Foto Vrijdag 2.44 Sunlight Remembered

Light and Water
This was taken a month ago. Back when we still had sunshine. Wasn’t it glorious? I like to look at this photo to remember what it was like. Hopefully, it will return before too long! I hope everyone has a cheerful, and dry, weekend.

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Dark and Dreary

Drift at Night
The winter blahs are kicking my butt big time this week. The early darkness, the grey weather, the early darkness … Yeah, the dark is getting to me, in particular. I miss the extended daylight hours of the summer, even if it means it’s fairly light at 5 a.m. That’s better than full-on darkness at 5 p.m. Now if only we could combine the longer days of summer with the cooler temperatures of autumn/winter. Hey, a girl can dream!

The only plus to the early darkness means that I should be able to get out and see more of the Trajectum Lumen light displays around town. They started this summer right at the point where you had to wait until almost 11 p.m. to really see them properly. At least now we’ll be able to go out at a decent hour to enjoy the spectacle.

(Mid-term) Election Day

Dutch Political Parties [Day 158/365]
I’ve got Arcadia’s song Election Day stuck in my head today. I may not be in the US, but I’m more than aware of the mid-term elections taking place there today. I have no idea how things will go this time; for every person ranting about the Democrats, there seems to be an equal number of people opposed to the Republicans/Tea Party candidates. I’m curious what the voter turnout will end up being, since a lot of people on both sides seem pretty motivated, and a lot of people have been taking advantage of the option to do early voting.

One thing I definitely don’t miss about elections in the US is the deluge of political commercials. They so rarely say what the candidates goals and plans are; they’re just an excuse to attack the opponent. From what I understand, political commercials are technically an option here in the Netherlands, but I’m not sure how much they’re used. Regardless, if/when they’re created, they’re done by the party, rather than individuals, I think. They’re also not aired constantly. In fact, I’ve never actually seen one. That could be because they’re so rare or because I don’t watch a lot of Dutch television channels. Or a bit of both!

As I’ve mentioned before, the campaign season here is fairly short — although the time it takes to finally agree on a government coalition can be quite long — and it’s generally somewhat less obnoxious than US campaigns. It’s certainly not perfect, and we get our fair share of awful candidates, but at least it’s not quite as in-your-face and irritating as I remember things getting in the US before I moved. I don’t miss the constant commercials, the huge campaign signs in every yard, and the campaign phone calls, both robotic and real. I still get quite a few political e-mails on a daily basis as the elections draw near. That’s more than enough for me! There’s a fine line between motivation and irritation, even for a politically concerned person like myself.

But don’t let the ugliness stop you from voting. Do your duty! Go vote! (Preferably Democratic. 😉 )

Autumn in Utrecht

Zocherpark
First off, I should probably warn you that some of these photos may induce a sense of dizziness due to a bit of swirly blur in them. This is what happens when you use a camera phone to take photos, while you’re attached to a large dog going out for the first time that morning.

It’s the first of November and it’s clear that autumn (herfst) is in full swing here in Utrecht. The leaves, which have been slowly turning yellow and falling into the street, are creating a fabulous show of color around town, including at Zocherpark in our neighborhood. When I went out with Pippo this morning, I was struck by how beautiful it all looked. It’s a grey, overcast day, but it’s easy to ignore that part and just focus on the kaleidescope of vivid fall colors. With the canal running along side the park, it really is picture perfect (even if my pictures weren’t perfect today).
Autumn Swirl

Herfst on High
I think I might give NaBloPoMo a shot again this month. I shall try to aim for quality as well as quantity, but I make no promises! In the meantime, enjoy the crisp carpet of leaves!
Colorful Carpet

Utrechtsche Melk Centrale


The sun! It actually came out today! Sure, it’s back to being a bit overcast now at 3 p.m. but the sun was out and shining brightly this morning. Pippo and I took advantage of this lull in the rain and hit the streets.

A few weeks ago, on the Flickr Utrecht group, I saw a photo of a building with a cute old-fashioned advertising sign. I found out where it was — in a part of town I hadn’t yet explored — and kept note of it for my next photographic outing. Sadly, the rain has put that outing on hold until today. After checking the map and hoping it wouldn’t be too long of a trek or too hard to find, Pippo and I were off on our search. Maps of Utrecht are deceptive, in that distances look much further than they really are. We were at our destination in no time, even with a stop at the Griftpark honden toilet for Pippo.

I found my sign and got my shot and admired some of the other buildings in the area. It’s a nice quiet area, with lots of charming little houses. Definitely worth another visit someday. With our goal accomplished, we decided to head back over to the Griftpark since it was nearby and the weather was so nice. I took another panorama shot from the top of the man-made hill, when I discovered that various landmarks were visible now that the leaves were gone from the trees. I also got a few more shots of the Three Large Figures sculpture group that I posted about a few weeks ago. I admit I had a bit of fun playing with the contrast levels for this shot:

So, today marks the last day of November, which means I’ve successfully completed the National Blog Posting Month challenge. Thank goodness! I think I’ll try to return to quality over quantity in regards to my posting schedule.

Poes en Vogel


This little guy has been hanging out in our back garden recently. This means that Lola has been hanging out in our kitchen a lot recently. Any time she catches a glimpse of him, she starts chattering away and stares intently until he flies away or we distract her.

It would seem that just the sight of him here on my laptop is enough to catch her interest, as she’s currently standing on my left arm and staring at the laptop screen. She’s a patient devil; I could be trapped here for ages! It wouldn’t be the first time she’s trapped me.

It’s a good thing she’s such an adorable little sausage!

10k

Look at that! I’ve had 10,000 hits to my blog! Amusingly (to me), I think the 10,000th hit came from someone in Auckland, New Zealand. I like to think it was one of the NZ musos I listen to so frequently.

Sadly, I’m feeling a lacking in topics to write about today. I could moan about the rain, but I’m pretty sure I’ve covered that already. 😉 I’d ask for visitors who don’t usually comment to comment, but that rarely works, either. I guess I’ll leave you with a link to a news story about how the Netherlands is a major exporter of tracker dogs. Did you know that the verb “to sniff” is snuffelen in Dutch? That one never fails to make me smile!

Here’s Pippo, my favorite snuffeler:

Ain’t he a cutie?

Early Expats


On this day in which Americans around the world celebrate Thanksgiving — a case of expats/immigrants trying to make friends with the natives of their new homeland — I thought I’d mention some news about some early expats here in the Utrecht region. It seems that some untouched Roman graves have been found near IJsselstein, dating from around the second century AD. They may have been related to the Roman fort that was about 200 meters away.

As I mentioned previously, Utrecht was the location of a Roman fort built around 47 AD. There are also remains of the old city walls (as seen above), although they date from closer to the 1100s. We live right on the eastern edge of the old walled city. I guess Utrecht just can’t get rid of those Italians. G’s even made it inside the city walls. 😉

Now I’m off to give the oven a workout. Time to bake the sweet potatoes, turkey, and cornbread dressing. Plus, those regular potatoes aren’t going to mash themselves. Happy Thanksgiving to all who may be celebrating it, no matter where in the world you’re located.

Two-Day Meal


We managed to make it out today without getting drenched. It’s been overcast, but the rain has held off. We headed over to Biltstraat to visit the butcher and Super De Boers (another grocery store chain). At the butcher, we ended up buying half of a turkey breast. Sadly, they didn’t have any turkey legs and the breast is without skin. I’m not really sure how I’m going to cook it, but I’ll find a way. At least I’ll have enough left for sandwiches the next day. That’s the most important part.

I also managed to find some massive sweet potatoes — much bigger than any others I’ve seen here and bigger than the ones I used to find in the US, for that matter. I also got my pecans, so pie has been made today, along with cranberry sauce (with orange and ginger), and I made the cornbread for the dressing. We’ve got potatoes for mashing and green beans for topping with fried onion bits (sort of like the Dutch version of French’s onions), so I think we should have a nice Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.

It’s been fun reading posts from other expats who are preparing for Thanksgiving, and seeing which ingredients are must-haves. It’s funny the simple ingredients that can get us so excited when we find them!