Category Archives: Davis


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December 2013

Added on: 12/17/2013 02:12 pm

After a year, an update. 

– We still live in Davis.
It turns out that our initial choice was the very best too. After checking out San Francisco and surrounding area, like Hercules and San Rafael, and visiting lots of other places, we have concluded, there’s no place like… Davis. It’s safe and peaceful, we have enough living space with three bedrooms, 1.5 bathroom, a large kitchen, very large living room and garden, there is beautiful nature, mountains in the near distance, lots of space for me to bike on a flat subsurface, an Army of Love in our garden with a steady growing amount of birds and a small army of Squirrels.

Our feathery buddies in our front- and backyard include:
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, Red-shafted Northern Flicker And more!

* I will continue to update this list when I have more names of loyal birdie visitors. 

In Davis, additional: Turkey Vulture

Regular busy birdie day in our backyard (iPad photo), Mourning Dove in bird feeding trough and next to it

Regular squirrel day in our backyard (iPad photos)

Junco in our backyard

Hummingbird in our backyard and on our Hummingbird swing


Anna’s Hummingbird in our front yard

Red-shafted Northern Flicker in our Silk Oak

Squirrel in our backyard

Detail of squirrel in our backyard (all photos by me)

Davis is a perfect starting point for trips to San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles, San Diego etc.. We have all the stores we need here in a very close proximity and at our doorstep: Trader Joe’s, Co-Op, Wholefood, Grocery Bargain Market, Nugget Market, Costco… and a lot more. Furthermore, UC Davis is all around us: an intelligent, vivid sphere to live in, with fantastic annual events like UC Davis Picnic Day (check out my clips of that on my YT Channel).

– We visited San Diego in the Summer of 2013, and I have to admit that San Diego maybe is even more beautiful than Northern California. We discovered a lot of new birds out there, like the Great Horned Owl. This fantastic bird has filled me with a desire to live there too. So let’s keep that in mind!

– Jeroen has an even better job now, as Programmer V. Before that, he was a Programmer II and he just leaped forward with three steps at a time. In his free time, he has become a real computer game boss, always eager to explore new ways to shape his programming skills.

– I have stopped working at the German Language School in Sacramento.

– We bought a Glock 19 mm, and have practiced thoroughly at the Gun Range in Sacramento. We both like shooting! Did you know all the Glocks, whatever the size, are the same price? At this time: $499 (without tax).

Constantia with her Glock 19

– We have bought an Open Wheeler game seat, because we love to race indoors. My favorite race program is called: Test Drive Unlimited, I really love to race (virtually) on Hawaii and Ibiza in a Bugatti Veyron. That has become my favorite car too. Maybe own one one day?

–  Speaking of Hawaii, we definitely want to go there as soon as time will allow it. Another travel plan consists of the direct California Zephyr train trip from Davis to Chicago (and maybe return by air plane).

– My eye sight continues to get worse (thanks, dad , love you anyway), and I have far worse eyes than any of the other family members including dad Joris: left: -9.25, +2, right: -7.75, +2

– After a very late start (getting my driver’s license in 2009), I am a pretty good driver now and it’s one of my new favorite things to do. I have a lot of catching up to do, here in beautiful America. Everything I missed doing in The Netherlands, I do here in California. Another example is the bath tub: we didn’t have one in Scheveningen, and we do have one here. So for a long time, I often was taking two bath tubs treats on one day. Now, I go in the bath tub once a day, almost always with Epsom Salt, taking facial very aromatic masks etc.. I simply can’t get enough of the bath tub.

– After quite some years not reading that many books (though listening to audiobooks), I have picked up reading, and read a lot now. Always with my contact lenses removed, because of my troublesome multifocal sight, I can’t read with lenses, even when they are multifocal. Without my contact lensens, I have to hold the book really close to my eyes, or wear my old pair of glasses, which still works pretty good.
Since discovering Nelson DeMille, I find it disappointing to read other authors like James Patterson and Mary Higgings Clark, but I do okay Karen Rose (she can write nerve wracking). Nelson DeMille is a great teacher for me, and I absolutely love his wit and very keen, intelligent humor and observations. I ony avoid his latest book “The Quest”  that turns out to be a reprint of a much older book of his, but then with more sex in it; it has very bad reviews, and I don’t want or need my very high opinion of Nelson destroyed by one possible misstep. I can only thank him for fueling the sacred reading light with new oil.
My reading location is foremost: the bath tub.

Nelson DeMille’s books and audiobooks (iPad photo)

– The weather in Northern California is ab-so-lute-ly amazing. Every day is a sunny day, with endless blue skies. First, I had to get used to that every-day-is-a-holiday feeling because of the sun here. Now we are used to it, and when there are a couple of clouds, we consider it ‘bad weather’ and stay inside. Yes, you get spoiled very fast.

– I laugh up my sleeve diabolically (yes, I know I’m bad) when acknowledging some Dutch stuff, like the terrible weather, the terrible incestuous bad TV shows, the problem with ‘bontkraagjes’ (though that object itself isn’t funny at all), or the fact that they consider an Euro Jackpot of 10 million to be large. (we have a Mega Millions Jackpot today (December 17)  of $636 million) .
Everything seems so small now in The Netherlands. Of course, we have some good memories there, but we are very happy to be future USA citizens (we plan to become US citizens in 2016, and I will vote for Hillary Clinton then).
I do have to admit, I reclaimed some European food stuff, like Bertolli pasta sauce, things they don’t make that well here in the US. Once in a while, I order something at the Dutch Store in Michigan. Why not have the best of both worlds, huh? But the US has a lot to offer for us vegans, like a very good range of vegan pizzas and marshmallows.
A little late (but better late than never) I discovered Trader Joe’s, and they have the good bread here (without the unhealthy long list of ingredients of average US bread), containing no sugar or high fructose corn syrup (this is an ingredient I have learned to avoid). Much like the great German bread in fact. Trader Joe’s is truly a perfect store with good prices for very good and pure food.

At Trader Joe’s they have American ánd European food of high quality and good price – Belgian Endive

– We love the TV Show Shark Tank.

– I have truly discovered e-Bay and Amazon (and more of course),  and order a lot of necessities and not-necessities online; only food I buy in our direct surrounding area, but even some food products I buy online. Stuff from all over the United States of America is shipped to our J Street in Davis.

– Yes, I still have frequent out-of-body experiences (and related experiences), and lately, all the more. I am very thankful for that, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

– In January 2014, Jeroen and I will be been married for 9 years already and even years longer than that together.

Jeroen and me, me reading the iPad book and he controlling the computer game – iPad photo by reversing camera (and with help of mirror)

– I have biked a lot, it keeps me in an overall good shape, both physically and mentally. More than 12242 km (7606 miles) since February 17, 2011.

– Emigrating was a little easier for Jeroen than it was for me; of course, he’s younger and I think age is of importance (let’s be real). In retrospect, I can see that I was a little more fearful than he was, but it turned out that the fear was unnecessary. I felt a little bit of the outsider the first year in Davis. Jeroen quickly found his way around; I took a little longer to drive without the TomTom and feel assured to do so. That kind of stuff.
Everything is different here, and people are different. There is a lot more reason to smile here, and so people do, and I had to refind my lighter self, but I think I am getting there real fine.

Furthermore, there was some adjusting for me to do regarding the very warm nights in the Summer and some chilly nights in the Winter (we have a wooden house here, with a different heating system than in The Netherlands), but I have adjusted to that with a great – made in Texas – bed fan in the Summer, and a ‘new’ body that adjusted to Californian standards. Actually, the Summer of 2013 wasn’t nearly as hot as the Summer of 2012, and the bed fan wasn’t needed that desperately. Jeroen didn’t have a problem with Californian temperatures, not even with the hot nights.
There were some challenges concerning cockroaches in our backyard in the Summer, but that ‘problem’ too, I have addressed. You just have to keep your garden very clean and remove bird and squirrel food every evening very conscientiously.  It wasn’t difficult, we just had to learn.

Summarized, immigrating does require flexibility, but if you have that, it is very rewarding and an immense boost for your body, brain and spirit (assuming you have made the right choice like we did, choosing the country and State that’s right for you).

My happy feet while writing this

Great Horned Owl

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 and 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: 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!