A New Life! Retirement at its Best 70

The Birthday Dinner

The January Birthday dinner, for which I had a raincheck, was nice, but some of the elegance was lacking. The salads were served in a deep soup dish instead of the usual small flat plate, and the wines that were served left a lot to be desired. Have you ever heard of a Chillable Red? The wine in my glass had a light red color and was chilled, again, after several prior requests for room temperature (68 degrees or so). When I asked what kind of wine we were drinking – it came out of a box – the maître d’ said, “It’s a Chillable Red.” Just now I looked it up at Google and guess what it said? Franzia Chillable Red had 9% alcohol and per 5 oz glass only 105 calories. Well, the one time a week that we drink a glass or two of wine at the Club, I’ll take the full 12.5% and all the calories that go with it! It’s so much more enjoyable and I am not on a diet.

At the dinner I talked to a few people whom I have met but don’t really know well yet. We came to talk about my book and my – now once-a-year – presentation downstairs in the Theatre. Abby had seen the presentation and would love to see my mother’s diary. “My daughter is very interested as well,” she said.

“If you let me know when your daughter will come to see you again I will be happy to come over and bring the diary.”

She hesitated and then said, “My daughter comes only when I need her and ask for help.” How sad! I wish I would still have my mother close by; I would visit her several days a week, like my sister Paula did when she lived close to Mamma in the Netherlands.

The other day, I noticed a large ant hill in the border across a window in Assisted Living. It was about 14” high with a 14” diameter at the bottom. A branch had fallen on top of it causing  a partial collapse, in which hole many 1/4” tunnels became visible. The red dirt felt hard when I touched it with my finger but I could easily press it in. I did not see any ants; they must be big red ants in order to need such fairly large tunnels. How interesting! I took a picture, went home, and searched for the picture of a giant ant hill we saw when we were on safari in an elephant park in South Africa. I had an idea. OI would visit a lovely couple to share these pictures with and tell the story of our African safari. We have been privileged to travel all over the world, but many people have not been able to do that, certainly not Jean and Bill. They are both in their late eighties, and had moved a few months ago to Assisted Living. They used to often walk around the building, until last April, when Bill slipped and fell on the hard floor of one of the entry ways of  the building. He needed hip surgery. It took months to regain some of his strength and his wits, and after months of Rehab he needed 24 hour care, and a wheel chair. He did eventually come home, but he is now on Hospice care and they had to move to Assisted Living. Here, Hospice care is extended as long as people need it, I believe, not for only sixty days.

The ant hill I discovered was directly across their window. I went to visit and showed them the pictures of both ant hills. “Just look outside your window and you will see this little one,” I said, “and then travel in your mind’s eye to South Africa, and look at this giant one. God creates similar things all over the world. They may be smaller or bigger, but if you are out in nature you can see many interesting things wherever you are. You don’t have to actually travel to South Africa to see the beauty of creation right in your own back yard.”

Travel to India

Last Friday our Chef prepared a special dinner with authentic dishes from India for twelve people. We signed up of course. It is always interesting to taste food from other countries. In this case I thought back to my Dad, a pilot with the Dutch Naval Air Force, who barely escaped the advancing Japanese army in WWII and joined the Allied Forces in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He must have eaten Indian cuisine during the war; he never talked about his war experiences, though, like many other veterans. The Chef wheels his special cooking equipment into the Café for occasions like this, and prepares and serves each plate individually. The dishes I enjoyed most were Dal Makhani, with black lentil and red kidney beans, richly mixed with cream and butter, Bhindi Masala, deep fried okra, split and filled with a special spice mix, both of these dishes lightly spicy, and the dessert, Gulab Jamun, three sweet brown balls of fried powdered milk. I still question how you can make balls out of powdered milk and then fry them. Good thing I don’t have to make them!

Georgia O’Keeffe

Maria had tickets for the exhibit of Georgia O’Keeffe at the NC Museum of Art and invited us to come with her. It was a magnificent exhibit in the East Building, where we had not been yet. En passant we admired a collection of African art: clothing, artifacts, masks and more. Paintings by other artists were also on display, and one three dimensional creation that covered a whole wall made me suddenly feel that I was floating on the surface of the ocean, looking down at underwater coral gardens through my mask. It looked so real!

The museum also has an amazing outside art display, which I saw last October. When I walked back to the parking lot I noticed identical geometric shadows cast by a set of three parallel white metal structures on the lawn. I wondered if they were constructed in a similar way as the Snake of Sunlight at Chichen Itza in Mexico during the Equinox. Of course this comparison does not make sense at all, but it has to do with the sunlight and I want to go back at another time of day and look at the shadows at that time. Fascinating creations of Sunlight! I’ll call it Sun Art.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,




2 thoughts on “A New Life! Retirement at its Best 70”

  1. Nice pics.
    I believe that what we see above ground of an anthill is just a hint of what is beneath. All the ants in the world (iF weighed) (Don’t try this at home) would weigh more than all the people on earth. Ants are abundant, and right now here so are coyotes. It’s their mating season and they’re out and about.
    Pastor Jane is abundantly enjoying what may be her first trip to Big Island.

  2. Thank you, Anne.

    I remember the coyotes well. They would roam the streets even in broad daylight. It was exciting though, to watch them and live among them and other wildlife. But I am glad we don’t have them here now we have a little puppy.


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