Discovering the Joy of “Seniors Days”

an antique cash registerOn a recent shopping trip to my rural pharmacy, when I brought my bottle of vitamin supplements to the cash register, the cashier rang it up and said “With your discount, your total is…”

In true Canadian fashion, my immediate reflex was to reply, “Thank you” as I reached for my credit card. Then the unexpected word “discount” finally sunk in and processed through my subconscious.

“What discount was that?” I asked.

“The seniors’ discount” replied the cashier.

At that moment, I could see a momentary pause came over her face. I wondered if she thought she might have insulted me especially since I believed that my hydrating cream and anti-dark-circle eye stick seemed to be working in perfect unison on the day in question.

I jumped in and inquired “Oh, and at what age does that start?”

She said “55.”

I didn’t want to have her thinking she had made a social faux-pas. I let her off the hook by quickly exclaiming, “Oh that’s wonderful, I’m 56!”

I then asked when Seniors Day occurred for them as this was the first time I had heard about this discount, offered so close to home. I wanted to plan my return visits given that I am now among the ranks of those living on a fixed income.

“The last Tuesday of each month is Seniors Day” she answered.

“Well thank you for letting me know”, I said, gushing with Canadian gratitude again. As soon as I got home, I gushed (yes, I gush a lot) to my partner about this most enjoyable experience and how we should try to save our non-urgent pharmacy purchases for the last Tuesday of the month.

The epiphany of discovering seniors’ discounts is a little like winning a small prize on a scratch and win ticket. It’s not life changing, but it certainly generates a moment of joy and excitement especially when you aren’t expecting it.

Unfortunately, my first senior discount came under less than ideal circumstances. It was about ten years ago, while I was living in the city. I was exhausted from work, not feeling at my best and probably not looking my best either. My mind was bubbling over with work related issues. I must have been wearing all that on my face and in my posture.

On my way home I had made a quick trip to the pharmacy for a few essentials. It was only when I got home and checked my receipt that I realized I had been granted a seniors’ discount… long before I should have.

While I appreciated the gift of savings, I wondered if I looked sufficiently weathered from my fatigue and worry to warrant an estimated age worthy of a seniors’ discount. There are days that I am still troubled by that day and how I must have looked to a complete stranger.

But now, the tables seem to have turned. I appreciate being (what I hope is) a youthful looking senior, having been asked my age a couple of times to verify my eligibility.

But it is those moments when I don’t even know the discount exists and it is offered by the cashier. It’s like a scratch and win ticket all over again. It never gets old.

To me, I see it as a gift from the heavens for having survived life’s occasionally unpleasant moments, when life gave me lemons, that sort of thing… and 10, 15 or 20% off all eligible pre-tax purchases is my reward. Hey, I’ll take it… it’ll pay for the hydrating creams, anti-dark-circle eye sticks and vitamin supplements.

The best part is that this is just the beginning. While I have enjoyed offers from retailers offering discounts at age 50 or 55, others are offered at age 60 or 65.

That being the case, there is still much to look forward to in this regard, and hopefully, the same element of surprise when I least expect it.

 

Thankfully, the internet is a treasure trove of information in this regard, like this handy link: https://www.canadianseniorsdirectory.ca/canadian-seniors-deals-and-discounts/

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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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A Return to My Gluttony for Music

Not too long ago, I ran into the “Oh no!” moment that many of us experience at one time or another: The moment when one’s mobile device is having a near-death experience.

It’s not like it was unexpected. Shopping for a new phone has been on my list for a little while. I just hoped that it could have waited a few more months.

The problem was my iPhone 7’s connector port, the one used for recharging and for using headphones. Any cord in that port wasn’t staying in properly anymore. What began as an occasional issue now required progressively more jiggling for it to:
(a) stay in, and
(b) to find the sweet spot for it to recharge or to send music to the headphones.

Needless to say, going for a walk or a run with the phone has been out of the question for several months.

Ironically, this phone was probably the one that has endured the least amount of wear and tear of all of the phones I have owned in the last twenty years. Let’s face it, like most of us, it spent the pandemic at home for two years. Continue reading

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How I Lost a Superpower during the Pandemic

clockI used to pride myself on my punctuality. It wasn’t like I was in some sort of contest or anything, but to me, punctuality meant respect for other people and their valuable time.

That being the case, I always did my very best to leave early enough to arrive on time.

My goal was always to arrive early, but not too early either and rob myself of precious minutes from my time-starved existence.

With years of experience, commuting by car and by bus, I became pretty skillful at predicting how much extra time to allow, when factoring in bad weather, construction and traffic congestion on any given day. As a result, I often enjoyed that sweet spot of arriving about five minutes early for most appointments.

The fact that my early-but-not-too-early arrivals were pretty consistent was a great source of pride. It got to a point that I considered it my superpower.

Needless to say, on those rare occasions when Murphy’s Law (or weather, or construction, or traffic accidents) played against me and I showed up late for something, I was beyond apologetic that my superpower had failed me.

But then three life events happened that have totally messed up my superpower: the pandemic, moving to the country and retirement. Continue reading

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When I Don’t Feel Like Writing

An overhead shot of a writing desk, containing a pen, a pad of paper and a cup of coffee.Recently, someone asked me if I ever have a day when I don’t feel like writing. The answer is absolutely yes.

Even though writing is my reason for jumping out of bed in the morning, it is possible to have an off-day.

To put things in context, I’ve known for at least fifteen years that writing was my calling. Writing is one of the activities that I can count on that gives me energy rather than depletes it. Writing relaxes me. Writing makes me feel whole. Writing makes me feel like I am connected (and connecting) to something greater.

When I create something that has never been written before, I get a sensation that feels like a runner’s high. Writing gives me a sense of euphoria. This is what keeps me going.

Also, I am very fortunate that in the back of my mind, ideas are constantly churning, blog themes are constantly being pitched and my fictional works are evolving and maturing.

For these reasons, I never lose interest.

But do I ever wake up some mornings and not want to write? Sure, but I don’t question it. Even the most passionate of writers can have an off day. Continue reading

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Waiting for the Noodles

After nearly four decades of cooking for myself, I can’t say that there is much that scares me in the kitchen. I have no problem following a recipe, word for word, in the hope of achieving the expected results.

I will even go so far as to say that I am pretty confident when keeping my eye on two dishes at once.

But it’s when a meal has three separate components (or more) than my anxiety can potentially boil over. In those moments, I start wondering how the talented jugglers I have seen on TV could spin multiple plates on the end of tall sticks, and keep them spinning beautifully.

To me, cooking is very much the same thing. It is the variability of variables that can potentially spoil a meal that keeps me on edge.

Let’s start with the essential work tools, the stove and oven:

I’ll never forget the stove that came with the house in my last place. At 15 years old, it wasn’t an antiquity, but by today’s standards for appliances, it was getting old… and increasingly unreliable.

It didn’t take many under-baked goodies for me to figure out that there was a problem with the oven. After a while, I bought an oven thermometer to get a second opinion on the temperature. Sure enough, the oven was almost always 25 degrees under the temperature I requested. Continue reading

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The Battle over the Bird Feeders

When we moved to a rural property, it was hard to resist the prospect of getting a bird feeder given the many species of feathered friends that stopped in for a layover.

While the process behind bird feeders may appear fairly straightforward (get bird feeder, fill with bird seed, birds eat food, watch, enjoy, repeat), who knew that being restaurateur to an avian clientele would present such a learning curve?

Upon arrival, we noticed that the previous owners left behind a hummingbird feeder on a shepherd’s hook in the garden. We thought that was a good starting point.

Upon closer inspection, the feeder needed a thorough cleaning, so I brought it in the house, let it sit in hot water for a while and then started scrubbing.

I googled “hummingbird feeder” to see what was recommended in terms of the liquid to put in it. To my great surprise, it was a simple solution of 1 part sugar dissolved in 4 parts water. I was quite thrilled that it would be this easy to get started, as I had never seen a hummingbird up close before.

However, when I poured the “nectar” into the feeder, I discovered that the old feeder was due for replacing as the liquid dribbled out all over the place.

On our next trip to Canadian Tire, we picked up a new hummingbird feeder to replace the old one, as well as a basic bird feeder and a bag of bird seed designed to attract smaller songbirds. The larger birds would have to fend for themselves for now, but I knew that they wouldn’t go hungry as they seemed quite content with the berries on some of our small fruit trees. Continue reading

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The Backlog of Backlogs

I have to admit that when I first fantasized about what retirement could be, I had visions of truly kicking back and relaxing.

I saw myself camped out in front of the TV, indulging in back-to-back game shows, soaps and talk shows, and occasionally drifting off for an afternoon nap despite the crunch of low-sodium potato chip crumbs that may have fallen here or there.

Idyllic, isn’t it? It wasn’t exactly a big dream, but in some ways, that was what I saw as my little piece of heaven.

Sadly, “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns” are no longer with us. The full schedule of game shows that used to keep me company when I was home with a bad cold has been reduced to only a few classics. The talk shows are there, but regrettably, I don’t find a strong attachment to any of them.

When I came into the knowledge that writing was my life’s purpose and reading was something I enjoyed as passionately as TV, my retirement dreams changed significantly.

Just the same, in the grand scheme of things, no matter what I enjoyed, it was to be a more quiet existence than I experienced in my fast-paced career which demanded a lot of extrovert energy.

I wish I could say that after my first year of retirement, I feel recharged from my leisure and hobby time. Thanks to Covid-19, it’s been anything but. It’s been like squeezing years’ worth of activity through a funnel.

What I didn’t envision was having a backlog of backlogs to deal with first: Continue reading

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Building a Toad Hotel

In an effort to finally gain the upper hand in dealing with overgrown plants, very bushy bushes, and relentless weeds, we invested in professional help for our garden.

While I cannot speak to the reasons to how or why the garden got to this point, I can only say that the year we took over the house, a walk in our backyard was what I imagine might feel like a walk through a lush rain forest.

It was soothing for the senses to see Mother Nature at work like that, with so much greenery billowing in the breeze.

But the bottom line was that the garden was out of control with plants growing into each other or suffocating each other. It was like plant wars, witnessing the survival of the fittest first hand. Nonetheless, the potential for a really nice garden was definitely there.

Trying to stay on top of the weeds was the impossible dream for us, cautiously putting in an hour here and there, on weekends, weather permitting, when the mosquito count was low, without upsetting the delicate balance of degenerating back conditions. Aging sucks!

It was an incredibly validating exercise to see that it took three young people, a small tractor and two very full days to whip the garden back into shape!

By the time that the crew had completed the work, our gardens were finally a source of pride rather than a source of embarrassment. The curb appeal was returning and we expect it will improve further over time as new growth fills in the spaces vacated by the former plants having near-death experiences. Continue reading

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The Massage Therapist Auditions

a cat in a complete state of relaxationAbout twenty years ago, a received a gift certificate for my very first registered massage therapy (RMT) session.

It was a very kind and generous gift, especially at a time when I was dealing with the grief of my Dad’s passing. At the same time, I was recovering from the final sprint to the finish line for a major project at work. The timing was absolutely right for what I would consider my first real dose of self-care.

I admit that at first I was bit shy about the whole idea, but the massage therapist assigned to me took the time to ask me questions about my health, what I was looking for from therapeutic massage and to walk me through the process.

Any apprehensions I might have had disappeared within three minutes into the treatment. I relaxed and turned into a mass of jelly which allowed the therapist to gently work out some of the knots that had accumulated over time.

By the end of the session, I was a convert. I was so deeply relaxed, I worried about the long drive home and accidentally veering off the road, but I successfully made it home in one piece.

Sadly, the distance to this particular spa made it difficult for me to promise my return. But I was immediately hooked on that amazing feeling that followed, that “clean slate” sensation when the knots and kinks are eradicated. And so began what I called “the massage therapist auditions”, closer to home. Continue reading

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If at First You Don’t Succeed…

An overhead shot of a writing desk, containing a pen, a pad of paper and a cup of coffee.How many of us grew up with the old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”?

And how many of us have had moments in life thinking that this societal expectation is… well… a load of nonsense?

I think it would be safe to say that for a kid endowed with only a modest helping of patience, the advice holds some degree of merit.

For an only child who was all too happy to throw in the towel and give up a game after one unsuccessful try, it might also be value-added.

For a short, academically-oriented kid for whom athletics was never in his wheelhouse, the advice was probably reasonable… to a point.

In all three cases, that was me!

But as an adult when we are more in touch with our likes, our aptitudes, our affinities and our passions is “try, try again” without any footnotes, asterisks or any sense of boundaries really good advice?

Shouldn’t there be a cut-off point, when there really isn’t a point to continue? Continue reading

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