Thursday May 19th. A Dutch road trip.

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 20th, 2016

I received a photo taken at the May 6th OCC rally to prove my membership in the Ocean Cruising Club:

picture taken by Eva.

picture taken by Eva.

Tomorrow I turn my one week rental car back in. After visiting friends and family in the provinces of Utrecht and Gelderland, I am heading for at least three visits into the countryside north of Amsterdam. Holland at its best. New green foliage, tulip fields, new born lambs and calves, etc.

After my presentation at Tiel Maritiem I headed to Barneveld to visit my friends at De Bondgenoot with the Boonzaaijers, who I met in French Polynesia in 2005. On the way back to Amsterdam I stopped at the Nieuwboer botter yard to check on the botter yacht “Groote Beer” the so-called “Herman Goering” yacht, with which I have had an association over the  last thirty years. Last year she was still on the ways at the yard for repairs to the 2011 mishap. There is still some work to be done while she is afloat again.

Groote Beer in Spakenburg

Groote Beer in Spakenburg

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The Nieuwboer yard in Spakenburg

 

 

 

 

 

 

and a few more road side attractions:

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Gristmill in Ingen, Gelderland

Pumping stations to keep the reclaimed polders dry

Pumping stations to keep the reclaimed polders dry near Hoorn in West Friesland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday May 17th. Recordings and Photos of the May 4th Concert

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 17th, 2016

Just six more days before I fly back to the Northwest on May 24th. The five weeks flew by. The attempts to promote “SoloMan” in presentations did not work out. Too little advance notice and too late in the season. Many friends and relatives here are reading “SoloMan” now.

But I would not have wanted to miss the rest of the visit with friends and family in Holland, Belgium and England. The high light remains the memorial concert on May 4th. The pictures speak for themselves. These were taken by Vimala Tummers, the sister of Jessica Tummers, choir soprano and the current choir president. For the details on the roll my mother’s story played in the theme of the concert “Abide with me”, see my earlier blog s of May 5th and May 1st. The concert started with the reading of the chapter “From Vught into the unknown” , the text can be found in my March 17th posting. The soprano soloist sung the first verse of “Abide with me” acapella from the organ loft. Followed by the continuation of the “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” story where the women sang for the male prisoners when they reached their destination in Oranienburg. Then the women sang the next verse. The last verse was sung by the entire choir, listen at: http://www.cometosea.us/albums/Abide-with-me.mp3

You can listen to the entire concert, inclusief de Nederlandse teksten, at: May 4th Concert  The sound was recorded by: Theo Teunenbroek.

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Marguerite Schiekelmann reading from "The Mastmakers' Daughters

Marguerite Schiekelmann reading from “The Mastmakers’ Daughters

Madeleine van Tooren reading the second chapter

Madeleine van Tooren reading the second chapter

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full house

Yours tenor truly in the rear swinging his flowers for the effort.

Yours tenor truly in the rear swinging his flowers for the effort.

 

Pentecost. May 15

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 15th, 2016

Just to show you how small Amsterdam is: On Friday I am crossing the street at 7.30 A.M. across from the Central Station. I hear a woman’s voice behind me: “Sir, the light is not on green yet!” I turn around, it is my niece Marieken on her way to work, her work and her home are not even close to this location.

The presentation at “De Schinkel” was a disappointment. The projector and the person I had made the arrangement with, two weeks earlier, were not there and contrary to the promise none of the members had been made aware of it. There was a small crowd for the weekly “Freedom” races and I managed to put on a show using the wide screen TV with the help of one of the members.  Friday and Saturday I visited friends in Bosch en Duin, Baarn and Soest. I attended the Pentecost service in Soest, with an impressive choir, which accounted for a quarter of the mass attendance. Why is it that in Holland we have many empty pews but good size choirs whereas my church in Gig Harbor has very few empty seats but cannot generate more than a handful of women to act as a choir?

Petrus and Paulus church Soest

Petrus and Paulus church Soest

 

 

 

 

 

I am back visiting my cousin Karel and his wife Ankie in their old farmhouse in Eck en Wiel on the Lek River. The Storks are back and they now have a one year old Peacock.

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May 9th. On the train from Bath to London

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 9th, 2016

The luxury of wi-fi on the train. I forgot my camera in Amsterdam. My hosts, Sonia and Scott, took a few pictures of my visit with them and at the OOC (Ocean Cruising Club) rally on the Beaulieu river, near Southampton. I shall post them when I receive them. We had a lot to catch up on since I last saw them on my escape into through West Passage out of Fiji in August 2005. I received my OCC  burgee and I am very pleased now that I joined this group of salty dawgs. Friday morning the Dutch commodore, Peter Paternotte, of the OCC in The Netherlands came to visit me in Amsterdam and then dropped at the airport for my flight to Gatwick airport. It was a glorious warm sunny Spring day riding on the train from Gatwick to Fareham near Southampton. The yellow fields of Rape Seed in full bloom, new born lambs and quaint villages. I last enjoyed this part of England in the late sixties.

Saturday morning I took a train to Bath where my niece Anna van Ommen and her husband Andy and their nearly six year old twins live. I had a delightful visit in a beautiful part of England. I was able to make a few pictures with their Nikon D-90. Bath is known for it Roman baths and the Abbey church. Anna was born in England in 1971 when, her father, my twin brother was working in London; she grew up in Germany and after her studies met her English husband here. Both Andy and Anna work at home. On Sunday we all went for a long walk along the Kennet and Avon Canal, which runs from Reading on the Thames to the Bristol Channel.

View from my guestroom towards Browne's Folly.

View from my guestroom towards Browne’s Folly.

Rape Seed

Rape Seed

 

 

 

 

 

 

Narrow Boats near Bradford on Avon

Narrow Boats near Bradford on Avon

caption of left upper corner of L.R.: Anna, Lucas on bike, Anna on Andy's shoulders

caption of left upper corner of previous picture,  L.R.: Anna, Lucas on bike, Anna on Andy’s shoulders

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the meantime I have arrived in London, after visiting the very impressive Bath Abbey. The Vicar gave me a short private tour. He showed me where he had shook hands with Queen Elizabeth II in 1973 when she came for the millennium commemoration of the crowning in 973 here in this abbey of King Edgar the very first king of all of England. I was greeted at the station by Melina who I met finally after the part this blog played in her finding her father after a 41 year search. See: http://www.cometosea.us/?p=2017  and  http://www.cometosea.us/?p=2017#comments. Melina was born in the S.F. Bay area and lived in Tacoma before moving to London. She is born in February 1971, my niece Anna in July ’71 and my oldest son John in September ’71. So, she fits right into the family and I have proposed an informal adoption into the van Ommen family. We’ll have to plan a family reunion now.

 

May 4th the Memorial Day concert.

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 5th, 2016

All the hard work and preparation resulted in an other very well received presentation by the LPK (Latin Parish choir) Cantemus Dominum.

I expect to have photos and audio to show here in one of the upcoming blogs. The church was filled to the last of the 650 seats capacity. It was a great honor and privilege to have a part of my book “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” read in the first act of the concert. It was a total coincidence that my mother’s story fit the theme “Abide wit me” so well. And a privilege to add my voice to the choir, because I was still familiar with the two Gabriël Fauré compositions. It became another opportunity to draw attention to, the until now, little known story of these brave women.

This morning I complimented the three men choir in the same church for the Ascension service. I took this photo this Thursday morning in the church sacristy.

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Wednesday afternoon I rode my host’s bicycle to my old neighborhood where I attended a book presentation of Simon Hammelburg, also a former neighborhood resident, on his book “Broken on the inside” https://simonhammelburg.com/ and met a number of members of the Facebook group “Herinneringen aan de Rivierenbuurt”, a group of the old neighborhood.

Left Ineke L. ,center Simon Hammelburg

Left Ineke L. ,center Simon Hammelburg (Photo Maria Boonzaaijer)

 

 

 

 

 

Carla, my hostess with the mostest, another taste of her artful food presentation, zucchini lasagna with roasted eggplant filled with yoghurt and topped with grenadine seeds. And as you see a skillful barber. I have been spoiled here by the van der Meers. Tomorrow I’m off to England.

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L.R. Son in law Jan, daughter Ellen with Daniel, Theo and Carla

L.R. Son in law Jan, daughter Ellen with Daniel, Theo and Carla

 

 

 

Weekend May 1st in Brussels

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 2nd, 2016

I took the train from Amsterdam on Friday morning to Brussels. My former Weyerhaeuser colleague, Beer Hogestyn, treated me to a real Belgian lunch near the Grand Place. The godmother, Yvette, of my #2 daughter, Rose Marie, and her sister Collette took me on a sentimental journey through the neighborhood we used to live in the late sixties and to the church were Rose Marie was baptized, St.Pie X, in Forest.

We had a lot to catch up on since we last saw each other in 1970. The godfather, their brother Claude Claeys, had discovered our whereabouts on my blog, just after I visited Brussels last year. He lives in Argentina and I hope we get a chance to see one another when I make it to South America the end of the year.

L.R. Claude, Joan with Rose Marie, Colette, Jack, Mme. Claeys at Baptismal Feb 1968 St. Pie-X Forest (Bruxelles)

L.R. Claude, Joan with Rose Marie, Colette, Jack, Mme. Claeys at Baptismal Feb 1968 St. Pie-X Forest (Bruxelles)

 

Collete and Yvette in the same location at St. Pie X

Collete and Yvette in the same location at St. Pie X

 

 

 

 

 

They dropped me off at my Granddaughter Corrine and her husband Euan’s place. We walked over to Place Jourdan to have the best Pommes Frites at Maison Antoine  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/11/travel/in-brussels-frites-are-more-than-just-fries.html?_r=0, Worth the long line wait. Then you take your fries over to one of the surrounding cafés and order your favorite Belgian beer.

Corrine teaches at the International Montessori School. She took me to see where she works in this gorgeous setting in a farm house in Woluwe-St. Lambert. This must be a real privilege to be educated and to teach. This is one of six Montessori schools run by Rinze and Annie Hoekstra, Frisians at that. My mother’s Frisian name, Rinsje, originates from her grandfather’s name Rinze Ages.

Corrine with class picture

Corrine with class picture

class room in the farm loft

class room in the farm loft

 

 

 

Sunday morning I attended the 10 a.m. service at the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, near the Grand Place. Built in the early 13th century, a magnificent Gothic building. Similar to the Reims Cathedral and the Notre Dame de Paris. A quartet of four young ladies, all in black, sang and led the Gregorian chants, directed by a Japanese, Yuhmi Iwamoto. Beautiful organ, layed by Bart Jacobs all works by Pierre du Mage. Parts of the service was in Flemish and French and the homily was repeated from Flemish into French. My first two languages.

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The weather has finally turned from the winter temperatures we had the last 10 days. Back in Amsterdam with my hosts the v/d Meers I had Carla’s home made Pommes Frites and they were at least as good as the famous fries I had Friday night in Brussels.

Updates on my schedule: I fly this Friday to England and return Tuesday the 10th. On Thursday the 12th I do a presentation and slide show at my former home on the Nieuw Meer, the yacht club “De Schinkel” at 7 p.m. and the only other presentation I have a commitment for is on the  16 th at the “Tiel Maritiem” festival, where “SoloMan” will be available.

 

Sunday May 1st. The May 4th WW-II Memorial Concert. Dodenherdenking

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 1st, 2016

I have the program now for the Concert as per the details of my April 10th blog. If you open the link: http://www.cometosea.us/albums/Programma4meiAugustinus.pdf

you will get an idea, even though it is in Dutch, of what this means to me, my mother’s legacy and the attention bestowed on the 650 women political prisoners that were sent to Ravensbrück, one of the most horrible Nazi concentration camps where more than two third of the about 132,000 prison population perished or was murdered.

It was a total co-incidence that my mother’s story of the singing of the Dutch version of “Abide with me” fits this music and the purpose of the annual memorial for the 2nd WW victims. Very little has been written, in particular about the about 200 Dutch women that went from Ravensbrück to Dachau; the book I wrote “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” is about the only detailed published story of their attempt at survival and resistance to the Nazi repression.

Het boek “De Mastmakersdochters” is voor €20 verkrijgbaar en ik zal bij de afloop er bij zijn achterin bij de in-uitgang om het te signeren. Ik zing mee met de tenoren. Hopelijk maakt U gebruik van mijn uitnodiging.

4 Mei Concert Final2

 

 

 

Wednesday April 27th. The Dutch King’s birthday

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 27th, 2016

It has been un-seasonally cold this week. You can see from the way the revellers are dressed compared to the pictures I took of previous royal birthdays, in the same last week of April. This dampened the mood and the turn out.

Today:

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Prinsengracht looking towards Leidsestraat

Prinsengracht looking towards Leidsestraat 2011

Today, notice difference in foliage with 2011.  Global Freezing?

Today, notice difference in foliage with 2011. Global Freezing?

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, April 24. Ravensbrück Monument

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 24th, 2016

This was the first time that I attended the annual memorial service for the victims and the ex-political prisoners of Ravensbrück.  Sort of an early Mother’s day attention. Friday I visited her grave, Saturday the Dachau memorial and today the one for the second concentration camp she passed through. Winter weather is back. It wet snowed on the outdoor gathering at the monument. Yesterday it was the KLM who hosted the coffee prior and the lunch after the ceremonies and today it were the Russians of Gaz-Prom who hosted the participants. The Ravensbrück camp was liberated by Russian troops. Yesterday there was just Willemijn van Gurp as the last surviving attendee. Today there were at least six women survivors. I will add the names to the below photograph as soon as I can locate them.

 

L.R.: Beppie Ottenbros, Lotty Veffer-Huffener, Marianne de Burger, Selma Velleman-van de Perre, further on Right (not shown) Gisela Soehnlein-Wieberdink

L.R.: Beppie Ottenbros, Lotty Veffer-Huffener, Marianne de Burger, Selma Velleman-van de Perre, further on Right (not shown) Gisela Soehnlein-Wieberdink. (Ik gebruik Amerikaanse volgorde: Meisjesnaam-Trouwnaam)

For her who continued to say "No" to the very end to Fascism

For her who continued to say “No” to the very end to Fascism

With the "Old Glory" flying above the monument from the US Consulate

With the “Old Glory” flying above the monument from the US Consulate

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Saturday April 23rd. The annual Dachau Monument memorial

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 23rd, 2016

It was a cold Spring day for the commemoration of the 1945 liberation of Concentration Camp Dachau. This was the fourth year in a row that I was able to attend. Every year there are fewer survivors of the camp. Today there were three. My guess is that the weaker sex, Willemijn, will be the last one to turn the light off. Then it will be up to my generation, the children of the former political prisoners to keep their example and message alive.

I am posting a few pictures with names that I took this afternoon and I have posted these and more in my drop box  where anyone can help themselves to download any of these at full size.

The deputy consul after laying the wreath.

The deputy consul after laying the wreath.

The American wreath next to the German one.

The American wreath next to the German one.

Willemijn laying wreath with school children and Jos, one of her "Names instead of Numbers" biographers

Willemijn laying wreath with school children and Jos, one of her “Names instead of Numbers” biographers

L.R. USA Vice Consul Kharmika Alston, Deputy Consul Pamela Hack

L.R. USA Vice Consul Kharmika Alston, Deputy Consul Pamela Hack

 

The last of the Mohicans Willemijn van Gurp 97, Skippy de Vaal 94, Henk van de Water 93

The last of the Mohicans Willemijn van Gurp 97, Skippy de Vaal 94, Henk van de Water 93

My plans here in Holland:

I arrived here last Saturday on the 16th. Wednesday night I had my first rehearsal with the choir for the May 4th concert. I am very excited about the choices of the program. (See my previous blogs for details) And I was welcomed back with open arms by the whole choir. If nothing else would happen this alone would be worth the trip but I am sharing many other blessings. My hosts, first my sister and brother in law and now I am being spoiled by Theo another choir tenor and his wife Carla. “Zeilen”, the most read Dutch sailing magazine, just appeared on the shelves with their May issue which has a plug in it for me giving presentations on my circumnavigation and to promote the sale of “SoloMan”. Until now I have made just one commitment on May the 16th. Tomorrow is the annual commemoration and laying of the wreaths at the Ravensbrück monument in Amsterdam, I shall attend. Another rehearsal on Thursday and I shall be in Brussels on Friday and Saturday and possibly Sunday, to see my granddaughter Corrine and husband Euan and the Godmother of (daughter #2) Rose Marie, Collette and her sister Yvette, who we reconnected with last year and have not seen since 1970. The general rehearsal on May 3rd for the 4th f May concert.

Then I fly to England on Friday the 6th to see friends near Southampton and to receive my OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) burgee at one of their rallies on the Solent. Saturday I travel to Bath to see my niece Anna and her husband and meet their twins for the first time. Then I will train to London on Monday to meet Melina Merlin and her boys and friends. Melina and I became acquainted through the happenstance meeting I had with her biological father in Zimnicea on the Danube in June of 2011. They were reunited after a 41 year search by her reading my blog after the meeting.