Meet Caroline Deinema
Caroline has converted one of her bedrooms into what she calls her “activity room.” In it, she has her loom and spinning wheel, her sewing machine, and her computer.
But Caroline’s interests travel way beyond that room. In her parlor, she has a harp; on her wrist, an Apple watch; in her refrigerator, homemade yogurt; and beyond her front door more pursuits.
“I feel I’ve been given the enthusiasm for interesting things,” says Caroline.
Caroline grew up in Madison County, Iowa, and then attended the University of Iowa, where she met her future husband. After graduating, they moved to his hometown of Canton, South Dakota, about 20 minutes south of Sioux Falls.
With her nursing diploma, Caroline sometimes worked in a doctor’s office, but mostly, she devoted herself to being a full-time mother and wife. She and her husband raised two sons and a daughter.
“My husband had a Ford dealership for 35 years; we were married for 42 years.”
In 2012, on her 80th birthday, she moved to Touchmark.
“I moved to Touchmark, because I had been taking care of our home by myself for 20 years after my husband died, and I just wanted to retire from that,” she says.
A fascination with “strings”
Near Caroline’s loom is a beautifully handcrafted spinning wheel from Norway that once belonged to her mother-in-law. Caroline first learned how to weave by going to a workshop. She then became interested in spinning the wool, which led to making her own natural dyes. “I collected weeds and cooked them on the stovetop.”
Nowadays, she focuses on the spinning and weaving. “I have lots of ideas for new projects.”
About 30 years ago, Caroline was visiting with a piano teacher who also gave harp lessons. Fascinated by the beautiful instrument, Caroline began lessons. After three months, she bought her own harp.
When she’s not playing her harp for her own pleasure, which she does frequently, Caroline shares her talent. “I play throughout Touchmark around Christmas time and as background music for special occasions.”
A reputation as a techie
Caroline is absorbed with technology and owns an iPad, iPhone, Mac desktop computer, and her most recent purchase, her Apple watch. She is self-taught and considers technology an essential part of her life.
Caroline uses her devices to play games, do online banking, shop, read e-books—and help others.
“Often when I’m with a group of friends, a question will arise, and someone will look over at me and say, ‘Caroline, just look it up on your machine!’”
She also appreciates the health benefits. “Learning technology or new music is very healthy for the brain.”
Always learning new uses for her equipment, Caroline especially gets a kick out of teaching her kids a few things.
She says that one of her sons loves to brag about his mother to his friends. “He’ll say, ‘Now who do you know that’s 82 years old who owns an iPad, iPhone, and an Apple watch—and knows how to use them!’”
Exploring the world abroad
Caroline has traveled quite a bit. She has visited China, South America, Haiti, and the Galapagos Islands (her favorite trip).
When she was 70, she hiked the Grand Canyon with her daughter, taking five days to hike down to the Colorado River and back.
She also has a time-share in Cabo, Mexico, and meets her children there once a year.
“The weird thing about me is, I really like the South Dakota winters,” Caroline confesses. “I’m not interested in being a snowbird and going to warm places to escape. I want to stay here during the winter. I just turn on the fireplace and watch the snow fall.”
And exploring her world at home
Caroline has practiced yoga for many years and has added tai chi since moving to Touchmark.
She is not inclined to use the exercise machines, preferring walking. She and her dog are often seen taking morning strolls on the Touchmark paths.
She belongs to a Touchmark book club. She plays Texas Hold’em twice a week at Touchmark and drives 25 miles to Canton once a week to play mah-jongg with friends.
“I used to be very good at cooking, but I’ve sort of relaxed on that. I eat many of my meals in the dining room now. Recently, someone brought me a basket full of vegetables, so I made a couple batches of Ratatouille, my favorite.”
Caroline always makes her own yogurt. “It’s a standard in my refrigerator!”
She also volunteers regularly at the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science. She has worked at the information desk twice a month for nearly 15 years. “It’s such a wonderful environment for seeing art and the artists—a very enriching place to volunteer.”
She also enjoys taking the Touchmark bus with friends to restaurants and special events. “If the bus is scheduled to go to lunch, dinner, or other activity—I’m on it! I really enjoy the social aspects of it.”
“Touchmark is such a wonderful community. When I go away, I really miss it and the people. And when I come back, it is so good to see everyone again. We really look out for each other. It is very much a family and community from the staff to the residents. It’s a great experience.”