Category Archives: January 2014


Guess what? Astrid is free! I picked her up yesterday and she is now safely tucked away in the convention center garage in the neighborhood. She’s got Dutch plates and a Dutch registration and now we go on a 16 month waiting list for a street parking permit! And I just finished sending the payment to the garage. Between the shipping from Seattle to Amsterdam and then the three month jail sentence to get her through the Dutch import process, my beloved 1989 Saab cost 4500 euros. That’s about 6000 USD. Heh. For a car that blue books for about 750 USD. But here’s the logic behind my seemingly bizarre choice – Astrid is free and clear and more importantly, I have so many great memories of my mom and I sharing that car during the days I was working three jobs and she was my shuttle and coffee service. In one year, I think we put close to 70K miles on her. Right now, Astrid has 270K. So, yeah, there’s no way I would have left her behind. We’ll be driving to Sweden this summer. I want to show Astrid the factory line where she was “born”or should I say “Bjorn”since we are going to Sweden? Couldn’t resist the pun!

While I was driving to our neighborhood, I was on the A10 freeway – the ring around Amsterdam. It was such fun to think that here I am zooming down the highway in my super car! We’ll be taking a ride this weekend, the boys and I. George loves being in the car. Henry would prefer to hang out on the couch but maybe we’ll go out to the country side so they can run free and roll in cow and sheep poop. It is a good thing it is a small country because gas is expensive! I think it works out to about 8 euros per gallon.

Today I had one of those epic technology failure days in front of a customer. It was so frustrating. Fortunately, my coworker was nearby and so I could borrow his machine and improvise. And of course, I was kicking my own ass for it going awry. My coworker reminded me to just take a deep breath and that these things happen, no big deal. It took me a while to walk down the street to stop kicking myself but I got there eventually. One of the things I am trying to learn here is to get out of my head faster when something is less than 100% flawless, especially when it comes to work.

Starting a new batch of Kombucha tonight. This time I am using rooiboos tea. Did you know that you can make artificial leather from dried out kombucha cultures? Good to know if it ever gets to a point that I have more Scobies than I can give away. I didn’t pay proper attention to my last batch, between the travel schedule and all, and let’s just say it wasn’t something I wanted to bottle. It was, however, sporting a very vivid shade of moss green. That’s when fermentation has gone too far!

The temperature has dropped to freezing. I am hoping that soon we will be able to walk on the ice on the canals. I’d like to skate too, that would be fun! I bet I could teach George to skate and we could take turns pulling Henry around the ice.

You would think that with the colder weather, less people would be on their bikes. No. I feel a little wimpy as I walk to public transportation. And I remember my mom telling me that she was on the bike in all weather, good or bad. I can’t help but look for her in the faces of all the cyclists going past me.

PS… this marks my 90th day in the Netherlands and my 40th blog post! Thanks for accompanying me on the journey!

What a messed up clock

I have really been struggling with sleep since coming back from Seattle. It seems like I am averaging between 2-3 hours at a stretch and then wide awake for another 3 hours and then crashing for 2. As you can imagine, this makes me Captain Grumpy Pants and is wreaking total havoc with my attempt to not drink more than two tiny cups of coffee per day. This morning I woke up at 351am. I tried diligently to fall back asleep and at 5AM gave up and started working.

It is still dark outside so I think it is now somewhere between 7-8AM. The dogs are passed out next to me and the cats are roaming around, giving me the “what the hell is wrong with you?” look. I think life must be relatively blissful as a cat. And mine seem to have no difficulty sleeping for ridiculous amounts of time.

Picking up Astrid today!!! She has official NL license plates and is ready to go. Yesterday, I went in and exchanged my US driver’s license for a Dutch one. As with all things in the Netherlands, there is a process. And in theory, I should have my new license in about 3 weeks. I had to take one of their very specific photos for the license and I was so busy on concentrating on the requirements that the photo ended up with me looking like an escapee from a B-movie lunatic asylum. Seriously. I commend the civil servant behind the counter for not cracking up when he was cutting out the picture to fit the form. There was a line at the photo machine so I couldn’t start over and at 5 euros a pop, I was definitely not going to do that. Besides, the only people looking at my license should be cops. And since I don’t plan on getting any speeding tickets, I can live with the Freakarella photo!

It will seem strange to have a car again. I found a place in a local parking garage to rent since there is a 16 month waiting list for a parking permit for my neighborhood. It could be worse, in some of the neighborhoods in the very center of Amsterdam, it is a six year waiting list. But when street parking is 3 euros per hour without a permit, you can imagine why people hold on to their permits very tightly.

Going to Dublin next week for a work meeting. I am excited about that since I haven’t been there. I plan to allow a little extra wandering time in my itinerary so I can roam around. And then after that, I am going to the “nuns” for a week of intensive Dutch language instruction. Sadly, the nuns no longer teach at their language school/convent but people still call it going to the nuns since it is their methods and the name of the institute is related to their order. It was interesting to hear from the evaluator that I can make myself understood in Dutch but I don’t use a Dutch word order, which makes sense since I learned the language through hearing it spoken not through the classroom. It is 8 hours a day of one on one personalized instruction. Apparently, I am going to get a lot of grammar instruction.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, now I am tired. I hope get this silly schedule corrected soon! Have a good day!

Back on the orange couch

Thanks to a 93mph tailwind, I am back in Amsterdam. We’re sitting here on the orange couch listening to the rain coming down. It is so good to be back with the little monsters and my Nespresso machine. Our house sitter took very good care of everything. It is always a plus when you come back and things are in better shape than when you left. 

I am trying to think about the best way to describe my trip to Seattle. On one hand, I knew where was I was going and driving through the same streets to go places was easily done. I went to my PCC, my Pharmaca, my post offices, the big house, the same parking garages downtown for the conference, etc. Even though they are familiar, I feel detached. I haven’t been gone long enough to view Seattle from the fresh perspective of a visitor and nor does it feel like “home”. At one point, I was driving through West Seattle and I was stunned at how big the yards are compared to Amsterdam. I realized I have become acclimated to the scale of things in the Netherlands. The idea of once having a big yard is now satisfied by a terrace with pots and a place to sit with friends on hopefully warm summer evenings. And having to drive places… what a big waste of time that is! There isn’t really an effective regular alternative to driving if you are living outside of the Seattle downtown core.

Things I love about Seattle are: my friends, the mountains, the volume of vegetarian and vegan restaurants, the vastness of water surrounding the city, the volume of recycling and composting, the hills and the winter sunlight. It would be so great if I could have all of my friends in a shrinky dink version that I could keep here in Amsterdam. Or if technology allowed us now to be holograms, Star Trek style. 

I brought back 9 packs of tortillas for the boys. I bought 10 but I ran out of room so I left a pack behind for their brother, Denzel. And also, chili – powder, anchos, chipotles. I should now be set for a while for Southwest cravings! And I can make guacamole for those summer evenings in the garden. That’s a major case of optimism considering how hard the rain is pouring outside!

This morning, when I came through passport control at Schiphol, I automatically went to the non-EU line. I learned this morning from the official that since I have a residence permit, I am allowed to go through the EU line! Bonus!!! So, from getting off the airplane, going through passport control, claiming my luggage and customs, it took 20 minutes. So unlike my experience in Seattle.

Our house sitter commented this morning that my mom must have been quite a man magnet based on her pictures and that she clearly had a very adventurous and glamorous side. It was fun to hear that. And of course, the boys are the super dogs that they are because of my mom, so when they get compliments on how sweet they are, it was all due to her.

Playing hooky

The session I was scheduled to go to at 945 this morning has mysteriously disappeared from the schedule. And my second choice session is full so I thought I would sneak away for a few minutes and type.

The best part about being here this week has been seeing people. I am not done yet, I still have another two days to connect and give you a hug and hear what’s new in your world.

I don’t miss living here in Seattle. I am somewhat surprised by that. I still think it is a beautiful city. Everything seems so big here, from the coffees to the yards. And you have to drive most places. The traffic has already made me crazy. I have been spoiled by almost three months of getting around on systems that always have the right of way! Like to get from West Seattle to downtown, a distance of maybe 5-7 miles, took me 45 minutes this morning and there wasn’t even an accident. Just lots of people in their cars all going to work at the same time. In 45 minutes I could have made it to the office at Schiphol and included a stop for coffee, shopping and a bus, a train and a nice walk. It is funny how quickly your perspective changes.

It isn’t difficult to be vegan here either. I thought I might have difficulty readjusting to no cheese. Other than one dairy incident, which should be classified under moral support, I haven’t had the slightest craving for cheese. I do think the coffees here are FAR too large and I don’t want to drink them, too much water.

I know this city, I can navigate it easily like I haven’t been away. It feels familiar but not like home. This is something that I will have to spend some more time noodling on.

In case you are wondering if the pets are missing me, I thought you might like to see what they have been up to while I have been gone. Henry and George took a midwinter beach trip with Renée. They go out with Renée and her group of small to medium sized dogs on Wednesdays and Fridays. So, they don’t seem to have much time to wonder where I am! I posted some of their pictures here

Okay, time for the next session.

Coffee at 4AM

I am sure you all could see this coming too. Wide awake and on my second cup of coffee at 0428 AM Pacific Time. I woke up at 336AM ready to face the day. And for a moment, I thought it was already daylight but it was only the moon since it is a full moon here. It is definitely still dark outside. It’s nearly 2PM Amsterdam time so I’ll just roll with it.

The flight yesterday was long, made longer by the failure of an onboard computer to restart. So we were late leaving Schiphol. We arrived early into Seattle but it didn’t make a difference because of the new and improved Customs and Border Patrol experience. Here’s where one of the most startling differences came into play. We came off the flight yesterday and because the Seattle International Terminal is small and cramped, all US citizens were told to stand against the wall and they would let us into the passport control area in measured groups. And in the meantime, they kept calling for foreign visitors to move forward. We’re all standing in a dingy, Spartan hallway for a ridiculous amount of time. Then when you are let through down to passport control, you see that they have wiped out half of the stations that were staffed and now replaced them with kiosks like automated checkin machines. So, of course, you wind through the rows like Disneyland to have to use one of these machines. Which would have been better off if they had taken cues from automated check outs which people are used to. But that’s my software development side talking. After you process yourself through the machine, you get a receipt and then have to go and wait for your luggage and then through another endless row session to eventually get out. All in all, it took 90 minutes to clear customs and I was at the front of the plane. This is ridiculously inefficient. They seem to have cut the number of people who you actually interact with and increased the rows and lines to funnel everyone into a system that has half the capacity it had before. But that’s not the biggest difference. Here you have to go through everything during their prescribed timeline and it is a cheerless and frustrating experience. At Schiphol, everyone also has to go through passport control and customs to leave their airport. But it is not on a prescribed timeline. You can get off the plane and have a coffee, go to the restroom, take out money from the ATM, journal, whatever and then go through PC and customs at your convenience. This such a nicer experience and also highlights the difference between the Dutch attitude – “you are a grownup and we trust you will act accordingly – these are our rules and processes, you will go through them but you choose when” vs the American mindset “we can’t trust you to behave properly so we are going herd you through like cattle and we must maintain very tight control over this because you can’t function for yourself”. Seriously, would it be so difficult to consider user experience when designing systems? I wouldn’t have minded waiting 3 hours, if I could have had a cup of coffee and made my own choice when to go on through. Instead, you are treated like a 3 year old.

I was able to restart my old Seattle phone number, which was a big relief. The handset blew up when I was leaving for Europe since the instructions from the phone company were completely wrong and during the past couple of months, the number has been forwarding to Lawyerella. Handy but I had voicemail messages that I had saved, including one from my mom for my birthday in 2009. I have been having anxiety over the past week that they might have been erased by the system since it had been 3 months or so since I had been able to access them. They were not. Yesterday I heard my mom’s voice again and promptly resaved the message. Now I am really techno cool… I am walking around with my Dutch mobile which is a smart phone and my American one which is not a smart phone – it cracks me up because wouldn’t it be great if you could have one phone that could carry multiple numbers simultaneously? And the American phone is very basic, it would be cool if I was 7 – it is too old school to even appeal to 9 year olds! Texting on it is a nightmare. But all the same, I am glad to have it working.

At 7AM, when PCC opens, I am going to head over there and do my shopping. I need to bring back tortillas for the dogs and a few other things that you can’t get in the Netherlands, like nutritional yeast. And I am hoping they have the tofu scramble in the hot bar. I am so craving a tofu scramble. And it is never as good when I make it at home because you need extra extra firm tofu which so far I have not been able to find in Amsterdam.

I went by the big house yesterday after dropping off cheese and chocolates to Jan and Kerrie. They are hard at work finishing their Dog City Daycare empire for next week. Which is totally awesome when I think of how many people I know are starting their own businesses or have this past year. Do what you love, right? The house is still beautiful, even completely empty. I don’t regret buying it so Mom and I could be there. It still feels good and would be a great place for a family. I don’t know what I would do with all that space again. Without Mom, I only used four rooms and closed everything else off. I was kind of like a marble rolling around a football field.

Wishing you a good Sunday, what ever time zone you are in!

Disturbed by Netflix

I know that I have been making some questionable movie choices lately. However, I didn’t realize quite how low I must have sunk. I turned Netflix on today and right there in “Top Recommended Movies for you” was “Jersey Girl”. Yep, the one starring J.Lo and Ben Affleck.I think on the barometer of poor taste, that means I rank fairly high. Instead of the Delight that they recommended, I am watching “The English Man who went up a mountain and came down a hill”. I haven’t seen this one before.
Almost finished packing for tomorrow’s fight. For you Seattle readers, you have about another 12 hours to let me know what you want from the Netherlands. For the Dutch readers, you still have a few days to tell me what you want from the Emerald City.
The boys got their stitches out today. And the biopsy of George’s mouth growth came back as nothing at all, not a tumor. We have a really good vet here. Every dog that comes in there is happy to see the doctor. They aren’t necessary happy to be in the waiting room but as soon as they see the vet, they go all goofy and happy. Not just my boys. I would say that’s a vet that has an inner dog. We used to describe my Mom that way too, since all dogs gravitated towards her, no matter where or when. And she also often said that if she could do it all again, she would have four dogs instead of four kids.
Yesterday was a day full of difficult moments and amidst them, a few bright ones. After I spent a long time talking to Mom, as I left the churchyard, for a brief few moments, I felt a lightness.
You know, when I look at Henry and George and see how people oriented they are, I recognize that is the work of my Mom and how she loved them.  And while it was tough love, it was a solid and inescapable love. The same with their eating habits, I continue their meals and intervals and the nighttime tortilla before bed because that was how she treated them. So even if she is not here, I can see her legacy.
That’s it for now, next time I’ll be writing from Seattle.


As in the movie. I watched it tonight. I remember going to see it with my mom in the theater. We saw it at the Seven Gables Theatre in Seattle and really enjoyed it. Usually, my mom and I had somewhat opposite tastes in movies. My mom loved adventure movies. Seriously. And I think her favorite movie of all time was “The Professional” with Jean Reno. We both loved Chocolat. Watching it tonight and looking at how the women were dressed made me realize what a glamour puss my mom was in her youth.  When she worked at the embassy, they took lots of pictures and I have some of them now and she was really striking. It helps me to understand too why when she wanted to dress up, she wanted to look her best – whereas I would tell her “we live in Seattle, where the dress code is fleece, let’s go already”.
I will go to Marum tomorrow, to mark the year. I wanted to bring flowers that can handle the exposure for the next couple of months, so that means bulbs and primroses. I got a pot of furiously pink primoses in an equally pink pot. It is in the pink family that is nearly magenta. It is exactly the color of a vest that I talked Mom into buying for her art photography trip to Rome that she didn’t end up going on. We were at the little outdoor shopping center in West Seattle. They have a Chico’s. It is a store that specializes in clothing for women in the 50 plus demographic who are still pretty active. So, while there are some questionable items, they also have some very nice things. I remember going there with mom about two weeks before her trip departure date and we had a lot of fun. The sales person kept bringing her clothes and we constantly had to resize since my mom picked far bigger sizes than she needed. In the end, she wasn’t going to buy any of it because she wasn’t comfortable spending money on herself. So I bought it all while she was distracted by something in the display window. She never got to wear the vest. I stored it with her other clothes that I wasn’t ready to let go of, like the big parka she wore to the Yukon when we went in February 2012.
I came down with a cold and fever this week. It probably had been in the works for awhile. I’ve been eating lots of soup and drinking teas. And watching some really mindless movies like “Pirates of the Carribean” and “The Three Musketeers”. Those movies were the highlights because I have also ended up watching some horrible movies about mediëval England and the Roman Empire. It seems like Netflix has a glut of movies like that right now and I really have just been looking for mindless distraction from the flu. Of course, if I watch all these movies now, what will I have to look forward to on the airplane on Saturday? Because, let’s face it, they are probably not showing the greatest films ever made either.
It doesn’t seem possible that it has been a year.


It is the Dutch word for “big deal” or “special value”. Today, I scored 40 rolls of toilet paper for 9 euros at the Albert Heijn. That’s approximately 4.5 rolls per euro. I felt pretty proud of myself. Mind you, 40 rolls is a bit excessive for a one person household but I figure I am set for a while! And if you do grocery shopping on foot, toilet paper is one of those annoying necessary items that means you have one less hand free to carry a grocery bag. At the moment, I am still carless. I am still waiting for Astrid to pass the final inspection. Supposedly, this week.
The boys are headed back to normal. George keeps trying to remove his stitches so he has to wear his sweater 24/7. Henry has a massive bandage on his chest which they said would fall off by itself. If it hasn’t by tomorrow, I will have to pull it off. And I feel bad about doing this because he has such delicate skin and the bandage really sticks. We haven’t been back to the park yet because I don’t want to let them play with other dogs at the moment while they have stitches. So instead we went for a long rambling walk. I was sort of off kilter today on the walk, couldn’t decide where I wanted to go, etc. Not because of an evening of over indulgence but more because I am just sad and not really paying much attention to my surroundings as evidenced by the number of times I wandered into the bike path.
I think it is a good thing I am going to Seattle next week. I deeply need some chili powder. I have been craving chili. And so today I bought a jar of vegetarian chili made in France. I looked at the ingredients and thought “well, maybe this will taste like chili and not a ragout”. It tasted like a ragout. Which would have been lovely over rice if I had been in the mood for that but I wanted the taste of chili. Next week, I will make sure to buy some chili powder. Along with tortillas for the boys and Field Roast sausages.
I cleaned the house today. And I put away the Christmas decorations and cleaned out the refrigerator from the leftovers. Of course, no sooner had I cleaned the floor and gone to take out the trash, George peed in the hall. I guess that’s their way of ensuring I don’t get too complacent in my cleaning efforts. And it really took me less than two hours. I just dread doing it and that always makes it worse when it is hanging over my head. But the very reality of it is if I don’t do it, no one else will. Except for in matters related to spilling food on the floor. For those kinds of incidents, I can generally count on the boys to clean that up. And that’s why I keep them around…
In the begining of February, I am going to Dublin for a few days for work. That should be very cool and then the week after, I am going to study Dutch for a week in the immersion program started by the Nuns of Vucht. It is now called the Institut Regina Coeli but everyone still calls it “going to the nuns.” Hopefully, I will come out with greatly improved spoken and written Dutch and maybe also some improved mental space since it is supposed to be a very contemplative experience.


Not me, the boys. Today they went to the vet for their appointment. Henry needed to have a tooth removed and his big skin tag taken off, along with a teeth cleaning. George needed a growth from his gum removed, three fat deposits removed and a tooth as well. Things here are alot more involved at the vet than in the US. Here you stay with your furkid while they get their anaesthesia and then you hold them until they are ready to go into surgery. It is not a drop them off and go model. So, at the moment they aren’t doing much except recovering from the narcotics. George has to wear a special suit to keep him and his brother from opening up the stitches. I put him back in his old sweater since it is long enough to cover all three of the stitch sites. He’s going to have to wear it for a few days. He doesn’t look thrilled.

We left the vet clinic today with a Sonicare toothbrush for dogs. The goal is in a few days I will be teaching them to brush their teeth everyday. Yeah, this promises to be an adventure. I just hope I don’t mix up our toothpastes because I am pretty sure their’s is liver flavored!

Dylan left yesterday. I dropped him off at Schiphol on my way to the office. The last night he was here, we tried to sit at a terrace cafe. The weather was warm enough but then it started raining significantly over and over. So, we sat inside and I watched Dylan give in to the lure of fried cheese and fried goat cheese that I ordered for him. I suppose this would be a sign that I am still an evil big sister because if there is one weakness Dylan has, it is cheese. The last thing I did before we jumped on the train to Schiphol was to run into the Albert Heijn to go and buy him cheese to stick in his suitcase. If you ever go out with Dylan and fried cheese is ordered, even if he says it is for the table – it’s not. Order your own! I wonder if I should be concerned that I have moved into this phase of getting a vicarious thrill out of buying cheese for other people.

I am going to spend the next few days getting the house back into order. I could probably clean it top to bottom in two hours of serious work but that’s more focus than I have to spare at the moment. I am pretty worn out emotionally and trying to find a way to recharge my batteries before I go back to Seattle on the 18th.

Going to Marum was very, very difficult. I always used to double check my mom before we went somewhere. For example, making sure she had her passport, etc. Well, I needed someone to do that for me because when we showed up to rent the car on Saturday morning, I had forgotten my driver’s license. Duh. So, while Dylan waited at the Avis with the dogs, I got back on the tram and went home to get my driver’s license. So, we were an hour behind schedule. And then George ran away at the rest stop. He ran all the way into the restaurant, chasing after Dylan. And in the meantime, I am running around the parking lot looking for George while these bikers are astounded that someone could lose their dog at a rest stop. The closer we got to Marum, the harder it was to hold it together and keep driving. It was as peaceful as always. In the area of the church yard where the niche is for Mom and Oma, it is now under the care of the province. There is a sign now that says that children under 16 must be attended and no dogs. I brought the dogs anyway, but on a leash. The irony of all of this is that there is very definitely a dog on the provincial side since I mixed Mom’s ashes with Ninja’s before I placed her in the niche. Ninja was her fifth child and maybe even her favorite, so they belonged together. And in keeping with Mom’s habit of doing things her way, not the expected way, she and Ninja were meant to be mixed together, flouting the rules!

When I went with Dylan to the Maritime Museum, I found some very cool bottles based on old sailor’s rum bottles. I thought they would be perfect for bottling my kombucha. And they are. Tonight the current batch went into the bottling stage and I started a new batch from the Mega Scoby.

I think that’s it for today, I’m exhausted.


Tomorrow would have been my Mom’s 74th birthday. As it stands right now, I’ll be renting a car tomorrow morning and then Dylan, the dogs and I will make the drive north to Marum to put flowers at her and Oma’s niche. It is going to be really hard tomorrow. Hell, it is already hard now and has been for the past couple of days as I knew this was coming. There are mornings that I still wake up and have to remind myself that it is real.

Mom was pretty frustrated by the fact that her birthday was the 4th of January. She felt it was a lousy time to celebrate since everyone was wiped out after Christmas and New Year’s. So, when she moved to Seattle in 1997, she decided to have a new birthday – one that fell on a date that she found much more suitable because it was already full of fireworks and why shouldn’t they be a gift? Yes, she chose the 4th of July instead of the 4th of January. It was also the day she arrived in Seattle to live there. So, every 4th of January, we would go out to dinner but it wasn’t a “birthday”dinner – that would come in July. Mom loved Cactus and that’s most often where we would go. Even though it wasn’t her “birthday” dinner, she would get dressed up in her very glamourous faux fur and put on the German finely tailored pants and the bright lipstick. And one and a half margaritas (preferably made with Hornitos) and she was practically dancing around the restaurant.

I remember for her “not birthday”in 2012, I gave her an envelope full of printouts and maps. Her birthday gift that year was a trip to the Yukon Territories in Canada, in February, to see if we could catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis. She didn’t really believe it until we boarded the flight on Air North out of Vancouver to Whitehorse. I remember the joy on her face during that trip and how bossy she was when I was driving the dog sled. And in the sled dog yard, I think she said hello to all 200 plus dogs. I remember her falling in the snow and timing the trips to the composting toilets at the right time so as to avoid any other guests. I remember being in the hot springs with her, freezing above the water and toasty warm below. Most of all I remember her sense of curiousity about the world and people around her.

And I very much don’t want to believe that someone with such a spark is gone.

Tonight Dylan and I went for Indonesian food because the Mexican food here is somewhat of a miss. Dylan ate two bowls of sambal (and regretted it afterwards). Indonesian food reminds us both of Mom. Tomorrow night, our cousin, Sjoerd, is playing gypsy music in a bar with one of his bands. My mom was a huge fan of gypsy music (and especially the Gipsy Kings) so to have that happen on her birthday is too strong to ignore.

Since Christmas, which everyone survived and went home with leftovers, things have been a bit of a struggle. I am trying to stay functional and keep going but I am having alot of days where I would easily stay under the covers and not come out if that was an option. However, the pets keep me going since not one of them is really tall enough to open doors and take care of the others. Although we know from first hand experience that George can get the pet food cupboard open and feed himself as the empty bag attested to.

Oude and Nieuwe Jaar was quiet,in terms of we spent it here. It was not quiet in terms of the massive fireworks that went off everywhere at midnight. The dogs went a little nuts. Here’s a thrifty Dutch tip – you don’t need to buy fireworks (although you can for the 4 days leading up to Oude Nieuwe) because everyone for blocks already has. All you have to do is stand outside your front door and take in the show. And we’re not talking little sparklers – these are Fireworks.

Dylan and I have had some interesting conversations and experiences while he has been here. We went to the Maritime Museum, which was super fascinating. Today he stopped at a cafe and ordered a coffee and drank it there. This is a big step for “Mr. Venti Drip” and I wasn’t even around to influence that since I went back to work yesterday. Before he arrived, I was asked to visualize what I thought a successful visit would look like. How would I measure the success? I was torn between two things. One measure was Dylan falling in a canal. The other measure was that when I took him to Schiphol to leave, I would miss him once he was through security instead of doing a victory dance. Where things stand today, it is definitely not the canal measurement – which is a surprisingly good and attainable thing. I hope that would make my mom happy to know. Of course, the visit isn’t over yet 😉