Brain Fit

Recently, The Fountains has offered a new class to the residents. Every Wednesday morning, participants meet in the Community Room for a one-hour session of activities to “boost brain health.” This six-part series is led by Kathryn Ervin, a cognitive therapeutics interventionist who is employed by Home Care Assistance in Nashville.

On April 4, we spent time sharing reminiscences about our first paying job. This interaction promoted socialization, a big factor in maintaining cognitive function. Kathryn also led us in some simple chair exercises to loosen our muscles, and she gave us small plastic bags full of “healthy snacks,” a mixture of granola, dried fruit, dark chocolate, and nuts. The lesson here: exercise and good nutrition also promote a healthy brain.

The second session included activities to promote what she called “executive function.” One exercise involved flashing three words up onto a screen, and we were to determine how those three things were related. She began with easier things like “car,” “truck,” “bus.” Of course, we said they were all modes of transportation. Gradually, the terms became more difficult. Near the end of the exercise, she flashed up “banana,” “check,” and “bowling.” That took us all a moment. Finally, Robin saw the connection. “Those are all things connected with a split: a banana split, you can split the check, and you can bowl a split.” Everyone clapped. : )

This week, we played a trivia game where we were given multiple choices to answer each question, and we had to come up with the correct answer. The questions dealt with historical or well known persons. Kathryn also played a number of familiar songs, mostly from the 40’s and 50’s, and we had to name each tune. Then we sang along with the song. Another exercise was “logo identification.” Either a full logo or a partial logo was flashed onto the screen, and we had to name the company whose logo it was. A difficult one showed only a white pudgy arm with a hand waving. One of the ladies finally got it—the Michelin Tire man. : )

Next week we’ll deal with language—mostly writing—so that will be fun. : )

An amusing incident happened this Wednesday.  The week before, Kathryn had given each of us a bright red T-shirt with the name of her company emblazoned across the back. “If you wear your T-shirt next week, you’ll be eligible to win a prize,” she said. Robin and I took our shirts home, but I thought to myself, She’s treating us like we are kids. I won’t ever wear that silly shirt.

This time, Robin didn’t go, but I went, and when I walked into the room, I couldn’t believe what I saw. I was the only one not wearing my T-shirt!  I sat and chatted with everyone for a few minutes, but then I told them I felt bad that I didn’t wear my shirt, and I ran back across the street to our villa and changed.

When I returned, everyone clapped. : ) I grinned. “When in Rome… right?” They all laughed.


Today, we woke up to a chilly 33 degrees. Several mornings ago, we even had a light dusting of snow. March cold snaps like this are not that unusual here in the mid-South, but this year, Robin and I are especially antsy for spring to arrive.

For weeks now, my husband has been clamoring to get back out to the golf course, and he’s growing more and more bored, working his Sudoku puzzles and computer games. He and I do make our weekly trips to the grocery store and to Planet Fitness, but we’re eager to find new activities and make new friends.

Yesterday, we decided to explore The Factory at Franklin. This complex of several Depression-era buildings has been renovated to create an indoor mall of sorts, with small specialty shops and restaurants. Many of the stores had been closed, but we found a bakery, an ice cream shop, several artists’ galleries, boutiques, and an antiques store. They reminded us of the kinds of establishments we’d visited many times in historic downtown Hot Springs.

We left The Factory, headed to a nearby restaurant for lunch, and then we returned home. But as warmer weather returns, we’ll be venturing out many more times to other places we’ve heard about.

Tomorrow, I’ll be going to lunch with a new friend I met at a women’s retreat sponsored by Historic Franklin Presbyterian Church the first weekend in March. Linda and I are about the same age, and she invited me to meet her at Cheddar’s, a nice restaurant up in the Brentwood area. That’ll be fun. She and her husband, George, both attend HFPC, and Robin and I plan to invite them to our villa for coffee and conversation sometime soon.

On Friday, we’re expecting to see another couple we knew when we lived in Tupelo, Mississippi. Their daughter and her family have recently moved to Franklin, and they’re coming up for a weekend visit with their daughter. We’re looking forward to having them over and showing them around the Fountains.

So, my dear readers, it does appear that life in our new locale will not be “chilly” for us too much longer.  Spring and happier times are right around the corner.


Those who still live out in the community, go to work, go to school, or go to their volunteer activities every Friday, may wonder what residents of senior living facilities do each day. Yesterday afternoon, many of us who live here in the villas and the assisted living facility at The Fountains of Franklin attended a ballet right here in the dining room!

A troupe of young people, now in a two-year apprenticeship with the Nashville Ballet, brought their delightful program to us, and we watched these talented dancers present Aesop’s Fables.

A smooth surface covered the floor, and Greek “columns” and other screens formed the backdrop for the production. Through music and dance, the troupe presented their beautiful renditions of The Grasshopper and the Ants, The North Wind and the Sun, The Fox and the Crow, and The Hare and the Tortoise.

At the end of the show, the dancers introduced themselves, told where they were from, how old they were, and how long they had been dancing. The troupe included one twenty-year-old man and five young women, ages seventeen to twenty. Most had been dancing since they were three years old, and they had each moved to Nashville from places as far away as California and New York to be in this special training program. At the end of their residency, only a few will be offered contracts with the senior company, but now, each one is gaining valuable experience.

The Nashville Ballet offers these presentations to schools, community centers, and senior living facilities as a way to reach out, educate, and create interest in the art of ballet.   I’m thankful they came!

Snow Day

Yesterday, January 12, winter dipped her icy fingers into the South, and we saw our first snow of the season here in middle Tennessee. Franklin received barely an inch, but it was preceded by sleet, so roads and streets were slick and treacherous. Schools closed, and everyone who did not need to get out stayed hunkered down, warm and safe in their homes.

Back in the summer of 1960, Robin and I moved from Shreveport, Louisiana, to Denver, Colorado. We wanted to live outside the South for a while to experience a snowy winter season. And did we ever!

It was the middle of October when I looked out my second grade classroom’s windows and saw gentle white flakes floating down. I was calling out spelling words, while my little students took their weekly test.

I’d better not say anything about the snow, I thought, or they’ll get all excited and lose concentration. I remembered the year before how my students in Louisiana had reacted at first snowfall.

“It’s snowing, it’s snowing!” They ran to the windows, hugged each other, and jumped up and down. I felt like jumping up and down with them. Soon, we’d all get to go home.

Now, I tried to stay calm, averted my eyes from the windows, and called the next word.

Too late. One of the youngsters looked up. “Oh, no! It’s snowing!”

A collective groan spread across the room. “I rode my bike,” one said, shaking his head.

By the time June rolled around, I could understand their reaction much better. That winter we experienced many large snowfalls, and the schools never closed. We drove between huge banks of the stuff, piled on the sides of the streets, and life’s normal activities continued. Even on the last day of school, remnants of dirty snow lay along the curbs. The only “summer” we had was in July and August. By September, the air had turned chilly again.

Today, though, I will nestle happily here in my cozy nest and enjoy viewing our beautiful “powdered sugar” landscape while I can. Monday’s highs will be back above freezing.

Today, December 20, I’m celebrating my last birthday in my seventies. Younger adults may worry about getting older, but I have good news for them. For most of us, our seventies are great years, and I’ve met many folks here at the Fountains in their eighties and nineties who are still happily engaged in life. Some are physically hampered in one way or another, but their minds are as sharp as ever. Others have difficulty with memory, but they’re still getting along just fine with a little help.

Yesterday, I attended the weekly Sisterhood Fellowship, a small group of women who meet every Tuesday morning to drink coffee, eat apple fritters and donuts, and socialize. They think I’m the “youngster” in the group, but they’re all quite youthful in their demeanor and attitudes.

At yesterday’s gathering, each woman told about one Christmas they would never forget. Most grew up during the Depression, and their families were poor. Times were hard, but family reunions at Christmas were important and cherished.

One woman said her extended family numbered almost one hundred relatives who would travel from distant towns to attend the family’s Christmas dinner. Those who needed to spend the night often stayed in the empty fraternity houses at a nearby college

She was only about five years old when one Christmas, several young men in the family began to pass out and fall to the floor. Of course, that frightened her and many others too. The men had spent the night in a fraternity house where the water cistern had become tainted with some kind of bacteria that caused them to become ill. She said, thankfully, they all recovered, but that sight of young men dropping like flies all around her would be one she’d never forget!

I hope you will respond to this blog post and share one of your non-forgettable Christmas memories too. I’d love to hear from you.

Merry Christmas!

When Robin and I left Hot Springs Village, we knew we’d be moving to an urban setting, but we’d forgotten how city life has changed in the past twenty years. Now, thousands of young families scoot around in their big SUVs and mini-vans at all hours of the day and night, and the volume of traffic here in Franklin has been a bit overwhelming.

The “going to work” and “going to school” folks jam the broad, multi-laned avenues from dawn until mid-morning. Then the “going shopping” and “going to lunch” crowd is on the streets till noon. After that, the “lunch and after-lunch” traffic is buzzing around. Finally, from mid-afternoon until seven or eight, the “going home from work” and “going out to supper” cars fill the streets.

We’ve discovered that early afternoon is probably the least busy time of day, so that’s when we try to do most of our running around. However, the other day we came close to having an accident.

We were up in Cool Springs, a busy shopping area on the north side of Franklin, returning a mirror we had bought at Kirkland’s that was too small for over our mantel. As I approached a traffic light with cars lined up in all forward lanes and turn lanes, the green lights came on, and, I glanced into my rearview mirror. A pick-up truck was coming up behind me. I flipped on my left-turn blinker and began moving into the nearest turn lane.

Just then, a blur on the left caught my eye, and it was that truck, zooming by me to make the turn before the arrow turned red.

I whipped our car back into the forward lane.

“Did he hit me?” I asked Robin. “I thought I heard a little bump.”

“I thought I did too,” he said. “Be careful as you turn left now, and we’ll stop over there and take a look.”

I eased into the left-turn lane, and when the light changed again, we pulled into the shopping area, parked, and stepped out of the car.

We could see no dents or scrapes, but my side view mirror was a little out of kilter. The truck must have brushed it as it whizzed by.

“That was a close call,” I said, and tears filled my eyes. “I hate this damn traffic!”

“Me, too, but you need to check the side mirrors before you change lanes. I’ll help you look.”

Robin hasn’t tried to drive much since we’ve moved here, but he watches for street signs and other cars as we’ve moved around town, and I’m finally becoming a little less nervous. Give me another month, and I’ll be negotiating “life in the fast lane” like a pro.

Not Just Temporary

Last night, Robin remarked that it’s still hard for him to realize that our being here in Franklin is not just “temporary.”  Today marks our third week of being here in our little villa, and it’s finally sinking in that this will be our home for a while. At least, we hope so! The Fountains assisted living facility across the street is beautiful, but the residents live in apartments, and that’s more like living in a large hotel. We’re happy to be here in our own little house for the next few years.

We’ve been running around town, finding items to make our “nest” comfortable, and it’s been fun to decorate a new place. A big drawback is the hassle we’ve experienced with all the heavy traffic in this busy city.  However, the main streets are becoming more familiar now, and although we still don’t have GPS, I’ve learned how to go to Google Maps online to get directions to a particular place.

Robin drove solo for the first time on Thursday. Our neighbor, three doors down in Villa 341, is a golfer, and Curt and Robin set up a tee time at Forrest Crossing Golf Course at 10:10 that morning. However, Curt planned to go early to hit a few practice balls, so Robin drove his old Buick by himself. We prepared for that by making a dry run to the golf course the day before so Robin could get the directions planted more firmly in his mind.

Thursday morning was beautiful, with temperatures expected to rise into the 60’s, and my happy husband felt confident he could find his way to the course and back without any problems. In fact, he did fine, driving to the place. On the way home, though, he hit a snag.

A bad car accident had blocked South Royal Oaks Blvd., and police were shuttling traffic off the only street Robin knew would take him back home!  He told me later he followed the car in front of him, and they wound their way through a maze of side streets. Then he realized he was right back at the golf course!

He went inside to ask how he might go another way to get out to Murphreesboro Road, and he spotted his golf partner who had stayed over to have a beer. Curt told him to just follow him—our neighbor has lived in the Franklin area for a while, although he’s new to the Fountains—so Robin trailed Curt away from the golf course. Then Curt turned off but waved for Robin to go on. Fortunately, he recognized where he was at that point and made it home safely—albeit almost six hours after leaving that morning! That worried me, of course, but Robin said he played more slowly than usual due to Curt’s physical limitations

Anyhow, these two old duffers will be heading back out to the course again on our next pretty day—another good sign this place is not just temporary.  We’re finally “at home.”