Monthly Archives: March 2016

Crushing so hard…

Last night, I went to see Anneke van Giersbergen and I think it was one of the best concerts of my life. First of all, we had row 2 seats so I could count her eyelashes. She was playing with an Icelandic band called Arstidir and it was an incredible show. You can get a taste of it the music here .

My companionย was a huge fan andย began crying during some of the songs. Luckily, I had tissues with me and could helpfully offer them to her during those delicate moments. I wasn’t moved to tears but I could easily understand how you would be, especially if you have been a long time fan.

She (Anneke) told stories throughout and she was funny and self deprecating. The music was breathtaking and her connection with the audience was amazing. The theatre only holds 450 people so you really felt connected.

Of course, afterwards, we were much too wound up to just simply bicycle away in the night to our respective corners of the city so we ended up closing down two bars. Pretty impressive for a Tuesday evening. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We had a lot to talk about – everything from ANNEKE to culture and immigration to families to music. It was a really good evening and I was glad to get the chance to get to know her better.

Home at 3AM and at work at 9AM. That is one thing I can say for myself – if I stay out late, I still make it to work on time ๐Ÿ˜‰

It is sunny today so everything is looking good ๐Ÿ™‚ Henry is recuperating nicely – they didn’t have to steal his teeth so that was a plus. Okay, back to work because I just had to get my ANNEKE out ๐Ÿ™‚

Would someone please pass the PowerPivot?

Big sigh… today, I am not winning when it comes to internet gateways, downloads, managing queries or any number of things related to working with Excel. When I was in Portugal, my colleague gave me this amazing dashboard and I would really like to modify it for here. And so far, I have tripped over every single thing that could go wrong. I’m reaching the point where I am not sure if it is my faulty memory or Excel ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am going to make one more serious effort and then I am going to go back to Portugal for a remedial course!

I am waiting for the vet to call. Henry had to go in this morning for a dental extraction. There was a little anxiety here at the ranchย  because I was up at 630 and working from bed since I couldn’t get up. The boys would have expected breakfast and Henry was not allowed to eat. George was left behind when I took Henry to the vet and as I was closing the door, I heard this pathetic little “Peep peep”. Whereas Henry thought we were going somewhere fun and exciting, just the two of us and proceeded to dance his way the two blocks. He has a funny walk. When he moves faster than slow, he hops like a rabbit.

He was not happy to be left at the vet. He put his consider 7.4kgs into resistance. The worst part was him looking over his shoulder at me as I left to go to my Dutch lesson. The guilt that one small dog can invoke… George has been a little clingy, he’s not sure why his brother is not here. He’s just gone out with Kate so he will be running in the woods for a good couple of hours. By which time, Henry should be home since he is sleeping off his anaesthesia.

We had a really good weekend around here. The weather gave us lots of time to be outside and practice our coping skills with high winds. The dogs handle that differently than I do ๐Ÿ™‚ I went to a really cool gathering Sunday night that was focused on bluegrass, blues and all kinds of American roots music played by non-Americans. I really enjoyed it and got to see some things you should not do with the banjo… I also think there might be an accordeon player in my future since imagine how muchย greater everything would sound with a Squeeze Box player? The woman playing itย had an awesome disco glitter red one that she bought off Marktplaats (the local equivalent of CL).

Last night, I met a friend for dinner and reached my 17K steps for the day – whoop whoop! Okay, my calves are sore today but it was worth it. I am walking more now than biking because I am listening to music. Andย earbuds while bicycling is more dangerous than I want to take on, especially considering my near miss with the tram the other day.

Tonight I am going to another concert with tickets that someoneย I know couldn’t use. Awfully nice of them! Looking forward to it because it isย Anneke van Giersbergen who is like a Dutch Rock Goddess.

I am a little bit short on sleep because we went forward for summer time which always throws me off and because I’ve been having some intense late night conversations lately. Like yesterday morning at banjo, I was having a little bit of a rough time putting the chords together because I had been up til 3AM. Back in the day, the wages of sin would have been a backstage pass. Now in my sensible adulthood, it’s late night chatting ๐Ÿ˜‰ Wouldn’t necessarily change it though!

The vet just called so that means off to pick up Henry ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚


Tasty elephant

I am taking a slight break from the elephant because I am super pleased with my progress! Guess what? I found the cats’ pet passports!!! Luckily, I also have the bottles from their last vaccinations so on Tuesday, I will go by and have them officially amended with the last visits.

I found the garden furniture I want as well. But I am just flirting with it for now, until everything else is planted, the furniture isn’t really necessary. It is really cool though and unlike the terrace furniture sets that most people have in terms of shape/color/texture.

The downside of the fantastic weather today is that my curls have gone bye-bye. They were still in fine form last night so that was good ๐Ÿ˜‰ but now, no more. However, it is going to rain tomorrow so they will be back. When I go out tonight, I’ll have to put it up in one of those clippy things. That much I can manage ๐Ÿ˜‰

I talked with Meredith today and the dates for the Minion TakeOver of Chicago are set for early June. I am so looking forward to going and being with them. Sometimes it is hard seeing people you love once a year. I know, I made the choice but it still twinges. Hopefully, the dates work out for the twins as well so then we will have five Minions. Or maybe more if they have started dating. Hmm, I think I should know that as the Big Sister but I kind of don’t want to…

Henry ran away in the park today twice. I think maybe it was the weather that encouraged his bad behavior. Once he got into the swan and bird enclosure so I had to hang over the fence and pull him out. That was the second time. I think maybe he knows he is going to the vet on Tuesday and this is way of paying me back. He’s going to have a tooth pulled so it will be quite a long day for him there.

Tomorrow night I am going to an event that is targeted towards “Stringlovers, banjodelinquents, guitarpickers and bluesharp-alligators” so that sounds like it is going to beย a lot of fun ๐Ÿ™‚ Needless to say, they had me at banjodelinquents.

Okay, I want to tackle some more of the elephant before I go out so bye for now ๐Ÿ™‚

Pausing for motivation

I am giving myself the time it takes for me to enjoy my cup of coffee to write and then after the coffee is up, it is off to work. It might be Good Friday and the office is closed but I have a list of stuff that I want myself to do. Sadly, delegating isn’t as much fun when you are both delegating and the one being delegated to ๐Ÿ˜‰

I have amazing hair today. Seriously not due to my efforts at all, other than I have the good sense to have Nikah as my unruly curl manager. I went to her salon this morning around 9AM and left with a different outlook ๐Ÿ™‚ It is always nice to see her and catch up. They were booked solid this morning so I was lucky that she made the time for me. Of course, it might also help that I usually bring her back Reese’s when I come from the US ๐Ÿ™‚

Despite the rain, I felt like my curls needed showing so I walked around de Pijp a bit, stopping in the HEMA and other stores that I rarely go into. I think I was in a little bit of a mood just to be wandering without a clear destination. I need to do that more often.

By the time I wandered on home, it was 1145 and that seemed like the perfect time for a nap. Who am I to resist the lure of a nap in grey, rainy weather? It was so good, I will probably take another one later. I always feel like I am winning some kind of secret prize when I take a nap. Like no one else knows it is the source of my super powers.

I have a massage booked for this evening, which I am looking forward to. Before that, however, I will be tackling the project list. I don’t have to do everything today. I get points for whatever gets accomplished ๐Ÿ™‚ That is a very different mindset for me. I used to be all or nothing oriented. Then I would either procrastinate and not do it – and feel like a failure or by the time I would do it, I would have mentally scolded myself so much already that I would still feel like some sort of failure in that it took so much to get me motivated to do it. Now, as the Portuguese say, I just break down the elephant into bite sized pieces.

It is supposed to be near 60 degrees tomorrow. I hope that is really true and with some sun. That will certainly have a good influence on me! My garden is completely empty except for the one big tree from the city so I have some work to do there in terms of planning it out. First, inside because that’s where I live most!

Okay, the coffee is finished and I am ready for my first bite of elephant ๐Ÿ™‚

So unfair

One of my guilty pleasures is the HBO series “Black Sails”. Despite all rational arguments, I really love the series. And I especially love the character of Charles Vane. I missed Sunday’s episode because I was in Lisbon so I sat down tonight with my funky salad and watched it. I wish I hadn’t *scowl* Spoiler alert he won’t be back in Season 4. GRRRR.

GRRR. Again. I will probably need to say that several more times.

It is good to be home. I got home around 9pm last night to the delight of the pets. The flight was delayed so it was a little later than planned.

I am glad today was the last day of work for a few days. I know that I will still do some work over the weekend to catch up from this past week but I have plans for fun as well ๐Ÿ™‚

The last time I wrote I wasn’t aware yet of what had happened in Brussels. Everyone I know there is safe. It still seems unbelievable and I will admit that taking the train right now is a little uncomfortable. I noticed from my fellow passengers today that there was a distinct vibe of discomfort in the air. I too was glad to leave the train and get out.

While I was in Lisbon, my laptop bag fell and the glass is now broken. GRRR. Not as bad as Charles Vane because they can replace my screen. But still GRRR. It is not the first time it has fallen and I guess I thought it was pretty indesctructible ๐Ÿ˜‰ It is ironic, I didn’t realize how much I relied on touch under it didn’t work anymore!



I got up at 545 this morning to get cracking on some work stuff before my training begins. Breakfast (read coffee) wasn’t available until 7am so I should probably go back and check my work stuff later to make sure I was really doing it right. Of course now, I am having the post espresso sleepies. I learned last year that for the first 20 minutes after you drink a cup of coffee, your body is ready to sleep or be still so it is a good time to meditate. After the 20 minute window, presumably the caffeine kicks in and you are ready to take on the world!

Lisbon is an hour behind Amsterdam which means that I have an hour to go before leaving for the office. None of the sites and tools that I need to use to do my work this morning are cooperating, so hence time to write ๐Ÿ™‚

It is wonderful weather here. Much to the shock of the Lisboans, I wore my summer sandals yesterday and I will again today. They are all bundled up against the “cold” and I can’t be bothered to wear anything other than short sleeves. I think the Portguese people are incredible. They are very kind and very warm. They are huggable. Not that I am randomly walking around and doing that – except with my two colleagues that I am training here with. Our poor hostess, she has me and my Danish colleague until tomorrow evening. If I thought the Dutch were direct, the Danes are even more so ๐Ÿ˜‰ Must be all that Northern European weather and influence.

I am having a great time, learning alot and gaining confidence in the areas that I am not so good at. It is also a relief to learn that it is possible to learn it, I don’t need some special sort of talent. Sometimes, when you are always doing things wrong, you start to wonder if you can do anything right ๐Ÿ˜‰ Well, in my case anyway. I will go back to the Netherlands with a little more conviction and confidence in what I am doing.

Being sensible ( I know…) I was all set to go to bed last night at 2145 knowing that my brains had reached their grilled cheese point. Then there’s a certain designated alert tone that my phone makes and I was pleasantly distracted for the next 90 minutes. I am always surprised by how quickly time goes. It reminds me of being a kid and being told to turn out the lights and saying to my mom “just five more minutes, I am almost at the end of the chapter” and Mom was not waivering. So, I learned to use a flashlight instead. Until she figured that out.

If I time this right, I can catch a powernap before walking down to the office ๐Ÿ˜‰

Je n’aime pas les Francais…

Well, certainly not the striking air traffic controllers. I lost my whole day of sightseeing today thanks to them. But Lisbon is in Portugal… Except you have to fly over the whole of France to get here. And when their ATC’ers are striking that means that you have a traffic jam in the sky that takes incredibly long. We had a three plus hour delay leaving Amsterdam. I got to know my seat very well and listened to a lot of music.

I am disappointed because I specifically planned this trip to have to today to see things I didn’t see last time and to sit in the sun ๐Ÿ™‚ While I won’t hold this against France forever, I imagine that I won’t be so susceptible to those marketing emails that come with 29 euro fares to Paris and Lille from Thalys. ๐Ÿ˜‰

My seatmates were Americans. I did my best to not have any contact because the Mrs (in the middle) was a champion complainer and her husband kept his nose buried in his book the whole entire time. I imagine this is probably what their home life looks like too ๐Ÿ˜‰

And of course, this morning, while I was doing the last of the laundry, the drain that the washer hose goes into flooded the floor. OY. So, that’s on my list of things to fix when I get home. I think it is a design flaw. And since I don’t know how successful I will be enlarging the drain, I’ll probably have to make some trips to the hardware store and ask for some help. Or I could just stop washing clothes and always buy new ones…

I like Lisbon very much. I caught the metro to downtown, where our office is. I love how the names of all of the Metro stations sound like expressions. I feel like there should be exclaimation points behind their names as if they were ready to pop! It all sounds very dramatic in Portguese. Some things I can easily figure out, involving names of saints and what not, but then there are other words that are not so easy. The Metro is clean and cheap so I got my reloadable card and will use it to get back to the airport on Wednesday.

While we were waiting to leave, I got a long email from my dad. Apparently, it was inspired by the Kanban training he had to sit through this week. Heh, there’s your tax dollars at work. I’ll write him back but I need to do some thinking about what I want to say first. Like with conversations, he can handle exactly 8 minutes. After that, no more. So, I switched to paper letters instead – doing my part to keep various postal agencies in business. And we’re not close, which also makes it a challenge to figure out how much does he actually really want to know about me? I am never really certain.

For sure though, dinner is required before tackling that response ๐Ÿ˜‰

Checked in but not packed

By now, you know how the drill goes in this house. I try to pack around the pets’ awareness. I am sitting here listening to the washing machine while admiring my Poppy colored toes. You see, Lisbon was in the 60s today and the weather says Sunny for the next few days. This means, of course, that it is time for warm weather clothes! Okay, so yes, I will still need to wear a coat when going to Schiphol but once I am inside, into the suitcase it goes and not to be used again until Wednesday evening!

I had a wine too many last night and ended up getting home around 3AM. Which was actually quite sensible since I heard that everyone else got home between 8 and 11AM. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ย This morning I had a brunch date with a friend, which I nearly missed since I hadn’t set the alarm, the phone hadn’t been on the charger and I didn’t hear any of the SMS alerts. Good thing George can only sleep so long. Usually when he wakes me up, I tell him “a few more minutes, George” and then pat him on the head like a snooze button. He’s figured out that I will do this three times and then get up.

Brunch was good. I ended up drinking a coffee, two iced teas and two Spa Roods. You could say I was a little dehydrated. By the time I walked home from de Pijp, I was back to normal. Well, as close as it gets anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰

I came home to squeeze in a nap before the park. I am a big fan of naps and luckily I have a sofa that supports that habit. After 45 minutes of peace, we went to the park. There is a boatshow at the RAI this weekend. In the back of the exhibition halls, they have all kinds of water sports adventure. George was fascinated by the guy who was waterskiing on a snow board. He didn’t want to leave and he kept turning around and stopping to stare at the participant. I could almost hear him thinking “If I only got more allowance, I could do cool things like that too”.

Since it was grey and overcast, the park was pretty empty. Suits us just fine that way. We were out for a long time today, I hit my 10K steps before we were anywhere near leaving. The only thing that made us go home was the fact that the pet store that sells the cats food closes at 5 on Saturdays and I needed to stock up for while I am gone. And then it was off the to people grocery store to get the romaine, sweet potatoes and meat that the dogs eat. I feel like I spend more time grocery shopping for my pets than I do for me…

Our housesitter knows the routine very well by now but I still go through the day before thought process of Have I Forgotten Anything? Not like the housesitter isn’t perfectly capable of figuring out if something needs replacing and where to get it… I think I need to learn to let go a little more ๐Ÿ˜‰

I would be in bed already but I am supervising the washing machine. I don’t like to run the washing machine and the dishwasher at the same time, so until the washing machine is done, I won’t start the dishwasher. I know, this is ridiculous – I have a perfectly modern electrical panel that supports it. I am just not sure about the water and if it can split properly so I do it this way.

Turned down some invitations to go out tonight knowing that I would do better with the peace and quiet at home to settle down those leaving anxieties. I know everything is fine here when I am gone. I think the biggest one right now is will Moortje still be alive when I get back? This is a silly question really because the vet has told me more than once that while he is old and there are concerns – hence his medications – he’s not that close to death’s door. Not far away from it, considering his age but certainly not knocking on it. And considering he just bit my hand, he’s certainly very much alive!

To hell with it, I am going to bed. The appliances can work out their own conflicts – Good night!

No skiing for me

A fire started last night with the work layer above me. This meant that last night was a flurry of messaging with my manager and the promise that I would find some answers out today. And while this means I saved one of my 33 vacation days, it also means that I spent the day trying to fight a fire that actually is really non-existent.

There are a lot of politics at play right now and what stresses my manager influences me. I definitely don’t want to give her any extra agita. I always want to shield people from catching undeserved shit. At least I was able to fight the fires from a bench in the park this afternoon, in the sunlight!

Tonight I was still unsettled enough that I went walking for an hour to get some of that energy out. And I needed to ensure my 10K steps!

I stopped by my second living room and did my time as wise listener. If people only knew that I am not any better at knowing the answers than they are ๐Ÿ˜‰

But I am willing to figure them out and sometimes it is just enough to have someone listen. Thereafter I can gently make suggestions. The person tonight told me they were really grateful that I listened and helped them look at some things. That made me slightly uncomfortable because there are no thanks needed, it is a privilege just to be trusted.

Tomorrow it is back to the office. Heh, that always takes such effort. At least it will be Friday!

High Mountain Skiing in the Lowlands

My favorite teammate, who coincidentally also shares my name, and I have a calendar item booked in our public facing calendars for tomorrow that is titled “Cross Workgroup Collaboration” with the meeting location as Snowplane Landgraaf . We are going for a one day Wintersport. I have to laugh as I read the description of the slopes, that it is the longest slope in the Netherlands.

So, while the real Dutch go to the Alps and other picturesque and rugged mountain locations for their week long Wintersport, I’m heading to an indoor ski slope ๐Ÿ˜‰ This fits since I can get my thrills in a day and without feeling like I am being irresponsible by disappearing for a week. You know, the productive American mindset!

My new manager also shares our name. We thought about inviting her to come along but we figured if there was a terrible accident of some kind, our whole group would be without a single C. This way there’s always one around!

I had a meeting with HR yesterday morning at the request of my manager. Not to worry, it was not that kind of “meeting with HR”. Not that I didn’t seriously worry about that when I first got the email – on a Sunday no less. It actually was a really good meeting. We talked a great deal about what I like to do, what I want to do and how I might like to get there. Oh, and we talked about cultural differences, trust and optimism. My job definitely hasn’t gotten any easier since January. However, the environment has gotten so much better and I have an enormous competence crush on my new manager. I like her very much, she is motivating, inspiring and different. And yesterday, I gave her some of my magic lavender oil to inhale – which worked very well. Now I just have to teach her the Wonder Woman pose ๐Ÿ˜‰

My pending trip to Seattle is taking up quite a bit of my spare thinking cycles right now. It seems the housing market there is tough and people are emailing me because they are aware that my tenants are leaving the dollhouse. If it keeps up, I won’t have to put it up to list. I want to make sure that the people who do live there are right for the house. There’s so many of my memories in that house – not to mention the pets buried in the yard. And the endless brushstrokes of paint that my mom would not let go of. I remember theย long afternoons looking at paint and Mom pushing me to choose between Swiss Mocha and 15 other shades of white. It ended up being Swiss Mocha which was the one Mom liked best anyway. It really made no sense because mocha is normally a name associated with brown…

I remember when I first moved in, in 1999, Mom and I were painting the loft this fabulous lavender twilight color – it was called Lupine. And we started arguing over something so ridiculous, probably having to do with my refusal to tape something off properly. All the windows were open for ventilation and I am pretty sure the whole street heard us. Welcome to the neighborhood, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

The point is that my mom was really hands-on. And if she didn’t know how to do something, she would haunt the hardware stores until she got the information she was looking for. Since she didn’t have a regular job, she had a lot of time to research and grill the various employees. I am much more cautious in this respect. I look up the information first and I think about how I could do it. Then I try to do it. And then when it doesn’t work, I call in a professional ๐Ÿ˜‰

As the spring is coming, I have been thinking about what I want to do with our outdoor space. Yardening always makes me think of her. I wish she was here so we could have a good argument about what to plant and where. Now I have no one to disagree with me which is dangerous!