Like many of our senior peers, now that Nancy and I are fully vaccinated, we’re eager to emerge from COVID isolation. Yet with herd immunity still elusive and new virus variants a rolling threat, our cautious vacation strategy is to drive to a remote destination and enjoy its attractions in relative seclusion.

Our latest excursion took us to California’s North Coast, moseying from Bodega Bay to Mendocino along the Shoreline Highway, State Route 1. We’d been to this stretch several times before over the past 50 years. But rediscovering can be reenergizing. These journal notes home in on two historical landmarks. Both sites have played surprisingly pivotal roles in California’s political, economic and environmental development.

The coronavirus has exacted a horrific toll, infecting over 120 million victims worldwide, killing nearly three million. Problematic variant outbreaks continue to flare. But pandemic lockdowns and isolation have also inspired adaptive creativity – telemedicine consultations; working and learning from home; Zoom calls and conferences; remote performances, lectures and panels; exchanged video clips and entertainments.

I’ve been particularly impressed and encouraged by the blossoming of creative writing by fellow seniors. Retirement invites reflection. Isolation seems to have nourished a distinctive vintage.

I’d like to devote this month’s post to three diverse samples, reproduced with their authors’ permission. My hope is that these evocations may stimulate your own Agile Aging energies.

I’ve always been fascinated by border cities, straddling and linking cultures and regions. Istanbul is my prime example, clasping East to West, Anatolia to the Balkans, Asia to Europe, Islam to Christianity, the mysterious Black Sea to the bustling Mediterranean. Its name-changes keeping pace with its waves of occupiers: Byzantium for the ancient Greeks, Constantinople for the eponymous Roman Emperor, Istanbul for the Ottomans.

Nancy and I explored this beckoning metropolis in 1975, primed for a big-city experience after two years in East Africa. Her memories for detail are sharper than mine, but we both shared the enchantment of what was then still a pre-high-rise Turkish hub.

Our Agile Aging blog advocates proactive, mindful maturity. Peer Profiles illustrate this engagement with case studies of exceptional seniors, pursuing creative initiatives or wrestling with daunting challenges. Blog subscribers may remember John Phillips and Rancho Cielo, rescuing teens from the conjoined whirlpools of gang violence and repeated incarceration (Prior Post, July 15, 2019); Shirley Buccieri, figuring out how to organize and enjoy solo sojourns abroad (September 15, 2019); and Bill Dahlman, retraining his nervous system after a debilitating stroke (October 15, 2019). The rest of us may not be able to duplicate these singular achievements, but we can take inspiration from their energy and grit.

Shary Farr is devoted to another facet of enlightened aging, one of increasing interest to us all. She helps fellow seniors plan and prepare for the end of their lives. Her approach is personal, collaborative and confidence-building. In a series of COVID-enforced remote interviews, she explained how and why she does what she does. 

I’m pleased to report that my November 30 blog post, “Election Reflections,” stimulated an unprecedented volume of feedback. More important than their quantity, those responses were intensely personal and thought-provoking. Going beyond mere comments on my original reflections, readers offered their own electoral opinions, analyses and concerns.  The collective enthusiasm persuaded me to devote this follow-up post to sharing feedback excerpts. These selections are reproduced with the authors’ permission but I’ve omitted senders’ surnames to protect their privacy. Individual readers’ comments are flagged with stars. Some animated respondents are credited more than once.

In the following reprise, I’ve retained the original Election Reflections topic headings to organize the feedback. You will also find updates of my own November observations. A final section suggests organizations we might support and activities we might undertake to contribute personally to national healing.

Let me again thank Shary Farr, whose peer profile had been the planned subject of this December post, for her gracious flexibility in agreeing to a postponement.

November has been action-packed, with the tumultuous election and the resurging pandemic trading headlines. At month’s end, election turbulence thankfully appears to be subsiding into transition. I’d like to devote this post to my coalescing impressions of this historic political drama. Please respond by sharing your own interpretations. What have we learned? Where are we going?

One goal of this Agile Aging blog has always been to keep informed and stay engaged, maintaining a vibrant senior life. Easier said than done in recent months, as the coronavirus pandemic has locked us down and hemmed us in. Compounding these constraints, the hotly contested election has dominated the information flow with fleeting statistics, partisan spin and anxiety-provoking commentary.
In the midst of this tumult, I reached out to a recent publication that takes a longer perspective, looking beyond our immediate stress to ask where are things going and what can we do about it.

From mid-March through July, pandemic precautions at our retirement community forced Nancy and me to shelter in place. August broke this pattern, taking us far off-campus, not once but twice. These unanticipated expeditions caused me to fall behind in blog reporting. With today’s post, I’d like to do some catching up, sharing highlights of that eventful month.
By popular demand, you’ll also find more reading recommendations.

As our spring/summer isolation stretched from weeks into months, Nancy and I noticed an increasing number of empty resident parking slots. Our neighbors were apparently slipping away. Casual inquiries revealed that more than nearby medical appointments were involved. Many of these extended absences involved sojourns at second homes or lingering visits to offspring. Since we had neither of these connections, we didn’t pay more attention.

I’m writing this at Morro Bay, where Nancy and I are hovering after self-evacuation from our retirement community to escape the billowing smoke and spreading Santa Cruz fire. More on that adventure next month. For now, let’s focus on the virus.

It’s looking increasingly likely that the COVID-19 pandemic will remain with us for the foreseeable future – nationwide and worldwide. For sure, through the end of this calendar year; but probably beyond, through 2021 or even longer. In this post, I’d like to glimpse how fellow seniors are adapting to that extended timeline: restructuring projects; recalibrating strategies for coping with personal challenges.

In response to subscriber requests, I’m also tossing in more summer-reading recommendations.

July kept us sheltering in place in our Bay Area Retirement Community. Early in the month, we were quarantined in our apartment for one week as a precaution after off-campus medical appointments. Let me share with you my notes on mid-summer activities, readings and reflections.

Before getting started, I’d like to warmly acknowledge Nancy Swing’s creative contribution of photos in this and prior Agile Aging posts. Her fresh visualizations of familiar subjects never fail to enhance text and tone. Shabash!


            One welcome reminder from this pandemic lockdown is that we don’t always have to be busy. Especially for retirees, and even more so for quarantiners, it’s okay just to be still. Jumping up from the breakfast table to scroll through overnight emails may be a habit. But it’s not an obligation. This morning, almost guiltily, I ease into a rocking chair and tune in to the birdsong. A full combo, with riffs and refrains. Are they here every day? Have I not been paying attention?

            Coffee tastes so much better consumed aromatic and hot. A different experience entirely from a cooling cup neglected on my home-office desk. The warm flow down the hatch is key to the pleasure.