Typically Dutch

The weather is perfect this year for flower growing. This is especially good since last year’s weather was terrible for flowers and the farmers really suffered. The fields are full of color and the air is thick with the smell.  I wish I could share the smell with you!

DB has never been to the Keukenhof.  I’ve been twice before.  I had planned to take 2 colleagues from out of town there today but they had other plans so DB and I went there by ourselves.  I was really afraid that it would be super crowded so we went early.

Along the way I insisted we stop and play tourists and take photos of flowers “in the wild” with farmers and tractors.  There are fields like this all along the western part of the country right now.  Field after field of daffodils and tulips and hyacinths.  Later there will be gladiolas and other summer flowers.  But now is the best time to visit the Keukenhof.

The park was so beautiful.  It was a little bittersweet since I had still fresh memories of being there with my parents (although the weather was much better today than that day in 2001).  It made me miss them both but especially my dad.

We actually bought bulbs too! The bulbs that are now blooming need to be planted in October, so we ordered now and they will be shipped to us in September.  We also bought some Dahlia and Anemone tubers that I will plant tomorrow.

We got there around 9:30 and by 11:30 it was definitely time to leave.  The bus loads of tourists had arrived and it was impossible to take photos without them included, or even to walk around.

It’s really a lovely park and when the flowers are in bloom you not only get to see them in the most perfect condition in the park, but the surrounding area is covered in colors as well.  If you haven’t been, you really should go!

I actually wanted to ride my bike down there, but this was one occasion when DB wanted to go by car since his bike is not in the best condition.  After we got home we discovered that my bike also has 2 low tires and we couldn’t get them pumped up with the pump we have, so we would have gone by car in any case.  Tomorrow – off to Haarlem to get my tired looked at so I can bike to the dunes on Sunday.

If you can make it through the dark winter here, the rest of the year is well worth the wait!

Windy Day at the Beach

Windy Day
Windy Day

As we often do on Sundays, we went to the beach and dunes for a run/walk.  He ran, I walked.  And I took some photos.  It was sunny and cold and very windy.

The wind made interesting relief sculptures out of small stones and shells.

wind sculptures

I haven’t seen any animals here for quite a while.  I don’t know where they are hiding! I see lots of sheep and cattle poop, but not the animals themselves.  I did find a hole in the side of a hill where I think the fox lives.  Maybe I’ll have to do a stakeout and see if he comes out.

trees in dunes
winter lake

…And…We’re Back

After being away from home for 3 weeks (except for a short day in between trips), it’s taking me a while to get everything organized at home and back in some kind of normal order. I’m still doing piles of laundry and sorting through piles of photos. Today I’m fighting with the “new” Flickr and still haven’t managed to upload my 400+ photos from my travels.

The photo above was taken in my mom’s garden. She has lots of beautiful flowers with birds and bees and butterflies zooming around through the plants. We had fantastic weather the 2 weeks we were there. It was so nice to get warmed up from the never ending winter in the Netherlands.

While in sunny CA we went to Chico to see my niece and her husband, to Yosemite National Park for Sunday Brunch at the Awahnee Hotel, and to Santa Cruz to meet some knitting friends and put my toes in the cold Pacific waters. Of course all during this time I was busy knitting away on my “Twice Born” shawl that is part of Mad May on Ravelry.  I have photos of all these events, but you’ll have to be patient. I’m trying to be patient with flickr.

I also spent 5 glorious days in Estonia for a conference on Traditional Knitted Sweaters Around the Baltic Sea. This was a fantastic experience that was over far too quickly. The weather was perfect, the people so friendly, the knitting and handwork beautiful and inspiring. Add good music and food and you have a little bit of perfection in 5 days. I would love to go back to Estonia to see more and learn more. Of course I have hundreds of photos of this event, but you’ll have to hold on and be satisfied with just this one, that I’ve taken from J.’s FB page.

I’m heading back to flickr now to see how things are progressing with my photo uploads.  More exciting stories and photos will be posted here in a day or so.

Photo Shoot

This afternoon DB and I headed into the dunes from Parnassia to take photos of me and my 2 new sweaters.  We had sun but it was very cold.  Unfortunately, few of the photos are any good.  I’m no model and DB is new to photography.  We do our best.  We did learn a lot and will head back out there to try again with the information gathered from this first try.  It would also be good if I could lose 15 pounds (6kg) in the next couple of weeks, but that’s not likely.

After the photo shoot, while walking back to the car, I took the above photo.  I don’t know what possessed me to change it to B&W since I don’t normally do B&W, but I’m glad I gave it a try.  I think it’s much nicer this way.  Here’s the original:

Over the next week I’ll see what I can salvage from the sweater photos and see what magic I can do in Photoshop.  Hey, if magazines can make models look “perfect”, I should be able to do the same, right?

Here’s my best photo from the day:

Indulgence on Friday

I had been meaning to get to the FOAM for months now to see the Diane Arbus exhibit there.  Today we finally made it.  We got there early before it got busy, which is good.  The FOAM is small with lots of hallways taking you from one small room to the next and I imagine if it’s crowded it wouldn’t be much fun.  I hate having to negotiate space with people in order to see things on walls.

If you want to see this exhibit, hurry, it ends 14 January.  There are not only photos taken by Dian Arbus, but what I found really interesting was the section about her life, how she became a photographer, what cameras she used, who hired her and what media she was involved with.

What DB and I both found curious about the photos chosen for the exhibit is that they were all so somber.  Looking at the books in the shop later, and looking at her original proof sheets on display, she had a lot of photos of happy looking people.  For some reason, whoever chose these particular photos to hang on the walls, didn’t use them.  No happy people allowed.  Curious.

Like all highly acclaimed artists, she makes her art look easy.  If you didn’t know better you’d come away thinking “well, I could have taken those photos”.  Well, no you couldn’t.  Look at how she used light.  Look how she used contrast.  What has she chosen to include, and more importantly exclude, in the picture frame.  That takes an eye that nearly everyone else doesn’t have.  When you look at the cameras she used it is even more amazing that she got those shots.  Even with all our fancy camera equipment available these days, that is fairly affordable, we take snapshots that no one will look twice at.  And I won’t even start about Instagram, something I really hate….

Looking at her first Nikon on display I had a momentary longing for my first 35mm camera, a Pentax with a 50mm lens.  Totally manual.  I took B&W film and developed the negatives and made prints in the darkroom at school.  It would take me days, even weeks, to come up with something I liked and would show anyone else.  A far cry from our instant everything digital world.

Going to this exhibit was inspiring for me.  If nothing else, it made me realize again that I need to carry my camera with me at all times.  Using my iPhone camera is just plain laziness.

Oh, btw, after the FOAM, we had lunch at an Irish pub.  We pretended to be tourists and had the full Irish breakfast.

Then we went to Soap and had hour long massages.  It was indeed a self indulgent day.

TodaysArt Festival

This past weekend we went to the TodaysArt festival in den Haag.  It’s a festival full of music, sculpture, video, film, dance and more I’m sure.  We only saw a small fraction of it.

Friday late afternoon we showed up and wandered into the City Hall Atrium.  We watched a team of people put finishing touches on the Landscape:

And watched Wolfgang prepare for his show later that evening as Mohn.

 

Unfortunately Mohn would be playing very late Friday night, past our bedtime, so I was really happy to get to hear a little of their music while they set up.

After we had some dinner we headed to the Lucent Danstheater and listened to “Music for Solaris”.

The music was played by the two composers, Ben Frost and Daniel Bjarnason and a small orchestra from Poland.  In the background a video played, using film from a movie adaptation and other manipulations.  It was often beautiful and surprising, very moody and captivating music.  My only criticism is that it went on just a little too long and in the end didn’t seem to have a connection between video and music.  The video ran out of steam and showed colored screens until the end of the music.  The actual end of the piece was lovely the way they dropped away to silence, but they should have done it 10 minutes earlier.

After that we went back to the City Hall Atrium to see that the lights had been set and everything looked very different.  Also, on the stage  was “Inneract”, another music/video concert, this time with a harp player and two keyboard/electronics players.  Here are some photos of the scene there.

Outside, in the Spuiplein, “The Vortex” was alive with music and lights.  It’s made of garbage that had been gathered from people in den Haag (The Hague in English).

Saturday we went back and watched the film “Outliers Vol. 1: Iceland”.  It was basically part documentary and part art film about 7 artists who went to Iceland to take photos and film and sound and create something from that.  It was so beautiful!  The country is beautiful and the images and sounds and music they made is also beautiful.  I really do have to go there.  Especially when the seasons are changing and there’s a chance of seeing lights in the sky.

We didn’t do much else Saturday at the festival because I was coming down with the flu.  By the time the movie was over I was already feverish.  We ate, then came home on the train.  I felt bad because there was still so much to see.  Oh well.  Next year.

The train home:

(All photos taken with Nikon D5100 and 50mm 1.8 manual focus lens (thanks Mom!), no photoshop done anywhere.)

End of Summer

You’d never know that last weekend we had summer-like weather and had to smear on sunscreen all weekend.  Gone.  All gone.  This morning I went to the beach to walk and take photos.  I took my big camera for a change.

I parked at Bloemendaal, where I took the above photo.  You can see that they are starting to tear down the summer restaurants.  Here too, a little further up the beach:

You can see how grey the morning was.  It was windy, but it wasn’t cold.  I walked up the beach to Parnassia.  It was a lot more lively than Bloemendaal, for one reason only….. DOGS!

There were little bitty dogs

Funny dogs:

and really really BIG dogs:

Herds of dogs, such as

6 Golden Labs owned by one family

3 Bernese Mountain dogs owned by one man and his son

2 very large poodle looking dogs owned by one couple

There was the very proud dog owner.  This man was smiling ear to ear with his little dog.  He was busy making movies of the dog fetching a stick.  Ahhhhh.

Eventually I ran out of dog beach and doubled back to head up into the dunes from Parnassia.  I figured, I wasn’t running, I needed the exercise, I already had my camera with me, so go into the dunes and walk to the little lake and see what you find.

The first thing I found was a herd of horses.  These wild horses roam around the dunes, north to south.  I don’t know if they are ever moved around by people or if they belong to anyone besides the National Park (this being Kennemer National Park).  I hadn’t seen them for nearly the whole summer.

And then there were the trees and flowers and grasses of the dunes:

As you can see in the last 2 photos, the sun finally did come out by the end of my walk.  And by the end of my walk I was TIRED!  I had not intended to walk for nearly 2 hours, but once you are that far from your car you have no choice but to walk back.  I often have this problem.  I want to walk farther and farther and I deny to myself that getting back will be long and tiring.  I always make it back though.

When I left the house I was feeling kind of bad because I wasn’t running or biking.  I felt like a lazy slug, taking the car and a camera.  But by the time I had walked all that way through sand and hills, I realized how good it was for me and how well it cleared my head.  And I have the photos as a bonus!