Small, Smaller, Smallest

It’s surprising to me how many people think that Disney World in Florida was the FIRST Disney theme park that was built. Of course it wasn’t. Think about it. Disney, Disney films, Hollywood… of course the first one was in Southern California. Anaheim to be exact. Disneyland was opened in July, 1955. My parents took my sister and I there when I was 8 or 9, 1967 or so. I remember vividly getting into one of those little cars that ran on a rail, all by myself, and I never felt so grown up. Driving a car meant everything. I also remember the “It’s a Small World” ride very well. There were all the animatronic characters from all over the world, singing and dancing “It’s a small world after all, It’s a small world after all….”. The point being that if we only get to know each other, from all cultures and beliefs and worlds, we will happily get along and understand each other. That Walt. Such a dreamer.

So here we are in the middle of this pandemic and the words “it’s a small world” have taken on a completely different meaning. Our worlds are indeed small. At least mine is and it’s not small in the lovely happy multicultural way that Walt Disney had in mind. Here is how my year has gone:

  • house chores
  • dog chores
  • grocery/pet store shopping
  • knitting/spinning/sewing
  • visit in-laws
  • online shopping
  • Zoom once a week or so with friends
  • FaceTime with my mom every few days
  • Watch TV, cook, eat with DB and Scout the dog

I did spend 2 weeks working very part time at a yarn shop, back in December, before the latest lockdown. I worked a total of 4 days. Then I decided I didn’t feel safe and my world got even smaller when I said I didn’t want to come back until I’m vaccinated.

I walk the dog at least once a day, often twice a day. I go to the grocery store once a week and do the self checkout so I don’t even talk to a soul there.

After spending the last year knitting like a fiend, I have wrecked my shoulder and can’t move it without pain. I went to a physical therapist last week so he is an additional in-person contact I have had in a year. The shoulder is getting better and I’m trying to start a little knitting again. Above is a photo of the last section of lace I have to knit to complete the Shetland lace christening shawl I’m making for my nephew and his wife. My world has shrunk even smaller when I can’t even knit anymore! NOW what am I supposed to do with my time? Read? I can only read for so many hours in a day without going completely crazy.

Every day I try to remember how lucky I am to not have to worry about money or work (DB’s job is secure and he works every day at home). I realize how lucky I am to be relatively healthy. But still. Can this be over now?

Nikon v iPhone

I always dreamed of owning a Nikon camera and finally, 10 years ago, I bought one. A Nikon D5100 with an 18-105 zoom lens. Honestly I never learned everything that it can do, but I was super happy with it.

It’s not always convenient to walk around with a big heavy camera, so I also had a small compact digital camera. I think it was a Panasonic. It took pretty good photos too. On a trip to Norway in 2015 I had my iPhone and Panasonic camera. After taking lots of photos with both, and looking at them closely after the trip, I decided to ditch the small digital camera because my iPhone took photos just as good and as so many people experience, taking photos with your phone is so easy!

Every year Apple improves the camera on the iPhone and honestly the improvement in camera quality is the main reason I keep upgrading. Pretty soon my Nikon sat neglected in a closet.

Last year In 2019 (it FEELS like last year) DB and I went on a road trip, from Southern California to the Grand Canyon, through Four Corners, Durango, Telluride, Arches National Park, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. It was such an amazing trip! Oh I long to go back! I took my Nikon camera and my iPhone X. I look loads of photos with both and was really undecided about which gave me the best quality photos. Frankly, with everything going on with selling the house, and then packing up and moving across the world, I didn’t spend much time with the photos.

Now here we are in 2021 and what else am I supposed to do in lockdown? I’ve wrecked my shoulder by knitting too much so I got out my camera and started playing around with it. Now let’s see what the difference is between a 10 year old DSLR and a 3 year old iPhone. This is completely unscientific and I’m sure there are much better comparisons on more professional web sites. This is for my amusement and maybe yours too.

First I took some photos inside my house. I have not edited any of these photos except for cropping to get close ups. There are no filters used. The Nikon was set on the Auto mode. No flash used. Here are the results:

The first two photos are from the Nikon, the last two with the iPhone. Clearly the Nikon creates clearer and crisper images. No question.

Today when the sun was shining I took a couple of photos outside. Again, the Nikon photos are first.

So again the Nikon clearly wins this competition. Both cameras have about the same number of pixels. This is not difference. It’s purely the quality of lens optics which, not surprisingly, will win out over digital every time. At least for now!

I started to think about what holds me back from using this fantastic Nikon camera. Too heavy? Too complicated for every day use? I remember on the road trip, hiking and having that heavy think around my neck all day, bouncing on my body. Putting it in a comfortable carry case is not the answer because by the time you get it out of the case and take off the lens cap, that bird, or deer or sunlight is gone. And I have to look at the situation and think about the best setting to get the best photo. Is something moving quickly so that I should change from auto to “sport” setting? Would this low light situation be better with or without a flash? With iPhone you don’t have to think about anything. Just touch the button and you have a pretty good photo.

I think that I’m going to research strap options to see if I can find something more comfortable to use while hiking and biking, but also leaves the camera quickly available to use. And I’m really and truly going to practice with it, so that changing settings becomes more automatic for me. And I will READ THE MANUAL to find out everything it can do. Like automatically creating the fun photo above at the top of this post.

Anniversary

Exactly one year ago I arrived back in the Netherlands to live, again, for good, after 3.5 years living in California, again. What a coincidence with the one year anniversary of this pandemic. I promise that is only a coincidence.

I went back and read my blog post from March 23, 2020 where I listed the top 10 reasons I was happy to be back in NL. They are all still true, except for the one about political leaders. The crazy man is out of the White House, and at the same time our leaders here in NL are showing themselves to be less than open and honest and often not competent to handle this crisis. I’ve been thinking lately about what I miss most about living in the U.S., and it’s a pretty small list:

  1. Friends and family – obviously. Especially my mom. Especially my spinning group in Redlands who saved my sanity many times. I do miss a thriving fiber community. While the knitting community in Amsterdam, and NL in general, is pretty amazing, it just not the same as the welcoming and interesting entire fiber arts scene in the U.S., and surprisingly SoCal (being a hot climate).
  2. Space – this is always my issue living in a tightly packed country where it’s impossible to go a day without seeing people and no wilderness at all. Our house is large by Dutch standards, but very small by U.S. standards. But all our stuff fits and honestly what more “stuff” does a person need?
  3. Variety of food – I didn’t realize how much I would miss being able to choose from 50 different brands of yogurt. Here there are 2. Maybe 3 if you look hard. I order baking ingredients from a speciality web shop. We had to order Swiss cheese from a shop in another town because you can only find Dutch cheese in our town and a little commercial French cheese. And it’s a good thing I like broccoli. I suppose I should learn to like Brussels sprouts. I miss all the varieties of winter squash (here there is 1), good avocados (you’re lucky here when they are not black or hard), any kind of Mexican food and good sushi. I probably shouldn’t even mention good thick juicy steaks since we should all be eating less red meat.
  4. Sunshine – I just ordered a daylight SAD treatment light to help me deal with these grey days and lack of sunshine. By the time March comes around I’m really feeling it – like an itch I can’t scratch, an irritation that only a day of sunshine in the mountains can fix. Or hopefully a SAD lamp.

And that’s it. I do miss my big car, but I don’t miss the crowded highways and where can you go these days anyway?

So that’s my moan about what I miss after living one year in the Netherlands after 3.5 in the U.S. There are other things I’m missing like crazy right now but they are related to the pandemic and not where I live, like going out, concerts, restaurants, movie theaters, etc etc. Not to mention seeing friends IRL. Can we be hopeful that this will change within 6 months? I think so.

In craft news, the ceramics class I signed up for is postponed til the end of March due to the pandemic. I hope it can start then and not be postponed again. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos about pottery and ceramics and I can’t wait to get my hands dirty.

You haven’t seen much knitting news from me lately (here or on Instagram) because I’ve been either knitting gifts that I can’t show yet, or a new design that I’m not ready to share. However, I just gave one gift, and it’s been received, so I can share it online now. This is a baby blanket made for Ben and Asha, who are divers, so fish are a perfect design for their second baby.

The yarn is Life in the Long Grass DK and I used exactly 4 skeins for this blanket. Details on my Ravelry projects page.

I’ve also just finished the 3rd border section of a christening blanket, in fine Shetland lace that I spun myself. I only have 1 more section to knit and then I can block it and sew it all together. I will be very happy to have it finished and ready to deliver. No photos now because it is still a surprise. They know I’m making it, but have no idea what it looks like.

The photo above was taken during our walk today, just a few minutes from our house. There are more photos from the day on Insta. It’s another cold grey day, but people are out walking and biking anyway. Scout doesn’t care. She’s just happy to be outside, smelling everything, eating the occasional rabbit droppings found on the dike, watching birds.

Have a good week. Coming up next week – iPhone camera vs entry level Nikon camera. Ooooo spannend.

Another Year Older

A Neil Young lyric just popped into my head – “Here we are in the years…”

Just about a year ago, on March 6, 2020, I flew back to the Netherlands. Our California adventure was over and our lives in NL were starting again. Except that it hasn’t really started, has it? People ask me “what’s it like to live in Den Helder?” and I tell them that I don’t know. I’ve spent the year in our house (but the first 2 months in my in-laws house), knitting, sewing, cooking, raising a puppy, and that’s about it. We ate out at restaurants a total of 4 times in all of 2020, and that was all during the summer when the pandemic was at an ebb. We used to go to the movies a LOT in California. Now we watch Netflix and Disney+ and Apple TV+ and HBO. I can’t remember the last live concert I went to.

Blah blah blah. It’s the same story for you too, I know.

I’ve been especially down the past few days. Maybe because this anniversary has come up and things are not better. Festivals for 2021 are being canceled. Events I look forward to are postponed to 2022. The vaccine rollout in NL is incredibly slow and haphazard and unpredictable. I think the unpredictability of the world is what has me depressed.

I am a planner. I cruise the internet looking for camping vacations for September. I browse shops that have tents on sale and I’m tempted to buy one even if I won’t use it for a year just because the act of buying it will give me hope and allow me to plan ahead for something fun. My planning instincts have been slammed flat all year long and it makes me feel things I’ve never felt before. Like futureless. Rudderless. Adrift.

During all of my working years I dreamed of being able to stay at home, not work, and do whatever I want. I’m KIND OF in that situation now. I don’t HAVE to work. I can knit all day long if I want. Or sew. So why do I have no enthusiasm anymore for any of that? I thought I would write a book. Or learn a new skill. And here I sit, feeling sad and bad and listless. ”What a waste of a year!” I think. But no, of course not. I have a puppy (almost a dog) and a home and a husband. We have a life in progress. I know how lucky we are.

I think starting up this blog again will help me to focus and give me a place to put down what I feel – to get it out there into the world and out of my body. DB thinks I should start running again. Maybe. I think I’ll start with writing again. Stay tuned.

The photo above was taken last Sunday on the morning dog walk, at Willemsoord wharf, just minutes from our house. With full moon and fog. The fog horns were going. I can’t upload a video to the free WordPress site here, but if you follow me on Instagram you can see videos and hear birds and the foghorn. If that’s your thing.