Old Men Return to the Woods

Courtesy of Al Reiner '64

Courtesy of Al Reiner ’64

You can’t go home again, argues Thomas Wolfe in his famous novel, but we do. Sometimes in retirement we move back to an earlier home place, and we often join family, friends or classmates at reunions where we celebrate our past. 

In August I attended my 50-year reunion of the class of 1964 at the New York State Ranger School, which trained us to be forest technicians—men who did much of the practical woods work of forestry.

The Ranger School did more than that for most of us. We were young, just out of high school, and we needed guidance. The faculty and staff helped transform us into young men ready for adult roles. Continue reading

Small Health Skirmishes Hint at Bigger Contests Ahead


Retired people can read for days in a row if they set their minds to it. An old friend in his eighties clued me into that. He would turn off his phone and TV and read for a week.

My habit has been to read when I’m almost sick. At the first hint of illness I give up, turn on some music, pick up a book and sit near a back window where I can read and occasionally lift an eye to see outside. 

When I worked as a professor I got sick often. Germs thrive in the open petri-dish-environments of college campuses. In retirement, without all that mingling, I seldom get viruses. But something else is taking shape.  Continue reading

Retirement with a New TV


“Barbara, c’mon, hurry up, I’m starting Longmire,” I said, settling into my chair. It was about 3:10 p.m. and we recorded Longmire the previous evening.

“I’m coming, just wait a minute,” she said. 

Soon we were both settled in front of the TV watching an episode that we recorded the evening before. Walt Longmire is an older sheriff who struggles against evil in Wyoming’s backcountry.

We watch TV on our schedule now, and we fast-forward through the commercials. 

It’s great! Continue reading

When Dementia Strikes Home, We All Need Help

A review of, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias, 101 stories, eds. Amy Newmark and Angela Timashenka Geiger, (Cos Cob, CT: Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC, April 2014).  Available online at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and perhaps your local bookstore.

Photo by Matt, Chicken Soup for the Soul, https://www.flickr.com/photos/dippy_duck/

Photo by Matt, Chicken Soup for the Soul, https://www.flickr.com/photos/dippy_duck/

The editors of this fine book have compiled 101 useful stories of living with dementia. I wish it had been available years ago.

Mary Jane (MJ), my mother-in-law, suffered from dementia for many years. My wife, Barbara, and I aren’t sure when it started; but MJ had been growing less capable, more dependent, since the late 1950s. Continue reading

What the Big Guys Say about Risk at Retirement


What should your stock allocation be at your retirement date, or in different words, how much risk (variability) should you tolerate near and at retirement? I discussed this issue in a series of posts earlier this year (see links at end), and recently the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an article (paywall) about it.  Continue reading

Adventure: Friends on the Loose in the Woods

Uli and Otto Saur

Uli and Otto Saur

Otto and Uli are visiting for a week. We hosted one of their sons as a high-school exchange student about thirty years ago, and we’ve been friends ever since. Years ago we hiked with them in the Alps, and now they wanted to hike in the Appalachians. The Appalachians have vast areas of unpopulated wilderness with poorly marked trails, and hikers who make a small mistake may walk for miles in a wrong direction.

Continue reading

Hooking Up: A True Tale about Ed and Emily

Surrogates for Ed and Emily; a young couple at Niagara Falls in Jan. 2010.

Surrogates for Ed and Emily; a young couple at Niagara Falls in Jan. 2010.

About a week ago I went to breakfast at a local restaurant and was seated near a group of six young women. They were enjoying themselves: laughing and trading racy stories. 

They worked together and talked about that—and about “hooking up.” The hook up culture is new to me, so I decided to listen. Never too old to learn, I thought. I settled into my booth, ordered pancakes and tuned my left ear to the women. Continue reading

Seniors and Social Media

All of us reaching toward 70 years, all of us use Facebook

All of us reaching toward 70 years, all of us use Facebook

By Glenn Gillen, Senior Account Manager, S & A Cherokee, Cary NC

Seniors are now the fastest-growing social media adopters in the United States. In 2013, 43 percent of Americans over 65 used at least one social networking site, compared with 26 percent in 2010 and one percent in 2008.

Here’s an overview of the most popular social media:  Continue reading

Make Money by Managing Investment Risks in Retirement

Managing your trip in a risky environment

Managing your trip in a risky environment

Risk is sometimes the elephant in the investing room, especially for retirees. People understand stocks as ownership and bonds as debt, but risk is hard to grasp and instinctively dangerous.

Later Living has recently published four posts on risk. Risk and high returns go together, so retirees who want high returns must deal with risk. Here are the four earlier posts knit together into one risk story: Continue reading