Similar to the photo I posted yesterday, one of the rotating advertisements on the digital advertisement boards is for onlinebibliotheek.nl.
The advertisement says “If you can’t go outside, you can still bring the world inside, right? … Visit (online) your bookstore or go to onlinebibliotheek.nl”.
Luckily the library here in The Hague says no fines until 13 April due to all of the branches being closed They ask that you hold onto the items you have checked out for now. Like a typical book junkie, I only wish I had realized in advance that all of the library branches would be closed so that I could check out more books in the meantime. I suspect the libraries won’t reopen on 6 April, especially considering the new rules that the Netherlands is taking to enforce social distancing.
Right now I am reading The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, in Dutch. If I am honest with myself, I have plenty to read after that, books that I already own (including Magic Journey: My Fantastical Walt Disney Imagineering Career by Kevin Rafferty). But there is just something about getting a library book and cracking open the binding for the first time…
Sometimes you get lucky and someone who had the book before leaves a checkout receipt inside or a bookmark or something like that. The last book I checked out from the library had a pressed flower inside that was presumably used as a bookmark. With little purple flowers.
A few minutes ago a lot of radio stations played You’ll Never Walk Alone by Gerry and the Pacemakers. The original idea to play it this morning at 08:45 came from the Dutch DJ Sander Hoogendoorn from the radio station 3FM. The idea spread first in The Netherlands, and then to all of Europe. Officially 183 European radio stations signed up to the action (article in Dutch), but even the radio station we were listening to (Arrow Classic Rock) played the song at 08:45.
Walk on, walk on With hope in your heart And you’ll never walk alone
The Netherlands is enjoying a last minute fling with summer today, with temperatures over 80F. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but here it is! I decided to take a stroll over to the Palace Gardens, which I’ve already blogged about a few times over the years (2012 and 2016).
It was lovely to sit in the sun and just read a book. Today I started a book by Neil Gaiman – The ocean at the end of the lane or De oceaan aan het einde van het pad in Dutch, as that was the language I was reading it in. It’s about a man who goes back to where he lived as a child to attend a funeral. While there he gets lost in his memories of his childhood.
One interesting and unexpected thing was that the book begins with a preface which reads “Ik schrijf in mijn eigen taal. Dat is Engels. Ik ben er erg dol op. Het is een goede, soepel taal, waarin ik kan uitdrukken wat ik te zeggen heb. …” Or, translated: “I write in my own language. That is English. I am very fond of it. It’s a good, flexible language where I can express what I need to say.”
I thought that was quite strange, and wondered if that preface was in every version of the book. But no, he goes on to say that his sister-in-law lives in Utrecht (a city in central Netherlands) and he brings his family to the Netherlands as often as he can to visit. He goes on to say that you don’t need an English/American upbringing to read this book, and since it is now translated into Dutch you can read it too (of course the preface was translated as well, since he doesn’t speak Dutch). Kind of cool.
The only small downside to going to a park to read is that sometimes you can get distracted and not be able to focus on the story. Especially when what you are trying to read isn’t in your native language… When I arrived, I chose a nice sunny bench, at the end to give others plenty of room to also sit down (the benches generally fit three adults). I’m at the far left, with no benches to my left. To my right, there are another three benches, all grouped right next to each other.
After a while, a man sat down on the other end of the bench I was at. No problem at all; he was just watching his kid. About five minutes later a woman sits down next to him, so I promptly and politely moved my backpack to the ground so she definitely had enough room. And then they began to talk. Argh.
Oddly enough, I had no problem when the conversations happening were at the next bench (about five feet away), but one foot away was a bit much. Especially since they were tourists speaking English, which meant hearing one language and reading another. I was pondering my options – 1) suck it up and keep reading 2) go find another bench 3) leave. But after a few minutes they all got up and left. Yay.
So I kept reading, having a personal goal of getting to 100 pages. I did that, and was at page 103 when two more people sat down at “my” bench with a few other folks in their group standing around them. And they began to talk loudly. Arghhhh again. This time I gave up – I was past my goal anyway – put my bookmark in place, stood up and left immediately.
I don’t know. Maybe I expect too much. It is a communal park after all. 🙂
The weather here has been absolutely dreadful. Monday morning I made the mistake of wearing my lighter jacket, not realizing how bad the wind would be. With the windchill, it was about 0C/32F. Brrrr! I made coffee the second I got home, let me tell you. And now it’s Wednesday. The weather is a tiny bit better, but not really. It’s still cold, windy and rainy.
One fun thing to do on days like this is to read. My current Dutch novel is Wabi-Sabi by Francesc Miralles. Wabi-sabi is a Japanese philosophy of accepting your imperfections and making the most of your life. But that’s not why I grabbed the book. I grabbed it because it starts with a cat!
One note about the various editions: the Dutch version I am reading seems to be two books in one, totaling around 400 pages. If you’re instead reading it in English, you should look for Love in Lowercase to read the first half. Let me tell you: if the book had that title and this book cover instead I wouldn’t have given it a try. I am not big on romances.
But to me, I just saw the cat. Which is funny, since I am not a big cat person. I tolerate them, of course. I think they are darn cute. I love how soft they feel to the touch. But I don’t really trust that they won’t go berserk at a moment’s notice and claw me for no reason. I love reading about them, though. Also try The Guest Cat by Takeshi Hiraide.
This book is pretty easy to read in Dutch. The font size is big enough (not any of that annoying fine print sized font) and the author has a habit of writing 3-4 page chapters. You won’t hear me complaining about that. I do remember one time I found a book in Dutch online, thinking it would be a great read. I checked it out from the library without opening it until I got home. Imagine my disappointment when I saw the abysmal font size and the lack of paragraph breaks (seriously, I found a page with no paragraph break on either the left OR the right side). That one quickly went back to the library unread.
Anyway: the theme of this book so far is sort of the butterfly effect (an idea that a small change can cause something much bigger to happen). The cat stops by, and ends up staying. Because of that, the main character meets his next door neighbor, ends up going to the vet, sees a love he thought he’d never see again, etc. It’s very enjoyable so far.
One of my guilty pleasures when it comes to Dutch television programming is Heel Holland Bakt which translates to ‘All of The Netherlands bakes’. Yeah, it sounds better in Dutch…
It is a cooking competition held outside in a tent. The format is a spin off of the UK’s The Great British Bake Off and there are actually many international variants of the program. There was even an American version… for a total of seven episodes. Yikes.
Actually, Heel Holland Bakt is one of the few weekly Dutch shows that I watch outside of the news programs. Of course when I moved to the Netherlands I watched a lot of television to learn Dutch, but not so much anymore. Don’t get me wrong – half the time the TV is set to some Dutch thing or another (F1 racing is pretty cool when Max Verstappen hasn’t totaled his car in pure anger), but I don’t watch anything with same amount of regularity that I watch Heel Holland Bakt.
One of the highlights of the show is the Dutch comedian André van Duin who presents the show alongside its two judges. I tend to like his style of comedy, and his Dutch is pretty easy to understand. There’s exceptions of course, and I do find myself sometimes turning up the volume a bit too high to understand some references, but it is generally easy enough to follow along.
This season also had two interesting threads to follow: 1) Cas, who has a hearing impairment and 2) the controversy surrounding Maroeska, who may or may not be an amateur baker.
When Cas was selected for the competition he brought along a sign language interpreter (by the name of Wieke) to translate everything. The only question I had was why she would sign everything, even when he wasn’t looking at her. But it turns out that was the agreement the two of them made – sign everything, just in case. You can read an interesting article in Dutch about Cas, Wieke and their experiences here (if you’re caught up).
The other contestant that got a lot of reactions was Maroeska, who has received a ton of criticism in the news and on Twitter because she has in the past written a cookbook and had a catering company. The question is whether or not either of those things disqualify you from joining Heel Holland Bakt because you can’t be considered an amateur. I don’t have an opinion either way – especially in this era of easy self-publishing when anyone can publish a cookbook! – but I do think the criticism has gone too far. It’s a pity.
All in all, it’s been a fun show to watch. I will miss Heel Holland Bakt. And I might have to look up André van Duin in some of his other work.
I’ve now been in the Netherlands for six years (time flies!). In October of last year I received the letter to renew my residency permit. My first year here I had a one-year permit, but after I married Marco I qualified for a five-year permit (hence the six-year total). This is much appreciated, since the fee (€171) is the same for either case…
I received the notice in mid-October, and send in the paperwork about a week and a half later. Of course, if I had known that the decision could take up to three months, I might not have waited!
The letter above says “We have received your request for an extension to the duration of the residency permit. The timeline for this decision started on October 27, 2018. You can expect the decision by January 25, 2019.” Guess when the next letter arrived with IND’s decision?
No, really. There’s only one right answer.
If you guessed “January 25, 2019” you would be correct!
Marco and I knew that there was a bit of a backlog at IND (understandable, since they aren’t fully staffed) but sheesh. The reason I should have sent in the extension right away was because my residency permit expired a few weeks before the 25th. No big deal, as I simply carried around the letter saying that the extension was in progress, but still. It’s amazing to think your existence in a country is tied to what is effectively a thin piece of plastic with a picture on it.
At least now I am officially legal until January 2024!
2018 was definitely the year of reading for me. In total I finished 19 books in Dutch and 11 books in English. Thanks in part to a re-read of the Harry Potter series, I must admit. The Dutch translations clock in at just over 3,000 pages for seven books!
Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatore. Also a hefty read, it came in at just over 1,000 pages for the Dutch translation and was thus split into two parts. The best part? The Dutch translations were released in December 2017 and January 2018, whereas the English translation was not released until October 2018. One of those times knowing another language besides English has been beneficial for reading.
I can’t believe it, but this blog has hit 1,000 posts! And what better way to celebrate that than with some pictures of a recent (unrelated) gift I received?
Snelspelwijzer, from Onze Taal (Quick spelling guide). And one very colorful postcard!
The gift came from my old language coach (from SamenSpraak) who I still see on a regular basis. If you’re wanting help with your Dutch, I can’t recommend SamenSpraak enough. Here in The Hague there is a monthly meet up, the first Wednesday of every month. It meets in the central library’s café. You can also get paired with a volunteer language coach and meet up as often as you both wish. Once a week, every 2 weeks, and similar. If you’re in Den Haag I recommend first dropping by the café to see what the group is all about, but you don’t have to do so. Back in 2014 I went to three café meet ups before I signed up to be paired with a coach, but that’s just me.
The section above is Klinkerbotsing in samenstellingen or ‘Vowel collision in compound words’. The chapter is about hyphen usage. The rule here is basically that if a compound word, and the first word ends in a vowel and the second word begins with a vowel, you need to join the two words with a hyphen. Example: foto-expositie (photo exhibition).
I predict Marco will hear some rather geeky grammar things in the near future.
What can I say? Sitting in the library café in the morning sipping an iced coffee is the best.
A lovely Saturday morning at the library
This morning I finished part 2 of Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatore, a book first mentioned in the last post. It is about a painter, estranged from his wife and temporarily living in an old house in the mountains as its caretaker. The original owner, famed painter Amada Tomohiko, suffers from dementia and resides in a nursing home.
The story unfolds with the ringing of a bell… the simple ringing of a bell. Somehow ringing from beneath a burial mound, beneath countless immovable rocks, at the edge of an old shrine. But when the bell is dug up by the narrator and his rich neighbor, strange events begin to occur and Amada Tomohiko’s past is uncovered, bit by bit. Sweeping the narrator up in its wake.