The 70-Something Blog is now The 80-Something Blog. Stay tuned in ten years for The 90-Something Blog!

Change of Roles

On July 29, 1981, Prince Charles wed Lady Diana, and the Kugels, with their 8- and 10-year-old sons, arrived in London for a home exchange in Blackheath, a nearby suburb. That was the beginning of several years of Kugel family overseas vacations.

On April 10, 2022, a Kugel contingent of six met in Berlin for the kids' spring break.  This time it was our grandsons, Leo and Grady Kugel, their parents, Jeremy and Katrina, and my adventurous neighbor Louise and me. 

Louise and I made our own plane reservations.  Jeremy and Katrina picked the roof-deck-terraced, ultra-modern Airbnb in East Berlin.  And they did just about everything else.  They made the reservations at the Bundestag, planned where to eat, helped us get 7-day train passes on our cellphones and guided us on the public transportation. Jeremy even scheduled our “you can’t come home without them” Covid tests.

The baton has passed to a new generation.


Who You Are

I was thrilled to hear from so many of you in response to my “Who are you?” blog post. Fifty-five of you replied, and many sent photos.  Getting to know who reads 80-something was so much fun.  (Replies are still welcome.)

You are from many countries, including New Zealand, Germany, France, England, Brazil, Australia and Canada.  Ages range from a young man in Brazil who is reading 80-something to improve his English to several in their 90’s.  The respondent with the most great grandchildren (12) is from Australia. Two more are expected shortly!

You are predominantly female. You sound grateful for your lives, despite the challenges of ageing.


A Thing That Makes You Happy

For the second half of the semester in my learning-in-retirement program, I have two new courses, both on Zoom.  In one, “Have Cities Lost Their Mojo?” we are studying the challenges cities face, particularly the impact of the pandemic.

My second course is “The Science of Happiness,” a class limited to twelve participants. 

We were asked to bring an object that makes us “happy” to the first class.  Some examples:  a photo of a beautiful view of mountains from the window of a class member’s vacation home, a coffee mug picturing family members, and a 600-year-old Tibetan ritual object. I brought a vase of fresh flowers because flowers never fail to cheer me.

But the object that caused everyone to ooh and ahhh was kept under the desk of a class member.  She reached down and collected an irresistible small black and white dog.  He snuggled into her lap.

That made everybody happy.

Ups and Downs

I try to not let the state of the world get me down.  Between the Covid pandemic, the war in Ukraine and our divided country, one could become despondent.

I am among the luckiest of lucky people.  But I do have my moments of struggling, and the past few weeks have been challenging.

Three weeks ago, the son of a friend died in an avalanche in Colorado.  A skilled mountaineer, forty-nine years old--it’s heart-breaking. 

A single childhood friend died alone in her New York City apartment and wasn’t found until the doorman missed her.  Within days, a beloved former work colleague passed away.  Two other good friends are ill, one with Alzheimer’s and one not-yet-diagnosed, suffering from debilitating pain.

We are fortunate to live this long.  But some things are just hard.

The Corner Window

Last August, Peter and I bought an apartment in the building where we were renters. The unit is at the end of the building so in addition to the beautiful view of the Charles River from our floor-to-ceiling front windows, we can see the red brick apartment building next door from the side window.

Not only did we get more daylight, there is a beautiful six-stories-high sycamore tree outside that window.  Yesterday, as I opened the blind, there was a man in a bucket raised from the truck below. He was trimming that tree.  If that window could be opened, I could have reached out to shake the hand he waved at me.

Today, when I pulled the shade open, there was a male cardinal at my eye level.  We stared at each other.  I didn’t move.  When he finally got bored, he left. 

I knew I was going to have a good day.

Ferdinand the Bull


Pictured above is one of my favorite childhood books.  Published two years before I was born, I hadn’t given Ferdinand the Bull a thought in decades.

Until a friend showed me her copy of Ferdinand, a favorite from her childhood also, prominently displayed on a bookshelf in her office. She suggested that we read it out loud to one another.  I recognized every word, but she had the whole book memorized! Its story teaches children an important lesson--it’s OK to be different than everyone around you.

A lesson as important today as it was when Mother read Ferdinand to her three-year-old daughter Judy.

Round and Round She Goes

It was an almost-spring-blue-skyed morning at the Fresh Pond Reservoir. I was walking with an old friend I hadn’t seen in months,   so there was a lot to catch up on.  The path is two-plus miles and I have walked it countless times.

Shortly after we got started, we felt a rush of wind as a tall, slim figure flew past us and disappeared in the distance.  We noticed her long blond hair, pulled back, and that she was running as gracefully as a gazelle.

We continue our “stroll,” and within moments she passed us again.  I decided she was probably training for the Boston Marathon. 

The third time she passed us, I could feel myself becoming annoyed.  What right does she have to be so fast, so beautiful (from the back anyway) and such a show-off!

The fourth time she passed us…I felt an immediate need to sit down.

Who was that mysterious woman?  We’ll never know.

Clementine Celebration

 My “baby” turned fifty on Thursday. How could that possibly be?  Wasn’t I just fifty yesterday? We “celebrated” my fiftieth by leaving town on a little family vacation because I did not want to publicly announce that I had lived for half a century.

Well, my “baby” didn’t want to hide this milestone.  Instead, he invited friends from every phase of his life to participate in his Second Annual Zoom Clementine-Eating Contest.

Fifty-one people showed up. The youngest was about ten; the oldest was surely me.  And I had the honor of running the stopwatch as well as participating.

Each participant had to show on camera his/her unopened 3-lb bag of clementines.  After the signal by me, the first person to finish the entire bag would be the winner. Our winner ate his entire bag in slightly over five minutes. At that instant, having eaten six, I still had eleven clementines left in my bag. 

There was some post-competition chatter and an off-key rendering of Happy Birthday. 

Best birthday ever, according to Jeremy.


How likely is this? Two brothers, ages almost 50 and almost 52 hanging out together in the elder’s Jackson Heights, Queens living room and doing Facetime with their mother!

When Jeremy realized that he was the only one in his family with two days off for his school’s spring break, he decided to visit his brother in New York City. Not sure what they did other than eat, rather graze, through the City, go to Seth’s favorite comedian’s live show somewhere in New Jersey and film a video about suburb vs. city for Seth’s Amigo Gringo channel.

We laughed about a rather silly lamp in Seth’s living room that came from Jeremy’s bedroom more than thirty years ago. And a lot of other things.

You “had to be there,” but it got one (very) empty-nester’s day off to a great start.

To watch a short video about Seth and Jeremy in New York, mostly in English, click here

P.S.  Thanks to all who wrote to introduce themselves.  I loved reading your stories, and I will answer them as time permits.

Who are You?

For over fourteen years (1,482 posts), I have been sharing my thoughts-- my fears, my bad news and my triumphs with you.  I have posted photos of all sorts.  I have recommended readings and sent links.  You know a lot about Judy Kugel.

Now it’s my turn. I would be so happy to “meet” you.  Will you send me a picture and a few words about where you are in your life?  I promise not to re-publish anything.  Ask questions, make suggestions, just write.