The Notary’s Garden Rooms

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The chair I posted Wednesday comes from a surprising stadstuin (city garden) that we visited the other week during Open Monuments Day. The original garden space belonged to the home of the local notary, dating back to 1860. Over the years, the neighbors joined together to create a larger combined garden space, with various pools, ponds, covered seating areas, and attractive garden arrangements.

Today, I’ll focus on a couple of the gazebo-like seating areas that I found particularly charming. I think one of the reasons I liked this whole garden area and the seating areas is because it all reminded me of some of the gardens I remember in Florida. If not specific gardens, at least a general atmosphere, especially with the slightly overgrown and slightly wild elements of the garden, paired with the slightly shabby, decaying furnishings. In all, it made me think of Southern Gothic in its most gloriously dishevelled sense.

On a warm, humid day, where the air is oppressive, you’d escape to these dark, shadowy corners of this garden, taking a seat that is vaguely damp to the touch, with a perfume in the air of fabric starting to mold and thick vegetation slowly decaying. It’s a heady aroma that is both off-putting yet somehow comforting.

Gazebo

Garden Room

To be honest, some of these more pleasant areas make me think of visiting my great-grandmother in Maitland, Florida, with this particular room bringing memories of “The Wee Hoose”. There may have been nothing similar at all, but it was that house and the land around it that most came to mind as I wandered through this garden.

Garden Living

As much as I feel at home here in Utrecht and in Nederland in general, sometimes I have those moments of feeling very far from home. But then I haven’t lived anywhere that has resonated with me in the sense of “home” for a long time. There’s something about Florida (and to a certain degree, New Orleans) that will always feel like home to me. Perhaps a lot of it is just the scenery you remember from your childhood that is imprinted upon you. There are certain sights, sounds, and smells that trigger those (hopefully) happy memories of childhood and make you feel calm and at peace. There was something about this garden and these gloriously decorated garden nooks that made me feel at home.

Until I saw the klompen (clogs). Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Florida any more.

Bloemen en Klompen

America The Beautiful

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It’s time to take a pause from Dutch scenery and reflect on the beauty that is the United States of America, as its citizens, near and far, celebrate the founding of the country. Regardless of politics, the scenery can be absolutely breathtaking. There are times when I’m watching a program that features some of the country’s beautiful settings and I get a bit homesick. At times, I even get a bit homesick when I see your average suburbs. Simply because they are so very American. I feel like I’ve settled in very well here, but it doesn’t change the fact that I spent 30+ years in the US. It will always be home, in one sense or another.

So today, in honor of Independence Day, I thought I’d share a few photos of some of the beautiful natural scenery that I grew up seeing around Signal Mountain/Chattanooga, Tennessee, when I’d go visit my great-grandmother. Quite a difference from the flat landscape I grew up with in Florida, and am used to here in the Lowlands.
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And two last shot of my beautiful white sandy beaches of Florida. I can practically smell the salt in the air …
Daytona Beach

Sand Dunes

Green Wave In Space

Space Shuttle Discovery Launch
First off, this has absolutely nothing to do with the Netherlands, but it has everything to do with being a Floridian and a Tulane University graduate.

Now, look closely at that glowing spot in the middle of the photo. That, my dear readers, is the Space Shuttle Discovery on its launch in July 2005, as seen from the shores of Daytona Beach, Florida. We were there for less-than-ideal reasons, but I’m glad I got to see one last shuttle launch. I grew up in Orlando in the 1970/80s, so it was hard to miss the thrill of the Space Shuttle launching each time. It was still new and exciting, and it was also close enough that we could see the shuttle and its smoke trail in Orlando, even though it was launching down in Cape Canaveral. In 2005, we were in Daytona, where my grandparents had lived, so we went to the beach to watch the launch, as did many other people.
Space Shuttle Discovery Launch

Today, when the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts off for the last time, it will be piloted by Doug Hurley, who graduated from the Tulane University School of Engineering in 1988. I am also a graduate of Tulane University (Newcomb College, rather than School of Engineering), so I’m proud that one of my fellow Tulanians will be piloting the last flight of the space shuttle program. For me as a Floridian and a Tulanian, it’s a nice bit of symmetry.

No, no. That’s not tears. I just seem to have something in my eye.
Space Shuttle Discovery Launch

Exchanging Florida for Florida


I saw this article the other day about comparing the GDPs of various countries with American states. Imagine my amusement when I realized that Florida, my home state, matched up with the Netherlands. It’s not just the flatness and humidity that’s similar!

Source: The Economist