SENIOR POWER:On Dining Alone…

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday February 10, 2012 - 04:38:00 PM

There were few people with whom gastronome M. F. K. Fisher cared “to pray, sleep, dance, sing, or share her bread and wine.” In an essay sprinkled with foody tidbits, she contended that A Is for Dining Alone. “I drive home by way of the corner Thriftmart to pick up another box of Ry Krisp, which with a can of tomato soup and a glass of California sherry will make a good nourishing meal for me as I sit on my tuffet in a circle of proofs and pocket detective stories.”  

After living alone for several years, she acknowledged that learning “…how to care for myself, at least at table. I came to believe that since nobody else dared feed me as I wished to be fed, I must do it myself, and with as much aplomb as I could muster. Enough of hit-or-miss suppers of tinned soup and boxed biscuits and an occasional egg just because I had failed once more to rate an invitation! I resolved to establish myself as a well-behaved female at one or two good restaurants, where I could dine alone at a pleasant table with adequate attentions rather than be pushed into a corner and given a raw or overweary waiter.”  

But after years of full-time employment, fatigue, and reluctance to shop at the end of the work-day, she re-resolved to pick up a few things on the way to work (perishables spent the day in the water cooler), and to return directly to her walk-up flat, a glass of sherry or vermouth, a hot bath, and “to hell with food.” 

“I always ate slowly, from a big tray set with a mixture of Woolworth and Spode; and I soothed my spirits beforehand… Things tasted good, and it was a relief to be away from my job and from the curious disbelieving impertinence of the people in restaurants. … snug misanthropic solitude is better than hit-or-miss congeniality.”  

Fisher was talking around the subject of dining alone-- of being on her own, really -- and of cooking for one, a concern of many senior citizens. Help is as near as your pc and public library. Query your pc exactly that way – cooking for one.  

Of the numerous “hits,” a 2009 book titled The Pleasures of Cooking for One is especially informative. (I finally learned how to preserve part of an avocado, page 148.) Author Judith Jones says “Supermarkets do everything they can to make us buy more than we need, and the food industry has for more than a century been selling the idea that it is demeaning for one to cook and a waste of time when they can buy ready-made products instead.” There’s expense and there’s waste. Jones responds with strategies, and she provides lists: Essential equipment when cooking for one, Indispensable utensils, What to have in the freezer, What to have in the refrigerator, Essentials for the vegetable and fruit bins. Guidance on what to do with any leftovers.  


Alzheimer’s disease, with its inexorable loss of memory and self, understandably alarms most of us, especially since there are no cures for the condition and few promising drug treatments. But a cautiously encouraging new study in The Archives of Neurology suggests that, for some people, a daily walk or jog could lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or change its course. [New York Times, Jan. 18 and 30, 2012] 

USA Today reports that lawmakers in 9 states — Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, and South Carolina— are advancing legislation to scale back their own pensions by closing loopholes and lucrative retirement plans that have let thousands of former lawmakers earn more in retirement than while in office. 

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) has released a new report on the state of nursing home drugging in California, "In a Stupor: What California’s Antipsychotic Drug Collaborative Reveals About Illegal Nursing Home Drugging." It analyzes the findings of the Department of Public Health's Antipsychotic Drug Collaborative with which the Department has investigated 24 nursing homes and found 147 violations of state rules regarding the use of antipsychotics on residents. The investigations confirm misuse of antipsychotics rampant in California nursing homes, deserving immediate remedial action. See also Jan. 27, 2012 New York Times discussion of CANHR's findings about nursing home pharmaceutical consultants. 

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) reports that the House voted last week to repeal the CLASS [long term care] program, without offering any alternative to address the growing long-term care crisis among middle-class Americans. Passed as part of health reform, the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program is a voluntary, fiscally responsible, long-term care insurance plan. NCOA and a broad range of senior and disability groups are working to avoid repeal in the Senate and find ways to move forward with implementation. 

This week, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Al Franken (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Robert Casey (D-PA) introduced the Elder Protection and Abuse Prevention Act, S.2077, a bill that would amend the Older Americans Act (OAA.) It seeks to toughen the federal definitions for elder abuse, neglect and exploitation and improve coordination and training for elder justice activities. The bill also codifies the National Adult Protective Resource Center at the Administration on Aging. A Feb. 8, 2012 press release from Senator Blumenthal's office: stated "A spreading epidemic of seniors who are abused or exploited by family or caregivers must be stopped…Rigorous screening and reporting to detect and deter abuse, physical or financial, is necessary to help remedy seniors who may be too fearful or embarrassed to report it themselves. This measure would require tough national standards for screening and reporting so wrongdoers can be stopped and prosecuted. There is no excuse for one in ten seniors continuing to suffer the physical injury, emotional anguish and anxiety, and financial hardship, costing upwards of $3 billion every year."  

The Elder Justice Coalition points out that, while child abuse and domestic violence screenings are well-integrated into the nation's health and community services network, elder abuse screening requirements are noticeably absent in federally-supported senior services. The Elder Protection and Abuse Prevention Act seeks to fill that void by encouraging the development of a strong network of elder abuse screening and support programs to identify instances of elder abuse and stop them before they happen. In some states, strong mandatory reporting laws and penalties exist for crimes against seniors, but they are ineffective without screening and reporting standards in every part of our community. On Monday, February 13th, President Obama is scheduled to release his FY 2013 budget. In last year’s budget, $21.5 million was included for the Elder Justice Act. This funding was not approved by Congress; hence, the EJA was not funded in FY 2012.  


MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Be sure to confirm. Readers are welcome to share by email news of future events and deadlines that may interest boomers, seniors and elders. Daytime, free, and Bay Area events preferred.  

Current-March 30, 2012. “Berkeley Women Vote: Celebrating California Suffrage 1911-2011.” An Exhibit at the Berkeley History Center, 1931 Center Street. 510-848-0181. 

Saturday, Feb. 11. 10 A.M. Winter meeting of OWL Ohlone Chapter. Berkeley Co-Housing at 2220 Sacramento Street. Margie Metzler will discuss the "State of the State," reviewing the current situation with bills going through the legislature. A brown bag lunch follows.  

Saturday, Feb. 11. 12 Noon. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., AlamedaLetter “L” for Love, Luck, or Lucky @ Love! Celebrate Valentine’s Day and try your luck at Mastick’s weekly fundraising Bingo game. Bingo participants will play a special game, the “Letter L” with the opportunity to win $50. Participants are encouraged to take part in the Valentine’s Day Table Decorating Contest. This program is sponsored by the Mastick Senior Center Advisory Board and Bingo Committee. 510-747-7506. 

Mondays, Feb. 13 and 27. 9:30-11:30 A.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. FREE—U.S. Foreign Policy. Roger Baer, Volunteer Instructor, will review the United States’ relationship with other nations of the world. Topics include: isolation, involvement, containment, nation building and humanitarian intervention, and more. Sign up. Call 510-747-7506. 

Monday, Feb. 13. 7 P.M. Author talk. Songwriter poet Marisa Handler will speak about her writing, songs and poetry. Her memoir, Loyal to the Sky: Notes from an Activist won a 2008 Nautilus Gold Award for world-changing books. Born in apartheid South Africa, Handler immigrated to Southern California when she was twelve. Her gradual realization that injustice existed even in this more open, democratic society spurred a commitment to activism that would take her to Israel, India, Nepal, Ecuador, Peru, and throughout the United States. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Av. Free. 510-524-3043.  

Tuesday, Feb. 14. 1-2:30 P.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. Multimedia Art Exhibit refreshments and Reception for artists exhibiting their works created in Mastick Senior Center classes (e.g., stained glass, creative writing, drawing, painting, ceramics, beaded jewelry design, graphic arts, etc.). In the Mastick Lobby through May 1. 510-747-7506. 

Wednesday, Feb. 15. 12:15-1 P.M. Free Noon Concert Series. Hertz Concert Hall. Faculty recital: Jeffrey Syles, piano, with Axel Strauss, violin, and Jean-Michel Fontenau, cello. Mendelssohn: Piano Trio in C Minor Piazzola: two movements from Grand Tango. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, Feb. 15. 1 P.M. . Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. 

Travel Opportunities Abound…Learn More., preview upcoming Extended Travel opportunities. At this time, we will also be gathering YOUR input for 2013 travel destinations. 510-747-7506. 

Wednesday, Feb. 15. Actress and dancer Debbie Allen to kick up her heels with Los Angeles seniors in Los Angeles as part of a campaign between NCOA and Medtronic to promote heart health. The Pace Makers campaign also is educating older adults about the risks between MRIs and pacemakers. Workshops and dance events at senior centers, are being hosted, including the Griffith Park Adult Community Center, part of the Assistance League, a member of NCOA's National Institute of Senior Centers. Visit NCOA website. 

Wednesday, Feb. 15. 7-8 P.M. Adult evening book group: E. L. Doctorow’s World’s Fair. Albany Branch, Alameda Country Library, 1247 Marin Ave. Free. 510-526-3720 

Thursday, Feb. 16. 6 P.M. Lawyers in the Library. West branch, Berkeley Public Library, 1125 University. 510-981-6270. 

Friday, Feb. 17. 9:30-11:30 A.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. Creating Your Personal Learning Network. Join Mike McMahon, Volunteer, Learn to use the Internet and tools like Twitter. With the rise of social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, individuals can now create virtual learning classes on any topic of their choosing. Sign up. 510-747-7506. 

Tuesday, Feb. 21. 9:30 A.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. Mastick Non-Fiction Book Club. Members will review Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne by James Gavin and/or Paul Newman: A Life by Shawn 

Levy. 510-747-7510.  

Tuesday, Feb. 21. 12:30 P.M. San Francisco Gray Panthers General Meeting. Fireside Room, Unitarian Center, 1187 Franklin St. (at Geary). # 38 (not 38L) bus. 415-552-8800. 

Tuesday, Feb. 21. 1 P.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda.  

Overview of Medicare Coverage and Options. A representative from the Health Insurance Counseling Advocacy Program (HICAP) will provide an overview of Medicare coverage and options including the Medicare Program (eligibility, costs, benefits, and recent changes); Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap), Medical Advantage Plans and Medi-Cal; and provide information on Medicare’s Prescription Drug benefit. To attend this presentation, sign up in the office or call 510-747-7506. See also Feb. 28. 

Wednesday, Feb. 22. 12:15 – 1 P.M. Jazz x 2: Free Noon Concert Series. UC,B Music Dept. Hertz Concert Hall. UC Jazz All-stars, Ted Moore, Director. Berkeley Nu Jazz Collective, Myra Melford, Director. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, Feb. 22. 12:30-1:30 P.M. Albany YMCA/Albany Library Brown Bag Lunch Speaker’s Forum. Albany Branch, Alameda Country Library, 1247 Marin Ave. Free. 510-526-3720 x 16. 

Wednesday, Feb. 22. 1:30 P.M. Berkeley-East Bay Gray Panthers. North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, corner MLK. 510-981-5190. Note: Gray Panthers Berkeley office is now located in the Center for Independent Living (CIL) building on Telegraph (between Dwight and Parker), 2539 Telegraph Ave, Suite B, Berkeley, CA 94704. Phone: 510-548-9696. 

Thursday, Feb. 23. 1:30 P.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. Music Appreciation Class. Join William Sturm, Volunteer Instructor, for a piano recital and discussion about “The Classical Romantic: Johannes Brahms.” Register in the Mastick Office or call 747-7506. Free.  

Friday, Feb. 24. 9 A.M.-4 P.M. Annual convention. United Seniors of Oakland and Alameda County. 510-729-0852. 

Friday, Feb. 24. 12:15 – 1 P.M. Chamber Music in C Major. Noon concert. Music Dept. event. Hertz Concert Hall: Mozart: String Quintet No. 3 in C major, K.515. Michael Hwang, Michaela Nachtigall, violins. Sally Jang, Melissa Panlasigui, violas. Cindy Hickox, cello. Beethoven: String Quartet in C major, op. 59 no. 3. Vivian Hou, Jason Wu, violins. Marissa Sakoda, viola. Michael Tan, cello. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Tuesday, Feb. 28. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda.  

Low Income Assistance. A representative from the Health Insurance Counseling Advocacy Program (HICAP) will provide an overview on getting help with health care costs including the Medicare program, Medi-Cal, SSI, Medicare Savings Programs, and Low Income Subsidy (extra help) for prescription drugs. The eligibility and 

application process will be reviewed. To attend this presentation, sign up in the office or call 510-747-7506. 

Wednesday, Feb. 29. 12:15-1 P.M. Gospel Chorus, Old Made New: Free Noon Concert Series. UC, B Music Dept. Highlights - University Gospel Chorus, D. Mark Wilson, director. Old Songs in New Clothes: Old hymns given new life and meaning in contemporary compositions by African American composers. 510-642-4864 

Wednesday, Feb. 29. 7:00 PM. Kensington Library Book Club. 61 Arlington Av. 

February's book is The Trial by Franz Kafka. The book group alternates classic and contemporary literature on a monthly basis. Each meeting starts with a poem selected and read by a member. 510-524-3043.  


Thursday, March 1. 10 A.M. Computers for Beginners. Central Berkeley Library, 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100.  

Tuesday, March 6. 1 P.M. Mastick Book Club. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave. , Alameda. Book Club members will review House Rules by Jodi Picoult. 510-747-7506. 

Wednesday, March 7. 12:15-1 P.M. University Wind Ensemble: 59th Annual Free Noon Concert Series. Hertz Concert Hall. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesdays, March 7 and 14. 9 A.M. – 1 P.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave. , Alameda. AARP Driver Safety Program. Specifically designed for individuals 50 and older, this eight-hour course is taught in two, four-hour sessions over a two-day period. Preregistration required; cost is $12 per person for AARP members and $14 per person for non-AARP members. Registration is payable by check ONLY made payable to AARP. Sign up in the Mastick Office. 510-747-7506.  

Thursday, March 8. 6:30 P.M. El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Avenue. Join board certified psychologist Dr. Marshall Zaslove for an evening meditation workshop and interaction. He will provide techniques to still the mind and meditate on the inner light to access the joy and peace that lie within each of us. He will base his presentation on the book, Inner and Outer Peace through Meditation, by Rajinder Singh. 510-526-7512.  

Tuesday, March 13. 1:30 P.M. . Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. The America’s Cup: Racing the Wind. Douglas Borchert, J.D., SBC, underwriting counsel, columnist, will present “The America’s Cup: Racing the Wind.” The story of the America's Cup begins in the mid-19th century with the family of Colonel John Stevens and an invitation to the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London. Mr. Borchert will pick up the story from there and outline the fascinating history of the event. The San Francisco Bay will serve as the beautiful amphitheater for the 2013 pursuit of the Cup. Sign up in the Mastick Office or call 510-747-7506. This program is sponsored by the Mastick Senior Center Advisory Board. 

Wednesday, March 14. 12:15-1 P.M. University Baroque Ensemble: 59th Annual Free Noon Concert Series. Hertz Concert Hall. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, March 21. 12:15 – 1 P.M. Noon concert, UC, B. Music Department. Hertz Concert Hall. UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, David Milnes, director. Weber: Bassoon Concerto, Drew Gascon, soloist. Debussy: Nocturnes. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Friday, March 23. 12:15-1 P.M. Bustan Quartet. Free Noon Concert Series. Lecture/demonstration: Co-sponsored event: Highlights: Hertz Concert Hall. Visiting Israeli group demonstrates their work in crafting new means of musical expression from diverse resources. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864.  

Monday, March 26. 7 P.M. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Av. Book Club. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peal Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. Each meeting starts with a poem selected and read by a member with a brief discussion following the reading. New members are always welcome. Free. 510-524-3043. 

Current-March 30. “Berkeley Women Vote: Celebrating California Suffrage 1911-2011.” An Exhibit at the Berkeley History Center, 1931 Center Street. 510-848-0181.