Monthly Archives: March 2014

And It’s All Thanks To the Gefilte Fish

Passover is on the way and we’re shopping for “different” foods. The supermarket shelves are loaded with goodies and many of the items are hard to ignore. Who would walk past a skyscraper stack of chocolate covered macaroons (ugh) and not buy them? We picked and chose carefully as we cruised down the aisles so as not to put too big a strain on the overdraft but our resolve gave in as we came to the selection of gefilte fish, a long time favorite in this household.

“Hmm, look at those big bottles,” said my wife, the chief shopper.
“12 pieces per bottle,” said I, reading the label. “How’s the price?”
“22 shekels. That’s pretty good.”
“Take two,” I say, and we load the heavy bottles into the trolley.

This is only the third time we have bought the gefilte fish: up to now this traditional Ashkenazi dish has always been home-made, but age combined with the small retirement home kitchen has brought about changes and the truth is that the ready-made is really good. So we ignore the guilty Ashkenazi feelings and buy our gefilte fish. Each ball will still be served with a roundel of carrot perched on the top and we eat the fish with the same red chrain.

At home we unpack our purchases and look for storage space until the big day arrives. It is then that we notice the expiry date on the bottles – 9 October 2017 at 16:07!

Look at it this way: If the gefilte fish maker is confident that his fish will still be edible in October 2017, we will do everything in our power to make sure that we will be here to eat it. Thank you for your optimism, gefilte fish.


Can One Be Over-Retired?

“The thing about being retired is that the days are all the same,” complained my friend as we were driving along to the art supplies shop in search of canvases and brushes. He is 83 and worked in his dental clinic up to a few months ago when he was forced by his professional indemnity insurance company to retire. “A high speed drill with one end in the patient’s mouth and the other end in a pair of shaky 83 year-old hands could be dangerous. They cancelled my insurance cover so I had to quit.” He spends most of his days painting, turning out beautiful canvases of landscapes with a portrait thrown in now and again to change the subject. He is also an avid football fan and never misses an important match on the TV. And he’s bored.

“I enjoyed working,” he says, “even though it was only two days a week. At least it got me out of the retirement home and into the city, allowed me to see and talk to different people and most of all, enabled me to practice dentistry which has been my occupation for over 60 years. I miss it. I need a break from retirement now and again. All this retirement is just too much!”

Next door to the art shop is a supermarket. “Let’s do something different for a change,” he said, pulling me into the store. “Where’s the Men’s Department?” We find a carousel loaded with bowls of olives, pickles, lemons, hot peppers and other delights and we stand and eat a few of the olives stuffed with chili. When we can breathe again we head for the wine counter where there are special displays and stalls selling wines for the coming Passover holidays.

We each drink a couple of glasses of a new Red from Australia before we decide we don’t like it. We’re out of the ‘retirement blues’ by now and we make for the cheese counter. We spend the next hour sampling thin slivers of goats’ and sheep’s milk cheeses and then we each buy a small slab to take home to show that we haven’t wasted the entire afternoon.

“This retirement home is really a great place, isn’t it?” says my friend as we walk into the lobby, “and there’s nothing quite like being retired, is there?”


97 Year Old Leads Dancing At The Retirement Home

The retirement home staged their annual Purim party on Sunday evening. The invitation read 7:00 sharp and by 6:20 the dining room was packed. One or two hopefuls who arrived on time wandered around looking for vacant chairs. The mountain of electronic sound equipment with 2 human operators and a singer provided a variety of music throughout the evening and there was a heavy flow of soft drinks and sugarless cakes to the tables. A few enterprising Goldenagers remembered their good old days and smuggled in bottles of wine under their clothes.

The costumes were dazzling. The dress theme was “The Sixties” and many of us didn’t have to dress up – our everyday clothes are from the Sixties anyway. Violently colored wigs are all the rage this season and many of the women were topped in psychedelic pinks, greens and blues.

The party started off with a selection of dancing. A short, agile and super-energetic woman was in the forefront and for the first half an hour none of us recognized her. She had on a spiky gold wig, a shiny pink mask with narrow eye-slits, a top with flashy gold sequins and a short, um, very short skirt and black tights. She twirled and twisted her way around the dance floor, moving from one partner to another.
“Who is she?” we asked each other as we watched her in action.

We were stunned to see her bouncing. No one in this retirement home bounces. We keep both eyes strictly on our weak points, meaning hips, knees and ankles. Bouncing is out! And then her mask slipped and her face was revealed.
“It’s Gilda, you know, from the corner apartment on the sixth floor!
“Who?”
“C’mon, you know her. She’s usually in a wheel chair. The one with the attractive Nepalese caregiver! She must be about 90!”
“Impossible! Look at her go!”
“Actually, she’s 97,” someone at our table said. “I’m her neighbor and she asked me to help her to fill in some forms for her bank one day. Born in 1917. Saw it with my own eyes!”
We watched in disbelief, our mouths wide open as she whirled, twisted and bounced her way through the exhausted line of partners. It was a stunning exhibition of 60’s dancing. The band took it as a challenge and the faster she danced the faster the beat of the music.

Shortly before 9pm her Nepalese caregiver came into the dining room. She was pushing a wheelchair. She weaved her way through the dancers, gently took Gilda’s arm, led her off the dance-floor, settled her into the seat, snuggled a blanket around her and wheeled her out. The party was over.


The Exclusive Club at the Retirement Home

From our first week here in the retirement home I’ve noticed an exclusive clique that meets regularly and secretly. They gather in the far corner of the coffee lounge, talk a lot but shut their mouths the moment anyone comes close to their circle. Retired members of the secret service, I thought excitedly. I wonder if I could waylay one of them, ply him or her with whisky and get an exciting story for my blog, a plot for a thriller, a script for a movie…

Yesterday I bumped one of them in the elevator and invited him in for a drink. He took 2 sips of whisky and started to talk. I had a tough time getting him to stop. It’s not what I thought, but they are an elite crowd, all right – nonagenarian drivers! These few men and one woman hold regular meetings where they discuss their driving, ask each other for advice on how to renew their mostly un-renewable licenses, make it through the eye test and exchange stories of their conquests on the roads.

When I finally managed to get a word in, I told the guy that I’m interested in becoming a member.

“How old are you?” he asked.

“Eighty-one,” I replied.

“Come back in nine years, sonny! I’m not even supposed to talk to you yet! Say, do you want to come with me? I’m just popping down to the mall to pick up shoes I left for repair. And you can help me into my car.”

He needs help getting into his car but then he’s going to drive it?

His car is old, rusty and battered. “There were a lot of concrete columns in the last place I lived. Not worth fixing,” he muttered, pointing his cane at the bodywork.

With much groaning I got him behind the wheel and I went around to the passenger side. He fired up the engine and backed out slowly. He made a complicated 8-point maneuver to get the car out of its parking slot and then zoomed out into the traffic without a glance in the mirror. Cars racing down the street swerved and hooted and a couple sent messages with their fists and fingers.

“Everyone is so impatient these days,” he muttered. “They shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car at all.”

A pizza boy on a motor scooter shot into the road and my driver swerved towards him. “That’s the third time I’ve missed that guy this week,” he said. “I’ll get him one of these days.”


The Oscars Come To the Retirement Home

It’s panic night here at the retirement home. Someone, who has to remain nameless, downloaded copies of a dozen movies and guess what – they all ended up in different categories in the Oscar Awards this week. Downloading movies is a definite no-no so the minute disc-on-key device that is moving at the speed of light from one apartment to another is much sought after. Two days after Oscar night, the entire disc will be out of date, the movies discussed, hacked to pieces by this discerning crowd of Golden Aged movie critics and forgotten.

Meantime, the main objective of every resident is to get one’s hand on the disc for the least possible amount of time and make copies of the movies one wants to see, meaning all of them. There are a few minor problems in this. The average age here is 80, so the computer operators are all between 75 and 90 with quite a few in their mid-nineties. The first problem is finding the switch on the computer. Once that’s been accomplished and the screen is glowing in anticipation, one has to remember exactly where one hid the disc-on-key thingy the last time the great-grandchildren came to visit.

The second obstacle is locating my glasses which are always on my head when I don’t need them. Finally I am confronted by the microscopic disc-on-key and the almost invisible matching slot in the computer. By the time I’ve got everything together the crotchety old guy from the fifth floor who is next on the borrow-list is banging on the door. I hit the ‘enter’ key and start the copying process. “Too bad!” I smile at him, let him in and pour him a whisky to dull the edge of his impatience. “It’s out of my hands. My computer is almost as old as me and steam operated!”

We have 6 great movies to watch, enough to get us through the next couple of weeks. But I‘ll have to buy another bottle of whisky tomorrow.