Sometimes I just crack myself up.

Last Saturday afternoon DB and I went to Gamma to get some firewood.  Gamma is the Dutch version of Lowes, or any chain DIY warehouse store with building materials, bathroom suites, paint, power tools, etc.  It’s not the cheapest place to get firewood, but we were lazy and desperate.

At this time of year Gamma has a long isle of Christmas decorations, all the bright, loud, gaudy stuff you can think of, they have it.  I said “let’s go have a look”.  DB groaned.  Off we went.

They had singing puppets, fake European village scenes with music and lights, fake wreaths for your doors, and wire and plastic animal shaped things that light up 8 different ways.  And that’s what I wanted.

Me: Look! There’s a polar bear!  He’s nice.
DB:  Really? (Groan)
Me: Yeah, we need some light in the corner and he will be cheerful.
DB: He probably doesn’t work very well.
Me:  Well, we can give him a try.  He can be our probeertje.  *

Now, if you speak both Dutch and English you are at least smiling right now and hopefully LOL.  I LOL at my own word play joke.  DB chuckled.  But then he has repeated it several times since then so I know he thought it was clever.

The next LOL just goes to show how foggy I am in my head these days.  Yesterday I got myself ready to go out for a run.  I put on my running tights, socks, wind jacket, running watch, I had my phone with my podcast all ready to go.  I even remembered to take my glasses off, which is something I often forget.  I grabbed a house key and closed the front door behind me.  I reached down to turn on my running watch, took the next step and burst out laughing.  Why?  I had my house slippers on.  LOL.  What an airhead.

So, here’s a photo of our probeertje:

* The verb proberen means to try.  Probeertje means a little tryout.  Beer is Dutch for bear.

Foggy Inside and Out

Friday morning was like most mornings lately, grey and foggy. I hadn’t been running in a long time due mainly to illness. I made a firm decision that I would go for a run Friday morning, no matter what.

After running about 8 minutes I had to stop for a stoplight. It was then I felt my lungs burning. I walked a little while and tried again. After another 8 minutes or so I started to wheeze and my lungs burned again. Ok. I get the hint. I’m not yet over this chest cold. I’ve been hacking and coughing up stuff for 2 weeks now and I’m pretty tired of it.

It was nice to get outside though and see some ducks and cows and people walking dogs. Today, Monday, I am feeling better and I’m coughing less. I should have gone for a run yesterday but the weather turned colder and windy and I just didn’t want to put my healing lungs through it. I think that was the right decision.

On another topic, I really start to notice how my speaking and language has changed since living in NL. A friend, on her blog, was commenting on how people use the word “anymore” in ways she’s never heard before. Like “Is this allowed anymore?” I find myself using “anymore” like that these days. Where did that come from? No idea.

I have noticed lately that American accents sometimes take me by surprise. I listen to a lot of podcasts and I hear Americans saying “fer” instead of “for” and it drives me crazy! I hate that but I hear it all the time, from people who are journalists and professionals on tv and radio. And have you listened to Planet Money in the last months? They start to sound like teenagers to me, especially Caitlin Kenney who pronounces words like she’s 12.

Am I just getting old?

A Walk in the Park

I was in London earlier this week.  I had intended to go for a run in the morning before work in Regent’s Park, which is just a couple of blocks from the office.  Unfortunately I’ve come down with a cold and my lungs didn’t feel up to working hard in the cold air.  Instead I got up and went for an hour long walk in the park before work.

It’s a lovely big park, with everything you can want in a park – wide open spaces for games and dog runs, lots of beautiful old trees, manicured areas of fountains and flowers, ponds and streams, a small zoo and places to buy food and drink.  Wikipedia tells us it is 166 hectares/468 acres in size, which is about 1/3 the size of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, half the size of Central Park in New York, and 4 times bigger than the Vondel Park in Amsterdam, just so you can get some perspective on size.

Early in the morning there are joggers and dog walkers.  I was one of the few people I saw not doing either of those things.  There was no one else taking pictures except me.  At 7:30 in the morning I guess it seemed kind of strange.

The dogs and the trees cheered me up a lot.  (Why did I need cheering up?  That’s another blog post and has to do with my awful work situation at the moment.)  The dogs were so happy, running and playing and meeting new friends.  I wanted to run and play with them!

The trees, ah the trees!  Trees give me peace of mind.  Whether they are in a city park or in the dunes of the Dutch coastline or the High Sierra of California, I love their grandeur and I love their smell.  I must have been an elf in a previous life, living among trees.

When I saw the flower beds, I thought of my mom.  She would have appreciated them.  I imagine they are lovely in Spring and Summer.  They are still lovely even in their Autumn colors.

After my walk in the park I went back to my hotel, collected my belongings, checked out and went to work.  My short time in the park was the best part of my day.  If you are in London, go to the parks.  That’s one thing the English do very very well – Parks.

Worth the Effort

Several weeks ago we were getting up early in the morning on the weekends, setting up the computer, firing up the VPN software that faked our IP address, so that we could watch the Rugby World Cup live from New Zealand.  We watched several of the pool matches, the quarter-, semi- and final matches.  It was great and I miss it now.  Yea!  New Zealand won!

But then DB discovered American tv.  With this VPN connection we could suddenly fake web sites into thinking we live in the U.S. and the world of tv opened up to him.  Suddenly we started watching many new shows.  This is not really like us.  Normally we find a series we like, download via torrents all the episodes and watch them on the computer when we feel like it, usually one after the other in one night.  We rarely watch more than one series at a time this way.  Not any more.

We’re now watching American Horror Story, Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Game of Thrones (see a trend here?) and Boardwalk Empire season 2.  All at the same time!  I feels like having this many knitting projects on the go at once!  Overload!

Well, not really.  I’m actually liking this but feeling a little guilty for being such a tv couch potato.  Wait.  I was one already, but now we’re making more of an effort about it.  I am liking that DB is doing the downloading and organizing it all.  It was always me doing the downloading and playing and all.

Oh, and we just finished watching the latest season of Project Runway.  And I’m still downloading and watching Grey’s Anatomy, which DB wants no part of.  That one is really my guilty pleasure.

What also has changed is that we are no longer watching all this on laptops.  We finally figured out how to plug the laptop into the tv so that the tv acts like a big second screen.  It’s fantastic!  The only down side is that we haven’t figured out how to do the sound through the tv.  The sound still comes out of the computer.  From DB’s 15″ MacBook Pro however it sounds just fine.  It’s only junk tv after all. 🙂

What we have STOPPED watching is True Blood, Justified and Breaking Bad.  True Blood just got so silly (ok, beyond my limits silly) that we couldn’t be bothered to watch the last 2 episodes of the last season.  I just didn’t care anymore what happened to Sookie.  Too bad.  And Justified – while I liked it, I just couldn’t relate to enough and couldn’t see where it was so much better than all the other cop shows.  Breaking Bad is just bad timing probably.  I do really like that show and would be happy to watch it again.  Just have to make the effort.

Watching tv from a foreign country is more effort.  We watch only what is worth the effort.

What are you watching that is worth the effort?

Birthday Present

I can now show you this shawl since the recipient has past her birthday milestone. I made this for my niece, M., who turned the big 3-oh on Wednesday. I actually finished it in time and mailed it in time and she received it well before the B-date. Yea!

This is the pattern Rock Island by Jared Flood. The yarn is Madelinetosh Lace, 100% merino, in color Fjord. I thought it would look great on M.

How was it to knit? Well, you first make the bottom edging, which seemed to go on forever. It’s not the kind of pattern you can memorize and even though they are very short rows, it’s annoying that I couldn’t memorize any of it and hand to continually look at the chart. I was very glad to be finished with that part. The rest of the lace sections were very enjoyable to knit. Once you knit a full repeat it’s easy to read your knitting and not look at the chart for every stitch. And of course the last garter section went super fast – just knit knit knit!

It blocked out beautifully. I am very tempted to make one for myself now. Actually, I’m tempted to make one in worsted weight yarn, with much fewer repeats of course, as a winter scarf/shawl. That should work up really quickly with some fat yarn and needles. I wonder if it would be just as beautiful? Stay tuned….