Monday, December 27, 2010

The Dash Between the Bling-Bling

It's my turn again at Vision and Verb, talking about this week between the bling-bling of Christmas and New Year's Eve. You'll understand more about why I chose this image there.

Since I last wrote, the 2 days of Christmas have come and gone. Did I tell you that the Dutch celebrate Feestdagen = Feast Days, plural, because both the 25th and 26th are Christmas holidays. It used to be that all stores were also closed on the 26th, no matter what day. Now some stores are open but the tradition is to have both days off. However, if they happen to fall on the weekend, like this year, tough luck. No Friday or Monday holiday off for the workers. Life goes on as happened for Astrid on both last Friday and Monday, today. No extra days off.

But I've digressed. See the church image above? On Christmas Eve, this past Friday p.m., we joined 600+ residents of our city for a communal service in our nearby Grote Kerk. It's not anything like the huge cathedrals we have entered across Holland this past year, but it's definitely European and not at all like what I grew up in. It was a sweet service with many carols, all in Dutch (of course) and many of which I did not know. There was a nice flute solo from Bach's ''Weihnachtsoratorium' as well as a homily from a female pastor.

Since we had already celebrated Christmas with Jeroen and Eva a week ago, Christmas Day came quietly and was just what the doctor ordered. The only agenda was a 4 p.m. dinner reservation at a nearby Greek restaurant. We woke up to a gloriously sunshiny day, so Astrid said she'd like to take me for a car ride out into the countryside where I could see the fresh snow. This was, after all, the 6th time in 100 years for our central part of Holland to have snow on the 2 Christmas days. We needed to whoop it up a bit.

But what Astrid didn't tell me was she had planned all along to take me to Kinderdijk, the city of 19 windmills (see my blog header above!). She wanted me to see the windmills in the snow...and we did!

Right there on the spot, I told Astrid that if I die while still in Holland, I'd love my ashes to be scattered somewhere there amongst the mills.
It's the most soulful place I can ever imagine being.

You know us, both taking pictures of each other all the time...since we are, after all, part of the landscape, right?

But kijk. Look at this.
Have you ever eaten windmill cookies...or what the Dutch call speculaas? This willow tree stump is the kind of wood from which they make the forms. Isn't that cool how it sits out there near the path so that all the tourists going by can get their education.

Kinderdijk will always be my heaven on earth. It was the best Christmas gift Astrid could possibly give me! And besides, it was our first time to try out the TomTom, our GPS gift to each other. It works!

The fun thing on top of all that was what we saw both before and after, driving back-n-forth...this time seeing the same things but surrounded by snow. Nothing quite looks the same after it's covered by the white stuff!

We saw sheep staying warm...and some acting like dogs, with snow snouts....

...and horses minding their own business....

...even at Kinderdijk! I wonder if they love the windmills as much as I do.

More weather vanes coming and going....

...another water tower, or one already collected but with glorious sun this time. See how much Granny Towanda loves the snow. Astrid bought her some snow tires this past week so that she can now drive the 2o km back-n-forth to work without worry...and so we can drive to Den Bosch on Saturday to be with The Girlfriends, no matter what the weather. Granny knows we always want to be prepared. She agrees.

We arrived back home with just enough time to get ready for our dinner reservation...after such a wonderful outing. When was the last time I told you the Dutch just have to be outside, whenever possible, especially if the sun is shining!

One last image after I remind you again of my Vision and Verb post today...about the dash between the bling-bling:

As Astrid says, more Dutch you cannot get...a typical Dutch countryside house.

And so I close by saying, from our house to yours, may you have the best of these remaining dash-days of 2010. Like last year, there will be fireworks all around us as we celebrate the new year with our neighbors here at our senior-living community.

(image taken from the internet)


  1. Wonderful - permission to unwind and enjoy the "dash". I will am going to tell my kids I am enjoying the dash between the bling bling. And I will ask them what they think I mean. Should be interesting.

    I love he horse photos and the winter white. Actually have some here in central NC. But we moved form MI to get away from all that. Oh well, it was enjoyed - when we moved here, neighbors didn't understand the snowshoes, sleds, and winter shovel in the garage!

    Beautiful photos. Our second home in Indiana I now realize had a Dutch influence ... a roof shaped like the last photo. I will have to dig it up someday and put it on my blog. Blogging is really quite educational! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and enjoy the dash! ;) And I love he image of a rockin' retirement community on New Years Eve!

  2. Ginnie, its funny but true about the Dutch being outside, even the kids play out in any kind of weather. We've driven into Germany and back on lets say a Sunday , and noone is about and then back into HOlland and people on bikes, walking etc. That was a nice home in the picture. We have about a good foot of snow this way. Happy New Year to you and Astrid. Julie ...

  3. Margaret: I would love to be a fly on the wall to see your kids' reaction to the dash. How fun! I know you weren't expecting to get the snow you got but sometimes we just need the reminder, right...those of us who grew up in MI. To be honest, I missed it while in GA for 25 years! The Dutch influence, I have a feeling, is all over the States, even more than we realize. I really like clean, so orderly, so creative.

    Julie: I just LOVE that the Dutch want to be outside. No wonder they're so healthy. I especially love seeing them together as families, riding their bikes together or taking walks. We actually saw this while in Hannover, Germany, as well, but you may be right that it happens more here. We don't have a foot of snow but we certainly have a lot more than we had last year...and so far it hasn't yet melted!

  4. When a person knows a person, gifts go straight to the heart and soul. Who knows when you'll have another opportunity to see and shoot the windmills in snow, and at Christmas?

    The windmill cookie molds are precious right out there under that Dutch sun. Now you've got me hungry . . .

    We are off to Chicago for a couple of days, and this post has whetted my appetite for a road trip! Let me say here that your Christmas e-newsletter was very beautiful and perfectly captured your life.

  5. I couldn't agree more about your adventure being the most perfect Christmas gift!!!! And with blue skies, wow, I'd be right along with you about being on top of the world!!!

    That's really neat you noticed the windmill wood cookie molds. And the last pic of the typical Dutch house, I think my friend grew up in one just like that!

    We did get your newsletter and loved reading all of it!!! I wish that I had more energy to post or do that too!

    At least I know where to get my inspiration from!

  6. The thought of going to Kinderdijk came to mind a few days before Christmas.
    We had lots of snow and you know I like to be outside whenever we are able to go outside.
    I was so glad that the sun was out.
    Kinderdijk has a special meaning to us both.
    It will not be the last time we were there.
    The dinner at the Greek Restaurant was a delight, we met Nikkie and his son, the owner of Gyros, another small Greek restaurant where we eat at least once a week
    Thank you for making all these wonderful collages to remember all the things do.
    To me it is always a treat to open your blog and see our country through your eyes.
    Happy New Year lieve schat.

  7. Well it took me almost the entire day to get here again after the briefest of views last night... I always MUST allow time to study your images and collages... a quick read just doesn't do! (and the same goes for your marvelous electronic holiday greeting which I've read once already and will have to read again and again to absorb it all... such adventures you've had and so beautifully illustrated)

    But I digress... my favorite collages here are the two with the many windmills... both the blue sky one and the one from a grayer day are marvelous! (of course, when I go on about how wonderful parts of your blog are, I always worry that you might think the rest isn't as marvelous... not so... it's just that I don't have TONS of time to comment on each and every marvelous image)

    I'm so glad I found my way back to your blog! (and to V&V where I'm going to start paying some attention to other authors after the first so I can get a feel for what to write if I'm lucky enough to be a guest) Even when I leave only the briefest of comments because I'm ALWAYS in a hurry (must learn to slow down), I always thoroughly enjoy reading what you have written.

    Wishing you and Astrid the happiest of New Year's!

  8. Ruth: You are so right about how gifts are perfect when given by someone who knows you. Astrid sure hit the jackpot! The thing is, the canals are not always frozen, so you do have to grab them when you can. I do wish you journeying mercies on your trip to Chicago...hopefully an inspiring one for you. And thanks for your encouragement about my e-newsletter.

    ET: Astrid sure does know me and hit the jackpot. I love that about her. We have been to this place 3 times now and it just gets better and better. Thank you for acknowledging my e-newsletter. Don't worry about lack of energy these days. You need to reserve it for the wee one!

    Astrid: You are so good, Mijn Vrouw. So good. I love how you can think up good gifts for me, like Kinderdijk. I'll never forget it. I am learning about the importance of getting outside whenever possible. Breathe that fresh air! Just do it. Maybe my best gift back to you is these posts, memorializing the events of our lives.

    Victoria: You are so generous with your time for me and it means more than I can say, dear friend. Thank you for the time and energy you take for me midst your busy life. I do not take any of it for granted. One day I do hope we will see you as a guest writer at V&V. Thank you for considering it.

  9. Hey Ginnie, yes you do seem like part of the landscape there! and what a beautiful gift from your mate to take you to the windmills in the snow ...
    lovely photos. We are wishing you both a very happy & fun New Year!
    Susan & Larry

  10. WS: My mate sure does know me, inside and out, Susan. She couldn't have picked a better gift for my heart and soul! Thanks for your New Year's greetings. The same to you.

  11. What a perfect gift – the gift of a trip in the snow in lovely landscape with a loved one – fantastic. The windmills are so gracious or should I say full of grace? You life in Holland sounds so … exhilarating – I was looking for a word – your life is so.. so… then I found the word, “exhilarating “(as in lively, joyful, exciting.) I wish you and Astrid a great New Year, much joy and many beautiful trips (with great photos to inspire us.)

  12. First of all-Happy New Year!:)
    I see that you also have a lot of snow- and still travelling - brave of you!:)yes, this year no days - off - Saturday and Sunday-I took holidays from work until Monday, so still relaxing

  13. Vagabonde: Full of grace and exhilarating, all in one comment...that's a bit like heaven! Thank you for those dear thoughts. I can't imagine a new year being any better than this one just past. I feel so very blessed.

    Ola: Happy New Year to you, too. The Dutch just love being outside, so we will travel every opportunity we get, for sure.

  14. My kids loved the "Dash between the bling bling". They did give me really weird looks at first!

    Also, I loved your horse photos on your shutter account. My favorite was "The Kiss". I love it when horses play. And the contrasting colors of the two horses was a photographer's dream!

  15. Margaret: Oh, how fun. I love it that you shared this with your kids. It brings a smile to my face. And yes, those horse photos were such a surprise for me while I watched their fun. I felt privy to a private moment in their lives. :)

  16. I'm always glad to follow your travels and to see you're still frolicking. However, I must find out how you processed that first shot. It's truly extraordinary. I hope you've printed it large and have it on your wall somewhere. What a beauty. Of course the following photo essay is beautiful too, but I'm really stunned by that first image. Please tell.

  17. Ted: To tell you the truth, most of the images I have at my other blog (at Shutterchance) are the ones where I have added texture overlays and this particular one here is more over-the-top than the ones I normally do. Most are more subtle. But it is a simple PhotoShop function of overlaying a texture on top of an image to give it more character. If you go to my SC site, you can see many more examples. I love working with textures, most of which you can find for free on the internet. Let me know if you want to know more.

  18. As Victoria said, it's just not possible to do a quick dash here. I wait for times when there's nothing waiting to be done, so that I can spend all the time I need looking at your wonderful photos and soaking up the atmosphere that all your posts are imbued with. Oh dear, Ginnie, my prose is awful today, but doesn't matter, right?

    Just last night a young friend (of Dutch origin) brought Speculaas over to munch on while we played Balderdash! I love them. And had no idea about the tree-forms.
    Every single time you write about Holland, it makes me want to move there. And every single time I see a picture of Astrid snapping picture I think 'how wonderful it is that they share something so creative'.

    Is Dec 26th a holiday in the US too? It is here in Canada, and we do get days off in lieu off when holidays fall on a weekend. The Dutch reputation for thriftiness extends to working hours too!

    Happy New Year to you both, Ginnie, and MFB and I wish you both all the very best for the New Year, and I look forward to being along on the ride that is your life.

  19. Lucky you, seeing all those wonderful windmills in the snow!Yes I have had speculaas, they are sold in the grocery store here... and some Dutch friends of mine always make olie bolie at this time of year.,... probably spelled wrong, small doughnuts with raisins and sugar which I an told are a special Dutch New Year treat. delicious!
    I have a wonderful 2011 in front of me... a special happening coming this year, but so far it's still a secret! Have I got you wondering? Ha ha, you'll just have to wait.
    Happy 2011 to you and Astrid and your families.... I'll be blogging a bit more often now I have settled into my new house.... still a few boxes to unpack, but I'm getting to the end of them, gradually!

  20. Deborah: No matter how you manage to say it, your words are always so up-building and make my day! Thank you. You realize how close Holland is to Belgium, of course. :) You probably already have a lot of it already in your blood because of your FB. I like that idea.

    In the USA, Dec. 26 is not a holiday, no. Astrid hates it that their 26th is now getting somewhat like America's, with more and more stores open. She wants it to be like the old times when everyone had 2 days completely off. I tend to agree with her, even though I didn't grow up with that tradition. However, I do think she'd love our tradition of extra days off when the holidays fall on the weekend!

    Thank you for your New Year's wishes. The same to you and your FB!

    Sham: Oh yes, those olie bolies are a must at the end of the year and were served to us at our New Year's Eve party here. You see them in all the shops at the end of the year.

    Now you really have me curious about what 2011 has in store for you. Shame on you for making us wait! But in the meantime, I'm so glad you're almost all settled into your new house/home. Happy New Year.

  21. Ginnie,
    You may call this texture "more over the top," but it fits so perfectly that I would never describe it that way. I've been collecting overlay textures for years, but I never seem to go ahead and use them. Perhaps your encouragement will move me that way.

  22. Ted: Well, you're very kind, which greatly pleases me. But watch out. Once you start using textures, you might get addicted! :)

  23. Snow does have a way of transforming views - usually beautiful while its fresh and clean. :)

  24. Tim: Exactly! Too bad it can't stay fresh forever.

  25. Happy New Year, Ginnie! I'm a little slow, but my resolution for the new year is to be a more faithful reader - and I was rewarded beyond words here today!

    I was so touched by the tree from which the molds for the windmill cookies are taken. I ordered speculaas from the little bakery in Pella, Iowa for Christmas this year. You may not remember, but I've mentioned it - it's a Dutch town very close to my home town. There's a tulip festival, good restaurants and wonderful bakeries. Oh-and Dutch spoken in the streets, even now.

    Your photos make me so sad for our country here. We're so busy tearing down everything old I'm not sure even the windmills would have a chance. Perhaps someday the "people in charge" will understand that "conservation" can be applied to cultures and traditions as well as rivers and trees.

    I'm so eager to see what the new year brings you and Astrid. I know it will be wonderful, and many of us will be out here, enjoying it with you!

  26. SA: A little slow is better than never, so THANK YOU for your comment. And yes, I remember that bakery near you. I love the tradition you have of buying things from there. Holland, MI, is a place very much like what you have described. 3 of my siblings live there, as well as a nephew. I sometimes think it would be fun to live there if we ever move back to the States...and Astrid could even be a real Dutch woman, working there part-time, speaking Dutch to those who still remember it.

    I hate that we tear down the old and replace it with the new (in the States). The charm of Europe is its age...and from that we all can learn a lot, even as it relates to our own lives.

    I love the clean slate before us and look forward to what 2011 will bring to us all. We have to reach out and grab it, of course. Happy New Year!