A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 – 37

December 30, almost the last day of the year!

The festivities with family and friends before, during and after my birthday were wonderful. We enjoyed regular streamed services of our former church in Prescott and their Christmas pageant was hilarious. These final days of the year are an extension of Christmas, it seems, especially because we are retired, cozy in our lovely home. We don’t have to go to work or travel back home, so we are safe and happy.

How often I will be able to write stories on this Blog depends on the time I can devote to it. I will make it a New Year’s resolution, but then I have several other resolutions, like regular reading and walking longer distances.

With exercise and prayers I have reached my goal of a pain free left leg, even before Christmas. I feel it sometimes a little, but I have the full range of motion again, can do a dozen squats a day, and am able to take care of Mike afternoons, evenings and on Sundays.

Wishing you a happy year end and a great New Year!

Until next time,



A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 – 36

Festive Plans

This week, all our family members are home for Christmas, including two girlfriends. That is a wonderful opportunity to go out – eight of us, to see The Nutcracker. And, because my 85th birthday only happens once in everybody’s lifetime, I am treating! Mike will not go, and one of our friends will keep him company.

On my actual birthday, the day after Christmas, we are planning to go to the matinee of the new movie The Boys in the Boat. The book is fantastic. When I started reading it, I could not stop, and just made time an hour a day to finish it.

After the movie home for a festive sandwich supper and birthday cake, of course with a glass of champagne for those who want it. Dennis will take care of the meal and our daughters in Canada and California are planning a cake. The whole family will be celebrating with us, and I am so looking forward to it. Each birthday is special, and 85 only happens once!

Dinner and a show on my birthday has been a long tradition, way back to the years we lived in Pasadena. The highlights that I remember are ET with the whole family, after standing in a long line on Hollywood Blvd., and Ghandi with Annemieke. The last one, in Prescott, was Unbroken, which I saw with Mike. When we came out of the theatre, Emma, journalist with CCTV from Washington DC was waiting with a film crew for an interview about my reaction to the movie. It had brought back memories and I was in  tears. You can find the interview and more on my Youtube Channel, and the translation on the Publicity Page right here on my website.

Christmas is here!

We are having such a wonderful time. On Saturday night Dennis took Mike and me to his home to drop off our gifts under his Christmas tree and he took us on a tour of the neighborhood with the most wonderful Christmas lighting everywhere. We went home with a large Christmas bread, professionally baked by Stephanie: a Dutch tradition on Christmas Eve. It has almond paste inside and it will serve us for breakfast for three days. So delicious that freezing half of it and saving it for New Year’s will not happen!

On Christmas Eve morning we watched two church services of our old Prescott church and saw a delightful pageant with songs to match the story. After that Dennis ad Stephanie came over with lunch, and two of the grandkids came later with gifts. We had phone conversations with the portal TV, and all families were close by for a while.

Many Christmas cards and e-cards went out the door, and that was a joyful job for me: close contact for a few minutes with old friends, hoping to find them in good health and wishing them well in the new year.

A corner of our living room and the largest gnome I received for my gnome collection. I use him for a hat stand. In that corner you also see the painting of my great-great grandmother, painted on wood in the late eighteen hundreds and still in good condition.


I want to end this chapter with the warmest wishes to all of you for joy at Christmas time and a Happy 2024

Until next time,



A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 -35


The days in December seem to go faster than any other time of the year. For us, it means bi-annual checkups from just about every doctor we have, and sometimes we scramble for good times. On Thursday, I had a 7:15 appointment in Cary with my dermatologist (every three months because I had one melanoma). She took one biopsy on my left leg and I hope to get a negative result back from the lab before Christmas. I had to get up extra early to go to Cary, leaving at 6:55, just when the caregiver drove in, but when I came out of the appointment the whole waiting room was full. So I was better off.

Right after Thanksgiving, everybody puts up their Christmas trees and starts shopping – major discounts are offered everywhere. When I asked my youngest grandson in Apex (13) for his wish list, he texted me that he would love to get money to buy clothes. Knowing that he is wearing his older brother’s jersey for ice hockey, I asked can you not get nice hand-me-downs from your older brothers? He texted back: Well, I have already reached the hand-me-down limit 🙂 He is already the tallest of the three, which is great for his basketball team. So except for a small gift each, we give money to all grandkids.

One man’s trash

I wanted to get rid of two large, dead, potted plants from the border and needed to take them to the side of the road, where a large truck will come by to suck up all garden trash. First the huge lemon grass. I shook it out of the pot, lifted it onto my little walker and took it out of the patio door, across the – now brown – grass and the driveway to the street. The next one was the ginger, which had not done well at all, compared to other years. When I got to the end of the driveway, I saw a little woman, bundled up against the cold, with only her face visible, picking up the heavy lemon grass clump and dragging it away, a little white dog on a leash in her other hand. When she saw me, she asked Is this yours? and when I said yes, she asked if she could take it home. I am re-using the dirt, she said. and I but it’s only roots, and very little dirt! But she was happy to drag it home, and when she saw the other clump I was putting down, she said I will get that on my next round!

Guess what? I wrote a letter to Santa Claus, who delivered a bag of potting soil a day later. On Saturday afternoon, I put the bag of potting soil in a box I had and lifted it onto my blue walker. I wrote a Christmas card and put it in a little gift bag with two stroopwafels and some Ghirardelli chocolates. And then I put on my coat and walked to where I thought Ellen lives. When I walked onto her patio, a gentleman opened the door. I asked, surprised (because Ellen is a single lady), does Ellen live here? I am looking for Ellen. He said, yes, I am her brother. Ellen, someone to see you. Now I didn’t know Ellen, but a lovely lady came outside. She took the gift bag her brother gave her, and he took the box with the potting soil inside. To make a long story short, Ellen said that my lemon grass was not dead, and she was going to plant it outside the fence: did you see it? She said she had gotten many of her plants from others’ throwaways. Her borders looked lovely. She gave me a big hug, and I happily walked home with my walker. A wonderful way to get to know my neighbors!

Christmas dinner at the Club

It was a wonderful event last Saturday evening. Several committees had decorated the Club with Christmas decorations and a Christmas tree. Donovan’s Dish was catering the dinner and we all brought a side dish or appetizer. Desserts were also plentiful, brought in by the social committee. It was an animated evening with about 45 neighbors, and an opportunity to dress up!

I will stop here to get dinner on the table, but have more stories to tell, so perhaps I will have a chance tomorrow.

Be happy and safe,

Until next time,