Thursday, January 25, 2018

Brother Nelson in the Netherlands

You already know I took last week off because of Brother Nelson's visit with us for a week.  The most important thing to say from the get-go is that this is a post about NELSON and not so much about what we did or where we went.  It is NELSON I want to remember here....EVERYTHING about him that I can have and hold for the days I will not have him....

To start with, I discovered, as we talked about it, that the reason why this was like meeting him for the first time was because when he was 16 (and I was 13), he started working at the local grocery store after school.  That means he wasn't at home.  And once he graduated from high school, he was off to university, graduated, and got married.

So THAT'S why this is important to me.

To give more scale, Nelson is the oldest of us 8 kids (I'm #3 at 3.5 years his junior) and he lives in Holland, Michigan, where there is a huge Dutch community.  It was time for him to see the real Holland!

SUNDAY, 14 January:

We picked Nelson up at Amsterdam's airport on his 76th birthday!
[He came alone because his wife doesn't fly.]
From there it was fun and games in Amsterdam.

Mid-morning we had a latte macchiato break in the Rijksmusem café.
It was the closest thing to actually being IN the museum.

And then we did the touristy thing, taking a canal-boat ride around the city.
It's what you do when you have time only for the fast-track of the city.

MONDAY, 15 January:

Because Nelson had minimal sleep while flying over The Pond, we took Monday to get settled in.
He stayed in one of our community guest rooms at night and spent the days with us.
Eating.  Drinking.  Watching the news.  Talking.
We even walked to Aldi together that day.

Each day he caught up on his family and my laptop or his iPad.

That's when I really started LOOKING at him.
And started recognizing ME in him...or him in me?!

TUESDAY, 16 January:

After the day of rest, we took our long-distance drive to the Zeeland province in the west of Holland.
Our final destination was Oosterscheldekering, 117 km away.
But our first stop was the Basilica of St. Agatha and Barbara in Oudenbosch, 64 km. away.
[Did I mention that our mom's name is Barbara?]
Astrid and I had visited the basilica in 2010 and knew Nelson would love it.  He did!

We ate an uitsmijter lunch in the quaint small city of Zierikzee, 62 km. from the basilica.
Afterwards we stopped to see the Zeeland Bridge, the longest bridge in the Netherlands (top-right).
It's actually the longest bridge in Europe, spanning 5,022 meters (16,476 ft.).
It was then another 20 km. to the Oosterscheldekering storm surge barrier (bottom-center).
It's the largest of the 13 Delta Works, protecting the flooding of the Netherlands from the North Sea.
It's 9 km. long and was built after the North Sea flood of 1953 when 2100+ lives were lost.
The Dutch said..."never again!"

WEDNESDAY, 17 January:

By now, understand how fun it was for me to watch Nelson, seeing what intrigued him most.
Astrid was well prepared to stop on a dime after all my weathervanes.  HA!

That day our favorite Loevestein castle wasn't open, so we went to Doorwerth, 70 km. from home.
We wanted Nelson to see a real castle.

We got there in time to first eat lunch.
Notice how much fun we had over our meals!

I could show you more of the castle but, remember, this is more about NELSON.
And ME in relation to him, my big brother.

From the castle, across the Rhine river, we spied the Driel locks 
and decided to go see them before heading home.

These locks are normally closed but if high water is coming in from Germany,
they'll be raised to prevent flooding.
Have you noticed that the Dutch think ahead in relation to catastrophes??
The world has much to learn from this country that is 26% below sea level.

THURSDAY, 18 January:

You know what they say about the plans of mice and men!
Suddenly, out of the blue, the Netherlands issued a CODE RED wind advisory.
It was actually Code Orange when we drove along the dijk to Brakel to check out the river level.
By the afternoon, 66 semi-trucks had flipped over and all train/plane transportation was cancelled.
The Merwede river reminded Nelson of Lake Michigan during a storm.
Astrid and I had never seen it so tempestuous!

Needless to say, we went back home and decided to change the schedule up,
to walk our Gorinchem city citadel wall that afternoon instead of the next day.
It ended up being a good plan.
And that evening we walked over to our favorite Malle Molen restaurant for supper.

FRIDAY, 19 January:

Our last full day together began with Kinderdijk...the magical UNESCO village of 19 windmills.
We had some of the best light of any time Astrid and I have ever been there.
It's only 29 km from home.

The mechanical screws were working overtime, pumping out the water.
I was glad Nelson got to see them operational.

From Kinderdijk we drove to Fort Altena in Werkendam, 34 km from Kinderdijk.
Our favorite Fort Vuren was closed because of a bat population they are protecting right now.
But Nelson still got the general idea from this 19th century fort about the Dutch line of defense,
going all the way back to before WWI.

That day we had lunch at the fort (top row).
Back home we went to our 3:30 Happy Hour, here where we live, to eat advocaatjes (middle).
And then for supper we ate Dutch pancakes at our favorite pannenkoeken restaurant,
out in the polder (bottom row).

SATURDAY, 20 January:

With a tear and a smile, and breakfast under our belts, we drove to Amsterdam in time for Nelson's noon flight back to America.  

I really do mean with a tear and a smile.  I know that this is probably the only time, first and last, that I will ever have like this with Nelson, the Elder of our Hart tribe.  I have a catch in my throat as I say it.  Trust me when I say I will have and hold it for the rest of my life.

THANK YOU, Nelson.  THANK YOU for choosing us.
We'll never forget it.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Snow in the Lingebos Forest, Vuren, NL

Actually, this is the tail-end of our Christmas-market vacation at the beginning of December, when we went to Maastricht, Aachen (Germany), and the Rolduc Abbey.

We left the house on Friday, 8 December, with snow beginning to fall here in Gorinchem, NL.  All I could think of was "OH NO!  We're going to miss the snow!"  Wrong.  We had it while on our mini-trip south and then on our way back home, Monday, 11 December.

The further north we drove, on our way home, the more it snowed.  And without blinking an eye, we both decided to forget everything, once home (shortly after lunch), and drive out to the nearby Lingebos "artificial" forest in Vuren.

We wanted to WALK IN THE SNOW!

And when Astrid found out that her son Jeroen was let out of work early, because of the snow storm, she invited him and DIL Eva to come join us, if they could.  And they did!

We met up at the entrance of our walk, near where we parked.

It was snowing cats-n-dogs.

The Lingebos is a recreational park of 115 hectares (284 acres) "built" in the late 1960s.

The last time we were there it was the autumn of 2015, at which time we both said,
"If it ever snows again, we HAVE to walk here in the snow!"

Promises made and promises kept!

The snow was wet and gloppy, sticking to the trees.
The blustery wind helped.

Can you tell how much fun we had?

Astrid (red) and I (blue) felt like colorful birds having a heyday.
(The umbrella was to protect the camera lens.)

And because they are special to us, I loved capturing Jeroen and Eva.
After all these years (8+), they are as crazy in love as we are, which we really enjoy seeing.

If ever anyone asks for an example of CARPE DIEM, this is it for us.
We totally seized the day and will hold the memory for years to come....

...until the next time it snows?  We're holding our breath!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

And now another "seize the day" is on our doorstep:  Brother Nelson, the oldest of the 8 kids in my family, arrives here on Sunday for a week's vacation.  He wrote us on 22 December to say he had vacation days to use by the end of January or lose them.  He turns 76 the day he arrives...and yes, he still works!

So I'll be absent from this blog next week while we fill up the days "entertaining" him.  Did I mention that he lives in Holland, Michigan?  It's about time he sees the real Holland, don't you think!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Watercolor Sunday and Saturday's Color: December 2017

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Don't we all wonder what 2018 has in store for us!  But for now, let's finish out the old year with December's Facebook posts.

My Watercolor Sunday posts on Facebook for December 2017:

December 3 (photo manipulation):
"It is December, and nobody asked if I was ready." --Sarah Kay

"How did it get so late so soon?" --Dr. Seuss

December 10 (photo manipulation):
"Some Christmas tree ornaments do more than glitter and glow;
they represent a gift of love given a long time ago." --Tom Baker

December 17 (photo manipulation):
"Christmas trees don't grow on trees; they need rainbows, lumberjacks,
and Leprechauns on unicorns playing jock jams on glockenspiels." --Ryan Ross

December 24 (photo manipulation):
"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you
because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.
Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." --Roald Dahl

December 31 (photo manipulation):
"Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears."
--J.B. Thomas
(from Fiddler on the Roof)

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

My Saturday's Color posts on Facebook for December 2017:

(finished on 25 November, posted on FB 2 December 2017)
During this holiday season of meeting up with family and friends, I think about the adage,
"Make new friends but keep the old.  One is silver, the other is gold."  Yup.
(from my Vintage Patterns book)

(finished on 21 November, posted on FB 9 December 2017)
Do you see Christmas ornaments?
That's what I saw with this Mind Body Zen design,
all ready to be unpacked for the Christmas tree.

(finished on 30 November, posted on FB 16 December 2017)
Anything with red these days feels very Christmassy to me.
Of course, adding the "maize and blue" (GO BLUE) is a no-brainer.  :)
(from my Color Me Fearless book)

(finished on 9 November, posted on FB 23 December 2017)
Have you ever wondered what snowflakes would look like if they had color?????  :D
(from my Color Me Fearless book)

(finished on 3 April 2004, posted on FB 30 December 2017)
You know this is the time when we look back on the year,
so how's this for looking back to when I finished it on 3 April 2004.  HA!
(from my Celtic Designs book)

Another year under our belts...which now need to be tightened again, right?!