Gero-Punk Adventures: Aging in Place

aging in place

Happy-dog and I are enjoying our daily neighborhood park walk-about.


Killdeer (three – one male, two female): “Dee deejee, tyeeeee deeeew, Twewddew!”

Me: “Hello, Killdeer!”


“Tamaleeeeeeeees! Chicken, cheese, pork! Tamaleeeeeeees!”

I hear Mauricio before I see him. He is over by the playground with his tamale cart. Usually he pushes his cart and sings his Tamaleeeees song throughout the neighborhood. But today is the first day that’s mild and sunny after two weeks of intermittent snow and ice. Everyone seems to be out playing in the park; humans and dogs doing what we do on a sunny afternoon.


I don’t have any money on me, otherwise I would chase down Mauricio.  He and his family make great tamales.


Midway down the boardwalk, there’s a person peering keenly into the marshy area where the birds like to nap, bathe and forage (and enact elaborate mating rituals!).

Happy and I stop next to them.  I ask them what they are seeing.  They say they think they see a turtle over on one of the felled logs. I remark that I haven’t seen turtles here since the previous summer but that the turtles seem to prefer one particular log that’s in a deeper part of the stream, especially on warm sunny days.

They say Oh! I didn’t know there were still turtles here! I hoped there were.  I’m an old timer, I grew up in this neighborhood. When I was a kid we used to swim in the “turtle holes,” that’s what we kids called them. But I’ve never seen a turtle in all my life until today!


Hummingbird (male Anna’s): “Zrrr jika jika jika jika!”

Me: “Hello, hummingbird!”


 “Hello!” (Says the person I see every day, walking with their bull terrier around the park. The person is always gazing down, listening to music or sports or the news on their phone, moving purposefully. After passing by each other so many times, and saying hello to them, this is the first time I’ve received their acknowledgement and greeting.)

“Hi!” (I say in response. I’m glad our acquaintance has finally progressed to the mutual greeting stage!)


Two kids careening toward the park.

Kid one: Can I have the anti-gravity helmet first?

Kid two: Yes, you can have the anti-gravity helmet first, if I can be in command.


My mom, Susie:

I  was taking a walk through the park…enjoying much needed sunshine on my face.

As I turned from the park and headed west into the neighborhood I noticed a very large orange cat.

All at once, I realized that the cat was about to pounce on a chickadee!

I just couldn’t let the big cat kill the tiny bird!

I chased away the cat and with my purple-gloved hand picked up the chickadee and cuddled it. It looked as if its wing had been hurt!  I talked to the bird and petted its little body. It never struggled…it had the tiniest black beads for eyes.

I decided to check near where the little one fell and as I approached a flowering bush the chickadee flapped its wings and perched on a limb!

I have never held a tiny bird. I have always wanted to.

For a moment, I imagined making a little nest and adopting the chickadee.

I will cherish this experience.


Black capped Chickadee (one, heard not seen): “Chickadee-dee-dee!”

Me (one, seen and heard): “Bye, until next time!”

About Jenny Sasser, Ph.D.

I am a freelance educational gerontologist, writer, community activist and facilitator. I am former Chair of the Department of Human Sciences and Director of Gerontology at Marylhurst University. I joined the faculty as an adjunct member of the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program in 1997 and since that time, I've been involved in designing many on-campus and web-based courses and programs for adult learners, including in Gerontology. As an undergraduate I attended Willamette University, graduating Cum Laude in Psychology and Music; my interdisciplinary graduate studies at University of Oregon and Oregon State University focused on the Human Sciences, with specialization areas in adult development and aging, women’s studies, and critical social theory and alternative research methodologies. My dissertation became part of a book published in 1996 and co-authored with Dr. Janet Lee--Blood Stories: Menarche and the Politics of the Female Body in Contemporary US Society. Over the past twenty (or more!) years I have been involved in inquiry in the areas of creativity in later life; older women's embodiment; sexuality and aging; critical Gerontological theory; transformational adult learning practices; and inter-generational friendships and cross-generational collaborative inquiry. I am co-author, with Dr. Harry R. Moody of Aging: Concepts and Controversies (now in its 10th edition!) and first author, also with Moody, of the recently published Gerontology: The Basics, as well as author/co-author of several book chapters, articles and essays. I am on the Portland Community College Gerontology Program faculty.
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4 Responses to Gero-Punk Adventures: Aging in Place

  1. Don Groves says:

    Reminds me of a haiku I wrote”

    Eggs hidden in grass
    Killdeer flies over the field
    Kee kee kee ke-kee.

  2. Pingback: Gero-Punk Adventures: Aging in Place | The Gero-Punk Project | Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library

  3. Pingback: Gero-Punk Adventures: Aging in Place (part four) | The Gero-Punk Project

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