Christmas 2015

Another year and another annual letter <> and it’s a long one - not because we have that much to report but because I’ve never learned how to write anything short.  

In fact, this year we’ve only one important item to report:  We sold our villa where we lived for 10 years that we consider to have been the best 10 years of our lives - and that villa played a major role in producing that result.  (You may remember from our last two “annual reports” that we moved into town about two years ago - having grown too old to be that remote.) 

Two real estate agents took some very good pictures of our villa for their own websites and - because I knew those pictures were going to disappear as soon as the villa was sold - I copied them off the Internet to save them on our own computers.  I’m now in the process of putting them together with some of my own pictures to create a little “slideshow memorial” dedicated to “the ten best years of our lives” while we were living in Casa Pino Blanco.  But it’ll be a while before it’s finished, so I can’t include it here.  If you’d like to have the link to it when it is finished, let me know and I’ll put you on the list.  But don’t hold your breath - my computer skills aren’t holding up much better than my memory.

We now spend most of our time the same way a lot of other old people do:  MB mostly reads and I mostly write - but we DO use our rowing machine almost every day.  We do, however, miss our weekly hiking around the island with the “Wednesday Wanderers.”  But when we’ve tried, some of our body parts complain enough about our trying to do that kind of activity that neither of us can keep up with our group for long.  So the hiking explorations of the island we used to do weekly are now history for us.

But we can still walk far enough to cover this town.  Because we’re living in the town center, we have plenty of available options for restaurants and shopping.  We even have an Apple computer store!  Considering that Santa Eulalia is officially “just`’ a big village, it still has most of the best restaurants on the island - all of which we can easily walk to from our apartment.  Two of our most “exotic” restaurants are ethnically Fujian and Nepalese and we now think that Fujian outranks everything else we’ve ever tried.  (Fujian is Chinese, but nothing like the Cantonese or  Mandarin styles most Americans usually have available.)  Because the Spanish always have their big meal at noon, so do we.  And nearly always at one of our favorites.  Usually Mary Beth still puts together a light evening meal for us at home, but it’s not a requirement because we’ve always got easily available alternatives.  Consequently she now spends far less time in the kitchen than ever before during our married life..  

Changing the subject abruptly:  I now have to survive only until next June 24th to have spent 80 years on this planet - and Mary Beth is only two years and three months behind me.  So we now have to accept that we are genuine “old folks”.   However “avoidance and denial” are still mankind’s favorite problem solving techniques and so many people still say, “THATS not old” whenever I happen to mention my age.  Coincidentally “avoidance and denial” has also become the life blood of America’s political conservatives.  And currently American conservative politics has become about as inexplicable as anyone could ever have imagined.  But no empire has ever lasted, so maybe it is just time for the US to accept it has terminal rot within and be thankful for our already having had a lot of good years.  If I were younger, I’d put up a fight; now I just keep in mind Andrews Natural Law #1 “The human race deserves everything it gets.”  Collectively humans have always been our own worst enemy and nothing has changed.

A few US acquaintances have expressed either admiration or distain (depending on their own politics and/or perspectives) with our having moved out of the US.  But the two of us get no credit for having “seen the future” because when we decided to consider retiring to Spain it was in 1968 and there was nothing special happening in US politics at that time that might have threatened our government.  We had no idea we would be leaving an increasingly troubled and self-destructive US.  When we did move in 1998 it was because we already owned property here that we had bought in 1968 when it was cheap and we had originally considered the “investment” to be mostly a playful “lark,” very loosely connected to vague plans about the future.  But no other possible retirement location ever captured our interest and so our Ibiza property evolved into being the “cornerstone” of our retirement plans - and we still have never happened upon anything else that might have been as interesting.  So we were just lucky - and willing to take a little risk.

But now, as time has passed, our lives have probably become more like other old people’s lives who live nearly anywhere in the developed countries of the Western World.  We are now only “alumni” members of the several walking groups with whom we once hiked through nearly all of the forests and hills of this (and one neighboring) island.  So now the interesting and unusual experiences we have reported in the past are happening to us much less frequently, leaving me with less to write about - except to report that we are still alive, reasonably well and very happy with our lives here.  

Possibly because we traveled a lot during our working lives, we no longer look forward to going anywhere - and we particularly aren’t interested in cruises as many of our friends are.  If it were not for the necessary once-a-year test of the battery in my pacemaker, we probably wouldn’t even bother to take the 20 minute flight to neighboring Mallorca - although we like Palma and do enjoy being in a really big city once in a while. 

As we look back over our accomplishments and experiences during our lifetimes, it appears we’ve stumbled into achieving some surprising personal successes - about which I have already written, mostly on my other websites.  So we’re about as satisfied with our situation as it is possible to be.  Unfortunately, our situation becomes more satisfying almost by the day as the moral and ethical quality of  a growing percentage of the US “mainstream” seems to just keep losing ground.  So

our pessimism about the future of our Country just keeps growing.  However the impending fall of Western civilization has been a popular topic among sociologists for a number of years, so we’re certainly not in the vanguard with any new theories or revelations.  

Of course it could just be our advanced ages that are to blame for our pessimism, as old people are seldom optimistic about the future.  (I usually claim my pessimism is simply evidence of my heritage and I’m just “becoming” my Great Grandad Gibbs.)  He was born in rural Devon, England in 1847, the eldest son of the local vicar.  He died in Gridley, Illinois in 1940 after he had systematically acquired eight local farms and then given each one of them to each of his eight adult children (most of whom were already living on or managing the farm he/she ultimately was given).  Without the farms to keep him busy, he built for himself and his wife a rather grand “Victorian” (American not English Victorian style) house on the north edge of Gridley.  It was on his new front porch that he spent most of the rest of his days, watching cars go by - which in those days meant that much of the time he was just looking at an empty street.  But in our family, Great Granddad Gibbs is remembered mostly for just one quotation:  After one of his days of “watching traffic,” he walked back into his house and declared to his wife, “Mary Ann, the world is coming to no good end.  While I was out there today, I saw four automobiles!”  Telling that story always gets at least a chuckle, but maybe my Great Granddad had it right - but was a few generations ahead of the problem.  However I don’t expect to live long enough to find out.  But it isn’t beyond possibility that all of us in our generation just might turn out to have lived our lives during the “best of times” before what seems like an inevitable collapse of the West.

But in the meanwhile we intend to stay here and try to be patient with our fellow homo sapiens sapiens and hope for - but not really expect - that some maturity and wisdom will influence the political alliances of enough Americans that it will bring some rationality back into our government.

In any case, we’ll keep hoping - and offer you our best wishes for the New Year,

Mary Beth and Gerry

PS:  If you want to see the pictures of the villa, send me a note and I’ll tell you how to access them in Apple’s iCloud.  It’s a bit tedious, but not particularly difficult.  GA