Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hello from The Netherlands!

Hello!  We have made it to our friends, the Van Neen's  in The Netherlands.  It was a little iffy start, what with dad's fall, but he woke up yesterday and felt like he could make the trip, so to the airport we went.  Only to find when we got there that Dad had forgotten his passport.  I felt a little guilty, because, I should have asked him all the questions, like "Do you have your passport?" But he has always had everything so organized and together before that I did not even think to question him.  Ok, I am not that comfortable questioning him.  I feel like I am treating him like a child, so I just never thought to say a thing.  So there we were at the airport and my brother had already left and was driving home, and we were unable to move forward and no way to go backwards.  We were there 3 hours early, so there was so hope.  I called my older brother on the telephone and told him about the passport.  He is a good man, but not always the most patient, but he was wonderful at this time.  I asked him if he could go to dad's get the passport and bring it back the 45 minute drive to us.  He never hesitated or asked me if I was insane, he just said he was on it.  But that was really cutting us short on time.  So I called my youngest  brother.  I said, "We have an emergency, I explained our situation and that Rob was on his way, could Tom go in and find the passport and meet Rob so that he would not have to spend that 15 minutes hunting.  Tom said he was on it.  And so Dad and I waited. 

That was when I realized my mistake.  No, nothing like the passport.  I had for what ever reason removed the foot rests from the wheelchair and then had forgotten them.  So Dad had a beautiful and comfortable chair, with wheels, but no where to put his feet.  I did not bring up his bad, he did not bring up mine. 

So just over an hour, Rob called and said he was pulling into the airport roads and his ETA was 2 minutes.  I again jumped to action and got Dad and the suitcases back out of the holding area we had been put to the sky caps, grabbed a skycap and gave him my passport and papers with the ticket information and then ran out to the curb just as Rob was driving up.  Dad had given me a generous "tip"" to hand to him, for his efforts and gas, and then some.  Rob handed me the passport, I handed him the cash, we both smiled at each other and I ran to the sky cap, and he drove away, another 45 minute drive home.  I am so grateful for my brothers working together and being there for us.  That is what family is for. 

So now we were checked in and had to get through security and on to our gate.  We did not have a minute to spare.  Dad, bless his heart, held up his feet and I practically ran with my back pack on and he had his bag on his lap.  And we made it to the gate just as they started boarding wheelchair people.  Perfect timing!  Dad had gone through the full body scan at security so we did not have a lot of the same problems we used to have with him walking through the metal detector and it going off because of his fake knee and the rods in his back.  So I understand all the issues with the full body, but I have to say, it made it soooooooo much easier on us this trip.  Everyone was extremely helpful and so kind.  They stepped in and pushed dad up the boarding hall to the plane and we were the first on, so had plenty of room for our carryons and the flight was great. 

We got to Atlanta with almost 5 hours to wait.  But with Dad that takes all the fear and rushing to make connections.  Instead a porter type person moved us from the plane to our next gate, so we knew where we were supposed to go.  After she left, I pushed dad back to the food court and we had salads for lunch and could take our time and enjoy our meal with no rushing or hurrying. 

The flight from Atlanta to Holland was long, but really not so bad compared to some of the trips I have taken over the pond.  We were in side seats 2 seats wide, versus the middle section 4 seats wide, so although there is no leg room on these planes, it really wasn't that bad.  I even think I may have slept for a few hours.  Not deep REM sleep, but more sleep then I have ever had on a plane before.  I was just so tired, and I did get some rest, even if not that much sleep.  Dad did not sleep well at all, and he can usually fall asleep at the drop of a hat, anywhere anytime. 

The economy is bad everywhere.  We had a pilot, who is not hired as a pilot right now transport Dad and I off the plane and take us to get our luggage and then put in in a good spot to  wait for Karin.  I went to a store and bought a phone card, then I grabbed one of the airport people and explained that the phone instructions were in Netherlander so I had no idea how to make the phone work with the phone card.  "Not a problem," he proudly proclaimed and demonstrated how to use the car and phone.  Karin answered the phone and we realized we were probably 25 feet away from each other.  Sometimes, even when things don't go like we planned, they work out just fine.

Karin and her youngest daughter, Sofi had come to pick us up, and soon we were on our way driving to the farm.  They have made so many improvements.  They have built this new cheese shop and are part of a coop with other local farmers and cottage industries and are doing wonderfully.  Tomorrow they have 40 people coming for a tour of their farm and facility.  Boris, their dog greeted me like an old friend, and the horses and cows and chickens and sheep and goats and the canals, and the green pastures, and the thatched roof farm house, and everything is wonderful.  The girls are all grown up and tall and beautiful and the most lovely people.  Sjaak and Karin are the same as always.  Sjaak has the first touch of gray at his temples and looks very distinguished.  Karin is as beautiful as always.    We took a tour of the farm, and the new land they bought next door which is "natural areä", so will always be undeveloped and a lovely green space, there in the "Green Heart" of the Netherlands.  Sjaak and Karin were part of the original group who started the Agriculture in the Green Heart of The Netherlands.  The queen even came to see them several years back when they this movement first started.  And Sjaak and Karin have won Agriculturist of the year and Agriculture business of the year a couple of years ago, so they are young and ambitious and doing amazingly well.  Constantly creating new molds for the cheese, in shapes like tulips and hearts and different sizes and different flavors.

As I sit here writing this post, bicycle after bicycle are riding up to purchase cheese.  It is steady for the past several hours.  Amazing. 

So we have made it on the first leg of our journey.  A few challenges, but all in all, everything is going so well.  Dad is doing well.  Sjaak came up with some foot rests we can borrow for the rest of the trip.  I knew he would.  And Dad is napping, then we will have some of their wonderful cheese and then I wil lay down to rest, and then this evening when the girls are home we will go see more of this beautiful country.  THey have had a couple of months of drought, but the rains are back and the entire time we are here it is 90% chance of rain.  Sjaak and Karin were so disapointed until I explained about our heat and drought, and a few days of rain sounded like heaven.  I have been taking some pictures, and will get into the cheese making area tomorrow morning and get some pictures in there.  And the reason we are here is to be with this beautiful sweet family, so rain is no problem.  I don't care if we just sit around and stare at each other.  At least I am here and so is Dad and we can see these very precious faces to us.  Our dear beloved family here. 

And we have heard from Luis in Badajoz, and he says everything is set for our visit there.  So Day 1 or 2, depending on how you look at it, is going wonderfully, and it is like a dream, this land of green and water.  And these lovely beautiful athletic kind, smart, ambitious, loving beloved people have welcomed us back into their homes.  And it is lunch and I must run to go eat cheese.  Wonderful gouda cheese.

Love to you,
life is wonderful
and now to the cheese!


  1. Sounds heavenly. I'm so glad you both made it safely!!

  2. I'm so glad to read this, Kathleen! I knew you'd manage it and of did.
    Love to you. BIG love. Enjoy the rain.

  3. Awesome. So glad that you made it. Post some photos if you can.