Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Atlanta 2018 Review

This time you may need to fasten your seatbelt because of everything that happened in 1.5 weeks surrounding the high school graduation of g'son Nicholas.  It really was a ride and both Astrid and I showed it in bits-n-bobs on Facebook!

 Before we do anything else, of course, we have to get the "new" growth stats.  HA!
This is the 4th year we've done this with Astrid and Nicholas.
Lucky for us, he already had his cap and gown before the actual graduation ceremony.

SIL Dennis' Mom Judy and daughter, Brooke, arrived the same day, from California.

So, then, of course, we had all the shenanigans...while we were "waiting" for the big day.

Not to be outdone by Mom, here comes g'ma!
As I said on FB, if anyone says "I like big butts and I cannot lie" (Sir Mix-a Lot), I'll shoot you.  HA!

I'm so lucky to have Astrid document so many fun, happy moments.

Astrid was the one who gave the basketball hoop to Nicholas as a house-warming gift in 2016.
Nicholas grew up shooting baskets with g'ma!  Couldn't let that go to waste!

  Saturday before graduation, Nicholas, Astrid and I went with son Mark to the last Star Wars movie.
After that, Mark took us on a tour of his M3 company where he is now in Quality Assurance.
A colleague, appropriately, had the Wookie bobble-head on his desk.

Then it was Memorial Day Monday when g'pa Bill and Linda joined us, from Florida.
Bill is my ex, so, yes, families do change and blend and merge, sometimes gracefully.

I loved that Astrid shared her own take on the day...her first time meeting my "distant past."
[Bill and I were married 21 years, from 1969-1990.]

Then it was the big day:  Tuesday, 29 May 2018.
Lambert High School, Suwanee, GA, Class of 2018.
(Remember that I had just had my 55th reunion, Class of '63, a couple weeks before!)

He did it!

The party afterwards was almost as important as the graduation itself.

Astrid's collage is fabulous, showing all the "usual suspects."
I absolutely love this for all the people important to Nicholas.
(Yes, that's my other ex, Donica, who played an important part in Nicholas' first years with me,
on the top, far right.)

From that point on, Wednesday till when we left on Saturday for Amsterdam,
Astrid and I took walks every day in the delightful subdivision where Amy lives.

The trail is near the Chattahoochee River and so has inlets throughout.
(I loved it until someone on FB told me about the venomous water snakes in Georgia.)

The Nature Trail was exploding with fungi because of many days of rain.

I loved picking-n-choosing different images for our Shutterchance photoblog.

Here's Astrid's take.  Don't you love it!

One day she even caught this black racer, sunning itself a block away from Amy's.
OMG!  Who knew they were in the neighborhood! 
(NOT poisonous, thankfully.) 

She also did this collage of the geese down at the neighborhood pond.

Sometimes I practice using my macro mode on the camera , of course.
The flowers at this time of the year were plentiful and gorgeous.

We aren't usually there when the magnolias are in bloom!

Saturday evening, 2 June 2018, Astrid, Nicholas and I flew back to The Netherlands.
THAT'S what's coming up next....

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Michigan 2018 Review

It's going to take time to get through these last weeks of gallivanting about, especially since they're not over yet...not until g'son Nicholas leaves for Atlanta on Sunday.

So, the easiest thing right now is to show the Facebook posts I published each day, first in Michigan for a week and then in Atlanta for 1.5 weeks.

Astrid and I flew to Detroit, MI, on May 16th and were picked up by sister, Ruth, and BIL, Don.

First order of business was to go eat lunch in Chelsea (home of Jiffy).
Gotta love the bike that made us feel right at home!

To be honest, the most important part of being on The Farm is just to BE there.
Just BEING with Don and Ruth where they live is a vacation.
We needed that.  We were all so relaxed.

A surprise awaited us from Ruth, who had already quilted a table runner that reminded her of me.
She had wanted to perhaps make more placemats and napkins for us,
but I convinced her that the table runner had our name written all over it.
Once Nicholas leaves, it goes on our table, with accompanying napkins.
What a gift, especially watching her make the binding at the end.

Another very special memory was spending a few hours with their son Peter.
While Andrea stayed home to work, Peter and the kids went with us 
to the 4-H Children's Garden at Michigan State.
OMG.  A D O R A B L E.

You may remember that the main reason we went to Michigan in the first place
was to attend my 55th high school reunion:  Class of '63.
There were 32 of us who attended (with added spouses) from our class of 178 classmates.
All of us are 73, mas o menos a year!  :)

The joy it was to connect with my classmates was like meeting them again for the first time.
This was so high on my bucket list that I could have died and gone to heaven.
It was even better than I had imagined.
(I'm here with our class president, Bruce, and his wife Maria.)

And they all totally loved and included my wife, Astrid.
How could they not!
(Carol Baker on the right was a girlfriend all through my youth.)

The class reunion was on Friday night and Saturday was a luncheon for 500 classmates
who have graduated 50-plus years or more.  The oldest present was from the Class of '33 (age 102)!
That was a special day but my own Class of '63 reunion was the highlight for me.

On Sunday, it was time for my sibs to meet up and have our own reunion!
6 of the 8 of us were present:  Nelson, Moi, Nancy, Jim, John and Ruth.
Bennett (#6) is wandering the galaxies somewhere.
Susan (#2) was on a pre-scheduled cruise for her 75th birthday.

But here she is (left) from eons ago.  Nelson celebrated his 75th a year ago.
I'll celebrate mine two years from now, followed by Nancy the next year.

Which brings me to the ones who were responsible:  Barbara and Carl Hart!
I always visit my parents' gravestone when I'm in Grand Ledge, MI, where I grew up.
It seems a fitting close to this first busy week of our vacation.

Next post will be all about Nicholas' high school graduation,
plus our time enjoying the neighborhood where he lives....

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Watercolor Sunday and Saturday's Color: May 2018

Now that we're back from our American trip, I'll start off with an easy post, since grandson Nicholas is now with us for two weeks.  In time I'll catch you up on everything.

For now, here are my Watercolor Sunday posts on Facebook for May, 2018:

May 6 (photo manipulation):
"A lie keeps growing and growing until it's as plain as the nose on your face."
--Walt Disney Company, Pinocchio

"Most unfortunately, in the lives of puppets there is always a 'but' that spoils everything."
--Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio

May 13 (photo manipulation):
"Children are the anchors that a hold a mother to life."

Happy Mother's Day!

May 20 (photo manipulation):
"Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees takes off his shoes."
--Elizabeth Barrett Browning

May 27 (photo manipulation):
"What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters
compared to what lives within us."
--Henry David Thoreau

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

These are my Saturday's Color posts on Facebook for May 2018:

(finished on 20 April 2018, posted on FB 5 May 2018)
For some reason, I've always liked brown and red together.
Of course, brown is the redhead's "black," which is probably why.
But I don't recall ever wearing the combination.  Hmmm.
(from my Mandalas book)

(finished on 14 April 2018, posted on FB 12 May 2018)
Happy Mother's Day to Barbara Nelson Bennett Hart
who bore us 8 kids (of whom I am #3) and lived to age 80 by 1997.
We all came from your "center" and blossomed out over the years.  Thank you.
(from my Mandalas book)

(finished on 28 January 2018, posted on FB 19 May 2018)
Have you noticed that when you live long enough,
your life circles back to itself in sometimes wonderful, unbelievable ways!
That's how I felt last evening at my Class of '63 high school reunion here in Michigan...our 55th.
OMG!  I'm still luxuriating in those moments of "rekindling."
(from my Techellations book)

(finished on 7 April 2018, posted on FB 26 May 2018)
This Mandala design is called "Bluefin Tuna" in honor of daughter Amy's husband Dennis
and his parents who owned a sport fishing boat named "Bluefin" for 20 years.
(Judy, his mom, is with us now in Atlanta, from California.)
Happy Memorial Day weekend to all my American friends,
especially those of you who will be fishing.

Monday, May 14, 2018

PICTURIT: A Shutterchance Love Story

For Astrid's upcoming Retirement at the end of May, 2018, I have celebrated this milestone by making a 12 x 12 book of 245 of my favorite images of her 1200+ postings on Shutterchance, the photoblog where she and I first met in 2007....

...and then married in 2010!  As Astrid often says, "Blame it on the internet!"

This is, indeed, a love story.  ENJOY.

Once you click on the "Click here to view this photo book" link above, click "view" when it opens to see the book exactly as it should appear.  To read the text, you may need to enlarge your screen several times:  Ctrl + for Windows; Command + for Mac.

You can also now find this book added to my sidebar, where clicking on it will direct you to this page.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This is an early post for this week because Astrid and I fly to America on Wednesday,
first for a week in Michigan for my 55th high school reunion (Class of '63),
followed by 1.5 weeks in Atlanta for g'son Nicholas' high school graduation.
He returns with us to The Netherlands for 2 weeks on June 3rd.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A Meet-Up with Jim and Laurel

How often do you get to rendezvous with old friends you haven't seen in almost 35 years?!?  Lucky for me, it happened a couple weekends ago, Sunday, April 29, when Astrid and I drove to Amstelveen (suburb of Amsterdam) to pick up Jim and Laurel Morrison, visiting from California.

Remember the Morrison part, because that'll come up later.

The "old friends" part goes all the way back to when Bill and I served in Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, first in San Diego, and then in Pasadena, CA, back when our kids were born in the early 70s.  Laurel was the one back then who gave son Mark his Marks-n-Sparks moniker.

We all look older now, of course, but it was like we all picked up from where we last left off...with Astrid merging into the mix like she had always been there from the beginning.  Besides, she's the same age as Jim and Laurel.

After picking them up in Amstelveen, on a rainy day, we drove first to Hoorn, 54 km north.
Jim and Laurel both were good sports about the rain.  We all took it in stride.

Hoorn is a delightful harbor town on the Markermeer lake
that has become a "bedroom community" for many who work in Amsterdam.

It's hard not to be mesmerized by the place, even with the rain.

Our short walk that day took us to the Hoofdtoren (Head Tower), the city port on the waterfront.
It was built in 1532 from limestone and brick and is now a restaurant.

And yes, that's where we ate lunch, compliments of Jim and Laurel.  Thank You!
We had been to Hoorn with Robin first (2012), and later with Chris and Chad (2013).

As we walked back to the car, it was fun to watch Jim hand his camera over to Laurel for a photo...

and then to look at what she took.

In the process, I took my own photo, of course.

From Hoorn we drove east to the tulip fields to find what we could see.
Lucky for us, tulips were still in bloom.

Even on a rainy day, they are a wonder to behold.

At the second field, I stayed in the car and took pics of the coming and going.

On the other side of the road, through the car window, I caught these lookers, enjoying the rain.

After the tulip fields, we ended up in another harbor town, Medemblik, on the IJsselmeer lake.
It was time for a good koffie break with appeltaart.
But guess what!  They had no appeltaart.  WHAT?  In a Dutch, harborside café?!
But guess what!  The owner had his girlfriend go out and buy one to put on our table.
We were given "permission" to eat the entire thing...and we did!

Here's where the Morrison thing comes in.  Remember?
This café sports all kinds of music posters on its walls from the owner.
Next to our table was a Jim Morrison poster from The Doors.
So Jim took out his passport to show the owner that he also is Jim Morrison, in that café.
And that started a long conversation about San Francisco (where Jim and Laurel live)
and from where the owner himself swam to Alcatraz Island.

It's a small world after all!

 Another harbor to explore on a rainy day....

before we headed back to Amsterdam to drop them off at their hotel.

It was 7 hours of catching up and remembering why we have remained friends after all these years.
Thank you, Jim and Laurel, for the time and effort.
We'll never forget it.