A New Life! Retirement at its Best 96

Survival of the Fittest

Mealtimes are frustrating for many of us. Breakfast is served on a long buffet in the center of the dining room, and a short one on the side. That part is all right. But many a morning the kitchen runs out of something; often bananas, fruit, sometimes even oatmeal. That’s why, even before eight o’clock, people line up to be first in line. Even ten minutes later all bananas have disappeared. However, the first people in line often take two or three, put them in the basket of their walker and take them back to their apartment for later. If there are strawberries or watermelon in the bowl with fruit, they are put at the bottom of the bowl, and first arrivers are digging through the cantaloupe and honeydew melon to get to the strawberries or watermelon and the followers get only the melon, which is what we get 365 days out of the year! One day, after I had put oatmeal into my plate, I noticed there were no bananas. Turning around, I saw that one of the women had two bananas on her walker. “Oh, where did you get the bananas?”, I said, and she responded “I was first in line and they still had some,” and she stuck out her tongue at me. YES! Can you believe that? She stuck out her tongue! That 89 year old woman had absolutely no manners in my book. She was not a lady either. Later I thought that she must be envious because of the way I look or walk, or who I am and what I can still do that she can’t. So I am sorry for her and I feel so sad that this can happen in a community like ours.

It is similar at dinner time. Everybody sits on benches and chairs and walkers in the hallway, waiting until the dining room opens. The hostess is great. She assigns people their table, one table at a time, and throngs of people push to get in first. It’s really unbelievable. Tablemates cling to “their” table. If you are one of the lucky ones to be a part of someone’s table, you are supposed to call  the table manager if you can’t be there. In that case they can invite someone else. It is very unpleasant, to say the least. We sat at a table of four for a long time, but we eventually did not agree with the man’s constant complaints about everything, and the speed with which he wanted to be served felt like a fast food restaurant. Yet he wanted to lose weight. I told him once, when the time was right, that he would lose weight if he would wait 15 seconds after each bite, eating slower would make him feel full sooner, so he would eat less.

Sometimes, when I can’t bear our chagrin about things any longer, I write a letter to Management with a copy to kitchen Management and regional Management. Oh, I love writing those letters, they are good! I can state everything clearly and feel good about it, because I know I am right. So then we have a meeting, they explain things from their point of view, promise to do something about it, and we sit back for a while.


The dining room invested in a waffle iron! On certain days, they provide a bottle with batter on the counter next to it and you can make your own Belgian waffle. It is nice for a change, but they are always soft and I like my waffles crisp, so I take them home and put them in the toaster oven for a few minutes. Delicious.

August Audiobook Promotion! 

The Audiobook of Rising from the Shadow of the Sun, https://youtu.be/jO4jcZ1dh3M will be available throughout the month of August for a discounted price to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the end of the War in the Pacific. Get it at your favorite store: Apple Books, Google Play Book Store, Nook Audiobooks, eStories, LibroFM, and Instaread.

I am going to run some promotions this August through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter because I know that my audience has not reached its full potential. If you know of anyone who has not read my books, would you do me a favor and spread the word? Post it on your Facebook or Instagram or elsewhere? Or, purchase some Christmas gifts early! Now that’s a thought! And one more thing: I can give you a Promo Code for a free Audiobook in exchange for a review on Amazon. Reviews are so important for us authors.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,



A New Life! Retirement at its Best 95

Man proposes, but God disposes

That’s what Mamma wrote in her secret journal on her 5th wedding anniversary in 1942, my dear Mamma, a prisoner of the Japanese, separated from our Pappa for three and a half years. (translated in my book Rising from the Shadow of the Sun). I was thinking of her when, last Sunday morning, going to the computer to print our boarding passes for our Monday flight to Seattle, Mike told me he did not feel good about the whole trip. He suddenly dreaded the six-hour flight to Seattle, the ten days on board of the ship, after that a vacation in Canada, it was all too far from home for too long a time. I had to cancel everything; our wonderful vacation was not to happen.

It was difficult for me, especially because this happened at the very last minute: I had been looking forward so much to this time away, to the beauties of Alaska, to the visit with our daughter and her family, seeing the new house, playing with our two little granddaughters and reading them bedtime stories. It cost me some crying spells throughout the day. But it had to be done, and I did it. And on Tuesday night I watched the full moon from my own bedroom instead of the veranda of our Oceania Stateroom. In hindsight I thought, everything happens for a reason. I just have not found the reason yet. But life goes on. Mike is very happy to be home and not traveling. That is, after all, the most important thing.

And then, after having finished six weeks of physical therapy for pain in my Sacroiliac Joint on the left and a torn muscle on the right, I developed spasms in both my Piriformis muscles! Piriformis muscles? I had never heard of them. Such tiny muscles could almost prevent me from walking? Google explained where that new pain came from and recommended several exercises. Five days later, with exercises three times a day, that pain had disappeared as well. Phew! That might have been the reason our trip had to be cancelled.

And then… we got a surprise phone call from Canada: our daughter had booked a flight from Victoria to Raleigh, NC and will come to stay with us for a week. Sunshine after the rain!


While on the phone one late afternoon, looking out the window, I saw a firefly sitting on the glass. While I was still trying to determine whether it was on the inside (so I could capture it and take it outside) or on the outside of the glass, a bright red cardinal flew up to the window and snapped up the poor creature with one tap. Fireflies are abundant on summer nights: I can see many of them through the window.

One night, going to the bathroom in the dark, I noticed a tiny round light on the floor next to the toilet. In the beam of my flashlight I noticed it was a dead firefly, belly up, with its light still on. Did you know that a firefly (or lightning bug) still shines his light after death? I know now: one of the little miracles of nature. I think it is similar to the light Mamma still shines through me, when I share her story with the world, through presentations and books; her light of courage, determination, love and hope. If you don’t know her inspirational story yet, please get my book at Amazon:

Rising from the Shadow of the Sun or at your favorite store through this Universal Link:


Dog training

The temperatures have been in the nineties for weeks now, so we are not sitting outside, and I can only walk the dog in the early morning before breakfast and early evening, when it is cooler. Last night I took her to the first floor in the Club again for a walk, as I have done before. Everyone is in their apartment and I never encounter anyone during our rounds. This time I did an experiment: I let go of both leashes. Lani was hesitant, then kept going, but she constantly stopped and kept looking back at me, got some treats, and went on. After she had rounded a corner ahead of me, I stayed behind and called her: Lani, come! It worked beautifully! I will train her again tonight! This is the beginning of her walking next to me without pulling!

On August 10 Lani and I are starting a new obedience class in Raleigh after which she will get an AKC Good Citizen Certificate. Right after that we will take another six weeks of Therapy dog training, and by the end of the year she will have become a Therapy Dog! I can go around the whole facility with her and let people pet her without being afraid she will jump up at them. One thing I discovered that I did not know: Lani has 2″ long eyelashes! They look like artificial lashes. When I googled it I learned that the length of dogs’ eyelashes is based on the length of their fur. Because Goldendoodles have long hair, their long eyelashes protect them from hair getting into their eyes. She is so beautiful and so sweet! Even without the long lashes I would love her. We are blessed to have her.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,



A New Life! Retirement at its Best 94

Power wash

The last week of June was scheduled for the power wash of the whole building and the cottages. Two companies were hired so that it would only take a week instead of two, and the water  would contain some chlorine. Balcony and patio furniture and outside plants had to be taken indoors and help was available when requested. Because a schedule was not available, most people had everything secured inside starting on Monday, but when we saw the ladders at the front entrance, we waited until Thursday to ask for help with moving the heavy potted plants into the garage. During the day we left the garage doors open, not because of the temperature – it was hot inside and out – but so that the plants would get some light. Would you believe that the Hibiscus, with large red flowers, after two days out of the sun now produces pink ones? I’m curious to see how long that no-sun influence will last. Our cottage was washed Friday night during dinner. On Saturday a young man came around the whole building washing the windows. Fast jobs and good jobs all.The smell of chlorine still hung around until Monday.

Bobcats in our back yard

We have added an unbelievable new animal species to our backyard menagerie: two bobcats. I saw them running, one behind the other, through the thicket in the Divide in the middle of the day, when I was out with a bottle of water to refill the birdbath I had hung in the tree two days before. How is it possible, I thought, that the animals I spotted over the last two years can exist in a relatively narrow band of forest between the freeway and populated neighborhoods? There must be a connection to a larger habitat where they can coexist somehow. I have seen two deer, a red fox, the two bobcats, and smaller animals like the turtles, the geese, and many bird varieties. It has been very hot lately, in the nineties, and the sprinkler system has not been working for weeks. Somehow nobody can fix it, the manager told us. I hope it won’t last long, because the grass is getting brown and flowers are wilting. The pond level got dangerously low, and the geese families were walking across the sandbar in the pond like they were walking on water! Thank goodness we got a couple of fierce rain storms to fill up the pond to a certain level again.

Women’s World Cup Soccer

On July 3 we were invited to come over to our son’s home and watch the semi-final World Cup Soccer match of the Netherlands against Sweden. It was not a very exciting game, because no goals were scored until in the first of two 15 minutes extended time, when the Dutch team scored a goal. With that, they earned a place in the finals against the USA last Sunday morning. We watched the game, which was more exciting after Megan Rapinoe, at 34 the oldest woman ever to score a goal, kicked the ball into the goal, unstoppable. The Dutch girls fought hard, but another goal followed a little later, and the US girls won the World Cup Soccer 2019 with a score of 2-0.

We’re packing

The time has finally come to start getting ready for our fabulous three-week vacation. The beginning and the end are long days, with 6 hour flights from here to the west coast, but then we can relax for three weeks. From Seattle, after a night in a five star hotel, a gift from our travel agent, we sail on Regatta of Oceania Cruises through the Inner Passage of Alaska and back. One of their smaller ships, it hold only about 600 passengers and we are so looking forward to it.

We will disembark one day early, in Victoria, where our daughter and her family live, and will spend eleven days with them. It has been a year since we saw them, during our family reunion in Duck on the Outerbanks, so the girls will have grown!

For now, this will be my last Blog Post until we are back in Cary. That will mean four weeks of no story in your mailbox! I hope you are going on vacation too! It will not be easy for me to stay away from my PC, because I LOVE to write! But next Wednesday I will be cruising under a full moon to Alaska, the Land of the Midnight Sun!

It’s a wonderful Life!

Until next time,










A New Life! Retirement at its Best 93

The Luau

A lovely flyer went out early this week announcing that Waltonwood was going to have a first time ever Hawaiian Luau in the Café, with food, libations, flowers, music and hula. I am not sure that the new, young Activities Director and her new, young assistant really knew what a Luau entailed, but they designed the flyer and prepared for the setup of many chairs in the Café. When Mike arrived an hour before the show he found out that a monthly birthday dinner had been scheduled for the same afternoon and a long, L-shaped table was being set up in the Café and with it all the available chairs. Communication in this place is zero! In the end, thank goodness, everything worked out. I danced on the wooden floor next to the MC, and people were sitting in the hallway and across, in the Player’s Room.

At home, the days before the show, I practiced two dances, cutting out a third one because I am still being treated for pain in my SI joint! I got my beautiful long, blond real-hair wig out of the closet and made a quick trip to WalMart to get rollers, because the hair was very straight. A heavy metal candle stick served as a stand for the styrofoam head that my wig was pinned onto. A 25th wedding anniversary gift from a good friend in Pasadena, it changed purpose long ago when we did not burn real candles anymore and has served me as a hat stand for many years. Now, it was perfect to put the head with the wig on and put rollers in for a day and a night. Don’t you love it when an item can be used for many different purposes? A few hours before the show my wig was beautiful with soft waves, and the fact that a few of my real bangs were a shade darker was not a problem, because I wore a white flower haku lei on my head to match the lei around my neck. It looked beautiful! I looked beautiful! I had selected a floral Muumuu and went to the Club on easy-to-take-off slippers, because I would dance on bare feet.

First I went to the Assisted Living/Memory Care, where my MC was performing already. I danced my two hulas, and everybody enjoyed it. I remember all those who lived in Independent Living before; it was fun to see them again and dance for them. Then I went over to our side of the building. Chairs were being set up in the hallway, then more chairs in the Players Room, as the audience grew. They served Margarita’s (looking just like Mai Tai’s, and I don’t think anyone knew the difference), and chips with a dip and meatballs. Delicious, said everyone! I only had one Margarita because I had to dance, but everyone feasted on the delicious food and drink.

My MC came over with her instruments, set up, and played our slack key CDs, interspersed by my dances and explanation of what hula really is. I deemed that necessary after people had been asking me if I had a grass skirt, if I was belly dancing, if I would be dancing Tiny Bubbles, wave my hands like this and told me they would definitely not be volunteering to dance when asked, and so on. All Hollywood images! The fact that as a tourist attraction people in the audience are asked to come on stage to learn to dance hula is absurd. It downplays hula, makes fun of the volunteers and gets laughs from the audience. Perhaps that’s what they are doing it for.

We had over 50 people in the audience, someone said, and it was a great success.

The morning after

Oh,Oh! My Sacroiliac joint was not happy. I have been taking Advil and sat with ice packs during our morning coffee, and immediately started doing my floor exercises again three times a day. With no therapy until Monday morning, I am hoping that the pain will be at the level it was before Thursday afternoon or better. Keeping my fingers crossed!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,