Monday, April 26, 2010

Desert Sun Shines on Jan

Alene Arthur wrote about Jan and her book in today's Desert Sun:

You remember Jan Curran. She was the talented, gregarious society editor of The Desert Sun during the 1990s.

Curran is a mere 72, yet but a kid in the geriatric set. She has moved into a retirement complex in Ventura because of health issues and a need for its security.

But her power of observation, her acute absorption of impressions, keep working like a camcorder. Other residents, though 10 to 20 years her senior, have become her extended family.

The upshot is Curran's recently published book, “Active Senior Living,” an inside look at a retirement facility and its people. The book is funny, touching and informative. You can purchase the book through or

Friday, April 23, 2010

Now Available in Paperback on Amazon

From Jan:

My book Active Senior Living is now available as a trade paperback on Amazon. Of course it's also available on Kindle and on Smashwords (for every eformat) and on the iPad. So what's your excuse for not having a copy?

96 and Counting

From Jan:

Today my table mate Dorothy turns 96. She has no children, just a niece on the east coast, so six of us have grouped together to give her a little surpise birthday party.

Dorothy has all her marbles and more energy than I have. She walks two blocks every morning, reads the Wall Street Journal to keep up with all her stocks, and dresses up every night for dinner, looking like a living doll.

All of Dorothy's outfits are color cordinated and have matching costume jewels. When one of us compliments her on an outfit ,she will proudly announce that it is one she made herself, having sewn all her clothes for work. She must have done a good job because she retired in 1974 and is still wearing those outfits she sewed herself.

Dorothy has been a widow for 30 years. She moved in to Active Senior iving when she turned 90 because her driver's license was up for renewal and she feared she would flunk the exam. " I'm a good driver," she said, " but I can't remember all those rules in the exam book, so guess I will sell my car and use the funds for cabs." .. which is what she did and does.

It's been my pleasure to sit next to Dorothy at dinner now for two years. She tells me wonderful stories about growing up on a farm in Oregon, a farm with no running water, no indoor plumbing.. real hardships but she says, " I had such a great childhood, one of 8 kids, and life on the farm was always fun."

I think back to how frail my own mother was at 95 and am amazed at Dorothy - who it happens has the same name as my Mom.

Dorothy may be old enough to be my mom and I think that when I interact with her I always have that in the back of my could be my mom sitting there. Wish it was.

So tonight we will party and Dorothy will turn 96 and she will know that here at Active Senior Living she has a lot of people who love her and are onvinced she will make it to 100! And, yes, she read my book and told me she laughed and laughed and also shed a few tears and loved it. Sure made me feel good!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Active Senior Romance

From Jan:

a bit of news from here at my Active Senior Living facility...

Claire and Bernie were married in 1950, had one child, a daughter and then divorced a few years ater. Each remarried , moved from here to other cities and rarely saw each other. Of course, there were the family events where they were more or less required to be together.. a daughter's wedding, the birth of a granchild, a graduaton..that sort of thing. Claire carried some sort of grudge, or dislike she never got rid of, and when they were together she was, by her own admission, rude to Bernie.

Okay, we jump ahead to modern times and both Claire and Bernie are widowed ,both in their 80's and both no longer able to live alone. They didn't need assisted living, but they needed what active senior living offered... housekeeping and other people around for a social life and the comfort of knowing there are people, other residens ,close by for comfort, support and friendship.

Their daughter moved Claire to my active senior living in May. Claire wasn't happy about the move ,hated to leave her home and the familiar things about living in San Francisco.. but her daughter lives here and her grandson and it meant being closer to them, so she moved and settled in.

Then, in September a new resident moved in. Bernie. His health was fragile, there were a few signs f dementia and his daughter wanted to keep a closer eye on him, so she decided the easiest thing for her was to have both of her parents living in the same building. And, maybe, I thought, the daughter carried the thought that maybe her parents would get back together.

Well, Claire was furious. Bernie was not.

" We grew up in the same town, went to the same University and married during our senior year," he said. " We share a daughter and a grandchild. I guess we have come full circle."

Bernie would ask Claire out for dinner. She would refuse. When their daughter or grandson came to visit they would sit together in the dining room or the lounge, but Claire stayed stubborn and basically rude to Bernie.

We all watched this playing out, and some of us -- okay, me -- kinda hoped they would get back together cus that would made a nice romantic end to their life story.

Last month Bernie tripped coming out of the elevator and broke his hip. After weeks in the hospital and some time in a rehab facility it was decided he had to move to assisted living and out of this building.

We all felt sorry for him. Well, not all. Claire didn't give a hoot, in fact, was all smiles when she heard he had to move to assisted living.

Made us all wonder what had happened back in the early 60's in their marriage that caused the divorce and made Claire carry all that anger so many years.

So, if like me, you were hoping for a happy ending to their story , there isn't one.

But, I have another story of a hot romance going on in the building now and will share that with you n another day. No, my friends, it is not me in the love affair. I should be that lucky!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Starting to Feel Like Summer

From Jan:

One of the nicest things about Ventura ,CA. is that it never gets too hot.

After years ( 25) of living in Palm Springs and facing temperatures at 120 or more some days, it was such a welcome relief to be here where a hot day meant maybe 80. And those days were far and few.. with the average temperature around 70. Almost ideal. Summer usually means a few hot days, but also a lot of days of fog.

Well, right now , this week we haven't had any fog but we sure have had the hot days and I'm not too pleased about it. Hard to take a nap when it is hot in here. To me, a nap means getting under my mom's " nap time" quilt for an hour or so. She used it for years and after she passed away I took the quilt and sent it back to Ventura and put it at the foot of my bed. So, a nap means using that and thinking of good times with my mom.

Mom would surely laugh if I could tell her about the time I spent with a new resident, Dale, the other day.

I was sitting in the lobby lounge with my buddy Larry, just passing the time of day before we went in to dinner when Dale came over and sat down on my other side and began talking to me.

"Do you like movies?" he asked.

" Yes, " I said.

Dale was all smiles. " You know, they show a movie here every night upstairs in the media room. I could come to your apartment and get you and we could go together. How about if we do that tonight?"

" No thank you," I said.

" It's an hour before dinner. Let's go to the park. I still drive and my car is out in front. Come on," he said , reaching for my arm.

I pulled my arm away and said, " No, thank you, I don't want to go to the park."

Dale leaned in closer, as if he had a secret to tell me. " Do you have a DVD player?"

" Yes, why?"

" I have a lot of movies. I could bring one to your apartment tonight. It's more fun if you watch a DVD with someone else. What time should I come over?"

" I'm not interested in watching a DVD with you," I said, leaning away from him.

" Well, then," he said, all smiles again, " Let's just go to the park together. They have benches and we could sit together and just enjoy the sunshine."

" My answer is still no," I said , hoping my tone showed that I had enough of his asking me to do something with him.

"What's your apartment number?" he asked. " I'll just come over tonight and we can visit or watch t.v. together."

"I'm not giving you my apartment number," I said , " I don't want you to come over so get that idea out of your head."

Larry who had been sitting quietly and listening to all this began to laugh. Dale looked at him, as if noticing him for the first time.

" And who are you?" Dale asked.

" I'm Larry and I don't want to watch a DVD with you, or go to a movie, or sit together to watch t.v. and don't ask me to go to the park, either."

Well, I burst out laughing at Larry's response to Dale. Dale, on the other hand, didn't find it funny and stood up, putting his hand on my shoulder. " If you change your mind and you want to get together after dinner just give me a call. I'm in apartment 104."

And with that parting request he left the lounge area.

" I think you made a conquest, " Larry said.

We were still laughing as we headed in to dinner.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

After the Loins

From Jan:
"After baked loin of cod as our menu choice last night ... and who ever knew cod had loins, I expected tonight's choice to be roasted leg of Rainbow Trout. Our chef is very creative and not always in a good way. His seasoning of choice is always jalapeno and gravy is on everything. Same gravy, no matter was the entree is. I've gotten used to eating cold mashed potatoes, over cooked beef and chicken that is less than tender but the good news is I haven't lost any weight. Maybe that is because I do the feeding tube for breakfast and most days for lunch , too, and that gives me some good calories.

When we are served a meal that is less than desirable I am reminded of what my friend Ed told me ( and I put in the book Active Senior Living) and that was that he figured the food budget per resident was about $7 a day. " it's like Boy Scout camp," he had said, " only here we have indoor plumbing."

I've talked to residents at other active senior complexes and it is the same story everywhere.. not just here and not just in California. The food tends to be the least most attractive thing about the place. But , as my friend Betsy says, " we didn't have to go get the groceries, cook the meal, clear the table or do the dishes. They can cook it any way they want and it's fine with me!"

Do Fish have Loins?

From Jan:

Yesterday we had a marketing event here. It's so damn dumb. It's a senior prom and there are women downstairs dressed like they are preparing to walk down the aisle as the grandmother of the bride. Lots of pastel shaded lace suits and dresses. I almost got the giggles looking at them. All the furniture is out of the lobby and replaced with cocktail tables and it is decorated like New Year's Eve.. a five piece " orchestra" will play for dancing. The dance started at 5:30 an goes until 8 so we were all told we had to eat dinner at 4:00 and by 3:30 the dining room was full of people, me included. I wasn't even hungry which was good cus dinner was loin of cod. Do fish have loins? I ordered sausage and eggs, ate that and got the hell out before the public began arriving to wine and dine and dance with free champagne and bite size goodies like meat balls, which Jay said were probably better than our dinner. Ah ,the joys of this lifestyle! Guess I can always write about that for the sequel to Active Senior Living.