Young or old? Here’s how to tell

photoSince last year, something strange has been happening to me. Younger people occasionally get up in a full train or bus to offer me a seat. It doesn’t happen every day, or even every week, but perhaps once a month, whereas before last year, it never happened.
Last year, I was gracious, but firmly declined any offers of seats, being secretly mortified that anyone would deem me less able to stand than them. This year, I’ve started to accept. Well, I’ve only been offered a seat once this year-that was this morning-and I was glad to have it. It was on a bus full of mostly students carrying us from the train station to campus, so there might have been something about respect for staff in it, too. Another student also offered the older, grey-haired but fit-looking lady standing beside me a seat. She graciously declined.
Is this the beginning of the end? I said to myself. Is this the beginning of the time when I begin to think of myself as “older” or no longer young, by any stretch of the imagination?
I know that people under 25 think anyone over 35 is ancient. In my (admittedly unscientific) questioning of young people, many have shown that they can’t recognise the difference between 40 and 60 or 50 and 70. They’re all just “old people”. My parents were quite a bit older than the norm when they had my brother, and when he was a mid-teenager and they were in their early 60s, one of his friends said, “How old’yer parents—about a hundred?”!
But who they perceive as being “young” is interesting and not necessarily about years. It seems to have something to do with “coolness”. I once asked a group of students, mostly aged 18-20, to decide whether a list of famous people I named were young or old. They had only those two choices, nothing in between.
I asked them about the then-Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd. “Old,” was the verdict. Then I asked them about the President of the US, Barack Obama, also in his 50s and less than four years Rudd’s junior. “Young,” they said emphatically. “Because he’s cool,” added one bright spark.
Perhaps I’m just not cool any more. *Sigh*

Coincidentally, this week’s Daily Post Writing Challenge is about ageing. You can read more here.

The art of food

In response to a challenge from The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge to “detail a three to five step story or process, and illustrate each of the steps with something visual”.

When I took up painting two years ago, I didn’t think still life would interest me. However, I gave it a go and found that I loved painting food. I had  an idea to paint recipes: that is, to paint the elements of a recipe before they became a meal. This idea evolved to include place settings and pre-dinner snacks—anything to do with food preparation, utensils or consumption in the home, in fact. Strangely, I have painted a knife in all of them!


“Cut Me” (above): This is the very first painting I did. It was with trepidation that I took up a paintbrush and loaded it with that wonderful vibrant red. I was pleased with the result, especially the way the knife turned out. It took me about 15 tries to get that reflection right!

Lemon and Knife

“Lemon and Knife” (above): This wasn’t really meant to be a painting at all, just a trial of my new PanPastels, which are a pastel medium pressed into small dishes and applied with sponges. This took me only about 15 minutes at the breakfast table one morning. The knife is special, as it was given to me by my late father when I was about 20. I have used it almost every day in the kitchen since then. As someone on an online art group I belong to commented: “Sometimes the simplest things are the best”.


“Only On His Day Off” (above): Until recently, my husband worked evening shift five nights a week. On his days off, he loved to indulge in some red wine and accompanying snacks. The cloth is one I bought from Bali when I visited in 2005.


“Making Sangria” (above): the ingredients for this classic Spanish drink are peaches, oranges, lemons, red wine and soda water. The red wine was sourced from a shop in Melbourne that stocks the right kind, and it was expensive! There is also usually sugar in the recipe, too, but I thought I had enough elements already.

Salad Niçoise

“Making Salad Niçoise” (above): For the ingredients of this French salad I bought a Spanish onion and bottled olives, Italian canned tuna and anchovies, and Australian extra virgin olive oil. You can also add capers to this salad. I used those fantastic green plastic souvenir salad servers sent to me by a friend in Auckland, New Zealand, plus a wonderful green glass platter given to me by a friend in Melbourne, Australia. Most of my paintings contain elements that are meaningful to me.