Where Words Come From

March 18, 2019


This phrase means not a moment to spare; at the latest time possible; just making it under the wire. People have been saying it for more than two thousand years, as it is from the Bible. The Biblical origin is from Matthew XX, 1 16: “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a householder, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard … And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle … He said unto them, ‘Go ye also into the vineyard …that shall ye receive.’ Those who came at the eleventh hour received payment, just as those who had came early in the morning.” Perhaps, it is never too late to receive a penny – or salvation, even at the “eleventh hour.”


This phrase means to act at the most fitting moment; to seize the most favorable opportunity. It was the blacksmith who was originally supposed to do this. If he failed to swing his hammer while the metal on the anvil was still glowing, nothing would do but to start up the forge again and reheat the iron. His time was lost. This is a very old English phrase and first found in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1386: “Right so as whil that Iren in hoot men shoulder smite.” By the way, it is interestingly fun to see how our English spelling has changed in the last 650 years.

Frank and Lena Venturelli: Partners in Business and Life

March 13, 2019

Frank and Lena VenturelliFrank and Lena Venturelli have done it all together. The longtime San Mateo residents, married 68 years this July, owned and operated a successful business and raised two children. Along the way, they also became something they never expected: pioneers.

Frank was a TV Technician who also installed antenna systems. In the 1960s, when Foster City was in its infancy, the city wouldn’t allow antennas on rooftops as per city ordinance and by-laws since the flight paths of planes landing at SFO passed directly overhead.

“People had to use rabbit ears to get reception,” Frank said. “A plane would pass overhead every two or three minutes, causing the TV picture to flutter, becoming unviewable.”

Frank saw an opportunity. Along with his brother-in-law Al Cerro, he approached the Foster brothers in 1966 with the idea of installing cable television in Foster City. A deal was struck, the company Cer-Vent Cable TV was born, and Frank helped to change the way Foster City residents watched television.

“We installed 70 miles of cable,” Frank said, while showing me newspaper clippings from the time heralding the deal. “We were offering 12 channels, which was a big deal back then. It’s unbelievable to me what cable is today.”

Lena was Frank’s partner in the business – “She was our right-hand ‘man’,” Frank recalled – and wore several hats, from bookkeeper, to saleswoman, to receptionist. Together, they kept things going until they couldn’t keep up with the demands of the rapidly-expanding city. They sold   Cer-Vent Cable in 1968 to Continental Telephone and used the profits to buy a portion of the Burlingame Plaza Shopping Center (with Lunardi’s as one of their tenants) which they still own today. Frank kept his TV Sales and Repair business until he retired, and now assists his son David and nephew Alan Cerro in running the shopping center.

Frank and Lena moved to Sterling Court last July and immediately felt at home. They already knew a few other residents before moving in and have made more friends along the way. Frank even met another resident who was in his high school senior class.

“There are great people here,” Frank said. “They’re friendly and the staff is great. They just really treat you well here.” They’re also big fans of the food. “It’s hard to get thin here!” Frank said, laughing.

The couple stays busy, enjoying many of the activities offered at Sterling Court. Frank even makes time to entertain the other residents with his accordion, which he’s played since childhood. They’re also active members of the Peninsula Social Club and enjoy spending time with their two children, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Frank and Lena’s impressive business acumen is admirable, but it’s their personal story that resonates the most. It’s a testament to the strength of their relationship that they have accomplished so much while staying at each other’s side along the way. Raising an amazing family and shepherding a pioneering business are great triumphs on their own, but to do both is something truly special.

When they met through a mutual friend who happened to be working on Lena’s family home, both felt it was love at first sight. It’s safe to say that they were right.

Tips and Tricks to Make Daily Tasks Easier

February 20, 2019

iStock-870853432Do-it-yourself (DIY) “life hacks” are popular these days, and for good reason: they’re often simple, inexpensive ways to make your everyday life a little easier to manage.

For seniors especially, certain day-to-day tasks can be done more efficiently with just a few of these life hacks. And while DIY projects may sometimes seem daunting and unapproachable, there are plenty of them that are easy to accomplish. Here are some you might want to try:

Improve Your Grip

If you’re having trouble holding on to your coffee cup in the morning or your glass of water in the afternoon, try this simple remedy: take a few simple rubber bands and wrap them around the object you’re trying to grip. This trick could also work for smaller, thinner objects like pens or toothbrushes. And if you’re stymied by the lids on your jars, keep a pair of rubber gloves around the house to help

give you an extra bit of traction when trying to open them.

Organize Your Refrigerator

It happens to everybody: you buy too many things at the supermarket, and when you go to store them in your refrigerator, you push to the back other items you may want access to in the future. Rather than trying to reach into the back of the fridge, try adding a small, inexpensive Lazy Susan on the shelf. It would allow you to simply rotate your refrigerated items from front to back without worry.

Smooth Out Sharp Corners

Banging your knee on a table can be painful and cause bruising. Avoid these hazards by cushioning sharp furniture corners with moldable putty, which can be found at stores like Michael’s or Target, or with stick-on table guards that are easily found on Amazon. And if these solutions seem a little too DIY for your tastes, simple bubble wrap left over from a package will tape on and do the trick, too.

Make Your TV Remote User-Friendly

Having trouble making out the numbers on your remote control? Try using round bump dots. Found in stores like Target or Bed Bath & Beyond, these inexpensive stickers can be a great help. Try putting them on power, volume, channel up/down, and/or guide.

Shower More Safely

Soap can get slippery in the shower, and if it ends up on the ground it’s not only inconvenient but a falling hazard as well. You can prevent this potentially dangerous situation with a simple hack: take an old pair of panty hose and cut it in half so you’re left with only one leg (gentlemen, you can ask a Sterling Court lady friend for the other half of hers            ). Place the bar of soap in the foot of the hose, then tie the other end either behind the shower head or on a grab bar. That way, you can lather up without fear of losing your grip.

These are just a few DIY hacks you can try. Be creative, and you might just come up with a few to add to this list on your own!

Where Words Come From

February 11, 2019

words_ver2FLIRT – Where did the word “Flirt” come from? The answer is not until the middle of the 1700s, when the word was used as a verb meaning “to move jerkily.” At a gathering of the cream of London Society, there was a vivacious young widow, who shot one and then another man with an engaging smile. As they talked, she flirted her fan back and forth to capture even more attention. Lord Chesterfield observed Lady Frances Shirley, assessed the situation and snorted, “It’s plain to see she’s flirting.” The term quickly entered standard speech, so now anyone who makes playfully, romantic overtures is called a flirt.

“X” FOR A KISS – Where did the word X FOR A KISS come from?

The custom of putting Xs at the end of letters to symbolize kisses grew out of medieval legal practices. In order to indicate good faith and honesty, the sign of St. Andrew was placed after the signature on all important papers. This sign looked like the letter “X”. Each signer of

a contract was then required to kiss the cross to guarantee faithful performance of the obligations.

Over the centuries, the origin of the ceremony was forgotten. People associated X for the kiss instead of the pledge of good faith, and the modern custom was born.

BRIDEGROOM – Where did the word BRIDEGROOM come from? Modern usage of the word “groom” stands for a male servant or stable boy who is responsible for the care of horses. In the past, a groom was any person who performed a menial task. Also, long ago, marriage ceremonies included a feast, and in Europe,

the man was expected to act as a waiter to his new bride. He was the “bride’s groom,” now shortened to Bridegroom.

Debbie Brennan: Making a Positive Impact

February 5, 2019

rotmOn a bookshelf near her front door, Debbie Brennan houses a trove of mementos and memories. Pictures of happy, smiling faces adorn the shelves, most of them snapshots from her daughters’ weddings and portraits of her four grandchildren. Further down is a shelf filled with an eclectic collection of books, from To Kill a Mockingbird to the latest from Madeline Albright. But one book tucked away at the end of the shelf is of particular interest.

“I used to babysit for a family friend who worked for IBM,” Debbie says, while pulling out the book about computers and their inner workings. “He’s the one who convinced me to go into computers.”

For the Sterling Court resident, that conversation would turn out to play a major part in her life and career. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from Marymount University in Virginia, Debbie went to trade school and trained to be a programmer. She worked as a COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language) programmer for five years before transitioning into a sales position selling time on mainframes. When she moved to the Bay Area two decades ago, she worked as a bookkeeper before becoming a recruiter for EnCorps, a program dedicated to providing high quality math and science teachers to students throughout the country.

“That was my favorite,” Debbie says, referring to her time recruiting. “It combined everything I’d ever done and was very rewarding.”

The Louisville, Kentucky native has made a habit out of making a positive impact in other people’s lives. While living in Massachusetts, Debbie volunteered her time to start and run a support group for parents of special needs children. She

did it all over again when she moved to the Bay Area, providing parents with a support system they otherwise may not have had.

The pride she feels from starting the support groups is evident. “I’d say it’s one of my greatest legacies,” she says with a smile. “It helped a lot of people.”

These days, Debbie takes the most pride in her beautiful family. Three of her four daughters are local and visit her often, and she loves to talk about her three granddaughters and one grandson.

Though she’s only been a resident since this past August, Debbie has managed to settle in nicely to Sterling Court. “I came in totally cold. Didn’t know the area, didn’t know any people here,” she says. “But now I know more people, know what’s what.”

Living with neuropathy hasn’t slowed her down, either. Always a fan of the outdoors, Debbie ventures out to walk whenever she gets the chance. Burlingame Avenue and the Burlingame Public Library are two of her favorite destinations. “It helps that the area is very flat,” she says, laughing.

In her free time, Debbie enjoys the entertainment provided at Sterling Court, especially when a piano player takes center stage. She’s also found other residents who are living with neuropathy and plans to get together with them to talk and share experiences. It’s clear that she feels like she’s found a home.

Learn More

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850 N. El Camino Real San Mateo, CA 94401 Phone: (650) 344-8200 Fax: (650) 344-7395 sarah.stcharles@sterlingcourt.com

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