Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Zimmer Tower in Lier, Belgium

Remember when we were in Leuven, Belgium, this past December and I shared all those posts on this, that, and the other:  the two abbeys, the two Christmas markets, the two basilicas.  Yup.  THAT trip.

We had a great B&B hostess, Greet, who gave us all kinds of ideas for what we might want to see, one of which was the clock tower in nearby Lier, 45 km away.  Lier.  Hmmm.  That suddenly sounded familiar.  So I went to my search bar above (and to the tags on the left) to see if we had been there before.  Another YUP.

Back in 2011, 6 years ago, we had stopped in Dendermonde, Mechelen and Lier on another trip home, hitting some highlights in those 3 Belgium cities.  But somehow we totally missed the Zimmer Tower in Lier...the one thing Greet told us to see.

So, on our way home this time, we went specifically to see the tower!

First of all, we had to walk a bit through town before finding the tower.
You know me and architecture...and weathervanes!

Then there it was.
This is the Zimmer Tower, also known as the Cornelius Tower, from the 14th century,
as part of the city's fortification.
The Jubilee Clock on the front was built by astronomer and clockmaker, Louis Zimmer, in 1930.

Here are some enlargements of the separate dials on the clock.
And from Wiki, below, are the descriptions of what the dials mean.

(image from Wiki)
Who knew you could put so much information on a clock!

If we had stayed longer, we would have seen some bell ringing from the side panels.
Actually, we did hear them but weren't fast enough on the draw to get what was happening.
Next time.

But we DID have enough time for a koffie break (think potty break),
where we got into the Christmas spirit again with Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet Belgium chocolates.

Sometimes these quickie trips are the best, you know.  Short and sweet!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

England 2016: For Lisl, Michael and Chris

Call this the unassigned bin or the misc. file or the leftovers from our England trip back in September last year.  Whichever.  But I don't want these memories languishing in a black hole somewhere.  So, this is for YOU...Lisl, Michael and Chris, the usual suspects.

Let's start with Chris, since he was the one who picked us up at the Bristol airport.

Chris is Astrid's "Big Brother."  
On the way to Lisl's from the airport, he stopped at the Stanton Drew Great Circle.
At 371 ft. in diameter, it's Britain's 2nd largest stone circle, after Avebury.
We had already seen Avebury with him in 2011, so this was extra special.

Lisl is Ginnie's "Big Sis."  
And that's where Chris took us that day, where Lisl invited him to stay for supper with us.
You could call Lisl the Queen of Tarts.  :)  (Yes, she can take a joke.)
Btw, I klept the top-left image of moi from Chris' Shutterchance blog.
And, yes, we're all Shutterchance photographers:  Lisl, Chris, Astrid and Ginnie.

"Big Sis" Lisl is a mother of 3 and a grandma of two, with this charmer as her youngest.
Astrid and I felt so lucky to meet him after hearing all about his birth earlier.

OMG.  I have never seen Lisl look so radiant.
We g'mas know, don't we!

Besides being a mother and g'ma, cook, and photographer, Lisl is also a true-blue scientist.
(She also walks the byways of England, bird watches, gardens, visits the elderly, WWFs, etc., etc.)
Lucky for us, again, we got to observe a rainy-day moth collaboration.
When I say "scientific," I mean it.
Moths are captured in moth traps (later released) and documented for what, when and where.
All this info is tabulated in books for "what's happening to the moths" in England.

If I'm reading it right, there were 15 different moths brought in that day by the group.
Can you picture yourself doing something like that?
Someone has to do it!

The day Lisl and I went off on our own to Wells Cathedral...
this is what Michael was doing as we left:  watching and listening to a symphony.
It really touched my hart and soul.

We have such fond memories of eating out with them.
Fox & Hounds has become a favorite...

and now, also, the Fat Friar, where the food is plentiful and better than good,
whether you like mushy peas or not!

Have you ever thought about how much we "fellowship" when we eat good food together!
It's becoming one of the most important parts of traveling for me, the older I get.
Hmmm.  I ponder this in my hart of hearts.

In the meantime,
THANK YOU, Lisl, Michael and Chris.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Jean Tinguely in the Stedelijk Museum

Did I mention that I had an appointment to renew my passport on January 23rd?

It so happens that the American Embassy in the Netherlands is on one corner of the Museumplein in Amsterdam, so when Astrid and I knew we'd be there, we planned a day of it, making sure we'd capitalize also on our museum card.

My appointment at the embassy (top and bottom-left) was at 10:45 a.m. on one of our colder days.
We passed it at both the beginning and end of the day, since we parked nearby.
See the Rijksmueum (bottom-right)?

If you know the Museumplein (museum square), you know about these museums:
the Van Gogh and the Rijksmueum are the best known.
And directly across from the Rijksmuseum is the Concert Gebouw (hall), left-center.

Then, just to the left of the Van Gogh Museum is the Stedelijk Museum, on the same square.
It was less than a 5-minute walk from the embassy.  A no-brainer and a first for me

Because it was lunch time when we got there after my appointment, but not where we planned to eat,
we had a rare sugar fix in the museum's café to tide us over till our afternoon lunch.
This was the Monday after Saturday's Women's Marches held around the world.
Approx. 3,000 women and friends marched in Amsterdam.

When we were ready to start our tour of the Jean Tinguely exhibition inside the museum,
Astrid first ran down the hall to see if the big staircase was still there.
She remembered it from her last visit 20 years ago.
YES.  It was still there.

Other exhibits were in the museum but the only one interesting us that day was Jean Tinguely's.
This was his Machine Spectacle from 1 October 2016 to 5 March 2017,
25 years after his death.

Before we did anything, we participated in the one interactive exhibit at the entrance.
As you can see in the video below, the movement of this sculpture is maintained by the visitors.

THIS is Jean Tinguely (1925-1991), a Swiss painter and sculptor.
He's "famous for his playful, boldly kinetic machines and explosive performances.
Everything had to be different, everything had to move."

"Tinguely's art satirized the mindless overproduction of material goods
in advanced industrial society." --Wiki

There were 166 works in the exhibition, 66 of which were machine sculptures.
Some exhibits were just...exhibits.

Only 42 of the 66 machine sculptures were functioning,
but you could at least see the others and imagine what they could do.

The favorite room for both of us was this one, with all the shadows.
Wheels within wheels and shadows of wheels within wheels.

This particular exhibit was H U G E and could be seen at its length, width and depth.

My biggest surprise, however, was seeing Tinguely's collaboration with Niki de Saint Phalle:
HIS WIFE.  Who knew!
She goes all the way back to Hannover, Germany, for me, in 2005, and Atlanta in 2006.

If you know Niki de Saint Phalle's work, you see the collaboration.

The last exhibit of the day was a room filled with rusty farm equipment.
In fact, you can hear the screeching sound of it at the end of the following video.

Here is a video showing only 6 of the machines in movement.
The machines may look sturdy but actually are extremely fragile and cannot run constantly,
lest they break.  Some hadn't been working for years and had to be restored.

Interestingly, Tinguely believed that "Everything in motion will eventually destroy itself."

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Talk about working up an appetite!  Besides'the museum (and passport renewal, of course), our other main goal of the day was to eat at our favorite Wagamama noodle-bar restaurant, just minutes away.

So, from the Stedelijk Museum we walked towards the Rijksmusem,
where we spent a few minutes watching the skaters on the iced-over pond.

Directly in front of the museum is one of Amsterdam's two IAMsterdam photo-op sculptures.
The other one is at Schiphol Airport, where, if you visit us, you'll probably have your photo taken!

But, finally, here we are at Wagamama to end our day.
Comfort food for the soul.  It doesn't get much better than this.

And guess what:  it took only 9 days for me to get my new passport back from the USA.
Now I wonder if "they" will allow my Dutch wife to return with me later in the year???

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Watercolor Sunday and Saturday's Color: January 2017

Two days ago, when I said to Astrid, "Tomorrow is February!" she said:  "It's almost Christmas!"  HA!  How is that possible!

But, not to get ahead of ourselves, here's my Watercolor Sunday posts on Facebook for January:

January 1 (photo manipulation):
"And now we welcome the new year.  Full of things that have never been."
--Rainer Maria Rilke

January 8 (photo manipulation):
"One kind word can warm three winter months."
--Japanese Proverb

[Even though this image is from 2012, we awakened to a thin layer of snow yesterday
here in the Netherlands.  FINALLY!]

January 15 (photo manipulation):
"You can't get too much winter in the winter." --Robert Frost
[I'm speaking for us here in the Netherlands, of course!]

January 22 (photo manipulation):
"You cannot make a revolution with silk gloves." --Joseph Stalin

"Don't be a patron of disbelief; nobody fights and wins battles in the hand gloves of doubts."
--Israelmore Ayivor, Shaping the Dream

January 29 (photo manipulation):
"It's a strange world of language in which skating on thin ice can get you into hot water."
--Franklin P. Jones

"He who cannot put his thoughts on ice should not enter into the heat of dispute."
--Friedrich Nietzsche

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

My Saturday's Color posts on Facebook for January:

(finished on 1 September 2015, posted on FB 7 January 2017)
Because we need perspective and LOTS of sunny, encouraging days in this year ahead,
I start off with an Op Art design.

(finished on 9 December 2016, posted on FB 14 January 2017)
In this Color Me Fearless design, I saw Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man.
Yup.  The same Da Vinci who said "When there is shouting there is no true knowledge"...
and "The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions"...
and "It's easier to resist at the beginning than at the end."
Da Vinci lived from 1452-1519.

(finished on 16 January 2017, posted on FB 21 January 2017)
For all women (and friends) marching around the world today, to demonstrate commitment 
to the ideals of freedom, equality and opportunity for all, I saw pink and purple Pussy Hats
in this Mandala.  May this be but a jump-off for hope becoming action!

(finished on 24 December 2016, posted on FB 28 January 2017)
With words/phrases flying around like "optics," "fake news," and "alternative facts,"
it makes sense to add an optical illusion eye-smacker, right?!
(from my wee 5x7 Mindfulness book)

Less than 11 months till Christmas!