Enjoying the simple pleasures that come with retirement

NIAGARA, Wis. — As I sat in the early afternoon sun recently, I was struck by the realization that I could actually watch spring arrive. I could take the time each day to gauge its progress, from the first emergence of the sun after months of gray skies, to its rising each morning a little earlier, to its ever-increasing trajectory from the east side of my house to the west. Yes, the days are getting longer, and I can experience and appreciate that progression as the sun pokes its orange nose into the eastern sky a little earlier and disappears a little later each evening under its western covers.

I have also tracked spring’s progress through the slow, but steady emergence of tree buds courageously poking their noses out from under the cover of the bark on their branches, each day daring to peek a little further. Then, almost like magic, the buds turn colors and together blanket the trees all around with the most indescribable shade of green. They are no longer just single buds nor are they yet quite leaves. It’s as if they are in their adolescence, stretching their boundaries to become the full leaves they were meant to be.

I love this time of year. And it struck me on this particular afternoon how fortunate I was to be able to immerse myself in it. Not only to notice it as I hurried from my house to my car on the way to work in the morning, but to really see it — each day a little different than the day before and holding a promise of what tomorrow will bring.

It also occurred to me that my spring vigil was one of the many simple pleasures of retirement. There are many, many more, for which I am very thankful.

I have become an early riser. While this is not a trait that requires retirement, for me it never happened while I was working. I awoke every morning, without an alarm, promptly at 6:30 and got to work by 8 a.m., where my day began in earnest — full of deadlines and meetings and press releases. I took little notice of anything prior to arriving at my desk because my mental task list was in high gear; I didn’t even like my husband to talk to me much because his chatter interrupted my train of thought as my day began in my mind. Now, I frequently arise at 5 a.m. and take great pleasure in watching and listening to the day begin — from the sun rising to the birds singing — when the neighborhood is filled with a pervasive quiet unlike any other time of day.

The very early morning even has a fresh smell to it that changes with the seasons. Spring smells of wet earth that promises flowers and fresh garden vegetables. Summer smells green — yes, green has its own unique smell. Green is warm, ripe and humid. Autumn smells dusty and dry and smoky and reminds me of walking through the leaves that have fallen in the woods. Winter smells are dry and cold — cold enough to crack the inside lining of your nose. Nothing wakes me up faster than the smell of a winter morning.

Leisurely breakfasts have also become a daily event instead of a weekend only occurrence. We do not eat big breakfasts — just slow ones over a pot of tea. My husband does his daily crossword puzzle and unscrambles his word jumbles, and I do my word searches. If the monthly AARP magazine has arrived, we work its crossword puzzle together. And he may point out an article in his Time magazine he thinks I might enjoy. When I was working, my breakfast did not happen until after a quick farewell to my husband and a quick stop in the hospital cafeteria. I ate my breakfast at my desk as I started the day’s first project.

No sleep, no problem! On those occasional nights where sleep completely eludes me, it is no longer an issue. While working, I used to fret over how I would function the next day in the office as I watched each hour tick by on the clock. Now, I simply get up and do something. I make use of this very peaceful quiet time to write, or read, or pay bills. Most importantly, I don’t worry about it because I know I will be able to catch up on my shut-eye the following night… or I can take a little cat nap in the middle of the afternoon if necessary.

The possibility for spontaneity has also been a retirement plus. We can pick up a sandwich at Subway if I discover that what I had planned for lunch is no longer in the refrigerator. If friends call at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday to see if we want to join them for supper at Greenleaf’s in an hour, we can. And we have even been known to take off on a day trip to Marquette in the middle of the week at the spur of the moment after deciding we really didn’t feel like cleaning the house that day anyway. While working, planning was essential or things did not get done and life did not work well. Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. was reserved for our jobs, Saturday was working at home, and Sunday was the only day of relaxation; except by then, concern for the start of another work week set in around 4 in the afternoon.

With this new found spontaneity, we have discovered the benefits of taking a trip in the middle of the week. Who knew how much fun that could be? Motel rates are cheaper, restaurants have available tables, and motel swimming pools are not crowded with rambunctious children. The pace is simply slower all the way around, and the trip feels more like a restful vacation. We are not fighting crowds of folks who are also on vacation, trying to escape the demands of the work week.

We have developed the mindset that “tomorrow is another day.” Now that we no longer pour all of our energy into a job, we can spread out our tasks at home throughout the week. And when we get tired, we stop working knowing full well that what we do not finish today, we will complete tomorrow. Gone is the pressure of finishing the task on the appointed Saturday and collapsing after supper.

Happy Hour can begin at 3 in the afternoon — on a Wednesday if we want! While meeting at the local watering hole at 4:05 p.m. on any given Friday after work was certainly a fun way to begin a well-deserved weekend, relaxing on our own deck in the early afternoon of any day of the week trumps it. We review the day’s accomplishments, plan tomorrow, share the paper when it arrives, or just soak up the sun along with each other’s company. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Another simple pleasure of mine is reading. I joined a book club called “Books, Brains and Bifocals” — 3 B’s for short — a few years before I retired primarily as a way to deal with the stress of having work on my mind all the time. We are a group of eight women, close to the same age but from a variety of backgrounds, who meet eight months of the year to discuss the book we have all read. Reading that selected book of the month gave me something else to think about and has exposed me to many different types of writing. Now, I can read almost two additional books per month, along with the required club read.

Finally, we can boast a pretty yard. Back in our child-raising years, our backyard was a neighborhood gathering place. Consequently, it was a dust bowl well remembered by our grown sons who had to “mow” what there was of it; we could not have both kids and healthy grass, and we opted for kids. Today it looks like a green carpet. Lack of foot traffic and the time to aerate, fertilize, and spread weed killer has yielded results. My husband spends a lot of his time out in the yard tending flowers and spraying “deer away” everywhere. As long as I keep him well fed, the projects keep getting done, and our yard shows the results.

When people ask us, “How’s retirement?” they generally expect to hear that we are enjoying it and then want to know about our travels. Where have we gone? What have we seen? When is our next trip? For many still working, they dream of all the travel that retirement will bring. For us, we have found that our retirement has been filled with many simple pleasures that have been made possible just by having more time and the freedom to use it as we please.

What are your simple pleasures? Let me know by calling me at 715-251- 4694 or dropping me a note at smkillian1969@gmail.com.






Scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Sunday: Ring toss, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; brouhaha, 11 a.m.; library cart, 1:30 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Crafts, 10:30 a.m.; reminisce, 1:15 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.; evening visitor, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 10:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Reading buddy,11 a.m.; Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; pokereno, 2:30 p.m.; Lawrence Welk, 5 p.m.

Friday: What’s cooking, 11 a.m.; bunko, 1:15 p.m.; jigsaw brain teaser, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; daily newspaper, 11 a.m.; spinning records, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Iron County 

Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Sunday: One-to-one church visitors, 8:30 to 11 a.m.; Yahtzee, 10 a.m.; afternoon matinee with popcorn, 1:30 p.m..; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.; bonfire, 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Book club, 10 a.m.; prayer, 10 a.m.; mystery ride, 1 p.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; mystery movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Community breakfast, 9 a.m.; yoga with Dotie, 10 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; heads up, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m..; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; Presbyterian church, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits 1 p.m.; Wii fun, 2 p.m.; web browsing, 2:30 p.m.; romance movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Word search/how do you feel, 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 a.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.



Wet your whistle: 9:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise: 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Movie: 10:45 a.m. daily, and 3:15 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Popcorn Day: every Friday

Sunday: Just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; morsels and more, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Who, what, when, 10:15 a.m.; po-ke-no, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Who am I? 10:15 a.m.; resident council/food committee, 2:15 p.m.; movie and manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Table talk, 10:15 a.m.; Paula D music, 2 p.m.; flip five, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; “Deal or No Deal” bingo, 2 p.m.; crazy for cards, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: Manor Care monthly, 10:15 a.m.; Crystal Hogan music, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Sunday through Friday.

Sunday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; derby day, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.; Christian fellowship, 5:30 p.m.

Monday: Travel club — California, 10:15 a.m.; nickel jokereno, 2 p.m.;

Tuesday: Pictionary, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; “Deal or No Deal,” 6:15 p.m.

Wednesday: Popcorn sale, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; laugh out loud, 10:15 a.m.: jokereno, 2 p.m.; Chaplet of Divine Mercy, 3 p.m.; help your neighbor, 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; animal kingdom — turtle, 10:15 a.m.; prayer shawl, 2 p.m.; whammo, 6:15 p.m.

Friday: Exercise, 10:15 a.m.; short stories, 10:30 a.m.; happy hour with Jim D, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Crafts, 10:15 a.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 5:45 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Juice time, 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Shopping days: 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, must sign up.

Sunday: Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Music with Pastor Jim, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m. 

Thursday: Communion with Deacon Don, 10 a.m.; left, center, right, 2 p.m.; rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Morning news, 6 a.m. daily.

Beauty shop open on Tuesday and Thursday.

Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; black jack, 2 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; alphabet dice, 2 p.m.; room visits, 3:30 p.m.; reading, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Dyna stretch, 10 a.m.; music with Valri, 2:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Chair exercise, 10 a.m.; horse races, 2 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 3:30 p.m.; Grace and Dave, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason, 10 a.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.; monthly birthday party, 3 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10 a.m.; flippo, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; trivia, 2 p.m.; reminisce, 6 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility


Sunday: Grace church, 10:15 a.m.; Uno, 10:30 a.m.; Pictionary, 2 p.m.; ball toss, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Life connections, 9:45 a.m.; beauty shop, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; rosary 2:30 p.m.; ball toss, 3:30 p.m.; mind joggers, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Bunco, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; social circle, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Shopping outing, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; birthday party, 2 p.m.; “Family Feud,” 3:30 p.m.; rummy, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Exercise, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 a.m.; bunco, 2 p.m.; fish fry outing, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Hand massage, 10:15 a.m.; life stories, 10:30 a.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.; sensory, 3:30 p.m.


Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. If you have meals delivered and will not be home, notify the center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal at noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Breen Center


Meals Monday through Friday.

Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month — except on holidays.  

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. 

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.   

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are on the first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen


Suggested meal donations: $5 if older than 60, $6 if younger; $1 extra for take-out.

Call the center by 1 p.m. with name and number of people to reserve meals.

Open: Monday through Wednesday, 4:30 p.m., soup and salad bar and 5 p.m., dinner.

Monday: Soup, salad, grilled burgers, calico beans, macaroni and cheese, and homemade dessert.

Tuesday: Soup, salad, lasagna, garlic bread, vegetables, and homemade dessert.

Wednesday: Soup, salad, liver and onions, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and homemade dessert.

Mondays: Basket weaving after dinner — all are welcome for dinner and/or class. Beginners can make their first basket with materials provided.

Crystal Lake Center


The center is closed on weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; bridge club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Thursdays: Two-person team cribbage from 12:30 to 3:30 pm.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m., crafters, scrapbookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Friday: Smear, 12:30 p.m.

Last Saturday of the month: Music jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free. 

Dances take place from 7 to 10 p.m. on the second and fourth Fridays of the month. Admission is $6; coffee is free. 

The Photo Club meets 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.  

The kitchen is currently closed due to plumbing issues, and meals are being served at the Breen Center. Christine McMahon has information for all meals and can be reached at 906-774-2256, ext. 235. For transportation, call Buzzin’ Around Town at 906-282-0492. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older, and $3.50 for younger than 60. 

Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Felch Center


Meals served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.

Bingo after lunch on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.


Director: Tiffany White

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations needed 48-hours in advance.

The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. Transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation.

Fence Center/Town Hall


Meal at noon Wednesdays only. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall


Home-delivered meals are available as always. Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. at the center on Friday only. 

The meal site is temporarily closed Monday through Thursday due to a staffing shortage. 

Tipler Town Hall


Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora


Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Transportation arrangements can be made to and from the meal site.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60. Morning coffee is available daily.

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50-50 drawing.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.

Enjoy friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center


Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older, and a $5 payment is required from those younger than 60. Thursday meal, 3:30 p.m. soup, 4 p.m. salad bar, with dinner at 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Home-delivered meals are available — call 906-774-2256 and speak to Christine Tramontine at ext. 235 or Stephen at ext. 230.

Menu for the week of May 20:

Monday: Fish, macaroni and cheese, broccoli, fruit and milk.

Tuesday: Swedish meatballs, noodles, corn, roll, fruit and milk.

Wednesday: Hot dog, potato salad, calico beans, fruit and milk.

Thursday: Pork roast, mashed potatoes, carrots, dessert and milk.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251-4154

Noon meals served Monday through Thursday. Transportation is available to the meal site for those living in the Niagara, Wis., area. We welcome any senior groups who would like to use the meal site as a meeting place — join us for lunch and then stay for a meeting or social time. Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available to play. 

Other activities are in the works — suggestions are always welcome. 

Those who have not been at the meal site/senior center are invited to give it a try. Those who haven’t been here in a while are encouraged to come back.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.

Two special-themed meals take place each month on Tuesday, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Two evening meals offered at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50.

Menu for the week of May 20:

Monday: Lemon chicken breast, seasoned rice, broccoli, salad bar, fruit juice, and dessert.

Tuesday: Memorial Day dinner: Meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy, winter blend vegetables, soup and salad bar, fruit juice, and dessert.

Wednesday: Baked cod, scalloped potatoes, squash, salad bar, fruit juice and dessert.

Thursday: Lasagna, garlic toast, carrots, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice, and dessert.

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always in the works.

A senior coloring class meets daily. All are welcome. Some materials will be provided.

Note: File of Life packets available at the center.

Sagola Center


Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m. Cards: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months. A puzzle table is available to enjoy. Volunteers are always welcome.