A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 – 19

A Baker’s cyst

Did you ever have one? I did not, and I did not understand where the agonizing pain in my left knee came from last Wednesday. Crossing the street at the end of my evening walk with the dog, I could just limp until I got a hold of the mailbox – my leg buckled and I almost fell. It got worse on Thursday, and on Friday morning Dennis took me to the ER. I was helped right away. They determined through an X-ray and an ultrasound that there were no broken bones, nor blood clots; it was just a Baker’s cyst. Never heard of the thing. Until now! The condition is named after the 19th century surgeon who first described it, Dr. William Morrant Baker. If all goes well, it should disappear by itself in a few weeks with rest, legs up, a knee brace and ice cubes. Tomorrow morning I have a followup visit with an orthopedic surgeon in Cary. I have a list of questions…

For a few days, neighbors offered to walk Lani, and that was terrific. I thought for sure that I could walk her again by this weekend. No way! In two days, she got constipated because of lack of good walking. Today, I gave her iced pumpkin treats and baked sweet potato, which she loved. Then tonight, the neighbor who walked her came back with good news: Lani was “empty”, she had done three productions. Relief!

A Dog Walker

Never in my life had I thought about needing a dog walker. Me? I would rather be one! But one of our daughters sent me a link to a website: Rover.com. I decided to check it out. Just for the first week or so. Because I was sure I would be able to walk pain free again in a week. The first person I contacted did not respond, but the second one did. And golly, I found a perfect match for us! A young woman who happens to live around the corner, in the next street, two minutes from here. She is available all the times I need her, because she does this professionally. Now that is a great business if you are fit to walk dogs for half an hour at a time! A good income. But of course you need to be strong and fit and able to walk a lot. That’s not me at this time.

I am using Mike’s walker when he does not need it, and a cane at other times. Amazon sent me a very well fitting knee brace and two ice packs. And I have been siting with my legs up for longer than ever before. Yesterday, we watched a video of the Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Garden that we know so well. I recognized the huge Cook Pine, still there, and Turtle Beach, and more. But they did not show the lily lake, the water falls and the orchid garden. Nor the tree that my mother planted in 1991. It must be huge now. I have asked the owner of our former home if he would please go and take a look to see if Mamma’s name is still on the sign, with the name of the tree: Sea Putat. Close to the ocean and Turtle Beach. He will do that for me!

Hale Akai (our former Hale Kea Akai)

By the way, if you plan to go to the Big Island and want to stay 9 miles north of Hilo, you can stay at the studio on our former 5 acre property. It is lovely, sleeps three, has a private patio, and the owners, Randall Durea and his wife Donna are great hosts. Only $125 per night: a real bargain for Hawai’i!

And that’s a wrap!

Until next time, stay well.


A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 – 18

A Dental Drama

When we moved to this wonderful house in Apex, we got a referral for a new dentist. I still had a free cleaning with our dentist in Cary, but Mike went in with the new one. There were hurdles to take because the handicapped parking on-ramp was all the way at the end of the parking lot, so then we had to walk all the way back on a gently sloping sidewalk to the office entrance. Mike did that with his walker. Then to  get out one time and find it was raining was even more challenging. They had an umbrella at the door, so picture me opening and closing the door with one hand, then again, down the slope and into the car, followed by me walking back to the office under the umbrella, and running back to the car in the rain.

The second time, the nice hygienist had left the practice and Mike did not get along well with the new one. In the mean time, the dentist decided, based on x-rays taken, that several teeth had to be pulled. Several! He referred us to a dental surgeon. Weeks went by to get an appointment for a conference with the surgeon, then a date was set for the first two extractions – a third one waiting for another time. We had a Zoom conference with the dentist and our daughter in California and this was agreed upon.

We received a bill with the approximate cost of pulling the first two: #13 and #15 . Alarm bells in my head: NO!, those were the wrong teeth, healthy teeth! Calls and emails to the dental office. Oh yes, they made a mistake. The first two should be #5 and #12. Sorry!

The surgeon’s office agreed not to extract any teeth until after the panoramic X-rays had been taken in his office, on the due date.

In the mean time, I prepared for two days of liquid food and then soft foods for a while: puddings, yogurt, blended meals. A pureed vegetable soup seemed appropriate for the first night. I took my iPad and looked up recipes for vegetable soup. I found one that sounded good. When I clicked on it, several screens popped up with loud noises and flashing lights telling me that my computer had been hacked and shut down. “Click here to save your computer!” in a green square among the reds. It was sudden and scary. I did not click, but closed my iPad. when I opened it again after a few minutes, the threat was still there. Closed it again. And then, not knowing how else to get a recipe for vegetable soup, I emailed a friend in Arizona from the desktop Mac. That must have been the strangest request she ever got, but she gave mew the basics. And today, my caregiver prepared a pan full of soup, and it was delicious and filling.

This morning, we prepared for surgery: Nothing to eat or drink except for blood pressure medication; getting dressed in comfortable clothing and shoes. Our son came to pick us up.

The rain pelted down, the driveway was flooded. We made it out and to the surgeon’s office. We parked close to the door and our son went in to register Mike so he did not have to sit down in the waiting room but could go right in. We waited in the car, while the rain did not let up. I will make an already long story short. Our son came with a paper to sign and to pay for…a wrong tooth extraction, #30. I showed him the date on the sheet was wrong, there was an update. Ah, yes, the update showed #13 and #15. But I said I did not want to pay until the surgeon had taken/seen a panoramic x-ray. We waited longer in the car: they had an emergency, which took a good 45 minutes. Our son took Mike in for the panoramic and came out after ten minutes: it was impossible to take such an X-ray with a stationary machine. So Mike and I drove home again, very relieved, but extremely stressed, and our son had a discussion with the surgeon.

He called us later: the surgeon, based on the teeth he had seen in the (bad) x-rays of the dentist were not bad at all. No need to extract any! If one of the teeth would break, they would take care of it, and if there would be an infection, they would too.

The end of the story: we will have vegetable soup again tomorrow, and many nights of puddings for dessert, and soft foods like pancakes and scrambled eggs and the like: a new varied menu! There is always a silver line around every dark cloud, as my mamma would say. She would also say (during her days in a WWII concentration camp on Java): “De mens lijdt vaak het meest door het lijden dat hij vreest maar dat nooit op komt dagen: dus krijgt hij meer te dragen dan God te dragen geeft.”

I thought about that a lot in the last few days. It is so true.

And that’s a tired wrap!

Until next time,




A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 – 17

When the tide moves, you have to move the barrels 

I did, and I like it. Instead of hardly ever making my goal of 10,000 steps in a day, I changed the goal to 8,000, and that I make every day, and sometimes I go over. Peace of mind and happier feet! A little extra time in the day meant all the mending is done, and I can spend time in my flower garden. I actually gathered a basket of clippings and weeds and took them to the street.

Pneumatic garden waste collection

This is a very organized neighborhood. On Mondays, everyone takes his large trash and recycling cans from the garage to the street. But not before 3:00 p.m. After three, people come out of all driveways with their rolling garbage cans and put them just so:  10 feet from the mail box, and 3 feet from each other. No kidding. A great feature that I have never seen in other neighborhoods is that you can put garden clippings, branches great and small, flower pot contents, dirt and all, by the side of the road on trash pick up day. The following morning a large truck drives through the neighborhood with on the curb side a wide, elongated tube that moves down to the curb, sucking up all garden waste in passing. I knew that a pneumatic system with regular waste exists in big cities, but that it happens street-side with garden waste was new to me.

Dog rules

I was made aware, as the owner of one of two new dogs in the neighborhood, that dogs are allowed on the pavement and on the grass, but not on the “mulch” or rather, the pine straw that has been deposited nicely around all trees, shrubs and borders. Not a hard rule to follow, although I can see that dogs like to scratch through the needles to find just that special scent of the dog that went before.

Many dogs come to our neighborhood from other streets, and one day I noticed a disgusting number of large dog deposits in the grass next to the walkways. Obviously not from “our” dogs, because here they are all small. I think that Lani at 23 pounds is the biggest. The next day, all of the poop was gone. Somebody had walked around and picked up all of them, and likely not with a pneumatic system!

Wildfires in Canada

All of last week we received warnings about dangerous air quality caused by numerous wildfires in the area of Quebec, Canada. So far, over 10 million acres have been burned and more than 20 thousand people have been displaced.

The smoke spread far and wide, and even reached us in North Carolina. We kept doors and windows closed, but yet, the haze was visible, as you can see in this picture of the sunrise on Tuesday morning, seen from our back yard. I could look straight into the sun like never before. It made me think about fire safety at home.

Our home has vaulted ceilings in living room/kitchen and master bedroom. Looking up to find where the smoke detectors would be, I found none. When we lived in Prescott, Arizona, we had one in every room. Annually, around Thanksgiving, the batteries had to be changed. Or we would be alarmed by a loud shrieking sound, often in the middle of the night. Then, we’d have to walk from room to room, looking up to where the sound came from, and which one had a red light instead of a blinking green one. When we found it, we’d get the ladder from the garage and change the battery. Later, we could do that with a broomstick – safer than standing on a ladder.

Here, we do have a sprinkler system in our ceilings, but I know that those do not act as a smoke detector. They are only for protection in case of an all-out fire. So we need to look into that and find out what neighbors have in their homes.

I did Google: what to do to remove smoke smell from your home. It said to put bowls with white vinegar throughout the house, and/or bowls with ground coffee. Lemon juice would also be good, and the smoke smell would be gone in a day or two. Carpets and drapes would need a treatment with baking soda. We don’t have carpets or drapes, but baking soda comes in handy for all kinds of things. I will get some, and also some white vinegar, because I only have apple cider vinegar. I don’t think I would use the ground coffee any more for a nice cup of coffee once it has been absorbing smoke smells for two days, so I will go for the vinegar and lemon juice if we should get smoke in the house one way or another.

And that’s a wrap!

Until next time, be well!





A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 – 16


We have seven grandkids. Most of them live far away, but we are so proud of them! They are all excelling in the age-related activities they enjoy. This May was an exceptional month for everyone. One of them made it into the finals of the 2023 American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA) National Championship, boat of 8, in Tennessee. Another one finished in first place of the final District Cross Country race of 122 students. They ran 1.5 kilometers. A third one graduated early from high school and will have a Private Pilot’s license by the end of this month. Number four is doing very well in college and won an internship this summer which will most likely lead to an interesting job right after graduation. Number five got ice hockey skates as a birthday gift and is practicing to join the Junior team in the fall. He is also a fantastic soccer player. We watched him score a goal from far away on the side of the field, and we loved to watch him run, faster than anyone else. Number six is a great artist and just joined a friend on the Rugby team. Rugby is like football, a close-contact team sport that originated at Rugby School in Rugby, England in the first half of the 19th century. Rugby is simply based on running with the ball in hand, without protection. I would love to learn the rules of the game sometime soon. Number seven has sung in Carnegie Hall in New York with multiple choirs, and is planning a trip to Switzerland with a group of friends this summer.

A Third Generation that creates great expectations don’t you think? And the Second Generation, consisting of three kids, well, of those we are even prouder, not only because of what they have achieved in their lives so far, but because of the warm hearted, caring, independent thinkers and doers they have become. We are truly blessed, and very happy that we made the journey from the Netherlands to California, USA, in 1972, with two daughters, a baby son and our chow-chow Roy.


After a while, we now have a lively variety of birds outside to watch. Through the window on the left, hummingbirds come and go, and other birds come for a drink of water from the bowl above the feeder. Through the window on the right we see cardinals, gold finches, house finches, North Carolina Blue Jays (smaller than the Stellar Jays we had in Lake Arrowhead and Prescott), small woodpeckers. A sparrow had a go at it, but was too large to land. And through the sliding door we see a couple of mourning doves on the patio. Lovely. I Google them all, so we get to know them.

Last week, when I was walking with Lani, a bird suddenly dove down onto my head and flew away quickly. The same thing happened again this week: same place, same bird. I must have stood too close to its nest; he kept watching us from the top of a street lantern until we were out of sight. Now I am trying to find out what kind of bird that is.

Doctors, doctors and more doctors

It seems that all our annual checkups were done in May. So we took trips to the audiologist, ophthalmologist, dentist, podiatrist, and en passant, when I was in Cary, I “did” Trader Joe’s and the Hallmark store. For all doctors, “My Charts” have to be filled out online with medical history, medications and much more. What a time consuming business!

On the Friday morning before Memorial Weekend, Lani developed a sore on her behind that she kept licking constantly. I called all the hospitals and vets in Apex and everyone was already closed for the holiday, or they would not see a new patient without having her checked and registered first. I finally called her old Vet in Cary and got a 4 p.m. emergency appointment with one of the doctors. What a blessing! We went home with a tube of ointment to be applied to her anus twice a day. “It’s a two-man job”, said the vet. I had only me! But this little Lani is a miracle. For a whole week, she came up to me, first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening, we sat down on the floor in my office, and she lifted her hind leg so I could put the ointment under her tail. Today we went back to the Vet and he declared her well again. As a special treat we walked part of the trail in Wimbledon, where we walked every day when we still lived in the cottage at Waltonwood. Next week, she will get a proper grooming again. But twice things have gone wrong with this new Apex groomer, so I have special instructions for her again.

Memorial Day weekend has come and gone

We watched the beautiful Sunday night Memorial concert again, with tributes to fallen heroes and veterans present.

Well, I was only able to post a few lines every so often these two weeks. So many things to do and think about, and arrange, and change, I hardly ever  sit down! I just thought I should find my sewing basket and do some mending of things neglected since the move. Then I will sit down and yet won’t be idle 🙂 Mending is a far cry from the beautiful gowns and dresses and suits I created, but times and needs have changed. Memories are fun though. I remember making a floor length strapless evening gown of black velvet with a yellow velvet gore from top to bottom. It was 1959, I  was a sophomore in college and there was a big event with sorority and fraternity members. I went window shopping in Den Haag, a nearby large town. I saw THE dress in the window, took a picture, went home, made a pattern, bought velvet material and other necessities and started sewing. Not all in one day of course. I had a small electric sewing machine that my Dad had bought from a Chinese in Surabaya and had fixed up. It could only sew straight, nothing else. I think it was the very first electric sewing machine! Many years later, when we lived in Prescott, Arizona, I sold it for $100, but that was only the value of the antique carrying case it came in. I don’t know what happened to the machine itself.

It was a great party, and the dress was a success. I already knew Mike at that time, and he loved the dress.

Yes, I could make  patterns. My high school friend from Surabaya had moved to Den Haag a little earlier than I did, and I came to live very close to where she lived. Her mother was a seamstress and taught both of us first how to make patterns, then to cut and baste and sew anything we wanted. A wonderful gift, which I used my whole life! (Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime!). I sewed a lot. Mike became manager of a knitting mill in the Netherlands and I had access to the most beautiful knits for many years. When the girls grew up, I loved sewing their dresses for years. And when we got a baby boy, well, we emigrated to the United States, and from then on Sears Roebuck was my go-to!

Fond memories!

And that’s a wrap!

Until next time,