A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 – 12

A Gentle Leader

A couple of weeks ago, walking on the trail without Lani, I met a lady with two Doodles. When I explained why I did not have mine with me on the walk, she showed me what her dogs were wearing: a head collar named Gentle Leader. I found it on Amazon – of course – and tried it on Lani right away. After only one time Lani was used to it and we have walked the trail twice already together. She “leads” me gently (a very appropriate name for the collar) but never pulls anymore. No more back pain, no more frustration, it is absolutely wonderful, and I can highly recommend it to any of you who own a pulling dog. It comes in sizes: Lani has a Small, but we are regularly meeting a 100 lb dog on the trail with a size Large. His name is Braum.

Through the dogs I meet, I get to know about all the video games that the younger generation is crazy about. Blessed with massive biceps and an even bigger heart, Braum is a beloved hero of the Freljord. Every mead hall north of Frostheld toasts his legendary strength, said to have felled a forest of oaks in a single night, and punched an entire mountain into rubble. Bearing an enchanted vault door as his shield, Braum roams the frozen north sporting a mustachioed smile as big as his muscles—a true friend to all those in need. Well, the Braum we meet on the trail is huge, but that is about the only thing that the owner could have considered when giving him this name. This Braum is a gentle giant, with very long, fluffy white hair, beautifully groomed, always eager to greet us.

And then we often meet AelaAela the Huntress is a member of The Companions guild and is a Werewolf in Skyrim. Skyrim is a rare kind of intensely personal, deeply rewarding experience, and one of the best role-playing games yet produced. Aela is a specialist and highly skilled in Archery. Her primary skills are Light Armor and Sneak. Her secondary skills are One-Handed and Speech. Well, this Aela is a sweet one year old brown mix, slim and very timid. She (or he?) seemed to like us at first sight, and her owner says every time that she (or he?) has not come close to anyone else like this; and her (his) day would be very happy because we met.

At least we think that the name Lani we chose for our Doodle is more appropriate; it means heavenly girl, and that she is!

The neighborhood is rapidly changing in appearance and color. From bare-branched trees and brown borders along the roads and in the back, suddenly everything is green! The landscaping is great: flowering bushes and azaleas, trees, and it is all new to us, because we moved here in November. The area is a little hilly, and the architecture of the different homes is beautiful and interesting.

Our dinners are varied and delicious. After some trial and error, I now order dinners straight from nearby restaurants. And twice a week MyChef caters two dinners and desserts to the neighborhood, and delivers them around dinner time.

Motorized Solar Screens

They are here, installed within an hour, after the original vertical blinds had been removed. What a fantastic solution to the sun coming far into the room at the heat of the day!

Another Mohs Surgery

In case you don’t know, it’s actually quite interesting:

Mohs surgery, developed in 1938 by a general surgeon, Frederic E. Mohs, is microscopically controlled surgery used to treat both common and rare types of skin cancer. During the surgery, after each removal of tissue and while the patient waits, the tissue is examined for cancer cells. That examination dictates the decision for additional tissue removal. Mohs surgery is the gold standard method for obtaining complete margin control during removal of a skin cancer (complete circumferential peripheral and deep margin assessment – CCPDMA) using frozen section histology.[1] CCPDMA or Mohs surgery allows for the removal of a skin cancer with very narrow surgical margin and a high cure rate.

The Cary Skin Center is famous for this type of cancer surgery; people come from all over, book a hotel so they can make the often early appointments. I am a regular now, sadly. They know me by name, check me in the moment I enter the door,  even without signing in. This time it was on my left forearm, two cuts, and a total of three hours.

The good thing is that during the wait times for lab results, I had a chance to read! I am well into Madam, My Mother, the English translation of the book by Yvonne Keuls, Mevrouw, Mijn Moeder. The person who translated this wonderful book is Renske Mann-van Slooten, a cousin of Yvonne Keuls and herself a published author. I read the original in Dutch, and am delighted with the English translation: English is such a beautiful language, and definitely more personal (meer eigen) after having lived in the United States for over fifty years. How I loved to translate my mother’s journal of our years in the Japanese concentration camps.

I can’t redo all the years of sun damage during my life. But I cover up with long sleeves and my cowboy hat whenever I go for a walk in the sun, you can believe that! I don’t know if I will sit by the pool or swim this summer. We’ll see.

The Kentucky Derby

Another party is coming up at the club! Complete with dollar bets on horses, mint juleps and hats! I am now in the planning stages of dressing for the occasion and of course finding an appropriate hat! I have never had a mint julep before in my life, have you? I had to look it up on Google and I can’t wait to taste one!

And that’s a wrap!

Until next time,








A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 – 11

    An unconventional Easter 

I hope your Easter celebrations were wonderful: be it with or without a church service and sounding trumpets, with or without coloring and eating hard boiled eggs, with or without an egg hunt, with or without chocolate eggs and bunnies. All those varying Easter traditions make Easter special. And over the years, we did them all, and they are wonderful memories.  Our Easter this year was different. After a delicious breakfast with fresh strawberries, I could not find a “live” church service on television. My computer/TV skills leave a lot to be desired, and knowledgeable kids or grandkids were either still asleep or in church, so we did without this year. But the wonderful thing about this Easter was that our family had invited me to join them to see the musical Les Miserables in Durham.

Les Miserables

To be out with the family was a real treat. We had center front seats on the highest balcony. I climbed all the stairs to the top with my youthful family; too bad I did not count those steps,  I would have bragged about it! The show was amazing with many melodies I remembered. I got more out of the jokes then when we watched it some forty years ago in the Los Angeles Music center. I had my opera glasses with me and enjoyed many fascinating closeups. After the show, I told the family I would rather take the elevator down, even though there would be long lines. So we walked out the side door and to the elevator, where there was no line, but an attendant who saw all those young guys and their parents, and kindly asked them to take the stairs down. the family then turned to me and said, she is 84 years old. Wow, that did it. The attendant opened the doors and commented, good for you ma’am! and in no time we were down and out into the parking lot. I so enjoyed myself on this day out!

And that’s a wrap!

Until soon,










A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 – 10

Beauty and Health

The wonderful medicine cabinet with the sliding mirror door in our Master bathroom, is used for beauty related items. The space needed for those has not increased remarkably over the years (believe it or not!). But the space needed for health related items has more than tripled. For all those items we have now designated a closet in the hallway leading to the Master Bedroom. I don’t know how you are doing – if you are in your eighties like us – but we can’t survive on Calcium, Vitamin D3 and eye drops any longer. So from the table in the dining area, where everything was piled up since the move, most health related items were moved into that wonderful, large closet around the corner, where they cover three shelves. Everything is easy to find that way. Medicines and vitamins stand on a 3 feet shelf at eye level, so labels are easy to read. On top of that we keep a large box with extras in the garage, extras that we got after Mike’s hospital visits in October. I really don’t know what to do with those. It’s not something you donate to Goodwill, I won’t throw the liquids down the toilet either. For instance, we have three quart size bottles of iodine and more things like that. I did find a pharmacy in Cary that has a drop off box for medications we no longer need, and I used that several times.


Because remembering to dole out medications and vitamins in a timely manner, our children advised us to go to PillPack, serviced by Amazon pharmacy. With help, I set it up for Mike in November, and finally at the end of the month of April everything will be on schedule, and I get the appropriate pills AM and PM in little envelopes on a roll. Because I only need two medications, I decided I do not need PillPack. If I can’t remember those two plus some vitamins, I will be a lost case.

Motorized solar shades

Yesterday, we had a visit from a designer who advised us on motorized solar shades for the sliding door to the patio. At certain times of the day the sun gets into the room with such a strong glare, that Mike has been wearing sunglasses while watching television. When we lived in Prescott, Arizona, one of our friends had motorized solar shades for all the windows in his bedroom. He could open and close them from his bed, and even program them to open or close at certain times. The latter was a great deterrent for burglars when the family was on vacation. I remember that in Hawai’i we had lights in the living room programmed to go on and off when we were away.

Before the end of the month we will have our motorized solar screens installed and are keeping our fingers crossed that we made the right design choice. I am so excited, I can’t wait!

And that’s a wrap!

Until next time!