A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-35

A tragedy

After two days of a beautiful full pond and a spouting fountain, Thursday morning, on my early walk, I crossed the street to the corner of the pond where I always look at my bullfrog. He hides in the tall grasses on the side, just where the water rounds at the top of the pond; his body in the water, his big head sticking out. In the mornings he is silent, but wait till it gets dark- he is the one that sings the loudest. I was shocked to see the pond back to the lowest level, dam in the middle, the fountain dead. But what caused me to cry out was that I watched Larry, the big hawk that lives in this neighborhood, rise up with my bullfrog dangling from his beak and fly away right in front of my eyes to the tree-line in the cut-de-sac. Looking down, I noticed the five feet or so of mud along the water, and in the mud tracks of the scramble that must have gone on just before I got there. Had I been three minutes earlier, I could have screamed and scare Larry away. Now, alas, I could cry!

A celebration 

Last Friday, we celebrated Mike’s birthday in a wonderful way. The morning went by quickly with opening gifts and cards that had come in the mail, phone calls throughout the day, and at 5:00 p.m. we drove to our son’s house to celebrate with the family and enjoy a Thai dinner. It was, for Mike the first time off campus since the beginning of March. We saw the grandkids, all three growing fast into tall young men, and except for eating and drinking, we all wore our masks and kept at a distance. After dinner they hosted a Zoom program on their laptop and we could see and talk to the kids and grandkids in California and Canada as well. A wonderful reunion, which made all of us look forward to next summer, when we hope to have a real reunion with Covid gone.

More tragedies

On Sunday afternoon we heard that one very good friend in Assisted Living had passed away; another good friend, in Independent Living, had gone from hospital to Rehab and is now in a Hospice home, where her husband, recently released from the hospital and Rehab, and their daughter could visit her together. There are about 24 vacant apartments and one vacant cottage right now, management is struggling with employees who are leaving and no replacements coming in; the quality of the food is below par, not what we were used to in the first year we were here. All in all, a lot is caused by the Covid virus, but it makes me thankful for the good quality of life we still have. We celebrate every day together, we make the most of what we have and what we get, and we hope that the Covid will be a thing of the past soon.

September 2, 1945

Yesterday, a friend sent me the following message and I could not help laughing. Interesting information, not known to many I think, at least I did not know about it.


Why did the US choose a US Navy Iowa-class battleship as the location for Japan’s surrender in World War 2 even though they were in Tokyo Bay and could have used a building on land? Pure symbolism. Nothing says “you’re utterly defeated” than having to board the enemy’s massive battleship in the waters of your own capital city. A naval vessel is considered sovereign territory for the purposes of accepting a surrender. You just don’t get that if you borrow a ceremonial space from the host country. In addition, the Navy originally wanted the USS South Dakota to be the surrender site. It was President Truman who changed it to USS Missouri, Missouri being Truman’s home state. The Japanese delegation had to travel across water to the Missouri, which sat at the center of a huge US fleet. It’s a bit like those movie scenes where someone enters a big-wig’s office, and the big-wig is sitting silhouetted at the end of a long room, behind a massive desk. The appellant has to walk all the way to that desk along a featureless space, feeling small, exposed, vulnerable and comparatively worthless before the mogul enthroned in dramatic lighting before him. By the time he gets there the great speech he had prepared is reduced to a muttered sentence or two.

In addition, the USS Missouri flew the flag of Commodore Perry’s 19th century gun-boat diplomacy mission that opened the closeted Edo-era Japan to the world and forced upon them the Meiji restoration which ended the rule of the samurai class. The symbolism here is pretty clear – “this is how we want you to be, and remember what happens to countries that defy us.” It was particularly humiliating for a proud country like Japan, and that was entirely the point. The symbolism of the ceremony was even greater than that. The ship was anchored at the precise latitude/longitude recorded in Perry’s log during his 1845 visit, symbolizing the purpose of both visits to open Japan to the West. Perry’s original flag was also present, having been flown all the way from the Naval Academy for the ceremony.

When the Japanese delegation came aboard, they were forced to use an accommodation way (stairs) situated just forward of turret #1. The freeboard (distance between the ship’s deck and the water line) there makes the climb about twice as long as if it had been set up farther aft, where the freeboard of the ship is less. NOTE: This was even more of an issue for the Japanese surrender party as the senior member, Foreign Affairs Minister Shigemitsu, was crippled by an assassination attempt in 1932, losing his right leg in the process.

The #1 and #2 turrets had been traversed about 20 degrees to starboard. The ostensible reason for this was to get the turret overhangs out of the way to create more room for the ceremony on the starboard veranda deck, but in fact this would have only required traversing turret #2 had it been the real reason. However, the turret position also put the gun tubes directly over the heads of the Japanese. They were literally boarding the ship “under the gun”.

The honor guard of US sailors (side boys) were all hand-picked to be over six feet tall, a further intimidation of the short-stature Japanese. The surrender documents themselves, one copy for the Allies and one for the Japanese contained identical English-language texts, but the Allied copy was bound in good quality leather, while the Japanese copy was bound with light canvas whose stitching looked like it had been done by a drunken tailor using kite string.

After the signing ceremony, the Japanese delegation was not invited for tea and cookies; they were shuffled off the ship as an Allied air armada of over 400 aircraft flew overhead as a final reminder that American forces still had the ability to continue fighting should the Japanese have second thoughts on surrender.

Thanks to all the heroes who fought for our freedom!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time



A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-34

VJ-Day Presentations

Throughout the country commemorative services were held, wreaths were laid and speeches held to commemorate VJ-Day. Even in the Netherlands and Great Britain people reflected on the end of the War in the Pacific and the millions of lives it cost to make the Japanese surrender. I did not know that they commemorated in a big way in Great Britain, with military bagpipers and flyovers; they had not been able to celebrate VE-Day in June, because of the virus, so I guess they doubled up. A long time friend in London sent me a nice message at the start of my day. It made me smile. Herbert was 11 years old when I was a nanny with the family for the summer of 1960. There were four children, ranging from 11 to 3 years old. We had a wonderful summer with all kinds of adventures, traveling to Paris and the South of France, and on both sides we often relive the memories. The parents have passed away, but I am still in touch with two of the children, the two oldest, both grandparents now.

Here, at Waltonwood, I did two Presentations, on August 13 and August 14, for an audience of 9 and 6 respectively, because of the Covid virus; the smallest audience I have ever had. But they were attentive and asked questions afterwards. Except for one hombre, who is legally blind and very hard of hearing. He slept through the whole hour. His wife had dropped him off and, hopefully, had some respite time for herself. I can imagine that it is very hard on someone to have to take care of another 24/7, and in the theatre he was at least safe in a seat, with others around him. We raised the flag.

By the way, do you know why the Japanese did not surrender after the bomb on Hiroshima? And why they did not immediately surrender after the bomb on Nagasaki but waited six days? Let me know if you know 🙂

The pond

After the sprinklers had been on for 24 hours, the water in our pond had receded to two puddles with a dam in the middle that I could have walked across. Eventually, the fountain died, the two turtles and the large bullfrog that always sat on the shore, half way in the water, had become invisible. It was a sorry sight, and I wondered what had happened to the fish. But after three days, a truck showed up and the morning after that the water was back to its regular level and the fountain splashed again. What a waste of water that was! It’s good that we don’t live in the desert, and it has rained a lot the past few days. On my evening walk I enjoyed a loud concert of happy voices of crickets, frogs and the bullfrog. It is so wonderful not to live high up in an apartment building but in a cottage surrounded by nature! From our living room windows we could imagine we live in a tree house.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,







A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-33

Covid Testing

Good news from the executive director: after repeated testing of the positive Associates, and isolation of those who were in contact with them, everybody tested negative. Starting next week, we will be having communal dining in the dining room again, and activities with 6 – 10 people in the room will resume. The staff asked me if I wanted to do a presentation again in the theatre to commemorate VJ-Day, and they scheduled it for the 13th and the 14th. Twice? Yes, because there are only 6 people allowed in the theatre at one time with proper spacing. Well, if you ask me, the theatre easily has room for 10 people with proper spacing, but management said no. 6 compared to 60 is very few, but I have addressed small book groups before, so it’s all right. Because of the age of the people here, and because they might only be interested in the camps, I will show half the number of slides. Then, if they all say, please continue, I don’t have to go yet, I can always continue. But I understand that if you’ve got to go, you got to go! Until now, however, the projector is still broken. So if it can’t be fixed before Thursday, I’m taking two days off!

We have decided that if they open the dining room and serve as before, 2 people to a table of seven, we will pick up our dinner and eat at home. Because there is virtually no contact with others. We wave from a distance, sometimes say a few words, but that’s it. And eating at home together it is very comfortable, from real plates with real silverware :-). When we can have three to a table, we will go back.

My Dipladenia: 

For mother’s day I received a potted pink Dipladenia, a plant new to me. I have watched its growth over the last three months and am surprised at the way it has filled out, just like a woman’s body fills out, spilling over the edge of the pot, now twice its size. And then, a few weeks ago, a thin green “arm” reached out. Searching in all directions; first left, then straight up the wall, up to the white tiles, growing in length, until it found the potted gardenia! It felt its way around a branch and curled around another, and lo!  On the bridge between two plants buds have formed and are about to open. It looks like plants have a need for company, just like people need other people to thrive. No person should live or die alone. It happens too often. There are so many lonely people in this world, I only have to look around me. They brighten up when they get a phone call or a card. My little sister died all alone in a hospital bed in the Netherlands, unbeknownst to her 101-year old mother in an Assisted Living in another town, and without her family by her side. When I heard Paula was admitted to the hospital, I bought a plane ticket to be with her. But her daughter-in-law said, what’s the use? and I cancelled my flight. Perhaps I have told you this before. Sometimes, it just pops up in my memory, especially when a neighbor passes away.


Death in our neighborhood

One of the neighbors in the cottages passed away on Saturday, in the hospital. He was not alone – his two daughters were with him. But he had suffered for three whole weeks and had become so tired and frail that we all expected he would have to let go soon. He did not have the Covid virus, but nevertheless his passing is devastating for his wife, who depended on him for many things. She was not allowed to visit him in the hospital, but thankfully his daughters could each take turns to come for one day, and in the end, they could both sit with him. Life is so short. We never know when it is our time. So make every minute count, live a day at a time, set goals for tomorrow and love each other.

Remote FOB battery replacement

Ah! I am so proud of myself! I remotely replaced the batteries in three of our car Fobs yesterday. When I took Lani to be groomed on Monday, my dashboard warned me that my Fob battery was low. So when I picked her up again I took the second Fob we have in the drawer. Goodness! The same warning appeared on the dashboard. Just in case I lose both Fobs, we have a third one in Mike’s secret drawer. That battery was low too! I envisioned having to take them to the Ford dealer, or to AAA, for service, but I first called our son. He texted me a video of how to remotely replace the battery in my Fobs – of course it was a video specifically for our car, because all cars are different. I happen to have the 2032 batteries in the house, because I use those for our Fitbits. So I did it, and they all work. I could not have done it without that video, but I did it! And, did you know that inside a Fob is a little key to open your car door with? I haven’t quite figured out when to use that though. Perhaps if the Fob has a totally dead battery and you are locked out of your car, you can take that little key out and open the door. But then what? You can’t drive unless the Fob works, right? Oh well, it’s good to know, but I am glad it will not happen to me, because all my Fobs are working again.

The sprinklers

The sprinkler system turned on Monday afternoon around 4:00 p.m. It turned off again after a while everywhere else, but around our cottage it stayed on. I reported it twice, but apparently nobody could do anything about it until the outside Sprinkler Maintenance Company would come on Wednesday. What happened? The principle of communicating vessels. The water from the pond drained into the sprinkler system, then ran down the street and into the storm drain, from where it was channeled into the large overflow pit next to our cottage, and from there down and out via the little stream by our trail to the next community, Wimbledon. And the pond? The fountain is still running, but the water level went down six feet and now consists of two small puddles with a wide bridge across, in between them. I could walk across the bridge easily from one side to the other. I won’t do that, because I would first have to climb over a little fence, then down to the water and across, and things down there will be muddy, for sure. And so, when we look outside, everything looks like it has rained, nice and fresh!

I saved two lives!

A few weeks ago, we had a mouse in the pantry. The Maintenance guy gave me two small glue traps to catch it. But the mouse was long gone, and the traps stared at me each time I carefully opened the pantry door. So I put them on the floor in the garage and forgot about them. On Saturday morning, when I looked again, I thought I had caught a snake. Because Friday evening I saw a 14″ snake crawl across our front porch towards the border. Hm, I’d better be careful when I cross the Divide with Lani,” I said to Mike. And now…there was something in the trap. When I looked closer I saw not a snake but a large lizard. Aww, I felt so bad. I did not know what to do. So I did nothing. It was still there the next day. I called Maintenance, but it was weekend and the man did not come, even though he lives on the property. To make a long story short: on Tuesday night I thought I would look it up on Google: How to save a lizard from a glue trap. I found it, and it seemed easy. I put a little chair outside the front door in the shade, a plastic cutting board on the floor in front of it, put on gloves and went to the garage to get the trap out. What I found was not one lizard, but two! Isn’t that heartbreaking? They stuck together!  I put the trap on the cutting board, cut it open at the top and folded the sides away. Then, with my little watering can I dropped some water on them to cool them off. They were still alive! Both of them! In 90 degree temperatures for three days and three nights! I happened to have a small bottle of olive oil in the house, and drizzled a little around them; swabbing it with a cotton swab around their feet, tails and bodies. And in less than five minutes they broke loose: first one, then the other. What a miracle! They ran as lizards can run in the direction of the border, which was nice and soggy; because even lizards love life!

Conclusion: Always have batteries of all shapes and sizes in the house and always make sure you have a bottle of olive oil in the kitchen. And definitely never use glue traps!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,



A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-32


This week I had no time to write a post, because I had a job to do! A good friend asked me to edit her manuscript: a final edit before it went to the publisher. Hey, that was a job after my own heart! I have always loved editing.

Next week I will be able to tell you the second test results of two Associates in Independent Living who tested positive last Saturday. They are doing contact tracing, so many people at the Club are in Isolation. So glad we are safe in our cottage!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,