Facing Another Winter at Home

After a long winter of Covid, summer arrived with a gradual loosening of restrictions.

Our garden thrived with an abundance of rain, Gerard worked on the house, and I rode my bike and swam in the ocean. Thanks to global warming, the unexpected water temperature fooled me into thinking I was swimming in the Indian Ocean.

Back in July, we took our first real trip out of town since returning from India. A train journey to Philadelphia to see a show of the artists, Soutine and de Kooning, at the Barnes Collection. (Barnes was a private collector in the 1920s).

We both liked Soutine more than we thought, and De Kooning with his pink ladies less than we’d hoped.The more than 400 paintings in the collection were amazing, with the one exception – way too many Renoirs and his pink ladies!

Woman 5, DeKooing
Bather, Renoi

We spent the following day in the Philadelphia Museum of Art with its monumental collection of art.

Countless paintings we’d never seen before but the Van Gogh’s and Cezanne’s were the most memorable.

Mont-Sainte-Victoire Cezanne

Saturated, we took the train to NYC that evening and spent a couple of days visiting friends we’d not seen in many moons. Our last time with Odella was on the beach in Gokarna!

Beachside cafe. Odella in center

On our 49th wedding anniversary, friends took us out to Mela, an upscale and only surviving Indian restaurant in our neighborhood. During Covid, many of the cheaper Indian restaurants that have been here for years, have folded. Sadly, they didn’t have the deep pockets to hang on. As the virus has receded, we have begun entertaining again Our first houseguests in two years, arrived from Canada and stayed three days. It was good to sit down for meals together, chat long after our customary bedtime and visit yet more art shows with them: A collection of six Titians at the Isabella Gardner Museum.

Courtyard at Isabella Gardner Museum

and Albert Pinkham Ryder, one of the innovators of modern American Art, at the Whaling Museum in New Bedford.

Flying Dutchman, Albert Pinkham Ryder

Our day in New Bedford finished with a walk on Horseneck Beach in the late afternoon sunshine.

An upside of the pandemic is we’ve become more comfortable with Zoom. Gerard has continued his memoir with the help of a virtual writing group. He’s made tremendous progress during the last three years, in spite of his dyslexia. He’s fortunate to have the ability to be fully ‘present’, whether painting a picture, writing, or working on the house. My mind suffers from the the more common dilemma of darting off into the future or dwelling on the past. The real solution to quiet the mind is meditation, and with more time on our hands at home, we’ve increased our practice. But not being a yogi, I can’t meditate all day long. Keeping my mind occupied with the NYT crossword puzzle and Spelling Bee is constructive and satisfies my love of words. Reading remains my favorite pastime, going back to devouring stories under the bedclothes with a flashlight at six years old, and walking into street lampposts on the way to school with my head in a book. After a long history of reading groups where we kept having to remind ourselves to discuss the story, I’ve joined an excellent group of senior women on Zoom (the addition of close captions to the screen has helped my ability to participate). Diving deep into short stories compels me to read between the lines, looking for hidden meaning. This has given me both a new respect for short stories and an opportunity to bond with the other women as we share our lives, woven into the discussion.

Wellington Street

Winter is now arriving, the leaves have faded and fallen, carpeting the sidewalk. Halloween is this weekend and the cold wind turns our thoughts toward the warmth of India. The country is opening up again and issuing tourist visas. A few of our friends hope to go as early as Christmas, but I doubt we’ll be joining them. In part, because I’ve reached a point where addressing my hearing loss has become a priority. Although I can manage quite well with female voices one-on-one, I want to be able to hear men again (most of all Gerard), and deal better in small group settings. My initial experience with hearing aids was disappointing. Perhaps because I didn’t give them a fair chance. The only alternative is a cochlear implant. During the long wait for a reevaluation, I joined online hearing loss and cochlear support groups where I was given encouragement. But once again, the evaluation was a let down.

When we met with the surgeon, he wasted no time in cautioning me against the implant. “It should be your last resort.” The implant would destroy the little hearing that you now have and if it’s a failure, you’ll be worse off than you are now. This made sense. So I need to try hearing aids again, this time with a more positive attitude. An encouraging new development in hearing aids is the capability of switching to a remote microphone. When Gerard clipped the microphone to his shirt pocket, I could hear him much better. Whether I choose a hearing aid or a cochlear implant, I know success depends on training the brain to the new reality which will require patience and perseverance. When they said my next appointment for a “fitting” was six weeks away, I said, no sooner? There’s a staff shortage – even at MGH! It seems no one wants to work anymore.

Next Spring, if it’s in the cards, we hope to visit England. I want to see friends and family again (with three new babies to hug). So if we can’t meet with our British friends in India, perhaps we can see them in England.

8 thoughts on “Facing Another Winter at Home

  1. I totally agree with you about barnes and too many pink ladies so when i build my collection i’ll leave renoir out!
    I love the new bedford whaling musuem and i am going to look for ryder ..looks fantabulous!
    also can we take you out for your 50th wedding anniversary???
    it was soooooolovely so see you in real life


  2. It’s always a pleasure to read your posts… Coincidentally, I just got hearing aids. There are lots of variables, for treble and base and volume, all accessible on an app on your phone. Pretty cool…


  3. Thank you for sending this Roberta. Such a pleasure to walk along side you as you share your life experiences. Much love to you.




  4. Dear Bobbie,

    It was wonderful to hear about your travel and experiences ov the past few seasons. The garden looks great! My flowers are less beautiful, but the vegetables did well in a new sunny place against a fence. We haven’t gone anywhere, but I did visit Philadelphia a couple of years ago and enjoyed the same museums you went to. Contract bridge games started up again in the Spring and I go a couple of times a week. The puppy, Joy, isboth trouble and fun. Arthur always finds work to do outside. Right now he’s cleaning up a hug tree top that blew off in the nor’easter last week. We were without heat and electricity for three days, and got out the camp stove and oil lamps. It got cold, in the 50’s, and we spent some time at Per’s house in Orleans, which got power sooner. Per’s tinnitus is somewhat better, and his hearing,too. He’s been visiting a doctor in Vt. occasionally, who has cured him of some viruses.

    Much love and best wishes to you and Gerard, Judy



  5. Hey Roberta. Thanks for sending this along. You have developed a beautiful sense of narrative. I read it as if I could hear you reading it to me. Also nice to hear a bit of what’s going on in your lives. I wish you all the very best with your hearing. So easy to say yet so hard to live, you will probably one day look back on it as one of the great gifts of your life. We miss you guys. Heaps of love-R

    On Mon, 1 Nov 2021 at 09:50, A Small Case Across India wrote:

    > Roberta & Gerard Wiggins posted: ” After a long winter of Covid, summer > arrived with a gradual loosening of restrictions. Our garden thrived with > an abundance of rain, Gerard worked on the house, and I rode my bike and > swam in the ocean. Thanks to global warming, the unexpected wa” >


  6. Always nice to read your words and hear of the world through your perspective. Glad that you are writing and look forward to the next chapter here.


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