Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring in the Garden

Every once in awhile we drive the 5km to nearby Arkel to have koffie with our dear friends, Siem and Thelma.  If we can sit outside in nice weather, it's like heaven for me because they have such a huge yard, full of goodies.

Let's just say I have wandering eyes and can't sit still!

 But first, we had iets lekkers (something good) with our koffie.
And another friend, Wil, came by to visit a bit and drop off her tennis rackets with Astrid for stringing.
(surely you remember that multi-talented Astrid also strings rackets)

Then I was on my own personal mission to take pictures of every different flower I could find!

 Since this is Holland, let's start with the tulips...almost all of which were red.

I know daffodils and forsythia but after awhile I had no clue what I was looking at.
I just know that I enjoyed what I saw, even if it grows on trees!

Hmmmm.  Which images should I group together??
I just went for broke!

Don't you love how Mother Nature makes her color combinations!

And if it weren't for the butterflies and bees, where would we all be!

Speaking of "we," Thelma was putting on her own show for Astrid.
She's her own special flower!  What a fabulous addition to the garden. 

And since you surely remember Astrid's "garden" on our balcony..., too, is growing up a storm.  Build it and they will come!


Friday, March 28, 2014

Dutch Sheep in Ottoland: Part 2

When I told you (last post) that our two Saturdays a week apart at the Ottoland, NL, sheepfold were as different from night and day, I meant it. This time, we were two of only a handful of visitors.  Everyone had come the weekend before.

So in that regard, we looked at everything with new eyes.  And this time it even occurred to me to take videos with my camera!

Before going into the sheepfold, I snuck around back to look in through the open door.
There was good light and the week-old lambs were eating off the hay bales.

And Astrid was already there, capitalizing on the photo op.
(and, yes, that's the famous Dutch wind I love!)

There were lambs cuddling....

...and lambs nuzzling their mamas...

 ...and lambs wandering around while everyone else was eating.+

Even lambs jumping around for joy...just to be alive.
Hello, World.  Here I am!

A different Billy Goat Gruff from the previous week was on top of a bale, King of the Mountain.

What a handsome dude!

But THIS is what totally captivated me!
Every time I looked for 30+ minutes, they stood munching and staring at each other,
while little lambsy-divey watched from below.
Was it spring love???

No amount of distraction distracted them!

We really did have the place to ourselves.
Sheep heaven.

Towards the end, the shepherd came in and talked with Astrid.
Do you remember him from here, when he brought his flock to Gorinchem in September of 2011?
All that time we kept saying we'd go out to his sheepfold, which we finally did.

As we left for our car, guess who followed us!
It's not all work and no play for these smart, adorable sheepdogs...or for Astrid, either!

Next door to the sheepfold, other sheep were out in the fields, doing what all sheep do.
Come April, all the lambsy-diveys will be out there with them.
This is what spring is all about for sheep in the Netherlands!

And did I mention that the Dutch do NOT mainly grow their sheep for lambchops?  Or I should put it this way...sheep slaughtered for meat is exported, which explains why I rarely find it on menus when we go out to eat! They grow their sheep for WOOL, which is in bountiful supply here in Dutchland.  I can live with that.

 Sister Ruth's new grandbaby gitl, Olive Rose, was born this past Monday.
As a sweet tribute to her and to all lambsy-diveys everywhere, especially those who need holding,
here's my own Ollie lamb:  I love you!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dutch Sheep in Ottoland: Part 1

Remember when I did my post on the shepherd who came to Gorinchem with his flock of sheep to mow one of our nearby dikes?  That was in September of 2011!  Ever since, we've talked about going to his sheepfold in spring to see the newborn lambs.

Which we finally did!  In fact, we went two Saturdays in a row and had such a different experience each time, I'm going to make this a two-part series!

The first time was a zoo because everyone and their aunt and uncle were there!  Part 1....

 Even Silverleaf (our new car) got in on the action, out in farmer's country, 7 miles from home.

We were there to see the sheep, of course...and 230 of the 250 lambs being born this season.
The shepherd is building up his do more mowing out-n-about, like in Gorinchem.
It's good for the sheep and the public and the environment.  And it's educational.
If you can't go to the sheep, he'll bring them to you!

There were more sheep than you could shake a stick at.
Coming and going.

Don't you love the pink bonnets!
There were two colors designating the ram inseminations:  green and pink .
Green was for the first batch of lambs and pink for the second.
(Don't you love the chicken acting like she owns the place.)

There were even two billy goats owning the place.  This one we saw the first Saturday.
He LOVED the attention of anyone touching his horns!
(But watch your jacket and camera strap!  Nibble-nibble.)

However, it was the little lambsy-diveys everyone was there to see!
And what is cuter than a child holding a lamb.

This is where the zoo part comes in...we could hardly squeeze in to take pictures.

"Mommy, can we pleeeeease take her home?!?!?!?!"

Just act cool, Bro.

I AM cool, Bro!

Don't you love how the lambs can handle all the attention.

Even the older kids thought it was cool.

See what I mean?  I think Astrid put Blackie to sleep.
Lullaby and Good Night.

Speaking of Astrid, she got the total lay of the land, talking to the volunteers.

If you are a sheepie person, can you imagine volunteering there!

To be continued....

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

This Do in Remembrance of Me

Remember when we were at the Collegiate Church of St. Boniface in Freckenhorst, Germany?
This image, which comes from there, is my jump-off to my post at Vision and Verb today.

"For every Sunday I can remember before going off to university, I sat on the front row of my preacher dad’s church tracing with my mind’s eye the Old English letters on the Holy Communion table in front of the pulpit :

I’m guessing everyone here knows not only WHO said that but WHEN and WHERE, no matter what religious background.  Eucharist words."

And thus begins a post that ends up going somewhere else, like how we name our children after those who passed on before us...because we're remembering them!

All this the day before the vernal equinox....and how spring determines when Easter will be...
all the way back to Vision and Verb.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spring Has Sprung

Not that we ever had a real winter this time around, mind you, but that's another story.

However, speaking of winter, Astrid loves to bring Mother Nature inside the house when it's cold outside.  It's soulful to her...and to me, because I get to see, smell, and take pictures!

If it's not hyacinths, it's narcissus bulbs, as in this case, on our koffie table a month ago. 
The Dutch call daffofils narcissus!

They stand so tall without any support whatsoever.  How is that possible?
And even though these aren't the typical yellow daffodils, they are still...daffodils.

 And of course, Astrid's orchids grow all year 'round, no matter what the season.

We both feel like kids in the candy store when they bloom like this.

But show what weird weather we've had this winter...
these hyacinth bulbs on the balcony, planted last fall, shouldn't be up till April.

But what can you do in temps from 40-55 F!  They're doing what they should do.

 There's nothing we can do but enjoy them now.
This pink one is blooming today; the other colors will come later....
All that without stepping outside!  Astrid's green thumb is such a joy for us both.

  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Once we do step outside, which we did last weekend in earnest, oh me, oh my!  Spring really has sprung!

As soon as the sun comes out, the Dutch are raring to go.
You can get an entire family of 4 or 5 on two bikes.  Seriously.

You know it's spring when the stork is in its nest.
It still tickles me to see the nests atop so many a wee sermonette?
This is the Dutch Reformed church in Ottoland 7 miles from our apartment.
It even has a postage stamp made of it.

Those fastidious storks really do bring children into the world!

Speaking of children, how's this for a spring fling!
We waved to the little girl when she drove past us, to which the man said,
"She's not allowed to wave because she has to hang on!"
(They went from one driveway to another...and not in horrendous traffic, of course.)

See what I mean about the Dutch going outside when the sun shines!
We LOVE driving the back roads...and stopping for ice cream whenever the farmers have it.
Did you know that ice cream on a Dutch farm is some of the best-inspected anywhere in the world.
We never say NO to that.

Now pay attention...and get your education with me!
While I was processing these pics, I suddenly noticed how NOT REAL these swans are.
You can see how far away they were, picked up by my new camera.
They're totally fake because they're giving the message to real swans that 
The neighborhood probably has children who are two young for angry daddy swans 
who can get real aggressive if mama swan is trying to protect her babies.

 Another sign of spring is the renewal of thatched roofs.
Another education for me!

Weathervanes, water towers, windmills...all year 'round.  Old hat, right?

But the spring flowers do tug at the heartstrings, don't they.

 This is one of my Vision and Verb greeting cards coming up for our summer gallery.
Happiness really IS an inside job, isn't it, sometimes helped along by SPRING.