What Travel Writers Say

Seniors Humour
(Mike Keenan: Chautauqua, New York)

Humor & Aging
Edward De Bono remarked that humor is the most significant activity of the human brain. Someone else said that if you don't use it, you lose it, and mother, who frequently managed to get in the last word, advised that laughter was the best medicine, probably because we were poor and could not afford a doctor. To help keep our collective brain power intact as we age, I invite seniors to read some of the following articles that were printed during the last fifteen years in my St. Catharines Standard "Over 60" newspaper column entitled, "Retired, eh?" Starting in 2014, please note that these articles are not in the Standard which unfortunately has dropped its freelancers as it tries to determine if its wants to be a print resource or just another website.

Mike Keenan

Just Junk - Removal Made Easy

     "Over 60" Articles
     Nelson Mandela and the accomplishments of age (26, 12, 13)
A few years ago when I was strolling in downtown London, England, I encountered a sculpture of Nelson Mandela in a small park across from the Parliament Buildings and Westminster Abbey, not far from a similar sculpture of Winston Churchill...    more

     A Christmas letter to the Keenan family (21, 12, 13)
Each year, I write a Christmas letter to my family such that they will know precisely what I want and what I don't want to help avoid acrimony and name-calling during what is supposed to be a festive season. If you are having similar difficulties with your adult children, feel free to use my letter as a template...    more

     Terms of endearment (7, 12, 13)
Have you noticed the number of aging men who drive Mustang convertibles and other sporty cars? My brother-in-law, a little older than me, loves cars, and he likes to reminisce about them. He can tell you...    more

     Amusing things to do while 'shopping' (09, 11, 13)
Whenever I 'go shopping' with Miriam, like many other men, I'm simply thrilled to be there at a wonderful social event, pleased to while away a few hours that I would otherwise waste watching sports at home on TV. Yes, I know that pools of men ritualistically collect around the...    more

     Getting rid of our 'treasures' (19, 10, 13)
It started when the next door neighbours unexpectedly announced that they intended to hold a garage sale on the upcoming Saturday. They were cordially inviting others in the vicinity to get into the act. It was a kind thought, but it allowed us only three days to...    more

     We'd be lost without our mates (28, 09, 13)
Compulsively opening the refrigerator door several times each day, this time I peer only briefly inside before shouting out to Miriam, "Do we have any cheese?" It's standard male operating procedure. We do not require...    more

     Book club prepares for another chapter (07, 09, 13)
Well book lovers, the Men's Book Club which started back in 2003, is gearing up for another season of monthly reads, each title chosen by the host as we rotate from Welland to St. Catharines to Niagara on the Lake homes in search of truth, wisdom, cold beer and increasingly large amounts of rich food...    more

     Advice to seniors: check blood pressure, don't think about Jays (24, 08, 13)
When you get older, as in my case, circumstances, more than ever, can suddenly affect your best laid plans. Miriam and I were set to visit France and remain there for an entire month. We booked our flight and secured accommodations in Cannes on the French Riviera. Cannes... visions of a young, coquettish Brigitte Bardot flooded my brain...    more

     Pope Francis, while you're handing out blessings (10, 08, 13)
The headline read, "Pope blesses hundreds of Harley-Davidsons," and despite the fact that I do not own a Harley, I am impressed that Pope Francis embraced biker culture by blessing thousands of Harley-Davidsons and their riders, celebrating the manufacturer's 110th anniversary...    more

     We're not such a dominant force in nature (27, 07, 13)
August approaches with steady warmth, and as I drive about Niagara, an explosion of Queen Anne's lace along roadsides reminds me of first communion and the young girls all dressed in saintly white outfits. For whatever reasons, whether economic or aesthetic, the Region does not spray with poisonous weed-killer which is good because...    more

     Happy retirement doc (20, 07, 13)
Only a few hours, but already withdrawal feelings, sharp, intermittent pangs informing one that something vital is missing, something expected on a regular basis that makes one feel better if not content. Something reliable, always there when needed. If you haven't guessed yet - my drug dealer is gone!    more

     Technology and the art of avoiding television commercials (06, 07, 13)
I do not like TV commercials. In fact, I hate them. I loathe them. I detest them! Fortunately, some brilliant scientist who also hated TV commercials invented first, the remote channel changer, then the VCR, then the Tivo or hard drive that allows one to record and save multiple hours of programming so one may...    more

     Random thoughts on the month of July (29, 06, 13)
Miriam and I have attended the Stratford Shakespearian Festival for forty years. Miriam actually began as a kid with the first tent production in 1953 and the inaugural performance of Tyrone Guthrie's Richard III with Alec Guinness in the title role...    more

     June 101 (15, 06, 13)
Children love June, and, if you really crave light, then you too should enjoy June too, for it's the month with the longest daylight hours of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, thus, allowing one to remain outside and play longer, avoiding the boredom of TV that lurks inside every home, offering seemingly an infinite number of channels yet ultimately nothing of real worth...    more

     Tired of lies? Here are some straight answers (08, 13, 13)
Last week I asked many questions. The entire column was questions. I admit I drove many teachers crazy with this incessant habit when I was young. Usually the less competent types, as most others welcomed questions...    more

     A retired person's question period (01, 06, 13)
A Retired Person's Question Period: Is our political system broken and outdated when we all have access to a phone or computer? Could we save billions by conducting electronic surveys and referendums? Could we eradicate a sizeable number of freeloaders who don't represent us anyway? Why so few like Peter Kormos who represented his riding...    more

     We're picking up the tab for big business (18, 05, 13)
Do you fellow seniors detect a polarization that is sweeping feverishly like frantic bonspiel curlers across our home and native land? Polarization not so much in the sense of frigidity, but more in the area of separation, the widening gulf between the many and the few with regards to money.    more

     Retirement: From the sacred to the profane (11, 05, 13)
This year, for the first time in almost 600 years, an active Pope announced that he was stepping down (aka retiring) as leader of the Catholic Church. 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI cited his age and deteriorating health, and advised the world that he would retire on Feb. 28. And he was good to his word, now cavourting wherever it is that retired Popes cavourt.    more

     Seniors deserve a Throw in the Towel Day (04, 05, 13)
I have learned a few things over the years as I'm sure you have, and together, these collective insights might coalesce to form some sort of secular Bible, a font from which younger versions of ourselves might drink and hopefully deem as wisdom.    more

     Laughing through life's adversities (27, 04, 13)
My friend Gord is 80 years old, and the last few years have not been kind. He and his wife recently spent the day with Miriam and me. First, we had lunch and chatted at our house, and then, for an outing, I drove everyone to beautiful downtown Niagara on the Lake...    more

     A common goal of harmony (20, 04, 13)
Miriam and I love movies, and often the Shaw's films provide opportunities to view the kind that we only find across the border at the Eastern Hills Mall. The Dipson Theatre there plays terrific foreign movies that...    more

     At the end of the day, I really hate clichés (13, 04, 13)
Do you suffer from a bad case of cliché? Stop groping your body parts looking for a sore spot. Today's senior grammar lesson will help us all to keep our heads above water as we learn better ways to express ourselves orally and...    more

     Rhyme and reason: Celebrating the great poets (06,04,13)
My father often recited poetry that he had memorized, particularly poems written by Robert Service, "the Bard of the Yukon." As a kid, I never tired of hearing about "Yukon Jake, the hopeless rake," even though I didn't know what a rake was.    more

     Vanity a fitting word for our new bathroom feature (23, 03, 13)
Our bathroom renovations continue, and once again, I must alert avid readers and service club members that Miriam and I have added yet another important topic to our repertoire for bored types who require guest speakers on exotic items such as toilets and faucets...    more

The Wine Place - Make Your Own

     Marching into the month of green beer and basketball (02, 03, 13)
I used to hate Holy Week as a kid. Sometimes we attended mass twice in one day! That was asking a lot of a kid who would rather play ball hockey outside...    more

     Promoting participatory solutions to our problems (23, 02, 13)
Over the years, I have discovered that the problem with menial work is the way that it's presented. Upon reflection, it's obvious that we are subjected to billions of boring tasks throughout our lifetime. Brushing teeth, taking out the garbage, preparing meals, filling the gas tank, shovelling snow, applying sun tan lotion, visiting most relatives, going to the dentist, purchasing tires, watching TV, cheering for the Leafs and on...    more

     The Senate is Canada's best retirement home (16, 02, 13)
Like many seniors, Miriam and I are seeking a suitable retirement home where we might feel comfortable and mix with like minded people who share similar values. A retirement home is unfortunately sometimes seen as an "old people's home" but we are looking more for a...    more

     Magic Mike with some Valentine's Day tips (09, 02, 13)
Saint Valentine's Day arrives every February 14, and it is celebrated in many countries around the world. Saint Valentine was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. Not being one to waste his idle time...    more

     Lots of reasons to party in February (02, 02, 13)
Our ancestors were bored with February. In most places, it was downright chilly. In some places it was freezing cold. And in other places, you would not even venture outside. Of course, nowadays thanks to global warming, as Arctic ice disappears, in a few places such as Greenland, you may now go water-skiing.
If you play the stock market, in February, invest your money in latex, alcohol and flowers.    more

     Beers and books - a novel way to get people to read (26, 01, 13)
Niagara on the Lake's Public Library has certainly placed "pub" in the word "public," producing a partnership (book club) worthy of any bibliophile and sipper of suds. Imagine discussing Joyce, Yeats, Shaw, Wilde and Swift at the Irish Pub. Brendan Behan is rolling over in his grave with his pickled liver.
The first meeting takes place Jan. 21, and the book selection is "Bared to You" by Sylvia Day...    more

     U. S. pols have lost sight of need to address gun pollution (19, 01, 13)
January 20 and 21 are important days in the United States, the former, Inauguration Day, and the latter, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Romans introduced January into their calendar and named it after Janus, the god with two faces which allowed him to look backwards into the old year and forwards into the new one at the same time...    more

     When you got to go, you might as well go in style (12, 01, 13)
If you happen to belong to a service club, those good-natured groups like Rotary, Lions and Kinsmen that get together regularly to foster a sense of community while diligently working to amass funds only to be donated to worthy causes, you might consider inviting Miriam and me to speak at your next meeting...    more

     5 favourite seniors of 2012 (05, 01, 13)
The year-end reviews have all been conducted in sports, politics, finance, entertainment, death (as in who died?) and other areas except for accomplishments by seniors. After great research, I have discovered one lonely pundit, George Stroumboulopoulos, who thinks that...    more

     April the cruelest month but January not far behind (29, 12, 12)
Yet another year has duly arrived, but not with near as much fanfare and dread as Y2K, a little over a decade ago. Then, we all waited with baited breath, hiding in our basements with our hordes of canned goods, semi-automatic weapons and whatever else we thought...    more

     Tips on writing a Christmas form letter (22, 12, 12)
Ah yes, that time of year when we realize that our Christmas cards will definitely arrive late, because, in my case that is, I have yet to take pen in hand to write them. I could try to rationalize a tad in that it is the time of year when we should be able to forgive others for their failings, one of which involves Christmas cards. I mean, really, in this modern era of instant communication, can't we simply...    more

     My fashion style is more Ralph Klein than Calvin (15, 12, 12)
Our eldest daughter and I enjoy a standing joke regarding attire. Whenever we get into deep discussions, towards the end, I feel compelled to issue forth some distilled wisdom, derived from my many years on this planet. Most seniors share a...    more

     Inflation hits The 12 days of Christmas (08, 12, 12)
As we approach Christmas and its demanding Christmas shopping, it appears that like most other items that we pay for, the Christmas cost has sharply risen over that of last year. In fact, according to...    more

     Genius challenges the status quo (01, 12, 12)
I've been viewing myriad great art recently in several world class galleries located in Philadelphia. The Barnes Foundation alone is enough to take one's breath away. Dr. Barnes is the kind of guy seniors are attracted to, in that he...    more

     Confession in Catholic Church enters the app age (24, 11, 12)
I rarely look at my calendar except when Miriam demands that we have a meeting. When she demands a meeting, the agenda invariably involves me forgetting something like a special date. Being retired, there are no special dates for me anymore. Each day is like the one that preceded it, and to assign them arbitrary names such as Sunday, Monday, etc. is a waste of time. Numbers do not matter either. I could care less if this day is number 1 or number 14 or number 30. You can see that Miriam tends to call a lot of meetings.    more

     The cheap way to protect your teeth - don't smile (17, 11, 12)
Here's the situation. Remarkably, despite playing a great deal of hockey in my youth, I still have a full set of teeth. When I played hockey, there was no such thing as protective visors or helmets. An errant high stick or a puck shot too high - well, that resulted in some missing teeth, usually those located in the front.    more

     Mr. Big Game Hunter takes on two tiny mice (10, 11, 12)
Have you ever seen the amazing scope of myriad devices stocked in today's hardware stores enlisted for the extermination of mice? It's mind-boggling. I was there for a full hour trying to decide on what technique might be appropriate for both Miriam and the mice.
I decided on four plastic traps. You place a small amount of...    more

     In a democracy, it's the job of seniors to stay in touch (03, 11, 12)
To get elected to office in the U.S., you must have access to tons of money. Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court which has more conservative than liberal judges has made it possible for PAC's (political action committees) to spend as much money as a drunken sailor on either candidate, but must not be in direct contact with that candidate. (Sure.) In Canada, Jean Chretien sought to...    more

     Re-enactments may be ideal for our adult children (27, 10, 12)
With no hockey in sight this season thanks to the NHL lockout, approximately 15,000 hockey fans arrived in NOTL to watch a replay of the critical battle at Queenston Heights portrayed last Saturday...    more

     If love is truly blind, why is lingerie so expensive? (20, 10, 12)
When I was in University, I took several philosophy courses. I guess I thought I'd eventually make a good taxi driver. If you want to get the lay of the land quickly, over the years, I have discovered that taxi drivers are best equipped to...    more

     Life goes topsy-turvy when the grandkids visit long term (13, 10, 12)
Sometimes, survival is enough, especially for a senior. Lest you worry unduly, what follows is not about a sudden illness or physical malady. We have enough of them already, and as we age, we will encounter more and more unless we watch our diet and exercise regimen. I'm conflicted about...    more

     Learning grammar with [sic] The Toronto Maple Laughs (06, 10, 12)
Today's grammar lesson for seniors who wish to remain relevant involves the Latin word, sic. Sic is often used in newspapers and magazines, and most people have not a clue what it means. There are probably a few of you out there who do employ it recklessly on occasion just to be snooty, to impress others with your command of a dead language; well, maybe not truly dead in that the Vatican employs Latin on a regular basis...    more

     Older versus elder - it's an age-old argument (29, 09, 12)
Do seniors prefer the term older or elder?
Right off the bat (I can almost hear it crack), I associate elder in a religious sense, you know, an older person who is now considered an elder (often elected, sometimes appointed - see Stephen Harper's ad hoc senate philosophy), a leader in the church, and goodness knows, we can always use a few more leaders in the church.
These two terms are named comparative adjectives; however, the...    more

     To dye or not to dye, that is the question (22, 09, 12)
TV hair commercials truly fascinate me. They employ lovely-looking models with long, gorgeous hair that swirls suggestively from side to side, and there is always an extreme close-up shot of the fickle follicles dancing suggestively, probably because there is a heavy-duty, industrial-sized fan on the set. We see brunette, blonde and red hair at its immaculate best. We watch in fascination, and think...    more

     Seniors can reap an offshore windfall (15, 09, 12)
Of course, it was "Deep Throat" who advised rookie reporters Woodward and Bernstein to "follow the money" in order to get to the heart of the Watergate affair which forced the first and only (so far) abdication by an American presidential incumbent, Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon. Thirty-one years after Nixon's resignation, Deep Throat was revealed to be former Federal Bureau of Investigation Associate Director, Mark Felt...    more

     Keeping life bearable (08, 09, 12)
Of course, being human, we all certainly need a good dose of interpersonal relationships at regular intervals, perhaps a few times each day and for sure, several times in a week. By this, I do not mean "hanky panky" which is an entirely different kind of interpersonal need that I would rather not get into at the moment, but rather, those short yet close personal relationships with other people wherein you exchange some interesting information such as...    more

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