The Semi-Single Senior

August 17, 2021

                                    

           I’ve written this blog, The Single Senior, for fifteen years. I detailed how I dealt with being a single older person:  dating, family, holidays, travel, etc. The term “single” doesn’t apply anymore since I’m in a committed relationship. So I’ve changed the title to the “semi-single” senior. The new site is thesemisinglesenior.wordpress.com

           I’ve been married twice and not interested in marrying again. I don’t need to as I’m financially independent. I thought I’d never live with anyone again. I’ve lived alone for nineteen years, minus six months when a friend lived with me while her home was being remodeled. Never say never.

           In April of 2020 Steve called to ask me out. He’d read my column, “The Single Senior, “in The Pinewood News, the hometown paper of Munds Park, Arizona and wanted to meet me. We met at the Pinewood Restaurant and Bar. He didn’t look like someone I would date since he’s very thin. I didn’t look like someone he would date because I’m heavy. We talked until the bartender made noises and we realized he wanted to close.

           Steve was living in his son’s cabin that summer. I had my own cabin. We decided to be friends. We saw each other most days and he hung out with my friends.

           The change in the relationship was gradual. The turning point was in mid-August when we trailered his boat to the California coast and slept together. We’ve been a couple since.

           This blog is going to be about our adventures, our relationship and other topics having to do with family.

Travels with Annie, Part 2

April 1, 2021

In early February we took a trip to Carefree, Arizona. The Sun Dial, in Sun Dial Circle Plaza, is made of a steel frame and covered in anodized copper. It’s sixty-two feet in length. We walked along Easy Street and ate at an outside café.

The next week we went to the top of South Mountain in Phoenix. Neither of us had been there for years. It was blustery and cold at the top. I couldn’t get a good photo from the top, but the polluted air was very visible.

Afterwards we went to a Mexican restaurant on Central called Los Dos Molinas. The food was a bit spicy for Steve. I ordered cheese enchiladas to avoid that problem.

I

n early March we dove to Prescott. It was warm when we left Scottsdale, so I wore my sandals. We marveled at how built up the stretch from Prescott Valley to Prescott had gotten. We decided to find my old cabin. We drove out the Old Senator Highway. There were developments of large homes where I used to watch the July 4th fireworks. We passed Sky Y Camp. And my Subaru loved the dirt road with the snow along the edges.

I wasn’t sure which forest road the cabin was on, so we picked one and drove on. After a while, there was snow on the road. And after that the road was rutted with snow. We met people on a ATV who said they were coming from Crown King. I realized we were not on the right road. It was a bit dicey turning around on a one lane dirt road covered with snow, but Steve did an admirable job. We stopped to help people in an SUV who were stuck. I should say that Steve helped them. I didn’t get out of the car since I was in sandals.

When we got back to Prescott, we ate at the Palace Bar. It was as packed as COVID would let it be. There were several dudes in western wear who may have been paid by the saloon to add atmosphere. The food was so-so.

The next weekend we drove to Superior. We ate at a Mexican restaurant called Los Hermanos. There was a huge ballroom in the back that whispered entertainment but, of course, it was closed due to the virus.

We toured the town. So many of the homes were in bad shape while others had been remodeled. I especially like the house with a mural. We didn’t stop at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum but vowed to come back another day for that.

One Sunday we went to Coolidge to see Steve’s grandson and his family. I had been de-cluttering my garage and parting with my favorite picture books. We took them to give to the children, Maya, Mace, and Cole. I read some of them while Matt and his wife Brea showed Steve how they were remodeling their house. We wanted to take them to lunch but they told us there weren’t any restaurants in Coolidge that were open on Sundays. So we followed them to Casa Grande and ate at a Buffalo Wild Wings. We admired the Superstition Mountains on the way.

Steve and Maya
Steve’s grandson Matt
Mace
Brea and Cole

In the middle of March we went to Bartlett lake. Along the way we stopped at the Goldfield Ghost Town. it’s a tourist attraction but it’s cute. We didn’t buy anything but the tourists were picking up trinkets.

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We drove around Bartlett Lake and ate at the Bartlett Lake Grill.

Next we’re taking a trip out of town, to see my friends Susan and David in Santa Rosa, California. We think we’ll be safe since we’ve all gotten our vaccines.

Travels with Annie, Part One

March 26, 2021

I haven’t sat down at my computer much this past few months. Is that because I’m happy? Is that old idea that you have to be tortured to produce good writing?

I’m in a relationship now with Steve and so far it’s going quite well. During this pandemic, we have to come up with ways to entertain ourselves after we’ve read and walked and watched enough television. So every week we take a short ride somewhere.

The first time was mid-November when we took the boat to Saguaro Lake, northeast of Scottsdale. The weather was typical:  warm and sunny. The lake was quite low. The water level varies quite a bit, depending on what the flow is from the dam that makes this lake from a former canyon. After a while, Steve asked if I’d like to drive. I’m still not confident in my boating, but I took the wheel. After ten minutes, the boat was stuck on a sand bar. Steve got out to pull the boat free. Luckily some jet skiers came by, hooked up a rope, and pulled us out.

There were plenty of paddle-boarders and kayakers on the lake. And birds.  

Steve likes to look at the boats moored in the marina. We speculate about who owns them and when they use them. We ate on the patio of the Shiprock Restaurant, overlooking the lake.

Our next foray was tan early morning jaunt to Fountain Hills and Rio Verde. It was on overcast day which make for some good photos. We breakfast at a The Alamo Saloon. We ate inside but the restaurant was just opening up so there weren’t very many people. I’d like to go back, after this pandemic, to hear music and dance there.

During my fifty years in Arizona, I’ve grown to love the stark beauty of the desert.

The Best Valentine’s Day Ever

February 20, 2021

Steve and I took the whole weekend to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Neither of us liked to eat on the day itself:  too crowded, limited menus, poor service. We went to The Chart House at McCormick Ranch for dinner on Friday night. It was quite romantic. I was driven in his gold Ferrari. (Good thing I’d super sprayed my hair,) We sat by the window on the lake. We saw the sun go down behind Camelback Mountain. The food was fabulous. I had sea bass and he had a filet mignon that was tender enough to cut with his fork.

We exchanged gifts. I gave him a beard trimmer and underwear with my picture on it. He gave me a beautiful necklace of a tree of life within a heart. I showed him the Steve and Annie temporary photo tattoo I had ordered and put on my arm.

On Saturday, after we took the dogs for a walk, we went for another drive. We’ve been doing this most weekends to minimize the cabin fever that Covid-19 imposes. We took my car to the top of South Mountain and endured high winds to look out upon the city. There were high clouds, a layer of blue sky, and then the winter haze.

We ate at a New Mexican style restaurant named “Los Dos Molinas,” just north of the park. It was spicy but delicious. We got back to my house in time for Steve to take his afternoon nap.

On Sunday we took the dogs for a walk and spent the rest of the day reading the Sunday New York Times and books we each were engrossed.

I wanted to make a “Midwestern” dinner for Steve, ever the Iowan. I chose pork over noodles from The Betty Crocker Cookbook. I haven’t used sour cream in a recipe for years, but it sure did taste good.

I felt loved, respected and appreciated by Steve. I haven’t felt that from a man in a long time.

 

A Great Wedding (not mine!)

February 20, 2021

A Great Wedding (Not Mine!)

           On New Year’s Eve, Steve and I attended Ty and Donna’s wedding and party. I had spent much of December working with Bridezilla, calming her down, helping her choose a dress (she decided on the $62 one from Ross,) and sewing the miles of curtains to enclose the ramada for the ceremony. Another friend and I were the designated photographers.

           The wedding was over the top and such fun. A horse and carriage, much like one out of a fairy tale, drove Donna from the house where she got ready to the site of the ceremony, a ramada in a park across from Ty’s home. The ceremony itself was performed by an ordained minister who also was an Elvis impersonator. Donna and Ty danced a tango after the ring exchange.

           After the ceremony, the newlyweds took a carriage ride around the neighborhood. When they got back, they offered for us to do the same. I felt like a princess with Prince Charming.

           I was quite concerned about the event being a super-spreader of Covid-19. Steve and I wore our masks and dined inside at a table for two while many people opted to eat outside but close together.

It was the first time since my son was married in 2002 that I had a date for a wedding. It felt good to be a couple, especially since Steve is fun and loves to dance. Donna’s friend John has a band, “Brother to Brother.” They played the night away. There was dancing, socially distanced, and the usual traditions of the toasts and the cutting of the cake. Donna’s sister Sylvia jumped for the bride’s bouquet and fell! Luckily, she didn’t hurt herself.

We left after the fireworks.

A good time was had by all.

Long Distance Relationships

December 12, 2020

           About thirty years ago, I had a long distance relationship with a man from the San Francisco Bay area. We saw each other once a month, talked on the phone often and sent each other cards. It was perfect because I was a single working mother with two girls ages twelve and six. I was too busy and frazzled for a full time relationship. I don’t remember why we broke up, but there was no heartbreak on either side.

           I met my current beau,Steve last April in Munds Park, a small community sixteen miles south of Flagstaff. We lived a three minute car or golf cart ride from each other. I could bop over to his house, and he to mine, without any fuss. I took the proximity for granted.

           In Mid-October I moved back to downtown Scottsdale and he returned to Sun City. The distance between our places is thirty-three miles. It takes forty to seventy minutes to go from one house to the other, depending on traffic.

           No longer can I stop by. Visits have to be planned. One time when I stayed over at his place, I got a text at 2:30 a.m. that my dogs were barking. And another text to that effect at 3:30 a.m. I felt terrible.

My dogs are self-sufficient. They are “free feed,” which means they don’t have any specific mealtime. The dry food is out all the time, next to their water. They also have a doggie door so I don’t need to walk them, except for exercise. Now I would have to find someone to stay with them if I wanted to be gone overnight.

My friend Elissa agreed to take care of the dogs on Halloween. I went over to Steve’s dressed as a witch because I didn’t find out we were going to dress up until a few days before. Steve went to Goodwill and found a Toy Soldier/ Nutcracker outfit for less than seven dollars.

We drove his Ferrari to his grandson’s house to see the great grandchildren’s costumes but left before too many people arrived because of Covd-19. Then we went to The Chicken Ranch, but our favorite singer, Tim Hope, wasn’t playing. The fill-in group didn’t sound as good, so we left after a short time.

Last night we were at my house and went out to see Christmas light displays.

So far, the distance isn’t obstructing the relationship. We see each other three to four days a week. I miss him when he’s not around, but it also makes me appreciate the wonderful person he is. We don’t take each other for granted. It’s working so far.

Am I Semi-Single Now?

November 22, 2020

I’ve been in an exclusive relationship with Steve for more than three months and we were friends for four months before that. (He called me after he read my column “The Single Senior” in The Pinewood News.) I took myself off all dating sites after we met. Several people have questioned whether I should still call myself The Single Senior.

I’m dating, just the same person all the time. I don’t have the angst of the possibility of being rejected any more. At least not yet. It feels good to be admired and appreciated and not having to put myself out there.

Yet I still have many of the same issues:  single grandparenting, holidays, aging, living alone and dealing with adult children.

For instance, take Thanksgiving. I usually host people who don’t have relatives with whom to share the holiday. But this is 2020 and Covid-19 cases are rising rapidly. No one wanted to join me because we weren’t in each other’s bubbles. My children go camping with their father. Steve isn’t going to join his family for dinner because there will be 25-30 people. So he and I will have our own Thanksgiving. I’m cooking a small turkey breast and paring the side dishes as neither of us have huge appetites and there are just so many leftovers we two can or want to eat.

Having a deep relationship is unusual for me. The last one I had was ten years ago. I hope that I’ve learned enough from the past to keep communicating. I’m not very good at reading other people’s intentions or moods. I don’t look for problems, so I don’t see them coming. I hope to do better this time around.

The Last Visitors to the Cabin

November 5, 2020

My granddaughter Charlotte and her other grandmother Terry came to my cabin the third week of October to see the fall foliage. It was a whirlwind visit.

The wolf wanted to get into the car!
The wolves looked hungrily at the mule deer.

They arrived at noon and we left an hour later for Bearizona. Charlotte loves animals, so it was a perfect place to go. When we got to the Alaskan Tundra Wolves, one came over to the car and whether it wanted to open the door or to nibble on it. Three of the wolves stood on the cattle guard. I figured they could smell the bighorn sheep, burros and mule deer and wanted to hunt but were prevented from doing so.

We saw plenty of bears as our car followed the curves in the road.

There wasn’t a birds of prey show due to the Corona virus, but we enjoyed seeing the North American river otters play. An enclosure was built for three baby grizzly bears from Montana who were orphaned in April when their mother has been euthanized after an encounter with a hiker who shot and injured her. They were adorable but quite large. One already weighed 125 pounds!

The next day I purchased tickets for the Snow Bowl Ski lift to see the aspens quaking. We stopped on our way up the mountain to see the fall foliage from different sites. Although we had our tickets, we had to wait in line, in the sun, for an hour before we could ride the ski lift. And we weren’t allowed to get off at the top. The views were breath-taking.

When we got back to my cabin, I brought out a craft project. I had Halloween unpainted wood decorations from the Dollar Store and lots of paint and glitter to adorn them. Mine was so bad I threw it away. Terry and Charlotte did a much better job.

I did manage to go to Borracho’s, The Wandering Donkey, Pinewood Country Club and Agee’s for meals before I left for the winter. It’s always bittersweet to put the chair cushions away, clean out the refrigerator, and make the calls to weatherize the cabin, turn off the water and electricity and cancel the Arizona Daily Sun delivery and garbage pickup.

It’s been a wonderful summer in spite of Covid-19. The next question is: Can my summer relationship with Steve continue when he lives in Sun City and I live in downtown Scottsdale. Stay tuned . . .

Finding gratitude in 2020

October 7, 2020

On the surface, 2020 stinks. Over 200,000 Americans killed by coronavirus. Way too many nasty political ads. Boiling weather. Wearing masks. Isolating at home. I could go on and on but you will know what I’m talking about. I was stressing out about all the negativity.

I had to make a conscious decision to find something to be grateful for in 2020. That was the only path I could see to happiness in this dreadful year.

           I started by reminding myself of my wonderful family. My sister Evvy lives in New York City so we haven’t been able to get together, but we talk on the phone often. As I grow older, the more I love her.

           My brother lives in New Jersey and has many underlying conditions. I’m so grateful that he’s being strict and staying at home to protect himself.

           I am grateful my children and grandchildren live in the Phoenix area and I’ve been able to see them during these turbulent times. I am lucky that my children allow my granddaughters to stay with me for ten days at a time!

           I have a group of friends in the valley whom I haven’t seen much in the past six months, but I think about them often and our high jinks together.

           I’m grateful that Steve is in my life now. Since we have very differing political views, we don’t let the topic come up. I hadn’t realized how much time I’d invested in watching the news and yelling at the screen, It’s such a pleasure not to be consumed by the toxic political atmosphere. We can watch the PBS Newshour together and not get upset.

           I haven’t been able to write much this summer, but I can feel the creative urge coming on. It seems so long since I used my imagination.

           I challenge you to watch less news and live in the moment. Each moment can be joyous even if the world is a mess.

The Single Senior Sails the Seas

October 7, 2020

           I went to California last week with Steve. We’ve been friends for three months. We trailered his 24.5 foot Bayliner to Long Beach and rented a slip at Alamitos Bay Marina. I get seasick, so I made sure to get the discs that go behind your ears to prevent this. It worked perfectly.

           I especially liked the twilight rides on the boat. The setting sun dappled light on the soft waves.

We went to Long Beach and looked in the shops, saw the Queen Mary and the USS Iowa and container ships being loaded.

           We motored over to Catalina Island, using Google maps on our phones for navigation. It was early in the morning and the ocean was very calm. The first night we moored at Two Harbors, a less developed harbor.

I swam to the shore (it was cold but refreshing) while Steve blew up the dinghy and rowed to shore. Since this is where the isthmus of the island is located, we walked a few blocks up the hill and were able to see the other harbor. I was able to rinse off at the public showers:  three dollars for three minutes.

           We went to Avalon on Catalina early the next morning. There were “water taxis” to take us from our boat to the dock. We walked around the town leisurely. It was much less crowded than normal due to Covid-19. We had breakfast at Antonio’s and had to shoo away the bees. They were at every restaurant we ate at in California. Who knew that August was bee month?

           That evening we ate at Steve’s Steak House. Since there is no inside dining, they set up formal tables and chairs on the beach. The food was delicious and the atmosphere quite romantic. Afterwards we went on our twilight ride and saw seals sleeping on the large buoys.

           Our return from Catalina was a bit more eventful. The sunrise through the mist was amazing. The seas were not as calm, but it felt like I was on an amusement park ride, shouting “Yahoo!” as we bounced over the waves. Something went wrong with the engine, but Captain Steve fixed it, as I knew he would.

           We had a delightful breakfast at the Lighthouse Restaurant in Newport Beach before returning to our slip at Alamitos Bay Marina.

           That night Steve’s grandson and his wife Courtney and their children Blake (aged 4) and Jett, (almost a year old) came aboard to visit.  We had a great meal at the San Pedro Fish Market and then took them for a twilight ride.

           Now that we’re a couple, how do I introduce Steve? We’re a bit old to be “boyfriend” and “girlfriend.” “Partner” sounds like we’re in business together. “Lover” is TMI (too much information.) I think I’ll call him my “gentleman friend” because that definitely ­­­describes his personality.