A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-66

An Invitation I couldn’t resist

The editor of Moesson International, the second edition of which is about to roll off the presses, was so impressed with the story I offered about my friend Hannie Blaauw, that she wants to continue Indo Profiles like that in the Magazine, and she invited me to write mine. It will have to be the same length as Hannie’s, 2500 words, and pictures are a must. Because there is a special edition coming out in July, she wants my copy as soon as possible in April. Together with the AD of my Kirkus Review, this will be a tremendous promotion and publicity for me and I am honored and thankful for this opportunity.

That means that I will have to skip a few weeks of blogging. The good thing is that you will have a break and when I start up again I will have a lot to talk about.

So until next time!

It’s a Wonderful Life!


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Happy News

Monday night, for the first time in a year, we went to see our family without masks, with hugs instead of distance, to celebrate the 16th birthday of our middle grandson. He pooled his Christmas money and birthday money from everyone and bought a beautiful desk, a tower computer with which he can do flight simulations, and a very special leather office chair. His bedroom looks fantastic, and, perhaps you guessed it: he wants to be a pilot. He gave his old, small desk to his younger brother, who was delighted to have a good spot for our old computer. We “catered” dinner for all, picked up at the local Thai restaurant, and everybody was delighted and had a good time.

One Page at a Time

Another of my projects, a long time wish, became a reality. With the help of a cousin, whose existence I had no idea of just a month ago, I published a page for our great-aunt Dina Becht in Wikipedia.nl. Cousin Bob and I had the same grandmother and great-aunt, and he lives in the Netherlands, so he was willing and able to publish the page. I had written Dina’s bio and had a glamour picture ready many years ago, and at the last minute I thought of some sheet music I have, over 100 years old now, that her husband, famous composer Daniël Ruyneman had dedicated to her.  To check out the page of this very special lady, Dina Becht, click on this link:  #https://Lnkd.in/diYEkcD.

And a Long Story
I have a wonderful Indo friend, who survived the camps as a teenager, Hannie Blaauw. If you have read my book Survivors of WWII in the Pacific, you have read his story. But I figured that, especially for other Indos, his story would be interesting and, honestly, how many people have read my book? There are two Indo publications: Moesson International, new since January 2021, and TIP (the Indo Project), promoting Indo legacy and heritage for many years already. I approached the editor of Moesson International, and the sad she would let me know if there was room for personal Indo stories. Well, Hannie will be 94 on April 1, and I wanted to surprise him for his birthday. So I contacted TIP and sent them the story. They liked it and promised to publish it before the end of March. Well, they did!  Go to https:theindoproject.org and find the story of Hannie Blaauw under Stories on the front page.
Three weeks later, the editor of Moesson International responded to my earlier request and said they would be interested in Hannie’s story for their second edition. I neglected to tell her that TIP already took it, and when she found out she admonished me kindly, but to my delight Hannie will also read his story in the printed copy of Moesson International which he will receive a week after his birthday! I received several phone calls from Hannie when I sent him the TIP issue: he was on cloud nine! Had shared it with all his friends in his town and had forwarded the email to old friends and his daughter. And he happily reported that his friends were going to do something special for his birthday.
And all those things have kept me busy this week! It is so nice when you can do little things for other people with a lot of love and the results make such a difference in their lives.
It’s a Wonderful Life!
Until next time


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The trees are budding and flowering and it is getting warmer outside, so I invite you to spend time outdoors, also because this week’s Blog Post will be very short. I’ve had a very busy week, and am starting on a new project with the help of my newfound cousin in the Netherlands. Something I will tell you about later, because I first want to see that it works!

In the meantime, Kirkus Reviews got busy advertising my book in their digital and hardcopy Magazines, and through emails, so that is exciting, and I don’t have to do anything for that. The preliminary work is done.

We are getting more freedom, although masks will be a fashion statement for a while longer. We are looking forward to celebrating our grandson’s birthday with the family in their home next weekend, without masks and even with real hugs. The CDC says it’s OK. 🙂

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,


A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-63

Tax Returns Done!

Our returns were done, e-filed, accepted and approved in the same day! What a relief to have that behind me and what an accomplishment: I did them all by myself!  With Mike’s saved receipts, Schwab’s downloaded forms and the knowledge of having them done together for many years it did not take me too long. I can recommend Turbo Tax to anyone with a computer and some computer skills.

New CDC guidelines

On Monday, the CDC announced that it is safe for fully vaccinated people (us) to visit with unvaccinated family members in the same household, as long as there are no high risk people in that family. How wonderful! It means that we can get together with our family to celebrate our grandson’s birthday next week! We promised to treat the whole family to Thai food and a favorite dessert of the birthday boy. It will be our first unmasked visit with our family in a year and we are so looking forward to it!

The new guidelines may also mean that we can sit with 4 people at a table for 7, so that we can have a decent conversation. Last Friday, we decided to go to Happy Hour at the Club. We found a table with six people around it and without further ado we started the second one, and had the opportunity to meet a nice new couple. Well, they had already been here three months, but because of Covid, we had never met yet.

Introduction Newcomers

Three couples, a single lady and a little dog have entered our Independent Living Community. My first encounter was with the little white dog, four years old, about the size of Lani, 23 pounds. They have an outside entrance and a tiny yard, and they really made it cute. With the help of a sister, they installed a tiled path from the walkway to the door, with a solar paneled light on either side of the entrance. There are four decorative little rabbits in their yard and a drinking fountain for the birds, and they created a dog run that has a six feet high fence around it. “She is a jumper,” they told me. Oh, I am so glad that Lani is not! We close the sunroom when she goes to bed at night with a 2 feet high gate, and a similar two feet high gate provides an unsurmountable barrier between the patio and the pine-needle-covered pee area. Although she does not dig in the dirt anymore like she used to as a puppy, you’ll never know, so we keep the gate closed when she is on the patio by herself.

When we came to live here in Waltonwood, there were strict health restrictions in place. I was not even sure I would be admitted, because I had hypertension. Well, there are so many vacancies now, that Management seems to turn a blind eye to almost every ailment people have, in order to fill as many apartments as possible. One couple coming into the dining room last night was a pitiful sight: the man, completely bent over, pushed his wife in a wheelchair to the table. They must have been in their nineties. Even though we love to meet new people and help them to get settled, there is so little valuable communication possible to enrich our lives. While it is true that we lose friends because they die physically, we also lose them when they fade away mentally. One good friend we often had dinner with moved to Assisted Living because he had rheumatoid arthritis. I was so happy to discover that the window of his room was facing the path where I walk daily. Thinking he would be happy to see a familiar face, I waved a few times, then dropped off a card for him at the desk with my phone number. When nothing happened, I asked one of the caregivers why he would not call me. She said, “He does not know who you are. He saw you, but forgot who you are. That’s how it goes here.” That’s indeed how it goes. And it is difficult to realize that it happens all around us and we lose friends even when they disappear behind the doors of Assisted Living, physically still there, but often fast declining and moving behind the next door.

So I am focusing on the wonderful things we have together and the many things we can still do. I am thankful for family close by and far away, and looking forward to this summer, when, hopefully, we can have another all-family reunion on the beach, a celebration of our 60th wedding anniversary. The temperatures are rising, we are having spring weather already and the time change is coming up this Sunday. We’ve had tulips, and Trader Joe’s is selling daffodils – irresistible! Yesterday, I had a decent haircut in the salon. I keep showing the stylist pictures of how I really want it cut, but she only glances at them and then does her own thing. After I wash and style it myself will I know if it is a good cut. Since I did not have a regular hair stylist before Covid, going out will be a gamble, so for now I will stay. And I must say that it is very convenient to have an in-house salon! “Life is what you make it” one resident told us when we first arrived. I do believe that, but life sometimes throws you curveballs that you can’t avoid. Yet…

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,



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Exciting Projects

Very often I can’t wait to start my day. So many things take priority over the projects that I am excited about. When we get up, I dress in something warm, we have a cup of coffee, then I walk the dog, take a shower, dry my hair and get dressed again. Then I need to get in the car to get breakfast at the Club (granted, I do not have to make it), we have breakfast, I feed the dog, clean up the kitchen, then back to the bathroom to dole out our morning vitamins and brush my teeth, and then it is finally time to start my day. Unless, on Monday and Thursday, I dive into the laundry, or we have to get ready for a trip to a doctor or the like.

I have a 93-year-old Indo friend, Hannie Blaauw. If you have my 2014 book Survivors of WWII in the Pacific, you know his story. He lives alone since his little puppy died, with only a cleaning lady to come once a week. I asked his permission to publish his story in one of the Indo magazines. The first one is a website, The Indo Project (theindoproject.org) or TIP. On it, they post stories and pictures, mostly black and white pictures of “Tempo Dulu”. The other one is a magazine, Moesson International, that just came out in January. I subscribed and accidentally received two copies, so I sent one to Hannie. He was so excited to read all these Indo stories in English. And when I proposed to try to get his story published, he was delighted. I had two pictures of him, at 86 and 89 years old, but he had no old pictures left of himself. Except…he called me back: “I have one picture of me in uniform, in New Guinea, after the war, with the KNIL (Netherlands Dutch-East Indies Army).” I asked him if he could get it to me. Five days later, he sent it to me on my iPad. He had taken it out of the frame and his cleaning lady had sent it from his iPad to mine. “Great job Hannie!” The picture is back on the wall and I sent it to both Indo publications. I had not known about his New Guinea time, and the most important part, that he was the assistant of the Commander Sjoerd Lapré for three years. I happened to know Sjoerd Lapré RMWO personally. He gave me permission in 1990 to use historical information for the Historical Setting in my first book In the Shadow of the Sun (and subsequently in Rising from the Shadow of the Sun).

Now I am keeping my fingers crossed. I have asked both publications to try to publish his story before April 1, when Hannie will celebrate his 94th birthday. Just imagine it will appear on a website AND in a magazine! What a surprise that would be. And a birthday gift coming his way in the form of a subscription to Moesson International will make his day extra special.

Facebook encounter

On Facebook, recently, I found the name of my first piano teacher in Soerabaja: Tino Kerdijk. I messaged him and got to know the whole family. This Tino happened to be the old Tino’s grandson, and his Dad, the baby that was born when I was taking lessons, is now 71. They all live in the Netherlands and have families of their own, and one lady lives in Den Pasar on Bali. What a small world this is! Exchanging news and pictures was exciting and though I could only understand a few words in Indonesian, I could guess what they were talking about with the family on Bali. When I retire, I would like to refresh my knowledge of Indonesian. I now have three Facebook friends on Bali and one in Soerabaja, so I can practice with them. It is so comforting to know what happened to Tino and his family after I left Indonesia for the Netherlands.

Another encounter

From the Contact page on my website came an email from a long lost cousin, the son of my dad’s younger brother. He is doing genealogy about his family and came across my first book In the Shadow of the Sun, which he had had since 1993. He mentioned some names and places, so that I would know it was him. How interesting. He is some twenty years younger than I but we have the same grandmother! I am waiting to hear the “long story” he promised me in his following email; which, he asked nicely, he will write in Dutch. Even though his English was very good.


And so it happens, I thought the other day, that some people come into your life and others leave. From the Survivors of WWII in the Pacific that I interviewed, only two are still alive; two passed away last year, one with heart problems and old age, one from dementia. Two of them passed away when we still lived in Prescott, Arizona: one committed suicide and one, a Pearl Harbor survivor, fell out of bed, broke his hip and passed away soon after that. But then, through website and Facebook and LinkedIn, new friends appear, who hopefully will stay awhile. Especially after a whole year without communicating in person with people because of Covid, I feel it is so important to connect again, throughout generations, all over the world. People need people.

Another project

And the most exciting project I am working on is to get, for Kirkus Reviews, a Bio and information about my books with sample chapters together, for their Website for Movie Producers. Kirkus Reviews is offering this, since they are going to do the ad campaign for my book Rising from the Shadow of the Sun from March 15 until June 4. How exciting is that?!

The last-but-not-least project

Our tax return project has been moved to the back burner because of all those other fun things to do, but I now got the forms in the mail with which we should be able to continue our return. I just need time! And all these happenings are the reason that I am not ready to really, really, fully retire.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,