Sunday, October 29, 2006

Happy Halloween from Holland! Part 1

Ok, so Halloween is not really celebrated here in the Netherlands.
Een schande, volgens ons! ( A shame, according to us!)

But... that small detail won't stop us, or our humans, from having some fun.

We really enjoy Halloween and there are many expats in Holland who also celebrate this spooky night. Of course, Finn, being a black cat, thinks this is wonderful (geweldig) !

Mmmm, these are the yummy tasty things (lekkers) that our "mom" has made in the past for dinner for her Dutch family & expat friends to enjoy.
Clockwise from bottom left:
Spiderweb cake (spinnenwebkoek) with Creepy Chocolate Spiders (griezelige chocoladespinnen)
Spicy Pumpkin-Raisin Bread (kruidig pompoen-rozijnenbrood)
Tomato Zits (tomatenpuistjes ... LOL, sorry but this one is funny to translate)
Merlin's Eyeballs (Merlin's ogen )

Tomorrow we'll show you all the things our "mom" made this year, some pictures of us playing with pumpkins, some of "mom's" art .... and how Sacha helped make some of the "lekkers"! :o)

So until then, and Halloween Part 2 , we wish you all ...

Gelukkig Halloween uit Nederland!

© Judith Nijholt-Strong
Photo taken at Kasteel de Haar in Haarzuilens, The Netherlands.

Tot morgen (until tomorrow),
Finn & Sacha

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Holland embraces her! Nederland sluit haar in de armen!

A few days ago, our American “mom” received her Netherlands permanent residence document! (Verblijfsvergunning onbepaalde tijd) . We are so very happy for her (Wij zijn erg blij) .

She can stay forever in the Netherlands with no more mountains of paperwork to do. Even though she is married (getrouwd) to our Dutch “father” ( and of course could stay in Holland because of that fact), she still had to renew her permit every so often. It was always a bit of a worry for both our “father” and “mom”. Now, no more worries (geen zorgen meer) and we can say: Congratulations! Hooray! (Gefeliciteerd! Hoera!)

She picked-up her permit card in downtown Utrecht (partial site, in english) (full site, in dutch) ,which is the capital city of the Utrecht province. Confusing? *sometimes we think so, lol* Utrecht is a very old city and was the northern most Roman settlement in this part of Europe, ca. 47 A.D. You can find out more about Utrecht province on this link to a Wikipedia entry with a map showing its location, which will show you why the province is often called “ The Heart of the Netherlands” (Hart van Nederland) .

This photo is of the Roman's marker for their former, northern most, settlement point. This marker is located in the plaza by the Dom Church of Utrecht, in the oldest part of the city.

The main canal is the Oudegracht (old canal) that twists and turns through the old city center, making its way out to the very large Amsterdam-Rhine canal (Amsterdam-Rijn kanaal) that flows all the way to Amsterdam.
Photo of the Oudegracht (taken from the eastside of Utrecht) in fall colors with the Dom tower in the distance:

Utrecht has many beautiful old buildings and is the city of the Dom Church tower (mentioned above). The Dom, as it's known, is the highest church tower in all of the Netherlands. However, "mom" picked up her permit card at the not so lovely, ‘newish’, Citizens’ Community Development Services building (Dienst Maatschappelijke ontwikkeling) , which we are not showing a pic of because it's awful! The building is located on Kaatstraat. Don’t get too excited, that word “kaat” has nothing to do with the word “kat”. "Kaatsen" is a field sport played mostly in Friesland, but also in America, France & Belgium!

Sorry to report, but in our opinions (and “mom’s”), some of Utrecht’s newer buildings are just so incredibly ugly (lelijk) . You wonder sometimes what the architects were thinking!
*cat's eyes rolling*

Luckily, just down from the Citizens’ Community Development Services building, located on Adelaarstraat 30, stands one of two old inner city windmills (windmolen) : the Rhine & Sun of Utrecht (Rijn en Zon te Utrecht) . It’s a fascinating sight to see a windmill right in the middle of a busy city such as Utrecht ; a sight that always makes our “mom” stop to smile and admire.

After picking up her permit, she had some time on her hands. So, with her large Moleskine in her pocket and her graphite pencils, some colored pencils and her waterbrush, she sketched a view towards the windmill.
(click for larger image)
© Judith Nijholt-Strong, 2006
"Rijn en Zon windmill from Kaatstraat bridge, Utrecht"
7"h x 5"w, in large Moleskine sketchbook
Pencil, van Gogh watercolor pencils, Micron Ink pen
(Drawn with graphite pencil on site, color added on site, inked in at home)

This is a photo of the windmill Rhine & Sun’s emblem which was glowing on this typically overcast Dutch day.

The windmill has gone through many restorations, the last time in 1979; when it was then used as a grain mill (kornmolen) . The Rhine & Sun is open on Saturdays and the mill store (molenwinkel) sells milled flour for home bakers.

Windmills in Holland are often given names, especially the larger ones like the Rhine & Sun. The other windmill in ‘downtown’ Utrecht is, The Star (De Ster) , and it’s located at Molenpark 3, on the west-side of the city on the river Leidsche Rijn . As it was used as a lumber/saw mill, it had to be located by the water. On Saturdays, The Star, is also open for visitors and you can see it working, busy sawing lumber. The Star windmill at work can be seen on this small film (the audio is in dutch) : Click here for video.

“Mom” also decided to do a drawing of the Dom Church tower rising high in the distance. This was her view, from a canal bridge on Kaatstraat, looking towards the Dom tower. She was on the westside of Utrecht. There was a place to sit, since this took some time to draw!
(click for larger image)
© Judith Nijholt-Strong, 2006
"Utrecht's Dom tower from Kaatstraat bridge - westside of Utrecht"
7" x 5", in large Moleskine sketchbook
Pencil, van Gogh watercolor pencils, Micron Ink pen
(Drawn on site with graphite pencil, color added on site, inked in at home)

We think she likes it here in Utrecht!
So, once again, we say:

Gefeliciteerd, lieve moeder!
Nederland sluit je in haar armen, en wij ook!
(Congratulations dear mother! Holland embraces you and we do too!)
Wow! this was a rare, long, post... we're tired! (Wij zijn moe!)

Tot volgende keer!
Finn & Sacha
P.S. I know it's odd "congratulating" myself via my cats, but as my English friends say: I'm "chuffed" at getting my Netherlands permanent residence permit! ~ Judy :o)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday (Vrijdag) the 13th! Kiss a black cat!

It's Friday the 13th!

As Cattonians, we understand that this is supposed to be a bad-luck day for some cultures here on planet earth... Holland also holds to this superstition (bijgeloof) .

I say "pffft"! What nonsense! (Wat een onzin!) .

I'm trying to kiss my brother Finn... he's being difficult, as usual.

Here's an inkbrush drawing of Finn by our "mom".
She doesn't think he's unlucky (ongelukkig) !

"Noble Finn" © 2006 Judith Nijholt-Strong
Pentel inkbrush on Fabriano watercolor paper

On Cattonia, where we are originally from (see our first ever blog post "Geen Idee"), black cats are considered lucky (gelukkig) ! Really lucky !

So, go find yourself a black cat and kiss it (if you can) ... today (vandaag) ! I'm off now to find Finn to sneak up on him and steal a small kiss (kusje stelen) .

*wink* ;-)

Just a note of reminder, because we've recently been asked to explain,
Why we blog in two languages? :You will notice our posts are almost always peppered with dutch; sometimes only words, but also sentences. We're doing this because our American human has to learn this language and it is not an easy language (although, dutch is far easier than Cattonian... ). We hope we don't confuse you with the use of two languages in our posts, but our Dutch human and our American human actually speak a sort of combination of the two languages that they call "dinglish" ! We've caught on quickly to what they speak, because we are cats (of course), but they haven't quite got the hang of Cattonian ... yet. Meow! :D


Tot ziens!


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