Trading in the dogs

I spoke to my neighbor yesterday over the terrace wall and I told her that I was thinking of trading in the dogs for a vegetable patch. When I saw her later on the street, as we were going for our nightly walk, she stopped me and asked if I was serious. And she said didn’t you bring them with you all the way from America? I assured her it was just a joke, I would never trade them in. She seemed relieved. Sometimes, my sense of humour loses a lot in translation. When people asked me what I was going to do to celebrate my birthday I said that I would be going to down to the AOW (like Social Security) office and signing up for my pension. People very seriously told me that you don’t get your pension until you are 68 and that I couldn’t just go and sign up now. This leads me to a couple of conclusions. The first being that I am not always as funny as I think I am. The second being that the Dutch really do take you literally and I need to be aware of that.
 
I am sitting on the couch listening to an album of all rockabilly versions of Ramones songs. Yeah, the Ramones being played on a banjo. It is fun. This might be something I need to incorporate when I go on tour with my banjo. Speaking of banjos, during my lesson this week I lost my temper with myself. My teacher, Paul, must be used to teaching frustrated children because he immediately told me not to get upset, not to expect myself to learn everything perfectly the first time. I actually yelled “SHIT” in the middle of our lesson. I get so busy with thinking about what I should be playing, chord changes, etc that I forget to just play. I do too much thinking. Like all good teachers, he’s always got something to fall back on and it went better the second half. He also told me that the next day, Hemelvaart, there was a bluegrass festival in Utrecht. To be exact, the first Bluegrass Festival of Utrecht.
 
I asked my cousin, Sjoerd, if he wanted to go. I have slowly been exposing him to banjo music, rockabilly, country and stuff like that. Heh, it is a subversive action. He was up for going and we took the train to Utrecht. We had a great time despite the weather. It was so inspiring to see people play the banjo live. Of course, there were other instruments, but I was focused on the banjo. I met some other banjo players and in October, I will be going to Banjo Camp in Germany. I am excited! The festival was in an old land house called De Parel van Zuilen. It was really beautiful, it reminded me of Frankendael. One things for sure, when I go on stage, I am definitely going to have to dress up. I am already starting to imagine some of the great costumes I can put together.
 
Friday I was back in Utrecht. I needed to take Astrid for a drive again to charge up the battery. Which reminds me that this week I really need to find a SAAB mechanic because her belts are squealing something awful and I smelled burning coolant. I was in Utrecht to meet with a family that has started a small vegan cooking and catering company as a way for their daughter become more included in society. The young woman doesn’t speak and she has some other challenges but cooking is her passion. Her whole family is oriented around healthy, vegan stuff. And I went to meet with them to figure out how we can work together. I am very interested to see how that is going to turn out. I know the family because the father worked at my local Ekoplaza until today. He’s now going on to be a mediator and advocate for people with disabilities. I supplied his older daughter with scobies from my super scoby from Goldfinch Kombucha and she is brewing away. She also makes kefir. They are a really neat family and inclusion is a big deal for them. Apparently, here in the Netherlands, because there is insurance and a social care system, most people with disabilities like their younger daughter’s are cared for in institutions.
 
My secondary mission in Utrecht was to hang out at the Intratuin. I was on the hunt for hostas for the front beds since they don’t get much sun. Hostas were also some of my mom’s favorite plants. I spent 3 hours in the Intratuin. I got the hostas. I also rescued some plants out of the plant hospital and I hope I have half the luck with them that my mom used to. While I was looking around, I came across a camellia that had her name. Seriously, it was the camellia Mary Williams. I didn’t know what to think. I just stood there staring at it until I took a picture. I also got a chimenea from Mexico. My mom and I used to talk about them and look at them at Fred Meyer and never buy one. So I did. Looking at it reminded me of the times that my mom and I had in Mexico and how much she liked it there. I figure they probably also have chimeneas in Ecuador but she didn’t get around to getting there. And because I just can’t handle it, I bought a frame and dirt so I can build what’s called a stairs vegetable garden on the terrace. It won’t take up more than a square meter of ground space because it goes up like a staircase. I have to grow some vegetables. After all, something has to keep the Weibe-dori tomato plant company! And I bought copper tape because like the Pacific Northwest, those juicy brown slugs are always here after the rain. They are super slimy! I had to pick them off the Weibe-dori and even after washing my hands twice, my fingers still had slug slime on them. Yum. Maybe you could hang wallpaper with it!
 
Today’s Saturday and the last day of May. Henry and George had an appointment for a bath and nail trim this morning at 9AM. They look very handsome with their big red bows on their collars. And since they have only been on the leash today, they still smell clean 🙂 After that start to the morning, I went to the farmer’s market at the Noorderkerk to get fresh veggies. I haven’t been in a couple of months. All the lovely greens are coming in, the basil, the arugula, stop me now. I managed to control myself and only bought one bunch of each and some asparagus since the season will be over soon. Green asparagus is cheaper than white which is fine by me because I like the taste of the green better. Most people here prefer the white asparagus. I also went to the baker this morning and got some amazing rolls. I am really grateful that I do not have to follow a gluten free diet!
 
From the market, I pedaled over to Rollende Keukens festival to meet up with Joanne and Pieter and their in-laws from the north. Highlights of the festival include: the eggplant tempura, the rabarbcello (which I bought a bottle of), the vegan ice cream (I went there twice) and ending the afternoon on the terrace. The rabarbcello is a distilled from rhubarb. Like limoncello but pink. You drink it very cold and it is super yummy! I have it out of reach of the boys because you never know with these two! I also took home a slight sun burn. I think it might be worth my while to invest in a cool hat for summer.
 
Tomorrow I will get busy with building my staircase garden. I would like to say I am just going to veg out but I think we know that is not going to happen! And this time I will remember to water the plants in the front. Even with all the rain we had this week, they are under the overhang so they don’t get any rain. Which might also explain why I always see my neighbors watering their front patches. You think? Right now I hear my mom saying” For someone so smart…”

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