Monthly Archives: August 2017

Checked in…

but not packed yet. Today GG went to get 20 packs of gehakt (meatball) spices for Rupert and Meredith. They had sent a text with a photo of the empty package and wondered if we could bring them some more. Of course we can! Not to be outdone by GG, I went and collected an equivalent amount of Indonesian spices for them so they create some kitchen magic (and the resulting gas) in Chicago. Tomorrow I will pick up the bricks of cheese and go and get Meredith’s favorite stroopwafels fresh from the Albert Cuyp market.

It was really hot today. George had a seizure this afternoon. Not sure if it was due to the weather change or some kind of stress that he knows we are leaving tomorrow. As it is, we’ll pack the suitcases tomorrow morning while they are out with their dogpack friends so they won’t know. I mean, do they think the tortillas just arrive here by magic? πŸ˜‰

Tomorrow it is supposed to storm and rain alot so the two days of summer heat we just had appear to have been summer. I don’t mind actually. I am rarely cold.

I needed to edit the instructions for the housesitter today. I wrote the instructions a year ago, when Moortje was still living. It was pretty hard to delete the parts about him. It’s nearly a year ago that he left us. I miss having a cat like him around. If we move to a bigger place, the first place I will go after everything is unpacked is to the animal shelter. Even though I think Lientje is doing pretty well on her own, I would like to provide her with a friend. George follows her around trying to get into her food so I think she might enjoy a well behaved feline companion. Henry says that he doesn’t mind sharing his baskets (they are in multiple places in the house) as long as no one expects that he will get up early and go running with the newcomer. πŸ˜‰

We looked at a house today that had an amazing garden, right down to fish pond and outdoor fireplace. It was a really beautiful house. However, it’s not number one on the list. There were too many separate rooms and I am used to one big open space. I like that kind of freedom. With so many individual rooms, the house felt alot smaller than it was. GG and I have hadΒ many discussions about open vs closed rooms. I think I am convincing her slowly that rooms do not have to be separated. However, she still will not knock out the wall in her kitchen to make it part of the dining room πŸ˜‰

We’re not going to look at anything else now until after we are back. The good thing about looking at all of these different places makes me realize what I really like about where I live now and what I would choose differently so that helps. I think we really will end up somewhere in South Holland (Amsterdam is in North Holland). For the record, even though it sounds like a major difference – it’s about 45 miles from Amsterdam to Rotterdam so you can easily do it without packing a lunch and survival backpack. Although many people think otherwise πŸ˜‰


And we’re off…

our rockers? To the races? Like a dress on prom night? πŸ˜‰

It’s 1839 and I have just checked my work email for the first time in 48 hours. Primarily to check and see if there were some things I forgot to take care of (there were) and to delete the many emails that are from various companies wanting to sell me their technology solutions. I am running a pilot program on my mailbox at work to calculate where my time goes. I would like to know how much time per week I spent deleting emails of that kind. I already set my phone to manual sync on Sunday evening, while waiting for Marianne to join us at De Parade.

We barely made it to De Parade this year – closing night! However, we were there! Marianne and I have been to De Parade every year since 2013, even before I moved here so we are on a streak. We saw some interesting shows, ate dinner and sat at a table under a tree ’til nearly midnight working our way through 4 bottles of wine (shared by three). It was a really, really great evening and a good way to start thinking about vacation.

However, this morning, getting up early to get the boys ready before leaving for The Hague, was another story. πŸ˜‰ Let’s just say that while hangover was too strong of a word, slightly muddle headed was not far from the truth. We had an appointment at 10 to see a house in Den Haag dating to 1894. We liked it but not enough to see ourselves living there. Of course, from there it was 10 minutes to Oma and Opa’s old house so we drove by there so I could show GG where I used to hang out the living room window waiting for the mailman with the exceptional blonde mullet deliver the mail when I was 14. Okay, let’s just say I have been socially awkward my whole life πŸ˜‰

From there, we went to Kijkduin and overlooking the beach and the North Sea, had Dutch pancakes. There were lots of ladies of a certain age there with their dogs and reading the papers. I could completely see my mom fitting in there. All the papers, cover to cover, coffee and dogs sitting in the terrace chairs next to them on their blankets. It was good to be near the sea.

That would be a selling point for living in The Hague, the proximity to the sea. Tomorrow, we are going to look at another house, this one in Schiedam. Then we’ll stop looking until after we are back. I have a feeling that between the one tomorrow and the one when we come back, that’s where we will have the debate. Specifically, I think GG will be the big fan of the one tomorrow and I will be the fan from the one when we come back. We’ll see.

In other news, we’ve awarded our first scholarship and notified the recipient πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ so you could say the foundation is off and running!

And we’re in business…

We started a scholarship fund, named for my mom. This is the first program of the foundation. It seems fitting. Education was something that my mom valued and pushed us towards. I remember the first thing she said to me after I graduated from UW in 2009. It was “There weren’t many women getting their doctorate in Nanotechnology. I think that’s what you should study for next” πŸ˜‰ Before we even left the stadium, my mom was off onto my next degree.

Well, I am quite sure I won’t be going for that doctorate in nanotechnology. I do know however, that we can help others reach their goals in her name with a small scholarship fund. I’m excited! By US standards it would be two peanuts, not even a bag of peanuts but for students in other locations in the world, it can make a very real difference!

One more work day to go and then it is vacation time for two weeks. I think that after the workday tomorrow is done, everyone will be glad to see me go away πŸ˜‰ I can’t really say I blame them! I am really looking forward to having some time to disconnect. I can’t completely disconnect because there are some things that will happen while I am on holiday that I will need to be involved in. However, for the most part, I will be free to be thinking about all kinds of things.

The banjolele is coming to the mountains. I’ll need to go and get a case before we fly. It seems that my brother, Dylan, won’t be joining the sibling week this year. He’s really wrapped up in his work and it has his total committment. On one hand, I’m glad that he has found his sense of purpose. On the other hand, I am sorry that we won’t see him since the point of this week together is to be with family. Right as I typed that sentence, George farted from his basket next to my desk. That’s the other side of family… Please secure your mask before helping others…


Maybe we should refocus…

I just threw the idea out there that maybe we should stop looking for a house to move into together and instead focus on finding a vacation cabin in the woods somewhere and seeing if that doesn’t release the pressure. Interestingly enough, Little C said at the very beginning of this search that we should just look for a vacation cabin and not move out of Amsterdam.

I’m getting a little frazzled by all of the variables to consider. And to which region of the Netherlands. Today we added The Hague back into the mix because of it’s proximity to the beach, old houses, a good vegan scene and the proximity to the EU – in case GG decides to change jobs.

It’s a tough one because Schiedam keeps coming back up as the perfect place but there’s just NOT enough for sale there that fits my picky list. So now I have to figure out if I have the patience to wait it out to see if something comes on the market, or if we end up somewhere else or if we stay put and buy a cabin.

Yesterday marked a significant moment. We put the first things in motion to set up the Do Good Only Foundation, in honor of my mom and her wise words. So, we’re starting small scale, helping change one life at a time. Like most things, there’s never time and money in the same place so it’s time to get it started. πŸ™‚


Busy, busy…

Not so busy that last night I didn’t pay attention to the voice in my head that said “I think you better check in with the petsitter and make sure that she is still coming.” What do you know… she forgot to write it down in her agenda (or type it in as the young people do these days) and she can’t housesit because she has to housesit for her own family since they are on vacation. That’s a bummer for sure because there’s nobody the pets like quite as much as they do Nikah when it comes to housesitting.

I might have another option before starting the quest for a professional housesitter. It’s not an option not to go to the mountains of NC. GG can’t stay behind because let’s be honest, she’s hoping to add to her line dancing ensemble. It will work out. At the moment, one brother isn’t coming. Although we’re hoping to still convince Dylan to join for the weekend so we can have 100% attendance for even 2 days. Nope, we’re not goal motivated at all!

Things have been super busy with the team. I’m getting alot of opportunity to watch my interns deliver the solutions to problems they are presented with. It’s a great experience. One of the organizations we are partnering with said to me yesterday “You feel a little bit like a proud parent, don’t you?” Apparently, it was pretty visible on my face! We finished yesterday’s session with a walk through a kinderboerderij (literal translation childfarm, but actually a petting zoo) which was at my request. From there, they all piled into Astrid and I dropped them off at the nearest train station before heading back up to Amsterdam. Sounds like the start of a joke… how many interns can you fit into a Saab??

As for the rest of things, well, we are now back to starting over the housing search. New search criteria: monumental status, built before 1906, with a garden, on water and with at least 250 sq meters. And I am willing to look all over the Netherlands. Before I started narrowing it down to include that it had to be on water, I had 458 choices to look at. Too much! Requiring that it be on some kind of water brought it down to a more reasonable 52. Β Of those 52, there’s not a single one in Amsterdam, which says alot about how picky we are being or how crazy the housing market is here. I could probably find it in Amsterdam but I would have to double to price range and that’s something I am not willing to do.

This morning the email came that the big house is officially sold under agreement. I knew it was coming but it still made me scowl. I will try to rework that reaction. Yesterday I came across a listing that was one street over and used pictures of the big house to illustrate what an amazing view the neighborhood had. It’s okay, we will find the right spot for us.

Who knows? It might even be North Carolina… ehhh, somehow I doubt it but maybe being there inspires us to apply for jobs with the National Park Service and live in the Great Smoky Mountains. It could happen *shrug*

I joined a bluegrass meetup group for jam sessions. Going to try to learn to play in front of other people. I think it might help me get better, especially if I know that I will need to keep up.


That wasn’t supposed to turn out that way…

I think I mentioned that last Friday we were at the house that we hoped to move to and turn into a community space with our home attached to it. AKA the 428 year piece of history. We had a plan of action, talked it over with our no-nonsense broker and thought we would see how it played out. This morning Sabine called the sellers’ broker to put forth our offer. Well, the answer was the equivalent to “Beat it, nerds. It sold yesterday.”

What are the odds? The house has been on the market for 5 years… Then again, maybe that’s the role we were supposed to play. Using our plans for the house to generate interest from others. GG got in touch with the owners to congratulate them and from their response, it sounds like it was an investor. I hope that the new owners take good care of it and don’t strip everything and leave up only the facade. I’m going to focus on the idea that the right people found the house.

In turn, we’ll keep looking. I think I was more disappointed back in the beginning when we were not in agreement over taking the financial risk on such an big project. Now I am a little relieved that someone else has the task of replacing 2.5 kilometers of electrical wiring πŸ˜‰

The good thing about Europe is that there are tons of old buildings. If you have the patience, there will be plenty of options to think about turning into your own personal version of the movie “The Money Pit” πŸ˜‰

I am skipping yoga tonight. I am experiencing this fun side effect of becoming completely hyper after I leave the studio. The Relax class is actually having the opposite. Or maybe it is that I am so recharged after the class, I must go right into Power Mode. πŸ˜‰ So, tonight I am trying a little experiment to see if I am tired and go to sleep at a normal time.

Tomorrow I am meeting with the housemate of one of our interns. The housemate is doing a research project on Generosity. She wants to talk to me. I’m hoping to understand her research because maybe there are things we can use to encourage more people to volunteer at work. The intern, not on my team, came to me on Monday, wanting to know more about how she could function as a an ambassador for women in technology. From that conversation, I’m now also talking to her housemate. GG has asked me repeatedly when I am planning on opening my own business πŸ˜‰


Yesterday was the Canal Parade, with the 80 boats making their way through the Amsterdam canals. We went, of course, to help cohost the meetup since there were upwards of 70 RSVPs. I am always a fan of the t-shirts and slogans. This year, my favorite was slogan from the Ministry of Defense. On their boat, in the white scarf is the Minister of Defense for the Netherlands, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert. People on the boat were wearing a t-shirt that said “Onze vrijheid begintΒ bij die van en andere” which translates to “Our freedom begins by that of another’s” . This struck me as particularly Powerful. I always like slogans that are strong and motivating.Β 

After the parade, we returned home to feed the dogs and to recharge from the people explosion. We had another party to go to, one in the Red Light District. Here’s where I am shamelessly going to kick GG out of the closet… she’s a member of the only LGTBQ Line Dancing club in the Netherlands. The Amsterdam Amigos as they are known, were giving two special street performances and we were going to support them (and join them for dinner afterwards).

Let me be perfectly clear… my banjo playing has absolutely nothing to do with line dancing in any shape or form. People who hear about GG’s hobby assume that this is something she took up because she has a banjo playing American GF. Uh-huh, totally not related.

It was certainly an experience. Really nice people, certainly with a heavy dose of quirky. Once again, I think we were the youngest people to join, much like the volunteers at the European World of Bluegrass πŸ˜‰ Oh, and BTW, Bluegrass is not suitable music for line dancing.

Today is a bit of a chill out day. The weather is mild and I needed some peace and quiet to read the paper cover to cover. We were going to go to the beach but there has been some sort of paraffin spill and it is advised that dog owners avoid the beaches until the problem is resolved.

I have already spent some time today torturing the neighbors with banjo and then banjolele practice πŸ˜‰

In other news, I’ve been invited to give a guest lecture at the University of Leiden on Technology and Exclusion. When I got the news, I promptly ran around the house uttering “OMG, OMG, OMG, are they nuts?” In other words, I am super excited to do it and was immediately asking myself if I was even remotely qualified to give this kind of talk πŸ˜‰ As you can tell, the voices in my head are still around!

Oh, and Friday morning, we went to Schiedam to have coffee with the owners of the house that we are deeply interested in. We definitely enjoyed it. However, we didn’t fall for the pressure πŸ˜‰ But it is good to know that this one is still in play. Next step is to see if they will let us have a complete cellar to attic inspection at our cost. A few weeks ago, that was not an option so perhaps we might get there now…


Oh, how much I disagree with the statement that “Downward Dog is a restorative position. Breathe deep and find your relaxtion point”. Yeah, as if bracing yourself on your hands and feet with your tail bone pointing to the sky is restful!

You guessed it, two nights ago I went back to hot yoga. Last night, the instructor stopped me after class to ask me what I was hoping to get out of the class and that she had noticed my flexibility. I thought to myself “not sure what yoga has done to benefit your eyesight if you think I am flexible”! Β However, I wasn’t about to ignore her and wanted to also to really think about why I started going again.

Stillness. Or should I say more about the ability to slow down and be present. To find a redirection for the inner voices, to take the advice I am able to give others to heart myself and really to be less of a stress ball.

Since I returned from Sin City, I’ve had a headache that tends to move from the front to the back. It’s not all the time but seems to make itself known after long periods of tension. I know I am not sick because if I put lavender oil under my nose, the pain goes way which means it is definitely stress! Why, yes, I do play a doctor on TV πŸ˜‰

I’m doing a whole lot of paper and pen work these days. Which is nice because it gives me the feeling that I am really creating something. My team is chugging along. Under the radar, we are doing some really cool stuff.

I realized this morning that the boys are going to be 12 next month. I had to check their pet passports to be sure that they weren’t lying about their age. Luckily, since they are small dogs, that is the equivalent of about 64 instead of 84 in people years. Still plenty of energy for playing shuffleboard and romancing their fellow passengers if they were on a senior cruise πŸ˜‰