Now back from vacation and back “to work”. Yes, I know it is only volunteer work but still it is work with awesome benefits. Like the flowers in bloom.
Now, if orange is not your color then perhaps purple/blue is. This is called blue rain (English translation of what the Dutch commonly call this following plant). A wisteria in full bloom.
With the return of Spring, babies try to make the gardens a safe place. I saw two clutches of ducklings this morning. Just in time for Mother’s Day.😊🐣
I got a total work out weeding the roses. As our manager mentioned to me this morning “You can hear all the weeds popping out of the garden as you walk pass.” As the day went by I really think the weeds were laughing at our efforts.
As if I didn’t get enough of weed pulling or flowers I went directly to my garden to pull weeds and to plant my now late to start garden (darn vacation…😂). Tomorrow is “work day” at the garden where I must help care for the common areas so had to get going on my area today.
Enjoy your weekend everyone! Give your Mom a hug if she is still around, if not, plant a flower in your garden in her memory this weekend.
Amsterdam is the start of the Floris V Pad hiking trail. It is not where I started my 245km hike in 2018. I decided to start in Weesp and save Amsterdam for a later time.
Logically, this hike should have been from Schoonhoven to Nieuw-Lekkerland. But, when a friend mentioned she wanted to hike with me and that she grew up in Amsterdam it provided a perfect opportunity to cross this Amsterdam section off my list.
MY FLORIS V PAD HIKING STATS:
Distance on this hike from Amsterdam start point to Diemen – 9.5 KM
Total Hiked to date – 94.3 KM
Total distance to Bergan op Zoom – 245 KM
Distance to complete – 150.7 km
This friend is a world traveler and a good ten years younger than I. I was a bit nervous about sharing my hiking with her. Silly, but true. Could I keep up? What if we got lost (that does happen to me occasionally)? What about snacks? What gear should I take now? I needed to think about two people and not only myself. Would the weather cooperate?
These are always concerns but when hiking on my own but I just kinda go with the flow of the universe. Was this friend like that? I have walked with her on short walks around our neighborhoods but this was different.
As I prepped in the days prior to the hike, I pulled out some older hiking gear. I would actually have to navigate this hike. Out came the Garmin 64s. We have used this devise for years for our canoe trips and I use to integrate the maps into my blogs. That was until I switched to a MacBook Air, then the pairing of the Garmin 64s was near impossible (most likely due to my lack of wanting to learn how to fix what was wrong and make it work). So I stopped using it as my navigation tool for hikes. Recently, I have just been using the old school methods of printed maps, intuition, and pure darn luck, and it works! So after three frustrating hours of downloading several Garmin apps on both my phone, and my MacBook Air, finding the interface cable for the Garmin, pairing the devices (still not sure I did it correctly), and downloading the gpx Floris V Pad file onto my devices. I thought I was finally up to date with the 21st century technology and ready to hit the hiking streets of Amsterdam. Take notice there are no Garmin maps on this blog posting! Meaning that I couldn’t get the track to save or load once we were completed with the hike. 🙄😬🤬
As I woke the morning of the hike, it was pouring down rain. I wondered if I would get the text message that my friend would rather not hike. I made up my mind that I would hike even if she decided this was not her kind of weather. Taking the words of advise from my Dutch Hubby when I first moved here…
“If you wait for a beautiful weather day here in this country, you will sit in the house all day! Doing things in the rain builds character!”
Now, with 14 years of character under my belt, hiking in the rain is normal and even enjoyable for me.
With only a text message asking if she should bring an umbrella we planned on meeting at the local train station.
Route to Amsterdam to start the Floris V Pad using public transport. Bike to train station Nieuw-Vennep→Train to Amsterdam Central Station→walk to Amsterdam Dam square.
My hiking partner for the day was Malika of ma.malika.travels on Instagram. I met Malika this last year at one of my volunteer jobs. Her family immigrated to The Netherlands from Morocco when she was young and lived not far from the large cruise ship dock in Amsterdam.
When we got to the Dam square we took a selfie in front of the royal palace to celebrate the start of the hike. Yes, it was still raining.
The Floris V Pad stickers along the route were not easy to find along the first part of the trail. Luckily I had my gps map loaded on the Garmin and linked to my phone. The three hours of frustration the day prior paid off! We hiked along, looked in shop windows and talked about how she grew up in this old scenic city. The best part of the day, we didn’t have to fight tons of tourists!
We finally found one of the route stickers.
Now we were almost to the area where the Floris V Pad follows the East bank of the Amstel River. Along the route, people setting up tables with items for sale. Malika shared with me that we were very close to the open air flea market. We stopped and talked with one of the vendors. We found out that it was actually the same flea market although it had been reduced in size due to COVID rules, then relocated due to construction. After this short exchange we continued our hike.
Now the trail hugged the Amstel River. The old buildings and neighborhoods in this area feels different from the hub of Amsterdam. Quieter. The streets are lined with micro gardens, the river banks lined with house boats, the architecture of the buildings old (by my standards, 1600-1900).
Malika and I chatted about the gardens, and all that we encountered.
One item that caught our eye was this huge wisteria vine.
At one point we had to take a detour due to construction. This could have caused anxiety leading us in the opposite direction back across the Amstel, to the next bridge, then back across to catch up with the trail again, but no anxiety, we just found a cool container garden.
The rain had finally reduced to a light drizzle. My rain jacket came off and went into the backpack.
We found our actual first Floris V Pad sticker.
We crossed over the s111 road and headed away from the Amstel River. This section of the trail is a long bike path along a canal. As we looked back towards the city, Malika made sure that I took note of the Rembrandt Tower, the tallest structure in Amsterdam.
The street art and graffiti also along this section of the hike was colorful.
We were getting close to our destination, Diemen train station. The station would mark about 9 km. This small suburb of East Amsterdam had its own treasures to reveal to hikers.
My phone had had enough exercise too, for the day. The battery was nearly dead from all the apps running my Garmin. We landed safely at the train station after completing 9.5 km.
All those worries and concerns about hiking with a friend were forgotten. We had a wonderful and fun hike.
Special thanks to Malika for joining me on this hike and for her photography, plus the app (Runkeeper) she used to capture the trek.
Being 50+, I shouldn’t have a great deal to “learn” I thought, until 2020 came along. I guess I am never too old to learn something new or to relearn things I had forgotten. I thought I would share my year 2020 list.
Dehydrating Herbs/Veggies –
I maintained or helped to maintain three gardens with a variety of plants this summer. Those gardens produced more than we could eat right away. We decided to purchase a dehydrator and started dehydrating the extras. We now have a huge quantity of items that can be used for our future camp meals. If any of you have ever purchased dehydrated meals for camping you know those meals are expensive. The reason is dehydrating is time consuming and tedious process. The best part of learning this new skill is we now will know 100% what is in our camp food.
Drinking Fresh Ginger Tea-
Somewhere this summer I read that fresh ginger tea is good for the digestive system. As I age, it seemed that what use to work perfectly now needs some extra external encouragement. I tried fresh ginger tea and it helped many of digestive issues. I learned to try a new food this year.
I took an online class this fall on herbal remedies. Mostly to try to beef up my knowledge of natural healing by using herbs. I learned a good deal of information. I am still learning each time I pick up one of the several herbal remedies books I purchased. Witchcraft? Not really, these herbal remedies have co existed with humans since the beginning of time. I like to think I was just relearning an ancient natural trade.
Sharing in the time of need.-
This is something we all like to think we are good at but I know I struggle with this as I get older. I am a bit more pessimistic about the world. It is also hard to gage sometimes when it is the right time to help and when it isn’t.
This year I volunteered at a local community garden. A great deal of energy and courage goes into just getting to the point of asking to volunteer. As a foreigner living in a country not of my birth, speaking a language that is not my native language, putting myself “out there” in any normal time is scary but this year it was dangerous.
Did I have the strength to control my doubts?
My way of gardening differs vastly with gardening techniques used here in The Netherlands.
Personalities and group dynamics (just like everywhere in the world) in volunteer organizations sometimes don’t click. This summer was a personal challenge for me and many times I had to catch myself from not doing the eye roll or just telling people to stop treating me like a child. Yet, in this time of COVID I just needed to be part of a group and feel connected to this adopted land where I now live. I volunteered through the challenges. This year helped me learn that sharing can help me build new relationships, it also helped me practice controlling my eye rolls and to hold my tongue.
That I am only guaranteed today.-
It is a lesson many of us in the 50+ group understand as we have most likely have lost friends, co workers, and family with more than a half century under our belts, but… this year was hard.
We have had friends and relatives pass away this year suddenly. I have paused, thought “wow, I didn’t think that the last time I shared a cup of coffee at their table, house, apartment would be the last time”.
Did I say all I needed to say to them? Was I as kind as I could have been then? How can I do better today? What can I do today to dispel misery right now with my own hands?
Today, is today and I am not guaranteed tomorrow. I learned I can always do better, be kinder, listen more…today.
Democracy is not dead.-
I had my doubts. I am now certain that people will make their voices heard by voting.
Now, Congress…so called “leaders”, listen! Fix this democracy to help all the people from the far left to the far right! Because, each of us has a voice and even if the voices differ in a democracy they all should be heard and considered!
Analog vs Digital.-
My generation 50-60 year olds, we came of age in the computer age. We like our technology. Maybe “like” is a bit strong of a word, we mostly embrace technology.
Flashback- The school I attended in the late 1970’s in Northern Minnesota had one of the first computer science classes. We used a dial up modem to the University of Minnesota where we could write programs that printed out cool stuff like a Christmas tree in ones and zeros. Wow! In eighth grade that was really cool.
Flash forward to last December and I would never (even after a career in high frequency radios, satellites, and computers) think there was anything else I needed to learn about technology.
Then there was the year, 2020.
WordPress “blocks”, Zoom chats, and my very first National conference attendance via online participation!
It still makes my head spin from all the new terms I needed to learn, protocols I had to follow (push the little hand in the tool bar if you want to ask a question), proper clothing to wear for these events (as long as you are sitting the bottom half of your body can still be in pjs while the polished business like attire must be seen in the camera view).
We have determined here at The Cedar Journal that we still prefer books with pages, paper and pens, and dressing like we are going out to canoe at any moment without having to schedule a zoom, team, or other social media video event that is socially distanced.
So we learned we are more analog (old school) than digital (modern). We are very OK with that!
We waited in lines, we waited for months for mail to arrive on the slowest ship the USPS could have contracted to save money, we waited for an election, and we waited to hear from friends and family. Some of those times it seemed like the wait would never end, like time was waiting for us to choose to stop the waiting. But, we waited anyway and found time did move on even if ever so slowly.
We learned to wait this year and hopefully that will give us a bit more focus and make us a bit wiser on how we can move forward in 2021.
I read one of my fellow blogger friends blog this morning and my heart goes out to her. She lives in Southern Minnesota in a rural community and they have lost yet another community leader to COVID 19. This flower is for her.
The news, from where I read it here in The Netherlands, looks looks bleak in the United States. Not that the virus has disappeared here, our numbers hover at over 10,000 cases per day, but the heartbreak I have heard and seen coming out of the USA is almost too hard to think about most days. Unemployment, families being evicted from homes, food insecurity are all very depressing. I pour myself into other things. I try not to think about the upcoming election.
There are still good people doing good in the world and we all have to make sure we keep that focus.
There is a section in The Washington Post that highlights personal stories of survival the current crisis. Featured over the weekend was a fellow Minnesotan, a fearless woman who has almost single handed tackled a huge inner city problem of poverty. What she has accomplished in Minneapolis without the funds from the government or the United Way is close to miraculous. Mary Jo Copeland is one of those community heroes who selflessly tackles helping others to get through the difficult days. Years ago she founded Sharing & Caring Hands in Minneapolis. Determined, she started to help all in need even when she knew the task seemed impossible. I am sure it has been heartbreaking work and yet she doesn’t let the virus stop her from continuing her work, her passion. A true community leader, a lady who is determined to change her world one step at a time no matter how many people tell her it is not possible. Everyone could use a friend when they are in need of assistance and Mary Jo has been a friend to many in my home state of Minnesota over the years.
These late fall flowers are for Mary Jo and her endless determination against all the odds and obstacles.
Life inches slowly along.
Today, I got an unexpected video phone call from Frankfurt, Germany. My youngest son is on his way through Europe for his job. He proudly told me that he helped an older German lady. He carried her bag up the four flights of stairs at the airport. My heart warmed that he showed kindness to someone and that he was willing to share it with his mother. I was sad that I was not able to greet him on this side of the ocean as he passed through. Sacrifice is hard.
I heard also this last week my oldest son, he was able to find employment, he had been unemployed since April. I have always been happy that he has his part time government employment to fill gaps but full time employment was welcome news. His wife, my daughter-in-law, is still working crazy long hours at the St Louis Hospital with limited staff to fill in their gaps caused by the crisis.
The friends who I have made over these last few years of blogging and volunteering have continued to be a source of strength. From wonderful food creations, to comments on my blog, to navigating the new world of zoom together through several time zones, I thank each of you for your kindness, help, comments and for continued friendship.