Tag Archives: Netherlands

The middle of it all…and the heat

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?!
Advertisements

My beautiful, beautiful Sofie

My beautiful, beautiful Sofie

She’s getting so big! She’s seven and a half months old now.


Pokey. I helped a hedgehog today.

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

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

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


Sofie in the fresh snow!

We had so much fun in the snow today!


Some Rudy, Lois and Sofie!

Here’s all my beautiful creatures…


We’re going to have a king here!

Koningin Beatrix

Koningin Beatrix

 

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.


I’m pretty sure it’s time for some more photos of Sofie…


In getting a dog…

We’ve both been internet-peeking at tons of dogs all over the place off and on for over a year. Mostly the search has been in the Netherlands and Germany…at rescue organizations and shelters. Sometimes it was just looking, but M knew that ‘looking’ to me meant possibly ‘getting’, so he quelled the search a bit. Tee hee.

I’ve had two dogs in the past: Our family dog, Sheba, the Samoyed, beautiful girl; and a German Shepherd cross that was stolen from me after I had him for only two years. That was one of the most devastating things that has ever happened to me.

Since then I have worked as a part-time pet-sitter-dog-walker for over five years and have taken care of friends’ dogs. I wanted a dog so bad, but circumstances did not allow for me to have my own (work and such), so I lived a vicarious life through those who already had dogs and I loved it! But since I arrived in the Netherlands, 19 months ago, getting a dog has been forefront in my mind. Perhaps making M a bit crazy sometimes. *shrug*

Ripley —my sweet, old cat, made the journey to the Netherlands with me, but passed away only a few months after I arrived. I was broken.

We live in the country. I’ve never lived in farmland before. It’s beautiful here —don’t get me wrong— and we have a huge yard, garden and a big house (for two people, it’s big). M works and I was here by myself. It was too quiet, it lacked fur. We got Rudy and Lois, two cats that have immense characters and love being here…they have the huge house and they roam around outside. Having them saved my sanity. I love them with all my heart. Once I taught myself how to knit (after some excellent tutelage from my friend, Shelley, back home), I was on my way to busying myself into a new company that I started and subsequently, taught myself how to crochet and sew. (Thanks internet!) I was a lot less crazy once I could be busy.

But there was still a little hole in my heart…just big enough for a dog to squish into. Hence, the dog-peeking.

I found a very sweet German Shepherd cross with Rottweiler mix in Belgium and she’s just adorable and started off with a pretty crappy life in Turkey. Fortunately, the mother-daughter team of Sos Straathonden Turkije found her, her sister and their mom and then transported them to Belgium for adoption. The woman who is fostering them now is a very nice person and she knows what she’s doing. Between the Turkish shelter and the foster home, we spoke a lot about the young dog. While we were looking for dogs, M pointed out that we could look at the dogs in the shelter we stumbled upon during a bike ride earlier in the year, across the border in Germany. While I wasn’t looking, M called me to the computer and said: “I’ve found the perfect dog for you!” It was this little adorable girl.

We visited her at the shelter. She was ADORABLE!! Super happy and playful. A bit on the skinny side, but she is healthy. Someone had dumped her at the shelter one night while it was closed. Sad, but a much better situation for her than a million other horrible things I could imagine. So, fortunately, the people who had her were actually kind and did a good thing for her. And for me!! There was another, older dog, there that captured our hearts too. We’ll ask more about her/him tomorrow.

We get to go back tomorrow for walkies, then she might have a sleepover another night!!!

UPDATE: I didn’t have the information right about her life before getting to the shelter: She was with a man who became very ill and had to go to the hospital, so he brought her to the shelter. Very sad for him to have to give her up, I’m sure, but at least he did the right thing and wasn’t selfish. He gave her a better life. : )

file_1356473269_c9413d74e030f98147b4 file_1356473340_2d9fc0e25d536e0f32df file_1356473314_e512689f14b00fc23960


Winter greetings from the Netherlands!!

Wow! It has snowed here so much! Like 15 cm or more!! It looks like home!!!!!

I made something for M’s return home from work.

Greetings!

Greetings!

Update: My snowman melted two days later. : (

We went to school, but it was cut short to half our normal time. Trains and buses were going to stop running, so they had to make sure everyone could catch their bus on time.

Here are some more photos of my exciting and snowy day!

Our street covered in snow.

Rudy in the snow.

Rudy in the snow.

So much snow!

So much snow!

Lots of people still on their bikes!

Lots of people still on their bikes!

My school. Only three people didn't show up for class.

My school. Only three people didn’t show up for class.

Lois is not liking the snow so much.

Lois is not liking the snow so much.

Rudy and Lois venturing out into the snow.

Rudy and Lois venturing out into the snow.

Suchagoodboy.

Rudy in the snow! He enjoyed being outside.

Rudy sitting in the unsnowy patch.

Rudy sitting in the unsnowy patch.

All of the laurel leaves are heavily burdened by the huge dump of snow all day.

All of the laurel leaves are heavily burdened by the huge dump of snow all day.


Herfst in Nederland

Every year around this time, in the Netherlands, all you see in the countryside are piles and piles of sugar beets. They are harvested and sent to processing plants to turn them into sugar. This harvesting time is known as de bietencampagne (the beet campaign). This lasts from September to the end of the year. In this period the sugar factories run 24 hours a day.

I love autumn here…the leaves change colours for months. Unlike back home where it is summer for three months, then three days of autumn, then five months of winter!!

More pretty leaves!


%d bloggers like this: