Saturday, April 28, 2018

James cleaning up the yard after the house disappeared

It 's the day before we'll be on the road again and I'm trying to get this,very long, post up before we go.
It's a week overdue,which is why it's so long, but we've been soooo busy!
A lot of interesting things happened at the same time too ...

First up was the removal of Charlotte's mobile home that was sitting next to us. They finally got to it!
It was interesting to see how they first split the whole thing through the middle, it was a double wide of course, and than move the parts separately.

The wheels are being attached

And this contraption moved the whole thing sideways

The first halve hits the road:

And after both halves were gone we were left with a a nice open view.


Too bad it didn't disappear a little earlier, I like the space!


Next up, we said a last goodbye to the Tangipahoa River and the swamps of the Joyce Wildlife Management Area, when Rickey took us out on his boat to his family's 'camp'.

As you can see, in the bottom right, my idea of a 'fishing camp' was a little different than theirs. They aren't exactly 'ruffing' it!

Boys have to be boys ... of course, you have to hit golf balls from the dock in the swamp!

This little Eastern Ribbon snake called the cabin 'home', and despite being kicked off the deck about four times, he kept crawling back up ... in the end we let him have it ...

 Some of the 'camps' and 'shacks' along the river 
After lunch we 'drove' the  boat another 3 miles down the river to end up at Lake Ponchatrain ..

So cool to be on this lake that we have seen so often from all sides, but only from it's shores so far.

 We saw lots of turtles, some huge 'snappers', and several alligators, sunning themselves, now the weather had warmed up enough for them to come out of hibernation.

The weather was perfect all day,  it is still rather cool (mid-seventies) and NO humidity!
What a beautiful day, it was over too soon ...


Somewhere in between it all I also had my Birthday. 
No pictures unfortunately. It was a rather uneventful one, we were to busy to go out for coffee, but  we  made some chocolate cake (we're hooked on those 'mug-cake' mixes) and worked together on several  last-minute projects (before we leave) around the truck and RV.
But a couple of days later we picked up some craw-fish for a belated Birthday Dinner ..

 I love me some craw-daddies!

The truck was getting a little rusty around the edges and could really do with a little 'spiffing up'.

James  had hoped to have this done while I was in Holland, but it rained practically every weekend and he needed a few dry days in a row.

Oh, well .. it is done now, but of course it was a mad scramble, as usual, and we're both exhausted .. just what you want when you're ready to get on the road again ..

Here's a few pictures of some 'random' things of the last weeks:

"It's getting chilly, let's light the fire pit. By the way, have you seen the cat lately?"

And that pretty little lake that I discovered a couple of weeks ago? Guess who has found it also?

I'll take this cute Grey Squirrel over that bad boy anytime! Even if he's eating 'our' May-haws ..


Along the path where I'm taking my morning walk grows this deliciously sweet smelling Honeysuckle:

And here's a last one of me, myself and I, working hard on getting our itinerary together. 
I've got the whole route pretty much all mapped out, and the RV parks for the first 10 days reserved, so we're good to go.

Only 86 miles to our first destination tomorrow, and the weather is supposed to be great, so it should be smooth sailing.
Should .. I say, famous last words .. you know about those plans!
Well, let's hope for the best. We're a little sad to leave but excited to see different states and places! See you on the road!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Almost 3 weeks have gone by since I've been back, if you can believe it .. I had to check the calendar for that myself ..
Things have pretty much gone back to normal, I've gotten rid of my jet-leg hang-over, and I don't wake up in the middle of the night or in the morning anymore, wondering where the heck I am ... 
Yes, I did that, and believe me, it's very unsettling!

The weather has been wonderful, temps in the low 70's, with the occasional 81 in there, and cooling off at night. I have to look through last years posts, but I think this Spring has been unusually cool so far. Hey, I'm not complaining!
On one of these beautiful morning's we went for a round of golf at Oak Knoll in Hammond. This course is the closest to us, (since the Hammond golf Center closed it's doors last summer!) and James has been playing it off and on already while I was gone.

I played there once last year and liked it very much. It's a beautiful course with huge mature trees. The Live Oaks are particularly pretty, with long strands of Spanish Moss hanging from their gnarly limbs.
Now it's started to warm up you have to be a little careful when you're looking for your ball in theses areas, especially if it lands close to the water's edge, as mine did ...


That was a Black Water Snake on the left, warming itself in the early morning sun. They're totally harmless but snakes always scare the be-jesus out of me ...
Give me the cute Fox Squirrel (that are in abundance at the course) on the right, anytime!

After the round James brought me to his favorite 'top-of-the-line' restaurant named Connie's:

As you can see, even the term 'shack' might be an overstatement ...

The inside isn't much better, and upon entering I really started to worry if I'd make it out alive or would survive the food at all ..
James eats here once a week with his work crew, and has raved about the wholesome down-to-earth country-food (and hasn't dropped dead yet), so I was dying (HA!) to try it myself!

Well, I didn't need to worry because I can tell you the food IS excellent. Although a lot of it is fried (not getting around THAT here), the batter is light and not greasy at all, everything is very fresh and tasty and a there's a LOT of it!
So, now I too can say: "I survived Connie's", like the rest of them ..

Somewhere last week Ronnie (James' boss) called us over to the orchard (right in front us), to help harvest some of the Mayhaw berries.
I took a picture of the blossoms before I left:

Since than those grew into these:


Mayhaws, actually hawthorns, are common in wetlands throughout the south and have berries that ripen and drop in early summer, around the month of April or May, depending on the weather.
Straight from the tree even the red ones are super-tart, too tart to eat, which is why most of them are made into jelly.

But first there's some work to be done, like a whole lot of shaking, and gathering .. and trumping through the mud since these trees like to grow in swampy conditions ...

Like I said, the joy of the Mayhaw is the making of its Mayhaw jelly and one of the South’s greatest culinary pleasures, at breakfast or otherwise. 
Slathered on a slice of toast or added to a dessert dish, you’ll find yourself enjoying a truly Southern flavor, a sweet jelly with a unique aroma and indescribably delicious, wild-fruity taste with just a hint of puckering tartness (depending on how much sugar you added).

So, after the harvest, Ronnie gave me a bucket full of them, added some instructions in how to prepare them and wished me good luck!


Most of your time is in picking and sorting the damaged or rotting ones and give them a thorough cleaning. After that you just have to cook them with some water for about 20 minutes, strain them, add some pectin and a LOT of sugar, and fill up your jars.
I used the no-cook freezer pectin. It didn't jell up as well as I hoped, and I think we'll have more of a syrup than a jelly, but it tasted wonderful so I'm pretty proud of myself!


Ronnie told me about the existence of a pond behind the house so one morning I set out to discover it for myself.
A narrow path led me through the swampy area behind the RV and, lo and behold, there it was:

A nice little pond, inhabited by lots of turtles, and surrounded by lots of different wildflowers.
A huge flock of Egrets took off when I approached the water's edge ...

I'm sure I'll be taking this route more often in the coming weeks, just to see what I will find! Water always attracts wildlife.

Talking about wildflowers, here's a little collage of some of the ones I've come across so far:

Irisses, Toadflax, Wood Sorrel, Buttercups, a white Azelea ...
I even found a few Marsh Clematis (Clematis Crispa). 
They're tiny, so you have to look real careful for them, but they are so dainty and beautiful: 

Also called Blue Jasmine, Curly Clematis, or Swamp Leatherflower (I mean, make up your mind already) they're native to the South-East and like their feet wet ... no problem here!

And that's about it for this week me thinks, quite a long post for 'nothing happening'. See you next time!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

I wish I made this picture but I didn't. I WAS there though! 

Wow, it's an old cliche, but time does fly! I'm back in the good ol' US of A, after a 5 week visit to friends and family in Holland. I had a great time, seeing everybody, drinking a lot of coffee and eating a lot of pies. I even got to experience a little bit of dutch winter, since it was unusually cold, it froze enough to be able to skate!
I barely took any pics, but here are some ...


You can't see it very well, but this is the sunrise above Amsterdam, while we were coming in for landing at around 7.45 am.
All flights, coming as well as going, went well, some minor and very short-lived turbulence, but really nothing to speak about. Which I like. A lot!
I flew from New Orleans to Houston and than to Amsterdam (no direct flights). By choosing a 'southern' airport as a lay-over I'd hoped to avoid any winter-weather delays that might occur when flying via New York or Boston. Which worked. There actually were delays over there when I came back ..

Like I said, and as usual, I drank a lot of coffee, while meeting with friends and family. 
Like here, at a restaurant at the 'dike', next to the harbor where the ferry to Texel comes in.

With my mom and sister

They always have great pastries here and you can't beat the view ...

Of course I visited the Nollen and met with my niece, her sons, and their wives and children. The family is growing!

This is the newest member, whom I had not met yet. 
What a ham! 


Always a great place for a family gathering. It's so 'gezellig' (cosy) here. Especially when hot soup is served and, as was the case, a big fire is roaring in the wood-stove!

Which definitely was a necessity, because it was COLD!

It's hard to see with the sun hitting it, but there was ice on the pond and it had snowed the day before!

Snow swirling around the train station, as seen from my mom's apartment (where it was nice and warm).

Winter was not done yet, or had returned, and pretty much all the time I was there it was arctic cold, with a hard wind from the north-east, straight from the pole!

The canals froze and you could even skate! I wanted to, but it really was almost too cold to risk the exposure, and besides that I was coming down with (what turned out to be) the flue, and wasn't feeling too well ...
Perfect weather for (dutch) pancakes though!

 I still know how to bake them!

I stayed at my sister for a few days this time around, and we baked this 'Oma-cake' together. Very good!


My sister and I visited the yearly flower show, 'de Lentetuin' (the Spring Garden), in Breezand, the town where we were born. 

This year had a nautical theme.

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It's indoors, and I wish you could smell these flowers when you enter the first hall ... heaven!

Besides the 'entertainment' factor of this show, it's also an opportunity for the growers to show of new varieties. Prices are to be won for the best ones ...


I also went to the North-East of the country to visit my long-time girlfriend, Irène, for which I have to cross the longest 'dike' in the Netherlands, 20 miles, the Afsluitdijk!

I braved the icy conditions to stop at a viewing area about halfway and take a few pictures. Look at that ice on the railings!

Besides catching up with a year-and-a-half of 'happenings', I got to see my friend star in a musical, appropriately/coincidentally called 'America, America', brought on by a local musical theater of which she is a member.

She's the dark haired beauty in the middle here:

It was so well done and so much fun, we all had a blast!

Towards the end of my stay we all got together for a High Tea, my sister and my nieces, my mother and me, for which we each had made a few different dishes.
We first had a 'savory' course, followed by a sweet one.

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 Man, was I stuffed!
As I said, time goes fast and before I knew it it was time to prepare for the journey back.
But not before collecting some dutch 'must-haves' to bring back to the States ...

Stroopwafels (syrup waffles), Belgian bonbons (from Leonidas), Indonesian spices (for fried rice and noodles) and of course .. drop (sweet/soft) !
They will all disappear too fast but we'll enjoy every last bite of it until it's gone ..

And than I was back, and my husband was so happy, and the cat also, and the weather was beautiful and .. and ... it's like I never went, but I have the memories .. until next time!
It always takes some time to get over the jet-leg, and to acclimate, and to realize when I wake up that I'm home ..

And .. boy, was this an early Easter or what? 
Like I said, the weather was absolutely gorgeous, around 72, not too hot or cold, just right.
We were invited by our neighbors, which are family of James boss, and who are also, like a few others, living on the same property, to attend their Easter pot-luck.

Look at these cute Easter-bunnies!

Tables were set out on the lawn and, as usual, there was enough food to feed an army ..


With the sun so bright and the white table cloths and everybody at their best and the flowers and the tree-swing and the children running around, it was so ... southern, don't you think?


No Easter without eggs and candies ... enough for everybody to get a sugar-rush ...


Which the kids than tried to burn off by racing around during that other 'staple' of Easter ... the Easter egg hunt!

After a couple of hours we excused ourselves and waddled home .. all 300 yards ... I was pretty much stuffed.
Time to sit down and take a nap .. we're getting too old for this!

I'll end with a picture of these gorgeous, heirloom 'Hardy Amaryllis' that are lining the front yard.

They opened up just in time for Easter .. they're typical for most  'old' gardens of the South and they even have a slight spicy fragrance.

Phew, that was quite the post! It's almost 5.30 pm, time for James to come home from work and ... Happy Hour!