Monthly Archives: April 2016

No rest for the wicked

In the middle of the night, Vodafone decided to push an update to my phone. I know this because somewhere around 3AM, when these things are pushed, I woke up and saw the gears grinding icon on my phone. Barely conscious, I thought to myself “No big deal, it will be fine by morning” and I went back to sleep. Oops. Not quite right, the phone ended up not rebooting for the 75th time and so the alarm didn’t go off. Yikes! This meant that I had to launch myself out of bed like Rocketwoman, figure out what I was going to wear, have a liquid breakfast, take care of the zoo and shower all within 30 minutes. I made it…

I just finished talking to Meredith for an hour or so. It turns out the Minion Takeover will be minus Dylan, he has plans elsewhere that weekend. We’ll support his choice, of course. Now we have to track down Cedric because no one has heard from him lately. Yeah, do you get the feeling that we’re not the best communicators in my DNA pool? πŸ˜‰

I haven’t actually washed any clothes since I came back from Seattle. Partially this was due to the whole washer drain pipe thing which has been resolved. The second part of it is that I think I might have too many clothes. Which means tomorrow I will sort through again for another round of donations. I am washing clothes now. When I was opening the closet door where I keep the laundry, an enormous pile came out and it actually hit the ground with an audible thump. Yep, time to do laundry…

GG and I discovered incredible vegan pizza last night. I can safely say, it will go on my short list of pizza places. We had a very relaxed and fun Kings Day. Even if the weather wasn’t super, we managed to get 13K steps in. That makes me sound like such a fun date πŸ˜‰

In the office today and it was fine. Even though I had good news to share, I didn’t manage to get a response out of some people. I am okay with that though. I am not responsible for how they think or feel. I am also not going to be overly accomodating to their quirks anymore but rather be no nonsense. I’m not going to work to be liked, I am going to work to make a difference so get out of my way if you don’t want to help…

I’m going to play my banjo for a bit. I feel like some twang πŸ™‚

Get ready for the orange…

Tonight is Queen’s Night and tomorrow is King’s Day or Koningsdag for those of you learning the language at home πŸ˜‰ I thought about going out to a Queen’s Night party tonight but it would have been outdoors on a fake beach and even the line up of fabulous drag queens is not enough to tempt me to go out in this weather. It is 42 degrees F, with a real feel of 34. Yeah, no thanks!

Tomorrow means that there will be almost nothing to see in the streets except orange in every shade and combination possible. I myself have a standing inventory of orange items in my wardrobe. Not just for Koningsdag and other national holidays but also because I actually really like the color orange. I know, not something that many humans over the age of 7 will admit to. I even have an orange fleece jacket which might come in handy tomorrow.

I delivered the webinar today, despite my jitters over the fact that I couldn’t see my audience. I have a preference for looking people in the eye when I talk to them and with a webinar, that’s not really possible. I think it went okay, I didn’t lose anyone during the hour according to the techs monitoring the broadcast. After that, I had lunch with one of the college hires and helped her draft her plan to impress managers everywhere. The end of this afternoon, I had a long conversation with my manager. Technically, it is part of our career development process but she actually takes them seriously. I just finished rewriting my version because she asked me to use bullet points instead of writing an essay πŸ˜‰ Guess she doesn’t know about my blogging habit…

We had a very frank discussion about where I am and where I want to be. I can say that in the past the idea of having that kind of conversation probably would have sent me into the room with dry heaves and not saying what I really thought. The difference with her is that she is an excellent people manager first and if you remember that, you can have any kind of conversation with her. She said some very interesting things to me and I am going to spend some time noodling on them. She really expects me to step up and take charge – which is something that I usually try to control within myself because I know I have a fairly dominant and overpowering personality. Heh, now I have to find a balance between world dictator and helpful colleague…ask for the moon, why dontcha? πŸ˜‰

Curious about my plans for tomorrow? Me too! GG is coming up and we haven’t really decided how we are going to expand our cultural horizons. If the weather stays atrocious, then that means we’ll have to find indoor activities. Luckily, some of the museums are open tomorrow so we should be able to find something to do in the afternoon if the Centrum is just not a good idea. We always end up having a lot of fun so we have that item covered.

I wore my motorcyle boots to work today – these are the ones I found with Jan. They are so handy because they are actually cleverly disguised rain boots. I got quite a few comments today from my coworkers. Everything from asking me what the boots meant to was I thinking of joining a biker gang? Really? I mean, they are cute and all but then I think your life might be a little boring if you are looking at your coworker’s footwear and wondering what it means… I said they keep my feet dry and they will be super great to wear at festivals where there are puddles of beer everywhere πŸ™‚

Okay, time to kick the laundry off and watch the first episode of Season 6 of GOT!

Monday Morning Blues

Well, not precisely the blues but definitely wishing it was still the weekend πŸ™‚ It’s 830AM and I have been slogging away at the email for a bit, long enough to be on my second macadamia nut milk latte and for the boys to have fallen asleep by my desk.

I’ve decided to work from home today since I need to prepare for that webinar for tomorrow which I still don’t have any updated information for. So, I anticipate I will be rushing to make sure everything is installed and that it all worksΒ and I have rehearsed it 27 times before tomorrow morning. I am not going to deliver it in Dutch. Well, that’s what I say now but I know tomorrow I will fall into it. Sometimes, when I am looking for words and expressions, I slide over into Dutch because I can’t think of how to say it in English anymore.

Wednesday is King’s Day. The weather forecast is not looking great, which doesn’t inspire me to want to brave the crowds in the Centrum to see all the boats. However, this is the Netherlands and the weather can change in 5 minutes. In the park on Saturday, the boys and I kept getting caught between bright too warm bursts of sunshine and nasty stinging hail pellets. It makes me glad that I am such a procrastinator that I haven’t planted my garden yet because everything would be damaged πŸ˜‰

Had a really lovely time with GG yesterday – formerly known as Sunday’s Terrace Company (which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue). It was delightful to know that last weekend was not a fluke and not some weird once in a bazillion years galactic storm event. I was also pretty excited to find out that she can easily share my soup with lactose free grilled cheese habit πŸ™‚

I have a banjo lesson this morning, which will be good for me. I’ve got some stuff I need to let go and banjo always seems to help that – or replace it with the frustration that I can’t play something πŸ˜‰ But frustration is something I am good at!

Okay, time to tear myself out of the protective shell of my bathrobe and face the world, or at least banjo — one step at a time πŸ˜‰

P.S. – well, I didn’t end up working from home today. I wanted to call into all my meetings but my manager put the kabosh on that. So, after my banjo lesson I ran to get my bike and then to Astrid to make it to our office on time. Completely wearing tennis shoes, my DubSea coffee hoody and old jeans. I made it into the meeting with 2 minutes to spare – not bad considering there was no parking to be found anywhere nearby.

Banjo was really incredible today. Mostly because of all of the emotions. Paul has been working on music for his sister in law’s funeral and she has passed. So, we played a lot today just free form and I asked him to play the pieces that he is going to play on Friday. And it was super emotional, for both of us. Not a dry eye in the house. In between the concern that he has that he is not a proper banjo teacher to me, since I don’t learn the way his other students do, he also told me that he really values our lessons and that they are special to him. Which I treasured hearing because I look forward to my time with him. And it is good to know that you are giving something back and not just taking.

Today I left my lesson thinking that maybe sometimes because I am what some people would consider fairly emotional that I might make it okay every now and againΒ for others to share their’s. Maybe I am a safe place of sorts. Or maybe it is just the fact that I am not a stranger but not a friend. Who knows exactly why? In any case, I was glad I could be there.

I got an email from one of my tenants telling me all about his future housing and relationship plans. Which was interesting and I am excited for him. At the same time, I was like I am not quite sure why he is sharing this with me but okay, just go with the human side of it. Or it could be that people might think I have some capacity for wisdom – in which case, boy, do I have them fooled! πŸ™‚

Moortje is having a rough time lately, he’s really disoriented again. When I hold him, it also seems like his eyes are a little cloudier. I know this is the progression of his very old age but it is still hard to hear him. It is interesting, the pets have all taken to GG like Velcro – which makes me glad. I haven’t seen them work that hard to be charming in a long time, they don’t bother with me anymore since they know I am a guaranteed Food Provider πŸ™‚

Chilling out

Waiting for my dinner and watching the people walk by on the street. After a day full of things like laundry, walking the dogs and getting a substandard pedicure, I am taking some time to not cook for myself.

The boys had to go in the bath today because Henry went AWOL in the park and came back covered in stinky black grease marks. Let that be a lesson for small dogs…

Too bad they don’t quite understand cause and effect. Of course, sometimes people don’t either. But eventually, I think they will…

Looking forward to enjoying the rest of the weekend, now that the chores are out of the way. That means tomorrow is free to be spent in whatever way feels good.

Hope your weekend is good as well ☺

Multitasking…

I am waiting in the virtual lobby for my last conference call of the day and then it’s out into the world to get dinner for the boys since I didn’t have time to do that before running home to make this call.

The last ten weeks of the year are always slightly crazy. Everyone is running around trying to make their scorecard metrics, zombie warfare is breaking out in the halls and absolutely no one believes in work life balance until 1 July rolls around. I got a good taste of it this morning when I was standing in the elevator lobby to go up to my customer meeting and my colleague calls me about delivering a webinar for next Tuesday that he no longer has time for. All I could think was “Really?? Right now??” but of course, I said I would do it. He told me that he has too many things on his plate – what was unsaid is that he lightens his plate by dumping his leftovers on mine.

From there to the office, where I had a pretty heavy meeting with another American. I think I was able to help her out a little bit with some of her work experience. She just went through the first experience of a major loss on a project. I’ve been to that rodeo before so I was able to listen. And then I was able to talk her through how to disengage and detach – which is something I have learned to do over the past 8 years.

Back to Amsterdam for Dutch. I told Paul today that I am going to take a break from my Dutch lessons til mid June. Mostly because I have to end up changing everything at the last minute which doesn’t always work out with his schedule. I chose to prioritize my banjo lessons with him since right now, they give me a more important outlet than learning a language. When things die down during the summer months, I can spend more time with him. We had a good lesson today, I actually gave him some information. πŸ™‚ He also told me that he sometimes uses me as an example to other students who view learning their instrument as a task to be completed. Since I take pleasure in whatever I learn to play, I have low expectations and as such put less pressure on myself. HAH, if he only knew πŸ˜‰

Yesterday’s session all the way in Tilburg was really good. I delivered the session in English, which means I still fall into Dutch by accident. It was a tough crowd, pretty divided and not really open to sharing information about what they were doing. But I am pretty good at my job and getting people to tell their stories… so eventually, they gave me what I was looking for and voluntarily! I left them with a list of three things to do and they gave me an invitation to come back.

Walking home from the parking garage last night, I ended up running into some people I know and spent three hours on a terrace. Which definitely wasn’t the plan but was a lot of fun. I like that it happens like that, just as it should be. I also ran into Robert, Astrid’s doctor. He was having dinner with a friend at the same cafe. Small world. πŸ™‚ I like it when various bits of my life overlap, it makes me feel even more connected to the world around me.

 

 

Back to normal…

Well, not entirely true. I should say that it’s back to normal plus plus. Which means that I am remembering (mostly) to do all of the things I need to. However, I think it might be a wise idea for me to make a list since I noticed I was prone to distraction today.

Monday and back to full swing, including the office and banjo. Banjo didn’t go so well tonight. I had forgotten my book, forgotten what I learned last week and then had to watch Paul play and copy him. I was getting pretty frustrated and to which he said “Where is that getting you?”all Buddha of Banjo like – which made it even worse πŸ˜‰ I had to play some mindless chords for awhile until I could start trying the song without cursing. The next student was ten minutes early, which actually turned out to be a lifesaver!

Yesterday, we got Mom’s big picture frame securely attached to the living room wall, which is bittersweet. While I am glad it is up, it did bring a whole wave of emotion and tears with it, for the reason that it is up.

Sometimes, I manage flooding just fine though. πŸ™‚

I had a weekend full of novel experiences, including learning that I really do not like the recorder as a musical instrument to listen to. In a way, I feel good that I supported this type of performance art and I feel equally relieved that I never need to see that particular performance again!

For the rest of the week, I am all over the Netherlands again for work.Β I was thinking of taking the train to Tilburg but it will take me more than two hours and five connections, which is not relaxing. So, I will be driving.

The code camp last week was really powerful. I gave four sessions for hands on programming of micro-bits to various age groups of girls and women. There was a big difference in response by age group. I think I might have given the teenage group a little more tough love than they were expecting but they were also the group that gave up the easiest. If we want to see more women coming into IT, then they have to know that they will need to keep trying. That’s not just for IT but in this case, you have extra pressure.

I realized again, that’s the type of work I really like to do. A mix of entertaining, empowering and teaching. I have to figure out how to put more of it into my paid work πŸ™‚

Meredith sent out the email last night for the Minion Takeover of Chicago. How well she knows us… It was titled “What’s That Smell?”and it went like this

It’s that time of year again when Chicagoans step outside their doors and wonder what that smell is.Β  That’s right!Β  It’s family reunion time!Β  Caroline will be coming June 2-8.Β  Cedric and Dylan we hope you can come for as much of that time as your work will allow.Β  We look forward to making new memories, eating great food, and evenings filled by the musical sounds of the familyΒ choir.

There’s something to be said for having a sister in law that can handle a group of such dysfunctional siblings so well. Dylan doesn’t eat carbs, Cedric doesn’t eat fats (although he needs them – no butt to speak of), Rupert eats anything and I do my best to be a vegan. And stuck amongst us all is Meredith, the shortest of the family but maybe the most powerful πŸ˜‰

Okay, I am procrastinating with Domestic Goddess duties… which to be honest, no one would ever mistake me for. However, I feel like I should make a small effort. Until next time πŸ™‚

What is it with 2AM?

Regardless of timezone? Home now after a very long flight back – pesky headwind! Well, actually, we landed this afternoon and I powered through.

I could barely stay awake through banjo. Despite telling Paul that I would be useless, he still pushed me through four songs out of my head. No mercy from that quarter! I’ll see him again in a few hours for my Dutch lesson before I go into the office. Which reminds me that I still have to finish my homework! πŸ˜‰

I walked home from my banjo lesson, enjoying the fact that it was just after 8PM and still light outside. It is beautiful weather here and I hope it continues that way this week because I would seriously like to get in a little terrace time! By the time I reached the corner to turn into my street, I was ready to fall asleep. The boys got their tortilla very early and by 9PM, the fort was sleep city.

Which explains now why I am awake. I tried to go back to sleep but my brain was already working. So, I figured I might as well get up and do so too. Coffee is already next to me and I am making myself some dinner (?). The kids are not exactly sure what is going on, like is this some kind of disco party or should they go right back to sleep and ignore the Food Bringer? The dogs have decided sleep and ignore and are back in their basket next to my desk. Moortje says “Disco party!” and is roaming around on my desk looking for more attention. Lientje is doing some lines of catnip leftover from earlier when I put it on the big dog bed to see if she would go for it. She not only did, she took over the dog sofa.

I had a row to myself on the way back too, which was nice! I have a feeling that the next time I fly, that will not be the case with all the summer travelers. I didn’t wifi because I was determined to get some sleep. I also didn’t watch any movies. This had mixed results. I did get some sleep, I would fall asleep at the beginning of an album and wake up at the end. So, I got three Melissa Etheridge and one Madonna album’s equivalent of sleep. Some people use hours as a unit of measurement, I use albums πŸ˜‰

I had forgotten how big portions of food are in the US and that you get a to go box as a norm for the leftovers. It works quite a bit differently here, both in portion size and whether or not the restaurant will permit you to take your leftovers home. I didn’t take any leftovers home from the airplane food πŸ˜‰

It is good to be home, where everything is a little smaller in scale. No one at Customs was interested in my tortillas so they are all accounted for. The boys are delighted that there is a new shipment. George says that we should have a Fajita Party. I think he is just looking for an excuse to bust out the tequila πŸ˜‰ In case you’re wondering just what 96 pounds of Tortilla Express looks like, here you go. Plus add 10 pounds for the laptop bag.WP_20160410_15_03_40_Pro

Okay, now that I have finished my whatever time it is meal and have a good headway on my coffee, it is time to get busy with work stuff and homework. If I PowerPoint first, Dutch will seem so much easier πŸ˜‰ Have a good day wherever you might be!

 

Tortilla Express

All checked in and my baggage given to someone else to handle. I am savoring my double espresso and might have to get another one. I have a little over 90 minutes before I leave Seattle. I am watching the planes take off while charging up all my various devices even though I know they have power on board now πŸ˜‰ The woman sitting in front of me is drinking beer and eating Tillamook cheese. If I hadn’t overheard her phone conversation, I might have guessed from her food and beverage combination that she was Dutch πŸ˜‰

I checked in 96 pounds of luggage. The bulk of it was, of course, 18 packs of tortillas. I think the boys really have no idea what kind of spoiled they are! To be fair, that wasn’t the entire source of the weight – there’s also three pounds of Reese’s PB cups to be divided up amongst various people who I have accidentally gotten addicted. There is also the mail, new shoes and other things I can’t get easily in the Netherlands.

Since I wrote this morning, I was very quiet with packing my suitcases and didn’t wake anyone up. Once everyone else was awake it was time for coffee and kale smoothies. Not in the same glass! I quite enjoyed mine but it didn’t stop Jan and I from going up to Wayward for a ridiculously good vegan brunch. I wouldn’t mind seeing a place like that in Amsterdam. I think The Hague has something similar, I have to put it on my list of things to check out. I am going to be there on Friday so maybe I will do a little research.

I have been surrounded by so much love on this trip. I am really, really, really fortunate to have so many people in my life that are exceptionally cool πŸ™‚

It is going to be a case of landing and then heading home with the 96 pounds and starting right away with work. I have too many conference calls tomorrow afternoon – not sure what the hell I was thinking! Then there’s banjo tomorrow night, Dutch on Tuesday, another Western Europe visit on Wednesday, teaching a code camp for women and girls on Thursday and Friday with the customers and Friday night to The Hague for a concert. Right, tired yet? πŸ˜‰

I am hoping that I can sleep on the plane this time. Although, there are still movies I want to watch. However, maybe this time since it is later in the day, I will be able to fall asleep. At least for a short while until the Netherlands wakes up for WhatsApping πŸ˜‰

 

Is it Sunday already?

I bet you can guess what time it is! 536AM on Sunday morning. I am typing this without coffee because I don’t want to wake up the whole household. So, forgive the typos. I would start packing my suitcases but again, I don’t want to wake the household up!

Yesterday was jam packed. By the time 10PM rolled around, I couldn’t even keep my eyes open to reread the email I had just sent!

I did ultimately end up fixing their internet connection after swapping out the hardware and spending too many hours with the service provider to get them to give me the information I needed. However, by 7PM last night, they were back online finally πŸ™‚ It took much more time than was necessary. I left a detailed note for the tech that is supposed to come to tomorrow so that they don’t undo all of the work!

Yesterday morning, we signed the new lease and I turned over the keys. I kept expecting them to take off from the ground. To say that they are really excited to be going to live there is an understatement. That is the right fit for the house. And if I was a little choked up when I left, I managed to keep it under control until the car.

In the middle of the afternoon, I also got to make a quick run past Dub Sea coffee and surprise Sibelle with my presence. It was good to see her and see that Dub Sea is still going strong as the heart of a community.

From then on, it was off with Jan on a quest for sneakers. I need a new pair and I’ve told you all about the problem of having my size feet in the Netherlands! It was a great deal of fun to go shopping with her. She absolutely is not the right person to go with if you are rigid in your thinking. In between the shoes aisles, I got some pretty wise lessons about life and other things πŸ˜‰

Of course, then it was time to head back to her business and take another whack at the internet which ultimately worked. From there, we had dinner last night around their dining room table which was loud and fun.

I am going to miss this warm, lively energy when I get home. I mean, I have my own pets and they don’t leave me alone. However, family space is different and this family is very special. What a bunch of characters πŸ™‚

I think eventually this morning we will go out for breakfast. Then I have to return the crates of mail to the post office and go by PCC to get the tortillas. I have deliberately waited until today to do that.

This has been a really good trip. While there were moments that I didn’t know what to do with all the emotion I was feeling other than try to get through the next 60 seconds, I made it through those. The next time I come back, there will be different things to focus on and feel.