Aging Without A Partner

 

 

Another one of those “I won’t feel sorry for myself” blogs.

As you know, many people, consciously or unconsciously, decide to have children so that there will be someone to take care of them when they get old. Now don’t get all judgie on me, I’m not saying that it’s the primary reason for having children; stating that it is certainly one of many. So how does one sort out being single and/or childless and having to face the idea that he or she might be alone when help is needed later on in life. The other factor to consider, is the reality that children are moving further and further away from their parents. Another consideration is the unpredictability of the future and the longevity of a life partnership:  people die, we get divorced, life happens.

I certainly cannot speak for all individuals in this position, however, I can and will, speak for myself.

I think we can all agree that remaining in a relationship because you fear being alone, is a terrible plan. I unfortunately know too many people who are in this situation. I have known friends who were “stuck” and then for whatever reason, decided to move on and never regretted that decision. On the flip side, I have also seen couples decide to stay together and consequently work through their issues. Fortunately, the stigma of remaining or choosing to be single is quickly disappearing. We have options.

 

Taking Action

There are several ways to tackle a problem. You can sit around and worry yourself to death or you can take action. By “take action” I mean develop a plan. Brainstorming all of your options on paper is one way to do this. If you know someone whom you trust and who you know will not judge you, it might be a good idea to ask them to brainstorm with you. There are so many different ways to deal with this issue and frankly, you may not currently be familiar with some of them.

 

Remaining Single (or not)           To Assist if Needed                    Options

Independence Brother Paid Care
Quiet Niece Assisted Living
No drama Friend Move in with relatives
A life choice Create a Community House
Agreement with friends

Create a simple chart to organize your thoughts. I’m obsessed with charts.

 

Research

An abundance of good information is currently available on the internet (I will provide a few — click title for info):

Building an Aging Alone Plan – Solving the Solo Epidemic

Aging alone, ‘elder orphans’ can rely on kids or spouses when …

Aging Alone: A Candid Guide to Money, Health and Living for Single …

You’ll be surprised how much is out there. Each individual needs to do their own research. Our needs are different, our desires are usually specific to our chosen lifestyle, and our financial situation will often dictate the direction we go in. Don’t forget that most people are good natured and want to help; help you find options and help you be independent.

 

Community Houses

I have a good friend who has decided that bringing together a group of friends in a single home or group of cottages, is the way to go. In this scenario, a group of people would all buy into a property and own equal shares. I like the idea in theory for many reasons; mainly, because you can do a lot more with five or six people contributing. You might have that oceanfront house you always wanted or you might be able to share a vehicle or hire help. The main problem would be equal contributions. Some people are better off financially and may want more amenities, whereas others, might be willing to settle for a lot less. Then there is also the issue of death and how to deal with ownership. All of these considerations could be dealt with, with the “right” group of individuals. I would think legal advice would be helpful.

I would not consider this option at this point in my life for the following reasons:

  1. I prefer quiet time and solitude most of the time.
  2. I’m not very fond of the way some people take care of themselves (I’m trying very hard to be diplomatic).
  3. My idea of clean doesn’t match up with most individuals. I’m not a germaphobe, but have you see how some people live?
  4. I like where I am.

One should be open to a change in attitude in the future. I’m always considering all of my options. The only thing certain in life is uncertainty.

“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

 

Assisted Living

I’m not going to go into details about assisted living because everyone knows what it is. There are a few advantages such as on-premises medical care and shared living expenses, but it’s not right for everyone. I sometimes think about activities taking place right where I live and whether or not I would like that. Two of my sisters live in Florida residences where there are many activities and I have stayed with both of them for short periods of time. I do believe some people need the social connections. You have to decide what works best for you. And of course, all assisted living arrangements are different; there may be one out there that suits your needs — if and when the time comes.

 

Family

I consider myself fortunate. I have nieces and nephews I am certain would take care of me if I were unable to take care of myself. I don’t mean being hidden away in a basement either. I also have a couple of siblings who would drop everything to move in with me for a bit. I am hoping to never have to rely on family; however, it’s good to know that loved ones would be there for you if you needed them. It’s important to have a conversation about this possibility, rather than just assume that it’s a given.

My mom and I would always joke about what would happen if she needed help. I would tell her that there was no way she could ever move in with me, but she knew in her heart that I would be there for her. My dad and I discussed his options when his body became riddled with cancer. Trust is everything when the future is uncertain. I was fortunate to have many caring siblings when the time came to help dad live out the remainder of his life.

I have several siblings I am sure would come to help on a temporary basis. I also know that I have a couple of siblings that I could live with if need be. I do not believe I will ever have to take advantage of this, however, it sure is good to know that I will have that option available to me. I would do the same for any of my siblings. I would also have to admit that I would, in some cases, have to insist on some behavior modification (ie., no smoking in the house or dancing on the dining room table).

 

Friends

Friends and longterm care are a delicate matter. It’s one thing to impose on a family member and another to permanently move in with a friend or expect a friend to move in with you. Let’s face it, it’s a lot to ask of anyone; therefore, I must admit that I’m not sure about this one. Friends often surprise you. Being open to help from others is essential.

 

Financial Freedom

I have had this lifelong issue about not being able to ask for help, but I’ve become better about it recently. Sometimes it takes a crisis to consider your options. Leaning on anyone for anything has always been one of those things I’ve struggled with and to be frank, pride is usually the issue. It’s important to consider the cost of remaining independent, if for some reason you cannot care for yourself.

man s hand in shallow focus and grayscale photography
Photo by lalesh aldarwish on Pexels.com

 

Worst Case Scenario

Not everyone likes to think about the future by considering “the worst case scenario.” What would happen if I lost my mobility? What if I had a stroke and could no longer care for myself? What would happen if my life partner died? These are big and important questions. Although it might be difficult to consider the possibilities, many choose not to think about them and end up in the predicament where they have no choice but to give in to whatever option is presented to them at the time of a tragic event or major lifestyle change.

I know a man who did not consider his future prior to a major life change and ended up being forced to live with a child whose spouse he did not get along with. He pitted his daughter against her spouse and it caused many problems in his child’s marriage, eventually leading to their separation.

I had a drink with a friend this week; he had no idea I was writing about this topic and I did not share that I was — I don’t like pushing my blog on friends. He voiced a concern about a house he is renovating. He said he wasn’t sure he would be able to live in the house because it has a second floor and that’s where his bedroom will be. I was surprised to hear him say this, however, I do understand his concern. My response was that if the second floor ever became a problem, he could move his bedroom to the first floor (I’ve seen people do it). He did not respond to my rebuttal.

I’m not sure why, but I do think people shy away from relocating in their own homes. Perhaps it forces you to face your own mortality; I’m not sure. Humans are funny; there are so many topics that we choose to avoid. I’m hoping this will get you thinking about your future. Please write if there are considerations I did not mention.

 

 

Summer Travel

I admittedly prefer to stay put when everyone else is traveling. There are a couple of local beach spots that I will venture off to. Next week I will spend a couple of nights at a contemporary hotel in Tavira. Tavira is one of my favorite towns in Portugal and it’s only 30 minutes east of Faro by train. There is a month-long food festival happening in June and I would like to take advantage of the festival and a few days relaxing by a pool.

I have also booked a few days in Albufeira, a small coastal city about 30 minutes west of Faro. I will be taking a train there in mid-July. Albufeira has a very pretty Old Town area and a robust nightlife. There are times when one must put oneself in the center of activity in order to partake. All part of self-discovery. Going to bed at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday night is not always healthy for one’s social life. It’s so much easier when it’s not about me.

 

The Problem with Arrogance

I occasionally find another blogger whose writing speaks to me. I thought it might resonate with you as well.

Pointless Overthinking

7 deadly sins

Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found at Thinker Boy:  Blog & Art.

When I was growing up, there was a very common euphemism that was used when referring to those who behaved arrogantly.  Such people were said to be “full of themselves.”  I don’t know if folks still use this phrase or not.  Today, because the average person generally spends less time beating around the bush, it is highly likely that he or she would be more direct, saying the following instead: “Arrogant people are full of shit.”

Because arrogant people are full of themselves and they are, by definition, shitty people, that makes them full of shit.   I suppose I’ve just proved, using a kind of syllogistic logic, that arrogant people can be both full of themselves and shitty.  Actually, they are shitty because they are very much themselves.

(You can probably tell that I really get…

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Fighting the Inside Dragons – Book Launch

I appreciate Bogdan’s point of view and enjoy following him.

Pointless Overthinking

A4   We try to make some sense out of this weird brutal world. The problem is that the sense we’re making has the power f*ck us up inside and that’s what really matters. WE are the ones seeing the world so WE are the ones deciding how it is and we can only do it for us. The life we’re living has an unique sense because we’re the ones living it. Two different people can see the same life differently; therefore, what’s inside our head makes the difference.

   I believe that people need to be more aware of how important the inside universe really is so I wrote a book to bring some awareness in this area along with some tools that can help us re-gain the control over our thought process and over our emotions.

   How satisfied are you with your life? If you believe there is…

View original post 131 more words

Catania, Sicilia . . . Finally!

 

Good stuff about Catania — click on anything underlined for more info

It’s pouring rain outside and I’m okay with that. After four or five months of nothing but sunshine, the rain is a welcome relief. Sunshine starting Friday (two days away).

I arrived to Catania on Monday evening and I’ll be here for a week. Flying through Milan was the least expensive way to go and I guess one layover was acceptable. I almost left Milan without my luggage, not knowing that I had to transfer my bag to my next flight. Usually, when I fly the same airline, they transfer my bag. Anyway, I had lots of time in Milan and I got it done and met a few nice airline people along the way.

Here are some of my first impressions:

  • It’s much more expensive than Portugal. Food, taxi, band aids, and buses.
  • The natives are friendly, but there’s a little edginess (not a word) — like living here isn’t easy.
  • The Old City is beautiful; very dark and very old (lava rock has been used for building).
  • The beef here is incredible.
  • So far, I haven’t had any bad food. Snacking on Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto, oil cured black olives and good Sicilian red wine (very robust and dark).
  • It’s easy to get lost, but people are helpful and it’s a way to discover your surroundings.
  • Sicilian food is not the same as Italian food.

I’m staying in an Airbnb apartment with two terraces; one off the bedroom and the other off the dining room. I have a view the Old City and the Port — both are magnificent. The trash collectors wake me up, but I’m an early riser anyway. The apartment is fully equipped save for an umbrella. I think I can live without it.

 

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No donuts in Portugal and I LOVE them!

 

 

Prestipino (Old City) is a bakery around the corner from my Airbnb. Claudio (my host) told me about it, along with many of his favorite eateries; one of the many things I love about Airbnb travel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There are bakeries on every corner and they are all awesome. I can’t stop eating.

Sailed on the mediterranean and this is what they served us with prosecco:

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Bad angle, sorry.

 

 

The roasted tomatoes were sublime and the melon was the best I’ve ever had (so orange). Combine the food, the prosecco with the salt air and it was heaven on earth.

I had dinner at Steak House (www.steakhousecatania.it) last night. They had different cuts of meat from all over the world. Having been taught to buy local in Maine, that’s what I did. I had an awesome T-bone with roasted potatoes. I brought home leftovers and I will be eating steak and eggs (from the market) for breakfast tomorrow.

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Steak House

 

I went to the open-air market today and did not take pictures because my phone was charging and it was cloudy. I’ll go back before I leave. I had fresh oysters, freshly made caponata Siciliana and a basket of fried fish. I ate well. All of the street food tours were close to 50 Euros or more and I enjoyed time with the merchants and spent maybe 15 Euros all in. And I have enough food at home for a couple of meals. Travel with me and you’ll save big bucks.

After having a candlelit dinner (abbondaza from the market:  mozzarella, pizza, mussels, semolina bread, etc.) out on the terrace, I noticed some big black clouds moving in from Mount Etna. Moments later the thunder started and I quickly decided that this was going to be a delicious evening of soft music, Sicilian red wine and a long-awaited thunder-storm; honestly it’s been many, many months and a good storm is on my top five favorite things list. What a glorious night in Catania. Unfortunately, there was massive flooding here and that made it it a disaster for some; not good.

I went on a bus tour to Noto, Ortigia Island, and Siracusa today (the third full day of my stay). Etnatribe deserves a plug; they were fantastic. Mother nature decided that a thunder-storm would keep us away from the archeological park in Siracusa. It was raining so hard after lunch that they closed the park.  I was disappointed; however, I have seen Greek and Roman ruins in other parts of the world and I was happy to be safe in the van while it was pouring. Most vehicles could not drive on the roads it was raining so hard, but alas, we were fine. The big bonus was that our guide Orazio, is also an Etna guide and spent an hour telling us all about the volcano — fascinating.

 

theater
Greek amphitheater at the Archeological Parc
We started our tour in Catania and made our way to Noto with clear skies and very few tourists (apparently most people go there in the afternoon). Noto is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to . . . anywhere.

 

The next stop was Ortigia Island. This historical island is the original Siracusa before they expanded many, many years ago.

 

A day in Catania (at the Fish Market, Bellini Gardens and walking around)

 

I was scheduled to go horseback riding at Mt. Etna tomorrow, but it just got cancelled due to the weather; bummer. The best part of growing older is that you learn acceptance.

Cooking class this evening at the home of a very special Sicilian cook; born and raised in Catania. 

I walked to a very nice neighborhood about 20 minutes from my Airbnb. Thankfully, by now I know the streets and it’s very easy to walk around the city. Deborah and her partner Fabio were waiting for me. I was the only person to sign up for a class last night (lucky me) and I was so pleased that Deborah did not cancel. Aside from teaching Sicilian cooking classes, Deborah is also an attorney and mother of three. She and Fabio had a beautiful and inviting home and I had four hours of Sicilian bliss.

 

That’s her son Giuseppe washing dishes (above). He took a break from studying to say hello and help his mom — a good Italian boy and very charming.

We prepared a pumpkin risotto with fresh pumpkin and Deborah’s ricotta cheese (she shared that she makes it almost everyday because her family eats so much of it), a meatball and pumpkin dish (pictured above) and a not-so-sweet typical cinnamon and pistachio Sicilian custard-like dessert. Deborah and her class the day before made a delicious caponata and so we ate that as well; lucky me. She also had leftover pistachio cake, which she generously shared. Deborah also baked brown bread and that too was delicious.

The names of Deborah’s traditional Sicilian dishes:

Risotto alla zucca con ricotta di pecora; polpette e zucca in agrodolce; and Gelo di cannella.

The Arab, Moroccan influence in Sicilian cooking makes it very unique and not very Italian (to this southern Italian boy). The seasonings and spices are much more middle Eastern than typical Italian. The meal was delicious, but even better than that was Deborah and Fabio’s delightful company. I believe I have made some new lifelong friends. The Sicilian red Nero d’Avola sealed the deal. What a magical experience offered by Airbnb. If you’re headed to a city for vacation, I highly recommend checking out what they have to offer. It’s usually local residents sharing their talents.

I booked a room at the airport hotel due to my early flight Monday morning; I figured it was best to plan a soft landing. Tomorrow morning I will leave my Airbnb and go to relax at the hotel’s pool, spa and bar. This trip has been a truly restorative and educational experience. Had I know Sicily was so incredibly beautiful and inviting, I would have come sooner. The good news is that there is so much more to explore. I will be back.

A Side Note: 

Before choosing Faro as my new home, I considered Italy along with a few other countries. After one week in Sicily I realized that if I had moved to Italy, I would become rather large. There is something about the soil, the climate, the history, the regulations, and my Italian background that would make it impossible to avoid eating and drinking everything in plain sight.

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A view from the Bell Tower in one of the many churches of Noto. My God did I see a lot of churches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Papagni Pages Launch

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Expat Defined

I am most comfortable with the word “immigrant:  a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.” My father immigrated to the United States from Italy and now I have emigrated to Portugal. Why Portugal? Simple answer:  finances. There probably are parts of Italy where I could enjoy the same lifestyle, but there were quite a few boxes to check off and Portugal offered me the best value for my retirement dollars. Most of my ancestry are rooted in Europe; Western and Eastern Europe, so as long as I am in Europe, I am content.

Deciding on a specific location requires a complicated answer. I will simplify my response by naming my top eleven criteria (it would have been ten, but Giorgio was a big part of my decision):

  1. The weather — at this point in my live being in a warmer, not-so-humid, environment was a must.
  2. Food — fresh seafood was a must. It was essential to be located in a place where local food is readily available and accessible.
  3. Water — My bucket list has long included seeing the ocean from my terrace. I was fortunate to look out over the East River in New York City for a short period of time. The Atlantic is right beyond the Ria Formosa (a river leading to the ocean) and I can see it clearly from my terrace.
  4. People — I want to be around progressive, liberal-minded people; who care about the planet, one another and preserving their culture.
  5. Accessibility — the ability to easily travel from my location without a vehicle is important to me. I have worked toward a smaller carbon footprint for a long time. There is no need to own a vehicle if you can easily get from point A to B.
  6. Affordability — I need to rely on my savings. That is not to say that I will not earn money while living overseas; however, depending on future income is an easy way to get into trouble. I am assuming nothing; Maine taught me that much.
  7. Healthcare — quality and affordability
  8. Safety — Crime stats and safe for older folks
  9. The Environment — where does the country stand on global warming, regulations, philosophical posturing, etc.
  10. The People and Culture — Are people friendly and welcoming? Do they like Americans or resent them? Do they hold onto and observe tradition? Are the arts celebrated?
  11. Taking a Pet — quarantine would be a deal breaker.

I would have to say that most, if not all, of the above were non-negotiable. I did not list them in order of importance, although some criteria are a bit more important to me. Several were easy to research and others required a visit and a gut feeling. I would imagine that everyone’s list is different and that is completely understandable. I was able to make this decision independently; add others to the mix and it becomes slightly more complicated.

Keeping in mind that few things in life are permanent helped me make the decision to leave the U.S. I have moved a dozen or more times, and therefore I know that moving once more would be manageable. Better to sort all of this out before I’m unable to. One of the many lessons I learned is the satisfaction one is provided when shedding material “things.” We accumulate so much that we do not need and it does nothing more than burden us; bog us down.

And then of course there is the great unknown:  What if I don’t make friends? What if the anticipated earthquake happens while I’m living in Portugal? What if my money runs out? And on and on . . . A have a wise friend, John Mclaughlin, who often says, “Palms up to the universe.” I have been far too concerned with every “what if” for far too long. Allowing life to be more organic and spontaneous is a lesson we can all learn.

It’s been two weeks today and I have made a couple of friends, the earthquake hasn’t happened, and most of my fears have remained silly notions. No doubt that I have a lot to discover and learn. But in the meantime, I’ve eaten well, enjoyed a jazz concert, started spinning (cycle exercise) again, sharpened up my awful Portuguese, had a visitor from Ireland (Alison), partly furnished my condo, helped Giorgio settle in, went to see an American film (not dubbed; they don’t do that here) and started a blog. Not a bad start to the next chapter.

Future blogs will be all about adventures, observations, strange but candid thoughts, and whatever you the reader might request. There may be big news coming. I won’t know for a week or so; therefore, you will have to wait.

Link to a piece I wrote about my dad a few years ago for The Phoenix in Portland, Maine is at the bottom of the page. Formatting will improve as I get better at this. It’s sort of like learning a new language — oy vey.

Is the red background with white text too difficult to read? Weigh in please. Other thoughts?

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pastel de nata
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The typical appearance of the pastel de nata, in this case, produced in Macau
Alternative names Pastel de Belém
Course Dessert
Place of origin Portugal
Region or state Santa Maria de BelémLisbon(originally); produced worldwide within the Lusosphere
Created by Religious of the Monastery of the Hieronymites
Serving temperature Fresh from oven, with cinnamon and icing sugar
Main ingredients Egg yolks
Variations Regional
Food energy
(per serving)
298 per 100 grams (3.5 oz) kcal
 Cookbook: Pastel de nata   Media: Pastel de nata

Pastel de nata (Portuguese pronunciation: [pɐʃˈtɛɫ dɨ ˈnatɐ]; plural: pastéis de nata), is a Portuguese egg tart pastry, originally from Portugal which can also be found in Brazil and other countries with significant Portuguese immigrant populations

Photos: 

1-Jazz on a Saturday night very close to home

2-A sample of the famous Portuguese tile work you see throughout the country

3-Pastel da nata–a delicious pastry/custard dessert you quickly learn you cannot live without

 

The Phoenix piece I wrote about my father: about