Monday, July 21, 2014

Caution: Men at Work

As I drove up and down a street in Grosse Pointe during the last couple of years to the school four of my grandchildren were attending, I noticed the construction going on across the road. The building is just about completed, but the publicity started a long time ago (I'm not going to use any names, or post any photographs just in case, well you know.) It is billed as a senior living facility, a continuing care community where we can gracefully age in place. It's true, we need such a place in Grosse Pointe. Should one or the other or both of us need to give up our large house and move to an "apartment home", we would be relieved to live close to three of our children and in easy reach of the battalion of doctors we visit these days. Nice to know we would be across the street from the Hunt Club, close to the Yacht Club and two Country Clubs. Yes, we live in an up-scale area.

I compare any facility I visit to the one in which a former neighbor lives—the Henry Ford Village, a much older facility which has learned by experience what works for seniors. It is in Dearborn, which, I believe, has the largest population of Arabs in Michigan, if not in the USA. But no Hunt Club.

Our new residence had an Open House on Saturday, and surprisingly I was able to persuade this house's co-resident to come along with me. What did I find surprising? The lack of organization, for one. We signed in in a book where we were not asked to provide our address, though this event was surely a recruitment exercise. We were corralled by a very attractive young woman who didn't know as much as she should about the facility, but was quick to tell us that the remark, "This place must have been designed by a man" had been bandied around.

Hence the title of this post. As soon as we walked in to the building there was a small, formal waiting room and right behind it— the swimming pool, and right next to the pool, the eating area. Only a man would have thought that 80 year old women in their swim suits wanted to be in full view of new arrivals and diners. "Abundant closet space". Yes, for a guy with six golf shirts and an equal number of pants. I wondered why the built in washer and dryer was the first thing she showed us in every room. Only a man (with a calculator) would design a TV room for about 10 people without realizing that seniors have a need to socialize and cosy common areas are so important.

A lot more to say, but I came to the conclusion that perhaps some day the stars might align to cause me to end up in this facility.

Until I read the cost sheet.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I'm in Love!

Let me explain. When I saw water escaping from the bottom of my old (and I mean old ) washing machine, I realized that its days—or hours—were numbered and that those commercials about the Maytag repair man having nothing to do were somewhat exaggerated. I have an impeccable sense of timing. You are talking to the woman who had a sewer back-up on Christmas Day, when, or maybe because, there was a houseful of people wanting to eat. And we would need water to do dishes! In this case I was about to take a trip to Chicago. Fortunately I could eke by on my already-washed clothes, but I needed to have a washing machine up and running by the time I returned.

My research this time consisted of running across the driveway to borrow my neighbor's Consumer Reports and calling my sister-in-law who had earlier been telling me that she had bought two washing machines which she hated and returned before settling on a third. She told me that the first two were not "washing" machines, they had merely given her laundry a shower. I soon found out what she was talking about.

The evening before my trip saw us visiting store number one, going on to store number two and returning to store number one. (I left number two not because of their choice of machines, but because they wanted to charge $15 to haul away the old one. A matter of principle, not $15.) My biggest problem, however, was that I wanted an old fashioned washing machine. I wanted a top loader to begin with, and then I was dismayed to discover that the new machines do not have an agitator. More roomy drums, but even the salesmen admitted that the lack of an agitator made getting laundry harder to get clean.

I settled on a Whirlpool. A plain, old fashioned Whirlpool. Being plain and old fashioned didn't exactly mean that it was inexpensive, though it was half the cost of the fancy new models with enough buttons and doo-dads to send the device into orbit. I have been doing laundry for fifty years and have never needed half the controls some of these machines have.

I ordered it and it was delivered and installed and waiting for me on my return. Could the person with whom I share the house have taken it for a test drive in my absence? Well, he could have, but at the beginning of our marriage he announced, "I don't do laundry."

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Agony and the Ecstasy

The best-kept secret in this house was Lucy's pregnancy. This photo was taken several weeks ago, so you can imagine why it can no longer be a secret. She and Peter wanted to choose the right moment to tell Peter's daughter before the new baby became public knowledge.

That's done now. Her two sisters want to give her a baby shower, so on Sunday the four of us went to put together a registry. I wasn't much help. I suspect my older four told us what they would like as a "grandparent" present and I didn't bother with the rest of the things they were accumulating. I haven't had a baby since 1976 (the one and only time I was the recipient of a shower. More about that at a later time.) We went to a large nationwide store which I won't name because I can't get the punctuation right. Aisles and aisles of products for babies and toddlers. These products were neatly organized: sleeping, eating, playing, bathing—you get the idea. They were divided into "must haves" and "would likes", or words to that effect. And the choice! Just in the stroller category we have jogging strollers, full sized strollers, luxury strollers, double and triple strollers—lord have mercy—stroller accessories, stroller bunting and footmuff. To name but a few.

That set me thinking. What do I remember about buying equipment for my children? Very little. I do remember going to what was then J.L. Hudsons, our local large department store. They certainly didn't have stores specializing in babies back then. We bought a crib and the following year when it became clear we needed a second crib, I think I sent my husband off to buy one. Crib number two didn't seem so special! I suppose I bought some baby clothes and I know got signed up with Dydee Service which took my used cloth diapers away every week and replaced them with soft, fluffy clean ones. Until the nurses handed over newborn baby number one, I had never held a baby. We had no family in Detroit who could have given us advice about feeding and clothing and bathing. We figured it out.

So when my new grandchild arrives, I will be ecstatic. But marching around the baby emporium, especially with my still hurting knee, was agony.