A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-53

We are getting the Vaccine!

It is amazing that we have already been chosen to get the vaccine on the last day of this year. The word was that Independent Living was not getting it until later, and only Assisted Living and Memory Cary would. But then, they decided that we are not completely separated all the time, so the better thing to do is to vaccinate everybody. So that is good news at the end of this year.

A Kirkus Review!

The best news of the year came the day before my birthday: I received a Kirkus Review of my book Rising from the Shadow of the Sun. I am very pleased with the review, and intend to publish it on the Kirkus Website.

This is what will happen: professional reviewers assess merit based on the value of the content and reading experience alone. If you choose to publish your review on the Kirkus website, you will see whether your book earned a Kirkus Star. If your book does receive a Star, it will immediately be eligible for the Kirkus Prize.

My book is not stellar; it is a story that needed to be told.

As soon as a few kinks that have to do with the ISBN numbers have been ironed out, by January 2,  I will offer it for publication on the Kirkus Website. Then it will be eligible for publication in the Kirkus Magazine, and what all this means is that it will get exposure to a whole new world of industry influencers, agents, publishers and consumers. And that is what I am so looking forward to! My goal, my pledge, is to tell the story my mother so painstakingly put on paper in the most miserable four years of her life, as long as I can. Because of Covid, I have not done any presentations, but through my Kirkus Review I will reach a whole new realm of readers. I am so excited! It is amazing to me how little, if anything at all, the younger generation knows about World War Two in the Pacific. Before publication on the Kirkus Website, I am not allowed to publish any part of the review, but after that I will post it wherever I can.

Christmas and Birthday

were absolutely wonderful. Sparkling with phone calls and FaceTimes and delicious deliveries, and piles of cards, wishes on FaceTime and reasonably good weather for nice walks, togetherness and family sharing, even at a distance. It was different, but we are hoping for a wonderful new year. Our warmest wishes to all of you for all the best and especially good health.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,


A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-52

Oh Joy! The Salon is open!

Two days in a row we both visited the salon. Only two people at a time are allowed in the salon, plus the technician. so two days a week the nail tech is there, and two other days a week the hair stylist takes customers. It works! One day we both had our nails done. Mike had a nail clip and I had a manicure plus a pedicure. And on the second day we both got a haircut. After almost four months we feel fresh and young and very happy that we will look good for Christmas and the beginning of the New Year! I imagine it must feel like getting a bath or a shower after you have not had one for almost four weeks!

Winter Solstice

I have an App called StarWalk2. It gives me a lot of information about the sky, such as that this December has had the most Meteors crossing the sky of the whole year (like falling stars, you can make many wishes if you watch them this month!). Very interesting news is that on December 21, the winter Solstice, which means that it is the shortest day and the longest night, Jupiter and Saturn would appear the closest since 1226.

I say appear, because on this day, Saturn will be about twice as far from the Earth as Jupiter. For us, observers from the Earth, it was the closest conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn most of us will ever get to witness. The two planets were only 0.1 degrees apart and would look like a single bright star. The Great Conjunction 2020 took place on December 21, at 7:40 p.m. Even after December 21, they will remain pretty close to each other and will end the year at a visual distance of about 1 degree apart. Some people think that this phenomenon in the sky was similar to the Christmas Star at Jesus’ birth. I went outside with my binoculars and finally saw it. But it was not bright at all. Mars was much bigger, and red, close to the sickle of the moon. Of course people with a telescope and those at the beach or in the desert, did see it as it was supposed to be, like this image over Lake Merritt in Northern California.

Hawai’i on my mind

Eruptions of Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island seldom make the headlines here on the mainland. I had heard recently that Kilauea had not erupted since August 2018. So to read on Hawai’i News Now that there had been a 4.4 earthquake on Sunday night following a 9:30 eruption of Halemaumau Crater and a lava lake had formed, boiling off the water lake in the Crater was Breaking News. Fountains of fire and plumes of billowing smoke as high as 165 feet into the air prompted health advisories about ash fall.

Then, too, I learned that there had been many small earthquakes in 2018, as well as a 6.2 strong one, that had created enormous fissures to form in the area of Leilani Estates that people had to traverse to get to their properties – that is, if they still existed. If you are interested, watch the Youtube clip: Pele’s Path: The Journey Home. It is about an hour’s watch, and it gives you a good impression of life of some people on the Big Island, living in the path of Pele’s wrath.

Willie K, last, but not least

William Awihilima Kahaiali’i, known as Willie K, was a Hawaiian musician who performed in a variety of styles, including blues, rock opera and Hawaiian music. Born and raised in 1960 in Lahaina, Hawai’i, he became one of the very few artists to win a Hoku award. He died at age 59 on May 18, 2020. In his memory, listen to his 2009 Christmas concert.

Willie K and the Makaha sons: A Christmas Concert

Rest me to wish you all a Christmas filled with special blessings, happy times, the warmth of friends and family and all the love of home. May all those wishes continue to be yours in the New Year.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,


A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-51

Zooming in and out

We are not yet allowed to have visitors, but once in a while things have to be done that we can’t do and then our son comes to the rescue. So, too, this week. We needed to get our winter comforter out of storage and replace the summer one. Then, when we got our new computer, I ordered extra memory so we would be prepared for the long haul. So at the appointed time, our masked son zoomed in and went directly to the bedroom. Ten minutes later he shot across to the office, where he turned the computer on its side and replaced the memory. Within twenty minutes he was in and out. It was wonderful to have at least seen him.

Employee Christmas bonuses

For the past three days I have been busy emailing back and forth with a friend in the main building about the fact that two long-time employees, who had left employment here in November, did not get a Christmas bonus, because they were not here on December 1, when the bonuses were distributed. The rule is that we, residents, may only show our appreciation for employees by donating money to the Christmas fund. The Treasurer divides that money between all non-salaried employees, based on a point system of how many hours they worked during the past year. Anyway, these two employees, the dining room hostess and the move-in coordinator, left probably because we were not eating in the dining room any more, and there were no people moving in. They were not aware of the cutoff date. And we feel strong, because such a thing was not mentioned in the bylaws.

The treasurer, aware I was trying to get bonuses for the two ladies, called me and told me to stop. When I continued to defend my case, she hung up on me. She went to the apartment of my friend in the main building and told her to back off too. But my friend said she would fight for the employees. After going door to door with a petition I drafted, we both got a total of 42 signatures in two days. Today I wrote a strong but nice letter to the Board members, with attached the lists with signatures, and a blind copy to my friend. Now we are waiting what they will do. If it is a go and we will get two checks, one friend in the main building will find out phone numbers and addresses of the employees, and then we will mail them the checks. If the Board does not budge, some of us will collect some money and send the employees a bonus anyway. It feels so good to fight a case when you know you are right and have some support! And I can write fantastic letters, if I say so myself. I’m proud of my letters!


Often, out of the blue, I think of someone that I have not heard of for a long time or a very long time. When I call, there often is something wrong with the person or someone close. This past week, calling a friend in the Netherlands, I heard that her son was terminal with colon cancer. We know him well – he was only 64. Last night, I called an old high school friend in Hawai’i. We were together the first year of high school in Surabaya, then we lost touch. Twenty years later, in Los Angeles, we met again at an Indo dinner; they moved to Hilo, Hawai’i, she became our travel agent, and in 1990 we moved to Hilo as well, and we did many fun things together. We moved to Arizona, and then to North Carolina. Writing Christmas cards, I called her to see if they still lived in Hilo or had moved to Spain, as they had been planning. She told me in tears that her husband had just died, and we had a long talk together. I could come up with more examples, but don’t want to be so morbid. When Mamma was in her eighties, she often said, this is a time of saying goodbye. We are starting to experience it; family members, good friends, we can’t keep them with us on a string, we have to let go when it is their time.

And so, we realize the treasured life we have; we are thankful for every new day, for having each other and our children and their families. Which reminds us of two unbelievably beautiful concerts we just heard.

Christmas Cantatas

Our granddaughter’s high school’s choir put together a beautiful concert on Youtube. It was so moving to hear those young teenagers sing, in many voices, We shall overcome, knowing that they are starting their lives in a world full of violence, with a pandemic and problems with climate change and more, and yet, they know they shall overcome. Our daughter-in-law, minister of music in a large church, had worked with her choir since July, for many hours, on a beautiful, eight part Christmas Cantata which we heard live on Sunday. Unbelievably complicated and awe inspiring.

So yes, there is hope. If people in dire circumstances like this can produce things of beauty with techniques they have never used before, and grow and learn, and teach others, times will get better.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,














A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-50

Christmas Preparations

On Tuesday afternoon, I had so much energy when all things were “going my way” that I put up the Christmas tree and two little ones. The 12″ aqua tree that we always put in the bedroom because it blends in with the Hawaiian colors dates back to Christmas 1961: our first Christmas together. We bought it in the shopping center below Rockefeller Plaza, where I worked for a year. I had seen it during my lunch hour and could not resist it, and when Mike saw it later, he bought it for me right away. A 59-year-old Christmas tree, who has it?! Well, perhaps someone among you does have one 59 years or older. If so, let me know! We can share pictures.

My volunteer

This spring and summer, I watched as a little volunteer as they call it, grew in the pot of my gardenia. A pine seed had landed there and grew roots and a straight trunk. I took it out and put it in a pot of its own. Last month, I transplanted it into a larger pot, as an idea grew into my mind: I would make it a Charlie Brown Christmas tree! I found a little red ball, et voilà!

I also put the two lighted candles in the windows on the street side and set the timer. One needed some fixing, but I did it. Dinner came late, so we enjoyed some of our crackers and soft French cheese and opened the Thanksgiving bottle of Cabernet. It was all delicious and relaxing. We took it easy and were still in bed before ten o’clock.

On Wednesday I did more decorating in the house, and now the only thing left to do is putting the ornaments in the tree; that job will have to wait until Thursday.

Nail job

On Wednesday, when Mike had Physical Therapy with his personal trainer – he comes to the house during this time of Covid threat – I had the luxury of two hours of free time! I walked in Wimbledon wit Lani, a double walk, and after that I gave myself a professional manicure and applied Aloha, my favorite color red OPI polish. Years ago, I discovered that OPI, one of the most famous brands in nail polish, is manufactured in the Netherlands, in Helmond. Since March, my nails have grown out strong without the help of acrylic, and I hope to keep them this way. It saves time and money, and yes, I still do some harsh work with my hands, but not as much as before, and I wear rubber gloves whenever I need them for protection. I just feel better with hands that look elegant. I only wish I could cut my own hair! Looking back, we have saved quite some money in the past ten months on hair cuts, nails and gas. “Every cloud has a silver lining,” my mother would say.

The death of a WWII Survivor

Out of the blue, on Sunday night, I received a letter from a lady in Australia, letting me know that my friend and camp survivor Vera Radó  had passed away on November 10. It was a shock, and difficult to believe. She was one of the teenage survivors I interviewed in 2014 for my anthology Survivors of WWII in the Pacific. Vera Radó was a strong, remarkable lady. It took her fifty years to get over the traumas she suffered as a teenage prisoner of the Japanese, but in 2014 she sent me her Memoir to be included in my Anthology. A teenager during the war, she suffered and remembered much more than I, a little girl at the time. A good friend of hers in Den Haag had my first book In the Shadow of the Sun, and told Vera about it. We never met, but became friends at a distance, she in Australia, I in Hawai’i, then in Arizona and now in North Carolina. She was 94. The years don’t mean anything when you are talking and writing and feeling young. But it is a fact that I will need to think about more in the years to come.

We do grow older, and with age come physical changes, sometimes also mental changes. And, especially in these later years, you need to take more time to maintain every part of your body from your head to your toes. Getting a disastrous disease is beyond your control, but without that you can still enjoy many good years in relatively good health. Maintenance of your own body should not be delayed to later years, however. You will reap the gains of long-time health if you start early. I’m sorry, it sounds like I’m preaching. But it’s just how I feel. And an example like Vera’s inspires me.

Covid Testing

We got tested again on Monday, and that will continue weekly for a while longer, a safe feeling.

Dining apart together

For his August birthday, Mike had received a coupon for a Thai dinner. Since our home was too far from the restaurant for them to deliver, we made a deal with the young de Jong family. We chose from the menu, our son picked it up, delivered it to us, then went home to the family with the menu items they had selected and we were treating them to. Both our families enjoyed a Thai dinner, and we even had enough for lunch and dinner the next day! Great fun! Good deal!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,








A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-49

Thanksgiving Week

This 2020 Covid-influenced, stretched-out Thanksgiving was amazing! It started on Tuesday night, when an email from our daughters on the west coast announced that surprises for a cozy Thanksgiving would arrive soon and our son and daughter-in-law came by with a large thin-crust pizza, a homemade apple crisp, vanilla ice cream and a lovely, deep red poinsettia. I used to make breads and jams and pies to share with neighbors and shut-ins this time of year wherever we lived, in Pasadena, Hawai’i and Prescott. And now the roles are reversed and we are the shut-ins.

On Wednesday morning two large bags were delivered with a plethora of surprises: a variety of cheeses, crackers, a jar of olives, salmon, sliced salami and a bottle of Josh Cabernet. We cancelled dinner from the Club two nights in a row, and their actual Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday was very disappointing. On Friday morning I decided I would make up for the mushy pumpkin pie (that I did not eat) and make my own favorite lemon pecan pie. Amazon Fresh delivered lemons, sugar, eggs and whatever else I needed the same day, so on Saturday morning I started getting all things together – mixer, grater, lemons, eggs, sugar, and then I could not find the recipe! 🙁  And I had been looking at it for two days! I searched for it for fifteen minutes, then found a recipe online. I changed that to what I remembered from my own and happily baked two beautiful lemon pecan pies. I had only saved one glass pie dish when we moved, but I used the empty dish of the apple crumble that our daughter-in-law had brought on Tuesday.

After lunch and a lovely walk with Lani in Wimbledon, we set off, the three of us (yes, Lani went along for the ride) to deliver one pecan pie to the de Jong family. We did not get out of the car, but talked to three of them in the driveway, and Lani was a miracle of controlled grace, greeting them though the open window. I borrowed another pie pan, because I wanted to make another lemon pecan pie to give away to neighbors. But when we came home I had second thoughts. I needed a break. And why would I make a lemon pecan pie for neighbors who get desserts from the Club every day, and some of whom would not eat it because of allergies or because they had not enough teeth in their mouth left to eat pecans (I know a few people here. When their teeth got bad, and we got the in-depth stories at the dinner table before the Covid virus struck, they just did not replace them).

Fall weather

The colors faded and the leaves fell faster this year, making the Divide more see through. There are not as many pretty mushrooms along the trail in Wimbledon, and the trail itself is covered in a thick tapestry of leaves: lovely to shuffle through. People in the large homes have been blowing first acorns then leaves off their lawns and driveways onto the streets, with loud noises disturbing the peaceful surroundings. 3″ x 4″ piles of leaves and acorns border the Wimbledon streets, and I think the City will collect them every Monday. The temperatures are so nice, in the sixties, that walking is pure joy and winter seems far away.

Late Sunday morning, after testing the strings of lights we had from last year, I proceeded to string them along the fence by our front door. Well, the weather was nice, and I got my exercise for the day, but that is not really a job for a lady my age anymore! Twice I had sat so long on my haunches, trying to attach light strings to the fence beyond my reach that I had a tough time to get up. Next year I will ask my grandsons to come over and do it for me. But I am glad I did it, because Monday was a rainy day. The sad thing was that I could not test them because the electric outlet by the front door does not work. It has a red light in it, and I could not find an off-switch on the switch board in the laundry. So I’m waiting for Maintenance to send someone to fix it. We don’t have any other way to hook up the lights. So I have my fingers crossed. Well, someone finally came to fix the outlet on Tuesday, and next time I will know what to do. I had pressed the button, but not hard enough! All the outside lights work now! And while he was here, he also replaced a bulb in the chandelier over the breakfast table and got two large bins with Christmas decorations down from the top shelf of the garage closet. I was so happy with this progress that I started on in-home decorations Tuesday afternoon.

Time goes so fast that I forgot to mention that while we had lunch on Monday, a nurse came for another round of testing. The resident-in-isolation tested negative, but two Associates were positive, so we will be tested on a weekly basis until all is safe. We postponed yet again a visit to the dentist because of the danger of infection by all those people who traveled for Thanksgiving and came home contagious.


Did you ever hear of Goodkindles.net? It is a book promotion site – I think it is based in Great Britain. Today, December 1, 2020, they are featuring Rising from the Shadow of the Sun on their main page, and also in the various genres it pertains to: Historical, Biography/Memoir and Non-fiction.

I am so proud that I copied the whole page, because tomorrow it will not be front page news anymore and you will have to look for it in their files.

RISING FROM THE SHADOW OF THE SUN – a Historical Memoir of WWII in the Pacific by Ronny Herman de Jong


https://www.amazon.com/Rising-Shadow-Ronny-Herman-Jong-ebook/dp/B017Y87MFQPicture being a child on a war-torn island in the Pacific during World War II. Imagine being interned and starved nearly to death by a merciless and brutal enemy with no compassion for the innocence of your childhood and no empathy for other prisoners, mostly women and children, who are suffering along with you. Think of what it would be like existing without sanitation and plagued by bug infestations. Envision the horror and the terror that invade your dreams as the sound of falling bombs jar you from your restless sleep at night, your tiny body racked with pain caused by malnutrition, disease and lack of medications. These things happened to Ronny Herman de Jong as a three-year-old little girl, imprisoned in a concentration camp by the Japanese on the Island of Java from 1942 until 1945.

RISING FROM THE SHADOW OF THE SUN has a subtitle: A STORY OF LOVE, SURVIVAL AND JOY. You will find this eyewitness account of life in a Japanese death camp, written in a secret journal by a mother who Loved her two little girls, risked almost everything to save them and herself to Survive the unimaginable physical and mental stress of four years of harsh treatment by the Japanese; and you will be moved by her utter Joy of being reunited with her Pilot husband, who escaped the Japanese on a ship with unknown destination in the dark of night and, unbeknownst to her, joined the Allied Forces in Sri Lanka. This book tells his story as well, parallel to the timeline of his wife and children’s incarceration.
This is a little known part of history of World War Two in the Pacific. View the book trailer here:


So, to all my friends and followers I say: please, if you have not read my book – this one is the most important – please read it. I am honoring my courageous mother who wrote her secret journal for four years while we were incarcerated by the Japanese; I am the last one in the family who can talk about it, the last survivor of our little Herman family. And wherever you live in the world, USA, Canada, Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Australia, to name a few where I have fans, Amazon is everywhere, and they carry at least the Kindle version, sometimes the print. And, another thought, if you have read it but you have readers on your Christmas list: it would be a lovely Christmas gift!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time