Now I’m 64

cute molly 1953   1965 molly at 15  family 1978

Thanks to the Beatles, I will have that song running through my head for the whole year, until I turn 65. But mostly after the first few early 60s years of denial, I realize that I am getting old. I’m not elderly yet, but I can see those years getting closer.

I watched a TED talk recently by Jane Fonda, who is still gorgeous in her 70s. She has great genes and lots of money, so she can be. And less recently I read an article by Gloria Steinem, who is now in her 80s, more or less saying what a relief it is. I would not say I am gorgeous and I certainly don’t have any money, but I completely understand the relief that Steinem was talking about.

Last year I decided that since I was in transition I would let my hair go natural, which means grey. For those of you considering the plunge, the hairdresser sort of negatively foiled it, bleaching instead of adding colour. That allowed the gray to come in more gracefully. After five months, I had my hair whacked to about an inch long, the shortest I have ever had it. I saved the cuttings of the very last of the pale gold colour and will make a pin cushion from it (it keeps pins and needles sharp). And now I have hair that is various shades of gray and white, all natural. And short! It is so easy! I was never one to do much with my hair anyway, shampoo, blow, and go, mostly, but now like men, I use hardly any shampoo and don’t need to blow. And usually I am not going anywhere anyway.

Ah, men. My 50s were a wonderful decade, full of adventures and interesting men. However, now I am not interested. Sure, it would be nice to have a guy companion, but it could be a gal too. I think I blew out my sex drive and it rarely shows itself. Of course I don’t seem to be meeting any men at all, so it is easy not to care.

And I don’t care. There is some of that now that I am 64. I am fatter than ever and I don’t care. I am getting more wrinkled, though the fat helps to fill those in. My belly is saggy and I have a full double chin. I rarely wear any make-up now, though all I used to wear was eye make-up anyway. I can’t be bothered now unless I am going out somewhere special. I gave away most of my nice clothes a few years ago, as I didn’t need them and had grown out of them anyway. In fact from the purges of the past few years, I can count how many pairs of pants I have (seven) and skirts (four). I don’t have to have a lot of clothes. No one is keeping count of how many times I am seen in certain ‘outfits’ and in fact I don’t wear outfits. And, shocking as it is, I may wear the same thing two days in a row! It does mean less laundry, and I do care about that.

My body is reminding me that I am moving up in years. My joints crack and my knees complain. My teeth are going and my skin is drying up. I do yoga sporadically and I use lotions, but I can’t keep up. And that is ok too.

I don’t feel the need to try to look or act young. Been there, done that, and why fool myself? It certainly doesn’t fool others and in fact I would look like an idiot. I can save that for other things, since getting older does not always mean complete wisdom.

Of course now I look back a lot. I look at many of the things I jumped into as a younger person and I laugh, marvelling at how naïve I was. People used to call me brave, but they underestimated me. I was just not afraid. Ah, a new adventure– let’s go for it! Usually I landed on my feet, though not always where I expected.

Now I am looking at what Fonda called the Third Act. When you are young, life goes on indefinitely. Now I am at a point where I have achieved most of what I wanted to do and I don’t have great ambitions or big dreams. I have done the travelling, I hit my professional apex, I have had my own businesses, I have experienced love and dalliances. I have given great parties and met thousands of international people in international places. Now I have downsized– no car, two rooms of stuff, one bicycle. No basement, no attic, no crawlspace, no storage unit.

I regret some of the things I have left, especially my stamp collection. But so it goes. You don’t always choose right. Sometimes I think of things I used to have or wear, or I see them in photos, and wish briefly I still had them. But actually it doesn’t matter.

My question at this point is what am I going to do for the rest of my life? Where will I funnel the energy I still have? A grandchild is coming, so that will be part of my focus. I am retired now but I would rather work at least some. But that is not going to happen until I know where I am settled. I guess this year I am learning more patience. I think when I jumped in the past, I felt I had some control, even though I didn’t really know where I was going. However, now I am not in control so I don’t know where I am going. An interesting place to be in after being literally on the move my whole life.

I don’t mind being 64. I like practicing retirement and I am happy with my life. I have two interesting kids, one grandchild on the way, dear siblings. I have had good friends, interesting lovers, a full social life. Life continues to be interesting and I am lucky to be here.

1983  1990  2005



Snow in Istanbul

As I sit in cold snowy Canada, complaining about this cold and snow, I remembered that it also snows in Istanbul. For the most part, there may be snow in the air but it usually does not even hit the ground. Or if it does, it is mostly slush and does not last long. However, from time to time the snow sticks and brings the city to a halt. I have seen photos of the Bosporus frozen over, but those were long before Istanbul became a concrete mini-climate. These photos were taken in the 2000s from my various homes or on the street.

These photos were taken from the terrace of my first flat in Galata.


topkapi palace across the golden horn


winter roofs towards the golden horn


topkapi from the terrace


snowy city roofs



This was the snowy view from my flat on Luleci Hendek. The tower is part of a wall that used to extend from the Galata Tower.  Now it is part of Saint Benoit Lycee, one of several  French language high schools in Istanbul.

end jan 005


These were taken from my bedroom window of another flat closer to Sishane.

winter scene 05

looking across the golden horn towards balat

winter scene 05 2

this parking lot was just outside my window

vergi garden

looking down into the garden of the tax office in sishane

















This old Greek house is near the same flat, photo taken from the front window.

greek house

This is the tea garden at the base of the Galata Tower.


galipdede sokak, heading down towards the galata tower

end jan 008   007

One more view, from the balcony of my flat down from the tower.



The snow really brings out the playfulness in people, since it is such a novelty.

IMG_0019   IMG_0022   IMG_0028      006IMG_0025   IMG_0026

There!  I can’t say this post made me feel warmer, but I was glad to be reminded of the brief snows of Istanbul


The benefits of smoking

no smoking

I am about to try to quit smoking, yet again, and I was thinking about the things I will miss.


First, since in Canada I have to smoke outside everywhere I go, I get to check out the weather first hand. A few months ago I could sit outside in my nightie and robe, but these days I zip up my down coat over my sweater and flannel vest, put on my hat, turn up the fur lined hood, and put on my gloves in order to see whether it is -1C or -10C. I can see the few cars that drive through this neighbourhood and these days see the kids sledding down the slight hill in the park across the street.

Also since I have to go outside, I get more fresh air. As I write, it is full, cold winter and I find the air inside my flat is stuffy, tainted with exhaust from the furnace. When I go outside to smoke I always take deep smokeless breaths, partly to clear out the smoke and partly to take in the clean air. Luckily in this small town, the air is quite clean and since there are few smokers, it stays that way.

social smoking

If I am at a social event, I get to meet other smokers. We are all complicit in our addiction to a socially unacceptable substance. If we were smoking pot, we would be more likely to be accepted. In the meantime, we stand outside and get to know the other outlaws.


I have always been a rebellious spirit, so smoking is one of the ways I express that. I came late to smoking– I was in my early 30s not my teens. In fact, I would say that marijuana was the gateway drug for tobacco, since I liked to smoke joints. I couldn’t chain smoke those, so I started smoking cigarettes. At that time I smoked a pack a month

no smoking

When I travel I blend in with the locals. I didn’t start to smoke seriously until I moved to Japan. There my housemate smoked and in fact just about everybody smoked. After working hours you could see businessmen hurrying along the street, cigarette in mouth or hand. And of course, there is the expression ‘to smoke like a Turk’, and I was right in there with them. Turkey adopted the no smoking inside law a few years ago, but it was largely ignored, including in my cafe. It was so easy to smoke, that I often smoked more than a pack a day. Just like a Turk.

I have been smoking cigarettes bought from the First Nations reservation near my sister’s. I will miss supporting them, but I have to say I get a chuckle from the fact that they cater to whitey’s bad addictions, as they also have a big casino nearby. Getting back at the oppressors. I saw the same thing in Japan, where the oppressed Koreans ran the love hotels and pachinko (gambling) parlours.

Going out for a cigarette is a way to take a break. I can sit outside for fresh air on its own, but I have more of a reason with a cigarette. Also, if I am bored I can go out for a cig to get away from whatever is boring me.


Smokers often collect interesting lighters. Actually, mine are not so interesting now, but I do have one more Turkey lighter which I guess will be the last one. And having lighters means that if one needs to light a candle or a fire, people can call on smokers.


Smoker’s cough is a good way to clear the lungs. Whatever will I do without it?

These are just a few of the benefits of smoking. When I quit tobacco, I will have to take up something else. Washington, Colorado, Oregon here I come!

Molly’s Cafe kitchens

Luckily in Turkey, although there are a few inspections, a cafe does not have to have industrial appliances, which cost the earth. I used home appliances. My kitchens produced my menu, which I am pasting here. It was kind of like cooking for a very big family. My kitchens got bigger in each location.

Here is the kitchen at the first cafe.

remaining photos 08 535

the sink will go in here

remaining photos 08 538

the stove will go under the heater




deniz and our guest russian khazak cook

DEC 30 08 023

george, another guest cook

feb 3 09 029

mostafa, showing off his apron. he cooked moroccan food for us

all 399

here you can see the nook where we made coffee and teas

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and there was some storage







Molly’s Cafe was the only place in town that made real pancakes. Some places offered pancakes but they were really crepes. I was surprised to learn how much Germans liked pancakes, actually. I had quite a few regulars who came just for these. Some people were surprised I did not serve real maple syprup, but I told them I grew up on fake maple syrup, as even back then it was quite expensive.

Scone with butter and jam (usually available weekends)

Eggs (fried or scrambled, with tomato, cucumber, toast, jam)

Plain or cheese omelette (with tomato, cucumber, toast, jam)

Veg. omelette (mushroom, pepper, onion with tomato, cucumber, toast, jam)

Muesli with milk

Muesli with seasonal fruit & yogurt or milk 12TL


Yogurt with seasonal fruit

French toast

Toast and jam or honey

Small breakfast cheese plate with bread

Continental breakfast (cheese, tomato, cucumber, toast, jam)

Breakfast burrito (scrambled eggs and beans in tortilla)

Pancakes with syrup or jam

Here is the kitchen at the second cafe. There were actually two kitchens. One was downstairs, so I had to hire a cook and baker, Turkish women who had to learn my style. The other was upstairs, where I could bake some things in a portable oven and make some things on a double hotplate.


here comes the stove


making chinese food in the downstairs kitchen


the upstairs kitchen, once a bar

Cheese sandwich

Tuna sandwich

Cheese panini

Tuna panini

Quiche (vegetarian) plus small salad

Vegetarian lasagna plus small salad

Spaghetti with meat sauce

Quesadilla (tortilla, cheese, tomato, cucumber, onion)

Chili con carne

Soup of the day

Salad of the day

Daily special (as available)

Here is the kitchen at the third cafe. I had another stove and portable oven in the depot, which was just about as big as the kitchen. Of course I also had coffee drinks, teas, and cold drinks.

As you can see from the menu, the food was homecooking, but in Istanbul it was a luxry. Turkish food is really good, but often foreigners wanted food that was more like home and a few Turks were adventurous to try something different. 


the plumber


on the way


there was lots of work to do first


ranit making sri lankan curry


final kitchen. two fridges, dishwasher, stove, shelves, etc


view from the entrance


kitties in the garden


arun helping out, looking towards the entrance

Here is the kitchen at the last cafe.  This last kitchen was the best. It was big, so I walked a lot, but it had everything. It was probably the biggest kitchen I have ever had anywhere.


nasty! this became the coffee tea corner


getting ready for the sinks and dishwasher


this is where my sinks went. this metal stuff was taken away


windows in the kitchen


belgin doing endless dishes


this was a granite island. it was great


Pie (with ice cream)


Cookie plate (10 cookies)


You can see more photos of this last kitchen here:

I cooked and baked a lot in five years.  I  made hundreds of cakes, vegie lasagnas, soups, salads, cookies, bread.  It didn’t really matter how big the kitchen was, for the most part, but bigger was better.  It was not a foodie’s paradise, but it was a taste of home away from home.