One Year Later, on a Bike

Exactly one year ago I ran 12 km at Zandvoort.  This year was just a little bit different.  DB and I biked to Bloemendaal aan Zee, which took about an hour.  The wind was fierce and blew in our faces the entire way there.  By the time we got to Bloemendaal my knee was really ready for a rest.  We walked down to the beach and stood there long enough to take a couple of photos and then headed back up to Bloomingdale.

Bloomingdale is a new beach cafe, decked out in black with spotlights and a lounge pit.  At this time of day on a Sunday it was the toddlers who ruled the lounge.

I couldn’t even get a photo of the bar without a kid in it.  And these kids were allowed to do ANYTHING they wanted.

I don’t understand how parents think it’s cute for their kids to climb all over the furniture and run around wild.  I think it’s just another example of most people of a certain age not giving a shit about other people.  Ah well.  I’m not (quite) ready to go live as a hermit.  Just me, DB, the cat, the laptop and wifi.  What more do you need?

We biked back home via Parnasus and through the dunes to Santpoort Zuid.  It’s good to move.  Next year – 12 km again.

Busy Monday Night

Last Monday night there were 17 people at Stitch ‘n Bitch in de Jaren in Amsterdam.  SEVENTEEN!  I think it’s a record.  We had to move two of the big round tables together and still we didn’t all fit.  Three sat off to the side at a small table.  I think they liked it that way actually. 🙂

I always enjoy these evenings so much and I always end up leaving too early.  On Monday nights I wish I still lived in Amsterdam instead of so far away in Haarlem.  I feel so Dutch saying that.  A 15 minute train ride seems like so far away for most Dutch people.  Driving an hour to go somewhere is almost never done because it is so far away.  Sheesh.  It’s a small country and there are times that it feels even smaller.

It’s been a VERY busy week at work and I’ve been home late 3 nights this week.  Monday night at SnB, Thursday night doing a little clothes shopping, and Friday night at the company borrel.  The last Friday of every month the company pays for drinks and snacks at a local hotel bar.  I hardly ever go, but last night it sounded like a good way to blow off some steam from a long week.  I stood there and talked with my newest colleagues.  Newbies.  So full of enthusiasm.  That’s nice for a change.

See you at de Jaren Monday night?

Hot and Cool Commercial

Knitting is so cool, and so hot. The YouTube description says: “The idea of the film is simple. How to visualize the warmth of natural gas? By the use of the stop motion technic, we see how warmth spreads through the house as knitted wool. A film of TBWA Brussels, directed by Olivier Babinet produced by Lovo Films.”  The advertisement is for Belgian Natural Gas.  HERE‘s the “how they did it” video.

On the Road Again

Today, for the first time in months, I walked in the dunes west of Haarlem.  I can’t tell you how good this felt.

The sun was shining, it was cool and crisp with just a little breeze, and you could tell that spring is just around the corner.

I biked from home to the edge of the Kennemer National Park, just behind the hockey and football fields.  Biking itself is a pleasure these days since I’ve only been back to biking, off and on, since a week ago.  I then started walking, first along the brick bike and walking lane, and then turning right onto the walking only lane which is dirt and gravel.  I walked 30 minutes out and 30 minutes back.  I figure I walked in total about 5.5km.  Wow.

I had no pain in my knee really, but wow! I could really tell that I haven’t been doing any sports at all for several months.  Everything is stiff and a little sore.  It feels so good to be moving again.  I went to the fysio on Friday and he said that as long as my knee continues to improve like it has, I should be able to start trying to run in another 3-4 weeks.  Isn’t that something?  He said to just keep biking and walking, and bike farther and walk farther and when that goes well, start a little jog and see how that feels.  SCARY is how it will feel at first!

Today I walked about half way to the beach.  At that point there’s a hill to walk up and get a bit of a view.

It doesn’t look very green does it?  Looking down to the other side of the hill I saw the big beasties.  They are still here in the dunes.

I walked a little closer for a better photo.

It doesn’t look much like Spring yet.  There are no green leaves.  There aren’t even green leaf buds.  The only sign of Spring I saw was this moss on the side of the path with the little mushrooms popping up.

I heard a lot of birds too, which was nice.  Anyway, it doesn’t matter.  I know Spring is just around the corner.  Along the canal banks the ducks are sitting fat and flat on the ground, so I’m guessing there are eggs under there.  Soon there will be bulbs blooming in the fields and ducklings running everywhere.  Soon it will be warm again.  And I’ll be running.

Brioche Knitting Class

Saturday was Nancy‘s brioche knitting class.  It was organized by the European Fiber Network.  (I guess it’s no secret that the EFN is run by Cassandra, Nancy and I.)  We had 9 students on Saturday and I think everyone really learned a lot.  Plus we had some fun of course!

The course started out with an explanation of what Brioche knitting is, what it looks like, and what the finished fabric’s characteristics are.  Then we jumped in and started knitting.

We learned to brioche with just one color first.  What is a bark and what is a burp?  How do you know which is the right side?  What stitch do I make next?  After everyone had mastered that (more or less) we went on to knitting with two colors.  And THEN increases and decreases in two colors!  By that time some students had filled their brains so full of information they couldn’t talk any more (Chatty Cathy, am I pointing at YOU?).

The class went from 10:00 – 16:00 with a short break for lunch.  I hope that everyone goes home and practices what they learned.  It was a really full day with a lot of information to absorb.  Trust me, it just takes practice and you’ll get it.  Just like anything worth learning.

At the end of the day Nancy showed us her brioche lace projects.  She is busy designing this new technique and writing up the patterns.

I’m actually knitting a new pattern, called, charmingly enough, Under Dutch Skies Brioche Scarf.  Here’s my project so far.  It’s not HARD exactly, but it takes concentration and focused attention.  I can’t watch tv and work on this.  The yarn is from Pigeonroof Studios, cashmere, alpaca and silk.  As with all lace knitting, it will look more like something once it’s blocked.  It’s hard to tell now, but it is a series of leaf patterns.  It’s going to be fabulous.

KawKawEsque is an FO

I love these socks.  I like how they look and how they feel and I thoroughly enjoyed making them.  These are KawKawEsque, another Yarnissima pattern.  They are so simple and so clever in their simplicity.  The gussets are created by increases in the center top spine of the sock.  That’s it!  Those center increases continue throughout the entire sock pattern and you either compensate with decreases on the side of the foot (on the beginning foot part), or at the back of the leg (on the leg part) or you don’t compensate at all (for the gussets).  Cool.

The yarn is from Pigeonroof Studios, who you will be hearing more about from me sometime very soon!

I finished them with the amazing and very cool SUPER stretchy cast off, which you can find here on Knitty.  Here’s another photo, and then I’m checking these off my list!

Beware of Cat

I wrote several months ago that Bas was very sick.  We thought we were about to lose him.  The vet prescribed prednisone, which he’s been taking every day since.  He’s doing ok, he’s still here, but he’s pretty fed up with the pills.

Normally DB shoves the pill down his throat every day before dinner.  Friday evening DB was busy so I did it.  Bas was not amused.  He accidentally bit me, deep.  It bled and bled, which is a good thing since bleeding will clean the wound.  I ran water over it for a long time while it bled and I washed it with anti-bacterial soap.  Four hours later it was swollen and sore.  The next day it was oozing and red and hot and swollen.  Damn.

Saturday morning we were off to Den Helder for DB’s dad’s birthday party.  We figured we’d stop at a pharmacy there and get something to put on this festering sore.  At the pharmacy they said “no way, we won’t give you anything, you need to see a doctor about that.”  So off we went to the weekend doctors’ offices.  I got a tetanus shot and a prescription for a week’s worth of  antibiotics.  BACK to the pharmacy to get the pills and some gauze to clean it with.  Pffffffff what a morning!

Above is a photo of my thumb on Sunday morning and it’s already looking a lot better.  I wished I’d taken a photo from Saturday morning!  Much more impressive.  I’ve now taken the pills for 24 hours and the swelling has gone down and it’s not as hot as it was.  It’s still really painful and I can’t really move that thumb joint.

Man, it’s always something isn’t it!  I was telling DB this morning that I’d like to spend a day, maybe 2, without any physical pains.  Wouldn’t that be something.  Seems like it’s been a long time ago I had such a day.

The knee is better though.  I biked this morning.  Probably too far.  🙂  It felt good to be outside though, checking out the old running route, saying hello to the waterfowl again.  I biked very very slowly and carefully.  I felt a little stab of pain with every circle of the pedals, but it’s the kind of pain you know is doing you some good.  It was windy and cold.  I would have taken photos but everything is still so grey and bleak.  In another month it will all be better.  All the way around.

Parool Oscar Weekend

Last weekend I spent over 20 hours in movie theaters.  I saw 8 Oscar nominated movies over 2 days.  WEEE!

How did I manage this?  The Parool Oscar Weekend of course.  This is the second year that we’ve gone and this year we went for both days.  We left the house both Saturday and Sunday before 9:00am and were home at midnight on Saturday and 10pm on Sunday – two very long movie watching days!

This event is always held at the Pathe de Munt theaters, on the top floor of the multiplex.  You buy a pass for the day(s) you want to attend and pick and choose which movies you want to see.  They had 5 theaters showing 5 movies each.  Everything was timed to more or less start and end at the same time.

What did we see?  Here they are, in order of appearance:

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – a Terry Gilliam movie.
My rating – 8
I really liked this movie, which isn’t surprising since I like Terry Gilliam movies in general.  They are always very, well, imaginative and interesting and visually cool.  This was the last movie Heath Ledger made, but didn’t quite finish making.  I won’t give anything away here, but the way Gilliam saved his movie after Ledger died is seamless and appears to be the way he really meant the movie to go.

The Hurt Locker – Oscar winner for Best Movie
My rating – 9
I did not expect to like this movie.  War movies are not my favorite genre.  This movie however was so well made and well acted that you couldn’t help but be sucked in and impressed.  I’m actually surprised to hear that so few people have seen it and it hasn’t been making much money.  Go see this movie.  It’s worth it.

A Serious Man – another Coen Bros. movie
My rating – 5
I love Coen Bros movies.  Some of my favorite movies are from Ethan and Joel.  But this one?  Oh man.  I just couldn’t see the point.  I just wanted it to end.  I really didn’t like it.  There were some good one-liners and I laughed a few times, but overall I just wanted out.

Precious – based on the novel by Push by Sapphire
My rating – 8.5
This was the last movie we saw Saturday night and I was afraid it would be so depressing that it would be a depressing end to the day.  Nothing could be farther than the truth of this movie.  It is a hard movie with hard things to watch.  But it is also so full of good souls and leaves you feeling hopeful even in the face of hopeless situations.  Precious is an abused teenager, obese and pregnant.  Her teachers have faith in her and she learns to have faith in herself.  The movie does not have a happy ending.  It has a hopeful ending and in this case that is a triumph.

A Single Man –  by Tom Ford
My rating – 8
What a lovely movie!  The atmosphere was perfect, the acting restrained and precise.  It was so nice to see a 60’s era movie without all the cliches.  (Ironically, A Serious Man was set in the same time period, but had all the kitsch and cliche you could want.)  The look of the movie brought back my childhood very strongly.   You had no idea how the movie would end, until it did.  It is a beautiful movie I highly recommend.

Coco Avant Chanel – Audrey Tautou grows up
My rating – 7
DB and I had mixed reviews on this one.  He was really bored.  I really liked the costumes and learning about the life of Coco.  The story begins with a brief view of Gabrielle (Coco) and her sister being dropped at an orphanage, but quickly moves to the two of them singing and dancing in a pub at night and sewing clothes in a dress makers shop during the day.  Choices for woman at the turn of the century were few and far between and the best thing you can do is find a man to support you – married or not.  No surprises there.  Coco fights fashion standards and society’s rules to become the most influential fashion design – ever.  Listening to fast French and trying to read the Dutch subtitles fast enough was kind of tiring, but the visuals made up for that.

Sherlock Holmes – Guy Ritchie director
My rating – 6
DB disagreed on this one a little too.  He liked it more than I did.  I have an issue with movies that take a historical period and story and shoot it like it is modern and current.  Unlike  Wild Wild West that turned the 1850’s into some kind of future science fantasy (which I HATED), this movie isn’t quite that bad.  But it has the FEEL of a modern movie, with sitcom punchiness and tossed out clever lines for the audience to laugh at.  I liked the Sherlock who could figure out crimes and people just through keen observation, but the rest did not impress.  Ho hum.  DB calls this “watch food”.  Like fast food only on a screen.

District 9 – Don’t order the prawns
My rating – 7
The movie opens with a huge alien ship parked above Johannesburg South Africa and a documentary style explaining the situation up til now.  Humans, as we know, don’t even get along with our own neighbors so how can we expect to treat aliens any better?  We lock them up in slums and keep them alive only to abuse them and wish they would go away.  But what happens when a relocation program goes wrong and DNA gets a little mixed up?  Who’s side are you on then?  This was a fun and entertaining sci-fi romp with some surprising twists and a realism that is often completely missing in this genre.  I liked the bluntness about the Nigerians, the ignorant racism of our hero, the fact that one of the very last shots is a man in a prison jumpsuit and the reason why he’s in prison (I won’t spoil it for you).  Just a well put together movie with good effects.

What’s missing?  Avatar of course!  We PLANNED to see it on Saturday but the bus was late and we just missed the train.  Ah well.  We had already seen it in 3D at the IMAX.  I wanted to know if it would wow me the second time around.  Maybe I’ll never know.

Should Avatar have won best movie over The Hurt Locker?  No, I don’t think so.  The story in Avatar was, well, crap.  The best movie really did win.