After older adults retire, they are often faced with the problem of what to do with their free time. For many, creative activities can be a great option.
When faced with the requirements of a full time job, many adults forget to make time for hobbies they used to enjoy. Some don’t even try to engage in creative activities, feeling that they don’t have enough talent or ability. Happily, retirement allows anyone to discover the joy of creativity, and prior experience is not a requirement.
Recently, I had the pleasure of dining with Iris Farber, who I attended synagogue with for several years when I lived in Westchester County, NY. Especially since her dear husband Izzy passed away, has actively pursued a variety of creative activities, such as designing watercolor greeting cards (see above) and writing short stories (see below). She is 82, and I imagine is just as creative now as when she was younger, if not more so.
The Day I Almost Burned My Building Down
by Iris Farber
I am a morning person, and always have been. I am always bright-eyed and bushy tailed at 5 A. M. By the time I have had a cup of coffee I am eager to get started on anything I consider to be a productive endeavor. It might be doing laundry, cooking, or going out to do errands, I am sure you get the picture. Many people can’t stand me when they learn this about me, but heck that’s who I am.
Last Sunday morning was no different. Needing to prepare two noodle puddings, one for a special synagogue lunch and the other for a writing class reunion, I decided today was the day for making at least one and freezing it for use within the next couple weeks.
Still in my nightgown and with hands that would have passed operating room regulations for cleanliness, I got out the bowls, the mixer the two measuring cups (I always use two), the ingredients, etc. This is a recipe I have used for almost sixty years. It is often requested. Someone recently referred to it as my signature dish. After assembling the dish, which contains cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, noodles, of course and lots and lots of butter, I decided to bake it in a large Pyrex baking dish, one I have owned for many years. Sometimes I use disposable foil pans, but the pans I had recently purchased just did not look big enough. Besides, it makes a nicer presentation in the glass pan.
I carefully placed the dish in the pre-heated oven and still in my nightgown rinsed all the dishes, put them in the dishwasher, straightened the kitchen and proceeded to have another cup of coffee while reading a section of, the just delivered, New York Times. Before too long the timer on the oven, that I had set for one hour sounded its bell, signaling me to return to the kitchen to check the progress of the pudding. I found the kitchen rapidly filling with smoke, and a glance into the window of the oven showed me it was filled with flames. Now, I did remember not to open the oven door, which could spread the fire, but I panicked and called 911 and asked them to send the Fire Department. I had no idea what was going to happen next, but I was taking no chances. I also telephoned Gus our super, who arrived in a flash.
I was somewhat upset because I was still in the nightgown, and my ratty old summer robe, uncombed hair and, heaven’s, my bedroom door was open, and I had not yet made my bed. No one ever sees me, or my home. looking like that.
Nevertheless, I was very pleased to have Gus there for moral support. The flames began to subside, and then they just, died out. Crisis over! I removed the pudding from the oven, it looked just fine, and as I always do with hot baked goods I placed it on the butcher-block cart opposite the window. Gus said, “That looks good.”
At that moment I heard the sirens. I looked out the kitchen window, and was shocked, that they had sent three fire trucks, but the firemen were sauntering toward the building, they weren’t running the way the do on one of my favorite TV shows “Chicago Fire.” By the time they got to my apartment I was extremely embarrassed about wasting their time. They were very polite, and one said, “That’s our job Mam, it’s ok. He then added as he glanced at the still cooling pudding, “That looks good.”
I have made this dish at least 500 times in the last sixty years. I felt I could make it blindfolded Aha, that was the problem, I did not consult the recipe, and realized later, I must have added too much butter. Undoubtedly, that is why the batter ran over onto the floor of my beautiful Bosch stove, of which I am very proud. I usually keep it clean by wiping up all spills every time I use it.
Later, after the oven cooled, I cleaned it up as best I could but now I am facing the task of having to use the self-cleaning feature. I am afraid of that feature. I am unreasonably suspicious of anything that includes high heat and a lock that cannot be opened for three hours
I have informed my friend, Ellen, who lives across the hall, to check on me this evening when I plan to invoke the self-cleaning feature. Ellen thinks my attitude toward this is hilarious, she often cleans her oven that way. Thanks goodness for Ellen, she sometimes has the task of keeping me sane.
The neighbors are still buzzing about it. I am embarrassed about all this unwelcome attention, but happy there were no terrible consequences.
Now my dilemma is, should I serve this pudding? Someone suggested I taste a small piece first, but with a piece missing, it would not make a nice presentation. I have decided to take my chances.
(New York City born and bred, Iris volunteers at the New York Botanical Garden and her local community hospital. One of her favorite pastimes has always been writing and she still takes writing classes regularly. She has been published in the Patchwork Quilt series. Always eager to learn new things her new passion is making personalized watercolor greeting cards for friends and family and is enrolled in an art class. Iris has a son and five stepsons, three beautiful daughters-in-law and seven grandchildren all who she absolutely adores. When not busy with her many activities, she spends time reading and is very well known at her local library as a frequent visitor. Per Iris, “Keeping busy after being widowed twice is very important, staying home and feeling sorry for myself is one thing I will never do.”)