A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-26

Negative never sounded so good

You guessed it: we tested negative for Covid-19 and so did all Residents as well as Associates working on Campus. North Carolina is still in Stage Two, and we still have no more freedoms as of this Monday, but they are working on a plan for us to dine in the dining room again. Also, the hair stylist will return next Monday. With only two patrons in the salon at the same time, and only three days a week, there will be a long wait list! I had just changed hairdressers before the lockdown; the new one is close by, but I will wait another few weeks before going back for a cut. Last Monday we both went off campus to the Ophthalmologist for our annual checkup. Mike got his new glasses and I took advantage of being off campus by going to the post office and to Trader Joe’s before the appointment. And so we had to be in isolation for three days, which was easy.

Father’s Day

Father’s Day was fantastic. I had bought flowers and coffee ice cream at Trader Joes, and one of the children had already sent a gift. Then, the family came to drop off some surprises, and, at our urgent request, all came in, at distances, to open gifts, talk a while, and connect Mike’s new iPad to our WiFi. Yes! one of the kids thought Dad should have his own iPad! When he opened the gift he looked like I would have looked if I was presented with the fresh heart of a Marlin that they just caught. (When we had our all-family reunion on Oahu, the kids and grandkids went deep-sea fishing, caught a Marlin and were told by the captain, who cut the fish open, they had to eat a piece of the heart) We shall wait and see if he gets to like the iPad and work with it. An initial FaceTime was fun, as were vacation pictures. Time will tell. I remember when WE got our first iPad, on an all-family reunion for our 45th wedding anniversary at Lake Tahoe. I did not know how jubilant I could be, expressing my total joy and surprise with this wonderful gift. Meant for both of us, I’m afraid I took total possession of it in no time at all.

The Last Wild Men of Borneo by Carl Hoffman

A new Facebook friend in Bali recommended this exciting, informative and very interesting book. And indeed, it was! The true story takes the reader into the deep jungles of Borneo in the sixties, seventies and eighties, in the footsteps of two men, one of whom disappeared eventually, one who now lives in Bali. It’s about the age-old tribal treasures of the Penans, Dayaks and other indigenous tribes they started collecting and selling to famous Art Museums in the world. And it’s about the disappearing of the jungles to bulldozers and chain saws. It’s about adventures in the jungles of an island I always wanted to visit but never had the chance to. And now, after reading this book, I have virtual images of places and rivers, the way they traveled on riverboats, amidst crowds of people carrying all their goods: cooking pots and galvanized roofing, cackling chickens in a bamboo cage and fifty-kilo bags of rice. That conquered images of a very similar boat trip we took in Java, from Tjilatjap (from where my Dad departed in the dead of night to escape the Japanese) to meet up with our driver further up the coast. Those memories are priceless. I could fill a whole book with them.

The 75th Anniversary of VJ-Day

This is the year. August 14, the day, V-J Day75 years ago, in August 1945, my mother, my little sister and I, incarcerated in a Japanese concentration camp on the Island of Java, were close to death I write on my Website’s Welcome Page. Many people don’t realize the importance of this year, the date. It all happened so long ago, and they have other problems on their minds. Like the Covid-19 virus. For me, I already mentioned it before, it is Déjà vu, I’ve been there before. And so I sent out a tweet recently:

L’histoire se répète. The War against COVID-19 is like the War in the Pacific. Today’s enemy a deadly Virus, claiming thousands of lives, the Japanese Army claiming millions. Now in Lockdown, then in a Japanese Camp. We survived in 1945, we will survive again!


And so, it’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,




A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-25

Off Campus!

With the rising temperatures it is time to change our winter comforter for the summer one. Because we had used our beautiful floral Hawaiian comforter for so many years already, I looked online to see if I could find a replacement. After two hours I ordered one from Amazon and it came two days later. However, on our bed it looked quite different than in the pictures, and it was wrinkled. It was no-iron, so I would need a steamer, and I don’t have a steamer. We did not like it. So the next morning I packed it all up and sent a message to Amazon. They are so fantastic with returns. All I had to do was drop it off at a UPS store and take a picture of the return code with my cell phone to have scanned at the store.

Ah! Our house rules had just been changed to allow us off campus as long as we would stay in the car. So I had an idea. I called UPS and asked if someone would come out to the car to pick up my comforter for return to Amazon. The man said he would need to take my cell phone into the store to scan the return code; but I did not want him to handle my cell phone! So I printed the return code on a sheet of paper, put the box on the back seat, drove to the store, less than two miles away, and called from the curb. A well dressed, masked gentleman appeared with a dolly. With my mask on my face, I handed him the copy of the return code through the passenger side window, he opened the back door and took out the box, then asked me to wait for my receipt. I came home twenty minutes after I had left (everything is so close by here!) with the wonderful feeling to have been back into the real world, to have talked to a real person, and to have accomplished my goal. The only thing I had to do was sanitize the rear door handle. The same evening Amazon deposited the refund into my account. And I decided that there is no more beautiful comforter in the world than the summer comforter we have, so we will get it out of its storage and will hopefully be able to use it for many more years.

The Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) Study

In 1993, when we were living on the Big Island of Hawai’i, the University of Hawai’i’s Cancer Center, in conjunction with the Keck School of Medicine at USC in Los Angeles, started a study that was designed to provide prospective data on cancer and other chronic diseases. Stratified analyses were conducted by racial/ethnic groups and moving status (40% of participants moved = changed physical residence) during follow- up. Me included: we moved to Arizona and after that to North Carolina. The MEC Study has brought more than $150 million in federal research funding to the University of Hawaiʻi. It has been funded since 1993 by the National Cancer Institute. It sounded so fascinating that I was immediately interested. My little sister died of metastatic breast cancer and did not reveal that she was ill until ten days before she died, all alone in a hospital room in a town in the Netherlands. Her son was on a business trip and his wife did not want me to come. “What would be the good of that?” she said. Those are words that I shall never forget. I had bought a plane ticket the minute I heard Paula was in a hospital; I wanted to be with her. With my 6 years of patient-care hospice experience I was sure I could give her some relief, some mental support. I could hold her hand. We had been through so much as little girls in the Japanese camps – I felt close to her still, even though she lived in the Netherlands and I in Arizona.

The Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) is a prospective cohort study. To maximize the diversity of exposures the MEC targeted a range of ethnic groups spanning all socioeconomic levels. The MEC includes 215,251 men and women aged 45-75 at recruitment (I was 55 at that time), primarily from five different racial-ethnic groups (African Americans, Japanese Americans, Latinos, Native Hawaiians and Whites in Hawaii and California). The cohort was assembled in 1993-1996 by mailing a self-administered, 26-page questionnaire to persons identified primarily through the driver’s license files for the state of Hawaii and the county of Los Angeles in California, supplemented with other sources. I remember clearly, even so many years later, filling out this questionnaire, hoping to qualify for the study. The cohort encompasses a broad spectrum of persons from each of the ethnic groups sampled. The distributions of the cohort across educational levels and marital status are fairly similar to census data, suggesting that findings should be broadly generalizable to these populations. The baseline questionnaire obtained extensive information on demographics, medical and reproductive histories, medication use (including hormonal replacement therapy), family history of various cancers, physical activity and an extensive quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ).

In Year 5 of the follow-up, they sent a short questionnaire that updated information on medical conditions, family history of cancer and other diseases, screening tests for cancer and use of HRT and vitamin supplements. They are currently completing the updating of the dietary and other exposure data by re-administration of the full baseline questionnaire with funding by the parent MEC grant (CA 54281, Kolonel, PI). Receipt of a completed questionnaire was evidence of a desire to participate in the study and was taken as a formal indication of consent; the study was approved by the Institutional Review Boards of the University of Hawaii and University of Southern California. I have received their annual newsletter and brief follow-ups since 1993. Come to think, those participants who were in their late sixties and seventies at the time will no longer be alive.


And now, during the pandemic of Covid-19, since they have such a broad research base already, they have asked currently participating volunteers to join a study of Covid-19 cases along the same lines. Of course I agreed and signed up. It was too cumbersome to take their Covid App, but they have another way to participate. (They probably considered that all those people in their fifties were now 27 years older and not used to complicated Apps). I am receiving, every Thursday morning, an email inviting me to complete a short survey to update my information about any symptoms that I may experience whether I have Covid-19 or not. “Because you are part of the MEC, you have already provided a considerable amount of health information on past mailed questionnaires. We plan to combine new and past information, to better understand the course of COVID-19, and who gets sick and who does not. What we learn will be invaluable and could help our health care system to better manage this and future epidemics.” It is an ongoing commitment, but for a worthy cause.

We have been tested!

Last Friday, all residents of this retirement community, Independents, those in Assisted Living and in Memory Care, were officially tested. We had an appointed time, but they were running ahead of schedule, so we went when we were ready. The downstairs theatre was an ideal setup: in one door, out the other after testing. It was well organized. One by one, we sat down in a chair, and a trained volunteer in protective garb, with gloves and a mask inserted a long-stemmed cotton swab into our right nostril – deep, but not painful. That was it! We will hear the results next week. I am positive that we will test negative!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,



A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-24


Monday and Tuesday were frustrating days. Somebody had gotten into my Facebook Page and translated everything into a foreign script that looked like Hebrew, which I could not read, and when I wrote something I typed from right to left: the margins were also on the right. If you need them, nobody is available for help on FB – I could not even find a telephone number! I spent the whole day without getting anywhere. My son could not help, but on Thursday, one of the grandsons offered to get into my Page and he guided me through a few simple steps: change your password – refresh the page, and everything fell into place again. Wah! Why did I not think of him sooner?

On Tuesday, I needed to print a return label for my daughter, and the printer did not work. I spent half a day watching how-to videos and more until I finally found a telephone number and a very patient, very helpful technician at HP who guided me through – again – a few simple steps that fixed the problem. I have learned more about my printer; and I saw that there are many more things it can do than copy and print, basics I have been using it for. Hallelujah! I could sleep again.

Covid Progress

We received a notice that we can now leave campus if necessary with only three days of isolation afterwards. We can also take our car off campus and go for a ride without the three days self  isolation as long as we don’t get out of the car. Plans are in the works for use of the dining room again in very small groups. And on the calendar it says that every resident will be tested on Friday, June 12.

Dining in

On  Saturday nights we get the menu for the coming week delivered to our door with individual sheets to be filled out with our daily menu choice. After filling out the sheets we put them back in the envelope and hang it on the front door, from where it will be picked up by the night shift. There are plenty of choices. Most of the time, the breakfast items are delivered according to our choice although sometimes there is only one orange juice, or two sausages while we scratched those out in favor of bacon. But that is no problem, things like that can happen in the kitchen; someone wanted to do us a favor and gave us bacon plus two sausages, we think. Twice. Until we made it very clear: no sausages.

Dinners get delivered to our door in biodegradable boxes stacked in plastic bags, usually in two plastic bags, knotted together. Often, I find surprises and can’t help laughing when I see what’s in the boxes. I open the bags right away and first take a look at the boxes with the dessert, because on the menu that is listed as Dessert of the day, and you never know what you’ll get, only that it always has mounds of whipping cream with it; that’s with it, because very often it is not on it anymore. I laugh out loud when I open the boxes and see a piece of yellow cake with a turret of whipping cream on top on its side or upside down because the box did not fit in the bag right side up. So the whipping cream is everywhere in the box except on the cake. Or it is a very small piece of chocolate cake in one box and a large one in the other. Or I find two huge pieces of Red Velvet Cake, with whipping cream of course. I know Red Velvet Cake is a favorite of many Americans, but we think it is tasteless, so why consume all the calories? Yesterday, someone had not closed one cup with soup properly, so when I opened the bag the soup was everywhere in the bag, and the bag was leaking onto the counter! It was a soupy mess.

But hey, it is no mean feat to cater to a large community of residents and do everything right. After three months they now have the  administration and execution down pretty well. On top of that, the ladies who are “Activity Managers” come up with balcony singalongs, puzzle sheets and more, and they come around with a “mimosa cart”, “happy hour wine”, “mobile ice cream social”. “milk and cookies” and “Starbucks coffee: one day only!” So we are thankful and do not complain. Yesterday was one of the few days we had signed up for lunch because it was a Waldorf salad and we were looking forward to some greens which are non existent in our daily menu. The first time it was on the menu it was full of lovely greens and bib lettuce. This time, when I picked up our lunches, Sonya next to me opened her box and said with disgust: this is no Waldorf salad! I looked in our boxes, and sure enough, it looked like potato salad with lots of mayonnaise. After dropping off a card on the fourth floor, I went back to the dining room and returned our boxes: compliments to the chef, we would like more greens in our Waldorf Salad; please delete the charges.


When I dropped off our recyclables on Saturday in the Activity Room I heard that two other friends had passed away in the main building last week. One’s widow was very weak and depressed; and another’s wife was depressed as well. And when I walked into the library on my way out I was shocked at the sight of three out of the five people I saw sitting there. A man in a shabby t-shirt and shorts, two women with long, uncombed hair, one with exorbitantly long outgrown acrylic fingernails and no makeup. Apparently after three months of this mostly solitary life some people don’t care about their looks anymore. I had no idea that was happening in the main building, where they can still meet some friends in the common areas –  at a distance, if they want to get out of their apartment. I can now understand the mental illness problems that can happen on the larger scale in the whole country. What a sad result of this horrible Covid-19. I read that North Carolina this past week has had increased hospital cases, so that is not a good sign for our expedited freedom.

Walks with Fitbit

The best time to walk is between 6:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. and many days I can accomplish that if it does not rain. Then around 8:00 p.m. is a good time as well, with the sun gone and sometimes a breeze. I can’t wait until we have permission again to get off the property and into Wimbledon. Lani and I will explore the Divide again and walk on to the trail. I have a Fitbit to track my steps. This is my third – I lost a  previous one and gave one away when I could not sync it with my computer anymore. The goal is 10,000 steps per day, which is about four miles, but I frequently get five and sometimes even six miles in a day. Then, yesterday, Fitbit sent me a message:

Staggering! You’ve earned the Africa Badge! It’s a jungle out there,but that’s not stopping you—because at 5,000 lifetime miles, you’ve walked the entire length of Africa! If tat’s not a reason to go bananas, we don’t know what is!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,





A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-23


Every Monday afternoon since the beginning of May the Executive Director holds a teleconference for half an hour. People here and their families on the outside can tune in, ask questions and hear the latest information. North Carolina is now in Phase Two of “opening up”. It does not mean anything for us at this time other than that we are a little closer to the end of Phase Three. This Monday we heard serious complaints from children of people in Assisted Living. Most of their parents are handicapped, staying in their room day in, day out, because there are no group activities and there is not enough staff to tend to individual entertainment and stimulation. Both Independent Living and Assisted Living have a courtyard with a gazebo, but there is not enough space in the shade to go outside for those who can. The ED promised to purchase some umbrellas to create more shade in the courtyards. And so it goes, and we realize daily how very special and safe we are here, while the death toll in the United States tops 105,000.


They announced several rain storms: we had one week of them and are expecting the effects of Hurricane Bertha, now a tropical depression that hit the coast of South Carolina. It will bring a lot of  rain to us as well. But you know, Cary seems to be in a safe place in the North Carolina landscape. Hurricanes, thunderstorms, heavy rains pass us by without much damage. Last week, in preparation for the storms, a man in a yellow jacket walked down to our little pond in the back, inspecting the storm drains. The water level of the pond was lowered over a foot, and that proved good, since it rose again with the rains. On my evening walk with Lani I saw between the potted plants at our front door a tiny frog, the size of my thumb nail. I suppressed the urge to squat down and pick it up to take it to the grass. It was so small I was afraid I would crush it and thought it would be able to find his way home again on his own.

The Virus

It only takes time, they say. Last Friday we received a letter from the Executive Director that one of the long-time caregivers in our Memory Care had a temperature on Wednesday and proved positive for Covid-19. She is in isolation and will not return to work until her physician tells her she is better. That is scary. Because she could have been contagious two weeks before it was discovered. On Monday, during the teleconference with the Executive Director there was no news yet about the tests that had been done on other caregivers and residents. So we will wait and hope for the best. We were informed that Legacy, the Physical Therapy Group with offices downstairs on the first floor, has postponed all their PT treatments for this week. That is not so good for all the people who depend on daily PT treatments. On Tuesday we received a notice that all tests of staff and residents in Assisted Living and Memory Care have come back negative. Great to know.

We will be tested

The next step is the testing of all the residents in the whole facility, including Independents, on June 12. They will come by the apartments and cottages on that day and we will be tested. A new experience!

We walk around the campus daily but don’t enter the main building if we don’t have a reason to. So it is that one of our cottage neighbors told us that one of our friends had died. We have not seen anybody for almost three months now so we didn’t know that Harry was very ill. When I went over to take a condolence card to June I found her outside the main entrance on one of the benches and we chatted for a while. She told me that Harry had been in so much pain for so long that his passing was a blessing. They had said goodbye when EMS took him to the hospital. Oh, what a sad, heart wrenching goodbye that must have been for them. We will miss his wide smile and our lively conversations when the dining room opens up again; the predictions are that will be by the end of August. Maybe.

The Death of George Floyd

An unimaginable heinous crime and devastating aftermath. I have never seen so much hatred and destruction in my life. It is something I watched part of, then walked away from. I hope peace will be restored soon and I wish people would be more kind towards one another. Covid-19 is causing enough deaths and mourning already. We shouldn’t make it worse. Easier said than done.

The Launch of Dragon and the Rendezvous with the International Space Center

Something I did watch in full, well, almost, was the flight of the Dragon to the International Space Station. What a sight! What an enormous accompishment. What a fabulous almost to-the-minute docking at the ISC after a 19 hour flight through space. And what a miracle that we could see it all from our living room, including the rendezvous and the astronauts entering the ISC after they had completed the first part of their mission. It was jubilantly mind boggling!

It’s a Wonderful Life. But sadly, not for everybody.

Until next time,