Monthly Archives: March 2012

Cobblestone (Or: Church in the Binnenhof)

Another post about the Binnenhof. There’s only a few things that I remember about this place. One of them is the beautiful golden fountain in the middle of the square. Another is the entrances you walk through to get to the square itself. The middle entrance is fairly large, or at least large enough for a car or two. There is also an entrance on either side, small enough for a few pedestrians (or more frequently, a bike).

I remember when I went, there was also a parked cop car and some police milling around, though I got the sense that this area was their regular assignment.

Church in the Binnenhof in the Hague

The other thing that I distinctly remember is the cobblestone that the square and surrounding areas are made of. I have a habit of always looking where I am walking (not that it prevents the occasional trip) so I always note the ground itself. Here the cobblestone is actually fairly wide, with a lot of space between each stone. This is somewhat noticeable, since it can get uncomfortable if your foot hits the stone wrong.

All and all, a beautiful if somewhat sparse square.

Categories: The Hague | Tags: | 2 Comments

Tongue-tied (Or: William the Silent statues)

I was digging through my photos from my various trips to the Netherlands and came across more touristy-type photos. I found one that was in reference to William the Silent (just like a previous statue post about him). I have no idea why he was called William the Silent, but internet research (hi Wikipedia!) seems to suggest it was because he never spoke up regarding controversial topics.

statue of William the Silent in the Hague on a horse

I must admit I also like the deep blue window coverings behind the actual statue. Too bad the flowers can’t be that color as well!

Speaking of red flowers…

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Categories: The Hague | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Marked up (Or: A message of love)

One of the random things in Marco’s apartment is a rather large dry erase board in his kitchen on the wall (like four feet by three feet or similar). Eventually I started writing little messages on it, including “ILYM”, or I love you Marco, a day or two before I had to leave to go back to the States. I put a restaurant menu over it so he wouldn’t see it right away, and then hinted about it on MSN some days after I returned home.

Aww. A message from Marco.

During my second trip I decided to write down the day I arrived, as shown above. And then in the third trip (exactly 8 months later) I did the same.

And then last month Marco surprised me with this picture of what he had written underneath…


Categories: Marco&Niki | 4 Comments

Artwork (Or: Hidden details)

One of the more… unique things I did at work yesterday was help hang up artwork in the lower level of the library, because the professor in charge asked nicely and he had a class to run off to so he didn’t have much time. This was student artwork – digital photography to be exact.

The facilities crew had installed the track that runs along the ceiling earlier in the semester. We just had to hang up the wires from that track with hooks, and screw the frame hooks onto the wire at an appropriate height to hold the pictures. (So, 1 set of hooks for the top of the wire and another adjustable set for further down the wire where the picture was to go.)

Things I learned:

1) Perhaps one should check a package right after it arrives. The package of wires and hooks has been sitting in the room’s cabinet for about two months. We opened it and realized that there was only 8 hooks (to be placed up at the top in the track itself) even though there were 10 wires. And the package did say that there should be 10 hooks.

Somehow this worked out, as we only had twenty feet of track and with eight pictures it was already pretty full.

2) Looping the wire so it hides behind the frame and is not visible to the general public is hard work. The picture itself was pretty high up– higher than my head. Between keeping your hands above your head trying to loop it and trying to tape it with your free hand so that it STAYED in a loop, it was interesting work. At least my right arm was willing to become an informal tape dispenser, so I always had tape in reach.

Somehow this also worked out, but mainly because the professor re-did my work on most of them. Oh well, that’s what you get for free labor…

Now every time I see the photographs I can’t help to think about the coil of wire hiding behind each, all globbed together with tape. Chaos behind beauty.

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Blossoms (Or: Springtime in New York)

One of the benefits of the campus I work at is the flower and tree eye candy — especially for a few precious weeks during the Spring. This year it seems everything has bloomed early, so I went out on Friday before and after work and took some pictures.

Click a thumbnail to see a larger size.


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Cold & wind (Or: Where did Spring go?)

I knew I was going to be in trouble when I left work this afternoon as my earrings were basically horizontal against the wind gusts. Forget keeping the hair somewhat decent-looking – pieces of it were flying out of my hairband with every hard-fought step.

I think the hardest thing about this brief weather transition is the short taste of Spring we were given. But here I am again, zipping up the liner back into the coat and pulling out my hat and gloves for tomorrow’s use. The wind gusts will continue into tomorrow, albeit abated. After that, the temperatures will rise again, though not to their previous levels.

On the plus side, I did manage to take some pictures of the trees and flowers on campus where I work, for a future blog post. This was partially because I am not sure how many plants will survive tomorrow’s sudden temperature shock. …I am not sure I will!

In the mean time, here is another picture of the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, my favorite painting:

Painting in the Royal Palace of Amsterdam

I love the use of the wall to divide the painting into two from the ceiling on down. The white is a good contrast to the paintings themselves which really makes it stand out against the art.


Categories: Amsterdam | Tags: | 1 Comment

Trip planning (Or: Time for adventure)

It was bit of a shock today when I stepped outside — back to the colder not-yet-Springish temperatures. The rain mostly held off, however, with the ground damp but not soaked through. Originally I figured that I was going to stay inside all day and get a lot done with my various projects, but the overarching theme lately is EWF-ASP (engaged white female, always seeking productivity).

My destination: the public library, somewhere I have not been in a while oddly. (One of the consequences of working in a library is the realization that you don’t need to buy a book to read a good book. My wallet thanks me.)

My goal: a guidebook for New York City and a guidebook for Philadelphia. Marco and Roger will be visiting in about a week and a half (yay!) and one of the places we want to visit is Philly. Just a quick trip – 1 night stay perhaps. Nothing is set in stone yet, mind you.

For the guidebook for New York City, it’s mainly to see if I can dig up anything unexpected that we haven’t visited yet. It seems highly likely that we will take a visit to the Bronx Zoo and Chinatown this time around, so that is what I will focus on.

I did find success: I snagged a 2010 book for Philadelphia and a 2011 book for New York City. I had to laugh at the latter since it is already out of date – it still mentions Border’s, which we miss a lot. Mainly because there was one right by Madison Square Garden so it was a great place to hang out while waiting for the MSG gates to open for our Rangers game.

Ah, memories. Here’s to new ones!


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‘t fokschaap (Or: Why do sheep breed verbs?)

A few days ago I was looking at the past tense in Dutch — something that I do not really have much experience with as that is about where my verb studying stopped. So far I have just barely gotten into the basics of it, but I did remember hearing about ‘t fokschaap, or the phrase you need to remember for the past tense of Dutch verbs.

In the past tense, there are two types of verbs. the -d verbs and the -t verbs. All of the -t verbs are contained within the consonants of ‘t fokschaap, or t, f, k, s, c, h, and p. If the crude stem of the verb ends in one of those consonants, it is a -t verb. For the English speaking among us, you could also memorize pocket fish as suggested by the writers over at, but I find the vowels harder to ignore within that phrase.

Note that above I said crude stem. That is basically taking the infinitive of a verb (to sleep = slapen) and removing the -en from the verb to get slaap (a double “a” pattern to keep the syllable long). Thus the crude stem ends in p, so it is a -t verb. For more on the crude stem versus final stem, look at this link.

In other news, the weather is lovely on this side of the ocean, although we are looking at rain tomorrow and this coming week, along with cooler temperatures for a while. I think I only had to wear my jacket on one of the mornings this past week so I really cannot complain!

I had a half productive half lazy Saturday. Errands took about 5 hours (laundry, grocery shopping, and grabbing rent) but the rest of the afternoon was spent watching golf and Tiger Woods retaining his #1 lead and watching the March Madness basketball tournament.

Lazy Saturdays. I approve.

Categories: Learning Dutch | Tags: | 4 Comments

Fryers (Or: The Princess variety)

I remember one time Marco needed to purchase a new fryer. He kindly waited until I arrived so I could experience the joy that is fryer buying. Of course I don’t know what street the store was on – but I can tell you there was a shoe store nearby, as well as a lightning store with lots of chandeliers, I think. It was a wide open street with a lot of space to roam.

The main “odd” thing to me about the store was not being able to grab the item you wanted right away. First you looked at the items on display – mostly small appliances and maybe some cooking materials and vacuums. It’s a bit hazy now. Once you knew what item you wanted, you pulled off a small official piece of paper which had the item and model number on it and took it up to the desk.

You then wait in line to hand in the piece of paper to the cashier, as all of the items that were actually purchasable were not accessible to the general public (sort of reminds me of a closed stacks library!). After a long while, you reach the cashier, who then sends someone to go grab the specific item you are looking for. It’s even possible that that particular store was sending up items on a dumbwaiter type system, but I might be misremembering… But there’s more waiting at that point as well, since it takes a while to go grab it.

I think the waiting bit took about 20 minutes or so.¬† And of course the amusing thing was the fryer he picked out was the “Princess” model! (If that’s not his, it’s very close.) Though it had nothing to do with the name, and more to do with the color (black). When pressed into service, the fryer made some pretty good fries. Though if I remember correctly, the “viewing window” quickly fogs up, so good luck seeing much.

And then of course there is the realization that fryers are… a lot of work, and require hot oil. On my side of the ocean, these are the fries that I eat. You really can’t go wrong there – it’s microwavable and the instructions are hard to screw up, evening coming with pictures. Hence the name “easy fries”. Done in 4 minutes flat and you don’t have to worry about burning yourself either. I did burn a few plates, though…

I think they taste just fine, although I am not that picky when it comes to fries. Remember I haven’t lived in a place with an oven since late 2007, so I really can’t afford to be picky!

Categories: Daily Dutch living | 6 Comments

Descendants (Or: It’s too early for deep thoughts)

Groggy. That’s an apt word to describe my morning, as the alarm went off in the middle of a dream (not that I remember what the dream was anymore). But for someone who generally wakes up slowly before the alarm goes off… it was a bit disorientating.

Thankfully contacts generally do wonders for waking a person up!

When I walked down to the bus stop I was pleasantly surprised to see a particular red car pull up before the bus arrived – whenever I see that car coming down the hill I know I have secured a ride. The driver is someone I know who works near where I work, though not within the college itself. On the ride over we were talking about the morning fog, which got me on the tangent of a trip I took with my mother to West Virginia – on the way down there was a dense fog so we rode behind a semi and then got thoroughly lost when the semi took the exit ramp and we didn’t notice.

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Categories: Moving | 6 Comments

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