New beginnings

The Protea retirement home provides an opportunity for one 80-year-old resident to chuck out her chintz.

parket floor 88 298 (photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
parket floor 88 298
(photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
The problem with collecting is that you don't realize how much stuff you have until you start to look around. I bought my first piece of Sitzendorf china at the Liverpool Antiques Fair of 1970 for the princely sum of two pounds, which was not cheap in those days, and I've been adding to it ever since. Some, however, don't feel as attached to their possessions as I do. These thoughts were occasioned by a visit to Protea Village, a retirement home in the Sharon, and by this apartment in particular, lived in by an 80-year-old retired nurse. Where are the knick-knacks? where are the memories? It's so neat and uncluttered. "I gave everything away," explains the owner. Three years ago, the Polish-born owner who studied nursing after the war in Austria decided to leave her Ramat Aviv apartment and move into Protea Village. "I liked it straight away," she recalls. "I didn't want to live in a luxurious five-star hotel type of home but a homely, comfortable place like this where all the people are nice and friendly." With her sons, grandchildren and great grandchildren not far away, she happily settled in to one of the larger apartments, although not the biggest, and completed it to her own taste. "Some people close off the kitchen but I like everything to look neat and tidy - I'm very pedantic about that - so I left everything open," she explains. Most of the furniture from the larger apartment that she left behind would not fit into the smaller space except for the sofas, which she brought with her. The sideboard, which displays the few items she did hang on to, was custom-made. "There was no furniture I wanted to keep, but I wouldn't part with my photos," she says. In the small room that she uses as a study and spare bedroom she keeps the albums documenting her long and active life. A few favorite paintings on the lounge walls also stayed with her. A new dining room set was acquired to suit the small space without crowding it. "I love space," insists the owner. Outside, a flourishing garden grows on the large balcony. "I talk to my plants, and that's why they bloom so well," she says. Behind a folding door she has placed the washing machine and dryer so as not to crowd her living space. In the open area, she likes to entertain the extended family and enjoys cooking for everyone in her impeccable kitchen. Protea Village, which is situated at the Bnei Dror junction of the old Haifa road, is unusual in offering its residents the possibility of studying in the Proyeda college that was established in the village. The college offers full academic courses and although it does not award degrees, it is recognized as an institution for higher education. The residents are also very active and have been known to organize demonstrations and turn out in large numbers. The village itself is situated at a busy junction and the crossing is without a traffic light. Hundreds of residents held a demonstration in the spring and changes are due to be made. Many of the residents also spend time volunteering in hospitals and schools or anywhere they are needed. There are also many communal activities organized. At the end of the day, each resident goes back to his own apartment, which can be as individual and personal as they choose. And there's even room for all that accumulated clutter if you can't bring yourself to give it away. Do you feel you own one of Israel's most beautiful homes? Please e-mail