Saturday, 26 September 2009


I used to have a terrific memory. My brain stored dozens of telephone numbers. Now I'm lucky if I can remember my own, so without the address book and stored numbers on the phone, I'd be lost. I like to think that my brain has accumulated so much knowledge over the years that it goes on overload. It's all there somewhere but scrambled up.

In my field of psychology, I used to be able to rattle off writers and concepts without thinking. Now that I've retired from work, that information is right at the back of my memory bank. I still have the books, notes of workshops, research etc. so can retrieve stuff when I want to, but I don't need to.

Learning Spanish has been a big hurdle and I fall regularly. The best times are when I can devote time and energy to nothing else, but how practical is that. Acquiring new knowledge keeps us on our toes, but I guess the old stuff has to move over to accommodate it.

I love my PC, learning what makes it tick, surfing the net, keeping my photo albums. Now I have a special notebook nearby called "Daily Doings and Reminders". I note if I've ordered something on the net, Bookmarks that require a lot of time to read, blogs to revisit. I tried the blogroll thingy and it clogged up by home page so much, it took for ever to load.

Yet, here's the curious thing: information gained in my childhood without my knowing it has stuck with me. If I watch old b/w American or British movies, I can name all the actors and useless stuff about their lives then. My Christmas pillow-case always contained a glossy Annual about the movies, along with books like The Secret Garden, Children of the New Forest, 1001 Things for Girls To Do. (I still have the latter so need never be stuck on how to crochet, knit, sew on a button!)

Thanks to Ronni at Time Goes By
who, timely as ever, reminds me of the idiosyncracies of my aging person.

Monday, 14 September 2009


I've been following Ronni's posts at Time Goes By HERE about attitudes towards older people and all the euphemisms used by the Press and public to stereotype them. Expressions like elders, senior citizens, pensioners, "you don't look your age", "act your age" - all designed to put people in little boxes.

People are living longer and those who want to look and behave as young as possible have greater expectations of what they are capable of. It's an attitude that drives the cosmetic surgery, beauty, fashion and keep-fit industries, all designed to hold back if.

I left a comment on one of Ronni's posts about not caring about aging, yet owning up to my difficulty in relinquishing mascara. What is that vanity all about? In the nearly 7 years I've lived in Spain, I've pared down my use of make-up. I do use plenty of moisturisers and go days without my darkened lashes, but when a social get-together is on the cards, the full slap goes on. Why I feel better with it, I do not know but come the day I can give it all up, maybe I will truly have accepted my 68, looking at 69 or 70 years.

Let me end with a lovely phrase of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) "As we grow old, the beauty steals inwards".

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Transformation in 6 years

I was standing halfway down our garden this week marvelling at all the greenery that now obscures the house: it provides little walkways within a walled section with shrubs, pots and flowers. The fountain tinkles and sometimes the smell is heavenly.

Above is what it looked like after the undergrowth had been cut down. Later a brick workshop was added, then a woooden shed with a pergola to connect the two. Standing half way down as I did, it was a great boost to my current lethargy to see all the things we'd built and created - pepper trees, cypresses, pampas grass, ngao trees: and the climbers - campsus radicans, bignonia, morning glory, honeysuckle.
Not a great picture, but it gives the idea. You can just see the chimney in the distance. Aint nature wonderful.

Oh dear, this should be on my gardening blog and I forgot.

Monday, 7 September 2009

A Reading Meme

I was checking out Darlene's blog HERE and her interesting replies to the Kreativ Blogger award and came across a meme that Rain had sent her. Darlene urges us to participate if we're inclined, whether we've been specifically invited or not, so I am.

The meme is to turn to page 161, sentence 5 and blog it. I'm reading David Lodge's "Deaf Sentence" about a retired professor who has lost his hearing. It's both comic and sad when he writes about this and it's given me an insight into what my other half suffers with his poor hearing (and not a few guilty pangs about my insensitivity at times.) The professor's elderly father is struggling to maintain his independence and failing and the 5th sentence has relevance to anyone thinking of residential care homes for the elderly, where the cost is finely calibrated to the degree of comfort offered. (He is talking about the UK here):-

"At the lowest end of the scale you get a stale smell of cooking in the dining room, and of pungent air-freshener in the lounge, fumed oak furniture and faded floral wallpaper in the bedrooms: at the top end air conditioning and sleek modular furniture and tasteful decor."

I must go beyond this 5th sentence as it is so poignant and depressingly true of many of the places I visited in the course of my work aeons ago....

"But there is the same rather melancholy atmosphere in all of them, of lonely old people waiting stoically for death, deepened rather than relieved by the tinselly Christmas decorations in the common room".

At one time residential care homes were for people who were still ambulant and had all their faculties. Nursing homes were for people who were physically disabled and intermittently confused. As both of these could be paid for out of the public purse, there was always an argument about who should pay - Social Services or the Health Service. I don't know if it's changed. But whenever I came across homes as described by Lodge, the lowest end of the scale was always those financed by the State.

I saw a t.v. programme recently which was the exception to this run by the Mary Feilding Guild, a non-profit making Charity. They only take active older people, many of whom were in their 80s and 90s. They go out to concerts, galleries, do t'ai chi, play Scrabble and income is no bar to living there as they have financial help for those of lesser means. For those interested, look HERE .

In this part of Spain, there are very few homes for older people as the family take their responsibilities to their grandparents very seriously and are very involved. It's not uncommon to see grandchildren out with a grandparent, helping with shopping, doctors and dentists. At the traditional weekend lunch, there could be 4 generations sitting down together.

There are very active clubs for "jubilados" (pensioners) who have reduced-cost holidays, excursions, educational talks - including talks on sexuality for older people. Speaking of which taboo subject, I came across this wonderful website that's all about sex for older people. Now there's something that's rare to hear or read about, fitting into the myth that it's a non-existent activity in the over 60s. HERE it is, run by a very open woman called Joan Price (only in America!)

I've strayed far away from the meme theme, haven't I, and somehow got on to sex. Well, go take a look at Joan's site for more information.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

An award, part 2.

You know, it's quite stressful, this passing on the award lark: who to include, how much to say and the to-ing and fro-ing to obtain URLs and post the news to folk. Or is it me! Cannot multi-task so easily. I know some people hate these memes, so apologies in advance if you're one of them.

Darlene in Tucson, Arizona, is an inspiration and if I can be as feisty and politically committed when I reach her age, I shall be very content. Sprinkled through her blog are some great jokes and stories.
Di lives in Mallorca though she's over in UK at the moment for the Notting Hill Carnival banging the drums and having a ball. She writes about her life in Spain.

Karin is halfway up a mountain in Utah and has recently started blogging to lessen her isolation. She took a risk and reached out for company and was not disappointed when

Celeste popped up. An accomplished artist and bon-viveur, Celeste has escaped the heat of Madrid to Portugal but will soon be returning to her busy life.

Chaise-longue in France decamped from Wales. She blogs in French and English, grows her own veg and fruit and provides delicious Mediterranean recipes - as does

Juma in Portugal who combines her career in music with wonderful cooking. Juma has just battled with a serious illness and is on the mend. She can blog in Portuguese, Spanish and English.

Margaretha in Sweden is a dedicated reader and provides wonderful pictures to amplify her interests. Suffering from a rare debilitating illness, she makes the most of her time getting satisfaction on the internet.

So, gals, go get your award if you'd like it, choose 7 others to pass it on to, with links and write 7 facts about yourself on your blog. Here are my "interesting" facts....

To show me what a drudge working life would be if I didn't study, my father got me to work in the school summer holidays in a laundry shaking out hotel bedding, tablecloths and napkins and folding them, ready for the ironers. I was 16. It was gruelling, paid peanuts and being in factory conditions with a bunch of women was an eye-opener.

I also had a Saturday job in British Home Stores on the snack bar. I could eat and drink as much as I liked (and I did, discovering thick, cold Horlicks). The record counter was nearby and I bopped up and down the counter to Tommy Steel's "Singin' the Blues".

In Singapore, in the 1960s, I was an extra in Hayley Mills' film "Pretty Polly", strolling up and down a make-believe Bugis Street all night. Boring but lucrative.

On the Yemeni border in the 1980s, I stopped for mint tea at a roadside "cafe". The carpet was rushed out to sit on, tea tray and hubble-bubble pipe. Sat watching the eagles soaring in the valley - spectacular. To this day, I don't know what was in the pipe but I sure did feel strange afterwards.

I once had a traditional Arabic feast - lamb and rice, half a chicken, sitting on the floor, no cutlery - with eight men and was regarded as an honorary man, while the women slaved away in the kitchen: they had to wait for the men to finish eating before they got a chance at the leavings.
How could I have done it.

My real growing up started in my 50s, when my father, mother, grandmother all died within 6 months of one another. It was a strange time and even stranger feeling to be the grown up in the family.

And lastly, I met my 3rd husband on a American site for older people which had a poetry section. He lived in Portugal with a daughter who lived in Cornwall, where I lived, so we met up, sparks flew and the rest is history.