Autumn Colors Along the Maliebaan

maliebaan herfst autumn colors trees changingFinally, there was no fog on our walk this morning. Just lots of sunshine and beautiful colors. We took a stroll along the Maliebaan. The Maliebaan is a historic and scenic street that has walking paths along both sides of the street, and even some pieces of sculpture along one side. This is also where the first bicycle path was created in the Netherlands in 1885. There’s a sign post that commemorates what would be the first of many cycling paths in this country.
eerste fietspad first cycle path in the netherlandsBut for a girl and her dog, it’s just a great place to take a walk on a crisp autumn morning.

DSC08706

 

When Charlie Met Miffy

nijntje miffy nijntje pleintje utrecht It was another foggy morning, but Charlie and I found our way to the Nijntje Pleintje for a quick introduction to Utrecht’s famous rabbit.

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.
CharlieCharlie

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.

Utrecht’s Charming Dogs

Can we go now?
I still miss my own dog, Pippo, on a daily basis, but I do love seeing the many dogs found throughout the city on any given day. Many of them take part in events like yesterday’s Stadsdag/Culturele Zondag, tagging along with their owners to listen to some singing and enjoy the sunshine.

When we first arrived at the Stadhuisplein, I noticed this little terrier taking a break under one of the tables set up in the square. When a round of applause went up after the end of a song, he leapt to his feet, thinking that surely it was time to go. There are scents to be sniffed, after all! Why just stay in one spot?!

Unfortunately, he had to stay put, while we headed off to take in a few more sights and sounds. When we got to the Pandhof Sinte Marie, we came across this lovely sheepdog.
Built-in Shade
You may have spotted him in one of my photos yesterday. I admit to having taken more photos of him than of the singers. He was just so adorable! Like the little terrier, he seemed ready to keep exploring, rather than just sitting in one spot.

After the concert, we headed back to Mariaplaats, when who should we see, but our little terrier friend from the first concert!
Happy Dog
He was a dog on a mission, happy to be moving once again! As a result, that was the best photo I could get on such short notice. Still, you can see the happy smile on his face! I wonder if he and the sheepdog ran into it each other.

Utrecht’s not big, but the Stadhuisplein and Mariaplaats aren’t exactly next to each other, so it was a lovely surprise to see him again. I always love running into the same animals multiple times in an outing. Fortunately, it happens quite often!

Bow Before the Cat

Typical Cat
While walking through the Domplein today, I saw this cat and wanted to get a photo, because she had some fantastic markings and just a face full of character. Unfortunately, she got up and moved before I could get a proper photo. Still, I got her mid-lick as it seemed she’d just finished eating something.

As I watched to see where she was headed, in the hopes of still getting a proper photo, I realized she was heading straight for the VVV office (tourist information center). Sure enough, she walked straight up to the doors, which happen to be electronic sliding doors and they opened right up for her.
Typical Cat

She went straight to the heater in the foyer area and settled in to get warm and comfy. There’s another set of doors to get into the actual heart of the tourist office, but she didn’t bother going that far. The doors shut behind her and she was obviously where she wanted to be. Smart cat!
Typical Cat

Typical Cat

The Search for Expats and Their Pets

No Lolas Allowed
As we prepared for our move here to the Netherlands, I spent most of the time worrying about getting our pets into the country safe and sound. Two cats and a big dog required their own crates and their own multiple copies of paperwork, as well as a drive to another state so that we could avoid having a layover.

It was all worth it, though, as there was no way we would have left any of them behind. In fact, I was always shocked when people asked us if we were taking our pets when we moved overseas. Of course! If we had human children, would you ask that question? To us, our pets are our children.

We’re not the only ones who can’t imagine leaving a pet behind. Although there are times when expats do have to leave a pet behind, it’s usually with a trusted family member and it’s a difficult decision. But many expats do take their pets with them. I’ve come across quite a few, and now I’m looking for more.

You see, I’m fortunate enough to have been asked to participate on a project about expats here in the Netherlands and the pets — expets — that they brought with them. Dutch photographer and journalist Robert van Willigenburg had the idea for this project and I’m going to be helping out, interviewing my fellow expats about their expets. He will be photographing everyone. He has already written, photographed, and produced the book Kat in de Stad (Cat in the City), a look at some of the well-known shop and neighborhood cats of Utrecht. Our very own neighborhood Sheriff is included!

So, we’re now looking for other expats and their pets here in the Netherlands who would be interested in participating. Your pet needs to have made the move with you, rather than having been adopted here, and still needs to be alive, of course. If you now have a mix of expets and native pets, that’s fine. We’re also interested in Dutch nationals who were expats themselves and adopted a pet while abroad before returning back to the Netherlands (with pet in tow).

If you are an expat with an expet or know of any, please get in touch with me or Robert. We have a number of people interested in participating so far, but we’d love to find more. You can share this post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and any other places where you think you can reach expats in the Netherlands. Please help us spread the word!

How Much Is That Doggy in the Window

Howling Hound
I’m used to seeing cats in windows. After all, our own cats spend plenty of time hanging out in the front window, watching the world go by and soaking up the heat from the radiator beneath them. I’ve seen plenty of neighbour cats in the windows, as well, and pretty much anywhere you go, you’ll probably spot at least one cat in a window on any outing.

What you don’t see so often is a dog in the window. But that’s just what we saw on Sunday on our way back from the kerstmarkt. We were first alerted to his presence by his baying. We could hear him and after checking the streets, we eventually checked the windows and that’s when we saw him.

Howling Hound
He would stop briefly when he’d get distracted by people passing by, but then he’d soon return to his howling. Most likely, he was feeling lonely and hoping that each passer-by was a family member come back home. You often hear about breeds like the beagle or basset hound having a baying howl, but it’s easy to forget how distinctive it is until you hear it again. I wonder how the neighbours feel about him!

Speaking of dogs, our own dog Pippo is having a bit of a health issue right now. He’s going in for X-rays tomorrow, so please think healthy thoughts for him. We’re hoping to get some answers and a path for treatment so he can be completely back to normal.

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

I Have the Prettiest Screens

Sparkle
One of those small differences between the Netherlands and the US — or at least the parts of the US I lived in — is the lack of window screens. Maybe it’s a result of growing up in the South, where there are some seriously scary bugs and other creatures, but I like screens. I want some sort of protection against flies, spiders and other creepy crawlies. However, I also want to be able to open my windows and get some fresh air into the house.

Downstairs, we only have two transom windows in the kitchen, but when I open them, we inevitably get flies who drive me mental with their buzzing. We probably could have purchased some screen material and tacked it up, but since we rarely head out to the big-box hardware stores, we’ve never investigated our options.

I like to come up with easy, MacGyverish solutions, though, so today, while walking through the lapjesmarkt (fabric market), I spotted a stall with a pretty mesh-like fabric in a colour that goes quite well with our kitchen. Best of all, the fabric was only €1 per meter, so I quickly bought a meter of the fabric, sequined flowers and all! Who said window screens have to be boring old wire mesh?

A year or so ago, I had made use of a similar scrap of material for one of the windows, but I didn’t have enough for both windows. Now I’ve got enough fabric for both windows, and it’s even the right colour. How many typical window screens have sequined flowers on them? I’m pretty sure I have the prettiest screens in the city. Even if they are held up by thumbtacks.
Prettiest Screens

Of course, I couldn’t resist having a bit of fun with the leftover fabric. After veiling myself with it, I could resist torturinghaving a quick bit of fun with Pippo and Lola. Luna wisely kept out of sight.
Taking the Veil

Lola Wrapped Up

Caturday: Another Black Cat Edition

Nugget
We’re going out in a few minutes to meet up with friends, so today’s post will just have to be this adorable black cat who lives near us. Walking home after running some errands earlier today, I saw her and just fell in love. Of course, I do have a penchant for black cats. Still, who could resist this adorable little face?

Adorable