When I was last visiting my family in the Sunny South I was able to sneak away for a day and visit my Oma and Opa at their lovely home, which my family has dubbed the "Monastery" due to the peace and quiet and general air of serenity.
Oma gives, hands down, the best back rubs. When we all get together at Christmas it's a bit of an unspoken race between my brother and I to see who gets to sit next to Oma and score the first back rub. An Oma back rub is a hybrid of zen oneness with nature mixed with Yanni-like euphoria combined with an out of body experience leading to the most wonderful coma-like state of complete bliss.
Oma and Opa used to raise orchids, and I always enjoy seeing what types of orchids will be in bloom. For my birthday last March, Opa gave me a particularly lovely miniature phalaenopsis orchid with purple blooms that is budded out and getting ready to bloom any day now.
Their greenhouse used to be hung floor to ceiling (and hanging from the ceiling) with exotic plants, and although they've been retired for years now there are still a few plants kept here.
I think I got plant cuttings from every green thing around Oma and Opa's house, and Opa was nice enough to pot them up for me for my return trip home.
"Zis pot is okay, Rado? You want a bigger one you will need helup."
I love Oma and Opa's Dutch accent. I used to tease Opa about it when I was a young (and snarky) kid, but now I find it completely charming.
This table of sand has a heat coil running through it to help seedlings start faster.
"Why yes Opa, I'll take that one too. And that one. And that one over there."
Opa and Oma found especially funny that I had to bring some bamboo poles home for Mum. It's a bit of a family legend that when I was 10 I cut through a 3 inch bamboo pole with a pair of dull kitchen scissors. It took me the whole day, but in the end I got my fishing pole.
What I lack in brains I make up for in pure pig-headed stubbornness.
(Thankfully this time instead of dull kitchen scissors I had a dull saw. I'm learning.)