Here I am in Bodegraven, Netherlands. What am I doing here? I’ve debated about re-hashing the past four years or so since I last wrote here, but I think I’ll just let things fall out of my head as they will.
Tonight, I will try to sleep in a very old house in a very hot, upstairs room. I am tempted to just lay my spine along that metal strip on the floor (in the photo) because it is very cool. It was 35° today; 27° now, but warmer still inside.
Fortunately, during the day my part of the office had working air-conditioning—some colleagues were less fortunate. When I stepped outside I was slammed in the face by a very tropical heat. I suffered through the start-stop traffic, windows down (which made zero difference for the inescapable heat that scorched its way across my path. And then sauntered my way through a calmer traffic (one-laner) in a south-easterly fashion until I arrived at the oldest house in the Netherlands. (I’m sure it’s not the oldest.)
Ella lives here. She is 77 and doing quite well on her own. In a giant house that she rents out rooms to all sorts of people, through AirBnB. She hates spiders. Makes a great ardtjes?? cake* (no idea what it’s called). Her husband passed away five years ago and he was a bee keeper and liked gardening. Ella doesn’t have as much of a green thumb. She’s lived here for 50 years. She has 10 children and….23 grandchildren! She spoke no English…fair enough…forced me to pull out my Swiss-army-knife of Dutch tools (in my head) and we learned a bit about each other.
She said I should sit outside with her on the back deck overlooking her not-too-bad-of-a-yard-for-someone-who-doesn’t-have-a-green-thumb garden. She brought me a slice of that cake she made…soooo good. Didn’t want more cake (birthday cake at work**), but I also didn’t want to explain why and make her sad after she brought me a piece. It was more the size of half a bread slice, than a big, fat cake slice. So it was doable.
She asked if I was a Christian. I wasn’t surprised after earlier being given her Dutch Reformist newspaper to gander through while I ate my salad that I brought from home. She was very pleasant up until that question. Should I have lied? Said I was what I wasn’t? Her eyes scoffed me when I said I wasn’t. Oops. Then, she was still ‘niiice’, but if I was in a cartoon I’d have released steam from my collar in an uh-oh-sheesh sort of way. And that was that.
*I’ve just been informed that it’s spelled arretjescake.
**You bring your own damn cake to share when it’s your birthday here. It’s very uncivilized if you ask me. Where’s the hoopla and fake-surprise-face when your co-workers present their sugar bomb to you?!
I think we saved a bee…
When I was playing ball with the dogs, Sofie alerted me to a huge bee wriggling on the ground. I picked him up, he was covered in ants! It looked like he was struggling to get them off of him, so I helped. Once all the ants were relocated, the bee calmed down. Well, it seemed like he did.
Worried about him, because he wasn’t flying away, I let him hang out on my hand. He was very woeful.
I plomped him down in a few flowers to see if that would revive him.
Mostly, he liked the hibiscus. He climbed right on in there and came to life within seconds.
Today, it was a frog!!
I’ve never seen one in our backyard and M says he’s never seen one either.
I had him in my hands for awhile, but I was concerned that i might be freaking him out, so I let him go. He was too hoppy to get a photo of him in my hands, but here he is on a chair. He even made froggy noises, which made me gush. I hope to see him again some day…
She’s getting so big! She’s seven and a half months old now.
He was having a bad day. He got stuck between the wires of our backyard fence. I think he must have been there for awhile because there were lots of struggle-claw-marks in the ground. Sofie knew he was in trouble and barked a few times to get me to pay attention. When I got there, Sofie calmly stood there and looked between me and the hedgehog. She may have shrugged her shoulders. (she also may not have)
Hedgehog stuck in the fence
Well, we have to do something, I said.
I got the bolt cutters…only thing I could find in a hurry. Bent a wire back on the fence and the little guy shimmied back and rolled into a little, spiky ball. Awwwww
I checked him out and he didn’t have any fence or dog damage. Phew. I held on to him for awhile because I just wanted to. Then he slowly started to unfurl (but not completely). I took him out of the yard and found him a nice safe space in the vacant yard beside us—in a great little natural den made of blackberry branches. He was once again safe.
Hedgehogs are very patient…I kept checking on him and he was still in ball-form just waiting it out. Then, on one of my hedgehog checks, he had scampered away. Yay!
Pokey the hedgehog
Pokey the hedgehog
Pokey the hedgehog
Here are a few little videos of him.
After release from the fence
Such a handy animal…rolling up all tiny-like
Biding his time
The Queen of the Netherlands, Koningin Beatrix, will be 75 years old on Monday. Tonight she addressed the nation announcing abdication for her eldest son, Prince Willem-Alexander in April.
Queen Beatrix has been head of state since 1980, when her mother abdicated.
People love her here. Her role in the Netherlands is mainly ceremonial, wielding little power compared to the Eerste Kamer (Senate) and Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives), but she is very popular here nonetheless.
She has tons of great hats.
This is the Dutch word for pet insurance.
It makes sense now that I know more Dutch words, but it’s still a mouthful. Sheesh!