Monday, October 29, 2012

Neighborhood Demolition: Part I

It's been six months since I wrote about the bats being released in our neighborhood.  Remember that?  It was a big deal...preparation for the tear-down of the housing units around our retirement complex here in Gorinchem, Netherlands.

A lot has happened since then!  So, let's continue....

The hazmat suits came out when the asbestos roofs were torn down right next door to us.
We didn't know if we needed to be scared or not!  It's use is banned now, as you know.

This one face/man deserves his own collage because he's pivital to this entire project.
Not that I know the specifics but I do know he's been there from beginning to end.
Let's call him Homer, since that's in his e-mail address.
He works for GERB. St-Nicolaas B.V. in nearby Dordrecht.
And at this point, he's tearing down all the boards that had been put up to keep vagrants out.

Cohorts in crime!  They have worked hand-in-glove in every phase.
I love to watch how things unloading these huge dumpsters.

In the meantime, salvage crews came in for the tiles.
This particular guy was more dirty than dirt.  What a job!

 See how they figured it all out.  
Make a slide and keep those tiles from breaking, at all costs!
Gotta love the Dutch!

But don't ask me why these tiles weren't salvaged.
They were tossed every which way on our side of the street.

Another crew was tossing out from the inside.
If you're someone who likes to tear things down, this job's for you!

Now, as a review (see, it's like you've already visited us!)...that's our retirement complex on the left
with the narrow street that separates us from the tear-down buildings on the right (now all gone)...

...and here's that far-right building getting a strip job.
See the plastic awning top-center?
That takes you behind the building to our parking garage.
That's how close everything is to us.
And yes, that's Homer and his glove-mate!

Part I:  Like with so many other things in life, prep work has to happen before the real action begins.  Almost everything you see above happened before we left for America at the end of August. By the time we came back 2 weeks later, the steam shovel was out wreaking havoc.

To be continued.....

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Neighbor Day in the Netherlands

In between our heres-n-theres, visitors, and this-and-that-there are the little gems that just seem to happen here where we live.  They may not be big in the total scheme of things but they're memorable nonetheless.

Like, for instance, the annual Burendag (= Neighbor Day) that has happened each September now for 7 years.  It was first initiated by the Douwe Egberts coffee company in 2006 and then picked up by the Oranje Fonds, a national charity for social initiative amongst different groups of people.  In the Netherlands, a cuppa koffie is the symbol of getting together with people you don't know.

For us here at our De Lindeborg retirement complex, and for the first time ever, our Poort6 landlord company sponsored a BBQ here in our courtyard.  It was our 2012 Neighbor Day BBQ.  Time for everyone to come out of hiding to meet each other.

The Poort6 men came out en force to set up and serve us.
Floor (bottom right above) is our huismaster (house master).

What a spread!  This is the Dutch BBQ way with 4 different meats:
bratwoorst, chicken saté (3 sticks), hamburger and slice of ham.
As we were served each meat, the server signed his initials on our tiny menu slip.
White/red wine and/or beer to drink.
And all for €5 per person!

In the end, there were only 40 of us who showed up of around 200 potential people.
Many were the regulars who always show up at our gatherings throughout the year,
but the one new neighbor who sat at our table was Wim (bottom left above).
And as luck would have it, Astrid had connections with him because of their tennis years in the area.
That means we got to know one new neighbor that day!  It's a start.

And while we're at it, these are the ones of my Friday's Rummikub group who were there!
Top:  Lena, Meindert, Moi and Sophie (in early Alzheimer's)
Center:  Gonnie and Blanche.
Bottom:  Jouke Our leader), Gerrie and...Elt (husband of Sophie who joins us after Rummikub for drinks).
Two were missing:  Frida and Henk. 

Can you tell who my favorite is?  
Dear, dear Meindert...always speaking English phrases whenever they fit.
"You are my sunshine!" And always with that smile.
A little wobbly on his feet but do I care???

For 2 hours, from beginning to end, we truly embraced being neighbors!
I think even "the help" totally enjoyed being with us old geezers.

Here's to next year being even bigger and better!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A month earlier, back in August, while out-n-about in our city center on the last day of the week's Summer Festival, we visited the wood-carving exhibition of Adrie Bezemer inside our Grote Kerk :

 His carvings were lined up all around the inside of the church.
I hate that I didn't take more pictures of his handiwork but you can see it here
He's been doing this as a hobby since 1999...and he's from Goudriaan, just 6 miles away.
We met another neighbor!

 It's such a treat to meet and interact with such artisans.
Remember when Astrid got to learn how to blow glass from Mart Martorell?  
THIS is what I would want to learn:  how to turn wood.  So the demonstration was wonderful.

 The day reminded me of a painting Dad had in our house growing up...
of Jesus as a young carpenter.
I'd love to find it....

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

When we walked out of the church that day, the stage was set up in the city square, highlighting the end of the musical festival.  And there he was, Barry...

   ...the friend and neighbor of Astrid's son whom we've met several times.
Everyone that day was a neighbor.  Everyone.

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.  Would you be my neighbor?

Monday, October 15, 2012

ROBIN: Our First Blogger Visitor

Last post I gave you the teaser of our second overnight visitor here in Gorinchem, Netherlands, where we have lived now for 3 years:

I met Robin through my Vision and Verb colloration site.  She actually makes the 3rd woman I've met from the group.  Petra is no longer with us but because she lives nearby, we have met up with her twice.  Cherry is the other one, from England, whom also we have met up with twice.  It's a small world after all!

When we found out Robin's hubby was going to be in Amsterdam for a conference, we connected with each other to make sure we grabbed her for as many days she could give us.  It was 3 days, technically, but only one full day in between.  Needless to say, we packed it in.

 On our long way home after picking her up in Amsterdam, we stopped at the
 Wijnhandel van Ouwerkerk wine store/business/museum from 1860 in nearby Arkel.

Talk about a photographer's heaven!

Once home and after getting her settled into her guest room across the courtyard, Robin joined us for Astrid's homemade spinach tart and an evening of relaxation.  It was the calm before the storm.  HA!

As with Bob and Peggy when they visited a year ago, we had a route planned.
Of course, we went the back roads to see the real Holland and stopped at every whip-stitch.
Astrid is very used to stopping on a dime, of course, and we let Robin know!

Culemborg was our first real stop to see the ornate city hall and the city gate...
and to have our koffie met appeltaart!  Just a quickie stop.

The bulk of our time we spent in Wijk bij Duurstede, first to see the Rijn en Lek drive-through windmill...
and actually drive AND walk through it...only 35 miles from us.  
It's a big deal for us because it's the only one in the world, supposedly.

Besides the windmill, the Kasteel Duurstede is the other main attraction.
When Bob and Peggy were with us, there was a wedding taking place, so it, too, is a big deal.
It's nice when you can shoot 2 birds with one stone!

And yes, that was where we also ate our lunch, at the same café as with Bob and Peggy.
I think we need to start getting a tourism commission, don't you?  :)

That evening, by the way, once we were back home, we took Robin to our favorite pannenkoeken restaurant out in the polder to let her experience the real deal.  We will take everyone there who visits us, so start licking your chops.

The next day, before returning Robin to Amsterdam, we chose Hoorn as our final city/place of interest. 

This is just one of many Dutch harbors but famous as Amsterdam's sleeper community.
Another fabulous photographer's heaven!

The Hoofdtoren is no doubt Hoorn's most famous landmark, from 1532.

From the wharf, we watched lots of sailing activities out in the IJsselmeer.
We were short of eyes, of course....

...and were actually followed around by this gentleman, Cor, a photographer who knows his stuff.
Robin might remember how old he is but 87 sticks in my head...or was it 78?
[Robin remembers 87 because he's as old as her dad!]

We especially enjoyed this gentleman cleaning his boat with the harbor water.
I bet there's a Boaters Have More Fun bumper sticker somewhere!

Except that we really have fun eating, which surely is more fun!

We parked outside of Amsterdam and took the Metro into city center to return Robin safe-n-sound.
She and hubby then proceded to wine and dine us, along with his co-worker.
After dinner we walked to one of Amsterdam's brown cafés and had a huppelolie.
That's what I'm sipping in the top left image:  a sweet kruidenbitter (= spice bitter).

How's that for saying Good-Bye to a new-found friend.
We actually left her with a catch in our throats.  We didn't want it to end!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

So, instead of leaving on that are the goodies I collected while out-n-about with our new friend:


...and all those gevelstenen (= gable stones) I love. 

I wonder when Robin can come back???  She's already talking about bringing a girlfriend next time!
You'd want to come back, too, if you ever have the chance to come the first time.  :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gorinchem's 2012 Botenbeurs = Boat Auction

So, did you notice I didn't post this past Monday, my usual day?  HA!

Well, there's method to the madness, of course, because through a series of very fortunate adventures, I'm posting today (Wednesday) at Vision and Verb instead of next Monday, my assigned date.  And that's because we enjoyed the pleasure of Robin's company this past weekend...our second overnight guest here in the Netherlands in 3 years!  She's flying home today, her day to post at V&V, so I swapped with her.

Read more about that at V&V...and tune in next week when I'll give the whole shootin' kaboodle.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Today's post is about our Gorinchem city's 25th  Botenbeurs (= Boat Auction) which happens every fall.  This one happened on Saturday, 29 September, the weekend before Robin came.

 It so happens that on this particular day, boats of all kinds are lined up along the canal for sale.
More boats than you can shake a stick at!
If you're into boats, there's plenty of eye candy.

If you squint, you might see TE KOOP = For Sale. 
But there was plenty else to check out and buy if you Poffertjes...DVDs...

 ...and bike bells.  How fun is that!

 As we followed the canal to Gorinchem's inside harbor,
we gave a nod to our Grote Kerk, always a bit tipsy while watching over us.

As harbors go, it doesn't get much better than this, as far as I'm concerned.
Of course, I'm prejudiced.  I love where we live!
And that Saturday was a glorious day.

Then, after crossing over the locks that control this inside harbor from the outside Merwede River,
we saw it...what we had come to see...

... a replica of the 1703 Russian, 3-masted Shtandart frigate.
It was a big deal to have it visit us as part of the boat-auction festivities.

 And all just a hop, skip, and a jump from our apartment!
See why I love this place?!

As if all that whetted her appetitie, on the way home we stopped at the open market 
where Astrid indulged in one of her life's pleasures:

Raw herring!  
It's like an angel peeing on the tongue, or so she says.
Thanks, but no thanks for me.  I just take great delight in her enjoying it all!

How is it possible to take 2-3 hours on a Saturday morning and find such goodies as these!  Right here at our doorstep!

 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Next week I'll show the goodies Robin shared with us just days later.
In the meantime, don't forget my post at Vision and Verb today. 

Monday, October 01, 2012

Bob and Peggy 2012 and Downtown Atlanta

Finally it's time to finish our 2012 American trip.  In between the time with the kids in Atlanta (last post), we spent Monday-Friday with Bob and Peggy south of the city.  This is becoming a tradition, as most of you know by now.  One we really look forward to!

Right off the bat we met Roscoe, their new child!
They basically rescued him from a previous neighbor who abandoned him 
and have now breathed life into him!

And speaking of additions, while we were there, Bob became a first-time g'pa.
G'daughter Harper was born on his and Peggy's 8th wedding anniversary.
What a nice way to remember important milestones by having them on the same day!
By now Peggy has finished the cross-stitched baby afghan she was making.

And speaking of anniversaries, we treated them to a celebratory meal at the nearby French Market.
Who would have guessed you'd find a French connection in the Deep South!

The food was fabulous...very New-Orleans style.

 And after our tummies were full, we were "short of eyes," looking at all of the wares for sale.
True story:  we met the lady owner who had just returned from a trip to Amsterdam!
It's a small world after all.

Each time we visit B&P out where they live in the boonies,
Astrid loves going off on her own to take pictures of everything she sees...
like this one-truck fire station not far from the house!
(her images, my collage)

This was her first time to see a real hummingbird ever.
She waited 45 minutes to get these shots!
(her images, my collage)

 And just to drive home the point of our American way of life, with all our over-the-top choices,
here's Astrid's impressions of some shopping times with Peggy.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

We could hang around the house the entire time, inside or out, and be happy campers.  But no, Bob and Peggy always want us to go somewhere...especially where Astrid hasn't yet been.  HER choice was to see downtown Atlanta.  And that's what the rest of this post is about!

To be honest, this was good for me, too, because even though I lived in the Atlanta area for 25 years, I had no real sense for what the downtown was like.  It's not a place you visit unless you have a conference there.
And the fun thing is you can park and then go everywhere on foot.  Which we did.

Look how much fun Astrid had!  Me, too, watching her.

What downtown Atlanta is known for to me is it's most cig bities!
You see much of it when you pass through the city on the freeway, but THIS is up close and personal.
The one SURPRISE I discovered is that Atlanta has it's own flatiron building (left bottom pic above).
Yes, just like NYC.  I had no idea.

I stopped in my tracks when we passed through the Chick-fil-A arch at one point.
For one, I looked for and found Moody Bible Institute on its list of Institution Recipients.
I was a student there one year and brother Nelson taught at Monmouth College.
S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, was recently in the news, as you may know....
because of his same-sex comments.  Talk about a controversy!

And as if that weren't enough, Bob got roped into an interview with an Associated Press man,
since we were in the middle of the Republican National Convention.
Bob and I don't see eye to eye on almost anything political, BUT we're still friends.
After all is said and done, that's what's most important!

And besides, by then it was time to eat!

 We hadn't planned on it but because we were at the CNN center, it was a no-brainer to eat there.
I had wanted Astrid to see that place because of all the times I had been there for concerts.
The Philips Arena (concerts, sports) is attached to this huge complex 
where the world feels at your doorstep.  Today I get most of my news from CNN!

After lunch, the biggest surprise of the day for me was finding out how close we were to the
 Centennial Olympic Park ...within easy walking distance...and how beautiful it is! 
 It was my first time to walk through it.

I remember the 1996 Summer Olympics as though it were yesterday.
I had purchased my own $35 brick back then and found it now in the walkway, thanks to the locator kiosk.
There was a bombing, remember?  And thus the Quilt of Remembrance was added later.

So many wonderful remembrances were added after the fact.  I had no clue.
I'd be proud to take anyone there to see the site.
And oh, that smiling fella?  He loved my camera and was such a gentleman.
I had to take his picture:  the man without a name but with a great smile.

From the park we were able to see the World of Coca Cola, the American Cancer Society headquarters,
 the GA Aquarium, buildings from Midtown...all for another day/year.
But that's how close everything was.  It really did surprise me.

And as we walked back to the car...

...we had a lovely serenade to end our day.

On that note, I'll also end our 2012 American trip.
Here's to next year and all the memories to come!