Chicken, JLo Style

Urban Chicken
Sometimes I feel at a loss for things to write about — at least things that won’t take a ton of multi-language research — and I start to long for those early days of life as an expat when everything seemed new and amazing.

Fortunately, when I start to feel like that, it seems as if something always comes along just in the nick of time. Today was one of those days when a new blog topic arrived as if it were manna from heaven. Or in this case, chicken from heaven, or at least chicken from the block. (Thus the post title.)

You see, G came home from running a short errand, and I could hear him laughing before he’d even gotten the front door open. He then called out, “There’s a chicken in the street!” Having ascertained he meant a real, live chicken and not someone’s dropped dinner, I couldn’t resist peeking out the front door, despite still being in my less-than-lovely pajamas. Sure enough, this was the view I saw. One very big, fluffy, bird behind.
With His Feathers in a Huff

Not dressed for the occasion, I quickly handed G the camera and off he went to take these photos. When he got back, we were discussing the fact that we’d both often wondered if we were hearing things in the past when we heard the occasional clucking and cockadoodledoo. It seems one of our neighbours does indeed keep at least one very stylish, fancy-pants, free-range chicken!

I suppose this could count for a time travel post, as well, since I’m sure seeing chickens roaming the street has only become unusual in recent years. It’s not the idea of people keeping chickens that I find so amusing. We’ve had various neighbours over the years who have kept them. But there’s something about seeing such a chicken roaming the city center streets and sidewalks that just seems slightly out of place now. Which is what makes it all the more entertaining! Rock on, you urban chicken!
Kip Strut
All photos taken by G. Chiarini

Dog Days of Summer

The Thinker
On Sunday morning, I rode over to the park area by the Sonnenborgh Observatory. I wanted to take some more photos of my favourite Spoetnik Kijker (Sputnik Watcher) statue and have another look at the Hiëronymus Gasthuis that I posted about the other day. It was also just a nice day to go for a bike ride. I’m still primarily a walker, but I’m getting more comfortable with biking, as long as I don’t have to deal with the busier streets.

The small park where the statue is located really is a beautiful, peaceful area and somewhat unusual in that it is bordered on one side by a hill. Admittedly, it’s a man-made hill, but it’s still a large mound of earth. It was originally part of the walls that surrounded the old city center. The observatory and a couple of other buildings now stand on the top of the earthen wall, although some of the brick wall still remains.

As I was taking photos of the Spoetnik Kijker and his faithful, if somewhat distracted canine friend, I couldn’t help but be distracted myself by the games of chase going on in the other part of the park. There is almost always at least one dog playing fetch every time I go to the park and Sunday morning was no exception. There were at least three dogs running around, chasing each other and the balls being tossed about.


However, as I moved closer to the dogs to get a different angle of the statue, the furriest of the chasers seemed to take issue with my presence. He slowly began walking toward me (although I should point out I was on the other side of the street and nowhere near them!) and began baying. Amused, I couldn’t resist getting a quick shot of him, before deciding to put him at ease and walk back from where I’d come. Fortunately, I was finished taking my photos, because he didn’t seem to want to stop baying and howling! I decided it was time to hop back on my bike and leave him free to focus on his game of fetch.

Guard Dog

Foto (Heavy) Vrijdag: Post Office Carvings

Along with the soaring ceiling and the beautiful glazed golden bricks that make the post office in Utrecht so stunning, the totem-like black carvings throughout make the interior something unique. Along both of the long walls are figures representing the continents (minus Antarctica). Each one features an animal at the base that generally matches up with the continent. Europa has horses, Australia has kangaroos, America(s) has bison/buffalo, Asia has elephants, and Africa has camels.





There are additional animal figures at the ends of the buildings, including these Vikingesque creatures:

And my favorite, olifanten (elephants)!

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.


Different Donderdag: Highways

A highway is a highway is a highway. There probably aren’t that many differences from one highway to another, from one country to another, at least in the standard western world. Aside from the license plate shape, the picture above really doesn’t look much different from any similar highway scene I remember from the US. Still, there are a few differences you’ll notice on Dutch highways compared to American highways (and I use highway interchangeably with interstates).

First up, the Exit sign is now an Uit sign.

Speed signs are posted above the road in electronic form that can change as needed.

We’ve got electronic information signs too, of course, but they’re in Dutch!
Information Highway

There are the big blue signs providing direction to various cities, and information about ring roads.
Ring Around the Rosie

There are even signs directing you toward cheese! Yum! Gouda!
Say Cheese
OK, no, it’s not actually directing you toward cheese, just the city for which the cheese is named.

As you can see, it’s all pretty similar to anywhere else. One thing that is a bit different here is the fact that there aren’t the same huge, ugly billboards everywhere. This is the only one I saw that even remotely came close to the ones I was so used to in America (I saw these South of the Border billboards a lot in North Carolina).
Euro Menu

There are also a lot of wind turbines near the highway here, at least on the stretch we drove from Utrecht toward Rotterdam.
More Molen
You’ll also see lots of fields divided up by canals like these, often with cows, horses and/or sheep hanging around.
But it’s always going to be flat.

Animal Sightings

This morning I saw a woman walk past our window wearing what looked like the top of a fox costume, complete with tail. I’ve heard of furries, but don’t remember seeing one in real life before. I tried to rush upstairs to see if I could get a photo, but no luck. However, once I thought about it a bit more, and remembered that she had a cello with her, I started to think that maybe she isn’t a middle-aged furry, but is a musician taking part in one of the TweeTakt Festival events taking place.

TweeTakt is a youth theater festival that has been going on all week and taken over the Neude square, with all sorts of buildings and farm animal statues going up (as seen above). Banners, flags and signs for the event have been up all over the city for the past couple of weeks, in fact. Not being into youth theater, I can’t tell you much more about it, so I’ll just show you a couple of photos of the signs and banners.
Theater Festival Lights
TweeTakt at Neude
Tweetakt [Day 73/365]

Foto Vrijdag 2.5

I just realized that I never posted about the geese who came for a visit last week. We see the usual array of ducks in the canal by the Stadsschouwburg, but last week while coming home from grocery shopping, I noticed a lot of white down by the theater. At first, I thought it was a herd of swans, but no, it was a gaggle of geese. With their brilliant white feathers and the snow that remained on the ground, it was quite a beautiful winter image. As they paddled and played in the glossy water, it was hard not to become captivated.

Bird Watching

Yes, I’m still here, and no I didn’t finish the one-year anniversary posts. Let’s just say life intervened and leave it at that.

So, the picture. No, it’s not — at least not intentionally — a picture of Pippo’s dining bowl and the mess he makes each day with the kibble that goes flying or gets spit out. It’s actually a photo of the blackbird I’ve been watching for the past week or so. If you look closely through the dirty window (dirty thanks to all the rain we’ve had this week) you’ll see the little blackbird with its bright orange beak.

He’s been visiting our achtertuin (back yard) quite regularly, finding snails and various other bits and pieces, most likely to take home for a meal. I’ve been trying to get a decent photo of him, but every time I step into the kitchen to get a picture, he flies off.  He doesn’t seem to mind Lola chattering at him, but he doesn’t want his picture taken. Perhaps he’s on the lam or has another bird family somewhere and he doesn’t want to be recognized.