Monthly Archives: April 2018

And we have signed…

Yesterday afternoon, our long suffering and always up for adventure real estate agent, Sabine, came by with a bottle of champagne and the purchase contract to sign for the new house. Yes, it not only was in paper form, it also had to come via snail mail. I guess that’s an improvement over coming by horse or pigeon, as I have been reminded over the past few days.

Using the legally acceptable blue pen, the same one for both parties, we signed our way through 15 pages of intial here, initial there. We are officially now in the 3 day window for changing your mind, which should just about cover the time it takes to get the 40 miles south by mail that is needed to return the contract. πŸ˜‰

Now we have to get a mortgage. Here’s where I let GG step in and do all the communication with regards to this topic. When I view all of the rules, the what-ifs and the fact that everything is on paper, I lose my patience. Even more so when someone thinks they can give us some “fatherly” advice because you know, what would two grown ass women know about their own finances? πŸ˜‰

In turn, today the Seattle house went on the market, complete with a dashboard for the homeviewers. We’ll see how long it takes to sell.

I think a good word to describe how I feel right now is distant, or maybe better yet observant. I feel a bit like I am watching my life and myself from elsewhere, rather like a scientific observer looking into an antfarm. There are so many choices to make right now, which is a luxury. At the same time, I can tell by the intensity of my dreams lately, I am not quite as neutral about it all as I play on TV. πŸ˜‰

We’re in week 5 now of the data science academy for women. The positive news is I have gotten them all through the horror of T-SQL and now they are discovering the joys of Python. As for me, I finally finished the T-SQL course today since I am far behind their progress. Note to self, next time don’t try to learn the technical content at the same time that you are coaching 24 πŸ˜‰

Recovery from the brain drain…

I don’t mind saying that last night I went to bed at 1130PM and when I tried to read a little more of Simon Sinek, I made it through 5 pages before it was shutdown the brain time. It has been one of those weeks. Taking two days of exams to prove that I have mastered Dutch as a Second Language on Wednesday and Thursday was definitely a push past normal. It was also one of those weeks that I scheduled way too much.

This morning, I was up before the dogs and electronically signing the documents to put the house on the market in Seattle. All 175 radio buttons have been selected and now the fun begins! Next week they will stage it and take photos and on the market it goes. On this side of the water, GG went with the building inspector on Thursday to run through our house to be. I was busy taking an exam so I missed out on their adventure. No major concerns for a house that was built in 1860. The next steps are for us to sign the intention to buy and after three days of thinking time, it goes into effect. Whoop whoop!

We’ll know next month whether we will move in July or September. It depends on when the window frames will be delivered for the sellers’ new house. They are renovating two cities over and if the frames are delivered before July, we move earlier. With the true Dutch love of order, vacations for all work related to construction take place in overlapping three week intervals starting on 1 July.

In other news this week, there’s a good chance that I will be looking for something new soon. It appears that it is not looking good at all for my role to be held over into the next fiscal year per my manager. I knew a year ago when I took this role that there was a danger of not being on the “blueprint” as they call it. I wanted the experience so I decided to go for it, of course πŸ˜‰ It seems that once again, I am doing everything at once with regards to making changes!

On one hand, it feels a little weird and disappointing – knowing that it is about the role not being continued seems to me like giving up on the impact we could make. On the other hand, I know that it is the best possible way to launch into something new. I imagine that I will probably cycle back and forth between the two points for a while. I will know more in about 3 weeks. However, the fact that it is already being mentioned is a pretty good indicator that the decision has been made πŸ˜‰

I feel glorious…

singing along to Macklemore. Last night, we saw him live! It was a great concert and coincidentally, it fell officially on the 2 year marker. Hard to believe, but I have managed to fool GG for 2 years already about what a great catch the pets and I are πŸ˜‰

I am sneaking a quick coffee and shake my head lose from learning SQL break at the data science school this morning to type this entry. Coming here three full days a week and helping 24 women learn while I am also trying to get my brains around the content I am supposed to be coaching on has kept me busy. This morning I needed to fire off some tough love about getting stuck in perfectionism. These women are so talented and sometimes they need help seeing that if you get the query to run and return the right results, that’s more important than 100% on the test. Β I know this kind of message matters because otherwise they will spend the week thinking they cannot learn this complicated stuff. Not only can they but they already are!

I had a nice long brunch with Marianne on Saturday afternoon. Our conversation was so full of good stuff, we went all the way through until it was time to have a cocktail. I came away recharged and full of extra ideas. I am hoping that next time we will have warm weather and sit in the sun with big sunglasses and floppy hats. πŸ™‚

Saturday night was host the meetup night. It was a good evening, more newcomers and interesting connections.

Oh, I almost forgot (not really) but we have a house… we heard Friday afternoon that we were the lucky winners. We still have to sign the paperwork to buy – this is a country that still has a paper process for this and that you have to go into a lawyer’s office. However, we have an accepted offer. We’re going to Schiedam πŸ™‚ not until the end of September or so.

For now, homeviewers, the housing search is over – we hope. However, stay tune for our next season when we debate the advantages of various camping houses for the summer season. That promises to be an entire new process and adventure

It’s what time?

It is 4:20AM, Dutch time. I have been up for the past hour and am now on my second cup of coffee. Oh, how I missed my Nespresso machine! Small, potent coffees that really hit the spot.

I woke up just before 3, I believe. I tried meditating, I tried cuddling with George and I tried listening to GG breathe to fall back asleep but it wasn’t happening. The brains started going, I started planning email responses so I got the hell up.

I slept on the flight back, partially by not buying WiFi access and partially by putting on the eyemask and turning the Delta radio on to some kind of meditative Indian music. While I woke up several times, I did sleep at least a third of the flight. Long enough to be really tired when we landed. The winds at Schiphol were high when we were due to land so we had to circle a while and it took a long time to get the luggage.

Unfortunately, one of the bottles of dog shampoo was opened and now my big suitcase smells like lavender & mint. It would appear that when the bags were being checked in the US because tortillas are suspicious, someone didn’t close the top of the bottle again. That would be a good idea, if suitcase liners were washable and you could just zip them out.

Today is the first day I will be at the data science school. There have been a flurry of emails, phone calls, Slack chats and so forth over the past week. I feel like this is where I am missing the boat. I don’t get wound up tightly over every single detail. At least, not in this case. I am much more “we know what we need to accomplish, let’s see how it develops.” I have noticed that I am the only one thinking this way in this project team πŸ˜‰

Tomorrow is National Open House Day. GG is disappointed by the selection available. We are going to see this one in Purmerend, which is to the north of Amsterdam. It’s number one benefit is that Little C also lives in Purmerend. It was built in 1635. The house is Β gorgeous. We drove by it after we picked up Lientje’s ashes. It’s quite ironic that it is directly across the street almost from one of the first historical buildings that we looked at when this search started. That one was a former soap making factory, similar age.

Yesterday, when I was hanging out at baggage claim, GG sent me another one, this one in Schiedam – where we would very much like to live. We are going to look at that one Wednesday morning. It’s almost too good to be true so I am not going to get very enthusiastic about it until I see it. You can see it hereΒ We have seen this house before since we often go to the cafe in that is pictured to have a stiff drink after looking at houses in the area. GG is super excited πŸ˜‰

Funda is a daily check point as much as I try not to let it be. Speaking of that, the daily email just came in from them letting me know which houses have had a status change πŸ˜‰

Okay, back to work. Wishing you a good weekend!


You want it darker…

the last album by the great Leonard Cohen. I am listening to it now, it seems to fit with today. I went by the house today to put the garbage can out, return the original renovation plans for the next owner and get one last bottle full of Custom Pure water from the kitchen.

In the empty house, I said thank you and goodbye. Thank you for the shelter and the beauty, thank you for the warmth and the place where the last months were as good as they could be, thank you for the chance to have all of us under one roof, even if only for a holiday or two, thank you for the sanctuary, the chance to give my Mom the beautiful house she deserved. Most importantly, a thank you for the place of peace and sunlight for when she chose to go.

Then I said good bye. To the house, to an earlier version of myself and to West Seattle.

It seems I had one more stop to make in West Seattle, to my favorite painter and leader of the pack, Jan. Sitting in front of her Dog City, with one little dog in particular, Skittle, trying to get her attention through the window, we caught up on each other’s big plans and she’s given me a completely new angle to think about for my social enterprise empire. I have to tell GG first before I share it here πŸ˜‰ GG likes to hear all my crackpot ideas first, just not when I come home at 230 in the morning!

I’ve packed all my bags, including the extra duffel I got at REI. It’s a small one, I just needed a little extra room this time. If only you could roll tortillas inside your shoes!

I woke up this morning to my phone blowing up with all kinds of messages, first day of the data science academy and there were some kinks to get out of the way. By the end of their day, everything was settled and it sounds like all 24 of our participants will keep going. In particular, there was debate over the upcoming holiday schedule like King’s Day, etc. It was quite funny since it was pre-coffee for me and my reaction was “I don’t give a damn about holidays. I am American, I expect us to work through them, the Academy goes on.” I lost the argument πŸ˜‰ They will get King’s Day and Pentecost off. That means a long weekend for me too, so I can’t be too dismayed.

This afternoon, the Move Goddess and I nursed a couple of beers and talked about alot of things. In particular: journeys, faith and my Mom. I learned some new things today. That’s the gift that other people can give you, perspective.

There are so many women here who dress like my Mom did. I still find myself looking twice. The woman who will be repainting the house fits the type as well. I said “Towanda” to her and she got the reference right away. I know my Mom would approve of her handiness and attitude even if she would want to ask 57 questions about really matching that paint color. It feels good to leave the refresh in her hands. I hope when I am that age, I still have that kind of energy.

As for tomorrow, it will be one last pedicure, lunch with Sibelle and then off to the airport on my way home. I hear I am missed πŸ™‚ I’ll go from the airport to drop off the suitcases and then right away to a meeting. I’m working with some people on a theater troupe that is composed of homeless people. We’ve been asked to help them think about venues, getting the word out and generally growing their audience share. It’s an interesting challenge to tackle since the audience needs to be small, less than 50 in order to preserve the spirit of the experience. I always had a yen for the stage so this is my way of contributing πŸ˜‰

Brunch on both sides of the ocean…

Today is first Easter day in the Netherlands. We have two and combined with Good Friday, there’s a four day weekend for you. GG and the boys were headed to GG’s parents for Easter breakfast – brunch isn’t yet a term that’s really caught on. GG’s parents are past retirement age although not retired and they like to spend time shopping. They are also very egalitarian. I’ve been included into the mix so if GG and her sister get something for a holiday, I do too. This has always been a benefit for GG because it usually comes in the flavor of chocolate. Since I don’t like milk chocolate, she scores twice! Except now her parents know that I like dark chocolate. So, the egg pictured is what they sent home with GG and the boys for me. πŸ˜‰ I think it is cute how much effort her parents put into finding things. Sometimes we wish that they wouldn’t really send us back to the city with 14 dairy free yoghurts but we always appreciate the effort that they put into it!

Henry and George only received half an Easter egg a piece so as to reduce the risk of egg farts on the 2 hour drive home. However, I heard that they also got a piece of the ham so they were pretty satisfied and apparently on their very best behavior.

On this side of the Atlantic, the Rose Princess and I met up for coffee this morning with the intention of surprising the Move Goddess at her Easter brunch. The scream and hugs that I got when I walked around the corner as the “forgotten item” were better than I hoped. πŸ™‚

You know, during this trip, I have in four days already had so many good connections. I have also heard that there is a secret hope that it takes us longer to find a house, since it almost is turning into a reality series. Which gave me a really good idea of how I can share more of it. When I get back, it is National Open House Day on Saturday and I think we will probably visit a few. Perhaps in there, we will find a treasure. At the very least, we will certainly meet some interesting people, since it is usually the owners giving the tour and not the broker. Then you hear all kinds of things.

I thought about going to the movies today but somehow it seems like I am going to spend the rest of the afternoon reading. After all, I am using vacation days to be here πŸ˜‰

Technical difficulties…

Okay, if you texted me yesterday and you got a strange response… you had the right number, I just had tremendous difficulty with the speech to text functionality funneled through the rental car’s Bluetooth system. I don’t know who you were but I apologize for the silliness. I learned later from someone else that the car’s system eats texts and doesn’t really send them anywhere. So much for my technical skills πŸ˜‰

Today was really beautiful weather, checkout with the tenants was a little overwhelming. In part because of the act of walking through the house with the check out list and in part because they have kind of weird group dynamic right now. Their happy collective is less than happy. Everyone was on their best behavior but the undercurrents were something fierce. There were a few fun surprises, like mysterious frozen food packages and things left in random drawers. However, the house was in good shape and I was left again with the impression of what a beautiful space it is, especially the original fir floors.

When the week begins, it will be a flurry of tasks, like getting a painter in, a yard service and carpet cleaning. All details that can be taken care of, hopefully before I leave again. I am doing very well with not expecting people to respond over a weekend. See, living in the Netherlands has taught me a respect for work-life balance.

I saw my good friend Mark yesterday. We only had an hour for lunch since he is as busy as always but it was so good to see him. I learned more about being emotionally aware and who I am during the time Raven and I would go and see Mark. Somewhere along the way, it turned it into friendship. Probably because I have always had this feeling that if I were a man, I would be like Mark. During this trip, I have really tried to give all of the emotions their place in the sun, recognizing that the easiest way not to get freaked out is by letting them out. That feels good, like freedom.

For dinner, Sibelle and I went for Vietnamese and spent 20 minutes eating (their kitchen is fast) and two hours taking up table space and talking. One of the things I am most grateful for is that I have the room and the people who like to talk about ideas and concepts. I learn and learn some more.

I think that what the people in my life share is the intensity of who they are. I can drop in out of the sky and we connect again, as if there was no distance or time intervals. It is as if it were yesterday that we last saw each other. I don’t take that for granted. It makes me feel anchored, as if there are places that I clearly belong and people to whom I belong. I like that.

This afternoon, I went to Ballard and picked up the mail. There were still pieces of mail addressed to my Mom’s various aliases. She used to sign up for mailing lists at events as Dr. Β By doing this, she was able to track what was paper spam. Sure enough, there is still mail coming to the Dr. I went to Golden Gardens afterwards and sat in the sun, looking out over the water and thinking of the times that we had walked there, talking at record speed. Driving through my old neighborhood, I realized that Ballard still feels like home to me, in the sense that is where my heart would be in Seattle. I think you can have more than one home. It is a feeling that you take with you, like memories.

I don’t know where I will spend the rest of my life, but I do know that I will always be able to find my way home, for it is within me.

Speaking of home, you know that my primary task here is to be the tortilla courier. There are so many PCC stores now (my favorite local grocery) and I still ended up going to the small one at Green Lake to stock up on tortillas. I did leave three packages for other people but the other 12 are currently in the freezer here in my hotel room. That store hasn’t changed at all. I could still tell people that horseradish was in the chilled section next to the pickles and I did. Funny how the little details stick with you. I think I have to be done shopping now because otherwise I will be running into overweight suitcases.

One thing I do not miss is the traffic. Even on a Saturday, the traffic here is MISERABLE. No matter which way you go, you will end up with it taking way longer than you want it to or planned for. I plan a standard hour to go 15 miles. The cars are so big here! I have a compact and it’s bigger than Astrid. In the Netherlands, it would be a full size for sure!

Tomorrow is Easter. This means that on Monday, I will go and buy up all the special M&M’s that GG wants at a discount. She would like one pack of all the different kinds, particularly the Neapolitan – which just sounds disgusting. However, it’s a relatively small souvenir and I am now Dutch enough to not want to pay full price for them πŸ˜‰

I bought a book yesterday, well, more than one. However, I am currently reading The Other Alcott. I couldn’t resist because Louisa May Alcott remains one of my all time favorite writers and I am instantly drawn to anything about her. I am halfway through it and reading a book again, instead of on a Kindle is such a lovely, guilty pleasure. If we ever end up moving to a bigger house, I am looking forward to having all my books out of storage and free for the reading. I’d quite like to have a room that served only as a library πŸ™‚

And before I forget, today is Little C’s birthday. She tries every year to get away with no one catching her to celebrate it. I’m going to fix that. πŸ™‚