Category Archives: senior citizen

So what will you do all day when you are a pensioner? do you have a pastime hobby (Part two) ?.


(for part one click here)

Well… yeah, I have a hobby! As a matter of fact, I have several hobbies.

I am an amateur photographer. I have a handicam, and I videotape almost anything and everything. The handicam is an extension of my arm… I have been doing that for quite a few years, but never had the time to arrange my photos and videos in a proper manner. Since the images and videos literally fill up my computers’ hard disk, I began to use mobile disks. It is now time to make some order in the many videos. They are at present organized in many folders.

The last year I have been birdwatching, and this is great fun; Most interesting. I focus on the birds in my immediate surroundings. Ten kinds of birds regularly visit, or live in the yard. Since taking long walks is difficult for me, I do my observations in the yard, or through the windows. You’ll be surprised what you can get on tape. I have an ant colony moving to a new nest carrying the eggs. I have videos of bulbul, Eurasian blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) and Palestine sunbirds feeding its young, and a dove encouraging her fledge to start flying. I intend to begin a birdwatching diary, so that I can document the sounds of the birds, their habits, and especially, the manner in which they share the yard. One example is a cypress tree, which several males like to sit on its top and make their calls. They take turns during the day: a sunbird, a bulbul, a crow and a greenfinch.

My goal is to document their behavior, as well as to create a database of sounds as well as audiovisual database, and put them on the net for all to see.

To manage my database, and tag my pictures/videos with multiple tags, without duplicating them on the disk (space!), I am planning to write an image/video software organizer. I was in my past a professional programmer, and through the years of teaching I was always creating small projects in C++ and in C# to keep in shape… So it is time to get back to business. I have been contemplating writing applications for android but that means learning java or other protocols, and I am not sure if I want that. However, in six months… things may be different. I have a few ideas for startups, such as… (in your dreams. I am going to patent them and become a millionaire). I love programming. It is an occupational therapy of sorts for me.

Small time occupations are: cooking – we are still trying to find the golden path between my husband’s lack of appetite, and my very amateur cooking abilities… ; gardening – watering the plants, and hopefully, growing some vegetables and spices like onions, dill, parsley, mint and garlic.


Did I mention reading?

From my mother, I took a few hundred books, fiction and non-fiction alike. Albeit some of her interests do not appeal to me, others do. These were added to my own few hundred books. I need some time to put the books in order, to decide which books I definitely don’t want and give them away. Then to put the rest on bookshelves, which I don’t have, and begin reading. The most obvious place is the store room/ garage which desperately needs renovation, cleaning and… a floor. Well, you know; tiles, and all that. It is just a cement floor, not — for almost 30 years…. So, when the rainy season passes I intend to clear the storage room, clean it up and remodel it as a multipurpose room – one of which is to hold my books.


I also love to listen to music. This needs special attention. So do all my CDs and DVDs (all purchased) to be reexamined and perhaps sorted on some other media.


When I was a child my father was in the military, and was stationed  twice in Africa as part of an task force that assisted in creating a local unit modelled after the Israeli נח”ל  (phonetically : Nakhal, No’ar Khalutzi Lokhem, translated as: Combative Pioneer Youths).  We lived in Daar Es Salaam, Tanzania for about a year and a half during  1964-1965,and then in Lusaka ,Zambia for about a year during 1966-1967. In Tanzania we went on a week-long safari, at which time my father took many picture that were developed as slides. Recently, when my mother was forced to move to a nursing home, I found my father’s (many) slides, along with his slide projector, which is still working (no less than I expected, btw…).   I am waiting for a moment of peace to have a slide show of the safari and many other events, and be reminded of childhood adventures..

What about intellectual projects?

I mean reading and listening to music is great, but it is passive. Some of that as a young woman I did some painting and drawing , in my teens and as far as my late twenties. Then life happened, and it was one of the first things to go. I am not god’s gift to art, but I think I will enjoy returning to that. It is creative, it’s special personal time. My father did some painting as a young man and kind of gave it up later, for whatever reason, then in his old age, returned to it after a stroke. Me, I am not so talented, but I believe I shall enjoy it anyway. My father left some paints, brushes and canvases. My mother bought for him materials to create small mosaics. Maybe I will do at some point in time.

However, I do not want to become senile any time soon. Therefore, active intellectual projects must be in work. At this time, I am still working on my Master’s thesis. It has taken far too long, partly because my supervisor is super-pedant. She is a great supervisor. If I had one like her when I began to my Master’s degree in computer science in the 1980s, I would have been gone on to my doctorate… however, my supervisor then was indifferent and unhelpful, and I was clueless. Hopefully, in a few weeks I will be handing it in and be done with it.
When I was 50 years old, in 2004, I began to study Japanese with a private teacher. Did that, because I was always interested in Japan and I had also trained in Karate for a decade or so (between 1990-2000). My teacher found a real job and couldn’t continue, so… U decided to go all the way, and began to study in the Haifa University. I completed Asian Studies for the bachelor’s degree (in five semesters) and proceeded to the Master’s degree, in 2009-2010 completing all courses and seminars with an average grade of 90. All that, while working full-time plus as a high school teacher. So, not bad I think. In 2011, I began my thesis, but a lot happened at work and at home (see part one). Bottom line, I had to quit my studies when I realized I couldn’t keep up with the deadlines. After three years of recess, I went back to it, and very fortunately, my supervisor agreed to continue (she is a very busy person, currently heading the Asian studies department). So, now she has my last draft, and please-please God… make her say that it’s the greatest composition in the Universe… or at least, that it is satisfactory enough to be submitted.


I have found that I need full concentration for the academic feat. When it is over, It is very possible that I will take online courses with a serious academic institution such as those offered by MIT-Harvard. Started one once, but had too much to cope with. I am thinking linguistics, so that I can understand a little more about the field my Dr. Daughter is occupied with; and an android programming course. Maybe, a little about verification of software, so that I can follow on my Dr. Son’s work. Just a little.


After completing my thesis, my next academic assignment is the family books. I have been researching my family roots for a while. Luckily, two people did a lot of work in that area: my mother prepared family books for both her mother’s and her father’s families. My first assignment is to investigate her father’s death in 1946 (before I was born, hence not ‘grandfather’). He died in the explosion of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, the details of which are under controversy to this day.

Then, there is my father’s family, the Sternheims and the Baums. For my second assignment, I will use a research done by a gentleman by the name of Adolf Bartram. For his own reasons, he researched the Sternheim family sources and whereabouts. He researched and discovered over a thousand, going back to one ancestor in 1700s and down some 8 generations. My assignment is to discover more details on my branch of the tribe, starting with my great-grandfather. Beyond discovering what happened to those who died in the holocaust, I am interested in learn how they lived: their occupations, their education, their religious approach.

Possibly, if I manage that and survive, I would like to write a fictional book based on the findings, a kind of a novel, to depict their lives.


So what will I do all day as a pensioner?
If only I have the strength and live long enough to do all of the above…

God. I need a plan!

(for part one click here)



So what will you do all day when you are a pensioner? do you have a pastime hobby? (or: going on pension having an elderly parent) (Part one)?


That question was on many lips when I took an early retirement at the age of 60, two years ahead of schedule. I am one of the lucky women who could afford to do that. Not because my pension is high: far from it. I was a teacher for 27 years and my pension is just above minimum wages, and my last salary was just over the average wages. So thank god for successful husbands, I say (touch wood)….

Why did I choose to retire?

Having worked for six years as a computer programmer during my military service (in my twenties), and after completing my bachelor degree in the field (maths and computer sciences) I could have had a fine career in the field (we are talking early 1980s). However, after my two children were born, relying on all sorts of considerations, we elected to live in the small town of Karmi’el in Northern Israel, which was within our means and possibilities for housing. Despite many advantages, it had one major disadvantage for me: little options for professional advancements. It provided very few jobs and was remote from higher education opportunities. So, I made a choice that many women make in this situation, and found a more ‘convenient’ job: teaching. I was soon to learn that the working hours were far more than I expected, in the afternoons as well as in the mornings, but the alternatives were practically non-existent for me.

I believe that in the last few years of my career I was quite a good teacher. The last year was a peak year in my career. I had wonderful three classes (10th grade to 12th grade). My students gave me a farewell party and some of them shed tears… I was very moved. So why did I choose to retire?

The 4-5 years before I retired were very difficult: in November 2011, a teacher on my professional team (computer science) tragically passed away, and I found myself facing grieving students (16-18 year olds) who were quite shocked. Not only finding a replacement was close to impossible, but introducing one so soon was unthinkable. Under those circumstances, another teacher on my team and myself accepted the (over)load for that year. At the same time, my mother had a health problem that needed attention for a few months ( I am her only living child). It was a very difficult year.

The next year, as the team leader, I accepted a new teacher – or I should say, a computer Science graduate who was completing his studies for a teaching license.  He assisted me in project-consulting for senior students. The year after that he began to consult his own group, under my supervision and we were still working very tightly. I was teaching over 100% of a full time job. By September 2014, I was good  and ready to retire… It was not a moment too soon.

What have I been doing since I retired, 21 months ago?

I had, and still have, many plans.  I truly needed the rest, and for a while, I literally did only one thing: I worked on my Master’s thesis. More on that further down. My children came to visit from abroad (my daughter from the United States, she was at MIT at the time, now at McGill); and my son from Vienna, he is at the Forsyte group of TU Vienna. My husband was also making a change in his life: he also took an early retirement from his primary place of work of 28 years in Haifa, and found a new job in  the Electrical and Electronic Engineering ,Ort Braude in Karmiel .

Seven months after I left school (counting summer vacation), around mid-December 2014, my mother fell in her own home, and was hospitalized in critical condition. For a month I practically lived in the hospital… For a while she wasn’t quite there physically or mentally. Then she recovered, gradually returning to herself and needed some rehabilitation: from complete independence, she was reduced to a wheel chair. She could not return home because of stairs problem. Consequently, she spent the next month in two rehabilitation centers, being very unhappy, but determined to upgrade to a walker. Naturally, I was visiting 2-3 times a week. Finally we managed to find her a place in a retirement home for senior citizens, Beit Ildan (Bayit Balev). It is  one of the only two homes that I know of in Israel that has a ward for persons who are physically frail but mentally functional. This home also has protected accommodation for more independent residents, who live in their own (tiny) apartments, many times with privately hired caretakers.  My mother, however, lives on the special ward. She has her own one-room apartment with a kitchenette and a roomy bathroom. The ward offers 5 meals a day, medical care, and assistance around the clock.

To make matters more interesting, we had been attempting to sell her house for a couple of years, but the market was very slow. In the same month when she moved to Beit Ildan, we completed a deal with a nice couple. Our buyers wanted to move as soon as possible, so we evacuated my mother’s belongings in a matter of two months. Not simple, since we had to make quick decisions as for what to keep, what might she still need or wish to keep, and what to do with other stuff. Luckily, our buyers were very easygoing and suggested that whatever we did not want to take with us, we can just leave in the house for them to dispose of or use (we left furniture in several room, and other stuff. We used movers to bring stuff that we were keeping to our house: my mother’s clothing, books, paintings and other decorations (oh yes, she wanted to have some of those in her room). She had a large library which is still in boxes in my storage room, a newspaper collection, and… well you get the picture.

My husband was supportive through the sale and the move, and you can only imagine what certain rooms in house look like at this time…

My elderly parent

My mother, to whom I wish health and wellbeing, is a very intelligent, authoritative, intellectually active woman, who just celebrated her 88th birthday. She has mild health problems and difficulties in some basic activities such as getting dressed and washing herself, as well as walking. She has arrived to the frustrating situation where she sometimes cannot get in time to the toilet. Using diapers or absorbent underwear was a necessity she accepted pragmatically, but not mentally. I am sure she often cries at night, when nobody sees. Most of the time, however, she works hard to make the best of a very bad bargain. She has a self-planned daily routine in a ward where most of the residents are feeble minded as well as bodily frail. Beyond the early morning shower and beyond meals, and not counting medical treatments she undergoes because of a lymphatic edema in her legs, she does the following: in the morning, she reads the daily newspaper. Then she completes some crosswords of both numerical and verbal substance. If the weather permits (and a lot of other excuses don’t stand in the way) she sits a while on the terrace. She reads a book, sometimes two (say, a novel and a more nonfiction type of book). She takes an interest in archeology and she is subscribed to a biannual magazine on the subject.

She chats mainly with the house caretakers who come to sit with her on their breaks; she has biweekly visit from the librarian of the house, who comes to discuss all sorts of intellectual discussions (1-2 hour visits). She reads the weekend supplementary, from two leading newspapers (Ma’ariv and Ha’aretz).

In addition, she supervises her bank account very closely. Only recently she suggested that maybe I should manage some of her investments (still closely supervised)… She also monitors all of her medical affairs. For those purposes and others, she manages a diary of events (a calendar diary).

In the evenings, she watches television. We registered her to a wide range of stations, including BBC, History channel, scientific channel and the obvious local channels (1,2, and 10). She etires to bed around midnight.

Naturally, we chat on the phone every day, and I try to visit at least once a week. On occasion, there are more daily chats and less visits. She is not too far, but sometimes I do not feel well enough to drive, or for a visit. Mostly, though, we have fantastic discussions on a variety of issues. There are personal matters of course. And then there is politics, actuality, family matters, archaeological discoveries, books she read, ideas for easy cooking … and lots of other subjects.

Finally, in my sixties and her almost nineties, we both have time and the energy for a close relationship!

So what will I do all day as a pensioner? Well, you will have to read part 2 to find out…