Been having internet issues. I will continue in hopes of being able to connect with photos as well as text. Unfortunately my two earlier attempts are somewhere in the ether…

They seemed to have cleaned up the problem so I will have to recap my previous blogs and hope to give you a feel for this city.

Oslo on the weekend was eerily empty. According to one of our tour guides it is because all the families are either still away or just back because school starts today, Monday August 22 – all levels from pre-school through university. But this morning though there were more people the city still seems rather empty. Our group did a city walk this morning along a river the takes water from the hills above the city from which the drinking water is delivered. Sounds impossible but that’s the story.

Roaring down several waterfalls to deep pools with salmon runs.
Since lighting was essential windows are large and the roof provided excellent north light on this sail making factory.
Old mills which used the water power I. The 19th century.

The mills employed mostly young women from the countryside many of whom worked for very little pay. They often were exploited also for sex and when children were born various religious and civic organizations would house mothers and children and often take care of the babies during the day while the mother worked.

Sculpture of young women from the bridge leading to the factory

The university has its arts campus in this riverside park. We were told that there are music events the utilize the steps for concerts. We trekked up to use the facilities and to take a quick look at the two large galleries on the entry floor both of which featured paintings.

The steps of the arts campus used as outdoor music venue with classrooms and studios in the buildings.

New York, New York

Lot of activities and lots of people and a hiccup our two. But by and large a terrific trip. There is something about old friends that makes talking about the changes we’re finding as we age one really new topic. And Old jokes about old times seem as funny to us as ever, but only moderately so to partners. That could be why so few were in attendance but the pandemic was the reason given.

Across from Kale’s house. The scale has changed.

Getting Ready for the Fjords

In a matter of days I leave for Finland, Norway and Lapland! After considering getting a larger piece of luggage I decided to stay with the one I have and just take whatever fits. This is travel to a cold climate so I thought I might need bulkier clothes, sweaters and such… I will simply wear as many layers as I can while traveling and do a lot of washing. I know how to do that.

Getting ready

Usually I bring stuff to leave behind because often folks where I travel have little. But not so in these countries. However we are having a lunch with a family in Lapland and I have a memento designed to signal coming from San Francisco. It is a dish towel and we can always use another one of those.

A new kitchen towel

I am also going to buy some Jam made in SF because the locals of the Sami people who are the only remaining indigenous people in the region. They make jam from lingonberries and sell it and I hope they like the raspberry rose jam made by a small group in San Francisco.

Back to trying to figure out what to take and what not to. I am back to taking my walking shoes as well as my new rubber shoes for the rain which looks like an almost every day occurrence.

Hei hey! That’s so long in Finnish

I Had a Birthday

Birthday greetings

This year I decided to give myself a birthday present. I have been doing a travel blog when on trips (a sad disappearance during COVID) and this year I decided to give myself a new blog. The title is 89andCounting.

89andCounting will be a blog for elders, and for people who love elders, and for people who may want to become elders, and for elders who want to connect to others. This is a way for me to learn new things: how to operate a website, how to research topics of interest to me and hopefully to others, how to be a successful and positive presence on the internet.

But first let me tell you about my birthday! Phaedra set up a girls spa day at the Sonoma Mission Inn for Gaby and Phaedra and me, two sisters and a Mama. The Inn is located above Boyes Spring one of the hot magnesium salts springs used for generations of American Indian rituals. There were plans for a facial and a massage as well lolling in and around the healing pools of various heats, from way too warm for me, to body temp, to a bit more than 98 degrees, comfortable and according my masseur, Robert, very good for muscles after the massage.

After a walk in the town of Sonoma we found the oldest bar in town at the Swiss Hotel for a preprandial cocktail (Phaedra, me and Gaby)

My webmaster will be Ward once he gets back from his various appearances at conferences, I think it will be sometime next week. Aside from teaching me, it will be a sweet time to be together. I am making notes on topics I hope to address, and we shall see how it goes. You are welcome to comment…

Summer weather complete with more than an inch of rain overnight

Here in the New Jersey hinterland greens of every shade dominate every landscape. Marcia pointed out a field that announces the coming autumn with whole trees with rosy leaves and some with gold leaves drifting down with each breeze. But all the other trees were solid green for miles.

East Coast Cloud

The weather forecast was for rain to come in overnight, the tail end of one of the tropical storms that first hit Texas and Mississippi. The clouds float in the sky like an airborne cotton ball. Very little movement. I think of our clouds as stripes of water vapor being pushed and pulled apart.

As we drove to the grocery store about 25 minutes away I took a photo of Paulinskill Lake one of the many lakes that seemed to have been formed in the creases of the many old mountains. Houses are tucked in but there is no “lake community” with boat rentals and small beaches. Every once in a while there will be a boat dock, but even they are rare.

Paulinskill Lake

Tomorrow we will go to see my friend Mary Ann Janis now Mary Ann Treacy who was my best friend from the sixth grade through high school. I last saw her 20 years ago!

Stillwater in Summer

The air is still and moist. The air smells green.

Marcia and David’s back lawn

Last night we went to dinner at Mohawk House a large venue which has several dining rooms. We had a fabulous waitress who has three kids and who was a marine. There were several dining rooms and we were in the largest and most formal room.

Local stone was used in many grand houses
The Main entrance.

East Coast – to New Jersey

My dearest sister Marcia lives in tiny Stillwater Township in New Jersey in a sweet yellow house with her husband David and lots of animals inside and out.

This was my first trip anywhere in more than a year and I was looking forward to it like crazy. This is also the first trip since early August when my knee decided to give up. That is, my knee complained about being forced to do dance 3x a week and Pilates 2x, to say nothing about all the walking. Turns out I have severe arthritis in both (!) knees.

So I am traveling with a cane. And now realize that the long walk to the gates which I used to regard with gratitude as a pay back for the long time sitting in the plane – is really tricky as well as exhausting. As I walked to Baggage Claim about a mile from the arrival gate a lady pushing a wheelchair coming in other direction stopped and said “I think you need a wheelchair. “ I told her we were almost there and I could make it. She said just sit down here having turned around and opened the arm. I sat. She saved my life. We of course were not almost there and it took lots of moves to connect with Marcia. Bless her heart.

Marcia and I met embraced and moved to get my bag.

One of my gifts was for David who is a bourbon lover. I bought the most fancy, expensive bourbon I could find and wrapped it two pairs of my pants inside a baggie. It arrived safely.

Meanwhile David knowing how much fun we’ve had in prior tasting went out and got his candidates. So we had a fine assortment of bourbons ranging in price from $18. – $180.!

All evening we sipped but not at the same time. After lots of talking and sipping we all agreed that the really expensive one was not worth it and we had different opinions on the best. More later since I must prepare for our dinner this evening.


Sausalito was once the site of a Coast Miwok settlement known as Liwanelowa. The Miwok were said to be peaceful, hospitable and friendly; so much for those traits to save us all! Today it’s known for its Richardson Bay houseboat enclaves, built by artist squatters after WWII. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Bay Model Visitor Center has a functioning 3D hydraulic model of the Bay Area, plus exhibits about the area’s waterways. The Marin Headlands offers Golden Gate Bridge views.

This was where Bob was living when we first came out to see if we were really a couple with staying power, were we life partners? Meanwhile I was in PhD program at Princeton and Bob was asked to start a program at San Francisco State that they called the Cinema Department, and we were planning to be a bi-coastal couple – would that work???

This was before we knew we would never be apart, before we started to look for where in this beautiful place would we settle. Before out decision on Tiburon.

Wildly romantic, San Francisco and Sausalito, was gorgeous. We also loved the city for its mixture of old culture – SF Symphony, SF Opera, SF Ballet and its avant garde culture, especially fascinating in 1967. In 1967, change was in the air in San Francisco. That year, nearly 100,000 young people converged on the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, turning the city into the epicenter of a cultural phenomenon known as the Summer of Love. Although it was surely a summer of love for us, we did not do the love ins, not were we in the city that often. But it was a yeasty time!


Arthritic knee, not mine

Try though I may, I cannot find a photo of an arthritic knee that will upload???

For the past three and a half weeks I have been plagued by a sore knee – sometimes just sore, other times excruciating. Sometimes pain comes when my weight is on my left leg, other times I am asleep! I have been using JoAnne’s cane except for the past day and a half since the pain has subsided and I am just trying not to do something stupid.

The most annoying thing is the disruption of what I think of as NORMAL LIFE. No NIA (dance), not much Pilates, I have tried Pilates twice and have managed about half hour with my Pilates coach Sara’s help. Tried Monday and cancelled the rest of the week.

Better news is that we have begun to have our own tomatoes! Although I have lived in Marin County since 1968 and have tried to grow tomatoes just about every year – I am the winner of the most green tomato recipes since that is what I have always ended the summer with. This year, due to San Anselmo weather and a nice west facing patch of soil, AND seedlings from my friend Susan Connelly, we have some tomatoes!!!


I love getting the paper paper

We lived for 35years at the same address in San Rafael. For all that time we had the New York Times delivered to the house. Personal history in that time includes children growing up, coming and going to universities, coming back home after suffering heartbreaks and broken bones, and most devastating the illness and death of my husband Robert Bell in 1995. Still the New York Times was always there. In 2007 the two surviving partners in or Board of Directors, Joanne Fabian and I decided to sell the property. Once it was sold the Times has been online and that has been the only Times in my life, except some Sundays at my Mothers house during her lifetime.

Since moving to San Anselmo last fall we have received the NYT every day. What a gift! I know I have always loved the paper paper – when traveling I always get the English language newspaper that is available and it makes for a more enjoyable breakfast. But because since leaving Magnolia House I often have had more than one address, the online version has seemed fine. But I was always missing the nuggets that the paper paper reveals.

End of the Olympics, odd as it was was front page news along with climate change

But even more enjoyable and surprising are found often in Obituaries. Stories of brave and indestructible folks you have never heard of – or better said, I have never heard of. Mondays paper has a delightful tale of a woman who died at 101 years! But it was not only her age that was notable – it was the life she lead, beautifully exposed in clear clear and delicious prose.

Not only stories of the dead, but often tales of the truly alive. In the book review a story about a Moroccan woman writer, Leila Slimani, who has a new book out. I have always loved Morocco and for years thought it might be a place for retirement – and then I traveled there as a single woman – I was really wrong. I did still love the old cities, and beautiful architecture and gardens – but the life of women there was appalling! This write expresses some of the issues, historic and current. This would never had made it in the online NYT.

That issue did have a focus on the closing of the Olympics. The closing was as odd as the Opening, strangely beautiful in a way that celebrates technology.

Tokyo ends this Olympiad with empty streets and stadium, but with a lot of lights and razzle-dazzle