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Settling in but not settling down

Bob and Ans Olander credit Ashby Ponds for providing the perfect base of operations

Created date

June 14th, 2018
Ans and Bob Olander in their customized apartment at Ashby Ponds

“We decorated the home together,” says Ans Olander of the apartment she and her husband live in at Ashby Ponds. “But Bob is the one who really has a keen eye for the detail. He does a marvelous job.”

"If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”—William Arthur Ward

This often-quoted maxim from American author William Arthur Ward best sums up the zest for life shared by Bob and Ans Olander. When the couple moved to Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va., in November 2014, they selected two side-by-side apartments and renovated the space into one, extra-large 2,600-square-foot apartment home.

“It is our base of operations, and we love it,” says Bob. “We enjoy traveling, playing tennis, and spending time with friends. Ashby Ponds is a terrific place to make all that happen.”

A new journey begins

Retired since 1994, Bob and Ans spent many years traveling the world; playing doubles tennis; and buying, renovating, and selling houses. However, as Bob neared his eightieth birthday, the couple began looking to move from their single-family home in Alexandria.

“We wanted to move into a continuing care retirement community,” says Bob. “Together, we looked at all the communities in the area and were most impressed by what Erickson Living offered.”

Eager to select one of the largest apartment homes available, the couple learned that as a developing community, Ashby Ponds offered the opportunity to select side-by-side apartments and renovate the space into one, large home.

They worked with the Ashby Ponds sales team and Custom Interiors Coordinator Susan Mendoza to plan their new dream home.

“I was on campus every day working with the contractors,” says Bob. “For years, I renovated homes to sell; it was a way to pay for all the travel we wanted to do. I love the whole process from design to decorating. Working with the Ashby Ponds team was wonderful.”

“We can’t say enough good things about Susan Mendoza,” says Ans. “We were her first project of this type, and she was amazing.”

Once the two months of renovations were complete, the couple chose to have their new home painted “terra-cotta” in homage to many of the homes in Mexico, where the couple enjoy spending their winters.

“Everyone calls it the orange house, which I find very fitting,” says Ans. “I was born in Holland, the historic home of William of Orange.”

The Olanders’ beautiful home is adorned with many souvenirs of their extensive world travels from India to Burma to their beloved Mexico.

Exploring their new world

As planned, Bob and Ans moved to Ashby Ponds before Bob’s eightieth birthday.

“Once we made the decision to move, it all happened very quickly,” says Bob. “The staff helped make our move very easy. We opted to use one of the preferred real estate agents, and he did a superb job. He told us how to best stage our house and used a wide-angle lens to take wonderful photos.”

The Olanders’ house sold in less than one day, before the for-sale sign was installed and the lockbox was placed on the door.

“We started meeting people [at Ashby Ponds] right away,” says Bob. “I feared that we would live among people less eager to be involved in activities, but I was wrong. Ans and I learned quickly that dining on campus is like opening a treasure chest. People shared their stories and experiences, and it was clear that we live among some of the most interesting people we have ever known.”

Within days of moving in, Bob began documenting his feelings through poetry, an art he began exploring following the emotional aftermath of 9/11. Since, he has published a book of poetry inspired by his first year at Ashby Ponds, Behind the Gates at Ashby Ponds: In Image and Verse.

“I found that the more I wrote, the more my feelings grew lighter and lighter,” says Bob. “Within just a few months, Ashby Ponds was truly our home.”

Stamping their passports

Moving to Ashby Ponds also allows the Olanders to embark on their world travels without worrying about the house they leave behind. The couple recently returned from an extended trip to their home in Ajijic, Mexico, and are currently planning for a late summer/early fall trip to Holland to visit with Ans’s sister.

“It’s a funny thing,” says Bob. “For the last 15 years, we’ve gone to Mexico in the winter. We love the country and the people. Now that we live at Ashby Ponds, we still visit, but gone is the feeling of needing to go, of escaping for a little while. There’s nothing here we wish to escape from. Life is good—no, life is wonderful—and we are enjoying every minute.”