A New Life: Great Expectations! 2024 – 43


Hello again, dear friends! I hope this finds you well and happy, because Life is a wonderful gift, no matter your age. The things to enjoy in life are different in each stage; to realize and appreciate that is a gift as well. Being 85 brings not only memories of joy and traveling, but also consequences of the limitations of an aging body. We are not traveling anymore, and most of our enjoyment comes from the shared travel and activities of children and grandchildren. To name a few: one grandson, on his nineteenth birthday, flew as co-pilot two passengers from Raleigh, NC to Tampa, Florida, first time in a jet. He is now studying to become a flight instructor. At nineteen! A granddaughter won third prize in a running competition of a district of fourth graders. Yet another granddaughter sings in an acapella choir and traveled to Carnegie Hall in New York to perform. We watch the collegiate rowing races of another grandson on TV, and the excitement of watching his boat of 8 pull through the finish line as number One is real. I am on the edge of my seat, pointing out the yellow shirts in the third boat: that’s him! This time of year, proms and graduations are happening, and we are getting lots of pictures from near and far.

The last all-family reunion we had was for our 60th wedding anniversary, three years ago. Eleven of the fifteen family members our de Jong family has grown into could make it. Our joy these days is that the three siblings have mini reunions whenever there is an opportunity. And once or twice a year our daughters fly to North Carolina to see us. We are staying in the loop.


While my writing had already changed from books to articles to Blog posts, it is now re-routing to reading more. Not only good books, but articles on exercising, staying healthy and improving memory. Right now I am reading The Women, a cannot-put-down story about nurses in the Vietnam war. Why another war story? Well, I know nothing about the Vietnam war, and although I have read several good books about WWII in Europe, stories about the war in Asia interest me more.

Lumosity has been a favorite mind strengthening program for years, and now they are offering a special online class in improving your memory 100%. It requires commitment on the computer for six or seven weeks. But since I can see and hear Mike from my lovely, sunny office, I should be able to do that.

Soon, I will resume the exercises on my yoga mat. Right now, I am recovering from a fall. On April 15, on an early walk with Lani, she saw another dog and dashed around me, her leash pulling me down. And I fell. Supported by my guardian angel, I fell in the border on my side with my hands out. It took the wind out of me, so I sat for a few minutes, but then got up and walked home. Not a single bruise, no pain, I could just go to work. The pain came a day later, in both my sides, and was so severe, that I got the strongest pain killer Google suggested: Aleve. I took it twice a day for five days. Then, when I did not feel so well and took my blood pressure, it was so high that I had to go to the ER. Our Apex hospital is only 4 miles from here, so we were there fast. All tests were good, so I was home again in time for dinner. Apparently, the Aleve conflicted with one of the two medications I am taking. From now on I will check interactions whenever I get a new prescription for whatever! I have my own cuff now, and store it in a rattan basket that I used to keep my Hawaiian leis in when I was still dancing, just a few years ago, in Waltonwood. See the shift here? From garlands around my neck to one around my upper arm. 🙂

Quiet contentment

Mike loves to watch the many concerts of world famous Dutch violinist André Rieu on Television from his recliner and we usually watch the news during our lunch hour. I love to do some gardening outside in the border and inside repotting plants that are doing well. I have a beautiful red poinsettia that dates back to December 1, 2023. I will have to find out if I can hold it over till next December. That is not all though. My days are full with the things I mentioned earlier and also with making doctors’ appointments, ordering groceries and meals, and all the other things needed to keep a household running. Together, we make a happy life.

Regular weekly posts will be a thing of the past. Do not expect any, then it will be a surprise if a new post arrives in your mailbox. I would love any messages and comments and of course emails and texts if you have time. Stay safe and healthy!

Until next time,



A New Life: Great Expectations! 2024 – 42

Just Because

Our neighbor across the lawn invited us for a Social, Just Because. She had invited sixteen people from the neighborhood and was hoping that Mike could come too. What a wonderful way to get to know more people. Just because Mike needs a chair with armrests to sit in, I decided this would be a great opportunity to use a wheelchair that we had borrowed and that was standing in the garage. It worked! When I could not get him across the threshold, one of the guests took over and ushered him out of our door and into the neighbor’s. We had a great time with delicious hors d’oeuvres (or pupus, as we say in Hawai’i), wine and nice company. A successful experiment, so Mike can bring his own chair when needed.

Lani, super watch dog

Last Thursday, Mike had an appointment with the podiatrist to have his toenails clipped. This is what it takes to get him there: I get the car out of the garage and park it at the end of the walkway. Close the garage door. I get Mike out of his chair and he walks to the front door. I open the door and the glass door with weights so they stay open and Mike can walk through with his walker. I walk ahead of him, open the car door, wait until he is seated and put on his safety belt. I close the door. I open the back hatch, fold the walker and hoist it into the back – close the door. Then I walk to my seat, start the car and we’re on the way.

That’s what I did. When we came home, I discovered that I had forgotten to close both front doors! They were wide open. Our Lani stood in the hallway, wagging her tail, happy to hear me say, Mommy is home!  What a wonderful dog we have, who stays home even though the front doors are wide open, to wait for Mommy. I have been training her daily to walk down the driveway with me, off leash, to get the mail or pick up the empty trash cans from the street on Tuesdays. She sits down at the end of the driveway, waiting to walk back with me to the house. I could not have dreamed that she would stay home when she had the chance to run away! What a wonderful dog! I rewarded her big time!

Just Because

Coming full circle, I’m taking a sabbatical. After more than a year, it’s time to organize things in the house and garage. Plenty of photo albums to go through as well. On top of that, Tax time is coming up, and as soon as our son has time we’ll go to Turbo Tax to do our taxes. Mike and I have done it for many years, and it is getting easier.

I am still here, will get back to my Blog when I have time, but I totally retired from my activities on LinkedIn. Just for fun, I will share the post I put on LinkedIn earlier this month.

Enjoy life, and take good care of yourself and the ones you love! Until we meet again…

Grateful to all of you who are offering jobs or inviting me to join a network, I am saying:

Having survived the Japanese concentration camps on Java during World War Two in the Pacific means that I am definitely at Retirement Age! 

If you are interested in any of my five published books, you will find three of them on Amazon. Start with “Rising from the Shadow of the Sun, A Story of Love, Survival and Joy”, follow up with “Survivors of WWII in the Pacific” and definitely don’t skip “Anguished”.

Effective immediately, I will no longer be active in any of the groups I am a member of.
I am celebrating Life after retirement and I can highly recommend it!
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A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2022-126

A Sabbatical 

An organization in Dallas, Texas, invited me to be a guest speaker at their annual convention on August 14 remembering the WWII Comfort Women. They heard that I have been doing a Keynote Presentation about the Japanese concentration camps annually on the same date, and sent me an invitation to come and speak. What a tremendous honor! What a wonderful opportunity to give Mamma’s journal exposure in a whole new area!

When I told them that I don’t travel anymore because I am my husband’s full time caregiver, they suggested to send a video. And that started to get me even more excited. My son and daughter-in-law are super technical and will help me put a great video together. The wonderful thing is, that I will be able to use it anywhere during my retirement, any time.

I am going to work on my contribution: getting a storyline and getting the pictures I have somewhere in my files. That will consume all my skills and time, so I will not be able to write my Blog Posts for a while. And the reason for the late publishing today?

The Van Gogh Immersive Experience

We got tickets for the whole family as a 50th birthday present for Dennis and we went yesterday. It was amazing; I learned things about Van Gogh I did not know before. I can really recommend it.


After we came back I had to take Lani to the Vet because she had a hot spot on her tail that she was biting all the time. So now the poor thing has to walk around with one of those hard plastic collars around her neck for two weeks at least. The first day she was miserable, did not eat or drink or shi-shi or poop. But today she is getting used to the thing, catches balls, and, even though I had to walk a mile in the scorching heat, dripping wet, she finally did her business.


For three days we had no WiFi, no telephone except my cell phone, and no TV. We finally got a technician to come out; he fixed a bad connection in the cable outside and replaced the Modem inside. What an experience to have no connections to the world! Last night I had to catch up on 35 emails, and it is only now that I caught my breath and am sitting down at my Mac.

Family time

Children and grandchildren will be coming in July for a reunion, and then there is that new project! Plus hula at the Luau in August, practicing two new dances! Plus more! Always more projects on the horizon. Life is exciting!

May your life be happy and exciting

A hui hou!


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Boosters, Birthdays and more

Here I am, half a day late, but I made it to the computer! The treatment at the booster clinic went seamless. They had started early, and there was no line, no wait. The aftermath was also seamless, no pain or discomfort. So now we feel very safe. Nevertheless, two residents and one associate tested positive, so they are in isolation for ten days. If the number should grow, the facility will shut down again; for now, we are advised to wear masks when we are in groups indoors.

Sunday was the long expected 50th birthday of our youngest child, who emigrated with us in a carrying basket, merely 10 weeks old. We emigrated on August 20, 1972: that means on that day this year we will celebrate 50 years in the United States! There are many occasions in life to celebrate, and we celebrate them all: life is too short not to!

Sadly, the whole de Jong family had lingering colds and did not want to expose us, so we could not get together with them. Gifts had arrived from our daughters in California and Canada, and on Saturday Dennis came to get his gifts. Wearing a mask, he sat on the back patio and talked with us through an open screened window for a while. That was nice; at least we saw him on his big day. Emails and jokes kept flying back and forth on WhatsApp, and his children had arranged for some surprises. In the night, when Mom and Dad were sleeping, they put 50 pink flamingos on the front lawn, and hung a large sign on the wall of the house that said: Honk! Dad is 50!


Rescue Operations

A few months ago, for an Open House, Management bought two beautiful blooming Hibiscus for outside the front entrance. Already there were two five feet conifers, in raised pots against the wall, left and right of the entrance. Nobody watered them, despite reminders of caring residents: it seemed to be nobody’s job! One conifer died, and earlier this week, with permission from the new Interim Executive Director, I  took the two Hibiscus home, put them in pots with fresh soil and trimmed off most of the dead branches. I move them around from left to right on my front patio, so they don’t get too much sun.

Yesterday afternoon, on my walk with Lani, I found all the empty flower pots on “the back lot”. To my shock I saw that the little conifer that was still alive had been thrown down the hill behind the parking spaces. What stupid idiot would do that? I took the dog home and walked over to my cottage friend, told her the story and together we went down, hoisted the little tree in her cart and took it home. She spent another hour to put it in a nice container with fresh soil, and now it graces her patio, waiting to be dressed up as a Christmas tree!

Recently, I purchased a white plastic stepping stool, 9 inches high, to assist me with several tasks in the house and caregiving. I won’t stand, but sit on it, while I vacuum the air filter in the Alen Filter, while putting on and taking off stockings and socks, while putting moisturizer on legs and feet and more such things, which I used to do sitting or kneeling on the floor.

My Personal Trainer

What I like to do on the floor, is working out with my personal trainer twice a week, in the fitness center on my Yoga Mat. She is great, and I feel so much better already after four sessions with her. These workouts, recovery times, household maintenance and caregiving mostly fill up my days, and the moments I lie down in bed at night are the most wonderful moments of my days: I’m happy, thankful and utterly spent!

May your days be productive and happy!

Until next time,



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The word is that they will finally start the renovation of the main building on campus by the end of this week, the beginning of June. It is three years overdue, hence it will be a much more costly affair than originally planned. On top of that, they raised the hourly wages of associates with 40%, in order to keep cooks and a servers and cleaners and maintenance people on the job, after several jumped ship because they found a better paying job elsewhere.

Which is why this summer everybody’s rent will go up with $100 plus 7% of the total amount. Ouch! There will be several people who won’t be able to afford this. We hope that’s where it will end, because our cottage is surrounded by lovely trees, but money does not grow on  them.

The good thing is that, after years of requesting a storm door in the front (a glass door with a screen that can be lowered) the cottages will finally get one. We’re looking forward to that door, because it will let more light in the house. They probably figured they needed to placate us after announcing the rent raise.


Tomorrow, Thursday, we will be getting our second booster shot. Arranged in the dining room of Assisted Living, the cottages and first floor of the main building are up first. That is wonderful, because it could prevent possible delays of groups going before us. Neither one of us had after effects of the first booster, so we hope for the best. And then we will be safe for a while, and protected when the kids and grandkids arrive in July. Wonderful things to look forward to. Not the boosters, but the kids’ and grandkids’ visits.

May your days be sunny and carefree

Until next time,



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24 Hours in a day

They are slipping like sand through my fingers. I have 15 hours left if I get a good night’s sleep. And now, with the new exercise schedules and the regular house tasks, there is little time to write. So this will be a short post.

Jumping Ship

The Executive Director of our place has given two weeks notice after working here for one year. He is leaving the end of next week for a better job. And that just before the start of the long awaited renovation of the building. He leaves a lot of unfinished business. There is no successor. His new Assistant left a month ago without notice, after working here for two months. So there is no Assistant. There is a new Regional Director, who oversees three facilities in North Carolina, but he has not been introduced to the Membership yet; rumor has it that he mentioned to one person that he does not really like his new job. But that is only hearsay.

If I was a cartoonist I would draw a beautiful cruise ship in the harbor and next to it a ship, nose down into the waters and people jumping off. We can’t do anything about these things, so we’ll wait and hope for the best. We’ll have our life jackets ready.


Our little family of three geese is doing well. They traverse quite a distance between our pond and the pond in Wimbledon, where I noticed them swimming happily together one afternoon. The little gosling, born on Mother’s day, has little winglets, which he flaps up and down, and is still covered with yellowish hairlike fuzz. No feathers yet. I have no idea where they take shelter during the fierce rainstorms we have had lately, with thunder and lightning. One night it was so scary that Lani barked and we put her basket in our bedroom. Don’t think that she slept there! She jumped right onto our bed and spent the rest of the night between our feet on the comforter. She is such at sweet, smart little dog. We love her very much.

May your days be sunny and joyful

Until next time



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 An Empty Nest

The day after I took the amazing video through our bedroom window blinds, where Mom brings the food and removes the poop, the nest was empty. I was sorry I would not see the young birds again. But then, one of them landed on the fence around our patio, sat there in the sun for a long time, primping  and chirping for food. She must have been the littlest one, always getting the least of the distribution. I watched for a while, and in amazement saw that Mom came flying by with a worm and dropped in the little, wide open mouth. Post natal care, I call it. I hope that all went well for all four baby birds. IMG_4168     

Bucket List

I have a Bucket List, known to every family member, and I also had a secret Bucket List. It was more a wish that I thought I would never be able to fulfill. So why mention it, right? But I had that wish since the days that I was working in the acting world. Those were the years that I lived in Pasadena and I had Print Jobs, Commercials, Stage Leading Roles, a part in a black and white Pilot Movie, and Extra Parts in Television Series. My dearest wish was to get a PT, a Personal Trainer, so that I could look my best. After we emigrated in 1972, and the kids were growing up, I loved to exercise. I walked at least three miles a day around the Rose Bowl with the dog, I jump roped at poolside, but to have guidance, a focus on exercise just for my body, like all the movie stars I read about, was an ideal I thought I could never make a reality.

Until last week, on Friday May 13. I had an evaluation and signed up for an eight-week package with a lovely young Trainer and Yoga teacher. She has been subbing for the fitness instructor who quit a month ago, and when I saw her flyer, I went to meet her. It felt so good to do exercises and yoga twists with her, and I will be working with a guided schedule three times a week for the next eight weeks. That next to my daily walks of 3-4.5 miles should really loosen up my joints. And that’s not all.

In August we are having a Luau at Waltonwood and I have started practicing two new dances. The hulas I learned in Hawai’i were all in the Hawaiian language. Here, I dance hulas in the English language. Because of my knowledge of hula motions, it is easy to learn new hulas and apply my own interpretation of the words. Because I have danced these past four years in basically the same outfits with the same flower lei and haku lei, I changed from muumuu to a skirt last month, with a black kukui nut lei and an orange cigar lei. And because people like “a touch of Hawai’i” so much, I have ordered a maile lei and haku lei, plus wrist and ankle leis. Those are all green, so a totally different look. They should also be nice at Christmas time.

For six weeks after my surgeries (the last one on my lower leg has almost healed) I went through a period where I did not accomplish anything. I slept a lot, read some, but did not get anything done other than the usual things in the house. I had no energy and even hired help for kitchen and laundry. A very unusual feeling.

But now?!! I got a second wind. And it feels marvelous. From being adrift on an ocean, I have set sail for the future, guided by a secure compass. And I secretly wish that some day I will land at a white sand beach with palm trees and warm blue water, and can stay awhile.

May your life be happy!

Until next time,


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Wonderful visitors

The plans have been made, the flights are booked, and in July, our daughter and granddaughter from California will come over for a week, and our daughter and grandkids from Canada will come over for ten days! It’s official! We will have another mini reunion. We haven’t seen them for so long that it will be a real celebration. We have rented an Air-B&B for them ten minutes drive from here and ten minutes from our son’s house, and we are looking forward to great times together.

Outings to the Club

On Monday afternoon, we enjoyed an afternoon in the theatre watching part of Carmen. It was too long to watch it to the end, for it was time to pick up dinner, but we will watch the end on YouTube at home some time. Mike can walk the distance now, and that is part of the joy.

Celebration in the Private Dining Room

Because they do not yet allow tables of six, we were served in the Private Dining Room last week, with our two other friends couples, and that was so wonderful, being served in quiet, so we could hear each other and have great conversations, that I requested to have that again this week. I told the maître d’ that on Tuesday, May 10, Mike and I would be celebrating our arrival at WaltonWood five years ago. Could we possibly celebrate that with our friends on May 10 if there was a sit-down dinner again? Well, it was arranged: a sit-down dinner on Tuesday, table for the six of us in the PDR, and we would bring he champagne.

Couple of gnomes in love. stock vector. Illustration of heart - 202357570

Young Life and a Mother’s Love

If you have time to watch this video, please do. Three or four robins, almost ready to fly, are getting the ultimate care.

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May your days be full of wonder

Until next time,




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On Sunday, May 1, we were happily surprised to see a small, fluffy baby goose in the pond. It is wonderful to watch how the parents protect and guide it; the gander always standing erect, watching for approaching danger, and mother goose constantly scurrying around her little one. They swim, get ashore, and Baby shakes out and jiggles her barely visible little tail just like Mama. On Monday afternoon, to my great surprise, the three of them came walking across the intersection of our cul-de-sac! Would it be possible they went all the way to the Wimbledon pond and back? Or did they just walk around the house through our back yard?

The Robin’s nest in the bend of the downspout behind our bedroom is filled with little birds. Watching through the blinds, unseen, we first saw the two parents fly back and forth with worms dangling from their beaks. On Monday, I saw one little head with a big, wide open mouth, ducking up above the nest’s edge when a parent arrived. On Tuesday, I saw two, then three of them, big mouths on thin necks, that seemed barely able to carry the weight. If I open the window tomorrow I will probably hear them too.


By the front door, our little patio has pots with a red, yellow and pink Hibiscus – three colors on one plant – and a red Dipladenia. Two Basil plants and the volunteer, the pine tree that I rescued one day, that grew to a height of 6 feet by now, with 6 inch “candles” in the top. It is ready to be planted. The white gardenia is blooming with two fragrant blossoms, and is ready to replace the one in the border, that died because of the freezing weather we had this winter. It is a cozy spot to sit and enjoy  nature before the sun gets over the trees and after it has disappeared behind the house. The early mornings, when it has rained a little in the night, are like Hilo mornings, and I can imagine us back in Paradise.


I wore a different outfit for my dances this time, and it felt great. A better way to wear my long wig made a difference too, and people were amazed at how young I looked. Two days later, someone asked if I had had a haircut 🙂 “Well yes, on Friday my hair was longer,” I said, “but I did not cut it.” Some people said I looked like a teenager. All those comments are fun to hear; that everyone loved the dances, too. But the next day I took it easy, because my body told me I am definitely not a teenager anymore!

Exciting news!

Will have to wait until next week, because it is bedtime, and I want to know a little bit more about it when I tell the big news.

May your days be beautiful

Until next time,




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Merrie Monarch

The week after Easter, Hilo, Hawai’i, is full of people. Dancers come from all over – not only from the islands of Hawai’i – to compete in the Merrie Monarch.

The Merrie Monarch was again held the week after Easter, and this year for an audience – although limited.
Since the DVD is not yet for sale, we have been watching the DVDs of three years ago, before Covid. I have been practicing two dances for this coming Friday, when I am part of a program of International Dances at the Club. It is so wonderful to hear the familiar music again and dance!
May your days be full of music and dance!
Until next time,
May be an image of 8 people and people standing
May be an image of 5 people, people standing and indoor