Our New Town

The moving in continues.  Today we hung curtains and finished up the guest room by making the beds and putting together the bedside table.  That room is DONE!  Yippee!  A finished room!

By 4pm we were fed up.  We cleaned up and headed into the city by bike.  As you can see from the photo above, it was gorgeous weather today (as it was also yesterday) and we were both fed up at wasting such nice weather stuck inside working in the house.

We parked our bikes exactly where this photo was taken, at the edge of the Grote Markt in the center of Haarlem.  We found a restaurant nearby and sat outside and had some food and drinks (no alcohol for me because of yet another migraine).  It was so nice to sit outside in nice weather!  We walked around the city center a bit before heading home and I have to say, I can’t wait to try all these restaurants!  Every where you turn there are restaurants with terraces.  Our last stop was an ice-cream parlor.  We got cups full of home made ice-cream and sat near the church you see above and ate it up.  Ahhhh. Lekker.

Only two more days til Mom and friends fly in.  I have to work during these two days.  So, my evenings will be spent getting the last things ready.  We’re working first on the common areas and the last things to be sorted out, sad to say, will be our own bedroom and the office.  I still don’t know where my socks are.  Nothing is hung on hangers yet.  That’s ok.  We’ll all sleep well at least!

I’m Still Here

Sorry, no photos tonight and not much posting lately. We’ve moved into our house in Haarlem and tomorrow we sign over the old house in Amsterdam. We’ve been working really hard, every day, on this move. DB has been doing most of the work in the house and I pick up my share on the days I have taken off from work plus the weekends.

The living room still has boxes in it, clothes are half unpacked but in all the wrong drawers, the attic is full of boxes still and the office is a tumble of tables and chairs waiting to be sorted out. The guest room is completely empty because today the floor was cleaned and oiled.
The big news is that today the washer and dryer were delivered. Now, THAT is a story. I wish I had photos of these two thin young men hauling the heaviest thing in the house up 2 flights of stairs.
Now, I must first explain that a normal sized washer and dryer in the US are considered gigantic here. I wanted a “normal” sized washer and dryer damn it. I’m tired of washing 3 pairs of jeans at a time and that’s a full load. I’m tired of my jeans coming out in a tightly wadded mess. I want as many options in the wash cycles as I have types of fabric in my clothes. So, we bought the biggest damn things we could find in this entire country.

When we picked them out we asked “can these be carried up 2 lights of stairs?”. The young salesman ran off to find out and came back and said “yes!”. Little did he know.

The delivery truck showed up at 2pm or so. Two guys who didn’t look big or strong enough to carry our moving boxes unpacked the dryer and humped it up the stairs, sweating and swearing. Then they started to complain about the washer and say that it just wasn’t going to be possible to carry it up. If they couldn’t carry it up, they would just leave it on the bottom floor. I said “what are going to do with a washing machine down HERE??” We went back and forth, he called his boss, I stood with my arms folded, and DB and his dad were quickly trying to remove the rail along the stairway to give them more room to get the thing upstairs. We finally agreed that we’d take off the railing completely and the guys would come back after their last delivery to try to carry the thing upstairs. Then he asked me to pay. I said “When you have it upstairs then I’ll pay.” Oh, that was NOT going to happen. If didn’t pay then, they would take everything away and not come back. Then the guy said, quietly, that if we get the railing off they will make sure it gets upstairs.

So, at around 6.30pm they showed up again and with help from DB they got the thing upstairs. They installed it. They made sure it was all working. DB gave them a tip for all their hard work. And I’m so relieved and happy. I feel like a ’50’s woman happy with her “white goods”.

And we’re never ever moving again!

Hurt So Good

Due to the moving and the migraine, I missed running during the last 2 weeks. Therefore, I HAD to run today. I was tired. My body ached from painting and packing. But still, if I don’t run often enough I’ll never make that 16km for the Dam to Dam in just about ONE MONTH. According to the plan, I should have run 12km today. I didn’t figure that would be possible so I was happy to settle for 10. I didn’t expect much. I actually expected to walk a portion of the 10km.

But again, as always, I learned something new about running and about physiology.

I went prepared not only with my Nike+ wrist band, but also my iPhone loaded up with an application called RunKeeper. It takes advantage of the GPS chip in the iPhone and tracks your route, speed, etc. via the satellite connection. Pretty cool, if it worked. The developers warn you not to run under heavy tree coverage so I was a little worried I would lose the connection. Everything worked even better than I expected, including my body.

I warmed up well, then started running the usual Sloterplas route, music from the iPhone in my ears, and wireless waves streaming through my body from various devices. And I ran, and ran and ran, without stopping for 10.8km! How about THAT! It felt good to be MOVING after days of STANDING and painting. It felt good to use different muscles. What I learned is that even if your body is tired and sore from a certain activity, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your RUNNING muscles are tired and sore. My running muscles were just fine, thanks very much. I didn’t even breath hard. I ran the last 1km faster than the rest because I decided I should be breathing a little harder. Now I can’t wait to go again and try for a better time.

And how did the iPhone and RunKeeper perform? Flawlessly. Here’s a screen shot of the results on the RunKeeper Dashboard:

I’m really impressed with how accurate this thing is.  You can see that at 2km I ran a slightly different path the second time around and it picked that up precisely.  Granted, this is not a full fledged training site or device.  It’s very basic and I’m sure there’s a lot more that can be done with this information.  There’s actually more visual information about my run on the iPhone itself and I don’t know why you can’t get to it on the web site.  I hope that the developers will expand the functionality soon.  In any case, for 7.99 what do you want?   If you want more you can always plunk down several hundreds of dollars/euros for something  much more sophisticated.  For me, this will do for now!

This is Journalism?

When I hear “Seattle Post Intelligencer” I think large newspaper with professional writers. Maybe I’m wrong.

I was reading Google News for the headlines, like I do every morning, and came upon this article about Starbucks opening a shop in the Amsterdam Central Station. Yippee! Finally a Starbucks outside of Schiphol Airport! Starbucks set up its European roasting and distribution center in NL, so why not shops?

This headline linked to the article in the SeattlePI. I went there are read the whole thing. It was written by someone named Andrea James, who, from the writing, I think must be about 17. The part that really annoyed me is this:

In Amsterdam, coffee shops are popular with tourists because people can gather in them to smoke marijuana, which appears alongside coffee on menus. Starbucks says it does not allow smoking at any of its locations worldwide.

This is obviously an article the writer didn’t bother to really research and she’s clearly never been to Amsterdam. AND I doubt she’s ever had experience with multiple languages using the same words to mean completely different things. No one in this country would ever call Starbucks, or the Coffee Company (the popular company that is Starbucks’ competition) a “coffee shop”. The Dutch have taken over an English term and turned it into something with its own meaning. Somewhere that you go to drink coffee and maybe have a croissant or a cup of tea or a sandwich would be a “coffee house” or “lunchroom”. Somewhere you would go to buy pot and possibly something to drink (not necessarily coffee) would be a “coffee shop”. That’s just the way the name evolved.

To make the comparison of a “coffee shop” and Starbucks, in the same paragraph, is just wrong, and silly, and misleading, and just bad journalism. Sorry Andrea, it just is.

Assuming that English words mean the same thing in every country can be a dangerous thing to do. Even between the English and Americans there are so many words that mean really different things. Don’t go to England and complain that your pants are too tight. You will be greeted with giggles. Pants in England are your underwear and the English always giggle when you mention underwear. You would do better to say that your trousers are too tight and you’d be directed to the nearest department store.

Speaking of languages, here’s a tip for tourists coming to NL. Always assume that everyone understands English. This will avoid the embarrassment of commenting in a normal tone of voice about someone’s clothes or hair or tattoos because you think they don’t understand you anyway and you can say what you like and not offend. Think again.

I’ll get off my soapbox now, before I really get going on Dutch and English comparisons.

Almost Finished

We spent yet another day working on the new house.  Today was more painting (does it ever end?) and cleaning and oiling floors.  We’re doing ok on time and tomorrow no one will be working in the new house.  Tomorrow we will be packing in the old house.  Here are some photos for your viewing pleasure:

1) R., our professional, painting in the bedroom; 2) A wood floor looks much better after a coat of oil; 3) Brunch; 4) The blue wall finished

I just love this color of blue.  In real life it’s a little tiny bit grayer.  It so reminds me of a beach house.  I don’t know why that is, but it makes it so fitting for this office space with the clapboard ceiling and wall.  The bedroom also has a wall this color.  

I took this photo from the office window.  Now, THOSE are clouds that make this blog live up to its namesake!


O + P = Patatje Oorlog

I’m combining the O and P for the ABC-Along 2008.  I have to.  What else does O and P stand for besides that quintessential Dutch food:  patatje oorlog ?

Literally it means “french fry war”.  Take some thick cut fries, put mayonnaise on the side, put some pindasaus (peanut sauce) on the side, and put chopped raw onions over the top of the 2 sauces.  Dip your fries in the sauces, scooping up the onions as you go, and enjoy!  Peanut sauce by the way was adopted by the Dutch from Indonesia and can be found everywhere.  It’s not sweet, is a little bit spicy hot, and is a little bit salty.  It’s really really good!

Here’s a photo of patatje oorlog.  I hardly even eat fries.  But when I do, this is the best way to do it.

By the way, the log thing in the roll at the top of the photo is another “only in Holland” delight:  a croquette.  This is gooey meat gravy stuff, rolled in crunchy coating and deep fried.  You can buy them in this log shape and eat them without the bread, dipping them in mustard, or you can buy them in ball shapes, about the size of golfballs.  The round shaped ones are called bitterballen (bitter balls).  Don’t ask me why.  They are weird to eat at first, but I’ve grown to like them a lot.  Watch out!  Don’t burn your tongue!

Progress on 2 Projects

I’m in the middle of 2 projects:  MOVING (a series of related smaller projects, like painting and packing) and Ravolympics.  Here are some photos to give you an update on each one:

First, photos and a complaint.  The photos are of my Traveling Roses scarf that I’m making for the Ravolympics.  It’s coming along nicely, but I have to tell you, tonight I’m too tired even to knit.  Why?  Well, that has to do with the OTHER project.  What’s wrong with these photos though?  The first one is what my iPhone thinks is reality.  The second one is after I altered it in Photoshop Elements to show the REAL colors of my couch and of the yarn.  This is my main complaint about the iPhone:  the camera sucks.  I don’t care that it only has 2mp.  I can live with that.  What I can’t live with is that so often the colors are completely off.  I have to edit nearly every photo to fix it.  Maybe it’s a bug that will be fixed with a software update.  One can only hope.

Today DB and both had the day off work (and tomorrow too) and we worked in the new house for more than 10 hours.  We painted the kitchen.  I painted a blue wall and a green wall.  DB painted hard places like the plinths.  RB was also there to help and worked on the woodwork and doors.  We’re beat.  My back is killing me.  I only have the energy to write this post and then I’m going to BED!

One wall in the guest room is green:

One wall in our bedroom is blue (sorry no photo yet).  I think I will paint a wall in the office blue also because it’s just a lovely shade of blue.  It reminds me of the ocean or a beach house.  I really like it.  DB is still getting used to it. 🙂  He wanted something darker.

It’s really going to be many days of hard work to get ready to move in one week.  There’s still so much to do and we’re both trying not to panic about getting it all done.  We’re already making a list of things that can wait til after we move (like the guest room floors and furniture, and the attic).

Someone came to look at the space that needs fixing up where the washer and dryer will go.  A new cement floor section needs to be laid and an old sink removed.  The good news is that it can be done before 3 September!  Good news Mom- you can do your laundry while you’re here!