Keep ‘Em Flying

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter

May 12, 2023

by Tom Blake – Senior dating columnist

 “Keep ‘Em Flying” Reflections from Tom

(above photo courtesy of Christy Fisher)

I’ve been writing senior-related eNewsletters for around 20 years. Many of you have been subscribers since then. Today’s is unusual. I am not seeking sympathy from you Champs. I simply had to get some thoughts off my chest.

The last six months have been a blurry, bumpy road for me. During that time since the passing of my life partner, Greta, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on my life and realized it’s important for me to move forward, to seek health and happiness. I’ve concluded that I can’t sit back and hope those things will happen on their own. It’s up to me.

I can improve my chances of maintaining health and rebuilding happiness by reconstructing three things I’ve let slip somewhat during those six months. They are:

1 Career work – I sold my deli in 2016 after 25 years of making sandwiches, serving customers, and managing my staff. In giving those things up, I needed something to keep me busy and my mind active. I am blessed to have been a newspaper columnist for 28 years, and, at my age, to still be writing for nine printed newspapers – three in South Orange County, California.

The other six newspapers are monthly senior publications called 50plus Life in Pennsylvania.

My first article was published on July 7, 1994, in the Dana Point News, which at that time was owned by The Orange County Register, the nation’s 22nd-largest newspaper.

In 2013, I left the Register and switched to a small syndicate called Picket Fence Media which publishes three local newspapers—The Dana Point Times and San Clemente Times (weekly), and The Capistrano Dispatch (San Juan Capistrano (twice monthly).

My fifth printed book was published in 2022, titled, Tutor & Spunky’s Deli. A Dana Point Landmark.

Plus, I write this eNewsletter that keeps me busy every week.

I plan to continue writing until the ink runs dry. Will I write another book? Not sure. However, writing keeps my brain working and gives me a weekly purpose and deadlines to meet.

2 Activities to work on – Three things fall under this category that keep me active and happy. The first is exercise, which includes Standup Paddle Boarding in nearby Dana Point Harbor. I aim for three to four times each week depending on the weather and other factors. SUP is good exercise for the entire body and helps with balance, so important for seniors.

I’ve also recently joined a tai chi class, held weekly on a hilltop overlooking Dana Point Harbor, taught by Ron, one of our incredible Champs.

My second project is working on my home in Monarch Beach. I purchased the home new in 1992 and am fortunate to still own it. There were times when things got tough such as the 2008 recession when I considered selling it just to squeak by financially.

But Greta insisted I not sell it and I am so grateful for her advice. With the home now 32 years old, there are always projects to keep me busy. This spring, because of all the rain, the weeds are out of control, and I am slowly removing them. I planted a rose bush in Greta’s honor on her birthday, May 9.

The third activity is a home that I was fortunate to acquire in Palm Springs five years ago. That home was built in the 1970s so there are always maintenance projects out there that keep me busy. A big plus, it’s only a two-hour drive in each direction. A few of our Champs live in the Coachella Valley, where Palm Springs is located.

3. Relationships – I was beyond blessed to have a special relationship with Greta for 25 years. Having her in my life made me happy and I believe kept me healthy. Greta passed away last October 29. While I will miss her forever, I feel having a mate in my life may bring me some degree of happiness. At my age, I don’t have time to wait for even a year to start searching. So, I’ve decided to be proactive in finding a mate. I’m forcing myself to get off the couch and out of the house as much as possible.

I also felt that joining two online dating sites would improve my chances of meeting someone and it gives me a ray of hope that has been missing since Greta passed. Greta told me repeatedly before she passed that she wanted me to spend my final years with a mate. So, that’s what I’m trying to do.

So, I believe pursuing the three categories listed above will help bring me happiness.

5 Simple Phrases

Plus, during these last six months, I have taped to my computer screen these five simple phrases by which to live. They are gentle reminders to me of what’s important in my life.

“Let It Be” – Of course, those words are from the 1970 Beatles song of the same name. When the road gets tough, I try to remind myself of these three words. It has eased the recent stress.

“Don’t Overthink it!” – Sometimes I say to myself, “Should I or should I not?” For example, should I send a message to a potential mate or should I play it cool? Then I remind myself to just follow my heart and not worry about it. Or, at Costco, I think, “Should I purchase that pair of sunglasses for $25 that would give me a nice backup pair.” I say out loud, “Tom, don’t overthink it.”

“Keep ‘Em Flying” On April 15, 2023, I was at an outdoor arts and craft fair in Demuth Park in Palm Springs. I was walking past a booth where a family of six were gathered observing the artwork of a man named Kevin Sullivan. I heard Kevin say to the family, “Each one of you pick a number between one and 20.” And he looked at me, although I was just walking by, and said, “You pick a number also.” I had no idea what was going on. For some reason, I blurted out “17.” A few seconds later, Kevin said, “You won.”

I had won a painting of his called “Keep ‘Em Flying,” of a cartoon character like Snoopy flying an antique airplane. I posted it on my wall at the Palm Springs house. I interpreted that to mean that even though I had lost Greta five months before, I needed to keep on moving forward, in other words, to “Keep ‘Em Flying” and not give up living.

“Are you okay?” I read an article on how to deal with people who are being nasty, argumentative, negative, or combative: disarm them without violence or arguing. The article suggested saying, “Are you okay?” It tosses the ball back into their court without confrontation. I think it’s wise for me to remember those words and use them when appropriate.

And finally, “It doesn’t matter.” I say this when things may not be going as planned or hoped for. They ease stress. It’s a reminder that there are more important things in life than minor mishaps. The words help keep me on the happiness road.

Thanks for listening, Champs, and for letting me vent. I did a lot of reflecting on my life this past week as Greta’s family and I, about 30 of us, held Greta’s celebration of life on Catalina Island on Saturday, May 6. Why did we wait for so long? Because Greta’s birthday was May 9, she wanted the ceremony out there. All four of her children were born there.

I felt blessed to have my two sisters, Christine and Pam, and Pam’s husband, Bob, go with me for support to Catalina Island.

Also, while not attending Greta’s celebration of life, my neighbors, Coleen and Alex, and other neighbors, Kresta and Jake, were on Catalina celebrating Coleen’s and Alex’s wedding anniversary on that day. The four of them went out of their way to meet my sisters and Bob for 30 minutes before we left to attend Greta’s celebration. Having these seven people supporting me lifted me up and made me happy.

And then, after we had scattered Geta’s ashes from a private boat, I received a text from one of our Palm Springs’ Champ’s daughters that her dad had passed away. It was totally unexpected. I had known him for 30 years. Wow, sort of a double whammy on a double-whammy day. I thought to myself: “Keep ‘Em Flying.”

I had plenty of time to reflect on life during that May 6 ferry boat trip from Avalon back to Dana Point (an hour and a half). The notes I jotted down on the boat became the basis for this week’s eNewsletter, which I began writing on May 9 (Greta’s birthday).

Send me some positive stories for future eNewsletters. We all need to “Keep ‘Em Flying.”

Senior dating status as 2022 approaches

sunset waldorf astoria nov 21
Sunset over Catalina Island from Waldorf Astoria Resort, with friends, Dana Point, California, November 2021
On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – December 3, 2021

by Tom Blake author and columnist

The senior dating status as 2022 approaches 

The year 2021 changed senior dating dramatically. Covid 19 was the culprit. In-person social events were canceled or switched to being presented virtually. 

For example, I had a “Senior-dating-in-the-digital-age” speech scheduled for September 24 requested by the Orange County Aging Services Collaborative. I was to appear at the Dorothy Visser Senior Center in San Clemente before an audience of 50 people. 

My talk was scheduled to be aired simultaneously to nine other OC senior centers with an expected live audience of 40-50 people at each center for a total of 500 people. I was hoping one or two potential couples would meet at each center, but because of Covid, the speech went entirely to Zoom so none of the 500 people could meet in person. 

During the pandemic, libraries, restaurants, bars, social clubs, and other gathering spots were closed or open with limited access and saddled with mask restrictions and six-feet apart requirements. Senior social interaction was reduced by at least 80 percent (my guestimate) for most of the year.

Face-to-face meetings, which are essential in cultivating relationships, were rare. Most seniors understandably didn’t want to risk catching Covid. Yes, restrictions have been lifted somewhat in the last three months, but many seniors are still leery and hesitant to venture out. To combat the face-to-face restrictions, many seniors, not all, turned to internet dating, which is a great way to meet new people. 

Romance scams and romance scammers

However, singles weren’t the only people using internet dating sites. Romance scammers used the sites to spoof and scam vulnerable seniors. Some seniors tragically lost their savings. The pandemic has been tough on couples who live in different states or countries. Canada’s border was closed for months, which made seeing a loved one in person who lived in Canada nearly impossible. And vice versa for Canadiens.

People in long-distance relationships saw each other less often than they liked. Even flying and driving long distances to see a loved one within the United States was challenging. Larry, a friend, and former neighbor I’ve known for 28 years met a woman in the Philippines Islands a few years ago. He lived with her there but came home to the USA on a short business trip just before Covid started. Since then, he’s had nine trips scheduled to return to be with her but each time the P.I. government did not allow him to reenter the country. 

I asked him this week, “Did you finally get to the P.I?” Larry responded, “Still in the OC. Patience has turned to anger, and I really don’t care if I ever go back to the Philippines! But, Emy and I really love each other, so we have other destinations in consideration.” 

During the pandemic, I’ve received many inquiries from readers about where they can go to meet someone or if I know of someone that might be right for them. It surprises me when I respond to them with comments or suggestions, some don’t have the courtesy to respond back. How the heck can I help them during this difficult time if that’s how they operate? And do they treat potential dates that way? 

And now, there’s a new Covid Variant called Omicron that is possibly contagious and dangerous. Will that make senior dating more difficult again? That’s hard to say, but it certainly is creating more uncertainty. In the 26 years, I’ve been writing about senior dating and relationships, I’ve never seen the senior singles scene so challenging. 

Last month, Greta and I met our friends Ron and Lee at the renamed Waldorf Astoria Resort in Dana Point for happy hour and to watch the sunset. Neither couple had been out with friends much for more than a year. The picture above was taken from our outdoor table. Catalina Island is on the horizon. I suggest singles try to get out with vaccinated friends, but oh-so-carefully. Wear masks, avoid crowded places, gather outside when possible. Be vaccinated. 

Network through friends and organizations by asking people if they know of other singles who would like to meet people. That was the old-fashioned way of meeting potential mates pre-internet. Also, consider internet dating, but if you go that route, do so carefully. Beware of scammers; they lurk on every site. Trust your instincts. And if you do connect online with someone interesting, meeting in person sure has its challenges. Don’t give up. Modify your expectations. You never know who’s around the corner or in the next aisle at a store. Be friendly. Be upbeat. That guy wearing the Santa Claus suit and beard might be perfect for you. 

Hopefully, 2022 will be better for senior dating. We’ll keep you posted. 

Part 2 – One more “Tutor & Spunky’s Deli. A Dana Point Landmark” book signing

My third, and likely final book signing for my recently published book, is scheduled for Saturday, December 11 at, where else? Tutor and Spunky’s Deli in Dana Point from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. If any of you would like an autographed copy shipped to you, I will sign and mail one for $24.00, which includes tax, shipping, and handling. Simply email me at
Tom's new book cover