Thursday, August 27, 2015

Colour My Summer 2015, Gorinchem, NL


Every summer before school starts, the last week, in fact, Gorinchem (where we live here in the Netherlands) has a Zomerfeest (Summer Festival).  Think MUSIC, loud bands everywhere, fun-n-games (like building forts out of wood at the beach).  That was last week.  School started this week.

E V E R Y summer.  It's like clockwork.  How cool is that!

Last year a new event got started up here called Colour My Summer, which Astrid and I totally missed...because it didn't come across our radar or because it rained?  Probably both.

But THIS year, Astrid's son Jeroen (and DIL Eva) ran in it, so we paid attention.  Colour My Summer is a 5 km run/walk that raises money for charity.  Last year, in spite of the rain, they raised €22K.  This year, with 500 participants, they raised €24K.

The run/walk started at the market square near us and then wound around our citadel wall.
After every kilometer, a new powdered paint was sprayed onto the participants:
red, green, pink, blue and orange.
Astrid and I decided to set ourselves in place early at the pink station,
in front of our De Hoop windmill, while they got ready.
Of course, the volunteers had to try it out on themselves first!

Then someone on top of the windmill yelled, "They're coming!"
We were all ready, trust me.


At one point, Astrid reminded me that I could take some videos.
(why do I almost always forget!)
So, I did...and just happened to catch Jeroen and Eva as they ran by.
Jeroen is the one jumping up and down.  HA!
And yes, that's Astrid yelling their names!


What a colossal mess, which is why they were all given glasses to wear.
Some were smart enough to also wear mouth/nose masks.
Can you imagine if it were raining, like last year?

We followed the last stragglers away from the windmill...
and looked back at that sea of pink dust.
Volunteers all along the way made sure the runners followed the correct route.

But Astrid and I cut through town back to the market square for the last station.
How appropriate to end with the color orange, right?!

And there we watched Jeroen and Eva (and friends) finish the course.
Astrid says she always knows when Jeroen is having a good time.
When I see him jump around like that, I know, too!

The charity receiving this year's €24K was AMREF Flying Doctors,
bettering the health in Africa of young women in particular,
with emphasis on alternative rituals to female genital mutilation.

OMG!  Our girls.  Lest we forget!

And now they're back to school.  Summer is now officially over here in our city,
but the colors will remain for many days to come.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Saturday's Weathervane Bonanza


Sometimes Astrid and I go for a joyride out in the polder just to find weathervanes.  Seriously.  It so happens she has been riding her bike recently for long (45 km) trips, and when she comes home will say, "I want to drive you on my bike route so you can see all the weathervanes!"

So, we did just that this past Saturday and had a blast:  48 weathervanes in less than 2 hours.   THAT'S a bonanza!

The first thing I did was divvy them up into manageable groups/themes.
First, the arrows.  Did you know there could be so many different styles?

Then all the birds.  Okay, there's also an animal,
but that's my first parrot, I think.
Sometimes I even get a real bird, freeloading (middle-left).

I suppose these are birds, right?
But usually you don't see such a good variety on the cock theme.

More freeloaders on a couple of these animals.

And then, everything else!
I can't always get a good angle on a vane and have to take what I get.
I decide it's better than nothing, of course.

I should mention that I DO take pics of anything else that grabs my eye,
like these sheep who just yakkity-yakked 100 mph when we stopped to visit them.

And then there are still impressions, wherever we go.
I was almost too late in grabbing the two ladies (bottom-right)
who seemed to be having their own sweet yakkity-yak, side by side.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

On another note, Nicholas received the photo book on Tuesday of his visit here.  This is what he wrote me:  

Hey Grandma, the book finally arrived today! I waited for mom to get home to open it. The book looked really good on the outside. We read and looked at every single page and it was very fun to see everything again. I loved the book and I can't wait to show everyone else! By the way I loved the last page of the book it made me laugh! Haha  
Love Nicholas

How does it get any better than that!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Nicholas in the Netherlands: The Book


It's done!  In fact, it was ready within 1.5 weeks after g'son Nicholas left on Friday the 31st.  You know what they say--money talks.  I was able to save $75 by pressing the ORDER button by this past Wednesday.  YAY.

Here it is:  it's a 12x12-inch book of 74 pages.  It is now also on my sidebar.  
(Remember to view it in FULL SCREEN to get the best effect.)



It really was a series of very fortunate events!

[ADDENDUM:  Shutterfly uses Adobe Flash to view this book, which is unfortunately not supported by iPhones or iPads.  Also, I believe it is Adobe Flash, not Shutterfly, that is messing up this online preview in a couple of places.  The real book/hard copy has only 74 pages, all of which are filled.]  



Saturday, August 08, 2015

Watercolor Sundays


You know I'm making a photo book on grandson Nicholas' two weeks with us, right?  I'm starting Day 10 of 15 today, so I really am moving right along...having a blast with it.  Easting, drinking and sleeping it, to be honest!

In the meantime....

It suddenly occurred to me that I want to add my Watercolor Sundays here (for the record) that I've been posting for several weeks now on Facebook.  It started when I fell in love with a watercolor photo manipulation from one of my friends, about which I inquired:  HOW DID YOU DO THAT!  Once she told me (it's the Waterlogue app for the iPad, plus some added manipulation I do in PhotoShop), I've been in heaven ever since.  Watercolor happens to be my favorite of all the art mediums out there.

And with each watercolor (photo manipulation), I add an inspiring quote...since it's for Sunday:

"In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along."--George A. Young


"The lotus comes from the murkiest water but grows into the purest thing."--Nita Ambani


"Happiness is an inside job."--William Arthur Ward


"In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength."--Isaiah 30:15
Happy Father's Day!


"My heart is like a singing bird."--Christina Rossetti


"It’s Fourth of July weekend, or, as I call it, Exploding Christmas." – Stephen Colbert


"The Amen of nature is always a flower."--Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.


 "Go fast enough to get there, but slow enough to see."--Jimmy Buffett

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

See how fun it can be when you play around with your camera.
Who would have known!

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Grandson Nicholas in the Netherlands: Week Two


As I write this, Nicholas has been gone less than 24 hours.  How is that possible?  Tears in my eyes this time but with so many happy memories from the second week of his 2-week visit to see G'ma here in the Netherlands.

Day 8, Friday, 24 July:  War Bunker and the Lindeborg Happy Hour

It so happens that every Friday afternoon I play Rummikub in our senior-center's recreation hall.  We all decided that I'd still do it this particular Friday so that Nicholas could experience our Happy Hour afterwards.

So, while I played Rummikub, Astrid took Nicholas to this WWII Bunker 599 from 1940.
We had seen it before in September 2013 when Chris and Chad were visiting from England.
It's been split in half so you can see what it was like inside.

When they came back, it was time to join me for our Borreltje (Happy Hour) after Rummikub.
Nicholas had the chance to sample the hapjes...bite-sized, deep-fried goodies.
The lady at bottom-left just turned 100, so the photo-op was a must.
100, 70, 15:  That's about the size of it.

Day 9, Saturday, 25 July:  Rotterdam

Unbenownst to us at the time, this day ended up having the most severe storm weather in Dutch recorded history for July since 1901. 

So guess what we did?!  
We took the Waterbus from Papendrecht to Rotterdam on the Nieuwe Maas river, a 45 min. ride.
Besides visiting the Maritime Museum, we walked around the area to see the crazy architecture.
Nicholas and I giggled all day because it was so blustery.

Day 10, Sunday, 26 July:  Scheveningen Pier and Den Haag

Grabbing good weather, we drove to the North Sea after all that stormy craziness,
to walk the Scheveningen Pier and beach.


Look what Astrid found.  A wee little star fish (zee ster).
And yes, that's Nicholas' voice saying "they regenerate."

Just as we left the beach, it started to rain,
but we still drove to the Peace Palace in nearby Den Haag (The Hague).
We told Nicholas that if Hitler were still alive when the United Nations was founded in 1946,
he would have been one of the war criminals tried here.

Day 11, Monday, 27 July:  All Day at HOME

About this time into the second week, we all started needing HOME time and made the decision to do nothing.   In fact, about every other day Nicholas was able to sleep in till noon, which gave us all some "me" time.

Astrid decided to make her home-made macaroni specialty for Nicholas for supper.
Yum Yum Yum Yum.  I think he had 3 helpings?!

During the afternoon he finished his 1,000 dot-to-dot drawing of Amsterdam.
In fact, we both did since I had made a copy for him from the Cityscapes book I had just purchased.
(Thank you, Anne, for the great idea!)
Amsterdam was the first of 20 cities in the book, which made a good souvenir from our trip on Day 6.

Day 12, Tuesday, 28 July:  Brussels, Belgium

Okay, so this isn't the Netherlands, but because we can drive to Belgium within 30 minutes and to Brussels within 1.5 hours (80 miles), it made sense to make an extra-special trip to Brussels, the seat of the European Union, just to say we did it...and to give Nicholas another country-notch in his belt.

 We first drove to Mini-Europe on the north side of the city where we parked for the day.
On-n-off rain did not hamper us at all.
We told Nicholas he saw all of Europe in 1.5 hours.  HA!

From that point we all got Metro day passes and took the train to the European Parliament.
I told Nicholas this was like going to the Capitol in Washington, D.C., where he visited with G'pa Bill.
It was Astrid's and my first time to see it, too, so a real sight for sore eyes.

Then it was back on the train to the Grand Place in city center.
Mussels in Brussels was a must for Astrid and Nicholas,
followed by a real Belgian waffle and hand-picked chocolates by Nicholas.

BTW, at the start of the day Nicholas wondered if anyone would recognize his shirt's logo.
I told him that I bet at least one person would!  And indeed, one guy said "GO DUCKS."
Nicholas wants to go to Oregon once he graduates from high school!

Day 13, Wednesday, 29 July:  All Day at HOME (again)

It was laundry day and Nicholas got to sleep in again.
This is how we do it...in our main living area where some clothes hang to dry,
and the rest goes to the community commercial-sized dryer.
See Nicholas' bed for the 2 weeks?  Yup.  The couch.
And once he was up, he had the entire afternoon to "game" on his laptop.

Day 14, Thursday 30 July:  Zuiderzee Museum in Enkhuizen

Our last full day together was perfect weather-wise, NE of Amsterdam.
I don't think we could have had a better last day together!
There was enough interactive Dutch experience to last a lifetime.
And because Nicholas bought a family plaque with his "Grannan" name there (now on order,
 see the handshake?), he said it was a "clutch gift" right at the end of his trip.
We'll take it to him when we visit Atlanta in October.

Day 15, Friday, 31 July:  Back to Schiphol Airport for the Trip Home

The last meal we had before taking Nicholas back to the Amsterdam airport was erwtensoep,
which reminded me to show the Dutch food experiences he had while here.
As I said on Facebook, he tried everything Dutch we offered him:
 uitsmijter (fried eggs on cheese, ham and toast), erwtensoep (split pea soup), hapjes (bite-sized goodies), appeltaart (Astrid's specialty), patat friet (fried potatoes in a cone), pannenkoeken (pancakes), zoethout (licorice root), beenham (hot baked ham) sandwich, gerookte haring (smoked herring), suikerbrood (sugar bread from Friesland)...
and many ijsjes (ice creams). 
He was such a good sport!

 After lunch, as we left for the airport, I already had a sob in my throat.
In fact, as I've written this post today, the sob has returned.
The only good news about that is it'll be 2.5 fast months before we'll see him again,
on our annual trip to Atlanta.

I guess the other good news is that we fell in love with him all over again.
Though it's always good to get back to "normalcy," we both miss him like the dickens.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, G'ma.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Nicholas.
Now it's time to make the photo book...full of second blessings as we review them.

A Series of Very Fortunate Events!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Grandson Nicholas in the Netherlands: Week One


A week is now under our belt, so to speak, and we're thrilled by what g'son Nicholas has already seen!  Remember that he just turned 15 and I just turned 70...so we're really celebrating big-time!

And for the record, here's a quick synopsis thus far, based on the collages I've been posting every day at Facebook.  Later, after he leaves, I plan to make a photo book with many more images in detail.

Day 1, Friday, 17 July:  Arrival at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam

Right outside the airport terminal is this art sculpture "I AMSTERDAM."
Talk about a tourist attraction we couldn't avoid/miss.

Later at home we walked into town to pick up museum cards...and an ice cream!

Day 2, Saturday, 18 July:  Fort Vuren, Loevestein Castle, and Woudrichem

We stayed pretty close to home but covered a lot of territory, starting with Fort Vuren.
It's an underground fortress from 1844.

We drove on the dijk along the Merwede river, crossed the bridge at Zaltbommel,
and drove back on the other side of the river to the Loevestein Castle, from 1357,
directly across the river from where we just were at Fort Vuren.
 With our museum cards we were able to go inside...my first time!


It didn't take Nicholas long to get the hang of walking on stilts.

Next door to the castle is a delightful town called Woudrichem,
our sister city across the river from us here in Gorinchem.
The "Nooit Gedagt" windmill sells the flour we use for Astrid's bread machine.
It also allows visitors to climb to the top, which we did.

While in Woudrichem we ate at the De Stroming restaurant.
It was Nicholas' first time to experience a Dutch uitsmijter!

Day 3, Sunday, 19 July:  Gorinchem Citadel Walk and Dinner with Jeroen and Eva

We had a stay-at-home day to walk around our Gorinchem citadel.
We stretched the normal one-hour walk into 2, stopping all along the way.

And as a huge surprise that evening, Jeroen and Eva invited us for Indonesian.
Jeroen is Astrid's son, so it was cool to see him, Eva and Nicholas interact.

Day 4, Monday, 20 July:  Kinderdijk and the Pannenkoeken restaurant

It happened to be a misty-rainy day but we enjoyed it nonetheless.
Nicholas said it felt "sacred."  His word.

And at our favorite pannenkoeken restaurant out in the polder,
Nicholas ate his first Dutch pancakes.  

Day 5, Tuesday, 21 July:  Paper Exhibition at the Gorinchem Museum

Again, because we had museum cards and were staying close to home,
we decided to see the Paper exhibition in our own city center.

Later that evening, Nicholas and Astrid did the dishes.
He's quite the sport, earning his keep.

Day 6, Wednesday, 22 July:  Amsterdam

 Have you noticed that we're pacing ourselves with days of rest between the big days?
Amsterdam was a long day but we did it, driving back-n-forth to the AJAX soccer arena,
and then taking the METRO into the city.

We started at the Rijksmuseum to see Rembrandt's "Night Watch" 
and then hoped to get into the Van Gogh and Anne Frank museums until we saw the long lines.
We walked by the apartment where Donica and I used to live, ate at Wagamama,
took the tram to the floating flower market, saw Central Station and the St. Nicholas Church,
and even walked the Red Light District, just to say we did it.
Nicholas giggled all day at the drug and sexual innuendos.

Day 7, Thursday, 23 July:  Malle Molen Restaurant and Mixed Fighting

  Besides going grocery shopping together and starting a 1,000 dot-to-dot drawing of Amsterdam...

 ...we went to the Malle Molen (Silly Mill) for supper (what the pot cooks),
and then immediately drove to Eva's father's house for  an adventure.

Nicholas had the chance of a lifetime to be mentored in Mixed Fighting
by Alex Hesseling (Eva's father), a real pro and instructor.


What a special and unexpected treat for all of us,
especially for me to watch and capture.

"Fighting isn't about winning or losing," the instructor said, 
"but about learning yourself and what you can or cannot do."
How's that for the first week!