Good-natured, gently amusing, column-sized vignettes, tailored for the cardigan-and-pants-suit retirement crowd. Here, neighborhood doings, friends, diets, gardening, social events, etc., are airily reported by a lively California widow happily paired with her LTA (Living Together Arrangement-''legal marriage would entail financial disaster''). Lydia and Herm's one big row ended by their holding hands, because, as Lydia reminded her mate (they met bird-watching), hawks do a lot of flying apart but always come back together. Together, the two endure the vagaries of neighbors-from a brace of wispy elderly to a junk-car collector to the hidden next-door characters of the blaring hi-fi and smoky barbecue. Then a bit of Welcome Wagon psychology conquers the problem of hippie garbage, and rock music helps work up a fury that destroys Bermuda grass. Meanwhile, concerts are attended, including one misery of modern compositions featuring ``slaps and twangs on cellos played by three...who from time to time lifted their heads and ululated.'' Diet and fashion (or lack of it), puttering and ambling about (which brings surprise sightings of odd folk with interesting secrets)-all are noted with sprightly appreciation. And throughout there's the determination not to join peers who've let their minds atrophy from disuse in their ``watery soup.'' Upbeat for the Modern Maturity audience. Theme attractive, and comfortably fixed elders are good company.