Church Row

Shadowy Figures
While we were out last week in the brief moment of sunshine, I snapped this photo of the Domtoren and the spire of Willibrord Church. I love the hazy silhouette look to it, and I just can’t help photographing the Domtoren when I’m out and about.

Utrecht has a long-standing religious history, with lots of churches and bishop seats and even a pope, so it’s not surprising that sometimes I feel like I’m back in the South, with church after church after church. In fact, along with the two churches in the photo, my back was right up against Janskerk when I took these photos.
Church Row

Sitting on the Sofa

Despite the rain that’s been with us all day, we headed out to hit up a few shops and the Saturday market. Half a kilo of shrimp for €5, and three stinky cheeses for €5 are pretty decent deals! After running most of the errands, we stopped at Café de Journal in the Neude square for a hot chocolate to take the chill off. As we sat out on the terrace, which fortunately has lots of big umbrellas and even a heater, we saw this group arrive.

PvdA is one of the political parties. Mark Rutte is the current prime minister of the country, but he’s with the VVD party. There’s an election coming up soon, so I guess this is some form of campaigning and perhaps a complaint against Rutte. The sign says, “Met Rutte kom je op de bank te zitten”, which basically means “sit on the sofa with Rutte”. I suppose there is some implied meaning that is just lost in translation. Or not. Anyway, they had a guy there with a paper mask of Rutte and you could get your photo taken seated next to him. No idea how successful they were, since it was raining. Who wants to sit on a soggy sofa? Hopefully someone reading this will be able to explain the whole sofa/Rutte thing. Meanwhile, as they were setting up, we saw a couple of people from D66, one of the other parties, walk past. They restrained themselves from standing behind the sofa and making rude gestures. I bet they at least thought about it.

Snow Revisited

When I posted the photos of Atlas yesterday, I realized I never posted the other photos of the Nieuwegracht that I took that day in December. The Nieuwegracht is beautiful, stately and charming at any time of year, but with the coating of snow, it was something special.
X Marks the Spots
I saw this man walk out to the canal with a bucket and dip it in to get water, but my camera wasn’t fast enough to get the action shot, just the before and after.
The Bucket
Just Missed
It’s a long, quiet street, filled mainly with private residences and businesses, rather than a lot of shops. It’s yin to the Oudegracht’s yang, I suppose. The Oudegracht is the more obvious tourist spot, but the Nieuwegracht is definitely worth a wander if you visit. After all, both of them have the famous below-street-level wharves that are somewhat unusual.
Along the Nieuwegracht

White Stuff

Weight of the World
It snowed yesterday. Not a lot, but it did snow. That’s after that glorious sunshine earlier in the week. I’m not really surprised, though. My birthday is coming up soon enough and I’ve had plenty of occasions over the years to realize that my birthday seems to coincide with truly lousy weather, including snow storms.

This picture wasn’t actually taken yesterday. It was from the real snow storm we had right before Christmas. We had walked along the Nieuwegracht a bit to enjoy the scenery and I finally noticed this rooftop display, which I’d seen in someone else’s photo on Flickr. There’s some lovely detail in the building and the rooftop with the molding and the window tracery. Still, the poor guy looks a bit chilly!
Atlas Shrugged

Sexuality of Women in Renault Commercials & Modern Oblivion

Is it a demented sign of acceptance when lesbian couplings can be depicted in car commercials? The commercial for the Renault Twingo Miss Sixty — a car seemingly marketed at women because it has floral decals on the exterior and comes in a girly shade of metallic pink — features two women at a party who make eye contact and the next thing you know, they’re stripping down in a bedroom and one is blindfolding the other. Then, the next thing you know, the one who was doing the blindfolding sneaks off and takes the other girl’s top and then you see her wearing the top and walking out to her car, which is the same color as the appropriated top. Watch the video for a clearer understanding:

On one hand, yay for not being afraid to depict lesbians in a tv commercial. Treat it as the normal thing that it is. It shouldn’t even be remotely surprising to see gays and lesbians depicted in commercials; it should be as normal as seeing heterosexual people depicted. I figure the more stuff like this happens, the more accepted it will all become and we’ll move away from the hatred and fear.

On the other hand, I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t just a salacious way to get attention, in the way that many commercials often sexualize women as a way to get attention. Particularly when the commercial tells you nothing about the item being sold. Admittedly, the car is being marketed to women, somehow in conjunction with the Miss Sixty brand of clothing, so I suppose they’re less likely to be trying to appeal to men through a bit of nudge nudge wink wink.

For now, I’ll just be happy that at least an implied lesbian relationship can be shown on tv in a commercial. Well, not in Italy. In one of the more hypocritical moves, Silvio Berlusconi’s media companies have banned the commercial. I’ll let that sink in for a minute. The numerous media companies owned by Berlusconi — the prime minister of Italy, who is currently facing a variety of charges stemming from having sex with a underage prostitute — think the commercial isn’t right for Italian television. Have you ever seen Italian television or even some of the poster ads at bus stops there? Yeah …

*For what it’s worth, I was stuck on the title for this post and decided to turn to Leo Steinberg for inspiration and borrowed (tongue in cheek) from his Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and Modern Oblivion.

Salty Dogs

On the Canal
Recycling here isn’t quite as easy as it was in the US, oddly enough. There’s no curbside pickup like I was used to, and to recycle plastic, we’ve got to go further than the paper and glass recycling stop that’s on the next street over. Fortunately, there’s a plastic recycle bin over by Lepelenburg Park, which means a lovely walk along the canal.

Coming back from dropping off the recycling today, I could see the wake of a boat approaching, but couldn’t see the boat behind the tree trunks. G saw me looking and started telling me about a boat he sees sometimes that has a dog accompanying the owner. Sure enough, it was them! Perfect timing!

Salty Dogs

The dog sits there quite calmly as the boat pushes the large storage hold in front of it. G said sometimes he’s seen the dog on the roof of the little cabin on the boat, but he’s always calm and seems to enjoy his life at sea, er, on the canal. He’s a lovely dog, but then I might be biased, since he’s somewhat similar in build to our dog. Regardless, it was a wonderful sight to see on a beautiful, if chilly, day.
Dogs at Work

Exotic Scottish Cattle

The PVV is at it again. This time their rants about “immigrants” hits a bit closer to home. They’re going after the Scots, well, the Scottish cattle.

PVV turns its attention to Highland cows

Thursday 17 February 2011

The anti-Islam PVV in the province of Gelderland think ‘imported exotic’ animals such as Scottish highland cows should be sent back to where they came from, according to a report on local television station Omroep Gelderland.

Provincial election candidate Olof Wullink believes the animals should go, saying the region needs ‘our own nature’.

The comments were made in a show on Sunday but have now been picked up by the Telegraaf.

‘What we don’t like is the imported exotic animals like Highland cattle and Polish ponies. The horses should go back to Poland, the cattle to Scotland,’ Wullink said. ‘And here we should have our own nature.’

A spokesman for the Dutch nature conservation group Natuurmonumenten told the broadcaster on Thursday that the PVV´s suggestion is ´absurd´. Highland cattle make a good substitute for the original Dutch wild cattle which have since died out, the organisation said.

Political nutbags are everywhere.


Things In Strange Places

Green Auto
This morning, I knew snow had been predicted as a possibility, so when I saw tweets from friends mentioning snow on rooftops, I took a look out our window to see if we’d received any. No snow (fortunately), but I did see something rather unusual. If you look closely in that photo, you’ll see that there’s a small shrub sitting on the roof of the car.

At first I thought maybe someone had simply put it up there and forgotten to move it, as happens when you have your hands full when you’re getting in or out of the car, but then I realized that with the lack of a pot and the other clumps of dirt I saw on the sidewalk, it’s perhaps a Saturday evening prank of some sort. There’s no accounting for what seems funny when some people are drunk.

Looking Into the Future
I was particularly taken with the reflections of the other trees on the car’s back window. In this shot, because of the angle, the little shrub on the rooftop seems to be looking toward its own future and seeing what it will look like when it’s all grown up.

That’s about as philosophical as I’m getting today. Now excuse me, I’ve got episodes of Being Human to catch up on, and chicken and dumplings to cook for dinner tonight.

A Few Photos on Friday

All that work I’ve been doing recently on the ol’ resume seems to have paid off; my proposal was chosen for one of the jobs I applied for on So for the past few days, I’ve been editing some articles about New Zealand tourism. Who knew my interest in the country would finally pay off! The “sound of Te Awamutu had a truly sacred ring” a few decades ago when I first heard Crowded House’s song “Mean to Me”, and I’ve been curious about the country ever since.

Unfortunately, the editing work meant I didn’t get to get out and enjoy the brief bit of sunshine we had this week! All I could do was look at it out the window. Someone else who got to enjoy the sunshine was this huge bird that’s been visiting our back garden for the past couple of weeks.
Big Bird
My cat Lola has been glued to the windows in the kitchen, watching this bird — possibly bigger than Lola herself — flitting from bike to branch to brick.

The weather isn’t looking too promising this weekend, but I’m determined to get out for at least a little while. Maybe a trip to the Saturday market, if nothing else. I need some new photos! I hope you all get to enjoy your weekend!