Thursday, May 28, 2015

Chapels, Windvanes and Cows, Oh My!

HA!  I guess you had to be there...but sometimes it really is like a fairytale. Another joyride on Sunday, this time in the area of Arkel, Hoornaar and Schelluinen, all nearby....

  Arkel is where Astrid used to live, just 3 km north of us in Gorinchem.
I've seen this wee Koepelkerk a thousand times, it seems, but had never been inside.
It has a long history, beginning in 641, but the present chapel was built in 1855.

This past Sunday they had an open-house viewing from 2-4 p.m.
Lucky for me that Astrid notices these things in the paper!

And yes, they have a small congregation with services every Sunday.
I think my dad would have loved being pastor of this cozy chapel.

He was such a lover of books and hymnals.
So am I.

But instead of sheep to shepherd that day, all we got were cows!

Cows and more cows.  
It was a heyday for cows, most of which are grown here for their dairy products.

We did find some sheep, however.  HA!

And two gable stones on the same house.

And TWENTY-ONE weathervanes, of which these are the NON-birds/animals...

...and these are.

Milkweed covers many of the canals right now (bottom-left).
And Spring is still showing off her beauty everywhere.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

On an entirely different note, close to home...

Look what we saw Saturday morning right after breakfast.
Astrid says it's a koolmees (Great Tit), common to Europe.
Apparently this little fella was too young to be frightened, while eating his own breakfast.
After several minutes, he flew off to mind his own business.
Did he know he made my day, I wonder?

That was about the same time I was connecting many dots to fulfill a life-long dream:
P A I N T I N G.

There are so many embellishment and/or manipulation tools these days,
to transform photo images into paintings...without all the mess, I might add.
So as I start my new decade (in two weeks), my dream is becoming real.

This is an oil painting of one of the collage images above.

Here's a watercolor of the same bird but different pose.

And how about a watercolor of the cows!

It may not be everyone's cuppa tea, but for me, I'm in heaven.
You have no idea how soulful this is for me!
(so might as well get used to it)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Some Fun In Geertruidenberg, NL

Our past Sunday started out when we went to see Astrid's son Jeroen play tennis in Raamsdonkveer, 22 km south of us.

The resident heron at the canal by our parking garage paid no attention to us as we left.

But Jeroen did once we arrived.  
He's been playing tennis since age 4 and is on a club team that plays national competitions.
I love the guy and always tell him I like his form (he turns 27 in August).

Because Geertruidenberg is just around the corner from Raamsdonkveer,
we had already decided to visit it after watching Jeroen play.

Geertruidenberg is the oldest city, in what used to be Holland county, to receive city rights, in 1213.
It's not the oldest city in Holland/the Netherlands, which is sometimes confusing.

Regardless, at 802 years, that's old.
You know how much I love the architecture and doo-dads of these old city centers.
You, too, could have your photo taken in the stocks claiming 802 jaar stadsrecht.

There's usually a big church in every Dutch city center.
This one is the Oude Sint Geertruidskerk, or Gertrude's Church.
The city itself is named after Gertrude of Nivelles (top-right above)

We were only there for half an hour or so, walking around city center.

Lucky for me, I found my gable-stone treasures.
Look how old some of them are.

We even found this make-shift stone that is a combination of 5 stones.
The mother (center) and her 4 kids (corners) made this for her husband's 50th birthday.
How fun is that!

Speaking of fun, if you can't take a joke, right?!
The owner was bringing stuff back from his weekend flea market.

And I got my fix of weathervanes, coming and going!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Now, switch gears to my last post about our Open Harbor Day and the goodies we bought.

What I didn't mention was that Astrid found an antique koffie grinder at our flea market.
Neither one of us had ever told each other that we'd love to have one in our home one day.

Well, she found a beauty and completely took it apart, cleaned years of kitchen grease off its internal parts, stripped the paint and then repainted it.  I hate that I wasn't fast enough on my feet to take a photo of what it looked like before.  But at least this is during the clean-up...

...and after, now hanging on our living room wall.  We love the Delft green...and the windmill!
She even put koffie beans in it to grind up, showing its authenticity.  :)
(And did you notice the handy "tool" she used to catch the drilling powder?!)

In case you need a finale, how's this from Tuesday when we had a rare thunderstorm here.
I stood at our front door, looking across the courtyard of our senior complex at 8:45 p.m.
You have no idea how much I miss good thunderstorms (growing up in Michigan)! 

And so it is, another week in the life of a Gemini (May 21-June 21).
I'm officially in celebration mode of my soon-to-come BIG 7-0.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Open Harbor Day, 2015, in Gorinchem, NL

Okay, Folks.  Fasten your seat belts because it was a full 3+ hours of being out-n-about this past Saturday, just blocks away from where we live here in Gorinchem, NL. 

Let's start with the Dragon Boat Races because that was the part nearest our apartment,
only 3 blocks away.
These races have been in Gorinchem for ten years and are now considered "official."

How can you not love the dragons!
This is serious stuff.

But when I saw this team of ladies, ooo-la-la.
Imagine sprites (elves, fairies and pixies) and dragons in another world.
(click on collage to enlarge)

The races were held throughout the day until the final in late afternoon.
The team that lost last year, the Alphas, won this year! BRAVO.

You know me.  I couldn't resist catching the first race of the day.
Not all the races we saw were this neck-n-neck, trust me.

But they were all watched over by the water scouts, making sure everything was tip-top.

What I love about Open Harbor Day is the variety of sights and experiences.
This lady from the Raalte region was explaining how to clean her bonnet whenever it gets dirty.

We think this was her husband weaving baskets next to her.
(I loved his seat-stand contraption.)

We passed him several times and were lucky to see him finishing up the handles.

Don't you love how he chops his hand down on the reeds at intervals to make them tight.

It was in this area of the Linge harbor that we spotted my new friend, Marielle (remember?).
Gotta love us photographers in action, right?  HA!

This is also where the salmon boats congregate every year for their demonstrations... mending their fishing nets,

and cooking up the red poon fish for us to eat (one of our biggest treats each year).

 (photo courtesy of Marielle de Valk)

This year we even heard the fishermen's choir.

Peering into their boats was like peeking into their homes away from home.

And they are very much "at home" in their wooden shoes!

 Speaking of the fishermen's choir, there were 20 choirs/bands around town that day.

Like this one, for instance, just two blocks from where we live.

It was a day for being "short of eyes," as I often say.

A little bit of this-n-that wherever we went.
And I was on my feet the entire time and had no knee problems!

 But my absolute joy of the day was finding this 51 x 63 in. tapestry for €5 at one of the stalls.
The images don't do it justice but the moss green color is closest to the bottom-right.

"This is a garbled version of Horace's Ars Poetica, a treatise on poetry. The passage should read:
Si uis me flere, dolendum est primum ipsi tibi; tum tua me infortunia laedent, Telephe uel Peleu; male si mandata loqueris, aut dormitabo aut ridebo.

It means:

If you wish me to cry, you must first feel grief yourself, then your misfortunes, O Telephus or Peleus, will injure me. If you speak ineptly assigned words, I shall either sleep or laugh."

This now hangs on our bedroom wall as a reminder of everything I love about where we live!

Thursday, May 07, 2015


Or, bits-n-bobs, as our English friends would say!  A little bit of this-n-that before they arrive on Friday (tomorrow evening) and spend a few days with us (another post).

Let's first start with Saturday's walk around Gorinchem's citadel.  I'm making a concerted effort to do it at least once a week.  It's good for my heart and soul...and my body.  That new knee says "thank you" every time, I'm sure.

 But this walk was something special because while I was minding my own business,
I noticed a lady photographing flowers just like I was.  In fact, we kept passing each other.
Finally, we introduced ourselves and continued walking together for the next hour.
When we got to the locks at the inside harbor, she showed me her photo hanging on the wall.
Yup.  Mariëlle de Valk.  There she is...a new friend who shares the love of photography.

And when we got to De Hoop (The Hope) windmill,
she showed me the lion's mouth flower in the brick wall nearby.
It's also called Common/Yellow Toadflax or Butter-and-Eggs, native to Europe and Northern Asia.

 Look what happens when you meet a new friend!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The next day, Sunday, we had an errand to run in nearby Utrecht at 11 a.m. and decided to drive on the back roads coming back, making it a fun day.

Most of the time I'm staring at the Dutch sheep.  But there are also plenty of Dutch cows!
I really am loving everything free-range about this country.

 How can you resist these lovelies!
It makes Mother's Day extra special at this time of the year, doesn't it.

See what I mean about bits-n-pieces-n-bobs!
Throw in some wabi-sabi (bottom-right) and I couldn't be happier.

And then, what should suddenly appear but....
It wasn't till it passed that I saw it was big enough for a group of tourists.
Out in the Dutch boonies!

I'm happy to "collect" one or two good weathervanes while we're out-n-about.
But E I G H T E E N (count them)?  It was weathervane heaven.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

When Monday came around, I had my own errands to run and made a good walk of it.
I never know what I might see so I always carry my camera, just in case.

Lucky for me, the Grote Brug was being raised for a barge just after I crossed over it.
This is a common occurrence for me by now but maybe not for you?
Everyone going to work/school always has to calculate in the time for these possibilities
(a real groaner for many, which is why I decided to show the whole thing!).

 And because I had my camera...and it's still spring...YES!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Now we're getting ready for Lisl and Chris from England to arrive tomorrow evening.
You'll remember them once I get to those posts.
Lisl is my Big Sis; Chris is Astrid's Big Brother.
That's all you need to know for now.

In the meantime,