Monthly Archives: February 2015

Crossing Social Borders

It is raining here today which means that our evening walk will be slightly less than fun for the dynamic duo. I am watching a movie called “Defiance” which is about the Jews who lived in the forest camps of Belorussia during WWII. Perhaps the rain will stop by the time the movie is over.

I also just finished making the hutspot for tomorrow. You should make it a day in advance and let it sit so all the flavors get stronger and blend into the dish. What really makes me feel like a kitchen wizard is that I use the leftover water from hutspot as vegetable stock. Multi tasking in the kitchen makes me feel very efficient.

On my table, I have a lovely bunch of flowers. Actually, I have more than one. Today I went a little crazy and bought two bunches of exotic tulips and one of hyacinths. I know, three are a little bit excessive but I couldn’t choose between the colors. The tulips are yellow and green striped and then some that are called Rembrandts and they are this gorgeous orange and red swirled into one.

Last night I went to my second living room and had a great night full of laughter and conversation. There were some of the usual suspects there and some newer people. We talked a lot about books and the US. I spoke with a woman who has some crazy smart PhDs and wants to move to the US. I really enjoyed talking with her. That is one of the things that I enjoy so much about living here, that people talk. And it doesn’t matter what you do or what age/gender/preference/dietary habits you have, people just talk with each other. I ended up with an invitation to lunch next week from the 21 year old intellectual who’s mother also loves the Ramones. Luc likes to speak English with me. The ironic part is the real reason that Luc likes me is that I call him on his BS. He is very charming and he has a wide ranging conversational library of interesting facts but he is a serious bullshitter. So next week we have a lunch date. I think it will be fun because Luc is very good at talking.

One of the women that works in my living room came by today for coffee and brought me an enormous bouquet of beautiful flowers. We had some good coffee and dark chocolate while George snored on her lap. This is a pretty big milestone in terms of social crossings.

And now I have 4 vases full of flowers πŸ™‚

Window Dressing

Sometimes you can have an experience that is like looking through a store window. What you see in that window is everything you could have ever imagined, your biggest dreams come true. You naturally begin to imagine that dream being real and how your life will change in all these fantastic ways. And then it is closing time for the store and the lights in the window display go off and the rolldown shutters to keep people from breaking the glass come down as well. You are left staring at nothing. I had one of those experiences recently and I was trying to think of the best way to describe it since I am not that handy in either English or Dutch at the moment.

Waiting to Skype with R. in about 30 minutes. I think it was scheduled for tonight anyway, I neglected to put it in my phone right away because I was still thinking through the conversation I had with him on Friday.

Henry and George are nicely next to me on the sofa. George always like to sleep with something over his nose, like his own paw. I know I say it often but I am so grateful for my pets. Without them to push me to get up in the morning, go potty, eat kibble, eat yoghurt, give hugs I would probably have some much rougher mornings. It is hard to disappoint such little beings. And I like the fact that every being in my house snores. George has the best one, it is likeΒ a deep yoga inhalation (which is where he makes the noise) and then he lets it back out. Henry chuffs while he snores, blowing air out the side of his cheeks. Moortje snores and it sounds like you are scratching your skin. Lientje makes quiet little ladylike snores. And me, I snore like a grizzy and apparently the more relaxed I am, the louder I snore.

Not feeling so good today. I am walking around in a state of nausea. And my stomach feels like it is literally in knots. I didn’t give myself a case of food poisoning.

I am really missing Mom today and I know that the nausea and the stomach pain is emotionally generated. I think maybe tomorrow I will go look for an acupuncturist or the equivalent. I will make sure not to get confused and go for a body piercer because that could have unexpected results.


It has been one of those weeks and I am glad the weekend is here even if I seem to still be running around like a crazy woman. The weather is not super cooperative today so we started Saturday with a refusal to go pee outside and instead save it for the living room. Let me clarify, that would be the dogs taking that action just so you aren’t wondering!

Last night I went to Sjoerd and Marieke’s for dinner and I took the tram thinking it would ensure I arrived drier than if I took my bike. Negative. I don’t think I could have arrived any more soaked than I did. As a matter of fact, Sjoerd thought I had ridden my bike. We had a very nice vegan dinner and a long evening of conversation, complete with a break for Skyping with R. I got home around 2am via taxi which was strange because I am so not used to taxi rides.

Tonight Sjoerd is playing with some old Dutch rock and rollers in a tiny place called the Old Nickel in the Redlight district. I will head over there but without my banjo. Although I firmly believe that banjo music belongs everywhere, I am not quite ready for a stage debut with the three songs and one Christmas carol I have memorized. I just hope it stays dry long enough to cycle over there. And if not, my hair will be as wild as everyone else’s.

Somewhat surprising is that next week, I will have houseguests. Lawyerella and her mother will be visiting Amsterdam for a few days. I am, of course, trying to back off from my first reaction which is to plan everything. I think I will show great improvement and ask “What would you like to do while you are here?” I did, however, already order the museum cards and refilled the tram tickets πŸ˜‰ I can only leave so many details up to others!

Unfortunately, I burned my dinner tonight. Well, at the very least I overcooked it. So I decided not to eat it. The boys were somewhat disappointed that it went into the garbage instead of on their plates.

Tomorrow morning, a regular yoga class – not bikram. I haven’t been there before so I am curious to see what it is like. And to add to my Dutch vocabulary. For now, I am going to take a nap before I go out because I am an old lady!

Blah, numbers

I have spent most of the day diving into numbers and spreadsheets for a big meeting tomorrow. Let me just say that at a certain point, I start questioning which numbers are the truth and how do you determine if they are? Which makes the whole exercise that much more painful. Around lunchtime, I took a walk around the block to get a fresh nose as they say in Dutch. It is sunny today and just a little windy so it was a nice pause. The terraces open again officially on 1 March so I am looking forward to that!

I will let you guess which one. One of the dogs rolled in something rotten yesterday because their little jacket stinks. Trouble is, I am not sure who was wearing which jacket since they are both Husky purple. It stinks enough that I don’t even want to put it into the washer until I can get some vinegar to rinse the washer out with afterwards.

Of all things today, I am listening to Dierks Bentley. Of course, the other day it was 2Cellos. And that is a literal description, these two cellists from Eastern Europe that cover rock songs. It is awesome, I feel smarter for just listening to it πŸ˜‰

Melissa Etheridge is coming to Utrecht in April. I bought a ticket and I am looking forward to it. And I will be going to see the comic Russell Peters in Rotterdam that same week. Way to go culture! Actually, I think it is probably because sometimes I need to hear English so I can feel like I understand nuances and subtext and humor again.

I started reading “Gone with the Wind” again yesterday. I have been eager to reread it since seeing the movie. I want to see how much it differs from the book I read as a much younger person.

Tonight is a Skype call with R. It will be our second such call. I think it will be interesting. I usually have the dogs in my lap so they can Skype as well. Yeah, we’re a tech savvy household. Henry keeps asking for an iPhone 6. But he wants one that has the right screen so he can swipe with his nose.

Been a little busy lately…

As it stands, I thought I would take a moment to post while I am waiting for my lunch to heat up. The advantages of not having a magnetron (aka microwave) include that you get extra time to do things while waiting for your food to cook. In this case, 20 minutes to post while my crazy spinach, Field Roast and vegan mac ‘n’ cheeze leftovers reheat. Trust me, it tastes better than it sounds. And it looks much better than it did when I started. I do have to say that cooked spinach is still one of the most unappetizing sites ever when it comes to food. You just can’t make it look good!

I think I am finally caught up from being gone for ten days. Of course, that means that now I have all sorts of other things to look forward to and try to stay current on. What I really want is a vacation. First I have to get through some difficult meetings next week.

Banjo is moving along. I didn’t quite have both songs memorized that I needed to for this week’s lesson but I had made steady enough progress to prove that I had been practicing more often at home. Although, two nights ago when I went to practice, Henry actually made a crying sound like he had been kicked as soon as I started the first few notes. Not exactly a subtle message. Fortunately, while I was in the US, I ordered a banjo practice board all the way from Tennessee. I wondered if I would be able to carry it on the airplane, after all you never know with the TSA. I was able to. And now I can practice whenever I want. This is particularly useful during LONG conference calls.

Black Sails Season 2 has started. Okay, I know that in real life pirates were smelly, violent and generally all around not the folks you might want to hang out with. I have to admit that watching this series is lots of fun for me. Perhaps it goes back to “Pirates of the Caribbean” being tied for my favorite ride at Disneyland (the other one was the Haunted Mansion). Or perhaps I just like the idea of roaming around in seriously dirty clothes as opposed to the usually polished and perfect people that you see on TV. I don’t need to justify it (old habit). It is okay to just like it πŸ™‚

Tonight I am meeting up with Marianne and Joris for drinks, I think. I think it is drinks not that I am not certain I am not meeting up with them. Maybe it will be dinner? Might be nice since I am about tired of my own cooking again!

I was invited to Nairobi tomorrow. Sadly I had to decline and offer to be present via tele-conferencing. It would have been cool to go but for a 2 hour meeting, 18 hours of flying roundtrip isn’t really justifiable!

We’re all okay here, just overscheduled πŸ™‚

Now serving Small Dog coffee

Home again. We just took a walk through our park so the boys could get their ya-yas out. I landed this morning early with very little sleep and promptly forgot to get my change from the taxi driver. It was a very expensive trip home!

I had to come to a painful realization in the past 48 hours. I am now someone who needs to purchase a grown up sized suitcase. It has always been one of my strong points that I can pack really well. And as someone who spent years loading airplanes with other people’s baggage, I was firmly in the “Carry-On baggage” only camp. Accordingly, all my luggage that I have every purchased for myself, my mom or anyone else is carry-on approved size.

During this trip of the Tortilla Express, it was pointed out to me that I really need a bigger suitcase. Wow, that was confronting! It is true though. When I travel back to the US, I always have luggage to check. Granted, leaving here it is usually pretty empty. But going back, between the cans of refried beans, dog treats and the packs of tortillas, it is time to grow up. My next luggage purchase will be one that can only be checked in and not carried on. I think I might need some time to mentally prepare myself. It is almost like turning 40 or some other major life milestone.

In case you are wondering, from landing to exiting the airport and waiting for my pre-arranged taxi, the process took 25 minutes. And that included customs and passport control, bathroom stop and picking up my two checked suitcases (to accompany my two carry-on). That’s what I call a highly effective arrival πŸ˜‰

Apparently, while I was gone, the pets were a dream. The boys only had two accidents in the house. It reminds me of my mom always asking us why we could behave at someone’s else’s house but not at home?

Tomorrow it is back to work and into the routine including a banjo lesson, which means I should practice tonight.

Thank you for being part of my week and if I didn’t see you this time then know it is because I didn’t allocate enough time to the joyful things and I will be working on that before my next visit.