May, 2013 browsing by month


Sunday May 26th. A dark shadow cast on an Amsterdam canal.

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Today exactly 70 years ago the Germans rounded up the Jewish residents on the Nieuwe Keizersgracht. The length of a city block with about 30 residences. Two hundred of these men, women and children were murdered in places like Auschwitz and Sobibor.

Today a very fitting memorial to the victims was unveiled. This is the hard work of an organization, mainly comprised of the current residents of the canal houses: . Schaduwkade translates to Shadow Quay. The homes face north but have beautiful deep gardens on the southern back side. And the North side of the canal has never had residences. It is now part of the Hermitage museum. And on the water’s edge, of the north side, the names of the holocaust victims are set in the stone quay wall opposite their former residences. The idea of identifying the former residences of Holocaust victims originated in Germany as the so called “Stolpersteine” and it has been taken up all over Western Europe.

My interest in this event is that I became friends with the granddaughter of one of the residents of the Schaduwkade, Mirjam Hanina-Tafelkruijer. Her grandfather, Jozeph Tafelkruijer, lived in house number 20. His sister in law, Erna Tafelkruijer-Oloffson, was in the same three concentration camps as our mother. Erna and her husband Wim had hidden Mirjam’s brother, then a baby, in their home. They were betrayed and both ended up being arrested. Because Erna was a gentile she ended up as a political prisoner just like our mother. Mirjam’s brother was rescued out of Camp Westerbork by a falsified birth certificate, changing his ethnicity.

The below picture shows Mrs. Betty van Essen-Kok, who lived in number 24. She is the sole survivor from her family of five. She went into hiding as a teenager. Anne Frank would have been her age today. Coincidentally at the same address, number 24, operated a very efficient resistance group “Gerretsen”, they ran a printing press for falsified i.d’s , illegal news papers, etc. Another picture shows Suzanne Rodrigues-Pereira addressing the attendees. She is the driving force behind this project, related to Portuguese Jews of this neighborhood and living in number 20, where Mirjam’s grandparents lived.

Chazzan Sacha van Ravenswade sang the Kaddish old prayer. It was emotional, fitting and a piece of history we must never forget and never let happen again.



Friday May 17th. The Spiritus is a moving.

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

Spiritus is the Dutch name for Stove Methanol. I just managed to cook my first meal on the petroleum galley stove in the sail boat I am camping out on here in the Schinkel marina. The burners have to be heated/primed with the methanol. It seems complicated but it goes with the boat, a traditional steel 32 footer. I was getting accustomed to raw food. I had given up after running out of matches and Spiritus. Paul, the boat’s owner, came to show me the trick yesterday. To complete the retro cooking evening I lit the petroleum lamp. This would be the kind of boat to come home to the Pacific North West by way of the N.W. Passage instead of the Panama Canal and the long sail against the prevailing winds northward.

This is Pentecost weekend. A four day weekend. Many of the club members left this morning for a cruise. But the weather is not cooperating, Cold and heavy rain this afternoon.

My granddaughter,  Corrine, the new Mrs. Wheatly, and her husband, Euan, are coming to visit me here tomorrow from their home in Louvain, Belgium.

The Spirit will be moving on Pentecost in the Augustinus church when we sing Veni Sancte Spiritus and “The Prince of Peace” mass of Lloyd Weber also the English “King of all ages throned on high”  May the Spirit(us) be with you as well.

A good picture of one of the tenors and Jessica one of the sopranos on the steps of the church of the Frisians, next to the St. Peter, taken by Louis Redegeld.

Tuesday May 14. China.

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

I worked from 9 till 8 p.m. on “Fleetwood”. The entire deck is off. It took a month instead of the one week I had figured. I am done with chiseling off the remnants of the veneer(s) off the deck supports. Next I will belt sand the supports and fill in the gouges with epoxy filler. I am waiting to hear back from Arjan, a boat carpenter who came by yesterday, for a quote on making up and installing the new plywood deck. This is beyond my pay grade. This is the opportunity to refinish the interior, with the top removed I have good access and light to the fore peak, quarter berth and cockpit locker.

This morning on my way to the boat I met a young Chinese couple, students at the nearby VU University. I learned something that I like to share with you. Yesterday I found out from a message on Face Book that Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese human rights activist lawyer and Bob Fu president of China Aid are arriving today for a three day visit in Europe to plead the case of the human rights of the Chinese I happen to believe that Mr. Chen and Bob Fu and their supporters are on a mission of a historical change in world history. In my enthusiasm of their trip here I asked the young Chinese if they knew of the visit of Chen and Bob Fu. There was a short silence and then the young man went into a tirade. His lady friend tried to calm him down. Chen is paid by the Americans. American democracy, just two parties, no other parties allowed. When I mentioned that our freedom and democracy were taken from us in the 2nd WW, he had no clue. One child policy and forced abortions: that was figured out by wise men. Look at India. I thought I was listening to a Muslim fanatic trying to convert me to Islam or a 7th Day Adventist. His argument was that as long as the communist government keeps improving his standard of living he has no need to have freedom of expression, worship or democracy.

And then I realized why religion is such a threat to the Communist party leaders. Because a better job, better housing does not buy the loyalty and passion, this young man has, for followers of Christ.

Hacked address list: A second spam mail was sent to my (old) address last week. I have changed my access to my e-mail account and it will not be possible for this spammer to use my e-mail account to send any further spams.


May 12th Arrividerci Roma

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

We will be returning to Amsterdam this evening. There are still activities planned for this morning and then we will picnic in the park of the Villa Borghese. The Villa Borghese was our yesterday’s morning culture vulture event. On Friday we went to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. I could have skipped the Friday event. Enormous crowds because of the Ascension Day weekend. Just a little bit too much of the same stacked into the Vatican museum for my taste and difficult to see. Anyway there are still a few pieces left there for the Vatican to trade for the sins of a few of their servants. The Sistine Chapel is dark and the audio system inaudible, standing there looking at the ceiling packed like sardines. The Villa Borghese has much of the same but there were fewer people and the audio system worked. I went for a stroll down Via Veneto with it’s fancy stores and chique hotels, to the Trevi fountain and the Spanish Steps. Friday morning I joined a small group of our choir to walk to the Colloseum and a few more sights.

Last night we sang in the church of St. John Lateran Archbasilica. This is a beautiful church and many of the popes have been consecrated in this church. We sang in the 6 p.m. regular Saturday evening mass. It went well. Afterwards we had an outstanding group dinner. This trip has been beyond my expectations. The experience singing in the Saint Peter and yesterday’s event. We had a chance to get to know many of the members better. An opportunity that just is not possible in the two hour Wednesday rehears


Ascension May 9. Rome

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

This is one of my first passive excursions. I have often envied the tourists in the places along my travels, while I am bringing the groceries to the boat on my folding bike they are sitting back in air-conditioned buses. Now I am enjoying an organized tour, air and bus transportation, lodging and eating out is all arranged for me and my choir members. We are all 41  in the same hotel in the s.e. corner of Rome, near the Colosseum. This morning we were on our own. We sang in the Ascension service in the very back of the St. Peter in front of the main altar. The service was preceded by a Vesper service in which a long row of cardinals in their red and white robes paraded into the church through the crowd of visitors. We had to go through security with metal detectors and the Swiss guards. And got the view of the tourists from the other side of the red roped off area. We were in the Holy of Holies. Our regular organist, Vincent, played the old organ. I had not been inside the St. Peter since 1954. All I can say is that it is an impressive building but a bit pompous and cold. I have been in many much more attractive and spirit filled churches.

Saturday evening we have one more service to sing in at the church of San Giovani Laterano, which is close by. There are a number of sight seeing visits organized for the next two days. The weather is wonderful, not too warm, balmy.

Today the Grande Giro Lamborghini came through Rome, see several hundred of these fast beauties from all over Europe are taking part in this annual rally. They formed a long line on one side of the via del Corridori and on the other side were a shorter line of Ferraris. And as you can see the Polizia gets to drive a Lamborghini as well.



Tuesday May 7th. “Fleetwood” went topless.

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

The 4 May concert, on the occasion of the annual memorial of the victims of the 2nd WW, was a great success. We sang Fauré’s Requiem, Cantique de Jean Racine, also of Faure, and Mozart’s Ave Verum and Laudate Dominum. We had a full house, extra chairs had to be brought out to fill the aisles of the 700 seat Augustinus church.  Friday evening we had our general rehearsal with the “Plankenkoor” the second choir, and another short rehearsal before the performance. It was hard work for everyone, particularly for the two directors, Bram Biersteker and Herman Paardekoper. I love to sing but this was probably the most gratifying experience I have ever had. Tomorrow we leave for Rome to sing in the Saint Peter on Ascension. Be sure to follow the blog from there.

The 5th of May, Liberation Day, was another celebration after the coronation, a week ago. Another spectacle was given, in attendance of the new royal couple and princess Beatrix, on the Amstel River here in Amsterdam.

“Fleetwood” has been converted into a convertible. But I had no idea how big this job is. Just cleaning up the frames from the left over of the plywood that remained stuck to it with the epoxy adhesive. Removing the screws and ring shank nails in the plywood that were invisible under the teak. Now the job of filling the nail and screw holes, etc. The leaks were mainly where the hardware was bolted down. I should have rebedded these more frequently. But the plywood was tired after the 33 years and from the far too many holes left from attaching the teak deck. Now I have the opportunity to sand and refinish the interior under the deck without having to crawl in the fore peak and quarter berth and cockpit lockers. I’ll be coming home with my rejuvenated old friend.

The concert pictures are taken by Renie with our charming Dutch Antilles soprano choir member Damisha Reed-Gregorio’s camera.

Tuesday April 30. Dutch Treat.

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

By now the world knows that Holland has their new king, Willem Alexander and their queen Maxima. It was an unforgettable day for me. Non stop entertainment. Truly a Dutch Treat. Particularly in Amsterdam. I rode my folding bike from Badhoevedorp to the Dam square for the morning appearance of the new royalty on the palace balcony. But it was impossible to get close enough. But I did get a feeling of the crowd and their enthusiasm. André Rieu gave a free concert in the evening, compliments of the national lottery.

I expect to remove the last of the teak deck tomorrow. It has been a very difficult job and is taking much longer than I had planned for. Today, it is Thursday meanwhile, I move onto a club member’s sailboat. Homeless but sheltered. This is just across the water from where I am working on “Fleetwood”. Back and forth in the rubber duck.

Last night we had another rehearsal for this Saturday’s concert of Faure’s Requiem. Friday the general rehearsal with the other choir and then we are off on Wednesday to Rome.

The crowd on the Dam Square in Amsterdam. The “New Church” where the installation took place. To the left the Royal Palace.  On the right the large TV screen showing the royal family on the palace balcony. The Amsterdam landmark department store “De Bijenkorf” crowned for the occasion. Far overhead the remote controlled TV camera on a cable suspended from a wire over the square.