Saturday, February 28, 2015

What I Did On My Vacation?

Temps have been in the 70's F our last two days in Morocco. Not bad for the final days of February, but definitely not warm enough for me to get any closer than this to the swimming pool at our resort on our Moroccan vacation.

Notice the empty chair? Hub is still recovering from the "bus plague." He says he might actually want to go sit in that seat later today. Let's hope so!

Retired citizens are always on vacation. Right?

Since we retired, we have probably worked harder physically than we ever did when we were "working." When we are at home in the States, we are our own gardeners, our own mechanics, our own plumbers, our own cleaning personnel, our own handy persons,  and our own jack-of-all-trades persons. We don't work for pay or by the hour, but we do the " tuff stuff." The jobs that most people who live in our area of the world either hire out or just let slide.

But we choose our work times. My times are usually early in the morning after I let Flip out to do whatever he does. In the summer, those early hours are most of the time still cool enough to endure the outside temperature. Inside jobs do not matter, since airco can make physical labor at least comfortable.

Hub, on the other hand, is a late to bed and late to rise person. So his jobs do not even begin until the late morning. And if there are outside jobs in summer, he usually waits until the late afternoon or early evening.

By the end of each day of "retirement," we are tired.

Not while you are on vacation!

(Someone around 5:40 am CST will be my 50,000th reader! Congrats!)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Behind Closed Doors

We are getting near to the end of our bus tour of Morocco. The countryside is lush and green and as near to a paradise as I have ever seen. Some homes and buildings are modern and luxurious on the outside, while others are very crude and primitive.

While walking through the streets of Casablanca yesterday, we were assured that behind the closed doors of the decrepit and ruinlike city buildings we would find beautiful, well-kept and super clean homes. It is almost difficult to believe, since still too many streets and highways are littered with plastic and other debris.

Plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic wrap, plastic trash!
Our guide Abdel said that 30 years ago you would not have seen such garbage. As I remember, 30 years ago the whole world did not use as much plastic as we do today. Can you remember when you first began buying plastic bottled water? Does using plastic packaging give us the right to pollute our environment?

Sorry, I digress from my topic of "behind closed doors." 

On this tour of Morocco, we have seen the insides of mosques. Yesterday we entered on our sock feet the second largest mosque in the world in Casablanca. The structure is large enough to accommodate 50,000 people and is interesting, but not as beautiful as the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. 

We saw the outside of the Hassan II Mosque lit up with lights night before last, and that was a bit more impressive. 
Source of next two photos
Mosque Hassan II, from outside in photo above and inside in photo below.

We have seen the inside of several hotels this week, and most have had charming reception areas but less impressive rooms and restaurants. So what you see is not always what you get.
(We are here at Atlas Targa Resort for the last two days. Our bus has been plagued by illness. At present, I am blogging from the reception area. Hub is sleeping off whatever has infected our German bus companions and him. Hopefully he can enjoy the beautiful sunny weather under the palm trees tomorrow before we head back to winter in north Europe.)

As we are not on a family visit nor will we get to peek beyond the real "doors" of this culture, I guess we will never really know what we are missing.

Oh, by the way, we did have a short stop at a Catholic (there is religious freedom in Morocco) church in Casablanca (Notre Dame de Lourdes church). It is quite modern (1956) with a cement roof with tall vertical cement square wall braces separated by lovely Murano glass beams. And the stations of the cross were all done in more spectaular Murano glass. Lovely structure with the brilliant sun shining through the glass!,_Casablanca,_Dioc├Ęse_de_Rabat,_Maroc.jpg

Far more transparent than anything else I have seen!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Who Is Following Us While We Are On Vacation?

Yesterday we were photographed while visiting Volubilis, Morocco. Now we have been asked to do an interview by the Media. 

They will just have to read my Wetcreek Blog for details.

Who would have thought that they could have recognized us, since we were definitely incognito.

We visited the grounds of the official palace of King Mohammed VI today and the Mausoleum of his grandfather and father in Rabat. 

View of the golden ceiling in the Mausoleum.

A bored guard inside.

A guard outside the Mausoleum.

View of the minaret and the city of Rabat with the Atlantic Ocean in the distance.

Beautiful hibiscus hedges in bloom.

Check back tomorrow for Casablanca.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to Say No and Mean It

We are in Meknes, Morocco tonight and had a tiring day today. 

For those who know that I am "counting my steps," today was a 10,000 (or more) steps day. 

We first made our way on foot through a labrynth path through the souk (market stalls)in Fes. We saw everything from live chickens ready to be slaughtered on the spot to a cart full of fresh aromatic strawberries and raspberries to gold and silver trim for kaftans for rich Moroccan ladies to mule drawn rustic carts transporting goods through the 4 foot wide souk passageways. And not one pickpocket during the two hour walk!

Then we climbed up to the Roman ruins in Volubilis.
I have no idea who these folks are, but the guy with the camera followed our group around taking photos of all of us. Our guide said he was the "paparazzi." We didn't ask more questions. Even when he followed us to a mosque in Meknes. You know how I can't stand "paparazzi."

Lovely tile (ruins) floors in the ancient Roman baths in Volubilis. Shame they are not covered and protected from the elements.

Another shot of the ruins (and folks I do not know).

The main street of this ancient city of 60,000 inhabitants. 

Now the "saying No" story:
Everything I have read has warned me to just say "No" to any Moroccan who tries to sell me anything I do not want. Well, so far that simple word has worked with no problem. But today in Meknes, "No" was not enough. 

This afternoon late, my hub and I entered a souvenir shop on a city square. I was freezing, since I had forgotten to wear my sweater when I left the bus. So browsing in a shop seemed like a way to keep warm. The shopkeeper immediately began a conversation about his goods, an uncle who married an American and lived in Ohio, and how special his embroidered rugs were. 

When I asked the price of a nice large red one hanging on the wall, he told us that our tour guide would take us to a textile factory and the price would be way more expensive than what he was asking for his rug. When I said that the rug was nice but that it was too big to carry home in my suitcase, he said he could roll it up very tightly and small to transport. Then his "uncle" appeared out of nowhere and blocked our exit of the shop. The uncle proceeded to lower the price (several times), but I said, "No, I don't have time for this and it is too large." Then the uncle said I was being as stubborn as a "Berber." I said NO again and tried to leave the shop. Finally I said, "We are going to be late for our tour bus!" I said, "No!" Then the uncle let us pass but grabbed a ladder to remove the rug. We escaped the shop, and I am sure the uncle and his nephew were amazed that this old Berber (barbarian) American lady just turned down their great deal on that red rug.


Then my hub asked me if I had really wanted that rug. 
Of course not! I just wanted to keep warm and get an idea of what to expect at the textile factory with our tour group tomorrow!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Guten Morgen, Good Morning, Bonjour

YWhile waiting to take advantage of a sanitary stop this afternoon outside of Marrakesh, a nice tallkative German lady told me a long story about the toilet situation at our stop (I think). When I told her in English that I had no earthly idea what she was talking about, she and her friends proceeded to discuss the topic ( I think) and acted like I was part of the conversation. It was enough to make me chuckle, and they chuckled, too.

My hub and I are on a 7 day UNESCO culture tour of lovely Morocco. Our Moroccan tour guide doesn't speak English or Dutch, so Hub is my translator. We have only been in Morocco since 10:00 a.m., but I have heard a whole lot of German, since this is a German tour. 

When we signed up for this tour several months ago, we were promised an English or Dutch speaking tour guide. As we chose to join the tour group in Dusseldorf, Germany, our tour companions are all Duitsers who so far only speak German. 

Oh, the waiters and hotel staff will speak French to us, so that works for us. Although this evening at dinner my husband's best French was answered in English by the waiter.

So will it be "guten abend," "good evening," or just "bonsoir"?

Birkenstock For Sale

No,  I haven't started a new business. But we did stop off at a Birkenstock shoe outlet store near Cologne, Germany. To be precise it was in Bad Honnef.

I have been a Birkenstock fan since my "teacher's" feet developed heel spurs back 20 years ago. Back then my foot doctor recommended Birkenstock sandals, and I never went back to regular shoes. Baker's Shoe Store shoes and Bass flats did a job on my feet. Heel spurs are no joy to walk on. There was a time that I was ready to jump into a wheel chair and be done with the pain, but a good "shoebox" insole for my street shoes and Birkenstocks saved the day!

I know that some people hate the formed cork insoles of Birkenstock, but they are great for me. And recently my hub has joined me in being a Birkenstock enthousiast. So it was he who noticed that we would be near a shop on our way to the Dusseldorf airport today.

We walked out with a pair of sandals for him with "comfortable/white dot" footbeds and a pair of black Madrid sandals, Moss green Boston slipons, orange sport Birkies, and two pair of loose insoles for me. All that for the price of one pair of Birkenstock sandals in the States.

I am sold on my Birkies!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Happy Birthday, Eastenders--Who Killed Lucy Beale?

30 years on British television! 
Happy Birthday,  Eastenders!
Amazing performances!
Who would have even imagined who killed Lucy Beale?

If you haven't watched this episode, do it!
(It was FULLY LIVE!!)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Home Alone ( Not Really)

Flip is living a "dog's life" with our son while we have a cultural vacation in north Africa. Then we will try again to get the water heater replaced in the Beltway apartment.

If there are Wifi possibilities in Morocco, then I will try to share with you our experiences.

In the meantime, Flip is trying to figure out where we are and where he is supposed to sleep. 

And we are getting over jet lag after one of the bumpiest flights we have ever had over the Atlantic. Not only was the atmosphere rough, but the two little Dutch boys sitting behind us in the plane were finger and foot happy. From punching the video monitor while playing games and watching movies to jamming their feet through our plane seats and punching our backsides, they never slept a wink! Nor did we!!!

I am looking forward to warm weather, spicy and warm cuisine, and warm colors and a beautiful Unesco culture tour.

Right now it is water cold here in this small "kikkerland." Brrrr!

Tot Ziens!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Flip is On Vacation

10:00 pm ( "Is there nothing to do around here?")

10:39 pm ("Now where did that possum go? It is freezing out here. Thank goodness there is one dry spot under the window!")

Friday, February 13, 2015

Oh, Yay!!!

Just this morning a blog friend Mrs. Micawber at Mr. Micawber's Recipe for Happiness ( asked if any numbers were important to her followers. Well, take a look at these:

I have walked roughly 170 kilometers ( over 100 miles) in six weeks of daily walking. That is the distance from one tip of the Bahamas to the other tip.

And just now I completed a daily total of 105% of my 10,000 steps goal!

I have even impressed myself. (Happy Face)
Love these cool temps!!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"Hello" and Just Say "Cheese"

No, we aren't in The Netherlands. 
Not yet, anyway.

Old telephones, cameras, and recorders on display in our hallway etagere:

And to think that my little iPhone does what these did (and more)! 
Mind boggling!

Some Southern Sunshine in Mid-February

Enjoy the warm sunshine! 
Temps are still quite cool here. 
And March winds are already blowing. 
Winter is still ruling!

The grass is greening up slowly.

Lots of sun on the porch, but the wind is way too chilly for me.

Dafs from a couple of seasons ago are showing their springy yellow color.

A shadow shot to show how sunny it really is!!

My "outdoorsy" brother calls these bluets( Houstonia caerulea). Lovely name for Spring's early message.

And this butter bloom was opened wide yesterday. Today it feels the cold wind, I guess.

Oh, Lordy, how did this dandelion find my front steps?

 Snowflakes (with na'ar a drop of snow!) show their beauties.

Love the tiny green spots on each petal! Snowflakes (Leucojum aestivum) are native to the Mediterranean and North Africa. Glad my mom and SIL found them here on the homeplace site and saved them for me to plant in our garden.

Oops! Forgot to water these pansies! 

Sad, but they will bounce back. Promise!

Hugging the warm door on the front porch. This three foil oxalis (wood sorrel) is ready to flower along with the purple heart (related to the wandering jew plant).

Spring is on its way!!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Letters From Home

While straightening out my closet last week, I ran across a plastic bag filled with letters from HOME. The bag included the correspondence I received from my friends and family after I moved to The Netherlands in the summer of 1979. 

As I have been sharing my Love Letters to my dear parents from 35 years ago, I thought some of my followers ( like family??) would enjoy seeing what friends and family were sending to me --so far away.

My two oldest nieces were already in school, so here are some sweet notes from Stephanie and Wendy.

Wendy's letter was written in 1979 before her sister Claire was born. 

Stephie's letter was written in 1981, but right at Mardi Gras time. So that seemed appropriate, plus Steph has a 7 year old son who will probably enjoy reading this sweet letter.

Oh, by the way, never bind up old paper envelopes with rubber bands. They MELT!!!! From now on I am using beautiful ribbons and lace. :)))

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Honeymoon Was Over ( Six Months Before It Began) !

The following chart is not my Blood Pressure, although it is up today and my head is aching. Weather change in progress, probably. My hub says I can predict the weather better than Tom Perillo (weatherman on T.V.).

This is a Cultural Adaptation chart. Actually it is quite accurate for my move to The Netherlands 35 years ago. (Suppose my spouse went through this same rollercoaster when he came to live here in Louisiana nine years ago.)

The following Love Letter to my parents on February 1, 1980 says it all:

1 februari 1980
vrijdag middag

Dear Mother and Daddy,

We've got real blue sky and sunshine today, and I'm a little " under the weather." We visited J's family last weekend and everyone was sick with colds. I guess I picked up a 'bug' from one of them. Right now it is a scratchy throat. I wonder what will be next.

I happened to think today that I haven't written in over a week. Well, there hasn't been much going on. And since I haven't worked at all so far this year, you can imagine what shape I'm in. I've visited a couple of employment agencies, but no luck yet. I don't mind being at home, but there isn't anyone here to talk to. And since I am not working, I don't feel like I can go shopping. So you can see it is indeed a drag.

We received your Valentine card two days ago. I've got it sitting in the living room window. I bought Valentines when I was in Alex., so I'll mail those next week. We may celebrate the day in Amsterdam at the Mexican restaurant. We haven't been there since late November, so that will be a treat.

Tuesday I went on an Ancor (American Women's Club) tour of the Rotterdam police station. We were treated royally and spent from 10:00 am-4:00 pm seeing the mounted police, etc. I really wish that we could meet every week. At least I would have something to look forward to. Maybe next week I'll go work at the Thrift shop.

We will have a new queen on April 30. Queen Juliana made a short announcement  on t.v. and radio at 8:00 last night that she will abdicate the throne to Beatrix on the Queen's birthday. This was expected several years ago, but old Dutch ladies think they know all and know best. J's mom is no different. She can hardly believe that I'm capable of handling everything. She doesn't know what good teachers I had, huh?

J. and his parents want to go skiing in Italy in March. I'm not overly excited because I will be left with the other beginner skiers at the lodge all day while the experts have a good time. I even suggested that they go without me, but you can imagine how that went over. Hopefully, we'll only stay a week or 10 days. I'll be ready for warm weather after that.

Mother, I ordered some towels and such from J. C. Penney's to be sent to your house. They should arrive the middle to late February. When you have time check to see if there are 4 bath sheets, 8 bath towels, 8 wash cloths, 2 bath mats, and a pair of slippers. I charged these to my account, so you will get a regular bill for about $100.00. Four of the towels and wash cloths are Mrs. S's, but the rest are mine. After they arrive at your house (the packages), I'll let you know what we can do with them. It really depends on the size of them.

I baked a pound cake with coconut to take to J. and M's tonight. They are cooking hare and invited us to eat with them. Her baby was due this week, but it hasn't come yet. Anyway, we will get together for dinner at their house. We haven't been there in a couple of weeks, so I'm looking forward to it.

I am almost finished with a baby afghan for M's ( note: SIL) new baby. I will mail it this week. I will send it to her old address since I don't think they have moved. I'm always the last to know anything!!!

I'll close and go mail this and check my mailbox. Write when you have time. Did you get J's letter?

Love, Linda and J.