Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays 2007 ~ Fijne Feestdagen 2007


"Greetings - A New Day, 2007" .. copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
8" x 7" approx.
Colored pencil drawing on Sennelier "La Carte" sanded paper.
Digital lettering was later applied to the jpg.

Tis the season .... for delicious things in the house!
Yum! "Mom" made cookies again and I stole the butter!! ;-)
(Lekker! "Mama" heeft weer koekjes gebakken en ik heb de boter gestolen!!)

"Christmas cookies for 2007"
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong

I also helped decorate the tree.
(Ik heb ook geholpen met het optuigen van de boom.)

"Sacha and her tree! 2007"
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong

Actually, I just played around under the tree, rearranging the packages and constantly annoying "mom". Hey, that's my job! While I was messing about, I saw a package under the tree for me and I can't wait to open it.

We hope that your holidays are merry & bright!

Wij hopen dat u fijne feestdagen heeft !

Prettig Kerstfeest,
(Merry Christmas),
Sacha & Judy
About the Colored Pencil drawing at the top of this post:
I love working on Sennelier's La Carte sanded pastel paper. It's a tricky surface to work on because you can't get it wet at all (have to keep Sacha away from it, I can tell you!). However, the results are so satisfying and it's my favorite of all the sanded surfaces. While the La Carte is originally designed to be used with soft pastels, colored pencils do work wonderfully well on it. It's not as abrassive as other sanded surfaces, so it doesn't eat up your pencils.
This drawing is based on a larger work that I have yet to complete, but the flower top just seemed right for a "merry & bright" holiday greeting. On this drawing, I used Prismacolor, Faber-Castell Polychromos and Lyra Rembrandt colored pencils. ~ Judy

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Making Marmelade and SNOW! ~ Marmelade Makken en SNEEUW!


copyright, Judith Nijholt-Strong
"Tangerine study", Graphite pencil on Bristol vellum.

I'm helping "mom" make orange marmelade (sinaasappelmarmelade). My human "Oma" (grandmother) loves it, so each year she gets a big jar of it for Christmas (Kerst).

Cutting and pressing the oranges.

Here's the simple recipe (recept) that we (oops, I mean "mom") uses. It's supposed to be easy, and it is, but it takes quite some time to get the white pith out of the orange shells...much more than an hour.
Orange Marmelade
6-8 small oranges, weighing about 550g
juice of 1 lemon
1.4 litres water
1.1kg granulated sugar

"Mom's" method:
- Remove the pulp, pits and juice from the oranges and whir them all up in a blender or food processor.
- Clean the white pith from the empty orange shells. Get as much of the white pith out as you can ("mom" is very picky about this) , as the pith makes marmelade bitter and we don't want that!
- Slice the cleaned out orange peels into very, very thin strips - size of very thin matchsticks.
- Put the orange pulp, pits and juice mixture into a large soup pot with the water and juice of the lemon (make sure not to get any lemon seeds in this).
- Over medium-low heat, add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
- While it's still on medium-low heat, plunk in the sliced orange peels. Stir.
- Turn up the heat and bring to boil for a 10-15 mins. Then turn down the heat and let simmer for about 1.5 hours ... stir occasionally. Skim off any foam that comes to the surface.
- After 1.5 hours simmering, the mixture should be reduced by half. Keep it on the low heat while you test for consistency.
- Put a litte of the marmelade on a cold plate and place in the refridgerator for a few minutes to test if it's thick enough ... jelly-like. If not thick enough, cook about 15-20 minutes longer and test again. If you have to keep doing this to get the right thickness, then just repeat... but don't cook on high heat! You don't want to burn the sugar.
- When it's just right, put the marmelade into clean, heat sterilized, glass jars. You don't have to seal the jars with wax if you know the marmelade will be used right away. We don't wax seal them.

I enjoyed playing with the oranges (sinaasappels) before they were cut!

Oops! one rolled off the table...
Lucky for me, the marmelade came out tasting perfect and without cat hairs in it! heehee! Anyway, I'm sure the marmelade will be a hit with "Oma", even if I did sort of get in the way.

We have loads to do before Christmas, so the pictures from "Mom & Dad's" December vacation in France will have to wait!

In the meantime, it did snow here two days ago!!!
Taken yesterday morning, this is the view from our back deck (vlonder) over the small canal (sloot) towards the little neighborhood skating pond (schaatsvijver).

©2007. Judith Nijholt-Strong
Same scene, but from today when the sun came out!

©2007. Judith Nijholt-Strong
The snow was very lovely, but oh so cold on my little cat paws (kattenpootjes) !

©2007. Judith Nijholt-Strong
I forgot to put on my klompen (clogs /wooden shoes) . It doesn't look like we'll have a white Christmas, but this was fun for a couple of days.

Have to go wrap some presents now...

Doei (bye) ,

About the drawing at the top of this post:

This drawing, done from life, was created on Bristol vellum paper in graphite pencil. It's not really an orange, but a tangerine (clementine) ... have to get that Vitamin-C into you at this time of year. :-) ~ Judy


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sinterklaas Pakjesavond ~ St. Nicholas Gift Night

Yay!!! It's December 5th and that means tonight is "pakjesavond"(gift night), when we celebrate the feast of Sinterklaas...and eat lots of "pepernoten" (peppernuts, aka gingernuts/cookies).

"Pepernoten, Pepernoten, Pepernoten!" (peppernuts, a Dutch spice cookie)
Copyright 2007. Judith Nijholt-Strong
8" h x 10" w, colored pencils on drafting film.

Pakejesavond is also when we give each other gifts, open our gifts from Sinterklaas, get our chocoladeletters (chocolate letters) and really just have a good time. :o)

Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) has been in the Netherlands since mid-November. He's been busy riding on his white horse visitng all the cities, towns and villages in Holland. He is assisted in this task by his helper Zwarte Piet (Black Pete (Piet is pronounced in dutch the same as Pete is in english) ). The Sint (Saint) has more than one Zwarte Piet, actually he has many... it's a big task making sure all the presents and chocolate letters get to the right people! In fact, we saw Sinterklaas and two Black Pete's (twee Zwarte Pieten) on our street this past weekend! We waved to them too :-) I wanted to join them, but "dad (papa) " made me come back in the house... well, maybe next year.

"Klompen en wortels" (clogs and carrots)
photo by J. Nijholt-Strong

In front of many houses in the Netherlands, Sinterklaas and the Zwarte Pieten will find carrots & water for the Saint's horse and empty shoes (sometimes wooden clogs ( klompen)) left by the hopeful children in Holland. What they hope for is that they've been good enough all year and their names are down in Sinterklaas's big red book, so that they will get presents and their shoes will be filled with candy or money (usually gold foil-covered, chocolate coins (chocoladegeld) ).

We wrote a long blog post about Sinterklaas and the tradition last December 5th. If you'd like to read more, you can see it here: Sinterklaas might be the original Santa Claus!

Sacha with her own Sint & Piet.

"Mom", "Dad" and I wish everyone een Fijn Sinterklaasfeest! (Fine St. Nicholas Feast!).
Tomorrow, Sinterklaas leaves the Netherlands and won't be back until November 2008. So remember, be good and you too might get a chocolate letter next year! :-)

Off to France again:
"Mom & Dad" are going to France again this coming Saturday - for a small winter vacation. They are hoping to get over to Amiens to visit the Christmas Market there and to see the Amiens cathedral lit up at night in all the colors that it was once painted in (many centuries ago). I hope they have a wonderful time. I'll be home with my human step-brother, trying not to bother him too much... ;o)

I'll show you pics when they return.... uhmm, I mean, "mom" will show you pics.

About the colored pencil drawing of pepernoten:
This drawing was done on Duralar Double Matte Drafting Film (availble only in the US, I think). I have been unable to find something similar here in Holland, but I'm still looking.

I used Faber-Castell Polychromos, Caran d'Ache Pablos and Prismacolor colored pencils on this piece.

The "pepernoten" were drawn from life (well, the ones that were left before I gobbled them all up) . The background, gift wrapping paper, is from my imagination...

This is the first time that I actually enjoyed working on the drafting film. It's definitely a learning curve. I took several wrong turns before I figured it out! LOL ~ Judith Nijholt-Strong

Tot ziens!
Sacha & Judy

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Another pumpkin ~ Nog een pompoen


"Mini-pumpkin in Sanguine"
©2007. copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Talens' van Gogh sanguine chalk pencil
Mi-Teintes pastel paper, 10.5"h x 7.5"w

Another mini-pumpkin by "mom" - this time a drawing in Sanguine chalk on Canson's Mi-Teintes pastel paper (smooth side). She has a collection of these little gourds and pumpkins (pompoen - plural form is pompoenen) ... she buys too many each year and she keeps them! All dried out and faded, but she won't throw them away.

She'd be so mad at me if I kept all of my dried out mice & frogs, wouldn't she?!?!? Hmmmm...maybe I can convince her that they'd be good to draw too! heh heh.

Doei! (bye)

Note: The pumpkin was drawn from life ... they sit on my desk under my lamp as I like the look of strong, well defined shadows. :o) ~ Judy


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Just a little note - Gewoon een klein briefje


"Golden Pumpkin 2007" © Judith Nijholt-Strong
Winsor & Newton watercolors on Fabriano cold-pressed wc paper
11"w x 8"h (approx).

Just a little note to say that we hope all of our American friends here in Holland, around the world and back in the United States have a lovely and Happy Thanksgiving Day!

And for those of you who have been doing Google searches on "In November, is there Thanksgiving Day in Holland?" or "Do the Dutch celebrate Thanksgiving Day in Holland?" and finding this blog ... the answer is: No! (nee!)
Thanksgiving Day, in November, is not a Dutch holiday - it is uniquely American. When it is celebrated here, it's because some "lucky" Dutch person is either married to (or living with), an American (heh heh!! *wink*) . Or, a group of American ex-pats living in the Netherlands (or anywhere in the world, for that matter) get together to enjoy a feast and good company!

Here's what "we" did last year (this year will be much the same and I (Sacha) am looking forward to the left-overs - meowie!!) : A Belated Thanksgiving Wish - 2006


About the watercolor above:
This watercolor was painted from life, not a photo. The watercolor paint is Winsor & Newton's Artists' Water Colour - in pans and in tubes (I use both).

I began with an underpainting in French Ultramarine Blue. Other colors layered on top were: Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow, a little Sap Green and Brown Madder.

All darkest darks and blacks are a mix of French Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna (a lovely combination , imo). No tube or pan grays were used and I do not use tube or pan black paint - I mix my blacks and grays from complements.

Burnt Sienna in light washes, or combined with a little Cad. Yellow, also makes a very nice orange. For me, the most enjoyment in watercolors, as well as in my colored pencil pieces, comes from working with a limitted palette of colors.
~ Judith Nijholt-Strong

Tot volgende keer (until next time),
Sacha (de kat)
& Judy (her human "mom" )

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Red,Yellow & Blue - Rood,Geel & Blauw

This is a post from my human "mom" (Judith Nijholt-Strong) and a colored pencil technique she likes to use ( she does pretty much the same with her watercolors & gouaches too!). So, now I turn this post over to "mom".

With Red, Yellow & Blue, you can be a mix-master blender too!

"Ready-to-Eat, Red" © 2007 Judith Nijholt-Strong
8" x 10" (approx.)
Colored Pencil on Rising Stonehenge paper

Often, I like to use a limited, tri-color (triad), palette consisting of one red, one yellow and one blue - be it in colored pencil, watercolors, or gouache.

In the colored pencil piece above, I worked with just 1 red, 1 yellow and 1 blue pencil + 1 white pencil (for highlights and blending).

The pencils I used were:
Prismacolor - Raspberry
Prismacolor - Canary Yellow
Prismacolor - True Blue
Prismacolor - White

All grays, 'blacks', and browns were created using various amounts of the red, yellow and blue layerings of the colored pencils ( much the same as overlays of watercolor washes) - no gray or black pencils were harmed (not even touched) during the process of creating this piece.

The addition of the white pencil is to preserve the highlights and to add a pastel quality to some areas, if/when I want that.

Sometimes, 150 colors (or more) are not necessary. ;-)

Try it, you might like it.

~ Judy

Hey, I think I like this. Sharing a blog with "mom" is more fun than "pawing it out" by myself !!
Yeah I know, I'm a cat and can't draw or paint a thing...I do make nice messes though in "mom's" studio. heh heh

Tot ziens!
Sacha (a cat, really, I am a cat).

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween from Holland - 2007!

Because I see so many hits on this blog from people wondering if Halloween is celebrated in the Netherlands, I thought I'd show you what a Happy Halloween in Holland looks like. :-)
Pumpkins & ornamental gourds grown in Holland.

While Halloween is most definitely not a Dutch tradition, it certainly is catching on in Holland .... maybe due to all those Americans & English marrying the willing Dutch ... heh heh *wink*
Here are some images from the Dutch Pumpkin Man's farm in Vleuten. Each year, "mom" & dad" go there to buy their pumpkins and decorations for Halloween. Every year the assortment of pumpkins he grows keeps getting more interesting and he is the coolest Pumpkin Man in all of the Netherlands! ("mom & dad" think so)

Even our neighbors went all out this year. This is a pic of our house and theirs ready for Halloween.

Boo on the wall!

And of course, no Halloween at our house would be complete without "mom's" Halloween dinner treats.

Merlin's Eyes

Green Bat soup with Big Ugly Grubs ... ewwww!

Hairy Spiders and Pumpkins, mini-cupcakes - 2007. Yum!

And me relaxing with my pumpkins. :-)

Here's wishing you a very
Happy Halloween!


Tot ziens!


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Autumn Colors - Herfstkleuren

I love this time of year... Autumn (Herfst), with all the colors (kleuren) !
We want to show you some images of the autumn colors (herfstkleuren) we've (well, mom really) have snapped around Holland (Nederland) .

Mom's black (zwart) shoes and the little yellow & brown (geel & bruin) fallen leaves ... her feet are almost as small as mine. ;-)

In Gorinchem & Ameide:
A butcher (slager) shop sign against a bright blue (blauw) autumn sky in Ameide.

Red (rood) leaves on museum in Gorinchem.

The falling leaves on a Peugeot - in Gorinchem.

Closer to home... in Utrecht:
A view of the Oudegracht (old canal) that runs through the center of Utrecht. Dressed in fall colors.

The herb garden (kruidentuin) of the Utrecht Music Conservatory.

The Conservatory is located in a building that used to be a nuns' cloister in the Middle Ages. Growing in the herb garden, are tradtional herbs & flowers used for medicine, cooking and coloring/dying. This garden is maintained, throughout the year, by volunteers who live in and around Utrecht - the garden is free and open to the public. In fact, it's a popular shortcut from one street to another. :-)
Another image of the Utrecht Music Conservatory and herb garden.

The last of the orange (oranje) flowers in the Cloister Garden of Utrecht's Domkerk (cathedral). The Dom also has the highest church/cathedral tower in all of the Netherlands.

Back in our neighbourhood (buurt) :
Just around the corner from our house, a view over a small canal (sloot) with lovely late afternoon Autumn sunlight.
Our Japanese Maple is always pretty at this time of year.

More tree tops near our house.

And me! Playing in the back always. The grass is still green (groen) and still has the little white (wit) daisies in it ... but it won't be this way for long.
That's all!


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Nothing special ~ Niks bijzonders

Just a post for September, to remember who we are ... *eye roll*

"Mom" captured me, finally, and made this small watercolor (aquarelle).

"Sacha Sleeps on the Stars"
© Judith Nijholt Strong, 2007
7" x 5", Winsor & Newton watercolors
Fabriano watercolor paper

I've been busy capturing mice (muizen) and bringing them to "Dad" for his approval. I'm not sure he approves so much, since he has to be the funeral director (begrafenisondernemer) for the mice!

Oh well...that's September, almost over (bijna voorbij).

Tot ziens,

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Monday, August 6, 2007

Today I am three! ~ Vandaag word ik drie!

They say it's my birthday, Happy Birthday to me!
They say I'll have a good time... and I did!

"Hartelijk Gefeliciteerd, lieve Sacha!"
Image copyright, Judith Nijholt-Strong

My humans sang "Lang Zal Ze Leven" ("Long May She Live", the traditional Dutch birthday song) to me. I love that song. :-)

Lang zal ze leven,
Lang zal ze leven,
Lang zal ze leven in de glo-ri-a!
In de glo-ri-a!
In de glo-ri-a!

Here's the sheet music :-) You can play it too!

You can hear "Lang Zal Ze Leven" sung here, on our friend Brenno de Winter's podcast "Laura Speaks Dutch - Birthday Song - they must be celebrating as well today. I wish Laura a very Happy Birthday - Hartelijk Gefelicteerd, Laura!

Here I am enjoying my birthday cake - salmon paté ...
yummy! (lekker)

Image copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong

I had a grand birthday!!!!

Tot ziens,
Last year, I celebrated with my dear brother Finn. You can read that post here: Wij zijn jarig -It's our birthday.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Voor Altijd .... For Always

"For always ~ Finn" 2007. Image copyright J. Nijholt-Strong

watercolor & ink on paper, 10" x 10"

"Lieve schat,

Hier in mijn hart

Hou ik een kamer voor je vrij ...

Voor altijd."

- From the song "Voor Altijd", music & lyrics by John Ewbank -
- from album, "De Bestemming" (1998) by famous Dutch singer Marco Borsato-

English translation:
"Dear treasure,
Here in my heart
I keep a room for you free ...

For always."

In the meantime ... In de tussentijd ...

With Sacha's permission, I am writing this little "in between" post.

Sacha and I had a little talk (yes, we do talk to each other and I can hear your giggles too!). We have decided that we will continue with this blog. We both still miss Finn very much, but we also have enjoyed blogging - not to mention that Sacha likes to have her pictures taken and she has a lot to say about her life here in the Netherlands!

There will be a few small changes made to this blog, but on the whole it will remain the same - stories and pictures of Sacha's adventures in Holland. There might even be a new playmate (kitty companion) for her in the future, but not immediately (although Sacha has been meowing like a little lonely soul since Finn's passing).

Sacha informs me that Finn, having now gone back to planet Cattonia (where all cats are from), sends her messages from time to time (ok, I can see you don't believe me... I'm not bothered). Perhaps she'll let us in on what he's been telling her... if we're lucky.

Now, I'm turning this blog back over to Sacha - it's all about her now (hoo boy! she is getting spoiled!) Let's see what she has up her little cat sleeve - let's just hope it's not that blackbird she's been stalking in the garden. *eek*



P.S. I do know the watercolor above of Finn is quite possibly the worst thing I have ever created, but I painted it the day after he died. With every line and brushstroke I applied, there were tons of my tears (probably dropped some on the painting...). I did this as a cathartic excerise for me - I don't know if it helped, but I had to do it and share it.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In Memorium: Finn (updated July 22nd, 2007)


The world's greatest companion and sweetest soul.
August 6, 2004 - July 18, 2007

Finn had a big heart, but it couldn't continue beating for him ...
it just gave out.

He died in the afternoon - July 18th, 2007 of congenital heart problems. * (see update at bottom of this post)
No one expected this to happen, not even his veterinarian. He was such a young cat, not even 3 years old. By all appearances and habits he was just fine, perfectly normal, but apparently he was born with a heart problem that, perhaps, we didn't detect soon enough. We are all in shock.
I'm afraid that I'm not sure if I can continue blogging as Finn was, for me, so much a part of this blog (and a lot of my art). I am very sad right now. I will keep the blog up as a memorium to Finn.
Sacha, Finn & I have enjoyed our readers company and we thank you all for the visits to this blog and the lovely comments that some of you have left and the laughs we all had, but this is too difficult to even look at right now ... perhaps in the future, but I don't know.
In just almost 3 short years I became so attached to a beautiful, funny, sweet companion who I will miss more than I can possibly tell you. Some may thnk that's silly of me, but those of you who are animal lovers and have beloved pets (especially artists with constant studio companions) will understand.
Regards and good-bye for now,
Judith Nijholt-Strong
A last farewell to Finn from his human "dad" -
Een laatste afscheid van Finn - van Finn’s mensen "papa"
In english:
Unlike Judy, I had little experience owning cats. In fact, I was not especially fond of cats. Before Judy came along, I did have a cat that I kind of inherited, but it never felt like having a real relationship to the animal.

At one point, after my cat had passed-on for some time at the blessed age of 16 years old, Judy and I decided it was time to be on the lookout for a new cat.

Through an acquaintance, Judy found Finn and Sacha ready for adoption. When she told me she wanted the both of them (after all Finn and Sacha were siblings from the same nest) , I was reluctant to go along with the idea. Of course, Judy persuaded me.

Initially it was a disaster - at least in my opinion. The fist couple of months, Finn and Sacha did quite a bit of damage. But as time went on, the cats got used to their new living situation and I at the same time, got used to, and found pleasure in, taking care of two naughty cats.

Finn turned out to be the more loving one of the two. Where Sacha was (and still is) quite independent and being always on the hunt- Finn would stick around more. He would simply follow you begging for attention to the point you had to shut doors for it would be impossible to do the bookkeeping with him stepping through papers, jumping on the computer monitor and changing figures stepping on the keyboard.

Finn gave us a lot of joy, always being on our laps, ‘making biscuits’ and giving kisses until the very last day of his life. I had never realized that you can really get attached to a cat to this extent.

Especially Judy thought there might be something wrong with him. Nevertheless, Finn died unexpectedly, only an hour or so after we came home from the veterinarian. We never realized that the situation he was in was so life threatening, or else we certainly would constantly have watched him.

I am convinced that, though too short, Finn had a good life; he was loved and always treated like a prince.

Though it hurts right now, in time the good memories we have of him will take over the feelings of loss we are currently experiencing. The loss of a cat you really feel attached to is painful enough and absolutely not silly, however it does make you realize how devastating the loss of a child or partner must be.

Finn was Finn; in time most probably there will be a new cat, but Finn will never be forgotten.

Luckily, Sacha is still around!
Auke Nijholt
In nederlands:
In tegenstelling tot Judy, had ik weinig ervaring als kattenbezitter. Eigenlijk was ik niet eens zo dol op katten. Toen Judy bij me kwam wonen had ik een kat die ik geërfd had maar van een emotionele binding met het beestje was eigenlijk geen sprake. Ik zorgde voor haar en dat was het wel zo’n beetje.

Op een gegeven moment, enige tijd nadat mijn kat het tijdelijke voor het eeuwige verwisseld had in de gezegende leeftijd van 16, besloten Judy en ik dat het tijd werd voor een nieuwe kat.

Toevallig bood een kennis van Judy Finn en Sacha aan voor adoptie. Toen Judy te kennen gaf ze allebei te willen (ten slotte waren Finn en Sacha broer en zus uit hetzelfde nest) was ik in eerste instantie terughoudend. Maar natuurlijk haalde Judy me over.

In het begin was het een ramp, tenminste volgens mij. De eerste maanden richtten Finn en Sacha flink was schade aan. Maar gaandeweg raakten de katten gewend aan hun nieuwe leefomgeving en tegelijkertijd begon ik echt plezier te krijgen in het verzorgen van die twee wildebrassen.

Finn ontwikkelde zich tot de meest aanhankelijke van de twee. Waar Sacha zich bezig hield met jagen en zich veel onafhankelijker opstelde, was Finn altijd in de buurt. Hij kon achter je aanlopen als een schoothondje smekend om aandacht. Soms moest je Finn wel buitensluiten om bijvoorbeeld de administratie te doen. Anders liep hij constant over je papieren heen, sprong op de computer monitor of wijzigde hij bedragen door over het toetsenbord te lopen.

Finn gaf ons enorm veel plezier, altijd op schoot, ‘making biscuits’ (ik weet niet of hier een Nederlandse uitdrukking voor bestaat: terwijl de kat op schoot zit tilt hij beurtelings de voorpootjes op en slaat daar fijn de klauwtjes bij uit, niet zo lekker als je alleen een t-shirt aan hebt) en kusjes geven tot het einde toe. Ik had geen idee dat je zo aan een kat gehecht kon raken.

Speciaal Judy dacht dat er mogelijk iets aan de hand was met hem. Niettemin, Finn stierf totaal onverwacht, niet langer dan een uurtje of zo nadat we met hem naar de dierenarts waren geweest. We hadden werkelijk geen idee dat zijn situatie zo levensbedreigend was anders hadden we hem wel constant in de gaten gehouden.

Ik ben ervan overtuigd dat Finn, hoewel te kort, een goed leven bij ons heeft gehad. We gaven hem veel liefde en hij werd behandeld als een prins.

Het doet nu pijn, maar uiteindelijk zullen de goede herinneringen het winnen van het gevoel van verlies dat we nu ervaren. Het verlies van een kat waar je aan gehecht bent is pijnlijk genoeg en dat is absoluut niet gek, je realiseert je wel hoe verwoestend het moet zijn om je kind of partner te verliezen.

Finn was Finn, uiteindelijk zal er wel weer een nieuwe kat komen, maar we zullen Finn niet vergeten.

Gelukkig hebben we Sacha nog!
Auke Nijholt
* Update (please read if you are a cat owner):
The congenital heart condition that took our Finn, is called Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (thickening of the heart muscle) - HCM type.
This hereditary heart condition is also common among humans and is often the cause of sudden death from heart attacks in what, from all outward appearances, seem to be healthy atheletes.
Maine Coon cats are particularly prone to this heart affliction, but it can occur in any type of cat. Finn wasn't a Maine Coon cat though, just an extremely lovable, black, European shorthair.
It is advised to get echocardiograms of any cats in a litter where this condition has caused the death of a cat/kitten - or any of the parent cats. It's a 50/50 sort of problem - some may have it, some may not.
Unless the cat is displaying any odd symptoms in their breathing, walking or eating habits, this condition is often missed in the normal veterinarian yearly check-up exam (Finn was diagnosed too late to be saved - although we did try). However, it can be detected through an echocardiogram or ultra-sound exams. (Note: The advice to seek out an echocardiogram also applies to humans in families where this heart conditon has caused the death of any family member.) The condition can/may be passed to the offspring via either the father or the mother (in both humans or cats). It is a treatable condition, although there is no cure - ultimately it will take the life of your cat, but you can prolong their lives through various medications (as with any heart patient) if the disease is caught in its early stages. Some cats can live fairly long happy lives if the condition is caught early enough and through proper care and medications.
There are many sites, in various languages, on the internet with much more information about Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (known as HCM) - just Google for it.
I found this Norwegian site to be very helpful in understanding this disease (unfortunately, I found it too late). Cats and Heart Disease (in english)
And another good site written by Jody A. Chinitz; Marcia J. Munro; and Mark D. Kittleson, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVIM (Cardiology) :
Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (includes a downloadable pdf file HCM info sheet)
I sincerely hope that the above information will be useful to other cat owners.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

They've returned from France and we have a new souvenir!

First up, we'd like to show you what our "mom" did on her summer vacation, June - July 2007.
Moleskine work ... of course!
Using: Sigma Micron pens & ink, Winsor & Newton pan watercolors, Yarka pan watercolors, van Gogh & Caran d'Ache watercolor pencils, Derwent Graphtints, Prismacolor water-soluable graphite pencils ... and a lot of inspiration (that's what France is for!).

Mons-Boubert (mostly the house & things around it) and a trip to the Somme bay village of Le Crotoy - département Somme, Picardie. (click on image block to enlarge)
© 2007, Judith Nijholt-Strong

Normandie - département Calvados - Omaha Beach and Bayeux
They took a trip down to Normandie to visit the American War Memorial & Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer. Then over to city of Bayeux (they stayed over one night) - home to the Bayeux Tapestry ( a very long embroidery that chronicals the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and was created in the 11th century). Yes, they did see the tapestry and it's one of the 50 great art treasures, in "mom's opinion", of the world - most impressive according to "mom"! And yes, they did bring back a bottle of Calvados! hee hee!

Omaha Beach - you'll notice those Kermits got to go on this trip... totally unfair, in our opinions (click on image blocks to enlarge)
© 2007, Judith Nijholt-Strong

Bayeux (click to enlarge...we hope)

© 2007, Judith Nijholt-Strong

"Mom"sketching in Bayeux and yes, the beer was good too!

Further afield in Picardie - Doullens and St. Riquier
A day trip over to villages of Doullens & St. Riquier - both in the département Somme, Picardie. The weather was very un-predictable that day - one moment hard rain, the next bright blue skies.

© 2007, Judith Nijholt Strong

Nord Pas de Calais - Berck & Berck Plage
(A day at a very cold beach! click to enlarge)

© 2007, Judith Nijholt-Strong

Really further afield to Gerberoy - département de l'Osie, Picardie. What a gorgeous village! The Impressionsit painter Henri Le Sidaner lived here and was the the impetous for all the beautiful flowers (especially the roses) that the villagers are still very proud of growing. Well worth the visit... so "mom" and "dad" say.
© 2007, Judith Nijholt Strong

Back at the house in Mons-Boubert.
This is the view of the out-buildings from the side, back garden of the house they stayed in. The former "manor house" is in the background on the right hand side of this image.
"The Last Time" copyright 2007, Judith Nijholt-Strong
Little did "mom" know that when she was painting the image above, that it would be the final time she ever did so. The house and property are up for sale this coming fall. Our "mom & dad" will never be able to rent this place for summer again. Sad, because it was truly "magical", but this painting/sketch/drawing will always bring back delightful memories of wonderful summers spent there.

A pic of "mom"doing the sketch/drawing/watercolor above... she sat for a good long time in that cold grass, until the skies threatened more rain. It was a beautiful and peaceful afternoon, and she will indeed miss this place very much.

Now for the most important part of this blog post ... this is what "mom & dad" brought us back as a souvenir.
Our very own mechanical, French, mouse!!!
We're thrilled! We're off now to play with our mouse ...

Tot ziens!
Finn & Sacha


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