It’s Memorial Day today and, for many, this last Monday in May is set aside for watersports, time with the family or simply shopping. In short, it is a welcome day of vacation. While Americans have been honoring those who have given their lives in battle since May of 1868 shortly after the end of the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in our history, in recent decades it has lost its solemn sheen.

Like many men and women of my generation, I served our country in the military during World War II. I did so willingly and without gripe or fuss, spending most of my time in a submarine in both the Atlantic and Pacific. I was young and I learned many good things in the military such as being on time and learning every bit of my duties. I had to because on a submarine you don’t get a second chance.

Anyone who has been in battle will tell you that war is never to be taken lightly. Nor should the fact that each man (or woman) in combat risks losing their life, and they are well aware of this fact. This reality does not change whether the war is labeled just and with full support of the country or not. I doubt any of that makes a bit of difference either to the family grieving over the loss of a son, daughter, husband, wife, father or mother.

In March 2012, the United States marked its tenth year of having our military men and women deployed in combat in the Middle East in the War on Terror. Although the deaths and casualties our country has suffered during the past decade pale in comparison with the bloodshed of both World Wars and our own Civil War. But even that is beside the point. How many millions of men and women must die in the name of democracy and freedom for everyone to sit up, take notice and think seriously about the significance of Memorial Day?

I was a member of the U.S. Senate when the National Holiday Act of 1971 was passed, turning all such days into long weekends with Monday holidays. Some say that this act contributed to our drift away from the more sobering remembrance of those we memorialize for their patriotic sacrifice. It would be a shame if we let a change in date distract us from considering the price paid by so many on our behalf.

Any day of the week we can consider how giving of ourselves to the community around us – with time and energy, not blood – can make a significant impact on individual lives. We could, in some small yet significant way, help build a community that can prevent the unnecessary loss of lives. My life of service might have begun in the U.S. Navy, but it continues to this day with my active support of Goodwill Industries and many other human services. I know it makes a difference.

If you have plans to barbecue in the backyard, watch TV or head to the beach, there is no reason not to enjoy your day off. In fact, I recommend it. I live in Plymouth Harbor and our entire community – residents, staff and families of both – gather for a barbecue right on Sarasota Bay. You can bet we will be enjoying tasty food and lively conversation, but I intend to reflect on the sacrifices that made this holiday, Memorial Day, necessary.

In a moment of quiet sometime during your day, I encourage you to ask yourself a couple questions.

· If you had the opportunity to thank someone who gave their life in battle, what would you say?

· If you had the opportunity to have walked in their shoes and seen the fruits of battle, would you feel proud and appreciated for what you had sacrificed for your country?

· Without risking your life, what could you do and how proud might you feel to give even more back to the community around you?

The preceding Guest Editorial was published in the Sarasota Herald Tribune on Memorial Day of 2012.  It was written by Plymouth Harbor resident, Senator Marlow Cook who represented the state of Kentucky in the U.S. Senate and served in the Navy during World War II.

 

Well, no one can ever claim that Plymouth Harbor residents don’t know how to have a good time and aren’t extremely talented at entertaining themselves! This spring saw the third “Plymouth Harbor’s Got Talent” evening with master of ceremonies George Heitler welcoming a parade of performers to the stage of Pilgrim Hall.

This tradition started in 2006 when George thought he’d present something along the lines of Major Bowe’s Amateur Hour. But, in reading the biographies on file, he discovered so much talent that he switched it to a Talent Show. That successful show then led to another in 2010 and 2013, now under the name referencing the British and American reality-talent shows popular today.

So, certainly you are wondering, “Who’s got talent, anyway?” Well this evening, the audience heard from 16 brave talents.

The show opened with Joan Sheil on the organ, playing “Side By Side,” written in 1927 and sung by many popular stars. Ater playing it once, the audience was invited to join in a chorus led by George Heitler.

Monologues, story-telling, jokes, and skits were very popular. We heard monologues from Naomi Wittenberg and Bill Brackett, both familiar to us from their involvement in the annual Plymouth Harbor Players productions. Joanne Hastings and Serge Oliel told humorous stories. Al Balaban brought to life the story told in the song, “Sam, You Made the Pants Too Long.” LuVerne Conway, in costume, ended her story with the song, “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.”

Dancers Jim Griffith and Bobi Sanderson chose not to attempt their talent on the small Pilgrim Hall stage, but shared a video of their performance at a previous dance competition.

The only non-resident performers were the intrepid duo Becky and Paul Pazkowski. Becky is our Vice President of Philanthropy, but she forgot to send the hat around after she sang. Or maybe she thought twice about it.

Rev. Rosemary Gremban not only sang her lovely spiritual songs a capella, but composed them herself. Peggy and Don Wallace did the same thing, but the message was a little, shall we say, irreverent. Peggy sang a series of not-so familiar college alma maters and fight songs to her favorite schools – East Overshoe U, Puberty Normal, and Missouri College of Mines, among others. You had to laugh and it wasn’t because of Don’s piano playing!

Finally, Florence and George Heitler tested their thespian skills by portraying a dear older couple that hated, despised, and loathed each other in poetic recitation.

It was all great fun, particularly when the entire cast was called upon impromptu to sing the final song, “Give My Regards to Broadway.”

Plymouth Harbor’s Got Talent       PART 2

If you missed this show watch these videos, or a DVD of the entire evening can be found in the Library on the Mezzanine. And if you are wondering, yes, there will be other opportunities to perform, so dust off the tap shoes, tune the guitar strings, and get to work so we can applaud you in the next “Plymouth Harbor’s Got Talent!”

Please join us in congratulating Maggie Mendoza, our May 2013 Employee of the Month!

Maggie has been a full time Housekeeper at Plymouth Harbor since August of 2011.  Prior to joining us at Plymouth Harbor, she was employed by Heartland and Sarasota Memorial Hospital in housekeeping.

Maggie Mendoza is Plymouth Harbor's Employee of the Month.From day one with Plymouth Harbor, Maggie has received “Exceeds Standard” remarks on her appraisals for Job Knowledge, Quality of Work, Efficiency, and Attitude.  Her supervisors say of her:  “Her quality of work is outstanding.  I often received phone calls from residents telling me what a nice job she does.  She definitely goes above and beyond their expectations.  She will not leave an area without making sure that everything looks nice and clean.”

Maggie’s nominators commented:  “Maggie is very efficient.  She has great enthusiasm.  It is very obvious that she enjoys her job very much.  I have never seen her without a smile on her face.”

Originally from Mexico, Maggie moved to the area in 1996.  She and her husband Eric (a former Security Officer) have three beautiful children, Eric Jr. (13), David (7), and Hailey (3), who keep them very busy.

Thank you, Maggie, for sharing your talents with us here at Plymouth Harbor!

 Jay Scott Pike is an artist and has been a professional artist almost since the day he was 16 and enrolled in the Art Students League in Manhattan. His connection to Sarasota is early, too.  He finished his art school training at the Ringling School of Art before going back to the northeast for the remainder of his career as a professional artist.

Retired now and living at Plymouth Harbor in Sarasota, Florida, where he had first arrived as a student in 1948, Scott still paints every day. He has a studio in his apartment, which he shares with his wife of well over 50 years, Margie, and also keeps an easel at the ready in the Plymouth Harbor art studio open to all residents.

Scott’s professional work spanned from commercial art for big name brands to comic books and pin-up art. While in the Marines at the end of WWII he even took commissions to paint lovely ladies on the sides of bomber aircraft. For fun, you might enjoy learning more about his career on Wikipedia where the page on Jay Scott Pike reveals even more.

But now he has a new series he has been working on for almost 6 years.

Scott Pike has painted portraits of his neighbors in Plymouth Harbor, but they are not the standard portrait you may imagine. Each individual is portrayed as a character that either plays off an actual trait or runs directly counter to the individual’s real personality. Whatever it is, Scott just saw the right way to capture his friends and we’ve all been delighted by the results.

His first was to capture the ebullient and musically talented George Heitler as a deadly serious gunslinger in Gary Cooper High Noon style.

Retired physician Dr. Jim Griffith was portrayed as a sea captain during a terrible storm.

For some, the portraits were created only shortly before their passing and have remained as a cheerful reminder of dear friends and the qualities that all loved. 

The list goes on. Not only do his portraits remain the “talk of the tower” at Plymouth Harbor, but also have become a meaningful gift and moments in the lives of those he has portrayed.

Gunslinger – George Heitler
Drill Sarge – John Knox Hess*
Riverboat Gambler – Dr. Richard Kessler*
Sea Captain – Dr. Jim Griffith
Coach – Marlow Cook
Spanish Dancer – Jill Wilson
Aviatrix – Wendy Underwood
Showgirl – Francie Jones
Seer – Marty Buenneke
Plymouth Harbor Gothic – Jean Lions and George Doty
Truck Driver – Larry Coffey

* deceased

Spirit of Philanthropy

By Becky Pazkowski

I am happy to say that I have met with a total of 130 residents at Plymouth Harbor since last June (just about half of our total population).  Meeting all of you continues to be my favorite part of my job . . . learning about you, your family, your career, your travels, your hobbies and passions, and what led you to Plymouth Harbor. 

I always ask if I can update you on the Foundation, and you always say yes.  Comments that I frequently hear are, “I don’t have much money to give away.”  “I know you are looking for large gifts.”  “I have a big family.”  “The poor market has eaten away at my nest egg.”

My answer is always the same . . . not everyone can make a $1,000,000 gift, but every single gift is significant.  Gift giving is very personal, and should be self-fulfilling.  When you make a gift to a cause, you should feel a sense of satisfaction and warmth having given it. 

My husband and I give to several different causes, and probably the most fulfilling for me is what we give to the music series we helped to establish in Michigan.  It’s personal and it’s emotional, and it should be for you, too.  We have received gifts from many of you recently for various causes; three in particular that I have listed below.  Individual gifts toward these three items alone range from $5 to $500.  Adding them all together, more than 70 individuals made gifts that total over $6,200.David Houle at Plymouth Harbor

Support for the David Houle book “Entering the Shift Age” where $5.00 of each sale benefited the beginnings of a library in the Smith Care Center.  This amounted to $120 total and will go a long way toward the purchase of books and audio books for our nursing and rehab residents.

dance floor at Plymouth Harbor senior living community

Support for the purchase of a portable dance floor at Plymouth Harbor, which will be used  throughout the campus.  The total amount needed is approximately $6,700 and we have support for $5,575 so far.  Only $1,125 is needed until we can purchase the portable dance floor. 

Pianist at Plymouth Harbor senior community

Support for the CD made by Ted and Fran Rehl of Ted’s most recent concert “A Romantic Piano” which featured selections by Schubert, Liszt, Brahms, Grainger, Gershwin, and a group of pieces by Chopin.  The Rehl’s very generously offered this CD for a donation of any amount to benefit the improvement of the arts in Pilgrim Hall, including repair and maintenance of the Steinway piano that they donated.  As of this writing, $580 has been donated toward this cause. 

Now I ask that you consider the number of people that will be touched by the gifts in just these three examples. That would include every single resident now and into the future here at Plymouth Harbor. 

Think what would have happened if each of those 70 people decided not to donate because they thought their gift might be insignificant.  Well, we are very glad that didn’t happen.  We are grateful for every gift that is given, and we hope you will continue to feel the warmth that your gifts have generated.  Thank you for your continued support.

P.S.  If you are interested in support for the improvement of the arts or the portable dance floor, we welcome your gift of any amount.   

monarch butterfly at Plymouth Harbor When the sun and the weather are just right, it’s easy to imagine the peace to be found in a well-appointed butterfly garden.  Sarasota abounds with these delightful creations filled largely with native plants and the 170 species of butterflies that find their homes here at one time of the year or other (that’s nearly a quarter of 740 species found world-wide!)

Tillie Bessemer appreciated the delicate natural beauty of butterflies and the restorative powers of a garden in which to appreciate them. For this reason she designated a gift from her estate to provide for a butterfly garden to be maintained on the grounds of Plymouth Harbor after her passing.

Resident Fran Rehl became a member of the Grounds Committee very shortly after arriving at Plymouth Harbor in 2006. Fran never knew Tillie personally; however, she and her fellow committee members have kept her wishes in the years since.  But the labor of planting every spring, not to mention weekly weeding and pruning, can be difficult to maintain.  Butterfly gardens take loving care and attention. This is where Girl Scout Nichole Peal steps in.

Nichole, a junior at the Sarasota Military academy, is a hardworking and high-achieving young lady. She’s been in Girl Scouts for 11 years and is now an Ambassador Scout working on the coveted Gold Award, which is the highest ranking Girl Scout award one can achieve.  She got the idea to develop her service project around the Plymouth Harbor butterfly garden last autumn when she met resident Ann Brackett and VP of Philanthropy Becky Pazkowski on a visit to the Girl Scout Headquarters.

“I had just finished my Harvest Award where I had learned about butterfly gardens on a visit to the Florida Native Plant Nursery in Myakka,” says Nichole referring to another prestigious Girl Scout Senior award.  “There are so many elaborate rules for butterfly gardens like the number of plants and which ones are for the butterflies to eat and which are for laying their eggs.”

Nichole was no stranger to Plymouth Harbor having visited several times for Christmas caroling and the idea of creating a project that would have a lasting impact on this community was appealing. In fact, in her words, “It sounded cool.”

With the support of the Gulfcoast Girl Scout Council and executive director Sue Stewart, Nichole was ready to go to work.  And it’s a lot of work required to earn the Gold Award; work that she has to fit in between classes at her high school as well as at State College of Florida where she has started early, and her part-time job!

First she had to conduct serious research and prepare her plan following the first five of seven required steps – identify an issue, investigate it thoroughly, get help and build your team, create a plan, and then present the plan and gather feedback.  She’ll be purchasing the plants and getting ready for planting in mid-May. 

Be on the lookout for updates on Nichole’s progress and the rejuvenation of a beautiful butterfly garden for all to enjoy.

 

By Sallie van Arsdale

A cormorant splashes down beside my kayak.  It swims alongside and is so close I could touch the wet, black feathers.  Its eyes are blue-green, its beak orange tipped with a hook.  Quickly it dives under the boat.  Surfacing on the other side, it is again within reach. 

Only recently have we been favored with this friendly behavior.  There is, of course, an explanation; the cormorant is fishing.  We are in shallow water on a sunny day.  Our kayaks cast shadows which seem to help the birds see their small darting prey.  Apparently, too, cormorants have learned that kayaks are harmless.  They see them nearly every day in the bay off Plymouth Harbor so familiarity has overcome fear, at least for the local, winged divers. 

Although cormorants are experts at fishing, a successful catch can take many tries.  Once it occurs, to see a bird with a beak full carefully maneuver its captured prize into swallowing position and gulp it down is fascinating.  One is tempted to call out, “Congratulations!” despite the fate of the fish. 

Cormorants have to be accomplished underwater swimmers to survive.  Wide, webbed feel propel their streamlined bodies through speedy twists and turns in pursuit of their agile food source.  As a good example of double use, the same feet serve as flying brakes.  When a cormorant on the wing comes in for a water landing, each wide-spread foot is thrust out in front to hit the water first and slow forward motion.  The technique works perfectly and is fun to watch, especially when the splashdown is next to you. 

Our cormorant encounters are a continuing pleasure—even a privilege.  After all, how often does one share, if just for seconds, a degree of closeness with a wild creature?

Photos courtesy of Lou Newman

Participating in exercise benefits all components of health and is important for all ages.  Aerobic exercising and strength training creates a strong immune system by improving cardiovascular and lymphatic circulation.  Keeping fit also helps increase blood flow, which benefits all parts of the body.  Increased blood flow helps the liver detoxify waste more resourcefully, the heart to perform its many functions efficiently, and the brain to think better and quicker. The likelihood to develop dementia, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancers are decreased with regular exercise. 

A study about living longer by exercising was conducted by a team of researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the National Cancer Institute (Halvorson, 2013) The researchers took findings from six different studies and looked at a total of 650,000 people between the ages of 21-90 over a 10 year period (Halvorson, 2013)

Their results show that participating in 75 minutes of low activity per week, such as walking, added 1.8 years onto the life expectancy, compared with no exercise (Halvorson, 2013).  Participating in 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week added an average of 3.4-4.5 years onto the life expectancy, compared with no exercise (Halvorson, 2013). Inactivity results in 3.1 fewer years than the life expectancy.

All of these factors and research indicates that exercise and physical activity is required to live a long, healthy life!

 Citations

Halvorson, R. (2013). Leisure-time physical activity adds years to your life. IDEAfit, 10(2), Retrieved from http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/leisure-time-physical-activity-adds-years-to-your-life