On Aging – An Interview With My Father-In-Law


Bill Prior, my father in law, is 84 years old. He has had an impressive life, full of difficulties and achievements. The short story is that he started a water recycling company in the 70s (with a partner) that evolved into a very successful business with hundreds of employees. At age 70, he sold that company and started a new venture: a home recycling water company that will allow people to disconnect from the grid, and produce their own water. That is his dream and he is making it happen. He is a visionary.

Bill has an uncanny intuition for reading people. He understands the strengths and virtues of others and he always focuses on the big picture. Never gets frozen by small details. He is a good leader because people want to please him. He is also naïve, a soul that never stops seeing the glass half full. 84 years have not diminished his excitement for living, and in many ways, he is still a child.

Every time I feel discouraged about life, I think about him. When he was almost 40, his brother and dad fired him from his family company that helped feed his 5 children. He transformed these hard times into a giant success.  Bill is proof that it is never too late to be useful and start anew.

In my world, I will always remember our daily morning conversations with a cup of coffee up at the cottage. In spite of such a busy life, Bill has always been ready for a good talk, and his wonderful soul irradiates through those beautiful light blue eyes that he has. He is one of the reasons I fell in love with George. I thought, how bad can George be with a father like that. I was right.

jestcafe.com-on-agingI asked Bill the same questions about aging that I asked my dad in this post a couple of months ago. Here are Bill’s answers.

1) What have you liked the most about living so far?

I particularly enjoy unexpected changes as they unfold in my and others lives around me.  It is fun to see people finding themselves in roles they never expected to fill, and which are now consuming their lives, including of course Carol’s and my own lives.

2) What makes you happy right now?

A lot of things, but at the top of the list would be when I can help someone build a dream of his own.

3) How do you feel mentally? And, in comparison to when you were young?

The big change – the huge change – was when I had that stroke a year ago.  It is frustrating – it’s embarrassing – it is not comfortable.  I can go to a movie and not understand the plot.  Perhaps the loss of relevance bothers me most.  People are nice to me – very nice, but I know I don’t matter much.  It also takes me too much time to do things.

4) How do you feel physically? And, in comparison to when you were young?

Actually, comparing myself to my contemporaries, I’m doing pretty well.  I get tired.

jestcafe.com-on-aging-35) How do you see your future? What do you expect from it?

I expect to continue aging both physically and mentally.  But I see getting “old” as part of living – not something to be afraid of, but something to be accepted in a positive and perhaps happy way.

6) What are the most impressive changes that you have witnessed during your life?

Putting that in a slightly different way … Certainly my life has carried me through incredible swings, (changes), from tremendous upset and discouragement to amazing good fortune.  At one time my family largely disowned me and I didn’t feel welcome even at the cottage.

7) At what age did you start feeling old?

Outside of the huge change precipitated by that stroke a year ago, (which I already described) the evolution to “start feeling old” has been gradual and about as I was expecting.  Certainly it wasn’t terribly upsetting.

8) How is it to be old?  

Hopefully it is a more gentle but rewarding part of life.

jestcafe.com-on-aging-29) What is the hardest aspect of aging? What is the best aspect of aging?

These aspects are determined more by what a person does with his life than by his age.  I’ve known old, old people who remained happy and healthy to the end, and I’ve known much younger people who could stretch hatefulness to the grave. If life came with a guidebook it could help a lot of people.

10) How do you feel about death?  What do you feel now that you are closer to it?

It’s probably a good way to go.

11) What advice would you give your grandkids?

I’ll tell you later.

Just like my dad, he didn’t want to give an answer to the last question. I wonder why.

I love you, Bill

All pictures in this post were taken up at the cottage, his favorite place in the world. And this picture below are of him reading to my nephews, another couple of cute rascals.


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Let Us Be Inspired By Eleanor Roosevelt


I watched Key Burn’s documentary, The Roosevelts, during the Holidays. It has seven episodes of approximate 2 hours each one of them. You must be wondering, how is it possible for a mother and a member of the professional world to have so much time to spare? Well, I don’t.

What happened is that I felt so in love with Eleanor Roosevelt that I skipped the sections that talked about other people. That shaved off a big percentage of the documentary. Also, I put the audio through loud speakers and cleaned my whole house while listening to it. There was no need for me to pay attention to the visuals to understand what was going on, and my closet, shelves, and drawers were completely organized by the time I was done with it. An excellent way of welcoming 2016.

Most people know that Eleanor Roosevelt was a champion of human rights. She helped creating the New Deal, worked for women’s rights, African American’s rights, Japanese’s rights, and had an enormous influence in her husband’s politics.  I won’t talk about her biography, which you can find here, but I would like to mention other facts about her life that got my attention.

1) Some of her closest friends were gay women. She probably had relationships with women herself. Lorena Hickok being one of them.

2) During her husband’s presidency, her relationship with Franklin D. Roosevelt was strictly political and professional. No much love there, but a lot of respect.

3) She practically got F.D.R. elected to his third term, after giving a speech and helping him get the Democratic Nomination.

4) She was not motherly. Her mother-in-law acted as the mother of her children.

5) She didn’t put a lot of effort into her looks.

6) She was a fearful child and a passive young woman. Confidence was something she gained in her later years.

Eleanor Roosevelt was a woman ahead of her times. I wonder what would she have done with her life if she were born 100 years later.  It is not easy for me to find role models, women that I deeply admire, especially from older generations, and here I found one that I really like. Some of her story is sad. She lost her parents young, she had a difficult childhood, but overcame all that to make a real difference in the life of people less fortunate than her.

Also, how refreshing is to meet a woman that didn’t cultivate her looks, but succeeded only thanks to her mind and heart.

Are there any women you admire? I would love to hear.

jestcafe.com--Eleanor-Roosevelt-3 jestcafe.com--Eleanor-Roosevelt-5

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Welcome, 2016!


Here we go again. One more year behind us, another one to come.

December started as an excellent month. I love the Holidays, but then some hormones kicked in and they made me feel annoyed with the world. Is it me or everybody is super stressed around the Holidays? Finding parking (or a stranger’s smile) is nearly impossible.

I was feeling discouraged and irritated about life for no reason whatsoever. Does this ever happen to you? Luckily, my hormones stabilized by Christmas and I was able to enjoy my kids opening presents.

The first thing we did in December was picking up the Christmas tree:
jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-6This is not our Christmas tree. It would be more appropriate for a big mall and it wouldn’t fit in our house, but it looked so good against the sky that I took a shot.

Here is an attempt at taking overexposed pictures for a little change. jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-19jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-1 jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-34It was really fun and hard to find the perfect Christmas tree. We went to Home Depot where all the trees are tied up and piled one on top of the other. We saved a lot of money by going there, but my kids were loosing patience quickly.

Max decided he wanted to take a look from the ground:jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-5We looked at more than 20 trees.  I wanted it “this” tall or “that” wide. George opened and showcased tree after tree for me, until we found the one. jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-35We saw a lot of friends and went to a lot of places during December. This cutie was my super companion:
jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-3 We tried dragon fruit:jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-9We ate perfectly balanced meals:jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-8Followed by nutritious desserts:jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-7My kids practiced how to play peekaboo while I disappeared into my bedroom:jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-4And then Santa came, which was so, so exciting. This is the first Christmas that my kids really enjoy. Christmas day started with candy and ended with a bunch of nameless presents.It was heaven.  It took them 7 hours to open all the gifts, not because they had so many, but because every time they opened one, they needed 1 hour to play with it before moving on to the next one. jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-31jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-29-30jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-28Victor asked for a lot of magnets so we bought them a couple these and these. The towers he is building with these magnets are huge and amazing.This is a wonderful gift for children.

jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-27jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-26My sister-in-law got the kids this Koala Crate box filled with craft projects. Such a good idea.
jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-25 jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-12 jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-13 jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-11jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-10And we took the kids to Chill, at the Queen Mary. jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-2 jestcafe.com--chill1This “suasage” sign made me laugh.  jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-22The best part of Chill were the ice sculptures and those cute gnomes dressed in blue walking around:
jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-20jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016--14---16jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-21jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-17jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-18The kids loved the sculptures and they were freezing by the end of it. It was cold in there! 9 degrees Fahrenheit. How cute are these little rascals with those huge jackets? Pretty cute, I must say. jestcafe.com- chill -15And then, for New Year, we had a fancy meal at home with friends. On the menu were: oysters, lobster, ceviche, fish, and plenty of sparkling wine. The best meal I have had in ages. At 10:30 our friends went to different parties, and we went to sleep. What is the point of waiting for midnight by ourselves? It is so difficult for us to find a babysitter on New Year’s eve. It kind of sucks. jestcafe.com-welcome,-2016-23---24

I always like to write down my goals for the next year. I like having specific long and short-term goals, but this year I feel like being more general. Here is what I want to do in 2016:

  1. Improve my photography – take classes, workshops and practice a lot.
  2. Keep writing this blog.
  3. Sign up for a book club.
  4. Do some major improvements on my house (living room, children’s bedroom, etc)
  5. Exercise. I used to exercise a lot but since Max was born, I haven’t. I don’t have time nor money to pay for the extra child care, and I am also lazy to wake up at 6am to do it. I hope to change that this year.
  6. Eat less sugar. As I grow older, I realize how food affects my mood more and more. I decided I should eat less junk food if I want to be happy. Maybe I could eat sugar only once a month? Not sure I can pull this one off, but I will try.
  7. Give Víctor and Max as many kisses as I can.
  8. Tell George I love him everyday.

Welcome, 2016!

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Mrs. George Prior

jestcafe.com-benedict-cumberbatchWhat is your opinion on  being addressed by your husband’s name in letters or invitations? I understand that it is a tradition here in the US to do so and that people mean well, but, what if you didn’t change your last name? What if your name is completely different than your husband’s name? What is the right thing to do? Read more

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Myths About Women: Women Are Catty and Hard To Work With


Growing up, we are told how certain groups of people operate or behave in certain ways, and we assume these statements to be truth. Well, now that I am older and I have a mind of my own, I realize I have been lied to. Lies about women and their behaviors upset me the most, so I’ve decided to start a series on this blog called “Myths About Women,” as an attempt to create community and dialogue. Here is the first lie I was told growing up:

Myths About Women: Women Are Catty and Hard To Work With

I read an article in the NY Times the other day, which was, surprisingly, written with an unquestioned assumption that women are competitive.

We women use what is called indirect competition to undermine each other, which, I am guessing, is the opposite of direct competition, which is the method males use to compete. I am sure women are competitive, but I am still waiting to see proof that we are more competitive than men, that our nature is to undermine each other, and that this is, actually, our nature. I just don’t see it.

I have had 3 main jobs in my life, 2 in male-centered departments, and 1 in a female- centered department. Of these places, the healthiest and nicest place to work, for me, by far, was the department run by women. No doubt about it. I am not saying that working for or with males is necessarily stressful, what I am saying is that working for or with women can be extremely rewarding. I find my co-workers to be wise, smart, nurturing, and accomplished women working in a competitive organization that is changing the world (I won’t give more details about my day job). I find that, in general, we thrive on each other successes, and I don’t worry about any of them undermining my work. And I feel the same way about the men in my department.

I am sick and tired of people assuming that women are hard to work with because of their emotional instability and cattiness. I am sick and tired of reading articles like the one in the NY Times that, with no real proof, assumed that women are by nature cattier (though they might have a case when talking about teenagers, but do they?).

After reading the “Feminine Mystique” by Betty Friedan, I learned so much about women’s myths and assumptions. I had also fallen into the trap and remember being unhappy to have a bunch of women assigned to my student group when I was in college, thinking it would create more drama, but it was not the case.

But, where do these lies come from? I am guessing they are the result of having female value so dependent on male approval for thousands of years. Now that we are gaining more rights and freedom, I see more and more women embracing their true selves in a way that I believe is nurturing and balanced.

It is difficult to know who you are when you have been forced to look at yourself through somebody else’s POV, which has been the case of most women in history. Let’s remember that we have been allowed to be free-willed full citizens for less than a century, and only in certain geographical areas. In any case, I am lucky right now to have a great work environment and so many female friends who are supportive and see my victories as their own.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

jestcafe.com-myths-about-women3Image 1 Val Scrapbook – Image 2 Peter H Stranks
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