A Horse With No Name

Some people have been to the dunes in North Holland many times without ever seeing the wild horses or the cattle.  I saw both again today.  The horses were standing all around the bike path, and in the end 3 of them were standing right on the bike path so you had to go around them.  One of them actually let me touch him.  I was honored.

It was a VERY windy day today.  The wind was in my face all the way on the run to the beach and it really knocked me back.  I stopped to take a photo of the clouds, and at the beach I stopped long enough to drink something and snap a few photos.

Look at all the kite surfers!  There were even more down the other direction towards Zandvoort but I couldn’t get a good photo of them.  These were pretty big waves for the North Sea.

I ran back through the dunes and back to my car.  It was not a good run.  I only managed to actually run 8 km and walked the other 3.  I took advantage of the surroundings and tried to enjoy being out in the green and trees and not to worry about the fact that this was not a good run.  It really is pretty out here in the dunes, but I’m always reminded how small this area is and just around the corner are people and bikes and civilization.  I sometimes crave a wilderness that doesn’t exist here.

I start to worry about making the Dam to Dam (10 miles / 16 km).  It’s only 3 weeks away!  I missed an entire 10 days of training since going to PukkelPop and after that having a headache for a few days.  If I had had to run it today I would not have made it in the 2 hour limit.  I would have had to walk.  What will change in the next 3 weeks to make that situation so much better?  All I can do is pick it up again and do my best.

When I got home I showered and then ate some lunch.  DB and I have this ritual of eating open faced sandwiches on the weekend.  We cover the bread with a variety of toppings and make a kind of sample set of sandwiches for ourselves.  Here’s what I had today:

The light brown stuff is smoked mackerel.  The white stuff is “North Sea Salad” with shrimp, salmon and crab.  Both of those, as well as the bread, are from Marqt.  Above sits PB&J which Dutch people find disgusting.  And on the right is pure Dutch food – bread with butter and hagelslag on top.  Hagelslag (chocolate hail) comes in milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and what I have above is extra dark chocolate.  Mmmmmm lekker!

Now, I’m off to the attic to work on my dress for my niece’s wedding coming up soon.  The weekends go by so fast.  Seriously, I just don’t have time for WORK!

Saturday Goin’ to Town

After a long and stressful week at work, I really looked forward to some retail therapy in Haarlem city center Saturday morning.  I wasn’t disappointed!

I went looking for shoes for the wedding in October and also for shoes to show off hand knit socks.  I was successful with one but not the other.  Guess which one….

Aren’t they great?!?  They are Loint’s, a Dutch brand.  These are the third pair of Loint’s I’ve owned.  They are extremely well made and fit great.  They are always a little funky and fun.  Put all that together and what does it spell?  Not cheap!  Ah well.  I liked them better than anything else I saw.  Now that September is rolling up, the shops are full of boots, boots and more BOOTS.  I’m not ready to say good-bye to summer yet.

After the shoes, and buying some groceries, I put all that in the car (yes the CAR! no bike for me today) I went to Valk Glasstudio to see about getting a stained glass door insert made for our bathroom door.  The old glass was broken, and with the bathroom renovation we had the door also sanded and painted.  It is now ready for a replacement window.  There are 2 other doors on the same landing with glass inserts like this:

The shop has an area in the front with finished glass to buy, and a very big workshop in the back.  He had a lot of old second hand glass for sale.  In fact he had the EXACT same glass as we have in our living room door mounted on a stand in his show room!  Here’s the one in our living room:

He said it was made in the 1920’s.  Very funny to see the same thing there.  I wonder how many examples were made?  Our house was built in the 30’s.  Did this glass have a life in another house before it was installed here?

Anyway, we now have a book with glass pieces velcro’d in it for us to look at over the weekend and pick out colors for the new glass window for the bathroom.  Step by step the house takes shape.

Special Guest at a Full Table

Last night at de Jaren we had a special guest.  Nancy invited Jay Rich to join us at our Stitch ‘n Bitch meet up.  Jay is a well known expert in Shibori, a Japanese tie dye technique.  After seeing Jay’s samples I have to say that “tie dye” as I know it is kindergarten stuff compared to what Shibori is.  He showed us piece after piece of intricate and complex dyed fabrics that were just so beautiful.  Some had geometric patterns, some with organic designs like cranes.  He described a bit of the process, which I won’t even try to repeat as I’d get it completely wrong.  It’s complicated.  It’s like a chemistry class.

Jay is teaching a class at the textile school/museum in Tilburg this week.  What a treat to have a peek at his samples and to hear his stories.

Our SnB group is getting pretty big!  It wasn’t so long ago that we’d be happy if 3-4 people showed up on a Monday night.  Last night there were 13 of us.  We don’t fit around the big table anymore!

I wonder how much Ravelry has influenced the growth of our group.  We have a Group there now.  People just passing through Amsterdam are dropping in to knit with us.  New members appear who have lived in Amsterdam for a while.  Let’s see if they all still show up when it’s winter and the wind is blowing a gale and the rain is pouring down!  Let’s see if I still show up!

4 Days Off – Day 4, Finally Home

Sunday we made our way back home, yet another 3 hour drive.  Luckily DB checked the ANWB site on his iPhone and saw that there was a traffic jam between Utrecht and Amsterdam.  We decided to stop and eat and hope that the jam cleared up before we got there.

We got home around 5pm, tired but tan and happy.  We sat down on the couch and listened to LowLands bands being streamed live from the 3voor12 web site.  They made a nice mashup that you can still see here.

I don’t have much of a photo for you from Sunday, except to show you what I was knitting now and then over the weekend.  This is Ishbel, but done totally in garter stitch.  I’m using the yarn that DB won at the picnic OOPS I mean knitnic, last Saturday.

The mini vacation has been lovely.  I wish it could go on and on and on.

4 Days Off – Day 3, Back to Belgium!

Here I am, Saturday morning, back at Pukkelpop in lovely Belgium.  Let’s see, that makes it 3 hours driving on Thursday, again on Friday, and oh! once again on Saturday.  Let’s not talk about Dutch traffic, ok?

Anyway, back to Pukkelpop…. where you can get your hair cut for free….

Where you can be the only 1 out of 55,000 people knitting…..

And where you can see a lot of bands with funny names….

The Airborne Toxic Event
The Airborne Toxic Event

I didn’t take very many photos on Saturday, mainly because the battery was about dead.  Most of these photos DB took on Friday while I was in Amsterdam.  The last band we saw Saturday night was Deus, a Belgian band that is BIG here and have been big for many many years.  We probably should have stayed to see The Arctic Monkeys since we heard later that they were really really good.  Ah well.  We were beat.

It was quite a luxury to stay with friends instead of camping out.  THANKS to M. and D. and their hospitality.  You guys are welcome at our house any time.

So, will I go back to Pukkelpop?  Well…. to tell the truth, I missed LowLands.  I miss the other things going on besides the music, like performance art, sculptures, jugglers, clowns, movies, things you can participate in like creating an sms novel that is projected on a wall as it happens, the silent disco, and so much more.  LowLands is a cultural arty event.  Pukkelpop is music only.  It’s GOOD music and a good festival!  And PukkelPop is definitely cheaper than LowLands.   No matter which festival you go to, it’s no secret that they are expensive.  I’m already looking forward to next year!

4 Days Off – Day 2, Knitting!

From Belgium back to Amsterdam I drove.  Friday night was a special event that I didn’t want to miss.  Nancy Marchant had invited Nancy Bush and Beth Brown-Reinsel to come give a talk to local knitters.  Nancy B. and Beth were about to embark on a 12 day cruise of Scandinavia where they would also be teaching classes.  They arrived in NL a couple of days before the cruise began and spent one evening with us!

They talked about their work, their lives, and what they have learned and worked on during their knitting lives.  They both brought tables full of samples and examples.  And there was book signing and mingling.

It was a very nice night.  Besides meeting some knitting luminaries, I also met some new knitters from around the country, and hung with my buds.  Thanks Nancy M. for making it all happen!

Here are some photos from the night….

Nancy Bush talking about Estonia
Nancy Bush talking about Estonia
Beth Brown-Reinsel
Beth Brown-Reinsel
Nancy Marchant
Nancy Marchant

4 Days Off – Day 1, PukkelPop

Early Thursday morning we headed down south to PukkelPop.  If any Dutch person asks you what that is, just reply “It’s the LowLands of Belgium” and they will nod their heads in understanding.  It’s not exactly like LowLands, but it’s the best comparison we have.

Thursday also happened to be the hottest day of a hot summer.  We met up with friends, who we are also staying with instead of camping at the event, and they showed us around the terrain.  Here is the entrance (only a short wait in line).

And is DB and friends in our first few minutes at PukkelPop.  It’s so nice a clean at this point!  And not yet crowded.

It was so hot.  We went from shady spot to shady spot, buying water and popcycles.  DB was in desperate search for a hat.  He forgot to bring one and was really afraid the top of his head would be fried if he didn’t cover it.  There were no hats for sale anywhere, and believe me we searched everywhere.  He finally bought a t-shirt and put it on his head.  He just looked like one of many balding guys with shirts or hankies on their heads.  Dutch men go bald very early and often I’ve noticed.

We did find shade in one tent where we listened to Jon Hopkins:

He makes electronic music that is intelligent, interesting and amazing.  I wanted immediately to buy a CD of his, but I wonder how it will sound in your house rather than in a dark tent with big speakers.  I’ll have to try it and find out.  I give him 9 out of 10.

While waiting for him to start I took this photo of the sound board, which was in the middle of the tent.  Kind of cool, no?  I’m liking this new camera.

We then went to another tent (hiding from the sun’s deadly rays) and heard The Big Pink.

I found their music kind of depressing, but good sound and very listenable.  7 out of 10.  While in this tent I was also playing with the camera a little.  I was sitting down, as you can see:

Yes, this is the mess left behind.  Even though a lot of people were trying to put their trash where it belonged, there are never, ever, enough trash containers around.  Never.  It always ends up like this.  After going to many festivals I’m kind of used to it now.

Back at the Main Stage, Maximo Park was playing to a small group of brave souls (or fanboys/girls) willing to stand out in the blazing sun in front of the stage.

Most of the others were sitting in the available shade.

There were a few places where people were hosing off passers by from water cans (I took advantage of that offer).  Overall, D. and I in particular were happy to have survived the sunny hot day without major sunburn nor headaches or passing out.  She’s just as intolerant of the sun as I am, so I didn’t feel like a weirdo at all.

Eventually it was time for the event of the evening and what everyone had been waiting for – the Special Guest Mystery Band!  At 8:00pm we headed over to the tent where they would play.  It was already filling up.  The Mystery Band was supposed to start at 9.  Rumor had it that the band would be the new “secret” super group Them Crooked Vultures (pretty terrible name if you ask me).   Just before we stepped into the tent I snapped this photo:

The wind blew in the clouds and it was looking pretty ominous.  I JUST missed capturing the lightening that flashed a split second later.  At 8:30pm, while we were in a packed tent waiting for music, the rain started to come down.  It rained in buckets full.  The tent became even more crowded as people tried to escape the rain.  First the sun and now the rain!

At 8:45pm the blanket was taken off the drum kit so you could see a drawing of a vulture on the bass drum.  The crowd went a little crazy.  At 9:00pm the band came out and the tent irrupted.  These guys are legends.  OK, ONE of them is a legend and the other 2 are close calls.

Dave Grohl was on drums and man does he beat the hell out of those things.  He’s a wild man.  John Paul Jones stood in front of him, looking pretty good for the years on him.  Josh Homme was in front of course on the microphone, although all of them sang at some point.  There was a fourth player, who isn’t mentioned as being part of the group in any of the articles I saw, but his name is Chris Goss (thanks to Henk Kannig for twittering that info).

The music was damn good.  It really was a blend of styles and you could hear Zeppelin and QotSA in the music.  I would have loved to have stayed in the tent and finished the set there, but it was rather full of very sweaty smelly men, all taller than me, and I couldn’t see much anyway.  We went outside the tent and listened to the last of it from outside.  It had quit raining by then and didn’t rain again the rest of the night.

Here are some photos:

What a cool thing to see these guys playing together!  If you get a chance to see them on this tour, take it.  I’m sure they will be at LowLands Saturday night for THEIR Mystery Band slot.  It’s only a rumor at this point, but I’m sure they will be band to play then.

We then went to get a little something to eat, then met up again with D. and M. to see Faith No More.  I don’t really know their music.  They started out with a beautiful cover of “Reunited” (originally by Peaches and Herb in the 70’s) wearing pastel suits and ties.  Then the jackets came off, the heavy guitars came on, and the real music began.  It was some hard stuff.  And we were too tired to take it.  By this time everything in my body ached and with the sun, then the rain, I was feeling fried then frozen.  We headed home around midnight, full of sights and sounds and hoping to get some good sleep before another day came too soon.

New Toy

No, the cat is not the new toy.  He’s old.  Really old.  What is new is the camera that took his photo.  I am now the proud owner of one Panasonic DMC-TZ7.  (It is sold in the U.S. under the model name DMC-ZS3, don’t ask me why).  My trusty Sony Cybershot just wasn’t working well anymore.  I fought for an hour with software and photo image to try to get a decent photo of some yarn on Sunday.  Today with the new camera I just aimed and shot and look what came out:

Nice, huh?

So, why a new camera in such a hurry?  Cuz I take photos nearly every day, that’s why!  And we are going tomorrow to PukkelPop and I want to take photos (and yes, we have house sitters for house and cat).

I scraped up some money and went shopping.  Actually, the money scraping for the most part was purely coincidental.  It’s a long story, but my employer screwed up my pay for a few months (making a very long story short) and they are finally paying me the back due at the end of this month.  Without interest I might add (it’s been going on for a year now), but I’m too sick of the story to argue about .5% possible interest.  Anyway….. the shopping….

I first checked all the online prices to know what I COULD pay by shopping online.  Then I went to a camera shop on het Spui in Amsterdam.  I was willing to pay a little extra for personal service.  What I WASN’T prepared to pay was 80 euros more!!!  They must be kidding!  I went to another camera shop in Amsterdam and their price was only 40 euros more than the online price, but it had to be ordered.  I was then frustrated.

Then I flew off to Sweden for 2 days of meetings (I actually just got home, kissed the hub quickly, then dug into the camera box and am writing this post – but I do get ahead of myself).

DB and I continued to sms each other on the camera situation.  He found it on Bol.com for a good price and I said to go ahead and order.  I am amazed to say that it took 24 hours from order to home delivery, and at the best price.  Pretty impressive.

I love new toys.  This one is pretty exciting.  12x zoom in a small size.  Nice macro photos (see above).  Loads of scene modes and also the ability to program your own (kind of).  Here’s a review from my favorite camera info site.

It’s not a new digital SLR, but for a small compact camera, I think I’m going to love it.

Did I mention it does HD movies????

Mind Games and Planned Obsolescence

Today I went running around Sloterplas in Amsterdam.  Why would I get in my car and drive 15 minutes to find someplace to run?  10% nostalgia, 40% it’s a nice place to run, 50% mind games.  You see, the running path around Sloterplas is almost exactly 6 km and I was supposed to run 12 km today.  So, it’s easy to simply say “Oh, just run twice around Sloterplas!  No sweat!”  It’s a mind game.  It’s a psych out.  It works.  Like I said last week, running is now becoming as much a mind game as it is a physical challenge.  Anything that helps to kid myself into thinking something is easier and doable – I’m in there.

It was actually lovely in the park today.  There were quite a few runners (but nothing like the crowds at the Vondelpark) and I even recognized a few from the times a year ago when I used to run there every week.

But how was the run?  Well….. the first 9 km were pretty good.  Slow, but good.  But then I hit a wall.  After 11 km’s I really felt like my legs were going to freeze in running position and I would just fall over and someone would find me laying there,  in running position, unable to move.  When a sharp pain in my shin didn’t go away after 10 seconds, I stopped and walked the rest of the way to 12 km.  Ah well.  I ALMOST made it.

I took a few photos along the way, quickly stopping and snapping.  Unfortunately my little Sony Cybershot is really acting up.  About 2 weeks ago the shutter release button started to get stuck.  Clunk. Creak.  And as of yesterday afternoon, the colors also started causing problems.  The above photo is the only good one of the day and even it is overexposed.  The rest were REALLY overexposed.  What a bummer.

This camera is JUST one year old.  I bought it from Amazon.com and by the time I figure out how to get anything from my 1 year warranty, the year will be up.  I only have hours.  This really pisses me off.  ONE YEAR!!!  Come on!  I feel really ripped off.

I started investigating what a replacement camera might be.  My favorite site for camera reviews is www.dcresource.com.   I think probably a Panasonic is in the cards for me.  I checked prices in the U.S.  I checked prices here in NL.  Of course they are a lot cheaper in the U.S., however when you factor in the 1 year warranty maybe I’m better off buying one here.  Here in NL, and I think in every EU country, there must be at least be a 2 year warranty on products.  That’s worth something.  And also I can always go back to the shop and slap the camera on the counter and say “fix it!”.  For 2 years.  That’s worth a lot too.

Knitnic in the Park

In June we celebrated KIP by meeting up in the Westerpark and had a bbq/picnic.  We had so much fun that we all thought we should do it again while the weather was still good.  C., who just got back from Sock Summit, could only make it today, so that’s the day we choose, and man what a glorious day it has been!  The weather could not have been more perfect.

We met up at 13.00 and shared food and knitting stories.  C. showed us PART of her newly acquired stash.  We also raffled off the goodies that Bobbi brought us last Monday.

You can read all about last Monday night SnB here on Bobbi’s blog, along with photos.  She was just visiting Amsterdam, and had asked us via Ravelry if she could bring us anything from the U.S.  Well, of course she could!  I asked for a Target store, a good Mexican restaurant and some mountains so we could ski in the winter.  C. asked for chipmunks, which we don’t have here in NL.

Bobbi showed up Monday night with:  a fabric shopping bag from Target, a stack of Mexican food seasoning packs, a postcard with mountains on it, and a little toy monkey with stretchy arms for C.  Too funny and very sweet!  And THEN she pulled out the best goodies of all:  a knitting bag, some colorful buttons, a magnetic notepad, a sheep magnet, and last but certainly not least, a skein of Araucania yarn!!!  What a nice thing to do!  It was an embarrassment of riches.  We decided to raffle these off at our Saturday picnic, or Knitpic as one member named it.

There were some partners at the party and we included them also in the name drawing for the presents.  We kind of figure, if partners can put up with us for an afternoon, they should count as extra points.  Partners at a knitting event make it feel less cultish and more normal.  It’s good to have “regular” people around to keep us from being totally singleminded.  So we are happy if they participate!  I was especially happy about it today, because look what my partner, DB, won!

This is Araucania sock yarn.  I really struggled to get a photo as true to the real colors as possible.  The colorway is Multy, and it is certainly multi! but leans heavily to green and purple.  I really really like it.  However, I think I like it more for a small shawl than for socks.  It would be a shame to hide these colors on your feet.  Any ideas for a fingering weight shawl you can make with 376 yards?

It was really a fun fantastic afternoon.  I really love these gatherings and love my knitting friends.  We’re already planning the next event(s).