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Here I would love to share with you our travels and adventures as international mushroom 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 at Spectrenoir: http://ebay.to/2xI69uc, for others to enjoy. As well as high end silver items from Giovanni Raspini, Italy. I also do classes and consulting... too much to list here! Love to bring back some romance and quality to the daily life of others... 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Husband Pieter's DANGEROUS Trip back from India

Well, DANGEROUS it would be, even more than that...

On Monday, November 30 of 1992, I did drop Pieter off at the Atlanta airport for his solo flight to India, due to specific problems in which I could not consult.
So he flew on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to Amsterdam, The Netherlands and on Tuesday he stayed at the Ibis hotel.
On Wednesday, December 01, Pieter flew non-stop to Bombay, now Mumbai, on this new flight.
He was seated in seat 9B, just behind Royal Class - our Courtesy Card always yielded good seats and often an upgrade!
Pieter also had booked the flight for Dad in March, with 10% senior discount for fl 1,074.00.
He arrived around 23:30 in Bombay and had to wait rather long before his red-white-blue banded suitcase appeared on the luggage carousel.
They did drop him off at the luxury hotel Centaur, Airport in Bombay, India.
Formerly known as Centaur Airport Hotel it is now renamed Hotel Sahara Star Mumbai, India click link.
What a luxury!
But on the way from International Airport to the hotel, Pieter did for the 1st time see Asia's most densely populated slum area...
India has such STARK CONTRASTS!
INDIA, the SLUMS of MUMBAI (BOMBAY) seen around the AIRPORT and after take-off, incredible views! Just click the link for a video...
At the time it were 2,000,000 people living in shanties on 1.5 square mile.
We all cannot realize enough how fortunate we  are for enjoying such preferential treatment in this world!
You can see more photos: Mumbai Airport Slum.
It has changed our lives forever... and we both have great difficulty each year when the Holiday Shopping Frenzy starts... All about $$$ and WANT!
And click here: Death-trap toilets: the hidden dangers of Mumbai's poorest slums.
On December 2, Pieter woke up early due to time difference and he did travel that day by plane to Coimbatore and than on by car into the mountains to Ooty.
With such a direct, non-stop flight to Mumbai, travel was a lot more relaxed!
That was Thursday...
Sunday, December 6, Pieter went very peaceful to a Catholic Church in Ooty.
But in the north of India this would turn into a Barbaric Sunday... with the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.
  Rioting also had spread to Bombay, as published in our Dutch/US bi-weekly paper The Windmill

By Thursday, December 10, the Indian Government halted ALL traffic! 
Plants and offices had to close...
They were trying to calm the whole nation down! So far hundreds of dead from the clashes between Hindus and Muslims.

Pieter got instructed to remain inside the hotel, people from Pond's India staff, came to him, walking for still getting some work done and problems solved.
It was a scary situation!
Pieter was unable to call with the USA... So he was forced to try via The Netherlands to leave a message for me with my Parents.
The female switchboard operator tried time and time again, finally she got through! Only to hear my Dad hang up on her, as he thought it was a wrong connection.
She tried again and Pieter could take over, so Dad recognized his voice and Pieter than explained him about the dangerous situation he was in.
Dad in turn called me in Dublin, Georgia/USA with the message that Pieter was stuck in the South of India and couldn't travel and that it looked rather dangerous...
Finally, Pieter managed to get through with a call to the USA and informed me that on Friday morning by 5:00 A.M. (which would be still Thursday evening here in the USA, 18:30 the staff would try to move him out to Coimbatore, even though driving a car was still prohibited! 
But he desperately needed to leave the country!
The airlines in India were all on strike and also the trains...
The evening of December 10, 1992, I had to go to a Ladies Night from Pieter's Rotary Club.
I'd handed the Rotary Club's President a note, requesting prayers for Pieter, who would be on the road at that time, trying to get out of India, somehow!
Pieter was in danger... and they sure did pray for him!
When I came home that night, I had a hard time to go to bed.
Next day on Friday, December 11, for keeping my sanity, I did drive all the way to the Atlanta Antique Show... and then I stayed up.  Read all the magazines I had to still read, writing letters and stayed up with burning eyes till 2:30 on Saturday...
Calling once again with my Parents, but they had not heard anything yet... so I went to bed exhausted.
Then Mom called at 4:15 on Saturday, December 12, to tell me that Pieter had arrived at the railway station in Horst/Sevenum, The Netherlands and Dad was on his way to pick him up.
Pieter made it out of India SAFE!
By 5:15 Pieter called me and told me his incredible story.
Brother Martin gained a beautiful black lambskin jacket that Pieter had bought for him from Pond's Leather Garment Factory, just like his one from an earlier trip in February 1991. For only Fl. 200.00 quite a bargain!
Pieter had gotten the instruction to NOT talk at all, while they were driving the 2.5 hours down to the city of Coimbatore.
The driver, a courageous staffer from Pond's, would handle all the talking!
They got stopped by military a dozen times but each time they let them go on...
Also they passed through a rather dangerous area, where quite some turmoil was going on.
So they reached Coimbatore  airport, but of course no flights and no trains either.
In such a situation it proves valuable for working under the umbrella of a big and good company such as Pond's, a subsidiary of Unilever. They have power in such a case!
Via the grape vine they learned that a high ranking military guy had to fly from Coimbatore to Bombay in a usual 2.5 hour lasting flight.
It took a lot of money for getting Pieter, together with some more stranded business people working for Unilever (from Great Britain and the US) on the same flight with that military guy!
It was a small plane and they'd bribed a pilote for flying from the military airport to Bombay.
But all was not clear yet, due to the domestic airport being completely shut down, they now needed approval for landing at the international airport!
With numerous phone calls, that got cleared as well.
When Pieter landed in Bombay, it made him instantly feel almost home because soon he would be under the wings of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and he would really be leaving!
Instead of the usual combi-jumbo for half freight/half passengers, used for this stretch, KLM had sent a full passenger plane because so many people got stranded in India during these riots.
What a grateful feeling for getting out SAFE!

The death toll had risen to 1,400...

On December 14, I could finally pick up my flying Dutchman at the Atlanta Airport!

END of a dangerous journey...

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Our Historic Christmas in Italy - END of Romania's Communist Dictator

As most of you know, we lived and worked about one year in Italy.
That also included one Christmas...
Watching TV on Christmas day, in Italian and also in Romanian, which I understand for about 60% since it is one of the Roman languages.
 old Romanian: 'NIMIC FARA DUMNEDEU'

On December 22, 1989 the Romanian Revolution had started.
On December 25, 1989 the communist dictator from Romania got executed together with his wife...
Execution of Romanian Dictator Ceausescu and his wife Elena on Christmas day 1989 click on link.
Quite shocking to see this unfold on TV on Christmas Day! 
Read more about Romania by clicking this link.
Still former Communists dominated the country till 1996...
The place where both got executed is now a national museum and you can see photos here.
We've never been to Romania yet...

We didn't study politics, but traveling and working almost all over the globe, we have seen too much of the negative impact on the population as a result of communism and socialism. 
Almost all over the globe and including our then neighboring countries close to Italy, like Slovenia where our First Lady Melania is born.
In my work in Italy, I've trained several women from Slovenia who fled before the breakup of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. 
We both lived in the Province of Treviso, near Venice, Italy.
Our cars did arrive per container from the USA, in the harbor of Trieste, which is right on the border with Slovenia.
We had to go there, to pick them up and driving both cars home.
Our First Lady Melania Trump is born in Novo Mesto, not far from Trieste.
Melania did grow up in Sevnica, which is only 2 hours and 15 minutes away from Trieste!
San Lorenzo in Raka, Slovenia where First Lady Melania got baptized
Melania Trump was baptized Catholic, confirms Slovenian Cardinal Franc Rodé click on link.
In an interview by Larry King in 2005 Melania is saying that she left Slovenia 15 years ago, so that means she left in 1990. We left Italy in January of 1990,
Click here and go to minute 12:37 where she starts saying this.
Husband Pieter and I can only admire our First Lady Melania Trump, for having come from such a difficult, communist environment and yet, having made it to Milan, Italy and later to Paris, France before coming to New York, USA while being a super model.
Now she is our classy and elegant First Lady!

Both of us also have visited another communist country, Hungary and we have seen with our own eyes the impoverished people's suffering.

We only pray that more and more people in this world, still under communist rule, will get to experience their FREEDOM.
God forbid that our own USA is going the Socialist route...
We both have come a long way for escaping its vicinity and at times it looks like we're heading right into it!

Related links:

Sunday, December 23, 2018

LOVED singing in Händel's Messiah

MUSIC is FOOD for the SOUL
Even more so when it is being composed by Georg Friedrich Händel...
December is a busy month for ALL, but I did commit myself to sing in one more choir since it is our favorite: Händel's Messiah!
Second row from the top, 2nd from left behind lady in sleeveless dress, I'm singing my heart out as a soprano.
We sang 7 songs and in-between we had a tenor, bas, alto and soprano sing a solo.
The Orchestra played great and we only rehearsed together with the orchestra, the day before!
Twice we'd rehearsed + performed on the actual day though!
Our local TV35, did capture the entire performance: Handel Messiah at Theatre Dublin click this link.
In the above screenshot from full video, finally the drummer and trumpet players are being shown as well!
I'm just sitting down here...
Husband Pieter did enjoy both performances and felt very proud of me singing with the choir.
That was our Händel's Messiah, with Georgia Southern University Magnolia String Quartet
First United Methodist Church Chancel Choir and Orchestra

No doubt, it made my Mom smile down from heaven, hearing her 2nd daughter sing soprano, like she used to do in her choir...
My Paternal Grandmother also sang as soprano, together with her friend my Mother-in-law who was a 2nd soprano.
Of course, my Dad who still sings but no longer as a first tenor.
Just learned that Dad quit singing, due to his severe flu recently he has said his farewell to the choir...
Used this link of:  Händel's Messiah since it was spelled correctly!
Encyclopedia Brittannica shows it correct: Georg Friedrich Händel with the German Umlaut, which can also be replaced by 'ae' as: Haendel.
Only 3 days earlier, Pieter snapped this photo from part of our choir the Knight Owls, performing at the annual Christmas Revue. Me, 2nd row, 2nd from left...
Since my double. closed pelvic bone fracture I no longer dare to stand on the top riser!
We do have lots of talent in this group and it feels warm and fuzzy to belong!
This is what I was wearing when performing with the Knight Owls at different events and since the Christmas Revue we also did perform at two local nursing homes.
My Escada Jacquard Knit Rose Sweater with a wide belt (from Indonesia) on Wolford leggings.
 Fake fur leg warmers from Walmart that I did fold over my boots from Italy and fake fur fingerless gloves from Walmart.

Husband Pieter and I are facing our 35th Christmas, without any family nearby.
To both of us, Christmas is the pure religious meaning.
Only in 2004, we did have our foster-daughter Anita staying with us.
Fond memories!
Still wear my hair calf boots and skirt from Escada with black sweater.
Cat boy Barty on the left is still with us but not Spooky on the right who died at age 3.5 because of heart worm...

 Wishing each of you a Merry Christmas! 


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

My 3rd trip to India - Consulting Together with Husband Pieter

On Saturday, February 15, 1992 we did start our 3rd trip together to India for consulting.
We did have an entire row of chairs in the plane, so we would be able to stretch out during the night flight. BUT it did not work...
 The plane was defect and we ended up up in the Sheraton hotel, after a couple of hours waiting...
On Sunday, we had the evening flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam, and we had an upgrade into business class.
On Monday we got dropped off at the Hilton hotel for the day and night...
On Tuesday February 18, we continued to Delhi and again an upgrade into business class in row 71, in the upper deck of a big Jumbo 747.
Wednesday we arrived in Delhi, and a person from Pond's India met us and brought us to the Taj Palace Hotel for a couple of hours as we both wanted to continue on to Madras with another flight with one stop in Hyderabad.
There again, we got met by people from Pond's India and they brought us to a hotel for a couple of hours till our final flight to Coimbatore with a stop in Bangalore...
We were greeted by familiar faces from the mushroom farm and after eating something at a restaurant we started our trip into the mountains and reached the hotel by 21:00, Southern Star (Quality Inn) in Ooty, Tamil Nadu State.
On Thursday, February 20, we finally arrive at the mushroom farm!
A beautiful view high in the Nilgiri Mountains!
View from above where you see the compost ricks to the left in front of the pasteurization rooms.
Sorry for the photo quality, but we had to have our photos and slides developed in Indonesia, where we lived and worked at that time...
Pieter did climb even higher for taking this one...
From above, compost ricks on the left and sheds to the right...
To the left, bottom, you can see the rail road track.
Climbing more down, a nice over view.
Yep, physical climbing we both have done a LOT while living and working in the mountains!
While Pieter descended, he could capture this nice view of all the excavation and reinforcement done at this site.
That's me, on my feet reaching the sheds for doing training.
The shoes I was wearing here, I left behind at the end of this work trip.
Pieter did the same with his shoes...
No need for cleaning them up in order to carry in the suitcase on the plane.
We saw so many people work bare footed!
BUT what we didn't know yet, was that our villa in Indonesia had been robbed and ALL my shoes were gone... I only had left what I had on my feet.
Everything else in the villa got robbed as well!
Walking and climbing...
Here Pieter gives a great view of the pre-wetting of the straw and the mixing in of more ingredients.
Women adding chicken litter to the straw... To the right you see one of the chutes.
Women with dry chicken litter...
Dry chicken litter, ready for mixing in.
Pre-wetting and mixing in ingredients...
Forming the ricks...
Then the process can start for making selective nutrients for growing mushrooms!
And this is the end result!
A very nice first break is growing here, ready for harvesting and then two more breaks will continue to grow before it is all being emptied out and started over...
Detail of the bamboo racks, their local product.

Hope you enjoyed seeing a bit more of the actual process for growing mushrooms.
Thanks for your visit and comment!

Related links:
Consulting for Pond's (India) Limited Mushroom Project | previous post by me
My 2nd trip to India - Consulting Together with Husband Pieter | previous post by me
Brindavan Gardens Mysore with Luxury Heritage Hotel | previous post by me

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Consulting for Pond's (India) Limited Mushroom Project

So here we are...
On Monday, February 18, 1991 we both started our first day of consulting at Pond's (India) Limited Mushroom Project.
Even though our night rest was not good, due to my bronchitis, we were early for breakfast in our room at 8:00. Dr. Ram picked us up for riding to the farm.
Mr. Balu welcomed us again in the traditional Indian way and we started our rounds.
The sign at the entrance for Ponds (India) Limited
Looking down onto the compost preparation area, Pieter always loved to climb to high grounds for getting an overview.
From a different angle showing more the insulated growing sheds.
A lot of excavation work got done for building this plant at an altitude of 2,100 m or 6,890 ft.
Ecavation here as well
Building high in the mountains where the ideal climate is, does come with construction problems...
A chute for the straw... Straw is being dumped by truck at the top level and it goes down the chute.
Overview of the compost slab with the pasteurization rooms in the back.
On the compost slab
The compost turning machine.
Men mainly bare footed!
Our work as International Consultants did open our eyes.
There are so many people far less off than we. Especially during the over-commercialized season of Christmas, which has evolved into a MASS CONSUMPTION PERIOD, we think about others!
Bagging machine for the spawned and pasteurized growing substrate.
Bagging area.
Insulated growing sheds.
Some damaged covers as they need to be sturdy and above all UV-resistent.
Inside the growing room with the air handling duct and air distribution tube.
No aluminum shelves as in my mushroom harvesting movie from 1980, but all locally grown bamboo.
Mushroom harvesting movie: 1980 Mushroom Harvest BLUES
In the back there is a harvester...
Me on the catwalk at the top... Nice first brake!
Ended up going to the local hospital for my severe bronchitis and the medication helped me.
A representative of the Pond's leather garments factory in Madras (Chennai) happened to stop by on Tuesday, February 25. That yielded for both of us a leather jacket. A black lambskin for Pieter and for me a suede leather jacket.
It is quite rewarding to receive something like this...
Given to me on our final day of the two week training period.
We thank our teacher for the training you gave us to do our job better.
See you soon. With love,
All their names written...
Makes one feel good!
Dated till the world ends 
1. A few friends in this world whose love is fond and true, when you count those Please count us among the few.
2. We are not rich, nor we have so much Power.
The only rare gift we can give you is our friendship towards you.
3. As the night follows the day our love with you will stay for as near you may be we will keep you in our heart.
Very touching and it made me emotional...
Some of their names, top 4 written by me and bottom written by them, except the word cannery that I added.
A very nice team to work with!
It always is hard to leave such a warm group...
We traveled to the planes again for our flight to Madras (Chennai) from Coimbatore.
On February 28, we did rise early at 3:45 in our Trident hotel, Madras for an early flight to Delhi.
The person from Pond's was there in time to pick us up and dropping us off at the nearby airport, only 5 minutes by car.
In Delhi we end up again at the Taj Palace Hotel where our Pond's contact person dropped us off and picked us up again around 14:15 for a little shopping tour. We visited the State Emporia Complex for a good range of fine products at good prices.
We also did shop at the shopping gallery of the Taj Palace Hotel.
On March 1, early rising at 4:15 and we went to the International Airport for our flight to Jakarta, Indonesia where we lived and worked at that time...
This is by far not a vacation or a sight seeing tour but we always loved doing it, helping so many people getting a better living.
Fond memories brought home, gifts and bought gifts and above all, those inside our hearts!

Thanks for your visit and comment!

Related links:
My 2nd trip to India - Consulting Together with Husband Pieter | previous post by me
Brindavan Gardens Mysore with Luxury Heritage Hotel | previous post by me

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