care. Medicaid will take care of them.

If Congress limits the Medicaid amount available per person, or limits the states to block grants, Medicaid may no longer be able to meet its promise to care for seniors. According to the New York Times, “About 60 percent of the costs of traditional Medicaid come from providing nursing home care and other types of care for the elderly and those with disabilities.” With the percentage that high, seniors are almost certain to be hit by any reduction in Medicaid resources.

Seniors are worried about what the Republican Congress might eventually do to Medicare, and rightly so. But for the moment, Congress and the President don’t seem ready to take on that popular program. They may never be ready. Nonetheless, seniors should be alert to the dangers the Medicaid program faces. They could be hurt by these changes, and their children could be hurt as well.

 

 

The Books – Getting There

img_2120It’s no secret that we are hoarders of books, as we have come clean about this in our posts over the last two years. It is also known that we are fast approaching countdown, the time when we have to decide what to let go of and what to take with us to the down-sized townhouse.  To this end, we have been going over the books cached away around the house: the study, the basement, the “bonus room,” even the piles on the bedside tables.

In recent weeks, we have taken books that were subjects of our church study group to the church library. Ray has found a home for history books at the local history center, and I have given a number of children’s books (along with art supplies) to the local ARC, which supports children and adults with developmental disabilities. These placements seem right.  But, what about the remainder?

We are in debt to wonderful friend Becky who years ago shared with us her approach to leaving a home.  Friends were invited to visit and take away an item. No bringing of hostess gifts; the requirement was that guests help with the process of saying good-bye.

Thanks to Becky’s sharing, we have invited friends for wine and cheese and a “books takeaway.”  Doing this will allow us to see many friends whom we have not had a chance to enjoy properly, what with our goings and returns these past many months. A second boon is the pleasure we will have in passing along books that we have treasured enough to carry them with us for many years. Knowing that they will go to good homes, I am inclined to take a more critical look at the books that I think I must keep and those that I can let go of, knowing that they may be chosen in the same way that I did originally.

Speaking with friend Libby today, we talked about passing along/divesting ourselves of the stuff of our lives. We touched on real linens and family silver, among other things. For the most part, the next generations do not want them. We agreed that the rummage sale was the place for them, especially as the proceeds would benefit a worthy cause. Still, I find that books are another matter.

Another friend, Jeanie, shared in an exchange which I cannot locate easily but the substance of which I can render. Speaking of books and letting go of them, she replied, “Some of my best friends are characters I have met in books.” That about sums it up. I guess I’ll keep the best friends.

We’ll let you know how we do with the “takeaway.”

 

The Long Good-bye

When we moved to the Finger Lakes nearly nine years ago we were taken by the beauty of the area. It has never disappointed. As a dear friend here and I have agreed, we will never take the views and the countryside for granted. We haven’t.

Now, as we begin the process of leaving, I am even more acutely aware of our surroundings.  We saw the super moon the other night, and it was super.  But, as it starts to wane, Ray and I are still enthralled by the daily pageant of the sun, the moon, the stars and the planets. Early this evening, we stood on the front porch and admired Venus in the western sky. A short while later, we stood on the deck and waited for the moon to rise in the east. Again, it did not disappoint. While slightly reduced in size from the full super moon, it rose red-orange and beautifully clear. The  stars were clearly visible, and when I wake in the middle of the night I can expect to see the Pleiades.

These are spectacles that we can not expect to see back in the great conurbation of Boston to Washington and beyond. Sure, we’ll see Venus, Ray tells me. It is just that bright. The light that has crept into the Western hemisphere, on the other hand, has obliterated so much of our  connection with the natural world. Hence, I shall never take for granted the experience that has been ours here.

Kind readers: when I first posted this entry, it was titled “Separating.”  I woke this morning to desperate messages from both daughters, saying they were stunned to hear that Ray and I were separating. One issued a mild expletive; the other said her heart skipped a beat.  Thought it best to change the title.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

We’re Back!

The elections have had us a bit mesmerized here at Common Sense for Seniors, but they’re over and Donna and I plan to return to posting regularly at the Common Sense blog.

Our initial focus is going to be on places where seniors are living. We’ve had some developments on that front ourselves — more on that later.

But we’d also like to ask our readers to join in the discussion. Where are you living? What’s it like there? What are the pluses and minuses in terms of senior living?

Send us an email at copsons@gmail.com

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.