January, 2014

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Friday January 31st. Back in Haarlem

Friday, January 31st, 2014

My cousin Karel and his wife Ankie returned a day earlier from their ski holiday in Italy. There were severe snow warnings and as it turns out they would have had a real hard time getting out of the mountains today. Northern Italy and south eastern Austria got a 1 meter (3,3 foot) dump yesterday and a similar amount is expected before tomorrow.

I’ll be missing my feline friends, Mickey and Beau. I have never been much of a domestic animal lover but these critters were so amusing. The chickens are the dumbest of God’s creation. But their fresh eggs make up for their stupidity. And that way you don’t need to feel so bad when they are ready to be brought to the dinner table. Eck en Wiel (My nephew calls it Egg and Wheel..) is a beautiful part of Holland. Along the lower Rhine.

Thursday January 30 The Year of the Wooden Horse

Thursday, January 30th, 2014



chúc mừng năm mới 

To all my Asian friends. This will be a good year. For me for certain. Wood was my business, my boat, my home. The Trojan Horse was wood and the idea of Odysseus, the seafarer who had to be tied to the (wooden) mast to avoid being seduced by the Mediterranean Sirens. I should have been better aware on that fateful date last November 16. A lesson learned for what lies ahead in the year of the Wooden Horse.

The first day of the new year is also a Black Moon. New Moon twice in one month. I was searching the late afternoon skies for a photograph but could not find the sliver left of the old moon.

Yesterday I visited Willemijn Petroff-van Gurp. She is the last “alive” survivor of the 200 odd women of the AGFA-Kommando of which our mother was a part of. At 95 she acts like she is my age. I had met her for the first time last April at the annual Dachau commemoration. She will live forever as an inspiration to many.


January 27/28. Can it get any better?

Monday, January 27th, 2014

The word for homeless in Dutch is “Dakloos” which literally translates to “Roofless”. Since I lost my only home in the shipwreck I qualify for homeless status. But I have no worries in finding a roof over my head. Thanks to the generosity of friends and family and total strangers, at first. Besides shelter I am also overwhelmed by the material and moral assistance, love and friendship I have received in the last months. I count my blessings but it is easy to lose track when it is poured out in such generous amounts.

Yesterday I received the Newsletter from the web site for the neighborhood I grew up in and it lists an article I had sent in about a picture I discovered in the portfolio of a young Ukranian artist that was painted of a spot that held very special memories of my growing up in the old neighborhood.see:


I mailed the link to the young lady Helen (Elena) Prokopovich and she responded that her visa had run out in Holland and that she is back in her home country. Which right now is a war zone. And she writes that she has a new web site www.prohelen.com and that she wrote about the way we met in her blog at :http://www.prohelen.com/?tag=schinkel She wrote it in English and I’d like for you to read this. These encounters make this “homeless” life so sweet. Dyakuyu! Spasybi! Elena.

Elena Prokopovich at “De Schinkel” in August 2013


Monday January 27th.Under a Deadline

Monday, January 27th, 2014

I promised you in my last week’s “Where is jack?” mailing that I’d let you know what was in store for me on May 3rd. I found out yesterday. My oldest son, John, is getting married to Jennifer Bondurant in Yucaipa, California. They met when they were still in college. Jennifer has family roots in the Netherlands and the French connection, so, what more could I ask for? I’d nearly given up hope, John will turn 43 this year. Now I have one more son to go and he’d better hurry up because his grandnephew just turned 6……

In my previous blog I asked for suggestions from you for a title for my current writing project. T0day I found out that I have till Feb 7 to have a title and a cover for the book if I wish to place an add in the April “Zeilen” issue, in which my article will be published about “Fleetwood” ‘s shipwreck. I nixed the “Come to Sea” and “Kom naar Zee”. Help, help!

I had a wonderful weekend visit with my cruising friends the Boonzaaijers of “Yo Soy” and their community the “Bondgenoten” in Barneveld. http://www.bondgenoot.nl/ Another couple we mutually befriended in the South Pacific in 2005 also joined us, Sjef en Ermi of the “Vierde Dimensie”. I showed slides of the journey on Saturday evening and my #1 sales agent Maria B. twisted 6 customers from the audience for “De Mastmakersdochters”. Stephan B. led the church service on Sunday morning.

Here are a few pictures of my buddies here in Eck en Wiel. The two cats. The red tomcat “Mickey” and his lady friend. They like to jump on the table and tiptoe over the laptop’s keyboard.

Friday January 23rd Eck en Wiel

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Last year on the exact same day the ground was covered with fresh snow here in the small hamlet of Eck en Wiel. Now the temperature is at an un-seasonal high of about 45/ 50° F. I love the peace and tranquility of the country side. My distant cousin Karel and his wife Ankie left before the crack of dawn for a week’s ski holiday in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy. Karel’s great-grandfather and my great-grandmother were brother and sister. Karel’s grandfather arranged for my mother to start a nursing apprenticeship in Amsterdam in 1918.  His uncle proposed marriage to my mother and if she would have accepted it I might have been born in Indonesia and have become fatherless at an early age. Karl’s uncle was murdered by the Indonesian independence fighters in 1945. As you all know already if you read the whole story in “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”.

I need deadlines. And I just got one today. Yesterday I was advised that the story about the shipwreck is scheduled for the April issue of “ZEILEN” which will be on the newsstands on March 20. I am planning to try and have an add for the new book in the same issue. This will direct me to focus on the completion instead of wandering off on other distractions. I will need to have a cover for it by then and a title. Right now I am on “Come to Sea” and “Kom naar Zee” because of the familiarity with the web site and a short easy to remember title.  I considered “Around the World at Eighty Years” because of my e-mail motto. But I would urge you to give this some thought and I welcome your ideas. What I am trying to focus in the book is :www.bondgenoot.nl

You can do it with little money and at a ripe age and recent technologies and weather forecasting , communications have put this way of life, discovery within a much broader reach.         I wish to share the discoveries of the beauty of the oceans, diversity of the planet and the magnificence of the Creation. I do not want it to be the typical travel journal.

I need your help and suggestions to share these privileged discoveries with many more.

This evening I am invited for dinner at the neighbors across the street, Ineke and Han and tomorrow I’ll be in Barneveld with the Boonzaaijers of the www.bondgenoot.nl cruising friends I met in 2005 in the South Pacific. Wednesday I pay a visit to Willemijn the last of the surviving group of women of the “AGFA Kommando” of the Dachau concentration camp our mother was with.


Sunday January 19th Moving Day

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

I am all packed with my few belongings to cross the border from Heemstede to Haarlem. Cor Oost www.coroostmusicscore.nl  played the organ and directed the choir at this morning’s mass at St. Joseph in Bennebroek, just a 10 minute bicycle ride from where I have been staying since arriving here from Palma de Mallorca on the 8th. Cor and I became friends last summer when I was working on my boat. Cor has his boat at the yacht club where I worked, next door to “de Schinkel”. One of the first questions I had for him: if he might be related to Jan Oost from whom our great grandmother bought the pilot cutter sailboat in 1906. This is indeed the case.  The choir sang Cor’s own motet compositions at the offering and communion, I was impressed and enjoyed it very much. The sermon from the new pastor Eric van Teijlingen was a wonderful message and reminder on the gospel and readings about being witnesses of our Faith. One of his new parishioners had given him a welcome present in the form of a book from Jos Palm “De ondergang van rooms Nederland” (The Fall of the Roman Catholic church in the Netherlands). A subject that has become for me  the sharpest contrast to the period when I left Holland in 1957 and the present. Father Eric pointed out that 50 years ago there was little reason to be a witness because every one in your family, school, social circles went to the same church. You’d be preaching to the choir. The psalmist David apparently felt differently in today’s responsorial psalm 40:10: “I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart;  I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power.” 

Last Thursday we paid our last respects at the funeral of Jo Slijper, the mother of my long time Dutch-American friend Evert. I will be staying in her house from today till I return to Seattle on April 3rd. Except for the 10 days from this Thursday when I will be the chicken-feeder in Eck en Wiel, just like this time last year. The service for Jo was done in the appropriate style that befits her legacy. I had the privilege to meet her in April 2012 and I repeat the photograph that I showed then on this blog of April 8, 2012. Evert’s cousin, Victor van Liemp, who made me the best dressed shipwreck survivor, had also come from Ibiza for the funeral of his mother’s sister.

Sunday January 12th. Haarlem

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

It took 2 hours and 15 minutes flying and 1 hour by car to retrace my 7 weeks’ journey from Amsterdam to the Baleares. I am staying with my cousin Gido and his wife Riet in Heemstede, near Haarlem. Next Saturday I start house sitting  a home of friends in Haarlem right on the northern border of Heemstede. I will stay there till the end of March when I return to the Pacific Northwest, except for an 11/12 day stay In Eck en Wiel from January 23rd.

I have to get used to the colder temperatures. It froze during the night. It is clear and sunny and it was a fine cold bike ride to the Saint Bavo cathedral in Haarlem this morning, for the 10 a.m. high mass. Today’s gospel was the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by John the Baptist.

It is supposed to get colder later in the week. May I’ll get lucky and get to ice skate in Holland for the first time since 1957.

Sunday January 5th. Porto Pi

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

I was on my way to catch the bus for the 10.30 mass at the Cathedral when I heard the bells peal for the 10 o’clock service at the small old church of Sant Pere Claver (or in Spanish San Pedro Claver). It sits on a plaza surrounded by the high rise condos and next to a sprawling shopping center. Porto Pi is the old harbor section on the west side of Palma. My hosts have their apartment on top of the steep hill overlooking the port. Today is the feast of the Epiphany.  The Three Kings arrive by boat and children put their shoes, filled with beans, on the window sill or balcony, before going to bed and the next morning they find small gifts in their shoes. Very similar to the Saint Nicholas tradition in the Netherlands.

The gospel was on the very first part of Saint John’s Gospel: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Just like at the small church of San Vicente on Ibiza religious recorded music was played before mass and during communion. One of the pieces played was Gabriel Fauré’s “Cantique de Jean Racine”. We sang this as part of last May 4th concert in Amsterdam.

I have only 3 more days left here on Mallorca. I’ll miss these islands and the friendships made here.