Birthday, bike accident and a banjo

Let me get the important things out of the way first. Today is the birthday of the Move Goddess. Hip Hip Hoera, Happy Birthday and many more! I keep track of birthdays in the Dutch fashion – a birthday calendar that hangs in the guest toilet. An important piece of birthday calendar etiquette is if you are looking through the calendar, as everyone does, and you don’t see your name – you should absolutely not add it. It is considered completely beyond the pale. On your birthday, you are expected to bring pastries for your colleagues. And a sign of acceptance in the workplace is when you are added to the official birthday list. I am a little more flexible. If you come to visit and don’t see your name on my birthday calendar, tell me and I will give you a pen to add yourself.
 
I caused a bike accident today. Beatrix and I fell down a small slope and into the street, right into the bike lane. And we landed on a ten year old girl who might possibly need years of therapy later. I had just stopped my bike in front of Sjoerd because we getting ready to park and go banjo hunting and I went straight past over balance to no balance. In the midst of this debacle, a woman stopped in front of us and proceeded to tell me how stupid I was in Dutch. Right, like I plan these kinds of things! I apologized repeatedly and wanted to make sure the little girl was okay. Her parents didn’t chew me out which surprised me. They weren’t happy about the experience but they just handled it. Sjoerd and her dad fixed the handle bars with an allen wrench from the coffee shop (where they don’t serve coffee, just weed) and I handed over my speculaas cookies that I had picked up earlier from the bakery to give the little girl. She’ll have a hell of story to tell at school, that she got knocked off her bike by a crazy American woman.
 
I’ve had this fear of causing a bike accident. Now I have, so I suppose that is behind me too. I have noticed since this afternoon, I am a lot more wobbly on my bike again. I thought I was doing pretty well. Kind of like I thought I could communicate in Dutch pretty well – before I went to the nuns!
 
And then on to the real purpose of my bike journey today, to get my banjo. Despite weird things that seem to happen to me when I am around my cousin, I figured we should keep going since I needed a musician to listen to the different banjos with me. Of course, the first thing I said to Sjoerd when we sat down to coffee after the bike accident and before the first music store was “I need your help picking out the right banjo. Because I am not going to be like you and have more than one banjo.” Sjoerd plays bass guitar and he currently has 8 of them. Right, so sensible of me. Of course, by the time we get to the third floor of the first music store where the banjos are hidden away, I am seriously contemplating needing two banjos. One open back one for the sound it gives and one solid back one. See, I told you, weird things happen to me when Sjoerd is around 🙂 However, we left the first music store without either banjo.
 
We went to the second music store, which I had already scouted out earlier this morning before meeting Eliza and her friend for brunch. The music store has been there since 17something. They have a room upstairs with all the string instruments where you are allowed to play. I think we were up there for an hour going back and forth between the banjos. I ended up choosing the one I had my eye on this morning. It is a solid back and quite heavy. It is the most versatile sound wise and it has a very clear sound. And I left there with a banjo in a backpack. This evening, I was practicing. I am pretty sure the neighbors will eventually get sick of hearing the same things over and over. It sounds so much better than my catalog banjo.
 
When I got home, without further bike incidents, the boys and I went for a long walk in Beatrix Park since they needed to run and I needed to clear my head. Walking was safer. We had a good time. The park was pretty empty and George and Henry had a great time playing King of the Hill on top of the wooden stage. George almost took a swim but pulled himself back in the nick of time. Perhaps I will one day give an open air concert on the stage with the boys as my back up band – the Hound Dogs.
 
After we got home, I couldn’t put it off anymore. I had to clean house. In honor of Move Goddess, of course. I couldn’t really celebrate her birthday by making a mess or adding to my clutter collection. Because I have a newly clean kitchen, I decided no cooking for me tonight. I got back on the bike and rode to De Pijp for falafel from Sonny’s. The best part about Sonny’s is that it is completely vegetarian, so I don’t have to look at racks of gyro meat or shoarma while I am waiting for my falafel. And their falafel is very good. And my kitchen remains clean!
 
Yesterday, Moortje needed to go to the vet to have a check on his neck. We went on the bike which wasn’t good for either one of us. His carrier doesn’t quite fit in the basket so I was super worried about hitting a bump and having him go flying out and shattering against the pavement. It didn’t happen, of course. We went to the vet and back in 20 minutes and that included him seeing the vet. His neck looks good and the hair will eventually grow back.
 
This morning George wasn’t feeling good so we went out twice so he could eat some grass. It still didn’t help all the way but by tonight he was back to normal and eating again. I tell you, never a dull moment around this joint. As I am typing, they are curled up next to me doing what they do best, snore.
 
Yesterday, I met the person who used to do the job I am doing now. We were all at the opening of a partner’s facility and I came face to face with my predecessor. It is hard to say who it was more awkward for. He didn’t leave his position by choice. All things considered, it went as well as could be expected and I left early so as not to make the situation any more awkward since most people assume it was his choice to leave. It is a small country and our paths will cross again since we’re in the same field. I did have some interesting conversations with other people about developing competencies across technologies and disciplines. Of course, I tried to have these in Dutch so I am not sure I made any sense at all…
 
Ah, guess what? There is now a plastic recycling bin at the end of our block near the RAI. Woohoo! Normally I take them over to De Pijp but we have graduated to our very own. This awesome because I go right past it when I cycle to the train station and can easily drop off a bag of recyclables. It is the small stuff that makes me happy, clearly.
 
I thought about Mom a lot today. When we were walking in the park and Henry was standing amidst the daffodils. It was easy to think of her practicing with her camera to get the perfect shot and telling him to stand still. And when I was practicing with the banjo tonight and how I don’t think it was as bad as it could have been, not like learning the trumpet. And how she would have given that woman who stopped to tell me how stupid I was what for and then some. Mom was always our biggest advocate. She was fearless when it came to defending someone who was important to her. That is a gift that she gave each of us. I know that I learned to be an advocate from her example. I could also imagine her asking all kinds of questions in the music stores, she was always curious about things.

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