Of Windmills and Color

Yesterday G. and I rode our bikes to the Zaanse Schans to buy dyes for dyeing yarn and fabric.  It was a glorious day!

I suggested going to the windmill De Kat to buy these dyes because I knew the weather would be nice.  G. suggested going by bike, which made me gulp and exclaim “bike!?”.  I’d never biked that far in my life and was a little nervous about it.  Silly me.  It was great.

We met part way there because she lives in Amsterdam and me in Haarlem.  We met at bike route point #11, which is where one of the many ferries takes cars and bikes across the North Sea Canal.  She had mapped the whole thing out using “Fiets!” app, which also has a web site where you can see your routes and upload and download them.  Luckily, here in NL, the country is crisscrossed by numbered and marked bike routes.  My route yesterday was this:

We biked through small towns and past fields of sheep and ponds with ducks and geese.  We got a little bit lost in Zaandam because there wasn’t a sign where we should have made a left turn.  It’s times like that that I’m happy to have GPS on my phone!  We were soon back on course.  We biked past not one, but TWO chocolate factories which smelled so strong it was almost (but not quite) sickening.  We can smell the chocolate in Amsterdam and Haarlem when the wind is right.

G. couldn’t believe I’d never been to Zaanse Schans before.  I live with a Dutchman.  Why would he want to relive his school trips with me?  I feel bad that I didn’t go there with my mom when she was here.  I just didn’t know how nice it was.  And how close to home.

We only went to the one windmill, De Kat, because we were on a mission to buy dyeing stuff, and because we didn’t want to get home too late in the afternoon.  There were tourists, but it wasn’t super crowded.  We climbed up the stairs to the middle layer of the mill, where the works are inside and the walkway is outside.

There’s a small gift shop and we asked where we would buy the dyes.  The woman said “oh you have to get Piet to take you to the back room”.  Piet was dressed in traditional clothes, including wooden shoes, and carried his bone pipe with him.   He took us through the door marked “Private”, into a fantastic room filled with magic powders.

Nearly all of the products they sell are for making your own paints.  Only a very small part of it, just one “bookcase” was for fabric and wool dyes.  That’s ok.  It’s enough for us to play with!  Isn’t this a fantastic place?

G. wanted a photo with Piet to send to her mom.  Here it is.  Very sweet.

I bought more stuff than I was planning on buying.  I couldn’t resist.  I bought cochineal which is very expensive.  I’ve never dyed with it before so I’m looking forward to playing with that.  Logwood, which I have used before.  Fustic and woad, which are new to me.  I also bought some chemicals for mordants and modifiers – alum and iron and potash.  I was looking for copper for a modifier, but they didn’t have it and I suspect you can’t buy it anymore because it is dangerous to use.  Just as well I couldn’t get it.  I also bought a sweet little book of recipes which included bits of yarn as samples.

We had a quick sandwich in the area and hopped back on our bikes to head home.  G. left me at Zaandam to head to Amsterdam and I pedaled back the way I had come.  I have to say, by the time I reached the ferry I was pooped!  Still 8km to go.  When I was on the ferry you could see in the distance a big cruise ship coming up the canal heading for Amsterdam.  I stopped on the other side and took a few photos of it.  I wanted to include the boat watchers.  I found it really funny that people would drive to this point, get out their chairs and picnic stuff and hang out watching boats come and go on the canal.  Plane spotters and train spotters and now boat spotters.  Takes all kinds.

I biked 40km (24 miles) in total yesterday.  When I got home at around 3pm I put my head under the kitchen faucet and ran cold water.  The farthest I’d ever biked before was 20km to the beach and back.  This was twice as far.  I felt really tired but really good.  Today my legs feel tired, but not sore and not nearly as bad as I was expecting.  I even went to knit night last night in Amsterdam and BIKED to the train station!

I complain a lot lately about getting older and how my body is changing.  I don’t like it.  Not at all.  Getting old sucks.  Pains popping up where there weren’t any last week.  Swollen fingers and sleepless nights.  And then I go for a bike ride like this and I count my blessing over and over again.  I’m so happy I can do this.  Getting old sucks, but getting old in style is pretty ok.

p.s. If you want to know how to change the direction that a windmill is facing, you can find out HERE.

Youngins

I had my sporty bike tuned up this past week and have biked to the beach and back twice since then.  The first time I went was this past Wednesday and as I came to the small lake in the middle of our dunes running area I saw that the wild horses had had foals!  In the 5 years that we’ve lived here and I’ve been going into the dunes, I’ve never seen foals or calves.  They were laying down most of the time so it was hard to get a good photo, and I only had my iPhone with me.

Yes, I know, it’s hard to see them in this photo, but trust me, there are 3 foals laying there.  I also took photos of the ever present cattle.

The area around the lake on this day was crowded with animals.  Cattle, horses, bunnies, and all sorts of water fowl.  It was a busy and noisy spot that day!

Today when I biked past there, the cattle and birds were all still there.  There were more geese than ever, fattening up their young for the eventual trip south.  With the weather we’ve been having they are probably wishing they’d stayed in the south and not bothered to come up here!

The horses had moved to a much quieter spot much farther away from the bike route.  I saw them further up the trail, off in the distance.  I hope to see them again before the foals are all full grown.  I have also seen a fawn here in the dunes, which was also very special and hasn’t been repeated since.

By the way, after my fall down the stairs I’m a bit paranoid about falling, in any way.  Yesterday we bought me a bike helmet.  I will probably never need it (god I hope I don’t ever need it), but I feel safer and calmer wearing it.  I really like biking to the beach and through the dunes.  It’s the other crazy people out there that worry me – walking in front of me without warning or those crazy bike racers who think they own the road taking a corner too fast and taking me out with them.  I shudder when I think about it, but I get back on the bike and head out.  We live in a city on a busy street so this is my own chance for quiet and a little bit of nature.  I’ll take it.

 

Where Things Grow

The thing about California that defines it as something special is that things grow here. That’s why people came in the beginning and that’s why they stay. The weather is perfect for growing things. Just add some water if you need to and watch nature do what it does best – grow.

We rented bikes to use while we are here in Chico. Yesterday we rode for 2 hours through Bidwell Park, east to the golf course and then took a little trail in foothills country. It was our first experience with any kind of mountain biking, in the upper section of our ride. That part of the ride only lasted about 15 minutes but considering our complete lack of preparation (no helmet, no experience) we had a good time. No one got hurt and I learned not to brake on gravel (or you just slide).

Here are some photos taken in the early part of the ride, in Bidwell Park along Big Chico Creek.  Bidwell Park is long and narrow and runs through Chico, west-east.

And a little further along…

It was right after taking this photos that my camera fell.  I had put it back in its case but hadn’t zipped it closed yet.  Then my bike started to fall so I bent down to grab it, the camera came tumbling out of the case (I think the strap caught on the handle bars) and hit the dirt.  The big lens broke off the camera body.  Stupid plastic lens mounts!  Two tiny pieces of plastic broke off and now the lens won’t stay on the camera.  When we got home I tested the camera body with my other small 50mm lens and it works fine ( more photos below with that lens) but the big lens will have to go in for repair.  After some research online later in the day I found out that there’s a Nikon authorized repair center in Beverwijk, which is just down the highway from Haarlem, and I can walk in with it and get it fixed.  Stupid me. Happy to be able to get it looked at easily when we are back home.

Anyway…. this morning I got up (still early waking hours – the sun wakes me up at 6am) to find this beautiful cactus in full bloom.  M. says it only blooms a few days and then it’s done.  I don’t know how long it took to develop the flowers – a year? several years? But I’m happy to be here at the right time to see it and capture it in pictures.  Actually, this is what I wanted the 50mm 1.8 lens for, flowers and knitting projects.

And finally, a photo of Jake the cat.  I first met Jake when he was a tiny kitten.  He would run and jump on you with all baby sharp claws out, no matter how many times you picked him up and threw him off you.  He’s now 10 and mellow and cuddly and sweet.