Witnessing Fall Color

In Athens, Georgia, fall color is nearing its end. It typically peaks in late October or early November. Today, in mid-November, the large landscapes of color are gone. We’re left with some colorful trees, maybe particular branches or individual leaves. It is a good time to experience retirement and walk around the yard and woods with an eye for small beauty.

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Ireland’s Landscapes: a Retirement Interlude


This gallery contains 24 photos.

Ireland’s green landscapes have earned it the title, Emerald Isle. That one name hides the variety of green and its juxtapositions with the varying colors of the Atlantic, the greys of rock formations and stone castles, and the colors of … Continue reading

Danger: Motorcycling in the Coal Country of Virginia at Age 70

Young couple on a bike

Young couple on a bike

The road was sharply crowned, narrow and steep, and suddenly the Gold Wing starting misfiring, the light panel on the dashboard flashed wildly and then the engine just quit. The motorcycle stopped in the middle of the lane, and I was stuck, really stuck. The bike weighs about 1,000 pounds, and at 70 years old, I could not push it around to get it headed downhill. Continue reading

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