Monday, May 4, 2015

Don't Send Me Flowers

Our mom turns 90 years old this week. 

While visiting with her yesterday and watering her flowers inside and near her new porch ramp, she and I discussed our plants that need regular attention. I had to climb into her huge corner bath tub to give her neglected ivy a needed drink. She said she thought it had been a couple of months since that had been done. 

Mom lives only a few steps away from my youngest brother and sister-in-law. Those two are great care givers and Mom's "guardian angels" looking after her 24 hours a day. Besides everything else that she does, my sweet sister-in-law keeps Mom's plants on her back porch and in the yard alive 12 months of the year. But I believe that is beyond the call of duty. My mom loves flowers, but she hasn't been able to maintain them on her own for a couple of years now.

So the following lyrics are a kind hint for Mom's friends and family ( and maybe even friends and family of other elderly moms this Mother's Day):

"Don't send flowers, just give me some hours
Just a minute of your time, would really make it shine, so think it over
Don't send flowers, from ivory towers
I just wanna see your face, forever and always, please think it over"

Lyrics by Sheena Easton

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Too White, Too Long

When is being white not right? 
Oh, no, this blogpost is not about racism! It is about looking too white, too light, too bright, and too white. Having had some shade of blond hair for most of my 67 years, I am used to being light. Fair skin, invisible eyebrows, pale eyelashes, see-through skin, and blue-grey eyes are who I am. 

But too pale for a passport photo? What The ......?

It is time to renew my passport, and finding someone to make my passport photo out here in the sticks is not an easy task. This week we planned a trip into town and checked out places that made passport photos. Walgreen's! That was convenient, since my hub needed to pick up some batteries at Harbor Freight, and a Walgreen's Pharmacy was nearby.

At the first (notice I wrote first) Walgreen's a kind pale older guy took a photo of me standing in front of a pulled down white screen and then proceeded to try to "fix" the photo background without making me disappear. According to him, fair-skinned folks like he and I are "too white" for the pure white background required by the American government. There was an annoying shadow on the stark white background, and when he made it vanish, so did I. He even took a second photo after having to put new batteries into his camera. Then he began blaming the fluorescent lights and angles and gosh knows what else, so I suggested that I could go somewhere else. He kindly gave me the name of a colleague he "had trained" and who worked at a Walgreen's near the college. She would have better luck, he thought. So off we went!

At the second (yes, there are more!) Walgreen's, Ashley had just gone out for lunch, but the front cashier knew how to make passport photos. That is what she said, anyway. This time I was told to stand far away from the white screen. When I mentioned that a colleague from store no. 1 had had difficulty getting a usable photo because I was too light ( bright, white, whatever), the young woman got really nervous and fiddled with the computer image. She started asking, "What about this? Or this? Think this is okay?" Then she pressed a button and two passport photos popped out. I was so annoyed (P.O'd) by this time that I was ready to grab them and run. Then she said, "The next time you come for passport photos, wear a darker color around your neck!"  At that point I said, "I have been given a run-around all day, so keep the pictures. I'll go somewhere else and wear something dark." I never looked back!

Long, long story shorter, we ended our shopping day at the third Walgreen's across from a Wendy's. On the way to the photo department, I spied a lovely dark blue scarf hanging on a display rack. I grabbed it, threw it around my neck, and dashed over to ask if someone would make my passport photo.I explained that the scarf was Walgreen's property, but I had been told that I needed "color" for the photo shot. The kind young woman helped me look more photogenic and then shouted, "Has the new girl been trained to take passport photos?"

My heart sank! But I smiled and said, "Cheese" to the sweetest teenager who complimented me on my lovely clothes, snapped my picture, snipped the photos, and wished me a "blessed day." And, yes, I told her it was pronounced "Bless id." And she told me thank you, since she planned to study to become an English teacher. 

I am still "laughing out loud."

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Real Scoop on the Poop

One of my " outside jobs" is to knock the leaf eating caterpillars off of our trees, flowers, and all green plants. 
Over the years, I have learned to recognize those critters ( not by name, of course). The most common ones are the big black fuzzy wuzzy ones that creep around on our veranda and love the leaves of the little sapplings along our driveway. 

(Borrowed photo, since I am sick of seeing these guys.)

I use my rustic walking stick to knock them off the branches and leaves and then smash them with my rubber boot. Don't tell me they will develop into beautiful moths. We have enough beautiful moths and butterflies and bees and wasps and mosquitoes and lovebugs, thank you. But nothing should be making a snack out of my plants!

I noticed this morning that something had been munching on my Knock-out roses. Well, here is the culprit:

And it moves with lightning speed.

A truly great unknown photographer got a shot of a "bird poop" caterpillar like the one I stepped on this morning before making a photo.
(Borrowed photo!)

Now you have the real "poop" on my caterpillar invasion!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

At "Work" at the South Korean Embassy in 1980

The best that I can remember is that the building in the center of the photo was the South Korean Embassy back in 1980. I received a key to this front door the day I was hired. I didn't even apply for the job. Mr. Kwon phoned me that he heard from someone at the American Protestant Church in The Hague that I was looking for a job. The Ambassador was interested in me because I was a former English teacher and would be able to write correct English. No background checks! No Googling! No Facebook! Just, "Here is the front door key, and see you Monday at 9:00 a.m."

22 February 1980
Friday morn--9:30

Dear Mother and Daddy,

As you see, I am at work. The Ambassador is still not in, so I'll write you a few lines. I've had only a couple of letters to type this week, so I've studied my Dutch and read a book. If things continue like this, I'll maybe bring some needlepoint to do in the idle hours. I'm not allowed to leave my office except for real business, so I will have to bring something to do.

The Ambassador had a dentist appointment yesterday and did not return to the office. I didn't see him all day. I wonder if and when he will come in today. The other secretaries are nice, and we've had lunch together twice at Chinese restaurants. They are helping me learn the area.

Daddy, I am sorry your company pulled such a rotten trick on you. But J. said he felt something stupid like that would happen when you told us about the new management in Alex. Anyway, I'm glad they did not leave you "high and dry," and get everything you can out of them. Good luck in the job hunting. I am sure there is some hardware company (Lowe's, etc.) that needs a good salesman. As Mother can tell you, there is no disgrace in working from 9-5:30 or 6:00 in a store and then going home to forget about it until the next day. You may not make as much money as you did before, but just think of the time, money, and energy you will save by not having to do all that driving. Good luck and I'll be thinking about you.

We received your letter and pictures yesterday. J. says he looked "drunk," but we know better. The only time I've seen him drink liquor was by mistake. He thought he had 7-Up, poor thing. He has a beer about once a week and wine when we go out, but he is almost a "tee-totaller." I'm lucky, huh?

10:15 a.m.

The Ambassador came in, and I've no work to do now. Maybe later something will turn up. Until then I'll just enjoy the easy life.

Tonight we will visit the bank and then drive back here to The Hague to have dinner with our friends A. and F. They are going to Italy for 10 days in March. I am sure J. will be very envious, but with my new job I can't ask for a holiday so soon.

A. and the two boys leave at 8:00 on Wednesday (27th) night to go to Australia. I'm really happy that she and the boys can finally join her husband there. Mr. and Mrs. S. will surely miss the children, but now they can get back to their own lives.

There is no more real news. The weather is cool and sunny, and I hear birds singing outside my window. Spring will be here soon. Write again when you have time. We hope to hear about the baby soon. I haven't mailed the afghan yet, maybe this week-end.

Take care and I love you both.
Love, Linda

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Wedding Bells Love Letter--15 February 1980

Sit down with a cup of coffee and have a read of this epistle:

15 February 1980

Dear Mother and Daddy,

I suppose I should have typed this, but I don't want to listen to the machine this afternoon. Well, I have completed one week of work here at the Korean Embassy. It was a little strange at first, but now it is better. I am secretary for the Ambassador and his councilor (advisor), but I don't have too much to do. I stay busy enough, but I do have free moments, too. I work from 9:00-12:30 and 2:00-5:30. The traffic hasn't been too bad, but the weather is a little messy sometimes. Today it is cloudy and has rained a bit.

There are two other secretaries (one is English and the other is Dutch). The Dutch girl is a little strange, but we all get along fine. In fact, today we had lunch at a Chinese restaurant together. They are very helpful since this is a new field for me.

J. and I have talked about a wedding date. June 6 seems to be a good time, but this isn't definite. Since you and Daddy will be my only family here, I just want a small wedding and reception. I told J. I didn't want to entertain and feed farmers and such that I don't know and can't talk to. He said he would talk it over with his parents, but I'm not going to let them talk me into something I don't want to do. I'll come back to the U.S.A. first!!! J. said A. would be upset that she would not be here, and I said how do you think my friends and family feel. As you can imagine, our wedding planning conversation was a wet one. But please don't write about that.

We thought that you might plan your trip to come here about three or four days before the wedding. That will give you time to rest and help me finish my plans. After the wedding we want to travel two weeks or so through Europe with you. It won't be a Honeymoon so have no fear that you are intruding. So you should think about a 3 week ( or more) stay here. I get 21 days of paid vacation, so I will take it then.

J. just wants a civil ceremony, but I want a religious one, too. We will just have to see what develops. I will have to get some bride's magazines to see what I'm supposed to do. Things are different here. I will get gifts, but no showers. That is the breaks, huh?

Anyway, I have much to think about. I have an idea, but I haven't told J. yet. Do you think W. would be old enough to come here with you? It may be a crazy idea, so just tell me. Perhaps M. and S. wouldn't even let her come. Anyway, I wish I had had such a chance when I was her age. Don't say anything to her yet. I'll write you later and tell you what J. and I think. It was just an idea. By the way, anyone who wants to may come, but I just thought W. might enjoy it.

Well, it is 5:05 and I'll start getting my things together. I drive for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night. I'm getting good driving experience. We will go to Olst tonight, but I'm going to insist that we go back to Rotterdam on Sunday afternoon. My apartment has been neglected this week.

My telephone number at the embassy is 070-__________ The Hague. If you need me between 9 and 5:30 pm, just call and ask for me.

Write when you have time. I got red tulips for Valentine's Day. J's mother gave me a sewing box. I am not sure why she thought she had to give me a gift.

Take care.
Love, Linda

Monday, April 27, 2015

Koningsdag 2015 on the Thrift

No fanfare! Just simply "Lang Leve de Koningspaar". (I never said I could write in Dutch.)

Multi-national gifts, finds, Treasures!

Pure Dutch thrift store finds.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Love Letter--Feb. 7, 1980

Feb. 7, 1980

Dear Mother & Daddy,

I've been so busy the last two days that I almost forgot to mail my valentines.

Tuesday I substituted for the art teacher in the Hague.

Wednesday I had a Dutch lesson, shopped with J.  and A. at a Swedish furniture store, tutored a 4th grader, cooked dinner for J's family, and entertained a couple who came over around 8:30 that night. I was indeed worn out with a throbbing headache at 11:00 p.m.

This a.m. I drove to the Hague for a job interview. The job is "the" secretary to the Korean ambassador to the Netherlands. I got the job and will begin work on Monday (Feb. 11). I will make about $12,000 a year and have 21 days of vacation. Jan and I will talk about it tonight. He wants to go skiing the 1st week in March, but maybe he will have to go by himself.

I shopped at a store handling many American foods today. I spent $20.00 in no time. I can buy choc. chips, graham crackers, vanilla wafers, cake mixes, salad dressings, etc.

I will close and write a few other cards. Our friend M. had a little girl yesterday. We will go see her tonight.

Let me know when M. delivers.

Love, Linda

I could write detailed descriptions of all of the places and persons referred to in the letter. It is interesting that I can remember such details from 35 years ago and do not remember what I did and saw last week! The Swedish store was of course Ikea (in Sliedrecht). Don't think that Ikea building exists anymore. I did take that "secretarial" job, had my own office ( HUGE), and rarely had anything to do. So I read lots of books and had 1 1/2 hours lunch break everyday. (Where was the Internet when I needed it? Or even a computer!?!) We went skiing. More about that another time. The grocery store with the American food was on the van Hoytemastraat in The Hague. We later found other and better shops in Rotterdam and Wassenaar. Our friend M's daughter just recently had her own second baby, a sweet little boy. And my American sister-in-law M gave birth to little C who now has two charming daughters.