Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tom's Visit

At the North Sea

My brother Tom visited for two weeks in November to watch Grant's musical and celebrate Grant's birthday.  It was his second visit to Holland, so he spent most of the time around Wassenaar, going to the market, riding bikes to the beach and walking the dog.  As you can see from the pictures, the weather was cool but it didn't rain too much.

We visited the local tulip farm.  To buy tulip bulbs, you got a bag, fill it with bulbs of the variety of your choice then pay  25 cents a bulb.  

This tulip farm forced tulips so they could sell flowers year round.  These large coolers kept the temperature around 9 degrees centigrade.  When the outside temperature was 9 or less, they shut down the coolers and just opened the doors. On this day, it was definitely below 9.  

They had racks and racks of bulbs.  

After we bought all those bulbs, I enlisted the master gardener to plant them.  Graber helped too.  

No visit to Holland is complete without going to the weekly market.  Tom & I ate kibbeling, small chucks of fried fish. These came right out of the fryer and were delicious.  We were impressed with this vendor's trailer -- very professional.  
The entrance to the Louwman Museum, a building full of 250 cars of all types and ages.  

One of Elvis' Cadillacs 

A car from the Godfather movie. 

Another Godfather movie car.  This one had a flat tire.  How does that happen in a museum?  These guys were going to put on the spare (why would a movie car have a spare?) while they fixed the original.  But the hubcap didn't fit on the spare.  We didn't stick around to see how they solved this dilemma.   Note the can of WD 40 in the foreground -- the universal mechanic's tool.  

Yea Shell!

We rode out bikes to a scenic overlook in the Dunes, the nature area that borders the North Sea.  Here we are looking towards Den Haag.  This strip of park runs the length of the coast line and is great for biking, running, birding and hiking.  

One day we took the train to Gouda (pronounced Howda).  Founded in the 1200's most people know the town for its cheese -- 60% of all Dutch cheese is produced in this area.  It is also well known for its Strooopwafels, two thin waffles with caramel syrup in between.  They are sold everywhere, but the ones from Gouda are considered the best.

The Red Lion windmill in Gouda.  Built in 1727, it is a working windmill producing milled grain.  

The inside of the windmill was open to visitors -- it looked pretty much like you'd expect a working windmill to look….dusty, bags of grain everywhere, spare parts laying around.  

After the grain was milled, they put it in this bathtub to scoop it out and fill the bags.    So maybe the windmill is not 100%  authentic. 

The store where you could buy the grains milled at the Red Lion.  We bought organic corn meal to make sweet potato corn meal muffins.  

The Catharina Gasthuis Museum.  Built in the 1500's it was formerly a hospital. 

The hospital dispensary

Another entrance to the Gasthuis.

The town hall in the center of the town square.  Supposedly, Gouda has the largest market square in the Netherlands, probably to support all the cheese markets.  

Our visit was in November, so Sinterklaas was in the country.  Here a Zwarte Piet runs a game for kids in the square.  They were trying to throw a carrot into the wooden shoe.  

The inside of  the St. Janskerk -- the longest church in The Netherlands.  

The church as 42 windows that were made in the 1500's.  They survived the reformation when the church switched from Catholic to Protestant and they survived WWII.  For the war, they were disassembled piece by piece and hidden in the dunes in North Holland.  

The Cheese Market building

Another shot of the town hall

Tearoom van der Berg -- famous for their stroopwafels.  They were delicious.  

A typical Gouda street. 

Many of the stained glass windows in the St. Janskerk had this sleeping dog in them.  

Fall was here.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

To Life!

Time to catch up on what Grant's been doing this fall.  Early in the semester, the school band and chorus traveled to EuroDisney in Paris where they had a one-day workshop with the Disney musical directors.  Then they gave a concert in the Disney park.  Grant said the attendance was pretty good this year because it started raining before their concert and people were looking for someplace dry.  The kids get the second day to play in the park and have fun.  The school band director's been doing this with Disney for years; it's a great incentive for kids to keep playing in the band in high school.
The ASH Band on stage at Euro Disney
Grant had a solo where he came to the front to play. 
He normally plays the oboe in concert band and saxophone in jazz band.  For Disney, they played more popular music, so the director moved Grant to sax.  

His big activity this fall was playing Lazar Wolf in the High School's production of Fiddler on the Roof.  The show sold out all three performances so almost 1500 people came to see him (and perhaps the rest of the cast as well).   One attendee was Grant's Uncle Tom, who flew over from the US for the show (actually he went to all three shows) and Grant's birthday.

Practice began in August, three afternoons a week until mid-November.  

The director trying to figure out what Grant and Hugo are doing. 

Grant's publicity shot

Tevye and Lazar toasting

Lazar offering his wedding gift of five chickens

The finale

The Papa's had to arrive 30 minutes early for beard application.  

Grant was hoping for something special in the bags, but it was only some type of chemical (probably highly toxic) to remove the beard.  

Grant and Hugo after the show

Can you tell which beard is real and which one is not? 

Speaking of birthdays, Grant celebrated his in November.  He is now a full-fledged 16 year-old.  Luckily, the driving age in Holland is 18, so no new car was on the wish list.  However, the drinking age is 16.  So far, that hasn't been a problem.  He would just as soon have milk.

Grant wore a button that said "16" and "Party Time" to school.  Two of his classes sang happy birthday to him and the band played it.  

Birthday boy with his loot. 

For the family celebration, Lori made him a tres leches cake.   He was much more interested in that than the beer and wine (some of which looks suspiciously like the alcohol left behind by the Sechlers).  

Birthday dinner -- grilled 1/2 pound burgers with bacon, cheese, raw onion and lettuce.  

For the celebration with friends Lori made the infamous Tuxedo cake.  FYI, that's Hugo (minus the beard) on the left.  

Look at the size of that slice. 

Graber got a new soccer ball for Grant's birthday.  

It was great having Uncle Tom here.  

Like last year, Grant participated in the annual Thanksgiving Day service at the Pieterskerk in Leiden.  You can refer to last year's blog entry about the history of the Pilgrims and Leiden, etc.  It's a nice service in a beautiful, historic church.  Afterwards, we went to a restaurant for lunch -- it was a much easier way to celebrate the holiday.
Grant was back on the oboe.
The ASH band in the Pieterskerk
The ASH Choir at the Pieterskerk

This is the local grocery store at 7:00 pm the night before Thanksgiving.  It was totally empty -- much different than it would have been in the States.  

For the winter recital, his voice teacher changed it into a benefit for trees in South America with a theme of Songs from Broadway.  I thought it was a clever idea to raise a little money and increase the attendance.

Future Frank Sinatra

This quartet sang The Lady is a Tramp