Category Archives: Constantia Oomen

Sticking around

Added on: 11/01/2012 11:11 am

A short update. After some research of San Francisco (the city we have fallen in love with) and surrounding areas like Daly City, East Bay, San Rafael and Hercules, we have decided to stick around in Davis.

San Francisco is very expensive where housing is concerned. What we are looking for: a Single-Family Home, is almost impossible in San Francisco. We live in a kind of Single-Family Home now in Davis, in fact, it is a large 3 br, 1,5 ba, large kitchen and large living room, extra laundry room, semi-detached house. We have a front, side and backyard with the most amazing circus of all kinds of birds* and squirrels, and we would have to give that up in San Francisco.

* Most prominent birds in our garden: Anna’s Hummingbird, Scrub Jay, House FinchMourning Dove, Robin, Cedar Waxwing, American Goldfinch, Dark-Eyed JuncoRed-breasted Nuthatch (they sound like Zebra Finches!), Mockingbird, White-crowned Sparrow, Downy Woodpecker, Hermit Thrush, Northern Flicker
In Davis, additional: Turkey Vulture

There is more: biking in Davis, Sacramento and surrounding areas is ‘a piece of cake’ with lots of possibilities, because it is flat around here, and that too is a different piece of cake in San Francisco and surrounding areas.

We checked out Hercules: it’s a lovely place, and biking is possible, but it is very limited and there are a lot of elevations. It turns out Davis is very safe too; we heard that places like Richmond, that is close to Hercules, do have crime. The house we checked out in Hercules had an elaborate security system. In Davis, no such thing is needed, because like I told a long time ago, Davis is like a little city in a friendly, safe bubble. Even people in Davis describe it like that, without suggesting something like that to them; they are using the word ‘bubble’ themselves too.

The only thing I really do miss is some thunder and lightning here. Of course, sea wind like you have in San Francisco is wonderful too (and we had that in The Netherlands, Scheveningen). But we only live 1.5 hours away from San Francisco, and we have decided to visit it very regularly, for the wonderful sea (wind), the spectacular views and the delicious vegan food restaurants (in Davis you can eat vegan too and it’s good!). The summers in Davis are pretty warm. In the daytime that is perfectly all right, but the nights are a little too warm. I still have to figure that one out because I don’t sleep very well with a little noisy blowing air conditioning at night.

Davis has still more benefits: all important shops like Grocery Outlet, Co-Op, Costco, Target etc. very nearby. It seems like we are in the heart of everything right here. Davis Picknick Day, to mention one of the magical things around here, is symbolic for the true heart of Davis, and now I have seen and researched other areas in NorCal, I again have to acknowledge the fact that Davis was the best choice and still is. Jeroen totally agrees with it, and it was I in fact, that got the idea of maybe moving again, before looking deeper into it, that is.

I now fully and deeply realize the choice for Davis was a very smart one.

Jeroen has been offered a job as a programmer and he has accepted. Still, if we would have thought that living in Hercules was the thing to do, we would have done it, and then Jeroen would have traveled by car, because he said he wouldn’t mind at all. I still teach in a German School in Sacramento and it is a very nice job and I enjoy it.

I actually get a kick driving myself in the evening, with the radio on, another travel experience and I love travel as much as I love birds, maybe a strange comparison, but still. Maybe the comparison isn’t that strange, because birds and travel are in fact about the same: having wings, moving and enjoying beauty.

There is one thing: if we would win the Lottery (like we have before , the Green Card Lottery) and would have a considerable amount of money to spend, we would be looking for a new place again, probably the Golden Gate area in San Francisco, because there you have Single-Family Homes with gardens, and there is a recreation park too, where you can bike and hike.

Photos ~ all shot by me

Our house
Hummingbird in our backyard
Davis’ Mockingbird
Davis’ Mockingbird
Mourning Doves in our backyard
Mourning Doves in our backyard

The adventures of Squirrel in our back- and front yard:

Squirrel sticking around, like we do
Squirrel riding my bike
Squirrel ‘Studio’ photoshoot, “Striking a pose”
Cat and mouse squirrel play
Cranes birding around Davis
Cedar Waxwings and Robins enjoying our sprinkler system in our front yard

One Year In The USA

Added on: 10/14/2012 12:10 pm

Dear Readers.

I am not sure if you have been missing my blogs, but is has been a year since I wrote one. Maybe some people are wondering how Jeroen and I are doing in the USA?
Some people on my own Dutch forum of www.doorhetraam.nl even wondered whether I was deceased, so I thought: maybe I should write a new blog, it’s long overdue.

We are still living in Davis, and it hasn’t rained here for about 5-6 months now. Every day is a sunny day with an endless blue sky, sometimes a few modest clouds. Our garden is filled with divine Hummingbirds, Scrub Jays and other subtropical birds. Don’t forget the squirrels! We have been doing fine. North California is an amazing, almost heavenly place on Earth. Nature is endless and beautiful, people are very friendly, and the environment is well taken care of.

Since June 2012, I have been teaching German again, part-time, at a German language school in Sacramento. Because I was out a couple of years (since 2007), I had to refresh my German again. Teaching has always been in my blood, so it was not hard to teach again. New was the combo-use of German and English – no Dutch anymore. The American people I have in my classes (age approximately 23-75) are very eager to learn, polite and friendly students. Keeping ‘order’ in the class is not an issue , so I can concentrate on the content of my German curriculum.

A lot has changed. It was only December 2009 that I received my Dutch driver’s license. Now I am driving myself to – among other places – Sacramento. Because it is an evening school, I have to drive back in the dark. My Guardian Angels are still paying attention, because I didn’t ‘crush’ myself or others, not even the car, and I could have, because I am a little night-blind. Because of that, I am wearing my ‘cool’ night glasses when I drive back after dark.

I am certainly not saying that I am a bad driver, because I see a lot (almost everything) and drive carefully and very aware, but I have been making mistakes. In a mysterious way, nothing ever happens, knock knock on wood, and let’s keep it that way. We are driving an Audi A4 we bought in Los Angeles. It’s a fine driving car.

Jeroen is still working as a programmer and is repairing pcs and Macs too. Regarding work, Davis has been a little quiet on him; there is a tough competition here in the lovely and little, student filled City of Davis. Fortunately, he still has customers from the Netherlands. We think San Francisco is a better work place for him.

We both have fallen in love with San Francisco, a city that is a 1.5 hour drive away from Davis. Davis is truly wonderful, but there is almost no wind, no thunder and lightning and no sea. In The Netherlands we lived in Scheveningen for 7 years, we could see the sea from our living room. We miss the wind and the see. We see Hummingbirds and all there is in Davis, in San Francisco as well; so we would still have our feathered friends there, if we move to there. The climate is a little bit more moderate than in Davis: Summers In San Francisco are less hot and Winters are less chilly at night (though it almost never freezes in Davis ánd in San Francisco).

We visit San Francisco as often as we can, and we are always very delighted to be there. It’s a magic place, both in the daytime and in the evening. In the evening and at night, you will see a million distant lights, in a wonderful 3D landscape with buildings and houses on a lot of steep hills. Sometimes you see thick drapes of mist hanging over the hills and mountains like waterfalls. At the coast side you can bike too.
That was one of the main reasons why that we started in Davis, not in San Francisco. In Davis you can bike, like in The Netherlands. In San Francisco you have the most amazing steep streets; you wont believe your eyes as a Dutchie. But you can bike, if you know where to go. And of course you can throw your bike in the car and drive somewhere where you can bike.
San Francisco is very expensive, that is to say, the rent is about $500-800/month more expensive than in Davis, and in Davis the rent is more expensive than in The Netherlands. So we cannot just go there, we have to make sure we can afford it. But the (vegan) food in San Francisco is very good and very cheap, if you want to: 2 lbs (±1 kilo) bananas for only 0.50 $ in the Chinese Quarter, downtown.

I had a job interview at the Goethe Institute in San Francisco and here too: they said I am welcome, as soon as we have come up with a new living plan. I really love the school in Sacramento too, so we have to see how we can work everything out. I am very thankful to the school in Sacramento that they hired me, and let me have my first American-German teaching experience.

About German: it turns out that my choice to study German, was not only a good one in The Netherlands, but in the United States as well. German is considered an important language here too, and here likewise, there are almost no certified German teachers / teachers German who have a valid work permit, and I have one. Thanks to Jeroen winning the DV Green Card Lottery, we both have our permanent resident cards and we can work and do (almost) everything American people do. In fact, in 4 years from now, we are planning to become Americans, to apply for Naturalization. You can, if you have lived for 5 years in the US and we want that very much.

Back to German: it’s the same old story as it is in The Netherlands: not much students to learn German, not many German teachers. People keep seeing Germans and/or the German language as related to World War II. A pity for them, but better for me, because all schools that are teaching German in California, are steadily looking for German teachers. I cannot teach at regular American high schools, at least: I am not sure about it, because maybe I would need a Californian teacher’s certificate and that takes a lot of money and time to get it. But I can teach at adult schools like the one where I am teaching right now.

Here you can see my Green Card:

This Green Card still makes me very proud and Jeroen and I are very grateful to have won the Green Card Lottery.
The only thing I can’t do, besides of becoming the first female President of the United States (because you have to be born in the United States for that, the Republicans didn’t even believe Obama, that he was born in Hawaii) , is vote. Nor can Jeroen. You have to be naturalized for that, but we do hope we can vote in four years from now. Maybe we are just in time to jump on that voting train in 2016.
Of course, Obama will win the 2012 Elections, not hunter-killers and liars Romney and Ryan. Can you believe that Romney likes to kill innocent pheasants, the most beautiful, colorful birds? Ryan is a regular hunter too. And I can call them liars, because they áre, and even the Democrats can call them that, and then so can I.

Even my hairdresser, her name is Soon, said Obama is going to win the 2012 Elections and she is not even in his favor. I have always though Obama will be reelected, of course because I want to, but because of another reason too. There is no place for somebody like Romney and Ryan anymore, times are changing and people are getting more aware. It is not  “I” anymore, but “We”. Ryan and Romney still don’t understand, and Romney was saying what he was really thinking: that he didn’t care about the 47 % of the Americans who are not in his favor. He’s twisting and turning, just to get elected now, and squeezing the truth till there is nothing left of it. But I firmly believe this time the Cosmos will say NO to the Republicans (again). Of course, Jeroen and I are here now, and hope to shine a little extra to make it so.

Next election we hope to vote ourselves: of course for the Democrats and for an animal and bird loving (female?) President, not ever! for somebody who enjoys killing pheasants and other divine creatures.

Next time, I hope I will write you form our new house in San Francisco. We are not there yet, but it is our goal. I always like to think: “Waar een wil is, is een weg” (Dutch): “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

That’s me in front of San Francisco

I forgot to mention that I am working as a volunteer; it’s in the Pence Art Gallery in Davis. That is wonderful because of the real fine art in this Gallery. There are a lot of talented artists in Davis and surrounding areas.
Look for instance at this piece, it’s nor regularly painted, but made with a very difficult to master lacquer technique (hot wax painting). I adore these two birds!:

Link to Artist

So, Jeroen and I are exploring San Francisco and surrounding areas; here you see Jeroen, looking at me and now at you too:

John in Daly City, San Francisco

If you want to see more photos, then visit my Twitpic, Camera+ and Google pages.

Next year on January 6. 2013, Jeroen and I will be married for eight years already and of course know each other even a lot longer than that. We are still an interesting and matching team. Though we are true opposites some times, there is this magical match. We are completing each other, and if I play a ball, Jeroen will kick it in, and vice versa. Love always leads the way and it is love that glues people together. Only love.

About my out-of-body experiences: I still have them and other interesting phenomena, but I do have a little bumpy road. Immigrating into another climate and totally different country is a little tough at night (high night temperatures, being tired, new bed room etc.), and I have been missing the thunder, lightning and wind here in Davis. Every time I visit San Francisco, my astral energy builds up again, one important reason too to keep on moving.

Btw. Our house in The Netherlands at this moment still hasn’t been sold! Please don’t ask me more about it; the economic wind in The Netherlands is just very bad right now and we had to leave the apartment behind, because we couldn’t wait forever and we didn’t want our Green Cards to slip through our fingers. I do miss my Zebra finches, and canary, every day, I had to leave them behind too, and I still blame myself for that. I miss my mum and dad too.

Oh my, there is so much to update on, after one year, I am so sorry.

I had my fourth book , Through Heaven, in the iTunes store for about a year, but I can tell you, and warn you about Apple (Developers Service Centre): don’t work with them, or when you really have to, be prepared to be very, very patient or to just accept the fact that they just can’t and won’t solve problems that pop up.
Because I had immigrated to the United States, Apple had this problem (turned out to be a HUGE problem for the oh so ‘skilled’ Apple peeps) turning my Dutch account into an American one, with my new American Social Security Number. Daniel, my apps’ developer for Through Heaven, told me in the past, he had problems with Apple too, and that they just didn’t solve them (!).

After one year, iTunes/Apple decided to withdraw my 4 Through Heaven apps – two for iPad, Dutch and English and two for iPhone Dutch and English –  because they just couldn’t get it right.
I have e-mailed them more than fifty times (yes, you read this right, more than fifty times), I was on the phone with them several times, but they kept asking the same question: “What is wrong, can you please make a screenshot of…?” And then: “We are going to solve this, this is your reference number…” etc. They kept appointing new persons to solve it, but none of them did! And then, time and time again: nothing. More than 10 months passed and Apple still couldn’t get my new Social Security Number into their system. Makes you wonder about Apple’s true competence, ay?

So, I got really mad, writing Apple that they most definitely have the worst customer service worldwide, and that I wanted my money back (about $100) for the second year I paid them. That I developed the apps to no avail, because they had now withdrawn them, and that I, after receiving my money back,I didn’t want anything to do with them ever again, and would warn other people. Now I have and now you know.
I am planning to make my children’s book Through Heaven available as free download PDF soon.

I don’t think you think I am exaggerating about the service of Apple, but if you do, I will convince you with this: they decided to give me my money back, and this last person wrote: Apple never refunds, but now we do.
So you know, and I know and they know too, they have been blundering big time; else they wouldn’t have refunded my money.
Let me cite a part of their last e-mail:

I understand that your request was for refund for your renewal purchase. I had sent the previous email to advise you that I was reviewing the issue. We are generally not able to issue refunds however in light of your situation I wanted to review the details of the case prior to making a determination.

After reviewing the details of this case, I am able to issue a refund for your renewal purchase as an exception to our no refunds or exchanges purchase policy. Please allow 5-7 business days for the credit to post to your cardholder account.

Two days ago, I received an (in my eyes very daring) e-mail from Apple, now asking about my ‘experience’ with them. I very happily filled out their form, giving them the lowest review possible and these final words about what I think about their service:

The worst ever!!! After more than 50 (fifty) e-mails, several phone calls and more than 10 months, the problem Apple system was causing with my registration still hadn’t been solved. It still isn’t solved. I asked my money back for the second year because my 4 apps were withdrawn because of Apple’s OWN mistake. Now I have developed the 4 apps to no avail. I will advise everybody I know NOT to work, ever, with Apple Developer Support! This is no joke, I am dead serious.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, to do warn you about Apple, and to let you know why I wasn’t able to keep my Through Heaven apps in the iTunes store. I regret that very much, but you will be able to download the children’s book soon.

It is almost Halloween here, and maybe I should wear an Apple costume to complete the ‘scary Halloween characters’.

Halloween Scare-Crow
Painting by artist Linda Apple

One more thing, something trivial, but maybe you like to know anyway. Our favorite American TV series now (we are watching it on www.hulu.com), is The Dead Zone.

Are you following me on Twitter? You can, here (updated). On Twitter, I am most active and you will find updates almost every day.

So, see you around, somewhere, somehow. Next time a blog from San Francisco?

Little peeps (protected species in San Francisco) on San Francisco shore line

Children’s book THROUGH HEAVEN available now!

Added on: 10/24/2011 07:10 pm

I can write a long epistle and I can also put it briefly.  Well…

My children’s book THROUGH HEAVEN is finally published after being put on hold for more than two years (it was like that with THROUGH THE WINDOW, that would have been published in 1997, but didn’t see the light of publish day until 2000). In true spirit of the times, this book has the scoop in the virtual world, it’s available in the iTunes Store as iPhone and iPad app!

Don’t hold back for money’s sake: it’s only $0.99! You get the whole book for it! (including music and more!)

With thanks to – among others – the following people 

Daniël Benjamins (apps)
Andrew Maggiore (English translation)
Big John (Jeroen Post) (IT and overall backup)

Immigrated! Children’s Book!

Added on: 10/24/2011 07:10 pm

Immigrated on: World Animal Day, Tuesday, October 4. 2011
Left Thousand Oaks on: Thursday, October 13. 2011
Moved in new house in Davis on: Friday, October 14. 2011
Official lease start date: Saturday, October 15. 2011
Written on: Monday, October 24. 2011

Dear you.

How have you been doing lately? I know you all have been dying to hear something from me , and I feel very ashamed that it took me over 5 months to write a new blog.

You Dutch people must feel awkward that I’m writing in English now. I could write it in Dutch too, but maybe I’m a little bit too lazy for that, I’m not sure.

Besides that, guess I always want to do things thoroughly and writing in Dutch feels like I’m not doing it thoroughly. But I hope you can all understand my English?

The update is a big one: Jeroen and I have immigrated to the United States of America. I wrote about Jeroen winning the DV 2011 Lottery, and thus winning Green cards to live and work in the U.S.A. We started out in Thousand Oaks, which is near L.A., and  it seems like paradise to us, because of its fabulous trees and views. Keith and Amber were there to assist us in our first steps on American ground, and they did that in an unprecedented manner.

They made sure our start in the U.S.A. was as smooth as it could be.

We then had to find out where we wanted to live and considered the following places: Thousand Oaks, Walnut Creek and Davis. The first is like I mentioned: a very pleasant place with the most beautiful trees I have ever seen and very friendly people. But the neighborhood is not as accessible as we would have liked it to be, for Jeroen and his potential customers, and for me to educate and instruct in German and/or Out Of Body Courses! Also to me it is very important to be able to bike, and in Thousand Oaks I would have been the exception, and I’m not good in biking uphill! Biking isn’t common throughout the U.S.A. and the main reason is that the hills and mountains make it impossible. Bikers are like stray wild, they are outlawed in a way and not safe at all. Only in some places, you can bike.

We looked around in Walnut Creek, but felt the people there were not outgoing at all (except from the nice lady that showed us an apartment): they didn’t look at us, didn’t greet us very friendly etc.. This was very different in Thousand Oaks!) The traffic in Walnut Creek was very confusing and not relaxed too. We didn’t feel welcome in Walnut Creek!

It was a more than a 6 hour drive from Thousand Oaks to Walnut Creek (it’s in San Francisco East Bay area), and it was already in the late afternoon, but we decided to drive up to Davis the same day and we arrived there late. The sun was already setting and in the last light of that day, we arrived in Davis.

Then, the magic hit me, it truly did!

We were driving through this very friendly little city, where all the houses are some way or the other covered with (kind of low) trees. It’s like a fairy tale  city: a lot of houses lying in what almost seems to be a sort of forest. Anyway: this is what it looks like in the evening and at night. The houses (many of them with no floors) are all very different, but ‘equal’. It seems all people are equal here, for the houses do not differ that much in size.

I (inwardly) had the strangest sensation  – I’ve never had before – that everywhere I looked, bubbles of energy were rising from the houses and trees, upwards to the sky. Like this whole city was just sparkling and bubbling with energy. The energy here was and is very much alive! I guess I perceived the astral version of the city.

I wouldn’t have noticed it like this, when we would have arrived there in the daytime.

We arrived so late because we took the ‘wrong’ way, by accidentally avoiding toll ways; this was a set up by our Tomtom.

We chose that option, because we were confused about it, and then had to drive two hours from Walnut Creek to Davis, instead of one, when you do want take the toll way! (and pay a $5 bill for it).

But this was good, because now I got hold of the astral sight of the city, and it was our first acquaintance with Davis. To me it seemed it took forever to get to Davis; time was crawling by the minute as Jeroen was driving to Davis, instead of flying, but hey, we arrived at exactly the right time.

We ate some good vegan pizza and hit the Wifi in the Pizza restaurant. We by then – disappointed about Walnut Creek – had in fact already decided to live in Thousand Oaks (and Davis was just a curiosity, though I picked it out in The Netherlands as the best possible spot, because of its geographical location and it’s flatness, so I could bike), but while we were sitting there, eating and WiFi-ing, I said to Jeroen: “We seriously need to consider this city, I am not sure about it, it  could be something.” Jeroen agreed. After sleeping a night over it in Walnut Creek (where we stayed in a small hotel), Davis started to grow on us, and the next day, we decided to visit it again, to check it out again now during the daytime, to make sure what we felt being there. We drove up there again (now in one hour, not two).

And then things really changed fast. Again, we saw people biking everywhere, the same friendliness in everybody’s faces, we heard very clever, bright, verbal word jokes and conversations on the streets and on the terraces, I felt that sparkling energy in the houses, in the trees, in everything. We saw how open and just bursting with energy this little city is, and then Thousand Oaks was overruled by this little giant.

We decided to look for a house in Davis! So we did and we found it. We were looking on Craig’s List and couldn’t find what we were looking for (we looked at some houses by driving around), but then I changed the settings in Craig’s List to houses with a rental price under  $1600, not under $1500, what Jeroen had set. And: there it was and popped up: our house. it wasn’t even $1600, and why it did pop up suddenly now, i don’t know, but there it was. Our eyes started to shimmer and we both said: let’s go there now to check it out. We did and fell in love! It’s the most lovely house, at least twice as big as the apartment we had in The Netherlands, with front, side and back garden, car port, 3 bedrooms, 1.5 bath rooms (with 1 bath), a huge kitchen with extra kitchen island and a very large, and very bright living room. Tiles on the floor everywhere (I am allergic to carpet, and most houses in the U.S.A have that, and because of it were not eligible), and screen doors and windows everywhere. The kitchen  is brand new.

The house has a washer, dryer, a very big refrigerator and even a dishwasher.

In the front garden, there is a robust, straight, healthy and friendly pine tree and in the back garden there are four lovely trees. One of them is located in the middle at the back, and is offering shade against too much heat and sunshine.

This was just perfect and we applied for it immediately. We succeed (we had to pay two months of deposit, instead of one), and we could move in that same week on Friday. We were in Walnut Creek and Davis on Saturday till Tuesday. We got back in Thousand Oaks on Tuesday and left that Thursday again, where we stayed in the very good Econo Lodge hotel. The next day (Friday) we got the key to the house and then we had our own house!

Two strange things happened while being in Davis. We hadn’t even signed the lease yet, but after checking out the house on Sunday and doing some shopping, Jeroen returned (with me ) to the Econo Lodge and I then felt he was driving the wrong way when he drove up the parking lot of the hotel. I expected him to drove up to ‘our’ house, this was spontaneously and unwilled, it just came over me!

Another strange thing happened the next morning. I woke up early in the hotel and thought I was already in our new house (again: we hadn’t even signed the lease yet) and thought I heard guys shoveling the branches and leaves that were piled up in front of the house (not the hotel!). They do that here: people makes bunches of their garden leaves and put it on the street and then the local authorities come to pick it up. I thought a) I was in the house already (it felt like ours already!) and b) I ‘heard’ shoveling of leaves and branches.

But none of the two applied, though they applied in the Cosmic sense of the word! Because later that day, I discovered, the leaves and branches, that were there the evening before, had been indeed picked this early morning, for they were gone now! So it seemed not only my spirit was already living in this house, I had actually made some kind of out of body observation that was true. This all gave me the pleasant impression everything was going as ‘foreseen’.

It did, because the house owner actually approved us for the house and Jeroen didn’t even had to show proof of his income (we had to pay extra though: one month more deposit, in general you only pay one month deposit) and we could move in, after bringing the cashier’s check (you pay with them here).

We are very happy in our new home and garden. We started gardening already and are attracting birds by feeding them and hanging a Hummingbird feeder in the tree and planting flowers. Yes, there are Hummingbirds here in Davis, we saw them several times already, not yet in our own garden.

There is one downside, and that is that I miss my Zebra finches I had in The Netherlands very much. We had four very old Zebra finches males (two of 6 two of 9 years old). I just couldn’t take them to the United States, because of the very long flight and quarantine (1 month), they wouldn’t have survived that. I struggled for over a year what to do with them, to whom to bring them to, etc.. Finally, we brought them to a very large outdoor aviary, the most beautiful we ever have seen. They arrived there on May 18. 2011, but three out of four have passed away after some weeks and months. It was too much for them and my heart is broken by it, because we, in all nine years we had the finches, never lost one single Zebra finch male. Now they were not with us anymore, they died, one after the other. They were very well taken care of (let there be no misunderstanding) and in the most beautiful aviary, but obviously the impact was too heavy after all. Only one, our little, clever rascal Theo(dore) survived, and the latest news was that he was in excellent health and the chief boss of the aviary. I hope he still is.

So that will be the burden I carry around: our leaving The Netherlands was too much for our 4 Zebra finches veterans. Yes, they were very old, but I’m sure they could have reached the age of 10- 12 years and still had some years to come for them. I feel guilty about this, and I forever will.

Davis is the best thing that could happen to us, and we are very thankful to our American friends Keith and Amber, because they were there for us to offer us their hospitality in the first ten days. We are living in Davis now and picking up our lives here. Jeroen has changed his name to “John”, because Americans just can’t pronounce “Jeroen” (his baptismal names are “Jeroen Johannes”, so this suits him fine) and I have changed my name into my real name “Constantia” because all Americans, reading, speaking and writing that name, spontaneously complimented me on it, they think it is so beautiful, pretty, etc.. So I then thought: well, let’s abandon my nickname “Sten” then, and return to my own baptismal name. Welcome to America, John and Constantia!

We have a new used car, it’s an Audi 4, and we were very lucky to get hold of it (again, thanks to Keith). John is very happy too with our new house and everything, he’s all excited just like me. He will continue to be the “IT Guy” and I will be looking for teaching or instructor jobs, maybe in my own living room, because it is so big, I could give my OBE course in it, like I did in The Netherlands. But in The Netherlands I had to rent a course space in Rotterdam – in “DJOJ”- , but I have the best course room here in my house. With the adjacent kitchen and kitchen island and, the garden as the place to chill out during the course, it could be the best course space I ever had.

Of course this is a big adventure and we are not sure if we are going to make it here, but we definitely don’t want to return to The Netherlands, because we both have outgrown it. We love the Californian climate, the wideness of the country, the thousands of bird species, the squirrels that are as big as cats, the friendly people, the shops, the delicious, outrageous good tasting vegan ice creams. Davis is a dream for bikers too: in this little city, almost everybody bikes, and my bikers heart is jumping up with happiness every time I see this or every time I bike myself in Davis… Davis is magic with it’s so many friendly sports fields and playgrounds, it’s environmental concerns and bikes.

There is some serious astral stuff going on in Davis too (beside of the fact I am there now ), because Charles Tart lives in Davis. He was a good friend of Robert Monroe, the pioneer in out Of Body Experiences and wrote the foreword to his book. Charles Tart writes about Out Of Body experiences and I guess he paved an astral way for me in Davis.

Still, I am not finished, because my children’s book Through Heaven is about to be published. I virtually met Daniël Benjamins, who is an Apple programmer, and he offered me to make iPhone and iPad apps out of my book. This book has been waiting for more than two years, and somehow, the timing wasn’t right, because I just could not get it done, and people who were offering (financial) help, withdrew or were not heard from again. But maybe, this was meant to be. Now it will be an American-Dutch delivery, so there will be four apps: for iPhone: ThruHeaven and DoorDeHemel and for iPad: ThruHeaven and DoorDeHemel.

For the American version Andrew Maggiore stood by me, he’s the best American translator and reviser ever.

What’s up with the ‘ThruHeaven’ name? Well, in the iTunes stores the names of the apps can only be about 12 tokens long, so we had to abbreviate it. But that wasn’t a problem, and I owe the domains http://www.thrubooks.com and http://www.thrubook.com for a long time already, so I must admit I’m a bit of a clairvoyant.

As soon as they’re out, I will notify you and of course, I hope you will buy them. They are very cheap, only $1  /  0,79, so this will be the bargain of the year, if you are looking for some serious and beautiful astral soul food for you and your kid(s).

More photos: most of them taken with iPhone

Look close, that’s Jeroen (John) on top of the rock.

Our house and garden.

Emigration USA Continued – Green Cards!

Added on: 10/24/2011 07:10 pm

I have been waiting to write the next US blog until Jeroen and I had more certainty about our emigration. That moment has now come. Where will I start, well, let me think…

May 14. 2010 Jeroen got the announcement he was selected in the DV 2011 Lottery of the US Government. This is a Lottery by which means you don’t win money (well, for the time being that is), but you win the right to live and work in The USA. Because only about 2.5 % of the Lottery participants wins, it’s kind of a big deal. To us it was and is!

I always had that magic thing going on with the US. Sometimes it just killed me (figuratively) that I wasn’t there. You can call it ‘homesick’. Yes, I’m Dutch, but that’s the way I felt about it. Then Jeroen and I visited America (Washington, Oregon, California) together in 2009 and he too fell in love with this country. It was the second time we entered the US Lottery and this time we got it all right. Jeroen did, and because we are married, I was the lucky ‘Appendix’ and am allowed to travel with him. Then we had to wait for a year! Jeroen had lucky number 252##, which meant that we were not among the first ones to have the emigration interview at the American Embassy in Amsterdam (they start in October each year). I calculated we would have our interview around May 2011, and May it was.

Even though you have won, you still have to meet the requirements, legal, medical, financial and educational or ‘work experiencial’. The US government would only be looking at Jeroen to meet up with their requirements (because he was the winner), so he would have to be the one with the right papers. (But we needed both to be in good health, that was the one requirement for me). I started assembling things, paper works, and made a very neat and smart folder for Jeroen, which was ruined by the way during the visit at the Embassy, because the lady at the desk asked me to rip all the relevant pieces out of the folder. The folder that I carefully put together in a year’s time, was then a mess in about ten minutes. But hey, it served its purpose. (and I will reorganize it again)

So we had our interview May 17. 2011. We had our obligatory medical on April 28. 2011. I was nervous about it all. I am a real stress chick, fortunately Jeroen isn’t. They wanted to screen us in all relevant ways, and so they did.

We had our X-ray taken, and it went okay. The lady who had taken my X-ray photo, told me she worked with an uncle of mine for three years. She started by asking: “Are you related to Janus Oomen?” Because both my grandfather and an uncle of mine go by that name, I replied: “Yes, which one…?” I didn’t even think about a cousin of mine who’s name is also “Janus Oomen”. Then she told me it was Janus, the internist, and I could confirm that particular Janus Oomen was my uncle. She said: “Tell him I said hello”. It’s a small world. For this X-ray photo’s you had to undress your torso and even my bra had to come down.

Then we had to see the assigned doctor, that is Dr. Schulte, both Senior and Junior. They took our blood samples and examined us. Dr. Schulte Junior wrote down a few of his favorite German songs, when he heard I was a German teacher. That was very kind of him, because he saw I was nervous and he tried to reassure me there was nothing to it. Here is that note (I wrote the last word ‘Collateral‘, that was a movie he suggested too):

We turned to be in perfect health, though my heart beat and blood pressure were significantly higher pure out of stress. I know this to be true, because we had a preliminary medical checkup at our own doctor, just to see how things were standing (to be prepared). In this preliminary I had a blood pressure of 100-65, but at Dr. Schultes, it was significant higher (148-…)… and my heartbeat at the preliminary was 70 (if I remember correctly), and now it suddenly was 88. Jeroen was a lot easier going and his heart beat was a sporty 60 at both medicals.

But everything fell within the norms, so we didn’t need to worry and our blood came out healthy as well.

Then yesterday, D-Day… We got in the car at 10 PM which turned out to be way too early, for when we arrived in Amsterdam, we had to wait for hours (it was at 1.30 PM). I wanted to go early, to exclude the possibility that we would be too late. Oh oh you stress chick… After some walking around aimlessly, we sat down in the “Vondelpark” in Amsterdam, and the birds were singing so beautifully in the three.

Oh wait, let me tell you about the ‘signs’ around the medical and the interview. After Jeroen and I had our medical, I found this little horse on the street:

I looked up the meaning of ‘horse’ and found this: “As a Native American symbol, the Horse symbol meanings combine the grounded power of the earth with the whispers of wisdom found in the spirit winds. The Horse has long been honored has helper, messenger, and harbinger of spirit knowledge to the Native American. Considered wild and an emblem of freedom, the Native American sees many potentialities in the symbolic nature of this noble creature.”

(Source: http://www.whats-your-sign.com/horse-symbol-meanings.html) Well, that was a nice cosmic sign, thank you, Cosmos!

Then, before the interview at the Embassy, we bought a little something in the AH shop. There I saw this little rabbit, just standing on his own, at the beverage department. I took it to the checkout and wanted to pay for it, but then the lady at the pay desk said: “This is not from here!”, and she allowed me to take it for free. You maybe think: well, what’s the sign in this one? Then you have to read this passage in my biography: “As a toddler, my favorite toy was my stuffed rabbit. The cuddly animal was inextricably linked to my chubby arm. When I lost it, it was a great tragedy and I kept crying until I had a substitute back in my arms again.”

Yes, my first and most cherished toy was a stuffed rabbit with pink ears, it was my first ‘guardian angel’ and of course, I still feel that magic something when I see rabbits with pink ears. So, I now had this little small version as our good luck charm for today. I still have the old rabbit, here’s a photo: (his ears are not that pink anymore, but they used to be)

And here the one I found May 17. 2011 in the AH:

But there was a third sign. As we were sitting on a bench in the Vondelpark, this man walked past us twice, who looked like Keith. You sure will be asking: who in heaven’s name is Keith? Well, Keith is our contact in the United States. He is a veterinarian and lives in Thousand Oaks. We got to know him in very strange and in fact incredible way (too long a story to tell right here). Keith is our mail address for correspondence of the US government, our green cards will be send to his address. You had to give an address before / during this interview for this purpose. So, there was this man passing us by twice, and we both agreed he looked a lot like Keith, and we thought that was very nice.

Then the interview. There was some very strikt security around and in the US Embassy in Amsterdam at the Museumplein 19.

We had to leave our bags and cellphone behind. Even the folders we had to take inside were carefully examined. The handsome and friendly black security guard opened the folder with my paperwork and diplomas (I brought it with me in vain, because they had no interest whatsoever in my diplomas), and he kept staring at my first ‘diplomas’. You need to know I put my diplomas in there chronologically, and so I started with – please don’t laugh too hard at me – my gymnastics and swimming certificates of the Elementary School. He kind of looked with that disbelieving glance and then burst out laughing and said: “Wow, you still have that. That is so cool! I haven’t got mine anymore.” So, a little bit embarrassed, I laughed with him and he let us through, after the standard security drill.

Inside, there soon was a long line of waiting people, all for different Visa wishes and appointments. I got the firm impression we were the only ones there for winning the Green Card Lottery. Then this thing with Jeroen’s folder started. Frantically I was getting all the stuff out the nice lady at the desk (behind bullet-proof glass) asked from us. She examined everything carefully (birth certificates, marriage certificate, diplomas, work experience, financial support) and scared us a little, by telling the documents that were on my name didn’t count (like the ownership documents of our house and saving accounts that were on my name). Fortunately we had a job offer on Jeroen’s name, (with a dollar amount on it) and the audit of the value of Jeroen’s business in the Netherlands. We had nine work recommendations for Jeroen, but it took me so long to get them all out of the folder, the lady said: “Just take the three most important ones.” I guess this was just a little bit of a overkill (all these recommendations), so Jeroen chose the three most important ones. Finally she wanted our U.S. passport photos. Then she asked us if we brought the stamps too. Yes, we did, and she told: “You are the first ones who have this.” You need to take stamps for a registered package, because they will send you things and they want you to provide the stamps.

After this, there was this long, long waiting. More than a hour later we were called and we stood at the desk again. A handsome young US consul (dark hair, dark eyes), made us swear we tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth and raise our right hands while we were doing this (the swearing). So we did. Then he asked Jeroen some things, and we were (nervously) excited but oppressing this. He was quickly but seriously going through Jeroen’s diplomas and work experience, and examining it. We were getting pretty nervous at this time, because he had that very serious look on his face. But more and more, a smile came over his face and it lighted up his intelligent face. Then he said the magic words: “Your visas have been approved!” We told him that we were very happy about it and he then replied he too was happy about it. He told us our passports with the green card entry stamp would be returned to us in about four days. With these Green Card stamps you are allowed to stand in row with US citizens the moment you get off the plane and when you need to check in. You’re no tourists anymore with the Green Cards. After this “POE” – Point Of Entry – they will send the actual Green Cards within two-three weeks (it could be more) to the given address (that is Keith’s address in our case).

With a light and enlightened step we walked away. We did it, wow, we did it!

Now we have to carefully start planning things. Of course, we already have given it a lot of thought: where to start, what to do and how to do it, but now we really can. We will start at Keiths in Thousand Oaks, California, for he was so kind to offer his home as our first place to stay (for a week or so). When I have more relevant news, i will continue this blog.

Thanks for reading!