Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dutch Masters and Such....

Today is my turn again at Vision & Verb, this time talking about the "dutch masters" from my series on Shutterchance last week. You'll have to go there (V&V) if you wonder what I'm talking about.

Most of you know by now that every weekend possible, Astrid and I take the Gran Towanda out for another spin to see everything possible here in this incredible country called The Netherlands. A week ago Saturday we took our longest trip thus far, driving 320 km roundtrip to visit Enkhuizen and Hoorn to the north and east of Amsterdam. Both are coastal cities, so I knew we'd see something different than rural Holland. But I'm not sure I was prepared for what I saw.

I am such a glutton for harbors and marinas, seeing all the sailboat masts piercing the sky. First in Enkhuizen and then in Hoorn, we saw enough majestic sailboats (of all sizes) to last us until August when we plan to see the Tall Ships in Amsterdam. Our appetites were definitely whetted.

The water surrounding Enkhuizen and Hoorn is the IJsselmeer (please don't ask me why the second letter is capitalized because Astrid doesn't know either..."it's just the way it is; it's an exception!"), 1100 km² (684 sq. miles) in size. It's huge. It's a fresh-water lake that flows into the North Sea, which is salt water. Yes, I'm getting my education.

On the 30 km coastal drive from Enkhuizen to Hoorn, we had the delight of seeing this young lady (below) doing practice laps in her sulky on the race track. Another educational experience. This is how The Netherlands does its horse sulky carts. And yes, they bet on their races just as they do in America.

We spent the bulk of our time in Hoorn, the city closer to Amsterdam and probably more well-known. I'm guessing it's one of Amsterdam's "playgrounds" for the bigger waters. Lots of wealth oozes from this city!

When we come home from these invigorating trips, we are two tired puppies. You can bet your bottom dollar on that! MAAR...BUT we totally eat up these times. We both continue to feel so lucky for all that is at our fingertips to see and experience.

Two weeks of Dutch classes are now under my belt and I'm loving the experience. I'm getting more and more confident on my bike, too. I finished my first chapter in the workbooks and computer halfway through the 3-week schedule, acing my test, so now I will 'graduate' to the learning center. They weren't ready for me last week but supposedly by tomorrow I'll be moved. As the chapters get harder and harder, I'm sure I will naturally slow down. There is too much to retain and I'm afraid I'll start losing things through the cracks.

On a more somber note, I found out over the weekend that dear grandson Nicholas (age 9) was attacked by 3 pitbulls on Friday. It's a long story but the short version is that he was miraculously able to fend them off without being pushed to the ground. Therefore his face and neck, plus torso, were saved. But his arms, legs and buttocks were severely bit. No stitches were needed because the dogs didn't lacerate his skin. But he's bandaged up and very sore. Tetanus shots, pain meds (though he refused them after the first day), and lots of TLC. The blanketing love of many is healing his emotional and mental wounds, I pray. His, his mom's and all the rest of us. The owners were cited but we don't yet know what that means. We pray the dogs will be put down so that no one else can ever be harmed by them.

God have mercy on us all!


  1. I love to see your pictures in the collages, it is like reliving the moment.
    Because I missed a sign while driving, we almost ended up on the other end of the country accross the water, we were at a dike-road to Lelystad, I was able to return and than we had that fabulous view on Enkhuizen.......
    Your Dutch is getting better and better, I am glad that you can understand more of the Dutch conversation when we are around people, good luck in the learning center.
    I was so glad that we were able to skype with Nicholas and even could see a small smile, he is 'one brave boy', it is even beyond reach to know in how much pain he is in.
    We can only pray for his well being and for being cuered, mentally and physically.

  2. Oh my goodness - the news about Nicholas made my hair stand on end. Thank God he's all right, poor little sweetie, although I'm sure the emotional wounds will take more time to heal than the physical ones. I wish him strength to deal with this and I know he will be just fine.

    Your photos are just beautiful and of *course* you aced your language test! I wouldn't expect anything less. :-) You'll be fluent in not time.

  3. Ohh I'm glad you got to skype with Nicholas. He's always in my thoughts, and you too, and Amy, and everyone.

    The tall ships! Does that conjure Bennett, or what?? I will never forget his experience and photographs. They have left an indelible imprint on me. I wonder what he paid to get into that helicopter and fly around getting aerial views? :)

  4. Oh, poor Nicholas! My jaw just dropped when I read the first few lines! What a luck he had! I agree with Christina that his emotional wounds probably will take longer to heal, but with all the loving people around him (near and far) I'm sure he'll be fine.

    Beautiful pictures again. I see you are really enjoying your new home :)

  5. I absolutely love the large Blue boat photo from Enkhuizen. It reminded me of the big boat race we were making fun of last night (The boats were docked, and the dock was nearly bare), but cold and rainy so no pics.

    And I know how you feel about these day trips. I too love the day trips.. However, I'm biased because I think there is lots to see in your neck of the woods.. BUT once we get a car, I hope we will be doing longer day trips too!

    I'm so sad for little Nicholas, but know he is a trooper! I have been wishing they would just ban the breed off the face of this earth, really. There is no need for those dogs in this world that only hurt others...

    P nearly escaped one a few weeks ago too, luckily he made it before it attacked.

  6. Can’t believe it’s June already. This month also must be a great month in Holland – your pictures show us so many places we have never seen. Isn’t the web great? Now any time you wish to look at your day trip you can look at your blog. This is why I post our trips – the trips were great and it’s such a joy to relive them through the pictures.
    Holland is not a large country but every square inch is interesting. On my blog I have a flag counter. If you click on Flag Counter, then on Country, then on Netherlands you will get all the info in it. For example the total land area of the Netherlands is 41,543 sq km which is slightly more than the state of New Jersey. You can find info on all the countries like economy, people, military, government, etc.
    I am sure little Nicholas will soon be totally recuperated – he is quite a boy, a brave little fellow. I am sorry he had to go through such a traumatic event. It will take a while for him to trust dogs – is there a dog at his home?
    You know how much I like trips – I enjoyed joining the two of you on this one. The views are terrific.

  7. Astrid: That collage software has changed everything for me, hasn't it! It's so much nicer/easier than the albums. It helps me to pick-n-choose what I like the most of our times out. By now we know that Nicholas is almost back to brand new. What a miracle of life and love. I'm so glad you were with me through the ordeal! Thank you.

    Christina: Nicholas has recovered miraculously well...through the love and care of the "collective consciousness" of so many. Thank you for YOUR care...and support. Happy birthday again to you, my fellow Gemini. :)

    Ruth: It was so important to see Amy and Nicholas with our own eyes. It was also good to see YOU, dear sister! And yes, the tall ships are already reminding me of Bennett! I should look into the cost of a 30-minute helicopter ride. It would be totally worth it, right??!!

    CS: It looks like Nicholas is way ahead of the rest of us emotionally. I think he sees himself as a super hero now! :)

    ET: You have every bit as much to see in your neck of the woods, too, Jen, so once you get your car, just go out exploring. Vancouver Island is an incredible place on Mother Earth. I'd go back there in a NY minute. And yes, some dogs are bred to fight, to the shame of those who condone it.

    Vagabonde: You are so right! We must continue to blog these trips for posterity. One day Nicholas will have this as my legacy! I love the wealth of information you are and that I learn so much from you. Thanks for the flag counter info. I will look into that for my own blog!

  8. Pit bulls and similar dogs have to be muzzled here, and if one attacks or bites, that's it, game over. A 9 year old girl was killed by a pit bull attack in this town about 15 years ago. A terrible tragedy. I hope Nicholas is OK. I got attacked by 2 dogs many years ago and the horrible memory is still with me, it will never really go away.

  9. OMG. Glad to know that Nicholas managed to come out of that experience relatively okay. More and more pitbull attacks are reported.

    The shelters are filled with pitbulls. We've been visiting shelters for a dog to adopt and all we see are pitbulls.

  10. Ginnie, I'm awfully behind in reading and commenting - beginning to feel completely out of touch! Happily, I was finally able to catch up a bit tonight and thoroughly enjoyed your travelogue. Almost as much as you did !

    As always, your pictures are gorgeous and your observant eye unerring. It's wonderful that Astrid is seeing her country through your eyes too. I hope to do lots of that with my favourite Belgian who arrives tomorrow.

    Congratulations on your progress in both Dutch and transporting yourself by bicycle. You're great!

    My heart sank when I read about your little Nicolas and the pitbulls. It seems nearly miraculous that he wasn't more seriously hurt. I'm with you in hoping the dogs are put down. They should not and could not ever be trusted again. Thanks heavens he is all right, at least physically. The trauma will be something else...

  11. Sham: Nicholas appears to be totally recovered by now, which is pretty amazing. He even said the next day that he still likes dogs. What a brave boy, indeed. Hopefully the memories will fade with time.

    PC: It's so sad, Maria, that these dogs after to be "eliminated" after the fact...and not before. If only they weren't bred for fighting....!

    Deborah: I wondered where you were! :) I’ve missed you. But we all have our separate lives, so I totally understand when you’re missing in action. Life is very full these days but I wouldn’t want it any other way. Thanks as always for your very kind support.

    The good news is that Nicholas appears to be totally recovered from his traumatic experience. Right away that weekend he told his mommy that he still likes dogs! His dad has two and I know Nicholas understands that some dogs he does not need to fear. Kids are so resilient. It’s amazing!

  12. I love traveling with you on your adventures and seeing the countryside and seaside through your eyes and lens. Not only are you so descriptive in your narrative, your photos always, to use an overused but perfect phrase, speak volumes.

    I'm so so sorry about Nicholas being attacked! Glad to read in your comments that he's recovered and doesn't seem to have a fear of dogs.

  13. Mad: Life really is an adventure and I feel so privileged to be part of a BIG one! Thanks for coming along for the ride. And yes, Nicholas seems to be totally out of the woods...thank God!