Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Super Bloom in Anza-Borrego

In mid-March we headed to the desert to see the Super Bloom, which was getting a mass of publicity in the newspaper and on tv.

After a wet winter, 7 inches of rain in the desert, and many years of drought ---- the wildflowers were out in abundance.

Even though we got up at 6 am to hit the road, there were many visitors that beat us to it.

Which is why these first shots are of people taking pictures of the flowers that we were eager to see.

Enough of that, let's check out the blooms.


There was also an abundance of caterpillars. 
Big Ones!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Dutch Birthday Celebrations

Today I am featuring a guest post from my college friend Molly, who met her future husband at a bike race in the desert, the Furnace Creek 508. He is Dutch, so she ended up in The Netherlands and is now a naturalized citizen of that country. Over the years I have received amazing pictures and heard funny stories about life overseas, here is just one:

Last weekend I had back-to-back 50th birthday parties, one on Friday night and one on Saturday night. Over here 50th birthday parties are a big thing. People regularly rent or borrow mannequins (picture the windows of Nordstroms) and set the mannequin in the honoree's front yard, specially dressed in clothes that are related to the relationship of the people setting the mannequin and the honoree, in our case it was running clothes.  

We aim to make our mannequin a spitting image of the honoree, complete with wig and a sort of Halloween-looking mask, except it is a grandma-sort of person. It is set in the birthday person’s front yard, usually accompanied by a rhyming story, written on a large white poster board or plywood that is painted white or an old sheet. 

This is all done the evening before the honoree turns 50. Then afterwards you are invited into the honoree's house for 'a borrel' or a drink, which can turn into a drink and munchies or if you are lucky, a few drinks and lots of snacks. 

Their front yard when Molly celebrated the Big 4-0!

Oil Balls and Sparkling Wine - Molly's signature dish!

I am part of a group of ladies who attempt to run together, about 14 or so in total. And the two gals who had 50th birthdays one day apart are both a twin, and not of each other!  Strange, wouldn’t you agree? Anyway, Ilse has a twin brother Casper, and Irma has a twin sister Yvon. Both Ilse and Irma have kids about the same age, so for two evenings we partied, at different locations, with many of the same people. It was pretty funny. Most of the people did very little on the Sunday after the two parties since both parties lasted until 1 or 2 in the morning! Monday I picked up the mannequins to return them to where I rented them from, and ran into others picking up their mannequins doing the same thing.  I've seen some people with as many as 7 or 8 mannequins in their front yards.
By the way, when I turned 50, three of my neighbors dressed up as the Supreme's and sang during my party in our back yard, that is how crazy people can be. It was hilarious. 

And something else I started doing when a few of our neighbors started turning 40 and 50 was to help them celebrate their 'old year's day' or the day before they turned 40 or 50, by baking them 'oliebollen' which translates literally into oil balls.  They are sort of like donuts. The Dutch eat them during New Years eve, so I applied that thought to the eve of their big birthday. I try to bake oliebollen and bring a bottle of prosecco and some plastic champagne glasses, I’m about ½ way through our group of neighbors turning 40 and 50!