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Here I would love to share with you our travels and adventures as international consultants. About living in Italy, the Veneto area near Venice; in Indonesia, central Java. Why we love the southeast of the United States and moved back from Italy. Our love for gardening, the botanical way. Sharing with you our manifold treasures from exotic places and even offering several in my Mariette's Back to Basics LLC Boutique, for others to enjoy. As well as high end silver items from Giovanni Raspini, Italy |  google.com/+MariettesBacktoBasics 
I also do classes and consulting... too much to list here! Check out my google.com/+MarietteVandenMunckhofVedder ABOUT page, where you see my other LINKS and email address; you just scroll down.Thanks!
Love to bring back some romance and quality to the daily life of others... 

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Monday, May 30, 2011

{A Heart of Gold - Great Memorial Day Story}

When KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, for their 75th Anniversary did have a special contest 'Bridging The World' for stories that could win a free ticket for the person and for the cause it was all about, we too wrote a story about the deaf children in Indonesia. On September 19, of 1995 we received a letter (will be visible below) with the listing of some twenty winners - not us... But one of the stories I found so touching that I like to share that with you here below:
A heart of gold

"I'd like to begin by introducing myself. My name is Frank. Last year I passed my highschool exams, and now I'm doing my best to keep up at business college. My sis passed too, so my parents took us both on a trip to the States. That's where I got my idea for the 'Bridging the World' contest".
Nobody would deny that Frank Hulshoff, a 19-year-old Dutch student from Driebergen near Utrecht, has a heart of gold despite his chuncky black leather biker's jacket and boots. His efforts enabled 64-year old Ruth Berryman, from Detroit, to visit the Dutch grave of her elder brother, Donald, fifty years after he was killed in action in the Netherlands one month before the end of World War II, aged 19.
And yet, Frank had only met Ruth once, when she served him in the bar of a Detroit hotel. They had got talking and when she heard he came from Holland, she told him about her brother buried there. After his return home, Frank went and laid flowers on the grave, and sent a photo to Ruth in Detroit. When he heard about 'Bridging the World', he wrote KLM the letter which won him the prize. He left for Detroit to bring the good news to Ruth personally. The immense war cemetery on the Margraten plateau, in the south of the Netherlands, is an impressive place. When they finally arrive at the white cross marking her brother's grave, tears came to Ruth's eyes. She sits on the ground at the side of the cross, regardless of the damp grass. "If you don't mind, I need to sit here a while. It's been fifty years..."  The Dutch TV team accompanying the couple stop their cameras and leave her in the privacy of her thoughts. What Ruth had told Frank that night in the bar was that she had been saving every penny for years to pay for a trip to the grave, but that, with herself and six daughters to provide for, she had never succeeded in saving enough. "To tell you the truth, that was what touched me most, the idea that somebody had to save to visit a grave!", the young student says in disbelief. "You save money to buy a new guitar or for your next vacation, not to visit a grave surely?" Ruth in turn was astounded that a young lad would do this for her, an unknown woman he had chanced to meet just once.
"Now I know where Donald lies, in the middle of this beautiful country, in these wonderful surroundings, I can accept the fact that he is so far from home. I chatted with a couple of the people who tend the grass of the field of honour. You know what they said? They consider it an honour to be allowed to work here. That really meant an awful lot to me".
After Pieter gave a presentation for the Rotary club in December of 2010 about his experiences as a teenager during WWII in Groessen, Gld in The Netherlands, he also did show the American war cemetery in Margraten (the one I showed in yesterday's blog) to show that Freedom is not for free.
When I was cleaning out my desk I did find an old KLM booklet and it had its page marked right on the page with this story. So I got an idea to search for Frank on the Internet. I did find him, at least the very same name, on Facebook! So I mailed him this message:
Please reply if you are THE Frank Hulshoff who won the KLM trip in 1995 with 'A heart of gold'...
Kindest regards from Georgia/USA
Next day I got his reply: Yes that would be me :-)
I do talk regularly to the daughter of Ruth Berryman. Ruth herself died a couple of years ago. Before that I had seen her a couple of times and eventually the family requested to be one of her pall bearers.
It remains a unique story.
My reply again:
Dear Frank,

It also shows that you do still possess a heart of gold! Just as a coincident my husband gave the program about... as explained above already.
Closing with warmest regards from a Dutch American who's very proud of men like you! Wishing you well in all your endevours.
Franks reply:
Thanks for your nice mail. I appreciate it very much that you take the time to locate me on Facebook and that sums it up pretty well. It did stir a lot more of emotions at that time than I could have imagined. There happened so much special things around Ruth and me, but I don't like to withhold this from you:
A few years ago my parents were on vacation in California with friends. They go hiking somewhere in the desert and meet there on the trail a man and a woman. The man asked my father, 'So where are you from? " and my dad says Holland. To which the man says: Oh really, I have a nice story about a boy from Holland, and he begins to tell the story of Ruth and me!!!
He was a guest at the Hilton where Ruth worked behind the bar and she had told him that story. The chance of that happening is of course 0%. So this story has so many remarkable turns, such as you now, after 15 years, go through the trouble of finding me.
To make the story quite complete: I have adopted the grave of the brother of Ruth in Margraten.
Life is pretty damn amazing sometimes :-)

Greetings and all the best,

Frank

...
What a touching story
A Heart of Gold


Related links:
12½ jaar L1 - Amerikaanse president in Limburg | President George W. Bush visits Margraten on May, 8 in 2005. He did stay at the Château Hotel, St. Gerlach and was very complimentary towards the Staff. Proud of my Province of birth; Limburg!
President Honors and Commemorates Veterans in the Netherlands - Margraten, The Netherlands | From White House Archives May 8, 2005
Dutch Queen and Bush lead VE Day memorial

Sunday, May 29, 2011

{MEMORIAL DAY - FREEDOM HAS ITS PRICE}

This blog is written by my husband Pieter J.C. Vedder.
A very personal story, that highlights Memorial Day.

May the younger generation come to appreciate the true meaning of FREEDOM...

Over the years, the two most asked questions we have had to answer have been: where are you from (because of our accent) and also; do you like it here.

The answer to the first question is quite simple; we came to this country from The Netherlands some 27 years ago and in 1993 we both became American citizen.

Then the second question; Do we like it here? You bet! We both really love this great country, especially the South and not the least, Laurens County.
Perhaps you like to hear a few reasons for our love affair with this country and especially with Georgia. First of all, there is the ample living space for everybody. Compare this: the state of Georgia is 4.7 times bigger than The Netherlands, but has only about half the population.

We once bought a lot in the Venice area of Italy, where we lived and we had to pay over 40,000 US dollars for approx 8,500 sq. ft.(0.195133 acre). We paid less here for a couple of acres.
Taxes in the US are also lower then in most European countries (although the Democrats in this country are trying hard to match them). We also found it relatively easy to integrate in this community; the people in general are friendly and perhaps less nosy and envious then in Europe.
Then there is the climate. Okay, we might have some hot days and we have gnats and fire ants. But if you think that you are better off shoveling your car out of a pile of snow (we lived in Pennsylvania too) you may have it.
But what we appreciate most, and what many Americans, especially the young generation, takes for granted, is the personal freedom.
As a teenage boy, I have experienced what it means to loose your freedom. Especially the last year from the five years under German occupation has had a big impact on my life. For months we have been under heavy artillery fire. (We lived close to the German border and the river Rhine). Shrapnel wounded me; we had to leave our home and village and had to evacuate to another part of the country etc. Many families lost loved ones as the result of bombardments. The Germans executed two sons 17 and 23 from a befriended family staying with us, my middle brother just escaping that ordeal.
We were lucky that we lived in the countryside (my dad was in the greenhouse business) therefore we always could find something to eat but the people in the big cities were really starving. When, on September 17, 1944 the Operation Market Garden started in our area (near Arnhem) dropping thousands of paratroopers to secure the bridges over the rivers we thought that the war would soon be over for us. We were wrong; we still had to wait almost half a year.
Can you imagine the feelings we experienced when, in April of 1945 the American troops and their allies finally liberated us. I will never forget that day in April when we came back to our small village from our half-year evacuation, finding the greenhouses flattened and most of the houses ruined, including ours. We slept that night, rolled in an old carpet (we didn’t have a bed yet) and when we woke up, the sun was already shining. My dad put his arms around us and said; we are the richest family on earth; we are all free and alive.
Thank you America, we will never forget what you and your Allies did for us and we will never forget that so many young and brave Americans, among others, have given their lives for our freedom.
Margraten overview
The pictures show the American Cemetery: Fallen But Not Forgotten in Margraten of the province Limburg where Mariette is born and where we both lived. This is the final resting place for 8,301 young American soldiers. Freedom has its price!
The Dutch observe their Remembrance Day May 4 and Liberation Day May 5, but they've made it a tradition on the Sunday before the U.S. Memorial Day to pay tribute to the American service members who fought for freedom and are now buried at the cemetery in Margraten.
Today was the 67th time that they observed this.
Seen on one of the photos is: William A Mc Kenna Jr Capt 121 INF 8 Div Georgia Dec 25 1944…
Photos taken by my brother: Martin Van den Munckhof except overview cemetery.
Related links:

12½ jaar L1 - Amerikaanse president in Limburg | President George W. Bush visits Margraten on May, 8 in 2005. He did stay at the Château Hotel, St. Gerlach and was very complimentary towards the Staff. Proud of my Province of birht Limburg!
President Honors and Commemorates Veterans in the Netherlands - Margraten, The Netherlands | From White House Archives May 8, 2005
Dutch Queen and Bush lead VE Day memorial | YouTube video

Saturday, May 28, 2011

{Our Spiraea japonica 'Gold Mound' (Japanese Spirea)}


  • On May 21 our Spiraea japonica 'Gold Mound' (Japanese Spirea) was showing its pink blooms and I took pictures of it. 
  • The serrated leaves are a striking yellow-green color that makes it already a gorgeous shrub in itself.
  • Our two shrubs are blooming each a little bit at a different stage, probably it makes a difference in which spot they are planted. 
  • Hope you enjoy their blooms and even their flower heads in an already advanced stage. Let's start the Garden Tour.
  • The Spiraea japonica is very attractive to butterflies.

Friday, May 27, 2011

{HOW TO EXPORT YOUR BLOG - TO SAVE IT!}

After having been away for one night to Atlanta, I discovered several problems with Blogger today. My followers have disappeared from the side-bar and as I learned; I'm NOT the only one. Also my Recent Comments don't show on the side-bar.
My Dashboard does list the amount of Followers but none show up when I click it. Neither on the side-bar.

If you go to this link you might be able to add your issue to the long list, you might have to click the last page for being able to post there. 
Also I learned that some bloggers couldn't get into their own blog and others lost it ALL. See below how to EXPORT your blog to save it! To the end I will  also show the New Blogger Interface.

Another problem is that in several blogs I cannot get into for leaving a comment. It lets you log in over and over again and your comment is being headed as anonymous... Strange things.

For one thing I worried most; loosing all the posts with valuable information. I had read advice as how to EXPORT your blog in order to save it onto your hard drive or external hard drive in the form of an XTML file.
Here are some screenshots of the process and I advice you to do the same as I did before posting this tonight. Hope Blogger will soon act on the other issues as well. 


The first screenshot with plain text is taken from Debbiedoos Blogging and Blabbing.

As promised, here below I will show you the steps of How To on the New Blogger Interface:
Go to Settings and at the very bottom click on Other
Import blog - Export blog - Delete blog
Click on Export blog, than on Download Blog
Now click on the drop down window, next to save
Select Save as
This is how it will look like after being saved.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

{Our Buddleja Davidii- Butterfly Bush}


  • In our wood garden we do have a variety of Buddleja davidii, or Butterfly bush. 
  • Sometimes also called summer lilac. Buddleja davidii, the butterfly bush, is native to northwestern China and Japan.
  • As our garden is providing food and shelter for wildlife, these different types of butterfly bushes are a haven for butterflies and hummingbirds. During a Garden Tour you would get to see lots of butterflies.
  • Just showing you this one photo with a Gulf Fritilary - Agraulis vanillae (Linnaeus, 1758) butterfly visiting.

Related links:


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

{Our Pinckneya Pubens - Poinsettia Tree}

In our garden we do have this special pink-blooming tree: Pinckneya


Scientific name (Pinckneya pubens)

Common name - Fever tree; Poinsettia tree 

Join me on a Garden Tour with: Mariette's Back to Basics.
Pinckneya is a small deciduous tree native to the coastal plains of the southeastern United States. It is notable for the very showy blossoms borne on the tips of the branches in late spring. Their color is usually pink, but the possible shades range from creamy-white to rose-red. The blossoms occur in large clusters, and a tree in full bloom is a spectacular sight.
Actually the petals of the individual blossoms are small and inconspicuous. The size and color of the bloom comes from the sepals, which can expand to several inches. Because these sepals retain their color for an extended period before fading, the show lasts for several weeks.
This is a plant of the deep south, and it can't be grown in the north except in a greenhouse. Even in the south It isn't common, either in gardens or in the wild. Its native habitat is wet acidic soils on the margins of bays, swamps, and streams, often in the light shade of scattered pine trees. Cultivated plants can grow on drier sites, but may need special attention during droughts. Root rot can be a problem, especially on poorly-drained clay soils.
But in the right conditions the species can grow fairly fast and begin blooming at a young age. It needs a moist acidic soil with good drainage, and does best in light shade. Wild specimens often spread by producing root suckers, and cultivated plants usually have multiple trunks.
A Pinckneya grows rather tall, it was hard to capture its blossoms on camera...
Pinckneya can be grown somewhat north of its native range, in the warmer parts of Zone 7. It can be killed to the ground if the temperature drops below zero (F), but will usually resprout from the roots.
Most blossoms were way up high where we could not reach them!
The scientific name of this species has been changed from Pinckneya bracteata to Pinckneya pubens. An old common name is Fever-bark Tree, and the bitter bark of the plant was formerly used as a home remedy for reducing fever. The species is related to the Cinchona Tree (Cinchona ledgerina) of South America, the original source of quinine.
Trees in our garden are rather tall and also this Pinkneya has its blossoms all the way up in the air. But at least we got you some pictures. Pieter held a branch down for me to catch on camera.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

{Our Felines - Sweet Barty...}

Okay, we want to introduce you to our Barty, a male feline who came to our household. After some sad stories; this is a happy one. Even Anita Anggraeni our foster daughter loved Barty to death...
So let's begin with Barty's arrival as a cute little kitten.
As a good Dutch custom, dating from the 17th century, we celebrated that with 'Beschuit met Muisjes' blue and white of course for a boy! Even though we didn't have any Dutch Rusk... so we made do with Wasa crispbread. Of course Barty did not eat this. He just was curious what it was. His fur was not in optimum condition when we first got him but soon it began to shine and he grew stronger.
Snuggling up to his big brother, his protector and mentor who loved him to pieces. One thing we learned from this; never one pet alone! Like humans, they are a lot happier and healthier when there is a playmate! It was endearing to see Spooky act almost like a surrogate mother...
Safe in Papi's strong arms; feeling very sheltered and well loved right from the beginning. Except for when they take me to the vet for shots and other nasty things... don't like that but they say it's good for me! All of us felines have been spayed or neutered and we see the vet regularly. That's the only time we get to travel by car you know.
Whenever they've been away, even for shopping... I put my cutest face on and cuddle with my Mami. You know what? She always gives me cat-treats... I just play the game!
When they say the word 'Snoepie' I really pay attention. Yeah, I'm born in Georgia but I understand Dutch too! Do you know what a Snoepie is? It is 'lekker'... yummy Whiskas Temptations Savory Salmon!
One day, when Spooky and I did go with Mami into the wood garden to collect violets for making candied violets, I ate some big tender grasses. That is so good, like salad for humans. BUT some old dry grass had pricked deep inside my nose and made me sneeze and sneeze... They took me to the vet and she thought I had an allergy and got some medication. But I kept on sneezing and blood came out of my nose. Papi got real upset and went with me back to the vet and I had surgery... Oh my, that was nasty! Look what they found in my nose; this straw-like piece that had been bothering me for weeks. But I never lost my good-natured mood, I always smile you know. Life is good to me and I am a happy cat; I got so lucky to get out of that little cage at the Humane Society. I never forget that and sometimes I do dream about those sad days when they picked my sister up first and than came Papi with Mami. I did nibble on her earlobe and her pinky and she liked that. The trick worked. But you know what, for that piece of straw I got tons of LOVE and WHISKAS...
Can you see the gazebo reflected in the glass? That's also a favorite place for me to be. Oh, I do have lots of favorite places. I love to walk alongside the creek in the back because all kind of critters live there. Sometimes I do bring Mami a gift, a frog or a mouse and I'm even a brave enough cat-man for killing a rat! Yeah really, and they reward me for doing so. But they don't like for me to look at birds, they do feed them too and I guess that means they must love them! Never did they feed the rats or the mice so I got the message. Oh, with that thick black fur-coat I LOVE to stay in the shade.
This is the garage, it is for the cars but tell you what: 'It is OUR bedroom too. Look at all the pet-beds to the left. Underneath are rugs with leopard prints on them. Mami bought them for us in Coral Gables, Florida, as a gift when they went there on vacation. We stay home and can get in and out through the cat door. Yeah, I used to go with Spooky to a Pet Lodge and we had to stay in a cage. Stupid person called it a Pent House! We could barely move in there and we were very sad and Papi and Mami even had to pay for that. No, I'm happy the way it is now. A close friend did convince them to get us a cat door. But at first they hesitated because one cat-girl got killed on the road. Me, I never go on the road... Mami told me not to and I listen! By the way, this photo was taken by Papi - two days before he had his open heart surgery... That scared all of us. And you know, I am now the Cat-Leader for the other kittens. You can read about the boys {You like to meet our 3 Feline Boys?} and the girls {Telling YOU the Tale of our 4 Feline Girls}.
Yeah, I am worried about my Papi and Mami because they are working so hard in this huge garden where we can roam freely. This is in the end of March but not long before those weeds start growing again... We all do help as much as we can, we're always looking what they are doing and join them.
Bye for now; thanks for visiting and listening to me!
Barty

Monday, May 23, 2011

{Our Felines - Sweet Spooky II...}

As promised yesterday, here is the sequel about our Spooky I and II... I forgot to mention yesterday the reason why sweet Spooky I got killed. She had a very special friend; the black dachshund Daisy from across the street. They were both not allowed to go on the road but Spooky made her daily trips to look her up. They frolicked around and talked to each other, they were inseparable. When Daisy broke her leg and had to wear a cast, she could not come outside. The day that the cast came off, Daisy's Mami carried her out of the car into the house. Daisy made a loud noise, that they never had heard from her before... she was calling for Spooky, who sat next to the front door window to wait for her! That was only days before the one fatal car accident when she'd visited Daisy for the last time. Pieter was on the lawn with ant killer when it happened almost in front of him. Daisy did mourn for a long time. Spooky I was missed by so many. A couple of months later when I was in bed with Vertigo, Pieter went to the Humane Society and got us the pet of the week. And thus we had another feline; Spooky II.
Here he is; a cute tuxedo cat!
After our sad experience with Spooky I we decided this little guy would be an indoor cat only. He could smell the world from the screen door and listen to the birds and so on.
Spooky with his tongue sticking out... eager to walk with his Mami on the leash; his daily treat!
Looking at the birds who were nesting in the Confederate Jasmine, while cuddling his panda...
He grew into a happy cat and was very much loved.
Walking to the mail box he sat on my hip and of course was amazed at those birds flying around over head... What a big world out there!
He would always lead me towards the pond area for his balancing act, after we walked the trail through the wood garden and behind the house.
In his oak pet bed on top of the armoire in our bedroom. He loved to jump and I had to put him his bed up high... Leaping from the window sill up there...
When Spooky II was almost two years old we got him a brother from the Humane Society; again the pet of the week that was in the newspaper. He LOVED his baby-brother and did actually raise him! That was so funny and how concerned he was about that little guy.
Behind the screen door listening to the birds and exploring the smells of the big world...
Unwrapping Christmas gifts with {Anita Anggraeni our Foster Daughter} from Indonesia.
Talking about a 'Copy Cat'... Barty was one!
Oh, and we did succumb to having outdoor cats again... got us a cat door, right behind where Spooky II is standing. He is telling Barty: 'Look, this is how you sharpen your paws on the raw wall...'
Oh, in the laundry room, Mami let me drink from the faucet... I LOVED that!

But this Spooky did die suddenly from a very surprising cause: heart worm disease!
In the morning he came to me for some cuddling, very special as it really was not such a cuddle boy. Little did I know that he came to cuddle me one last time; that was his farewell... We found him the next day, after searching in the wood garden and everywhere. He had died under my Toyota RAV4.
Our vet had prescribed Advantage against fleas and such and we took that, even though we used to give them Revolution. Well, you trust a vet isn't it? After the autopsy we learned about the real cause and we were shocked. I was even more surprised to learn that Revolution does protect them against feline heart worm disease but Advantage does NOT. We switched right away to get Barty safe and we never ever will use Advantage again! The price was too high, again only 4½ years old...
Barty by the way did hide in the back of the garden under a pile of tree branches. There he stayed for a couple of months; mourning his big brother. The one that nourished him and protected him.
Yes, animals do mourn too.

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