A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-22

Memorial Day

We hung out our flag again this year: With the black ribbon until noon and without it for the rest of the day. It was a special feeling to honor not only the veterans who had died but also the first responders who gave their lives and the people who died from the virus. The flag at Waltonwood has been on half mast for ten weeks now, for all the victims of the Covid-19 pandemic, two of them close friends.

On Sunday before Memorial Day we planned to get together with friends from the cottage four doors down in the gazebo next to the pond. We did it a few weeks ago and it was frightfully cold, but we had a good time. Sunday morning was sunny and warm but close to three o’ clock it started raining and we heard thunder. So instead, we got together at our friends’ house, keeping distance and bringing our own glasses and wine. We had a wonderful time. After all, God created us to be communal beings. To live in isolation, whether outwardly or inwardly, can lead to despair. I’m thinking of the single men and women in their apartments in the main building: isolation has taken ten weeks now, and the end is not in sight. We hope to be”free” again at the end of the third phase in North Carolina, when everything is safe. Sigh.

I want you to know that I am spacing the pictures to the format of every post as it appears on my Mac computer. If you look at it on your tablet or phone, they may look out of place.

Lockdown dreadlocks gone: A totally different dog!

A friend came to pick up Lani last week and took her to the groomer’s – the first time in four months. She had developed dreadlocks I could not get out. So she needed a total shave. That must have been a harrowing experience for her, because it took two days before she was her old self again. And at night I gave her a blankie in her basket because she was shivering. We can’t wait until some of her hair has grown back and she will look like a doodle again.

Love’s Labour’s Won

was the 1599  sequel to the play Love’s Labour’s Lost, both written by William Shakespeare. It was performed only once, while an Alien invasion began and was quickly ended by Shakespeare himself….Nonetheless, Shakespeare seemed to have rewritten the play at some point.

I saw the analogy between Shakespeare’s play and my movie, hence the above title. The movie played for 10 days in LA to qualify for academy awards – It became a finalist in the live shorts category but I don’t know that for certain. It played around the country causing disruptions wherever it played. At the time of the San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre in 1984 it was pulled. There were some copyright issues with the sound track of Casablanca which were never resolved… as I understand it. In the 90s – this I do know to be true – HBO was interested in it for awhile but then nothing happened – possibly due to the the copyright issues. It has appeared and disappeared from youtube for this reason. We were living in Hawai’i at the time and the movie was the farthest thing from my mind.

A few weeks ago I thought, Oh, let me try one more time and look if my movie has reappeared. After a while I found the information about the movie. After a second try I connected with the actor who had played the lead. No additional news from him. But then, I found it on YouTube!  It was released again five years ago, without sound! It’s not a movie I would recommend to anyone, but the most important thing is that I played a role in it and that I now have two actual screen shots! I am holding the baby in the first one, am talking to him in the second, all the time watching the movie Casablanca. Oh, how fun to actually see myself at that age! I reached my goal and that’s enough about myself.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,


A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-21

Early morning

The silliest thing I ever did in the semi darkness of the early morning last week was to put concealer on my lips, thinking it was lipstick. When I switched on the light I actually started laughing. What a ghastly sight that was! I love to get up early in the morning, before sunrise. When I look out through the windows of our living room at dawn, what I see is an opaque green screen for several moments. Then, slowly, different shades and shapes are becoming visible and I see the wall of trees and bushes across the lawn reaching all the way up to the sky. A little patch of sky is visible and while I wait everything changes to brightness in the light of the rising sun many miles away. Then it’s time for morning exercises, coffee and a walk with Lani, one and a half mile, three times around the campus. That’s the perfect start of a new day.

The Flying For The Flag Bandit Flight Team

For the past two weeks, all over North Carolina as part of the National Hospital Week, the Bandit Flight Team, a group of six planes, has been doing flyovers dedicated to frontline workers working so hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. The planes had smoke on at the hospital locations. It was a beautiful sight from where I sat, in the middle of the street (read cul-de-sac), at a safe distance from three neighbors sitting in front of their garages. Down the street we could see more neighbors, sitting in chairs by the side of the road or hanging over the railing around the pond.

Gardening in my front patio  

Every summer I create a little garden in our front porch. Sometimes I’ll have a Hibiscus, a gift for Mother’s Day, this year it is a Dipladenia with a mass of pink flowers. To my delight I was able to pull last year’s Gardenia through the winter, and thanks to frequent fertilizing with coffee grinds every branch now has a large flower bud. In a week or so they will all open and it will be a delight to sit amidst the fragrance and dream of Hawai’i. Five months ago, I bought a small piece of ginger root to show to the people at our dinner table what ginger looks like (sort of a show-and-tell). Afterwards it landed in the odds-and-ends bowl on the kitchen counter, where I found it again two weeks ago, all shriveled up. But… I saw a little spot of green on one of the knobs: there was life in this little root! It deserved a second chance. So I planted it in a small flower pot and watched daily as a little green shoot shot up from the soil: first a stalk, then a small leaf… Yesterday I transferred it into larger pot, an I can actually see the difference each day. Then there is the Easter Lily, now flowerless, waiting to pull back into its bulbs and come to life again next spring. And last but not least, I rescued a volunteer that had been growing in the pot with the Gardenia. It is some sort of pine tree, or hopes to become one with time and a lot of TLC.  The garden hose is “on”, connected to the spigot on the side of the house. Because with this many plants in a hot summer as it will likely become I can’t very well do them all justice with the little watering can I have in my kitchen. Voilà my garden-in-a-nutshell.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,







A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-20

Mother’s Day 2020

We will not easily forget it: Mother’s Day at a distance. Our family came over, all five of them, and rang the bell after they had put their gifts at the front door. Then they stepped back and stood at the fence, waving and wishing me a happy mother’s day. We talked for a while, noticed that two of the boys had had a haircut – their mom does an excellent job on all of them – and that our son in the eight weeks that we had not seen him had grown a beard and a mustache, the way almost all young men decorate their faces these days, lockdown or not. After a short time they left to visit our daughter-in-law’s parents in Assisted Living. They can’t go in, but by appointment her parents came to the little meeting room and could see their kids and grandkids on the outside through the glass and talk to them on their cell phones. Phone calls from our daughters brightened the rest of our day, but virtual hugs are for the birds!

I found my Killer!

Oh, I have not been looking for him at all in many years, but I just finished a mystery novel a friend gave me about a mother whose son got kidnapped, and that started me thinking about the time that I played the role of a young mother who got killed. Here is the story:

In 1978, during my acting years in California, I earned a part in a black and white movie Killers Matinee. The shoot took place in a theatre in Venice. I remember I was impressed when I saw that Jessica Lange was in the audience. I thought for sure she would have the lead. She sat in one of the back rows, though, and she did not move. She probably had an extra part and her name is not even mentioned in the Cast. I found this online: Jessica Lange moved to New York, working as a model, until producer Dino De Laurentiis cast her as the female lead in  King Kong (1976). The film attracted much unfavorable comment and, as a result, Lange was off the screen for three years. So in 1978 she was not yet in the limelight.

Anyway, the part I played was that of a young mother holding a baby in my arms, sitting in the left of the two seating sections of the small theatre, in the isle seat of the fifth or sixth row. All I remember is that it was dark in the theatre, then noisy, and then I was shot in the head. Afterwards the director told me I did a great job (I thought so too). I got paid for the day and that was it. I thought it was just a pilot, and never heard about it. But…. the book I just finished made me look for the title Killers Matinee. Actually, I always thought the title should have been Killer’s Matinee, don’t you think? But I found it! You can read it all below. It was a short, 15 minute black and white film and I think it was only shown once. But where? When? I researched deeper. I joined IMDbPRO (free for one month, that’s all I needed). IMDb is an online database of information related to films, television programs, home videos, video games, and streaming content online – including cast, production crew and personal biographies, plot summaries, trivia, ratings, and fan and critical reviews. 

I found Rex Steven Sikes, the killer. He is still alive and about ten years younger than I. He is a Producer, Director and SAG/AFTRA actor with an impressive list of movies he played in, the movies he produced, his website, his address, phone number and email address, everything! That was very exciting to read! I emailed him and asked if he had any information on the movie we were in together. That was two days ago (That I wrote him, not when we were in the movie together, which was 42 years ago) I don’t expect an answer soon, because he has to do some research himself too, I figure, but I do expect an answer. After all, I could boast that I am a retired SAG/AFTRA Actress, Writer and Public Speaker. That should create some interest.

If it does not, well, whatever happens, I now have proof that I was not only a Stage and Commercial Actress, but a Movie Actress as well! I once heard that if you don’t toot your own horn, who will? So I just did. Wonderful memories!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,



Directed by

William Warner

Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)

William Warner (written by)

Cast (in credits order)

Rex Steven Sikes Rex Steven Sikes Killer
Carolyn DeMirjian Carolyn DeMirjian Fat Woman
John Bazzell John Bazzell Film Student
Brahm Coombs Brahm Coombs FIlm Student
Ronny de Jong Young Mother
Allan Hollis Allan Hollis Snapping Black
Aaron Koslow Aaron Koslow Drunk
Heidi Franke Heidi Franke
Gene Poe Gene Poe
Marilyn Simon Marilyn Simon Wife
Monika Skerbellis Monika Skerbellis Teenager
Cheryl Scott Cheryl Scott
Alston Ahern Alston Ahern Teenager
Jack Wittenberg Jack Wittenberg Fat Man
Karl J. Niemiec Karl J. Niemiec (as Karl Niemiec)
Doug Maida Doug Maida Bert
Baby Callahan Baby Callahan Self
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Heidi Frnakel Heidi Frnakel Sinus Womon

Produced by

William Warner producer

Cinematography by

William Warner

Film Editing by

William Warner

Makeup Department

Kathy Agron makeup artist

Special Effects by

John Frazier special effects

Camera and Electrical Department

John Detroia still photographer
Don Giroux key grip
Jean-Paul Ouellette lighting technician
Bruce M. Pasternack assistant camera

Script and Continuity Department

Paulette Pasternack script supervisor (as Paulette Frye)


A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-19

Shock, Sobs and a Super Switch

Every other year we organize an all-family reunion, originally celebrating our wedding anniversary, starting at our 45th. Right now there are the two de Jong families on the East Coast, and the two families on the West Coast. We found different places, all on a lake or the ocean, and the house we needed grew from 11 to 15 people. We started at Lake Almanor, then Lake Tahoe, Lake of the Pines, we flew as far as the North shore of Oahu, and drove to Duck on the Outerbanks in North Carolina. It was a time of fun and activities for all, a time for us to get to know the grandchildren and a time for the grandchildren to get to know each other and their grandparents, aunties and uncle.

This year, always the first ten days in July because of school and work restrictions, we had rented a beautiful house on the beach on the Island of Caicos. What an adventure that would be! We had never even heard of Caicos. One of our grandsons, the one who wants to be a pilot and fly as far as he can whenever he can found our 2020 destination. For over a year, everything we did was with a focus on Caicos. Snorkels for Christmas, calendars for crossing out the days, planning beach outfits, swim suits (do we still fit the old ones?) and more, and of course watching the VRBO video over and over.

Until Covid-19 arrived. A good thing it came to us in March, for we would be out of lockdown by the end of June for sure, or so we thought. But it got worse, much worse. Two of the four families kept their hope up: By June we will surely be able to go. Two families gave up all hope. And then disaster struck and destroyed all our hopes and plans: the airlines cancelled our flights.

Although it was disappointing for everyone, I felt it was the worst for me. My dream of interacting with all the grandchildren together, swimming and snorkeling in a warm ocean and sitting in the shade of a palm tree on a white sand beach was shattered. I cried. Oh, not in front of everybody, but silently in the bedroom with Lani in my arms. It was such a beautiful dream, and now the decision had been made. Not by us, that was sort of comforting. One of my daughters had told me a month ago: Mam, you have a pipe dream. I had never heard of a pipe dream, have you? I googled it. No, I don’t have pipe dreams, only dreams that I can make come true, like I have done with so many throughout my life. But anyway, the decision had been made for us and it did not cause bad feelings between the families. After all, I thought, we only lost a vacation. How disastrous it would be if we lost a loved one, like so many people have. How selfish I am to cry over a lost vacation! Shame on me.

But then, unbeknownst to us, the children went to work. One was on the phone with the airlines for almost an hour and accomplished getting a full refund from the airline instead of a credit. One was on the phone with the Caicos homeowner for an hour and accomplished that we could get the same ten days in his house in 2021, almost to the day. Then both siblings went on the phone together to convince the third one (who does not like long-range planning) that this was absolutely the right thing to do, even if it was over a year away. And then they came to us and told us the good news: we only had to wait another year for our dreams to come true. And then I cried again. Because it was wonderful to look forward to our Caicos vacation again, but a lot can happen in a year, especially at our age and with this virus lurking everywhere. On the other hand, I reasoned with myself, it will be a great occasion to celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary. And that’s what got me smiling again. We are going to make it. On we go! Mamma would say.

Friends in faraway places

My dear friend Anna in California, who created all of my beautiful skirts, sent me a surprise: two masks, both reversible, in various designs. I gave one to Mike and kept the other one to alternate with the one my friend in Arizona sent me. The most beautiful creations are jumping up everywhere, even some with Mexican embroidery. Well, if this situation is going to last much longer, we need a collection of masks! I still have my sewing machine, so if I wanted to I could make a few myself. I just don’t have the time! I am happy with the masks I got and will wear them when needed.

Amazon Fresh

Amazon has been my favorite place to shop. I ordered a lot of things with them in the past. Last year my daughter-in-law made me aware of Amazon Prime, where, for a small monthly fee I can shop with free shipping and short delivery times. That was wonderful, because I can now order things at the drop of a hat, whenever I need them. And just last week I discovered Amazon Fresh. The groceries I ordered varied from Swiss cheese, wine, my favorite Killer Bread and crackers to delicious blueberries and avocados. I did not need it yet, but fresh ground beef and yogurt are also available. I could choose the day and time for delivery. What a discovery! And then my daughter-in-law told me about instacart.com. Well, that made my shopping life complete. Because with Instacart I can shop at the markets of my choice, including Costco. And Costco carries one of the staples of our family, which I have not been able to get anywhere else: Dutch Gouda Cheese. So now we are totally independent and will be able to survive the lockdown for as long as it will last.

Beauty woes 

The long lockdown causes problems for almost all the residents. The hair stylist/nail tech is not allowed to come in to take care of hair and nails, and neither are the residents allowed to leave the property to visit a beauty salon. So hair grows longer and gets grey, artificial nails grow out, nail polish with them, and men get bearded chins – but that is kind of the fashion nowadays. I count myself lucky. I can’t cut my own hair, but since hair grows 1/2″ per month (that is 6″ per year) I will be able to wear a pony tail again like I did in Hawai’i if the lockdown lasts long enough 🙂 We lived on the Big Island for twelve years. The first year we went back to California a couple of times – Mike for a funeral and I to finalize things I had pending. Both times, my Pasadena hairdresser came to the airport hotel where we stayed to cut my hair. Jay was a very creative stylist, who cut the hair of all the ladies in our family for many years, including my mother’s when she came over from the Netherlands to stay with us. Anyway, I could not find anyone in all of Hilo who could cut my hair the way I was used to. So it grew, and because of the humidity it became wavy, and when it was longer still I wore it in a ponytail. All my hula sisters had long hair, so I fit right in. When we moved to Prescott I had it cut short again to the great disappointment of my Hawaiian friends when they saw the pictures. We’ll see how fast my hair will grow in this lockdown. I have no problem with turning grey, because ever since I was in a hair show in Pasadena in 1976 and got the formula from the stylist I have been coloring it myself. And my nails? Not a problem either. I had my own acrylic nail company when we lived in Pasadena and I still have enough supplies left to keep my nails looking beautiful.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,