ALERT! ALERT!

Dear friends,

Many of you have not heard from me for a while. When three friends told me about that, I checked with my webmaster and he found out that for some reason my JetPack Plugin was deactivated. Why? How? We will never know.

Everything should be up and running again, but please, anyone that gets this Alert, please let me know THAT you received it.

And if any of you can look back and let me know which number was the last one you received, please do.

In the mean time, I have published a Blog Post every Wednesday, so if you want to read the ones you missed, please find them on my website at http://www.ronnyhermandejong.com/blog/

It’s a Wonderful Life, most of the Time!

Ronny

A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 20

We are Published! Release Date: December 01, 2017

Hooray! All the hard work is done! It took four and a half months from the time of conception to the actual publication of the Audiobook of Rising from the Shadow of the Sun, A Story of Love, Survival and Joy.

On July 18, just as I was contemplating on how to start getting my book into Audio, I received this email:

“Get Your Books into Audio with D2D & Findaway Voices!

Findaway Voices gives authors everything they need to create professionally narrated audiobooks, including:

Full Control—No upfront fees. You keep all your rights. And no exclusivity. Ever.
Global Distribution—Access to a global platform that reaches consumers in more than 170 countries, through all major audiobook sellers across retail, library, and K12 channels including Audible.
Custom Narrator Casting
Professional Production
Full Service and Support–As a D2D author, you’re used to high level customer support, and you can expect the same with Voices.
We think this will change everything in the audiobook landscape— empowering authors to keep their rights and reach new markets!”

Already a D2Digital Author, I signed up with Findaway Voices right away.

The next step, the first week of August, was listening to the recorded voices of six narrators. I requested a 15 minute audition of two of them. One qualified, but then I heard she was not available until August 2018! I received a new list and listened to auditions of four more, then two more. And then I found her: Stephanie Dillard. On September 26 I confirmed that I wanted to hire her as the narrator of my book. Stephanie was still working on another narration but promised me she could start on mine at the end of October.

In the meantime I learned how to use Quick Time Player on my Mac and chapter by chapter I went over the “foreign” words in the text. I made a list of them and sounded them out, one by one. Those words included words in Dutch, German, Indonesian, Japanese and Hawaiian. I emailed her the lists and my audios, and you will hear that throughout the text, she pronounced all those words beautifully. She must have studied long hours to get that done. When I had gone through the whole book like that I turned it over to her and she started the narration on October 26.

We emailed back and forth a few times when she had questions and then, on November 18 came her email: Finished!

Findaway Voices then gave me ten days, till November 28, to listen to the text and edit where necessary. Well, unexpectedly, that took a huge number of hours between me and her; not because the pronunciation of the text, but more often because of the intonation. We worked hard, back and forth, and last night, on November 28, we got it done and approved.

After a final approval process with Findaway Voices came the result: You’re Published! What joy! Another dream fulfilled. I set the release date to be December 01, 2017. It will take two to three weeks for all the channels to distribute it and then it will be available worldwide.

These are the channels of distribution:

Audible, Amazon, Apple, Audiobooks.com, Downpour, eStories, Hummingbird, Libro.FM, NOOK Audiobooks, Playster, Scribd, TuneIn

and the following Libraries:

3Leaf Group, Baker & Taylor, Bibliotheca, EBSCO, Follett, Mackin, Odilo, Overdrive and Perma-Bound.

Isn’t that an impressive list?

It’s a Wonderful World!

Until Next Time!

Ronny

 

A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 19

A Beautiful World: Colors

Early this morning, stepping out onto our patio, the walls around me were colored. Straight ahead a brilliant yellow, then to the left and right vibrant orange and deep, dark burgundy, and brown, and peach, and then the green of the pine trees, the magnolias and the holly. And the sun is not even up yet. Yesterday morning, the tree in front of my office window was a see-through, shining orange, hard to describe, and a picture does not do it justice. It is beautiful all around. We don’t have to go on a trip or a cruise to see the fall colors, we’re right in the middle of them.

Walking on a textured tapestry covering my forest path and spilling over to both sides, I smelled –  what shall I compare it with –  soil, a nutty fragrance, mushrooms. Multi colored leaves of all shapes and colors continued to dwindle down all around and on top of me from the canopy overhead, while my feet made a rustling sound on the reds and yellow and browns and burgundies and oranges and even greens of the carpet beneath me.

Driving anywhere, I am surrounded by the tall majesty of many-colored trees. While the trees immediately surrounding our home are about 20 to 30 feet, the outer circle consists of pines and oaks and trees I have never seen before that are 50 to 100 feet tall. Really amazing. In the Nature Preserve in Wimbledon, I found out the name of one of the tall pines, the Loblolly tree. Who has ever heard of a Loblolly tree? It has a different kind of trunk, grows fast to about 100 feet and has no branches on the lower 30 feet. Anyway, nature is beautiful.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,

Ronny

A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 18

  EXTRA!  EXTRA!                                                                             EXTRA!  EXTRA!

Next Saturday, November 18, we are going to a fantastic performance: Gypsy. At Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, the musical will take place in:  MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM

Opened in 1932, Memorial Auditorium is the crown jewel of North Carolina performing arts. Over the years, this richly historic theater has played host to a dazzling spectrum of artists and performances. Just a sample of the list quickly becomes dizzying: Sinatra, Gillespie, Baryshnikov, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughn, Itzhak Perlman, Natalie Cole and Prince. Broadway blockbusters like Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, Disney’s The Lion King, Jersey Boys, Miss Saigon, and Rent have also been staged here.

Memorial AuditoriumMoreover, just stepping into the theater, with its dramatic atrium lobby, twin floating staircases and gorgeous Doric columns, brings the magic and inspiration of all these artists to life for visitors.

After some dramatic renovations in 1990, Memorial Auditorium now blends state-of-the-art technical amenities like sound-reflective mahogany walls and intricate lighting systems with grand theater traditions. It currently is the home of Broadway Series South and the North Carolina Theatre.

Eighty-thousand square feet of stage, house, rehearsal hall, lobbies and public areas make Memorial Auditorium one of the most decisively versatile facilities in the Southeast. Stage-level dressing rooms (with mirrors, dressing tables, showers and restroom facilities), an elegant rehearsal hall for more intimate theater productions, dinners and meetings, and a state-of-the-art box office are just a few of the reasons that each event or special performance will be a seamlessly professional and inspiring one for attendee and performer alike.

The orchestra pit is impressive. At a width of 51′-6″ and a depth of 12′ at center, tapering to 9″ at offstage edge, it is a hydraulic lift that can be set at any height from basement to stage level. The only access to the orchestra pit during performance is through the house or from the stage. The lift cannot be operated during a performance or at any time while the general public is in the auditorium, without special consent of the Production Supervisor.

Why do I elaborate on the theatre and the Orchestra Pit? Because I am so proud that our son will be playing his trumpet in this impressive Broadway production! Even though we won’t see him, we may hear where he is sitting if we recognize the special sound of his trumpet, which we often do.

For this occasion we are riding the Waltonwood bus, so that we do not have to be concerned with finding the theatre and finding parking. We’re looking forward to this wonderful 1959 Musical with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,

Ronny

 

 

 

 

A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 17

P.T.

P.T. has had several different meanings during my lifetime. During my high school years it stood for Present Tense and Past Tense, and it had to do with grammar.

In my college years it stood for Pro Tempore, which is often used to describe a person who acts as a locum tenens (placeholder) in the absence of a superior. In today’s world we could say, if President Trump became deathly ill, the Vice President would act as the country’s leader Pro Tempore, or Pro Tem. This expression is derived from Latin, meaning “for the time being.”

After we emigrated from the Netherlands to California with three kids and a dog, for a long time P.T. to us meant Pacific Time; right now we live in Cary and we live on E.S.T., Eastern Standard Time.

When we were new immigrants in Pasadena and we needed some extra income, I applied for a secretarial job with CSC, a NASA contractor at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, close to home. It was a P.T. job, one that I shared with a college student who worked in the morning so I could be home in the afternoons to be with the children. P.T. then meant Part Time, and it worked out beautifully for both of us. In 1974, when I worked at JPL we were sending the Viking 2 to Mars. In 1976, NASA landed robotic spacecraft named Viking 1 and Viking 2 on Mars. One of these landers worked there for nearly 4 years and the other lasted more than 6 years. Among their scientific experiments were the only ones so far specifically designed to discover whether there was something tiny (like bacteria) living in the soil. I am still in touch with my former boss, who, at the time, had a special bottle of wine which he kept for the time they would find life on Mars! I don’t think he ever opened that bottle, because at the time he gave up hope the wine was definitely too old.

When I did research for my books on World War Two, In the Shadow of the Sun, and Rising from the Shadow of the Sun, I learned yet another meaning of P.T.: a PT boat (short for Patrol Torpedo boat) was a torpedo-armed fast attack craft used by the United States Navy in World War II.

Years later, when I got onto Facebook and Twitter to promote my books, I found out that PT stands for Patriotic Tweeple. Tweeple means ‘people’ in Twitter slang.

Very recently I found out that P.T. is a first-person psychological horror video game developed by Kojima Productions, under the pseudonym “7780s Studio”. I have never checked that out, because I’m not much of a horror fan.

And last, but not least in my life’s experiences, I personally learned the meaning of P.T. as the treatment of a disease or an injury of the muscles or joints with massage, heat and exercise rather than with drugs or surgery. The good thing is that living in this retirement community, the P.T., or Physical Therapy is administered right here on the first floor of the main building, and it is all covered by Medicare. Why do I need P.T.? Well, back in April, on April 4th to be precise, I visited my daughter and her family in Victoria, Canada, shortly before we moved to the East Coast. I had bought my little granddaughters two special frisbee rings each, and the very first day we had fun on the lawn for about half an hour, throwing frisbees. Afterwards, my right shoulder was sensitive. I thought it would go away with time. But it did not go away. And in June, a month after our move, I developed neck pain as well. That, I thought, is because our pillows are no good. So in July, August and September, I bought, tried out and returned six different pillows in three different stores. The neck pain did not go away and neither did the shoulder heal itself.

So yesterday I checked in with the P.T. department. After an evaluation they told me that shoulder and neck were two separate issues, but the neck problem was caused by the compromised shoulder and not by too soft or too firm a pillow. Hm. I’m looking at six weeks or less of treatments, in P.T. and O.T., which means one or two hours a day, plus exercises to do at home of course. Now, in my case, O.T. stands for Occupational Therapy, but it has different meanings as well, which I will not go into at this time.

I strongly believe in the healing qualities of P.T. and it has some advantages as well: they recommend a massage once a week and nice warm compresses when I am relaxing in my chair as often as I do sit down. I had very few massages in my life, usually as birthday gifts, so I will enjoy them once a week as a luxury, for however long they will last.

I believe in healing qualities of massage as well. During my years in California, when my hands were still strong, I took massage classes, basically to treat my family members to a wonderful, relaxing massage once in a while. Nobody in the family was interested however, with the exception of our son Dennis, a young teenager at the time. By lack of a proper massage table, Dennis would climb up on the kitchen counter, stretch out on a blanket, feet dangling over the edge on one side, and enjoy my skills put into practice. I forgot how many times we did that, but I will see him this Sunday, so I can ask him if he still remembers.

It is such a joy to live close to and participate in events of his family! On Sunday afternoon the whole family is going to a performance of the Triangle Youth Jazz, presented by the Philharmonic Association in the Cary Center for the Arts. Our elder grandson will be playing his trombone in one of the three youth groups performing.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,

Ronny

 

A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 16

Forgetting…

Is forgetting age-related or is it contagious? In my case, I like to think that it is contagious, being among so many seniors daily who forget everything, your name, where you came from, appointments, taking medications, you name it, people will forget things. In my case, this is what I forgot.

Coming home after shopping at Costco last Tuesday morning, I discovered that part of the groceries had slipped off the back seat onto the floor of the car. So I picked up the plastic bag with ten bananas that was on top of the groceries and put it on top of the car, temporarily, so I could pick up the pears and coffee and other things. I took everything inside and put things in their places. I forgot the bananas on top of the car.

The following day I took Mike to a dental appointment and ran errands in another part of town for a couple of hours, then we went home and enjoyed the rest of the Wednesday. On Thursday at lunch time, I could not find the bananas I knew I had bought at Costco. Could they still be in the car? No, the back seat was empty. Then, when I closed the door and looked up, there they were! Saved by the luggage rack on top of the car, and not in the least damaged by the ride or the hot sun, it was a miracle; but one I never want to repeat. I was lucky. Just imagine I had left my wallet on top! It would have slipped out from under the bars and fallen somewhere on the freeway!

Remodeling

For the past two weeks our kitchen went through a remodeling phase. The private dining room  was serving as a storage room with sheets in front of the windows, the tables in the dining rom were put closer together and an outside catering service served breakfast, lunch and dinner, all dished up in the Café and brought to the tables. It took only one day for the servers to make everything move smoothly. In the meantime, the whole kitchen floor was pulled up with a lot of noises and dust, and replaced with a smooth epoxy surface that will be easy to clean. In preparation, the workers taped large sheets of clear plastic to the two door openings and in one of them installed two 6′ red zippers. Kind of a clever way to do that, easier than putting a zipper in a garment. They taped two 6′ long zippers to the plastic, about 2′ apart, and then cut a slit in the back of each along the full length. It worked beautifully. When both zippers were up, the flap allowed workers to go in and out.

The catered food was all right, but we were happy when we could resume the old routine, with the breakfast buffet in the center and oatmeal and grits, raisins and cottage cheese back instead of the large baskets full of sweet rolls and pastries, which, believe it or not, gets boring after ten days.

Halloween!

Would you believe we had a Halloween Party last night at the Club? In the Café delicious treats were served with peach punch, and one of the Residents played many familiar songs on his accordion. He was a professional in “his previous life”, who once performed with his group in Carnegie Hall! Many people, including the new manager, who arrived two days ago, were in costume, some very good ones. Mike wore a captain’s hat and I had my hair long, and a black mask on my face, so many people had to do a double take to recognize me. It was fun, and now it’s back to the Audiobook, burning a disk for a presentation later this month in Sanford, where they don’t have a big screen an a projector, but I can play a DVD to show on the TV. I have never before burned a disk but assume that with an intelligent computer like mine it will be a synch!

It’s a wonderful Life!

Until next time!

Ronny

 

A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 15

Encounters

 The days are shortening; at 6 a.m. it is still dark outside, and in the high forties, and at 7 p.m. it is completely dark and in the fifties. So gradually I have changed my daily walks from early in the morning and after dinner to after breakfast, if the weather is pleasant – and with the sun and little or no wind it’s great. The trees are starting to change colors and promising a beautiful palette in a few weeks. The fun part is that during the day I meet people along my trail. Not like the evenings, an occasional runner or dog walker, but people working on their property. One man was moving ferns and we had a conversation about those.

When walking along the lake I saw two turtles on the log in the water, like I had seen before. Getting closer to take a picture, a blue heron flew out of nowhere and landed on the log, while the turtles, seeing him approach, quickly jumped off. Back on the trail I met a gentleman who was scooping pine needles off the path, putting them in a large trashcan and spreading them on his property adjacent to the path. Why? “The gardeners blow the needles off every Monday, but they keep falling and they make the asphalt slippery and dangerous, especially for runners.” I could agree, even as a walker. As we talked, the heron bent over and we saw him catch a fish. “We recently lost one of them,” said Johnny,” because he caught a fish with a hook in it.”

He asked me where I live, told me his mother also lives at Waltonwood, in Assisted Living, and she will be 100 next month. I always carry at least one business card with me, which I gave him. He was very interested. Other than maintaining the Wimbledon swimming pool he was apparently also someone of power in his church, and ended the conversation with an invitation to be the guest speaker at the Methodist Church in the near future: “It’s close by, and you will get a free breakfast.” “I get that at Waltonwood too.” “Oh yes, of course.” He laughed and said he would get in touch with me, definitely, with a date for my visit.

On the way home, at the entrance of the Nature Preserve, I took a picture of this friendly ghost, which reminded me of one of the many activities at our “Club.” On Tuesday we’ll have a Halloween party, in costume for those who like that, with wine and cheese and crackers. Tomorrow there is a bus trip for a day to Old Salem, every Wednesday you can sign up to take the bus to a different restaurant for lunch, movies are shown four times a week, happy hour starts at 3:30 p.m. on Fridays, and every Thursday afternoon there is some kind of entertainment, a singer, a group of musicians, and more. Besides that there are the free fitness classes, free swimming, Bingo, Arts and Crafts, Computer education, sewing and quilting, religious services, bridge groups, hand-and-foot, and more.

We are still too busy to participate in many of those things, but it is good to know that we can have fun and will keep busy, even in our real retirement.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until Next time!

Ronny

 

A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 14

Turtle Talk

Recently, on a late afternoon walk on the second part of my favorite trail, I noticed a beautiful turtle sitting by the side of the trail in the dirt. “Oh you poor dear,” I said to him. “Have you lost your way?” He just looked at me from under his beautiful brown and yellow shell and said nothing. I assumed that he was on his way back to the lake, but he was pointed in the wrong direction! What to do? The lake, the large pond along the first part of my trail, where I had seen two turtles on a floating log once, basking in the sunshine, was quite a ways away for a little turtle, especially for one going in the wrong direction.

I walked back to the Clubhouse, all the way looking for something I could pick him up with, cautioned as I was by one of my fellow residents that the large turtle in our pond had resisted fiercely when he tried to pick him up to take him from across the street towards the water. With my luck, I noticed that the pool man, who was getting the swimming pool ready for winter, had left all his equipment outside the fence and among it was a large, shallow empty carton box. Since the man was nowhere in sight, I took the box and went back to my turtle.

He was gone! In that short of a time, perhaps four minutes, he was gone. Don’t you believe anymore that turtles are slow! I looked around for about five minutes and then, there he was! Four feet into the dead leaves on the other side of the nine feet trail! “I will help you and I will take you back to the lake,” I said and carefully picked him up and put him in the box. He did not fight but immediately withdrew all his extremities into his shell. I put him in the box and he did not move. I walked to the beginning of the trail and to the lake and carefully down the grassy, then muddy shore. I took him out of the box and gently put him beside the water in the mud. He did not move. I picked him up again, lifted him and placed him in the water, so that half his shield was submerged. Now, I thought, he has to come up for air soon. It took a few minutes, but then, one front foot appeared, then the other, and finally his head. He looked at me and I thought he would happily swim away. But he sat there motionless, half immersed in the water, head sticking up. I waited and waited. Nothing.

Then something amazing happened. From ten feet away, I saw a turtle approaching. Head up for air, head down, swim, swim, head up for air, head down, swim, swim. It came as close as six feet, then turned and continued to swim away parallel to the shore. And turned, and came back! From a distance farther away a larger turtle approached in the same manner, five feet, four feet, looking at my turtle, then turning and swimming away, returning again a minute later. And a third one came, and then a fourth and a fifth. As many as six turtles, anywhere from 5 to 7 inches long came to take a look, and two of them came as close as one foot from my lovely prodigal son. And then I saw it: all their shields were flatter and kind of mossy from being in the water, and greenish. My little one had a rounded shield, shiny brown with yellow markings. He did not like the water! He probably could not even swim! But then, where did he belong? Was he a pet that had wandered away from his family? Had he been on the way home when I found him?

When he did not move, I decided I had been dumb to mess with nature and I had to take him back to the trail where I had found him. I put the box down in front of him and gently pushed him in. And this time, he did not withdraw. He was not frightened anymore and curiously looked around and tried to climb up the side of the box, standing on his hind legs. I took him back to the place along the trail where I had found him, across, in the leaves, and he sat still and looked at me. I hope he has found his way home.

I learned my lesson. Not only dogs, but turtles as well can find their way home. I do wonder, though, how all those turtles in the lake all of a sudden saw my land turtle on the shore, and came swimming back and forth to take a look at him. Did he communicate by sending out an S.O.S.? He did not stick his head under water. Can anyone tell me more about turtles and their behavior? Mine was definitely like a fish out of water!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,

Ronny

 

 

A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 13

An Audiobook!

Yes, it’s official! I am working on the production of the Audiobook of Rising from the Shadow of the Sun. It is the fulfillment of a long-time dream, and it is finally not a dream anymore, but it’s really happening and I am very excited.

Living in this retirement community among many people who are either hard of hearing or have some form of macular degeneration, I first considered publishing my book in Large Print; that seemed easy enough. But then I read a publication which stated that audiobooks are becoming very popular and already have a world-wide market, not only for those with vision problems but for many other people who enjoy listening to books while commuting, working out, cooking, gardening and so on. Other reasons for their popularity are that audiobooks can continually be downloaded because they are never out of print, many non-readers would buy an audiobook to listen to and tell their friends, an audiobook will boost existing ebook and print book sales, and audiobook sales are growing by double digits.

In July, just as I was looking into it again and doing research on what it would take, D2Digital came with a special offer for Indie Authors – an offer I could not resist. And so it’s official! Spread the word! Recordings have started just last week (yes, it took about three months to get to that point) and if all goes well the final product will be finished by November 18. That makes for wonderful Christmas presents my friends! Think about it!

However, working on my Audiobook until the end of November, in addition to several Presentations that people have asked me to do, means that I will not have a whole lot of time to devote to writing my blog post every week. I hope you will bear with me and look forward with me to the Audiobook.

Next Tuesday morning I will drive to Sanford, a town about 45 minutes from here, for a presentation at the First Baptist Church; on November 27 the Raleigh Host Lions Club, the largest Lions Club and the largest service organization in North Carolina invited me for a Presentation at their meeting, and in the spring I will be talking to the Cary and the Apex Senior Communities, large groups, all!

Grateful that more and more people will continue to hear the stories my dear, courageous Mamma wrote down in her secret diary which she wrote under horrific circumstances, while struggling to survive the Japanese Concentration Camps in World War Two with her two little girls, I say:

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until soon!

Ronny

 

A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 12

Gifts

After World War Two our family was reunited and we moved into an empty home in Soerabaja, the city where we lived before the war. Our former house on Brouwerstreet was occupied, but many houses stood empty. Everything portable had been stolen out of the house. The only pieces of furniture left were a large side board and three large wooden beds with mattresses. A few crates from the yard would function as a table and chairs. There were no sheets, but then we did not know any better. My sister Paula and I found a silver hand mirror and a silver salt dish with blue glass inside underneath the sideboard. Treasures! After my mother passed away I got the hand mirror and the salt dish and I still have them. We had very few possessions left. That was the situation when I was seven years old and Paula five.

A year later we went to Holland where we met our grandparents for the very first time. They had gifts for us, unbelievable gifts. I got a porcelain doll dressed in the costume of Zeeland and another, smaller doll with pink clothes that Mina, my grandmother’s live-in housekeeper had crocheted, with tassels and beautiful shiny blue buttons. She even had pink underpants and a little camisole, crocheted socks and a pink bonnet. Lovely.

I have played with the dolls and later in life I had the costumed doll, the “boerinnepop”, on display in my bedroom. The little one I tucked away for my future granddaughters. But the time has come and gone. My oldest granddaughter is now ten, has many toys but never really played with dolls. The other two granddaughters are six and three, and they don’t play with dolls either. And then I met Lilly.

Lilly had lost everything in the hurricane; I heard she loved playing with dolls and her dad had only brought one Barbie doll in her suitcase. So I washed my doll’s clothes, replaced the 72-year old elastic in the pants and she was ready to meet her new mother. Tonight, when she came to have dinner with her grandparents, we sat together in the dining room. A very lively six-year-old, she told us she had turned six on the day the hurricane hit: September 10, 2017. “And our house was full of water, all the way till the roof!” After dinner we got together in the Players Room and she opened the box, which I had filled with pink tissue paper, the doll and an extra set of clothes. “Oh, a glass doll!” she exclaimed while she lifted her out of the box and cradled her in the nook of her left arm, and “Pink is my favorite color.”

It was a great success. She completely undressed her and then put everything on again, more careful after I showed her that the arms and legs could be twisted out of the socket if she was not very careful. I told her she could think of a name that she liked. Nothing came to mind immediately, but after we said goodbye and she walked to the elevator with her grandparents, grandma holding the empty box and she holding her new little treasure, she turned around and said, “Her name is Ellie.” Two days later her grandmother wrote me a thank you note with a special prayer: Child of God, may the grace and love of Christ meet you today. May God guide your footsteps and your words. May you be a blessing, especially as you are blessed. A gift I very much appreciated.

On Sundays after church the Club serves a copious brunch. There is a short line for the omelet station and then we go along the buffet and choose the things we like. Many people bring their children and grandchildren (most of whom are adults already) and it is fun to get to meet the second and third generations. We often sit with one couple whose son has a ranch nearby. The first time I noticed his boots under the table and asked if he came from Texas. No, he had a farm nearby, with a plethora of various animals. We started a conversation and we have sat together with him, his parents and sometimes his sisters many times since. One day, he came to our cottage after brunch (wearing brand new white sneakers :-)) and he handed me a large carton tube. Out came seventeen peacock feathers. Seventeen peacock feathers, what a gift! Some of them were five feet tall, the shortest ones 18 inches.

Four under feathers (he called them dog feathers), brown and beige, were 18 inches tall, and I am using one of them as a quill in a block of koa wood from Hawai’i on my desk. They look like the feathers of a bird of prey, like a large hawk.

I remember when we lived in Pasadena, that we went to the Arboretum in Arcadia where peacocks roamed free. But we never saw a peacock feather on the ground that was within reach, and certainly not of this size! In Kona Village Resort, on the western shore of the Big Island, they had white peacocks with feathers like lace. The world is full of beautiful creatures and beautiful things. Enjoy them while you can!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,

Ronny