A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 15


 The days are shortening; at 6 a.m. it is still dark outside, and in the high forties, and at 7 p.m. it is completely dark and in the fifties. So gradually I have changed my daily walks from early in the morning and after dinner to after breakfast, if the weather is pleasant – and with the sun and little or no wind it’s great. The trees are starting to change colors and promising a beautiful palette in a few weeks. The fun part is that during the day I meet people along my trail. Not like the evenings, an occasional runner or dog walker, but people working on their property. One man was moving ferns and we had a conversation about those.

When walking along the lake I saw two turtles on the log in the water, like I had seen before. Getting closer to take a picture, a blue heron flew out of nowhere and landed on the log, while the turtles, seeing him approach, quickly jumped off. Back on the trail I met a gentleman who was scooping pine needles off the path, putting them in a large trashcan and spreading them on his property adjacent to the path. Why? “The gardeners blow the needles off every Monday, but they keep falling and they make the asphalt slippery and dangerous, especially for runners.” I could agree, even as a walker. As we talked, the heron bent over and we saw him catch a fish. “We recently lost one of them,” said Johnny,” because he caught a fish with a hook in it.”

He asked me where I live, told me his mother also lives at Waltonwood, in Assisted Living, and she will be 100 next month. I always carry at least one business card with me, which I gave him. He was very interested. Other than maintaining the Wimbledon swimming pool he was apparently also someone of power in his church, and ended the conversation with an invitation to be the guest speaker at the Methodist Church in the near future: “It’s close by, and you will get a free breakfast.” “I get that at Waltonwood too.” “Oh yes, of course.” He laughed and said he would get in touch with me, definitely, with a date for my visit.

On the way home, at the entrance of the Nature Preserve, I took a picture of this friendly ghost, which reminded me of one of the many activities at our “Club.” On Tuesday we’ll have a Halloween party, in costume for those who like that, with wine and cheese and crackers. Tomorrow there is a bus trip for a day to Old Salem, every Wednesday you can sign up to take the bus to a different restaurant for lunch, movies are shown four times a week, happy hour starts at 3:30 p.m. on Fridays, and every Thursday afternoon there is some kind of entertainment, a singer, a group of musicians, and more. Besides that there are the free fitness classes, free swimming, Bingo, Arts and Crafts, Computer education, sewing and quilting, religious services, bridge groups, hand-and-foot, and more.

We are still too busy to participate in many of those things, but it is good to know that we can have fun and will keep busy, even in our real retirement.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until Next time!



A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 14

Turtle Talk

Recently, on a late afternoon walk on the second part of my favorite trail, I noticed a beautiful turtle sitting by the side of the trail in the dirt. “Oh you poor dear,” I said to him. “Have you lost your way?” He just looked at me from under his beautiful brown and yellow shell and said nothing. I assumed that he was on his way back to the lake, but he was pointed in the wrong direction! What to do? The lake, the large pond along the first part of my trail, where I had seen two turtles on a floating log once, basking in the sunshine, was quite a ways away for a little turtle, especially for one going in the wrong direction.

I walked back to the Clubhouse, all the way looking for something I could pick him up with, cautioned as I was by one of my fellow residents that the large turtle in our pond had resisted fiercely when he tried to pick him up to take him from across the street towards the water. With my luck, I noticed that the pool man, who was getting the swimming pool ready for winter, had left all his equipment outside the fence and among it was a large, shallow empty carton box. Since the man was nowhere in sight, I took the box and went back to my turtle.

He was gone! In that short of a time, perhaps four minutes, he was gone. Don’t you believe anymore that turtles are slow! I looked around for about five minutes and then, there he was! Four feet into the dead leaves on the other side of the nine feet trail! “I will help you and I will take you back to the lake,” I said and carefully picked him up and put him in the box. He did not fight but immediately withdrew all his extremities into his shell. I put him in the box and he did not move. I walked to the beginning of the trail and to the lake and carefully down the grassy, then muddy shore. I took him out of the box and gently put him beside the water in the mud. He did not move. I picked him up again, lifted him and placed him in the water, so that half his shield was submerged. Now, I thought, he has to come up for air soon. It took a few minutes, but then, one front foot appeared, then the other, and finally his head. He looked at me and I thought he would happily swim away. But he sat there motionless, half immersed in the water, head sticking up. I waited and waited. Nothing.

Then something amazing happened. From ten feet away, I saw a turtle approaching. Head up for air, head down, swim, swim, head up for air, head down, swim, swim. It came as close as six feet, then turned and continued to swim away parallel to the shore. And turned, and came back! From a distance farther away a larger turtle approached in the same manner, five feet, four feet, looking at my turtle, then turning and swimming away, returning again a minute later. And a third one came, and then a fourth and a fifth. As many as six turtles, anywhere from 5 to 7 inches long came to take a look, and two of them came as close as one foot from my lovely prodigal son. And then I saw it: all their shields were flatter and kind of mossy from being in the water, and greenish. My little one had a rounded shield, shiny brown with yellow markings. He did not like the water! He probably could not even swim! But then, where did he belong? Was he a pet that had wandered away from his family? Had he been on the way home when I found him?

When he did not move, I decided I had been dumb to mess with nature and I had to take him back to the trail where I had found him. I put the box down in front of him and gently pushed him in. And this time, he did not withdraw. He was not frightened anymore and curiously looked around and tried to climb up the side of the box, standing on his hind legs. I took him back to the place along the trail where I had found him, across, in the leaves, and he sat still and looked at me. I hope he has found his way home.

I learned my lesson. Not only dogs, but turtles as well can find their way home. I do wonder, though, how all those turtles in the lake all of a sudden saw my land turtle on the shore, and came swimming back and forth to take a look at him. Did he communicate by sending out an S.O.S.? He did not stick his head under water. Can anyone tell me more about turtles and their behavior? Mine was definitely like a fish out of water!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,




A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 13

An Audiobook!

Yes, it’s official! I am working on the production of the Audiobook of Rising from the Shadow of the Sun. It is the fulfillment of a long-time dream, and it is finally not a dream anymore, but it’s really happening and I am very excited.

Living in this retirement community among many people who are either hard of hearing or have some form of macular degeneration, I first considered publishing my book in Large Print; that seemed easy enough. But then I read a publication which stated that audiobooks are becoming very popular and already have a world-wide market, not only for those with vision problems but for many other people who enjoy listening to books while commuting, working out, cooking, gardening and so on. Other reasons for their popularity are that audiobooks can continually be downloaded because they are never out of print, many non-readers would buy an audiobook to listen to and tell their friends, an audiobook will boost existing ebook and print book sales, and audiobook sales are growing by double digits.

In July, just as I was looking into it again and doing research on what it would take, D2Digital came with a special offer for Indie Authors – an offer I could not resist. And so it’s official! Spread the word! Recordings have started just last week (yes, it took about three months to get to that point) and if all goes well the final product will be finished by November 18. That makes for wonderful Christmas presents my friends! Think about it!

However, working on my Audiobook until the end of November, in addition to several Presentations that people have asked me to do, means that I will not have a whole lot of time to devote to writing my blog post every week. I hope you will bear with me and look forward with me to the Audiobook.

Next Tuesday morning I will drive to Sanford, a town about 45 minutes from here, for a presentation at the First Baptist Church; on November 27 the Raleigh Host Lions Club, the largest Lions Club and the largest service organization in North Carolina invited me for a Presentation at their meeting, and in the spring I will be talking to the Cary and the Apex Senior Communities, large groups, all!

Grateful that more and more people will continue to hear the stories my dear, courageous Mamma wrote down in her secret diary which she wrote under horrific circumstances, while struggling to survive the Japanese Concentration Camps in World War Two with her two little girls, I say:

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until soon!



A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 12


After World War Two our family was reunited and we moved into an empty home in Soerabaja, the city where we lived before the war. Our former house on Brouwerstreet was occupied, but many houses stood empty. Everything portable had been stolen out of the house. The only pieces of furniture left were a large side board and three large wooden beds with mattresses. A few crates from the yard would function as a table and chairs. There were no sheets, but then we did not know any better. My sister Paula and I found a silver hand mirror and a silver salt dish with blue glass inside underneath the sideboard. Treasures! After my mother passed away I got the hand mirror and the salt dish and I still have them. We had very few possessions left. That was the situation when I was seven years old and Paula five.

A year later we went to Holland where we met our grandparents for the very first time. They had gifts for us, unbelievable gifts. I got a porcelain doll dressed in the costume of Zeeland and another, smaller doll with pink clothes that Mina, my grandmother’s live-in housekeeper had crocheted, with tassels and beautiful shiny blue buttons. She even had pink underpants and a little camisole, crocheted socks and a pink bonnet. Lovely.

I have played with the dolls and later in life I had the costumed doll, the “boerinnepop”, on display in my bedroom. The little one I tucked away for my future granddaughters. But the time has come and gone. My oldest granddaughter is now ten, has many toys but never really played with dolls. The other two granddaughters are six and three, and they don’t play with dolls either. And then I met Lilly.

Lilly had lost everything in the hurricane; I heard she loved playing with dolls and her dad had only brought one Barbie doll in her suitcase. So I washed my doll’s clothes, replaced the 72-year old elastic in the pants and she was ready to meet her new mother. Tonight, when she came to have dinner with her grandparents, we sat together in the dining room. A very lively six-year-old, she told us she had turned six on the day the hurricane hit: September 10, 2017. “And our house was full of water, all the way till the roof!” After dinner we got together in the Players Room and she opened the box, which I had filled with pink tissue paper, the doll and an extra set of clothes. “Oh, a glass doll!” she exclaimed while she lifted her out of the box and cradled her in the nook of her left arm, and “Pink is my favorite color.”

It was a great success. She completely undressed her and then put everything on again, more careful after I showed her that the arms and legs could be twisted out of the socket if she was not very careful. I told her she could think of a name that she liked. Nothing came to mind immediately, but after we said goodbye and she walked to the elevator with her grandparents, grandma holding the empty box and she holding her new little treasure, she turned around and said, “Her name is Ellie.” Two days later her grandmother wrote me a thank you note with a special prayer: Child of God, may the grace and love of Christ meet you today. May God guide your footsteps and your words. May you be a blessing, especially as you are blessed. A gift I very much appreciated.

On Sundays after church the Club serves a copious brunch. There is a short line for the omelet station and then we go along the buffet and choose the things we like. Many people bring their children and grandchildren (most of whom are adults already) and it is fun to get to meet the second and third generations. We often sit with one couple whose son has a ranch nearby. The first time I noticed his boots under the table and asked if he came from Texas. No, he had a farm nearby, with a plethora of various animals. We started a conversation and we have sat together with him, his parents and sometimes his sisters many times since. One day, he came to our cottage after brunch (wearing brand new white sneakers :-)) and he handed me a large carton tube. Out came seventeen peacock feathers. Seventeen peacock feathers, what a gift! Some of them were five feet tall, the shortest ones 18 inches.

Four under feathers (he called them dog feathers), brown and beige, were 18 inches tall, and I am using one of them as a quill in a block of koa wood from Hawai’i on my desk. They look like the feathers of a bird of prey, like a large hawk.

I remember when we lived in Pasadena, that we went to the Arboretum in Arcadia where peacocks roamed free. But we never saw a peacock feather on the ground that was within reach, and certainly not of this size! In Kona Village Resort, on the western shore of the Big Island, they had white peacocks with feathers like lace. The world is full of beautiful creatures and beautiful things. Enjoy them while you can!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,