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“Tiptoe through the window, By the window, that is where I’ll be. Come tiptoe through the tulips with me.” ~ Tiny Tim

We began the day with a walking tour of Antwerp. Antwerp is one of the world’s most important seaports and also the top diamond center in Europe. Interestingly enough, all of the shops were closed when we toured so no diamonds were purchased. The city was lovely with a mix of old and new, with cobblestone streets leading to the impressive Cathedral of Our Lady.

It was again a lovely morning with the sun shining despite cool weather. There were a few unusual things to see, but of course, everything is better when seen with friends.

In the afternoon we took a bus ride to the Floralia Flower show at the Kasteel von Groot-Bijgaarden. Our arrival began with a parade of sorts of finely dressed and masked people who posed and wandered about the amazing tulip gardens.

“You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” ~Walter Hagen

There were endless patches of tulips and some other flowers, The day was picture perfect with endless photo opportunities that did not disappoint.

“From little seeds, great flowers grow.” ~Jessie Burton

“Life was meant to great adventure and close friends.” ~Anonymous

“That’s what people do in Holland. They build dykes and ditches. They don’t drown. They’re brilliant engineers.”So I’ve heard,’ says Faro thoughtfully. ‘They’re very obstinate, those people in Holland.”~ Helen Dunmore, The Tide Knot

Today after breakfast we took a bus from Hellevoetsluis to Middleburg. The hour and a half bus ride felt at times as if we were taking the slow route to Middle Earth, but we passed by The Zuiderzee Works which is a man-made system of dams and dikes, land reclamation and water drainage work, in total the largest hydraulic engineering project undertaken by the Netherlands during the twentieth century. It reclaimed the land which had been lost to floods.

The city of Middelburg is the capital of the Dutch province of Zeeland and possesses all the charms of a proud city steeped in tradition. It was another beautiful picturesque day, and our tour guide was less than impressive or informative as I would have hoped, but I still could not pass on a photo opportunity of this lovely town.

“It’s in those quiet little towns, at the edge of the world, that you will find the salt of the earth people who make you feel right at home.”
~Aaron Lauritsen, 100 Days Drive: The Great North American Road Trip

We came back to the ship, had a bite to eat, and Skip and I headed out for a brief walk on our own. There was a church with the bells ringing, a windmill with the arms spinning, interesting street signs and we were just in time to see the drawbridge open for a ship to pass.

“I want to travel the world with you, go to every country, every city, take pictures, and be happy.” ~ Anonymous

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.“~ Confucius

“Here are the tulips, budded and full-blown, their swoops and dips, their gloss and poses, the satin of their darks.”~ Margaret Atwood, Dearly

Today we set sail, it was windy and cold and it was invigorating. I got myself stressed out at breakfast over something I could not control and sat on the top deck in the wind with Skip and watched as we passed into a lock into choppy waterways.

It was relaxing and just what I needed to hit the mental reset button as we sailed on rough seas to our first port, the city of Hoorn.

After a leisurely lunch we boarded small busses to larger busses on our way to Mr. Tulip (I kid you not) for a very informational/educational lecture on growing and selling and harvesting tulips.

It was well worth the trip to see the wonderful houses along the way, fields of tulips, and to be educated in the growing of tulip bulbs, which is much more work than I would have imagined.

“I tiptoed through the tulips on a sunny day in May
My feet touched nature at its best
And all I had were memories
No camera to record events
And so I stood awhile and wallowed in the feeling
Storing my thoughts deep within
And when I rebooted, I recalled them
And strode on with my May Day walk
Happy in the thought that I would not forget
For now

~ By PhilSoar

Nearby there were pastures with sheep and swans and farm animals gently grazing while we all desperately tried to capture the joy in a photo.

We took a leisurely walk back through town after the buses dropped us off.

I’m trying to find joy every day and I would say that today was a successful day in that endeavor. I look forward to the memories tomorrow will bring.

“Here’s to all the places we went. And here’s to all the places we’ll go. And here’s to me, whispering again and again and again and again: I love you”

~ John Green.

“Life was meant to great adventure and close friends.” ~ Unknown

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another “What you too? I thought that no one but myself?” ~ C. S. Lewis

Today we had a leisurely breakfast and went to the Church in the attic which is a museum of a church that was catholic and became a “secret church “during the times when the protestants took over the churches during the Protestant Reformation, with our friends Tom and Barabara and Harry and Joanne. To be honest, without Harry and Joanne told us about it I probably never would have ventured to this site and I was glad I did despite the many stairs. Did I mention there were stairs? There were so many stairs that my apple watch asked if I had been abducted, but it was well worth the effort. The church was lovely and the self-guided tour was very informative once I was able to breathe again.

Have I mentioned there were stairs? If you survived the climb to the attic, you were blessed with amazing views. and hopefully for those of us that were raised as Catholic, plenary indulgences just for the attempt to make it all the way to the attic.

Once my heart rate returned to a normal range after the climb, Skip and I took a leisurely walk and took random photos. There were cheese stores, sweets stores, stroopwafels stores, weed stores, and interesting and strange stores. It was relaxing, it was peaceful, and It was perfection.

To top off a lovely morning we met with Gary (the canary) and Peggy and ventured to lunch at a Pancake place where the only food was …pancakes!! Which they could make safely gluten-free. And they were delicious!

We ventured to the ship, boarded without incident, wined in the afternoon and well into the eve. Reconnected with “old” friends and connected with new friends.

“The person you have known a long time is embedded in you like a jewel. The person you have just met casts out a few glistening beams & you are fascinated to see more of them. How many more are there? With someone you’ve barely met the curiosity is intoxicating.”
Naomi Shihab Nye

“My experience in Amsterdam is that cyclists ride where the hell they like and aim in a state of rage at all pedestrians while ringing their bell loudly, the concept of avoiding people being foreign to them.” ~ Terry Pratchett “

After a good night’s sleep, we felt refreshed and ready to take on Amsterdam. Our first order of business was breakfast of course as my grandson would say! So fueled with coffee and food we self toured with our friends Harry and Joanne. The weather was perfect and we were in no hurry, which to me is the key to a lovely day. Our first stop was the “Oude Kerk” or Old Church which is the city’s oldest building. It was empty of most tourists when we self-guided toured it which was peaceful.

Since all of that walking was quite tiring, and it was such a beautiful day, we sat for a bit at the Dam Square, which is the center of Amsterdam, at a cafe and had some cappuccino and tea and a Stroopwafel and watched the “tourists” pass by. It was exactly what was needed on a picture-perfect day.

We walked some more and just meandered, took some photos of each other, and found a place to eat lunch.

Peggy had arranged a canal cruise with wine and cheese for twelve of us, so when in Amsterdam on a beautiful day, you tour the canals by boat.

“What’s special about Amsterdam is that the city is able to connect worlds that are not otherwise connected.”

~ Marcel Wanders

There is a beauty in the new and the old and how they co-exist. I shared with my friend Rebecca how my grandson Carter seems to find such joy in everything he sees and does. When he tells me about his day, his happiness feels contagious. I told her I would try to find and sprinkle joy whereever I could. Last evening, over drinks, my friend Peggy told me that she saw me with a big smile on my face when we were on the canal cruise and I was taking photos, and that made her happy. To me, this is finding joy.

Sunshine and, good food, good friends, good drink. The saying is true – “It doesn’t matter where you are going, it’s who you have beside you.” ~Anonymous.

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart. ” ~Cesar Chavez

Imagine if you are away from home in another country, say for example Amsterdam, and you tell someone you probably had one of the best dining experiences of your life. One might assume, that you dined at a Michelin five-star restaurant. Then you tell them, this was even better!

This was our second time having the pleasure of dining with Martine and Olav at their home. It is a unique experience by any standard, they are former chefs who decided to organize dining experiences in their home. You can read more about it on this link

Three years ago we had the pleasure, due to Skip’s search, to have a dining experience with a group of our friends/fellow travelers and it was one of the highlights, if not the highlight, of the trip.

After two years of COVID lockdown, we were blessed once again to dine with them and a few of our friends last evening. To say it did not disappoint would be an understatement. The company, the wine, the food, the conversation was as my daughter Becca would say “chefs kiss.”

I did not take many photos as I chose to live in the moment and savor the flavors of the food, wine and company.

Thank you to Marine and Olav for another “most memorable evening” in the books. Everything was incredible. You are both extraordinary hosts in every sense of the word. The pear tart, the food, and the company was truly the best. Thank you.

“Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship. It is of great importance to the morale.”

~Elsa Schiaparelli

“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” -Author unknown

This afternoon we begin our long-awaited travels. This trip is a combination of two postponed trips a year or so apart with a “bridge” trip in the middle. The total number of days is twenty-six with travel to Amsterdam later today and the return from Venice after a Viking Ocean cruise to Greece in mid-May. With the state of the world over the last two-plus years, the trip never seemed like it was actually going to happen, oh you know – COVID-19 – Pandemic was happening!

To be honest, I do not like to travel, hate to fly, and my anxiety levels are off of the charts when I am disconnected from my family. As they say sarcastically, “Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”

Nonetheless I have my spreadsheets in hand, completed my checklists, overpacked significantly and am checking flight status every five minutes.

We made both flights, we hardly slept. I remember why traveling is so exhuasting. None the less – we made it to Amsterdam and flew over some tulip fields in full bloom.

Our luggage made it as did we. We connected with our cab and made it to our hotel and settled down for a brief, two hour much needed nap. We have a special dinner tonight and I think it is Tuesday but don’t put money on that.

my eyes will remember

how to love the world

under changing skies.

when the light changes,

so does the view.

~ Lindsay O’Connell

Twenty years from now

You’ll be more disappointed

By the things you didn’t do

Than by the ones you did do.

So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the harbor.

Catch the trade winds in your sails.




– H. Jackson Brown, from P.S. I Love You

“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” ~ M. K. Clinton

“Dogs’ lives are too short.
Their only fault, really.”

Agnes Sligh Turnbull

Today we had to make the incredibly difficult decision to put our dog Harry to sleep. Harold, Harry, Little Buddy, Harry-Balls, and Balsagna, as he was affectionately known, among other names, came into our lives with his littermate sister Frankie almost fourteen years ago. Several years before we had lost our first dog and I swore I would never get another dog as it just hurt too much to lose one. So, technically I was correct as we did not get another dog, we got two. Neither Harry, nor Frankie could be thought of as the brightest bulbs in the chandelier as the saying goes, intellectually, (Harry failed puppy class a few times), but indeed Harry was an old soul, full of love and wisdom. He could stare at you especially after his eyes had clouded over from illness and he could barely see, tilt his head, and you knew, yes you knew, he understood you and cared.

Harry and Frankie were double trouble. They barked too much, hated delivery people, detested the lawn guys, and would get each other going racing through the house doing zoomies or on and off the furniture. I fear Frankie will be lost without Harry.

Harry met quite a few people in life he did not like, and there were a couple he wanted to see how they tasted. He either loved you and licked your head or attempted to put you in your place! When Kristen left for studies abroad 14 years ago, before factime and zoom, there was skype and Harry was a master of Skype and many other things such as amazon shopping, sending the perfect Hallmark card, sending the perfect 1800flowers arrangement that looked like him or his newest skill sending money via Venmo.

When his legs worked and his eyes could see the distance, he loved nothing better than to perch on the back of a couch or chair to get a better view of his kingdom. Indeed, we were a part of his world and meant to serve him.

He loved to “floof” his blue blankie, drink a bowl of water like he had come in from the desert, beg for treats ( he was entitled he never begged), shake his crate to let you know he had to go outside like a prisoner shaking his cup for some drink, and he loved, loved, loved when I would leave the bed to take my place and snuggle with his dad, and when his sister Kristen came to visit he’d tell her that he understood what it was like to have allergies and snuggle like he was starved for affection.

Right now it hurts immeasurably in my heart. I’ll miss our talks, I’ll miss our walks if only to the backyard to do business, I’ll miss the big part of our lives that you were for the past fourteen years. You helped me without judgment for my tears when my dad died, you helped me without judgment for my fears during the pandemic. In your short life, you touched a lot of people and you will be missed.

“With eye upraised his master’s look to scan, the joy, the solace, and the aid of man: The rich man’s guardian and the poor man’s friend, The only creature faithful to the end.”

– George Crabbe

“Tears are the silent language of grief.” ~ Voltaire

Hi Dad, today is the two-year “anniversary” of the day you died. I’ve been thinking about this date for some time now. When I think about you, especially when something happens, and say to myself”I need to call dad, ” and then realize that it’s just an automatic trigger, it makes me sad. There is still so much I’d love to talk to you about, and as much as our conversations were crazy by any standards, I still miss them. Today a woman told me she was getting a haircut, and honest to god I told her “you should get them all cut,” which was something you used to say.

You made me laugh more than you made me sad. I felt we helped each other to survive after mom died. You loved your kids and grandkids and great-grandkids, and of course, I was and always will be the favorite child.

I honestly don’t know how you would have coped with the isolation of the pandemic, somehow I’d like to think you would be the mayor of Brightview and thrived, but it was not meant to be.

I do regret that due to the pandemic we could not have your epic wake ( with the kneeler voice-activated saying thank you for coming in your voice when they knelt at your casket) and the celebration afterward. Wherever you are, and we can’t be sure, I hope you are peaceful and happy, maybe “selling poppies” for the VFW of heaven, or cards with mom and your family and friends. I hope it is a good day for you and that you make others laugh as much as you did all the years I knew you.

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in
the hollow of His hand.

“A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.”~ Andre Maurois

Dear Skip, Today marks the day of our forty-first anniversary and I wanted to let you know I love you very much and I appreciate you. It’s been a strange couple of years with, you know, the pandemic, but we weathered the storm, adjusted the sails and survived. As Jenny Mahon would say, “We drive, you thrive, ” which actually has nothing to do with this post, but I am trying to get the “Skipney” marketing out there.

Thank you for driving me places I need to go, and your patience with me during our 16 hour road trips, as I know I am possibly high on the list of worst passengers ever. Though I’d apprecaite it if you stopped glaring at bad drivers, as I am sure I am going to get shot in the crossfire one day!

“The secret to a happy marriage is if you can be at peace with someone within four walls, if you are content because the one you love is near to you, either upstairs or downstairs, or in the same room, and you feel that warmth that you don’t find very often, then that is what love is all about”. ~ Bruce Forsyth

I can honestly say that most times we are at peace and pretty darn happy. Part of that has to do with my amazing sense of humor. Most days I can find the humor in life, but these past couple of years it has been a little harder to find the laughter, and I thank you for being there for me on the funny and not so funny days. I do think that scotch may have played a part in helping you to be more peaceful, but that is just one woman’s opinion. As Tom Haas would say, “Asking for a friend.”

Thank you for encouraging me to work at the vaccine clinics in North Carolina, and thank you for helping direct traffic at the clinic despite the fact that someone drove into a ditch. It was fun to work side by side with you not selling baseball bats!

Thank you for the boat rides, you are the best captain, I mean Skipper! It is fun to be your first mate! Do you see where I went there, mate=wife, you know what I mean.

Thank you for being terrible at Game of Thrones Monopoly but playing it anyway! I am sorry that you are so awful at mini golf but thank you for being a good sport and playing anyway!

Thank you for being a wonderful grandfather also known as “Yamma-Pa,” and teaching Carter and Betsy about “leveraging synergy, trial balloons, benchmarks, bandwidth, boiling the ocean and core competencies.”

Even after 41 years of marriage, we still clean up nicely.

Thank you for listening to me when I just need to “emote,” I know how much you love to talk about “feelings,” especially with Harry, since you are so “woke”.

I can’t imagine my life without you. I love you. Happy Anniversary!

“A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.” ~Andre Maurois