A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-40

Another mini vacation

Last week, just before the weather turned, our son invited me to go on a boat ride on Harris Lake. What a wonderful opportunity to get out and enjoy nature! Two of the grandsons came along for the ride, and we had a wonderful afternoon on the lake. All three men went swimming after we had thrown out the anchor, and I just luxuriated on the soft, padded seat. It was overcast with a glimpse of sunshine now and then, and we saw many herons, blue, grey and white, along the shoreline. It was a lovely time to be on the water; next time, weather permitting, I will go swimming too. They thought I would have a problem coming back on board via the small metal ladder, but I’ve done it before on Catamaran trips in the South Pacific. Although the water was warmer there!

Carpet woes

Last Monday, six months over due because of the Covid, we finally had our annual carpet cleaning done. And was it necessary! In the morning I put all the movable furniture out of harm’s way and took Lani to Camp Bowwow for a day of fun with other dogs her size. When the tech arrived, Mike and I left, had lunch at the Club and hung around until we could take our dinner home, around 4:30. The carpet was still damp, but I put part of the furniture back and then went to pick up Lani.

On Tuesday, I took Lani to the groomer’s and while she was gone, we brought the house back in good shape. Phew! Then, Tuesday night, Lani started barking just after midnight, highly unusual. So I tried to calm her down, then Mike admonished her, I put on a warm robe and let her out in the back. She did nothing, and back inside she continued barking. To make a long story short: Mike finally decided to get up and sit in his chair, after having cornered Lani into the office. At 7:00, I got up, we had coffee and then I got ready to walk Lani. When I opened the office door, Oh my God!  There  was poop in concentric circles all over the carpet. Poor Lani. I should have let her out on the street. After our walk I spent all morning cleaning up and I put in a work order for Maintenance to come with their machine to spot treat the 6′ x 6′ carpet in the office.

Photo albums

During these months of “leisure”, I thought it a good idea to go through our photo albums; throw away the photo’s that don’t mean anything anymore (sometimes we don’t even know the people in them) and to condense the good ones in fewer albums than we have now. Some photo’s, important to friends, I will put on the computer and send them the originals. It is a huge project, but the end result will be worth all the work. Luckily, we have loose-leaf albums we can take out pictures easily. This idea actually came from a good friend, and we are obliged!


Lani happily got used to getting in and out of the car, and riding in it. It’s a terrific solution for when the trail down and through the Divide is soggy after all the rains. The name “Wimbledon” makes her head go up, her eyes look at me in expectation: when? But not only can we go to Wimbledon in the car, we also went twice to the “Seabrook Trail” as I call it, a trail twice as long as the one in Wimbledon. She now also knows that name, and is ready at the drop of a hat! And the ride back and forth to Camp Bow Wow was fun as well. We’ve got it made!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,



A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-39

The Japanese Surrender memorialized

Almost a month after the fact, but still during the important year of the 75th anniversary, I want to talk a little about the commemorations of the Japanese surrender. That day was celebrated on September 2, when the Allied and Japanese delegations officially signed the Document of Surrender in 1945. Many  commemorations were held all over the world this year. We hung out the flag on August 15 and on September 2.

September 2, 1945:  The signing of the Document of the  Japanese surrender

It took place on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Harbor. An Allied Armada of over 400 aircraft flew overhead.

September 2, 1995:  Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Japanese surrender

This took place as well on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri, in the harbor of Bremerton WA. USS Missouri (BB-63) or “Mighty Mo” was the last battleship commissioned by the United States and is best remembered as the site of the surrender of the Empire of Japan, which ended World War II.

I was invited to attend the ceremony that day, September 2, 1995, a survivor of the camps on Java and author of the 1992 book In the Shadow of the Sun, based on my mother’s secret camp journal.

It was a great honor and an unforgettable day. Standing on the deck amidst three of the huge 16″ guns, and looking at the seal in the deck on the spot where the document of surrender was signed fifty years before, I realized for the first time that I had escaped the horrors of the war and had gotten a second chance on life. It was the most emotional moment of my life.


September 2, 2020:  Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Japanese surrender 

The Official 75th Commemoration of the End of WWII was held on the Fantail of the USS Missouri, in Hawai’i. The guests of honor included WWII Veterans and others who witnessed the event 75 years ago.

  • Legacy of Peace Aerial Parade over the USS Missouri and USS Arizona. The Warbirds passed over the USS Missouri.
  • International Wreath Ceremony engaging nations who were part of WWII.
  • Missing Man Formation flyover.

This event was by invitation-only as well and was live-streamed throughout Hawai’i and around the globe. 

September 21, 2020: We received our ballots and we have voted! I personally took the ballots to the Cary Postoffice today.

September 22, 2020: We got a message via BallotTrax that our ballots have been received by the Postmaster and returned to the County Board of Elections.

The next notification we will receive is when our ballots have been counted. It cannot be more safe!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,







A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-38

 The joys of training a good student

When Lani was a 10 pound puppy, I would carry her through the Divide to the next-door neighborhood for our daily walks. Now, she is a two year old mature DOG, weighing 22 pounds, and carrying her has become a problem. So I walk her on a short leash through the bushes and brambles, on a narrow meandering trail that I made, ducking underneath a tree that had fallen across our path last fall, past the loops of barbed wire that are sticking out of the ground here and there, along the little stream, around a tree trunk and onto the pavement. I’m always hoping that any snakes will stay off our trail, because they are beautiful and I would hate to accidentally step on them, or worse, for Lani to attack them. I believe that snakes will leave you alone if you don’t threaten them.

This is the picture of a baby Copperhead that I found on the sidewalk (the Copperhead, not the picture) during my early morning walk around the campus two years ago. I did not know what kind of snake it was, so I put my cellphone really close to take this picture. The little snake did not move. A neighbor later informed me that it was a dangerous Copperhead and that babies have even more venom than the adults. Ignorance is bliss!

For a few weeks I have ordered from Amazon aids to get Lani into the car. She hates the car in the first place, and I would have to lift her in and out, but she is too heavy now. A ramp did not work because the door opening to the back seat was too narrow. Stair steps did not work either for the same reason. But then I found a plastic sloping platform with a carpeted top that I could put in front of the door opening. Eureka! Two days in a row Lani stepped onto the platform and onto the back seat and then jumped out again without any help. Several times! For several treats! But now, if she really gets the hang of it, I can take her to the Vet, the Groomer, and to other trails in the neighborhood without fear of ruining my back. I hope she will even get to like rides in the car.

The Navajo Code Talkers

420 Navajo Marine Code Talkers developed an unbreakable code in their native language and were instrumental in ending World War Two in the Pacific. The last of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers who developed the code, Chester Nez, died on June 4, 2014. Four of the last nine Navajo Code Talkers used in the military died in 2019: Alfred K. Newman died on January 13, 2019, at the age of 94.

In 2012 we visited Navajo Nation and went to see the Monument at the Navajo Code Talkers Veterans Memorial Park in Window Rock. You can read about that in my book  Survivors of WWII in the Pacific

We also got a tour of the hospital by one of the nurses and saw all the old photographs of the reservation and the people hanging on the walls, heard stories about them. More importantly, a friend, traveling through the country in 2009, talked to one of the last Code Talkers and shared this fascinating, interesting video. It is timeless. In the early forties we fought against the Japanese, in 2020 we are fighting against Covid-19, an enemy equally dangerous and deadly. If we stand united, we will win. And it may take a long time, but hopefully less than four years!

Let me know if you found this video interesting!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,



This is the picture of a Krait snake, common in southeast Asia, that Carol Thomas is talking about in her comment to this post. I could not get it into my reply so I posted it here. 🙂 🙂

A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-37

Beware of merchandise from China!

I fell for it several times, but now I have learned my lesson. In the beginning of the pandemic I ordered hand sanitizers and face masks. I could not get them in any store, even Amazon was out, so when I saw them online I placed an order. I also ordered filters for my Robot vacuum cleaner. The only problem with those orders was that I ordered them in March and they arrived at the end of July. But then I ordered from a catalog two cute summer dresses and a beautiful, lacy bra, without (cancer causing!) underwires, that supposed to improve my posture. Ha! One of the dresses “looks like a nightgown” said my husband. And the material and color of the second one were so cheap, flimsy and shiny that I did away with it immediately. Returning it had no sense: if they even would accept a return it would take three months before it got there and another two for my refund; if there was a refund.

Then there was that beautiful bra. The way they showed how to put it on in a video was fast and easy. Yeah right! I had ordered a size M, because I wear a Medium in about everything. I could not even get this over my head! So I immediately emailed the company that this bra would fit my twelve year old granddaughter, not me! I would like a return address to get a refund. Their fast response: no returns after 14 days. Me: I contacted you in one day! Your sizes are not for the American market! They: only returns if product defective. I gave up, because their policy said if you do not get your refund when item is defective, send us an email. It had taken seven weeks for this order to reach me! And four reminder emails. I lost. But not completely. Because I happen to have a 12 year old granddaughter. I sent the bra to her and she liked it, but still has to grow into it in a year or so. She is happy and in the mean time I am not bra-less, but none is as pretty as this one was.

Euthanasia en pleine vue

On my evening walks with Lani, which take me several times around the Club, I often stop to chat with the two or three people that sit outside by the main entrance to catch a breeze after dinner. That is also important for Lani, to get her used to other people, socialize her. Last week, they told me a story that was hard to believe. One of the ladies in Independent Living had a little old rescue dog that she adored. She had her for years. She would walk Bonzo slowly with her walker at first, later on she trained her on paper in her apartment. One evening, Mary came outside with Bonzo slowly following, spread out a little blanket for Bonzo to lie on and sat down. Her Veterinarian drove up, came out of her car with a bag, sat down with teary-eyed Mary and Bonzo, and proceeded to euthanize the little dog – all that under the eyes of two or three Residents. The Vet took Bonzo’s body with her and Mary went back inside. That is the saddest story I have ever heard. Because of Covid no outsiders are allowed inside. That’s understandable, but the Vet could have come in a Van and do the procedure inside, privately, with Mary comforting Bonzo for the last time. What has this world come to?

By the way, talking about euthanasia made me think of my last book Anguished by Ronny Herman de Jong. It is really a short story, only available as an e-book. I do hope, especially if you have read my previous book Rising from the Shadow of the Sun, that you will take the time to read it. I write about a hair-raising event that happened to my mother and me when she was 101 years old and all alone in an Assisted Living after my little sister Paula had died of cancer. And if you have an opinion after reading it, I would appreciate a review on Amazon.

Salon visit

On September 1 I finally arranged for a hair cut after six months. I kept hoping the lockdown would end and I could go to my outside salon, but the end is not in sight yet and my hair was almost down to my shoulders. In July, the hair stylist and manicurist were allowed on the property again, but all the ladies stood in line for perms and hair cuts and so the first available appointment was last Tuesday. At the rate of one person at a time that is understandable, and from my point of view the wait was alright, because I kind of liked my longer hair – the humidity made it curl nicely! Anyway, everything was sanitized before I could come in and sit down, and both the stylist and I kept our masks on during the whole process. After showing her eight pictures of the way I wanted it to look, the result was not bad, let’s say four stars. If I can show her one more picture of how to cut it next time, and that turns out well, I will stay with her. She is good at what she does, everyone likes her, and she has been here for ten years, so it will be an advantage ten years from now if I don’t have to go off campus for hair cuts.

During these six months of lockdown I have learned that my body heals itself with a little help, I have learned to depend on myself for maintenance of hands and feet and more, and I can shop by mail for everything from groceries to clothing to gifts for others, Hallmark cards and more. So am I ready to give up my car? No way! I love to drive and I love my car. My mother gave up her bike when she was 94 because she had started to develop Macular Degeneration. With 20/40 eyesight, it will take me more than twelve years to give up my car. It is more likely that my car will give up on me! And as far as my bike is concerned, I gave that up forty years ago! Biking up and down the hills in Pasadena was impossible. I preferred walking 3 miles around the RoseBowl every day with our dog Barney.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,







A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-36

This week: no updates!

It was such a busy week that I did not have time to write. I will put the subjects I have in mind on the back burner for next week, and send you a story that I wrote when we lived on the Big Island for twelve years. It was truly paradise. On the Big Island you can go from the beach and swim and snorkel in the warm waters to the top of Mauna Kea (the White Mountain, because it has snow on top in the winter) in a matter of hours. And you can drive through the Ka’u Desert to the coffee plantations on the Kona side through the black lava fields to the cowboy pastures in the north. To drive around the island takes about five hours total.

I wrote this story when I spent a weekend with a church group in Kilauea Military Camp, high on the slopes of the active volcano Kilauea. Kilauea has been erupting since 1984, hot lava flowing down the pali (slope) towards the ocean, destroying everything in its way. Upon entering the ocean water it creates hot steam changing into clouds of glassy strands, called “Pele’s Hair”. Pele is the Goddess of the Volcano.

I could go on and on with fascinating stories about Hawai’i. Imagine living there!

Kilauea Sunrise

The huge cloud bank over the opposite rim of Kilauea Caldera seemed motionless, but its wispy top, barely visible against the lightening night sky, betrayed the strong winds that were propelling it horizontally across the abyss. Some ten or twelve plumes of white sulphuric steam rose straight up from cracks in the caldera floor. To the east, white steam was escaping with great force from the steep wall of the crater, a horizontal waterfall.

I stood on the rim of Halema’uma’u Crater that Saturday morning, bundled up against the early morning cold and unexpectedly strong winds, thankful that I had woken long before my alarm was supposed to go off. Having spent the night at Kilauea Military Camp, only a few minutes’ walk from the crater rim trail, this was a chance in a lifetime to watch the sunrise over Kilauea.

Amidst ‘Ama’uma’u ferns and low shrubbery around me ‘Ohi’a trees stood silhouetted against the eastern sky. On the ground a thin layer of light colored mosses suddenly made me think of manna in the desert. The last stars faded against the pastel sky. Pink and orange hues painted the clouds, and a bright orange line across the top accented the place where the sun was still hiding. A few more minutes and it appeared in all its glorious brightness.  “When morning gilds the skies…”

The dense cloud bank over the opposite rim dissipated unexpectedly. To the west, the new day’s light defined the enormous Halema’uma’u Crater. It was steaming, a slow, steady, rising curtain of steam. Right over the crater, a single large cloud, changing color from dark gray to pink to light gray, lingered as the sun rose higher in the now light blue sky. It remained in place for as long as I stood there.

Again, I thought of the Israelites in the desert and I felt the presence of God. How beautiful is His creation! How privileged am I to be a part of it. 

Ronny de Jong
October 1999

It’s a wonderful Life!

Until next time,