May 2024


We all have dreams where we find ourselves wandering through familiar rooms. Often these rooms existed in our distant past and they now serve as entry to a memory, for they create the ambience of a time gone by. Sometimes the rooms we dream of, and their locations are totally unfamiliar but, in their particularity, reveal something important or new to us. 

So, in our waking lives we find ourselves shaping and being shaped by our immediate environment, the rooms in which we work and live. We all have a need for a certain degree of privacy. Some people call it private space and even visualize a space within themselves that is inaccessible to anyone. I see that space within as akin to a room. We often call it euphemistically our inner space, or inner world. We carry it with us wherever we go. Some people experience their most intensely private even profound moments outdoors on a mountaintop or watching the sun set. 

How we locate ourselves in the world, cast anchor, and settle in a place is our story. The spaces we live in are usually extremely important to us. The reasons are complex and varied, but I’ll name a few. We see our homes as extensions of ourselves. They reflect something about us, about our identity. They can project an image about us…even if we’d rather they didn’t. 

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Creativity in Retirement:

Let the Instrument be the Teacher

I started playing guitar in the last few years, so improvement is the name of the game.  I wanted to advance from being a beginner to playing music I enjoy listening to. I got invited to play with a group of about five other people, all more advanced musicians, and playing with them has helped me improve the most. I also took a semester-long guitar class at a local community college and a few shorter courses at UCSD Extension.  I had the good fortune to have excellent instructors for both and have continued private lessons.  This has been a lot of fun, which drives wanting to improve. When I hear something I like, I try to play it, even at a beginner level.  

Learning a song or a technique on the guitar is itself creative. If I can play a tune better than I did a week ago, that’s gratifying.  Figuring out how to play a tricky part of a song creates the ‘I can do it!’ feeling.  Playing music is an immediate gratification experience, so if I play something that sounds good, I want to play more.  The most fun thing has been playing music with other people; it’s a great environment to develop music skills.  And there’s a lot of collaboration, cooperation, and organization when playing a song together.  Interacting and learning from my music teachers has been very motivating because they are so engaged in their music.  Listening to different musical genres at local venues has been inspiring and has resulted in fun nights out. 

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Not Just for Hikers…

In Europe, where hiking is a national sport, all the trampers seem to use hiking poles. At first glance, poles seem like a silly idea. They look cumbersome and unnatural. But the Europeans have been doing this for a long time and are onto something!

Hiking poles relieve pressure on the back and knees, particularly downhill. They provide balance and allow the motivated hiker to go down steep grades quickly. Like outriggers, they provide balance and stability. Like ski poles, they help walkers establish pace and rhythm. 

These poles are helpful for seniors who often have hip, back, and knee problems.

LEKI makes a good hiking pole. Their poles even have built-in shock absorbers! You can find these poles at REI.

The Cape

On a dirt road,
In Cape Cod land,
Fish for sale 
at the pier,
Chowder with clams,
As the sun sets,
In Chatham
Where the lighthouse 
Rises in the sky.

Kay DiFrancesca

If you were in jail twenty years ago, you might have met Kay DiFrancesca, Past President and Fellow of SDPA. Say what? Kay was not incarcerated, but she was a forensic psychologist for San Diego County and privately for much of her career.

Kay was also the recipient of the SDPA Distinguished Contribution to Psychology Award in 2019. She taught at California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) and has supervised and mentored many students. She is known for being supportive but direct, kind but firm, understanding, and ethical.

Kay has also been a courageous person. She was the first female President of SDPA and was a trailblazer. Men were used to running the Association, and she faced considerable resistance when she took office. She persevered. I have often watched her take and stick to unpopular positions she felt were right.

She supported sex offenders having housing when released from prison and treatment programs. Many felt the same way, but few vocalized their opinions, as there was so much community opposition.  

Kay has three adult sons who all lead exciting lives. In her spare time, she enjoys travel, fine cuisine, and the company of her many friends.  She is currently active on the SDPA Aging Issues Committee.

Katherine DiFrancesca, Ph.D. is now retired. She is one of the many talented psychologists who make up the membership of SDPA.

Later-Life Transitions:


In 2023/2024, the SDPA Aging Issues Committee produced six ninety minute Zoom presentations entitled Later-Life Transitions Luncheon Series. Topics covered in this series included Retirement, Loss of Physical Capabilities, Moving to a Senior Facility, Becoming Caregiver to a Family Member, Loss of a Spouse/Partner and The Final Transition. A summary of the material covered in each of the six series presentations will be published in Age in Action. Below is a summary of the first topic Retirement that was facilitated by David DiCicco, Ph.D. on May 19, 2023.

This essay aims to summarize our workshop discussion on retirement and to add some theoretical material from the works of Erik Erikson and George Valliant. Most psychologists are familiar with Erikson’s stages of adult development, which form the backdrop for understanding the aging process. Those stages are psychosocial identity, the capacity for intimacy, career consolidation, and generativity.

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Rogue River Cheese

Rogue River Blue Cheese is like a fine wine. It was the only American cheese to win the Best Cheese in the World award a few years ago. Why is this cheese so great?  Well, it is creamy and not too sharp. Once you taste it, you will want more. But there is a problem. Typically, you can find Rogue River Blue in San Diego markets around Christmas, but that’s it. Yesterday, I saw some in Jimbo’s and immediately put a hunk in my basket, even though its price had escalated considerably.

Sometimes, you can order the cheese from the Internet, but the shipping cost is exorbitant. Keep an eye out, and you won’t be disappointed!

Ghost Army

A Legacy of Creative Service.

Colonel Schmidt smiled broadly and pulled on his cigarette.  He envisioned the Fuhrer promoting him to General and pinning a medal on his chest in the main square of Berlin. It would be the proudest day of his life.

But then something was wrong. Where were the battalions he expected to meet on the other side of the forest? All the messages they had intercepted indicated the presence of troops there. He had seen many tanks in the area with his own eyes! He had heard the advancing trucks. When a shell landed near the Colonel, his smile left for good, and he scurried for cover.

So, what is that vignette all about? The German officer had been duped by the Ghost Army, an undercover unit during WW II whose mission was to deceive the enemy and trick them into chasing the nonexistent American troops. The Ghost Army used dummy weapons like rubber tanks and trucks, allowed the Germans to intercept manufactured radio messages, and used powerful loudspeakers to convince the Germans that they were hearing troop movements.

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Martinis and Music

There are many ways to entertain, but most fall back on our preferred modes. We have people for dinner, picnic by the pool, or go for happy hour. It is fun to create some new modalities that can be stimulating and entertaining. 

I have always enjoyed making appetizers, and a year ago, I came up with the idea of Martinis and Music, a night of appetizers, martinis, and selected music in my living room. I have had several evenings of M&M, and they have been successful.

Here are some of the ins and outs. Not everyone is a martini fan, so I always have multiple selections of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages available. I create enough appetizers so that there is something for everyone. Recently, I invited two other couples over, and here is what we served. 

Freshly cooked shrimp from Gelson’s
Freshly shucked oysters from Gelson’s
Tuna spread made with Genoa oil based Tuna
A variety of cheeses from Jimbo’s and Ralphs
Stuffed mushrooms, Italian style
Italian deviled eggs
Smoked salmon

It’s fun to pick music that will appeal to your guests, and the combination of tasty food, soothing libation, and nourishing fellowship can make for a memorable evening.