Thursday, March 25, 2010

You Can't Walk on One Leg

First of all, it's my turn again at Vision & Verb and if you really want to understand what this title is all about, that's where you'll have to go to find out. Clue: it has more to do with Dutch idioms than with this black sheep grazing somewhere around Buren, Holland. Second clue: it has more to do with generosity than how fit you are!

Now, to the post at hand. This past weekend was gonna be real iffy when it came to Granny Towanda and if we'd have a date with her. It was predicted to rain the entire weekend so we basically decided not to do another photo hunt. However, come Saturday morning with only cloudy skies greeting us, we spontaneously went for it. Another outing nearby, all of 77 km (48 miles) to Culemborg and Geldermalsen...followed by lots of rain later that night.

First stop was Culemborg, where the water tower greeted us as we entered the city. Astrid knows by now that I will always ask her to stop Granny Towanda so I can take a picture...this time from the car window. It's the larger of the two cities at 12 sq. miles and approx. 28K inhabitants. Its market square is large and historic, known most for two things: it's Binnenpoort gate and its Town Hall as seen in this collage below (click on collage to enlarge).

Between Culemborg and Geldermalsen, driving along the back roads, we passed this church on the side of the road in Buurmalsen. In 2006 the town had 1,058 inhabitants. These towns may not be big but they sure do have big churches!

Geldermalsen, less than half the size of Culemborg, with 10,551 inhabitants in 2007, and with barely a smidge of a market square to speak of, gave us two delights. First, a place for a nice cuppa koffie at Le Mélangeur Koffie Thee Choco Vlaai café. Out in front of the shop is this delightful statue of three dancing ladies. I think of the Three Graces but have no clue what it's called or who the artist is. Note to myself: Google will not always help you find what you are looking for, so write it down while you're there...or take a picture of the plaque!

The outside statue is above; the café's mural is below, right next to where we sat on the left.

Besides the statue and refreshing koffie break, Geldermalsen's De Bouwing windmill filled us up for the rest of the day before returning home. Luckily it was open to visitors, so we had the chance to stroll around and talk to the ladies [wo]manning the shop. We even bought some corn meal that was ground by the mill and are eager to try it out. Incidentally, one lady told us that the woman who runs the working mill in Holland, Michigan, is the only female miller outside of Holland. I have 3 siblings who live in that Holland, so that bit of trivia is delicious!

The top-left pic in this collage is actually De Hoop windmill in Culemborg. But all the other pics are of De Bouwing mill in Geldermalsen. You know me. I can't ever get too much of them. So soulful to me!

As a side note, THANKS to sister Ruth for getting me hooked on where I have access now to collage-making. I've needed it for a long time because of how many pictures I take. I will continue to make my photo albums for me, to document the trips. But these collages will help you, I do believe. You can see my photo album of this trip here.

Don't forget to go to Vision & Verb if you want to find out about the title of this post. You really CAN'T walk on one leg! That's why we had to go to both Culemborg and Geldermalsen.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What Granny Towanda Saw

Our brand-spanking new Granny Towanda (she had 5 km on her when we picked her up) was christened this past Saturday, as we had wished. No rain on our parade...only a couple sprinkles and lots of moody skies with an attitude. Towanda stood out like a green thumb everywhere we went. See how she brightens up the world here in front of this church in Cellicum! We all have fallen in love with each other.

This is what we did: we left home at 10 a.m. and returned at 4:30 p.m., driving only 100 km (62 miles) to Buren and back...more or less in a loop, stopping at anything and everything that caught our eye to get out and take pictures. Some of what we saw was new even to Astrid, even though she has lived in the area her entire life. You know how that is.

Since I "collect" water towers, I had to grab this one in Leerdam.
It was built in 1929 and is 50.25 meters (165 ft) high.

In Acquoy we saw the "Dutch tower of Pisa," a Reformed church known for it's leaning tower (which I didn't know till I Googled it). The main thing that stood out to me was that it doesn't have a steeple. While I took several shots without a house in front of it, this one most shows the lean.

In sequence, we then saw the Cellicum church at the top of this post, followed by this church from Beesd, similar in architectural style to the one in Acquoy. No steeple.

Just outside of Beesd, we saw a sign for the Klooster in Mariënwaard where we found this windmill "outstanding" in its field. It was worth the whole trip, as far as I was concerned.

At the Klooster itself are these two haystacks (which Don and Ruth will love). From that point on I found them everywhere...the typical Dutch way of storing hay. The roof slides up and down on those vertical beams, depending on how much hay you have stored! Isn't that the most clever thing you've seen in a long time!
Leave it to the Dutch.

Then, just before arriving in Buren, our destination, we saw this yellow church in Asch, and just had to stop. It's the first yellow church I may have seen anywhere, period! In 2001 Asch (founded before 1405) had 176 inhabitants. I'm guessing the church is big enough?

Then it was Buren, where we ate lunch and spent the rest of our day before taking the interstate back home. Another fabulous church, a windmill, a museum of the Royal Military Police, a sundial, a candle-making shop...and a rum-raisin ice-cream treat! How can you top that!

Here Astrid stands next to the statue of William of Orange and Anna van Buren, in front of the Saint Lambertus church. Were they really that small back then???

The eetcafé was our first stop once we entered Buren. It was lunchtime!

This is the Saint Lambertus Calvinist Reformed church in Buren, seen from almost every point in the city. You can see more views in the photo album.

The Prince of Orange windmill.

Buren is closely related to the Dutch royal family. Queen Beatrix is the Countess of Buren. The House of Orange is Dutch royalty. If any royal person wants anonymity, he/she is referred to as a van Buren.

The Museum of the Royal Military Police, formerly an orphanage.

The Museum of the Royal Military Police, formerly an orphanage.

The Culemborg gate (if you squint, you can see the sundial above the arch) is Buren's main gateway.

Across the street from where we ate our ice cream we watched this gentleman dip his candles. The ones this big are being readied for Easter Sunday.

There you have it. Six-plus hours of a splendid outing to see what's almost at our doorstep here in Holland! Here's the photo album again. Granny (Smith Apple Green) Towanda did us proud and is itching to go out again the first weekend it's not raining. It might be sooner than we think.

Speaking of green:

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Delft Lemonade

Once again, it's my turn at Vision & Verb. If you click there and also on my Shutterchance image today, you'll see two other views of this Oude Kerk (Old Church, 1246) in Delft, Holland...and why I have titled this Delft Lemonade.

Yes, THAT Delft. The home of Delft Blue pottery and Johannes Vermeer, one of the great Dutch Masters. Remember The Milkmaid and Girl with a Pearl Earring? It doesn't get much better than that. So, yes, it was important to me to see where he was buried here in this Oude Kerk, my first stop on my 3-hour photo-hunt.

See the plate with the Oude Kerk in the background? The gift-shop lady told me it is the view Vermeer had of the church from his studio window.

Johannes Vermeer, 1632 - 1675 (only 43 years)

From the Oude Kerk I walked the short distance across the market square to the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church, 1396) where I climbed the 356 steps to the top of the tower. From there I was able to take pictures of the Oude Kerk, which you can see in my V&V post. Don't you love how old this new church is! It blows my mind. Astrid says that Dutch royalty is buried here.

It was such a gloriously sunshiny day. It reminded me of why I love this country (not that I need reminding) with all it's history and incredible architecture. My mom loved stuff like this...history, especially. I think of her and wonder if she can see everything through my eyes, even as I see it through hers.

If you read my V&V post, you'll discover that I have now climbed the two tallest church towers in all of Holland. The first one, in Utrecht, I climbed with Astrid 2 years ago. She was missing this time so one day we will go back so that she, too, can climb it. You know how it is with things in your own backyard. Sometimes it takes someone from the outside for you to discover it.

If you want to see more, here's my photo album of Delft. I do these more for myself than anybody...for posterity and the sheer delight of fresh lemonade!

And oh yes, in case you were wondering, we picked up our Granny Towanda yesterday evening. She's our Greenpeace baby, our impish Troll, our Grasshopper, our Kermit and our Elpheba...all mixed into one delightful addition to our family! If the weather cooperates on Saturday, we plan to take her out on her first photo hunt. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

What's in a Name?

This is still a moot issue for me, because of the American laws and regulations, but right now this has been very big on Astrid's mind: her name.

If she had not done anything about it, on both her passport and driver's license, Astrid would still be A.M.A. Wijdekop e/v Frieling (her ex-husband's name).

e/v = echtgenoot van = spouse of

See my black arrow on her passport? One of the first things Astrid did after our marriage on February 5 was to get the changes made that would make it clear in any situation...airport security, car accident, hospitalization, insurance, etc....that she and I are married. That she is the spouse of Hart. That Hart is the spouse of Wijdekop. That I, Ginnie, have rights because of our marriage.

She did the same thing with the name on our apartment: A. Wijdekop & G. Hart. The week after our marriage, she had me take our official wedding document to Poort 6, the company that rents out apartments in our municipality, to show that we are married and that therefore I, too, am head renter of our apartment. Why? So if something happens to her, no one can kick me out.

It greatly humbles me, of course, that Astrid has been forward-thinking about any contingencies on my behalf. I'm not sure how long it would have taken me to think of them, let alone wonder what would/might happen in the worst-case scenario.

Now look at this...the back of my residence-permit ID card, which I just picked up on Tuesday. See where my black arrow points? It says I'm staying with my wife, A.M.A. Wijdekop, which is another way of saying she is my "sponsor" allowing me to stay in the Netherlands.

Not that we're thinking of worst-case scenarios, mind you, but I love that the Netherlands thinks this is important enough to add it to Astrid's two biggest IDs: passport and driver's license...and now to my residence ID card. I still have my American pasport and driver's license, which make no mention of Astrid, of course. But if it comes to it, will these official Holland documents amount to a hill of beans in America? (Dream on, I know....)

BTW, I did find out the other day that green-card status in America for same-sex partners will probably happen before same-sex marriage is recognized federally ("UAFA may gain approval in the U.S. before full marriage rights do"). If so, that means Astrid and I can move back to the States because she's my wife from another country! And we have the documents to prove it!