Charlie and the Golden Calf

Gouden Kalf
The annual Nederlands Film Festival is going on right now, and since the Stadschouwburg is undergoing renovation, the Gouden Kalf (Golden Calf) statue has been moved to Neude this year. Neude has always been one of the spots for the film festival. Pippo and I used to go check out the setup in years past. This year, the old postkantoor (post office) is also being used for some of the festival events. Charlie and I took a walk over yesterday morning to see the sights.
Gouden Kalf
Nederlands Film Festival
Nederlands Film Festival
While the Gouden Kalf was one of the things I wanted to see on the walk, my main destination was the square behind the Stadhuis. I had seen mentions on Twitter about 3D chalk art and wanted to see it for myself, especially before the festival was over or before the rains came again.

We were fortunate to have come at it from the correct angle, so it was fairly clear to see the image right away. But as we stood there at the official viewing spot, we saw people coming from the opposite direction and actually standing on the piece and not having any idea of what it was. It wasn’t until they got to the viewing spot that they realized.

Here’s Charlie sitting in the viewing spot (though getting distracted):
3D Chalk Art
3D Chalk Art
The piece depicts some of the symbols of Utrecht and the festival, with the Domtoren to the right, the Golden Calf in the center, standing in the Oudegracht, and the Inktpot with the UFO shown on the left, among other items.

As I said, if you come at it from the right angle, it’s easy to see. But when you see it from any other side, you realize how unusual and impressive it is!
Nederlands Film Festival
I’ve seen photos of work like this before, but this was the first I’ve seen in person. Definitely worth seeing, and a nice addition to the decorations around town for the festival.

Introducing Charlie

CharlieSo, a few of you noticed that I haven’t blogged in quite a while. I appreciate you reaching out and apologize for not responding directly. I’m ok, but various things meant that I had no desire to blog and didn’t really want to talk about it all. I’m still not sure how much I want to get back into blogging. Right now it feels like a lot of work on top of my actual work. But I do have a reason to get out and about a bit more now, so if nothing else, I’ll hopefully have photos to post!

I’ve missed having a dog to go on long walks with regularly, so a couple of months ago, I started searching for a new canine companion. It was surprisingly difficult, mainly because of our two cats. Finding a dog that could live with cats, get along with other dogs, and stay home alone for a few hours was a surprisingly big ask. A few times, we thought we’d found a dog, but it would either be adopted before we had a chance to see him or it turned out he wasn’t ok with cats or something or other.

Finally, last week, on my daily searches of various dierenasiel (animal shelter) websites, I came across a Staffordshire terrier who sounded like he would be a good fit. After exchanging a few emails with the shelter, it seemed like things could work out, so we asked them to reserve him for us until we could get there on Monday. (They’re all closed on Sundays and our weekends are Sunday and Monday.)

So yesterday morning, we headed out to Rotterdam to go see about a dog. I’m going to give you the condensed version as he’s currently trying to use my arm as a chew toy and sticking his big head up under my arm. Obviously, we got him. He’s only one year old, so he’s still got a lot of puppy enthusiasm. But he’s wonderful on walks! Not so great in the car, though. We knew he had the potential to be car sick, but we managed to get all the way to Utrecht, just minutes before we were home before he decided to be sick. Of course. Since then, we’ve been to see a few sights around Utrecht, though his selfie game needs work. He found a Nijntje yesterday. Charlie
He took a tour through the Pandhof at the cathedral.

And today he took in some 3D chalk art by the Stadhuis (more on that tomorrow). 3D Chalk ArtAfter that mini wrestling match a few minutes ago, he’s now passed out on the sofa next to me, snoring away. He’s a big snorer.

As for the cats, he’s been fine with them, just curious. They, on the other hand, are not happy. Luna’s dealing better than Lola, which is funny, since Lola is the one who used to follow Pippo around everywhere. Oh well, I’m sure she’ll come around.

An Illustrated Home

Elegant Architecture
Last weekend when we wandered around the city, visiting the various locations specially opened for Open Monuments Day, the first stop we made was at Achter Sint Pieter 4. This building was once part of the enclosed area that was part of the St. Peter church properties. I’m not sure how old the original building would have been, but part of the roof structure does date back to the 15th century. The building underwent renovation in the 17th and 18th centuries creating a complex of wings to building, surrounding a courtyard. It also features a staircase tower, with the staircase dating to the 17th century.

Elegant Architecture
The building is now a mix of offices and private residences, one or two of which are currently on the market. What a beautiful building to call your home! It’s also literally just around the corner from the cathedral. These first two photos show the entrance foyer. They are very much in the Italian Renaissance style, particularly reminding me of the Pazzi Chapel in Florence, which is decorated with the grey pietra serena against white walls, with inset paintings. I’m unclear as to the date of this particular painting, though. The facade of the building was redone in the 18th century.

The doorway on the right leads to a 14-meter hallway that leads to the courtyard garden area. The hallway is topped with a decorated barrel vault ceiling. The paintings on the ceiling supposedly date back to the 17th century, although I’m not sure if they are original or simply reproductions of what may have originally been there. Regardless, they certainly have a certain similarity to many of the simple decorative ceiling paintings of that period.
Ceiling Art

Ceiling Art

Ceiling Art

At the end of the hallway is the door to the garden courtyard. While we were out there, looking around, we were joined by a dog who belongs to one of the residents, I believe. He was a friendly, handsome little fellow who was more than happy to have some attention and scritches from both G and me. He perfectly capped off our visit to the first of the monuments that day.
Brave Hond

Point In Time

Janskerkhof Sundial
If you’re ever wandering through Janskerkhof and want to know what time it is, there’s a fun way of checking. Built in 1983, there is an analemmatic sundial built by De Zonnewijzerkring, a sundial society.

Analemmatic Sundial

In the center is a strip with each month marked out. Circled around it are hour markers, with seasonal zodiac signs placed around it, as well. In order to tell the time, you simple stand on the center line, next to the current month marker and hope the sun is out. If it is, your own body will then cast a shadow toward the appropriate hour. Of course, with daylight savings time, it’s off by one hour in the summer.

If you’re there and forget how it works, there’s a plaque inside the sundial that has instructions.
Sundial Instructions

To give you an example of how it works, here’s a photo of Pippo demonstrating. I have a photo of G demonstrating how it works, but it’s just funnier to see a dog demonstrating.
Sundial Pippo

Admittedly, he was sitting on August, but his head was over July, so his shadow was pointing toward 11. Taking into account the fact that it’s summer, that means the time was 10 a.m., which it was!

Of course, being the Netherlands, with rapidly disappearing sun, you might have to wait a bit to actually be able to tell time. If it’s a grey day, you’re better off just walking a short distance to see the time on the Domtoren’s clock. I was worried I wasn’t going to get my shot this morning. As soon as I got Pippo into place, the sun disappeared. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long for it to reappear. The weather was on our side, for once!
Assume the Position

For an interesting aerial view of the clock, as well as a view of the stone markings of where parts of the Janskerk used to be, you should visit the Zonnewijzerkring website.

I ♥ Utrecht

Sounds of NYE in Utrecht

As I’ve said before, New Year’s Eve is the big time for fireworks in the Netherlands. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s only at night or at midnight. Officially, they can be set off between 10 pm and 2 am, but in reality, they started going off about 7 am today. They’ve been pretty consistent ever since. They’re also getting louder as the day goes on. We’ve had a few close ones that sounded like major explosions in the past couple of hours. Pippo is getting tenser by the hour.

Around 11:45 am, as the bells were ringing and the fireworks were exploding, I thought I’d record it to give you a hint of what it sounds like all day here today. All the cracks and bangs you hear in the background are fireworks. My camera isn’t the best for recording sound, but you get the idea, especially after the 45-second mark when it gets particularly consistent and especially at the one-minute mark. At the very end, you’ll see why we have a hard time fully enjoying the fireworks.

As the bangs and booms continue, we’ve got ragu cooking on the stove ready to be made into lasagne for our dinner tonight. It’s become a tradition for us. We’re having a quiet night in and hopefully we’ll be able to stay awake until midnight. I hope you have a fun, injury-free evening, whatever your plans!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Comfort


When I saw the topic of this week’s photo challenge, I figured I’d end up with a shot of one or more of our pets, since they make comfort into an art. But then I woke up Sunday morning and it was clear which pet would win the photo shoot.

Sleeping In

We woke up with Pippo wedged in between us, with his head on our pillows. He didn’t move, even after we got up — and put his blanket over him. He was comfy and he wasn’t going to move until he had to, or until the call of breakfast became too tempting.

Spoiled Rotten

Notice all the legs and paws. Many of them were poking me in the back and are probably the reason I woke up when I did. He wanted to spread out a bit more. Regardless, this is a dog who knows his comfort!

Biru the Chow Chow

The internet is a wonderful thing. A quick Google search and voila! I had the name and artist for this sculpture that stands down at the lower tip of the Utrecht binnenstad (city center), just down the street from the Centraal Museum at the Servaasbrug. The statue is named Biru, after the dog owned by the artist, Joop Hekman. This one is a copy of the original, which is part of a larger grouping in Enschede. The artist himself originally hails from Utrecht and he, perhaps not surprisingly, had contact with Gerrit Rietveld. It was through Rietveld that he was eventually commissioned to create the statue/fountain that stands in front of the Stadsschouwburg (city theater) here in Utrecht! Somehow I’d never found out the name or artist of the fountain, despite seeing it regularly. He has a few other outdoor sculptures here in town, which I’m now curious to go see.

A Clown By Any Other Name …

This is Pippo (PEE-poe).

This is also Pippo.

You see, we named our dog after the Italian version of Disney’s character, Goofy. With those ears, we had to! Our Pippo can be pretty goofy, too.

In the US, the name was lost in translation, so to speak. We had to explain it, if people asked. In fact, the vet put a little notation about it on Pippo’s file! However, here in the Netherlands, the name actually translates from Italian to Dutch, in a general way. You see, this is also Pipo.

Here, there’s a famous Pipo the Clown. He was featured in a tv series and a musical and made a number of records and such. I was first introduced to the concept of Pipo the Clown via Pipoos, a chain of craft stores here in the Netherlands. I eventually learned about the clown himself.

The common thread among all three Pippos seems to be clownish, goofy behavior.
It's a Bit Small
Yup. That seems about right!

Winter Wonderland

It has been snowing off and on for the past few days, to go along with the arctic cold temperatures. The native Floridian in me still gets a thrill when we get snow (sneeuw), so today, with the snow coming down steadily, I couldn’t resist going out in it. Pippo was equally excited about the idea; I’m not sure who was more eager to go! I bundled up — Pippo already has a fur coat — and we headed out into the blowing snow.
Sticks and Snow: Heaven
Pippo is a snow dog at heart. He was racing around, jumping, sticking his nose in the snow, and playing with every stick he could find. He becomes like an overeager puppy any time he gets in snow. Because of his exuberance, we didn’t go far, just to the Zocherpark nearby. I didn’t want to try to navigate snowy sidewalks with an overexcited dog barreling ahead! There were a number of people out and about, but there’s still that lovely hush that comes over everything when there’s a layer of snow on the ground.
And for the record, yes, people are still out and about on their bikes, even in the snow, although I did see a few people who gave up riding and just walked alongside their bicycles.
Snowy Transport
The canal hasn’t frozen over yet, although if these cold temperatures remain, I’m sure it will get a bit of ice in some areas. Not enough for skating, though.
Somehow it seemed appropriate in this calm, peaceful, quiet world to see this particular sticker:
Power to the Peaceful
We’re home now, with Pippo curled up in the bed on his blanket and me with a nice warm mug of hot chocolate. The snow is still falling and it’s just all so gezellig! (However, our neighbours who are moving out today might not feel so enamored with the snow, nor are my friends who are trying to travel by train today. A little snow and the train service falls to pieces. Good luck to you if you have to be out in the weather for anything other than fun!)