Saturday, July 28, 2007

Finally!



We're back in Atlanta! I almost said we're back home, which is totally true. However, when I'm in Amsterdam, I also feel I'm home. Very interesting how quickly that has happened. Hmmm.

Anyway, this is a convoluted story but the ending is that we both came home earlier than our scheduled Friday (yesterday) trip. Donica came home on Wednesday and I followed suit on Thursday.

It so happened that while we were gone, Donica's mom found out that she had blockage in her heart arteries again (after quadruple bypass surgery several years ago). So after being catheterized a couple days earlier, she had a stint inserted this past Tuesday. Donica arrived home on Wednesday within 2 hours of Mom's arrival back home. So Donica was able to be up close and personal, seeing to it that everything was okay. When I saw Mom on Thursday evening, she was up and about, acting just like Mom! We even played several games of Spades with her and Lee!

Now she's in the long haul of trying once again to stop smoking! Prayers to the Universe that this time she'll succeed!

So now that we've gone through the mail, YES, I've started reading the last Harry Potter book that was waiting for me. In between straightening all the messes around the house, I read a chapter here and a chapter there.

Finally! Finally all the secrets will be revealed and this long saga of Harry Potter will reach its climax. It's been quite a journey for those of us who have been hooked! For the rest of you, you don't know what you've missed!

Anyway, have a great weekend, reading or not!

[Above image is from the Amazon.com site.]

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

We Did!


Enjoy the weekend in Hannover, that is!

The train ride going was longer because we had to take 3 different trains to get from Amsterdam to Hannover, due to construction on the train tracks over the weekend. Coming back yesterday on Monday was a direct, faster ride.

How wonderful to be with Uschi and Wolfgang again (our previous landlords), like picking up from where we last left off!


Sunday evening we ate dinner at the nearby Biergarten that was always our favorite for a plate loaded with ribs. Uschi remembered that, so that's where we went.


Then back at their apartment (they live beneath the attic apartment that was ours for 2 years, remember?), we yakkity-yakked about Australia. They just recently spent 6 weeks there with a tour group. We'll be there next April for 2 weeks, so we wanted to get the low-down from them. And we did, including my chance to try on Wolfgang's hat for size! (I LOVE those Aussie hats!) :)

Then Donica went to her hotel while I stayed on with U&W, looking at more Australian pics on Uschi's computer monitor before spending the night.


In the morning, after a hearty breakfast, Uschi and I went for a walk. I told her I wanted to go to the cemetery to visit her mom and other relatives who have passed.


Uschi's mom, Mimmi, died in 2003. Her dad, Fritz, was killed in WWII, after which her mom never remarried.
Uschi explained the icons on the gravestone: the asterisk indicates birth; the cross indicates death. If the death happened in the war, there's a totally different icon, as you see above. Fritz died a couple months before I was born and 6 years after Uschi was born.


Just before I left U&W's, I noticed a new "toy" in one of her planters outside. That's one of Uschi's creative channels--adding little touches here and there around the apartments!

What a refreshing time to be with old friends!

And then I was on my way to meet up with Christina at the Hauptbahnhof (train station), "under the tail," where we were off for our obligatory latte macchiato and lunch. Another long session of yakkity-yakking, but this time without photos. Picking up from where we last left off. Even got to see her oldest son again!

Then Donica was there, meeting us at the hauptbahnhof before we were off to A'dam shortly after 2p. Home by 7p. In bed by 10:30p.

Yes, we did! We totally enjoyed our wonderful weekend!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Enjoy the Weekend!


As I was sorting through my Amsterdam pics today, I noticed all the ones I've taken of people in their windows! Relaxing! Watching the world pass by!

Do I take these pics because they're so unusual to see for someone from where I live in the States? Or is it because they make me wistful about such a way of life?!











Guess what! Speaking of the weekend and enjoying it, Donica and I are taking the train from Amsterdam to Hannover on Sunday, since Donica has business there on Monday. We'll spend Sunday evening with Uschi and Wolfgang (our old landlords), where I'll also spend the night so that I can have more hours with Uschi on Monday morning (while Donica works, bless her!). Then I'll be meeting up with Christina in City Center for lunch, before Donica and I catch the train at 2p back to A'dam.

Am I lucky or what! Truth be known, we're both looking forward to the 4.5 hours on the train, coming and going, totally relaxing. I LOVE train rides! (Amy and Dennis, I'm taking my PhotoShop packet to study!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Learning by Observing


You know those personality-profile tests that tell you interesting things about yourself...like how you learn things! I often come up as learning by observing.

So what did I learn the other day when I observed this on my Amsterdam walk?!







One thing I learned was that if you need to repair a bridge over one of the canals, you need something to stand on! DUH. I hadn't even gotten that far.

Another thing I learned...but which I already knew from the wee motorboat ride we've taken twice now with James and Matt...is how very low these bridges really are over the canals!

Oh...and it takes two men to change a light bulb! :D

I have no clue what that red and white flag represents! It's not the Holland flag. (Nope, it's not the Canadian, either, but nice try.)

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Other POV


As I loaded the rest of my pics, I realized this is gonna disappoint the rest of my family because I really didn't take that many family pics this year. Once I saw Ruth taking her many shots, I think I relaxed a bit and realized I didn't always have to be the chronicler!


When we make the long 850-mile drive from Atlanta to the family cottage, we all mark it by the milestones: the first one is the fireworks' store just outside of Chattanooga, TN. Then there's Nashville, Louisville, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne...and then...


...Grand Ledge, where we all grew up and where Mom and Dad are buried. We always stop by the cemetery going up, usually around 6-7a. It's a lovely, quiet time of the day to "remember." My brother, John, who still lives there, is the caretaker of the plot. Thank you, John and Sandy!


Then we're in the "stome hetch." It's another 50 miles to the cottage on Horseshoe Lake!


In random order, as the pics loaded on the page...here's Uncle Don "working" the paper.


Cousin Paul is one of THE photographers from whom Ruth and I learn. This was before the fireworks when he was doing "ghost" shots of Sydney and Casey. I learned a lot just by observing!


Off-n-on I made my Origami cranes, which I started making in 2004. There will be 365 of them when I'm through (from a page-a-day calendar), which I plan to make into a mobile.
This is when I realize my hands are much older than I feel (most of the time)!
(Thanks for taking the pic, Ruth!)


Sometimes the best and quietest moments at the cottage are spent on the deck. I'm not sure what Uncle Don was looking at but since there are only trees over there, maybe it was a falling limb or...bird. Ruth and I both used our laptops to sort through our daily pics.


In the midst of the family hub-bub, only-child Dennis was able to sneak some moments with his fiancee, Amy (my daughter!). I wonder if he survived our big family??? He better get used to it, since he's marrying into it (poor thing)!!!


Aunt Wilma and daughter, Stacy, show us that there's more than one way to get across the lake.


You better believe that the third generation of cousins is very important to us!!! There were 40 of us at the cottage throughout the weekend, 12 of whom are children of our children!


Dennis and Amy challenged Donica and me to Spades! Over the course of 2 days, I won't say who won, but Donica and I aren't gloating because we know the challenge will continue.


There's nothing like the back porch to tell you what's happening at the cottage or what time of the year it is! It'll look entirely different at the next reunion between Christmas and New Year's. That's one of the things I like about that special place in all our hearts.

For those of you who visit my photoblog, today I'm starting a 12-day series of cottage pics, many of which are different from these here. Check them out, if you wish.

Another year, another reunion. How do they possibly come and go so quickly! You tell me!

Friday, July 13, 2007

From a Nicholas POV


Since it's my prerogative (as Amy always says, "This is YOUR blog, Mom; you can do anything you want!"), I'm gonna have two different posts of the Michigan holiday vacation from over the Fourth of July. This one will be from Nicholas' point of view (good g'ma that I am!).


The day we arrived was THE holiday, July 4th, but because it was a Wednesday, the rest of the family didn't arrive till Friday...except for Don and Ruth who were already there, waiting for us. And since we had no other time to celebrate Nicholas' 7th birthday in Atlanta, we celebrated it at the cottage before the tribe arrived. Amy did a good job of mixing up the holiday and birthday.


The birthday boy then played one of his new Nintendo DS games, showing Uncle Don how to do it, while Aunt Ruth snapped away. HA! We snapped at each other!


The thing about the N DS is that it was a fun playmate while none of the cousins were yet there. But there were rules, of course. You can't spend ALL your time gaming, you know!


So Uncle Don oversaw the Lego construction. Uncle Don, the favorite uncle. Uncle Don, the elementary school teacher. The Uncle Don everyone needs to have.


Uh-oh. There it is again. Oops. Amy clearly is okay with it, as are Donica and Dennis.


Well, let's just say it was a big hit! Once Peter and his girlfriend arrived, Nicholas followed them around. Peter is Uncle Don's son. Like father, like son! And Nicholas knows that!!!


So as you see, there really WERE other things to do! But it's still with Peter...


...or with Uncle Don! Once cousin Audrey arrived, there was finally a playmate.


See what I mean about everyone needing an Uncle Don!




Then Aunt Peggy had her 65th birthday! She, too, is/was a school teacher, so guess what she told all the kids! "Since it's MY birthday cake and I can make the rules, you can all come and lick the frosting anywhere you want." And he did! And it was before dinner, because sometimes you just have to eat dessert first! Life really is short!


The last night was when we celebrated the fireworks. The kids, of course, spent the first hour lighting the sparklers, before it was dark enough for the bigger bangs. It was the best fireworks we had had to date (we always pick them up as we pass through Tennessee). Ironically, the next day we adults decided we didn't want to continue the fireworks tradition any more, fearful of any accidents that, thankfully, have been averted all these years thus far. We just don't want to keep pressing our luck.

As I said, this is a Nicholas slant to the holiday trip. My next post will be a bit of everything else. Just because I can?! :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lord of the Realm


YES! I'm alive and well. I'm still on Planet Earth. And as of a few hours ago, I am now back in Amsterdam in our apartment (while Donica is in Hannover on business before flying back to A'dam tonight)!

The last week is a bit of a whirl, after our trip to Michigan. But instead of starting there, I want to start with what we did for Nicholas' 7th birthday on Sunday evening, after arriving back from our all-night drive that morning...and before we left for Europe the next day (yesterday).


When we were in Brugge, Belgium, for my birthday back in June, we bought a medieval knight's outfit for Nicholas. And once back in Atlanta, we reserved seats for the Medieval Times show held at the mall near his home. While we stood in line to get in, he wore his helmet.


Once inside and at the appropriate time, he was knighted by the King himself.






It actually was a big deal and nearly brought tears to my eyes because he took the whole thing so seriously. Well, so did they, which helped!


Once inside the arena where we ate a feast, the show began. Because we were in the green section, our own "personal" knight was this Green Knight, standing in front of us to welcome the festivities.


Our table happened to be in the very front row, so when this horse and rider approached our section, we could have reached out to touch them. I think the horse knew I had a camera!


At the end of the evening, the King's right-hand man read off all the important celebrations of the evening, among which was Lord Nicholas' 7th birthday!

During the entire show, for almost 2 hours, Nicholas was totally transfixed. I don't think he ate more than a few bites. This is one of those experiences you only do once, but you remember it forever, as I'm quite sure he will.

And as you all know by now, that little fella is definitely Lord of Our Realm! We are so privileged to have him in our lives. Privileged and thankful.

**********
Throughout this week I plan to work on my Michigan photos. But if you'd like a head start, PLEASE visit my sister Ruth's post with all HER pics! As I told her, I hardly need to do a thing. She did it for me!

Now I need to go visit YOUR blogs...after I take a nap, I think. It was a very nice flight but never enough sleep!

Monday, July 02, 2007

My Glad!


How many of you use the term "My Bad" whenever you make a mistake or mess up?! Well, this is a take-off on that.


Here's a Glad (gladiolus) from our rock garden out front, blooming as we speak. It represents My Glad as we prepare for an overnight with Nicholas tonight (giving Dennis and Amy some alone time after he flies in from LA this afternoon) and then our annual drive to the Hart Family Cottage in Michigan tomorrow evening.

Since we will be in Amsterdam on Nicholas' 7th birthday (July 12), we will celebrate with him tonight and then again at the cottage. Once we get back next Sunday, we'll take him to Medieval Times for dinner and the show. He has been begging us to go there for ever, so finally we will go! He will really be birthday-ed!

The very next day, on Monday the 9th, Donica flies to Hannover and I fly to Amsterdam. So let's just say a lot is happening all at once.

Because of a terrible Internet connection at the cottage and wanting to give all my energy to family, this will be my last post before we return on Sunday. Tomorrow will be my last post on Shutterchance as well, with a variation on today's theme.

And I am very GLAD! We love this annual trip to the cottage each summer!

Have a great July 4th holiday, you who celebrate it. Traveling mercies to us all!