Warm at Last

We’ve lived in this house for 4 years now.  This will be the first winter that it will be warm and cozy in our living room.  Oh oh oh why didn’t we do this 4 years ago?

Here’s a before photo, Monday morning, looking out of the living room window to the front of the house.  See that radiator?  Who in their right mind thought that that thing was big enough to heat the living room in winter?  Who even thought that having such a small radiator was the least bit efficient?

Now here’s the NEW radiator.  Now THAT’s a RADIATOR!!

It took 2 workmen half a day to make the changeover to the new radiator.  There is actually a crawl space under the floor so they could get under there without destroying anything.  Isn’t is beautiful?

We also bought a new thermostat that is wireless.  The receiver sits next to the boiler in the attic.  The thermostat is a small white box you can carry with you all over the house.  That way, the room you are spending time in is the right temperature.  Our house is 3 stories tall.  Heat rises, so normally the 3rd level is warmer than the ground floor.  If I plan to spend several hours in the office at the top of the house, I take the thermostat with me and that room is the perfect temperature, while the ground floor is several degrees cooler.  No point heating a room you aren’t using!  I tested this out yesterday when I spent most of my day upstairs.  It worked perfectly.

The thermostat is also on a timer which DB programmed Monday night.  It automatically drops the temps at 10pm and starts to heat the house again at 6:30am.  Normally it’s at a low temp during working hours and starts to heat the house again around 5pm when we should be heading home.  Last night I taught a class in Amsterdam.  When I got home I walked in the door and immediately felt the difference a new radiator makes.  It was comfortable in the house.  Not too cold, not too warm.  I felt like Goldie Locks.

Why didn’t we do this before?  Don’t ask.  I don’t know.  Laziness?  Stubbornness?  We’re just plain slow to make changes?  I think that’s the biggest part of it.  But now we have a fantastic fireplace and an efficient heating system.  Bring on winter!

On the Road Again

This morning the weather was cold, clear and crisp.  Perfect for running!  We headed to the dunes of Kennemer National Park.  This photo is the start of our tried and true running route.

This was DB’s first run since the Amsterdam half marathon last week.  He set out to run for an hour.  Me? I set out to start all over again.  I did 2 minutes jogging / 1 minute walking.  I intended to do that for 30 minutes.  I ended up doing 40 minutes.  My condition is better than I expected it would be.  My legs felt fine.  BUT, I have a problem still with a big hip muscle I pulled back in June.  I went as far and did as much as I could before that muscle really started to hurt.  Damn.  Always something getting in my way.  My body is never in the shape I want it to be in.  I guess that’s the same for anyone who strives to do more than they can!

I got part way down the path when I came to a large meadow.  Suddenly a big buck with a lovely rack of antlers came bounding out of the trees and ran across the meadow.  Wow!  He was lovely!  And fast.  Far too fast for me to pull my phone out of my pocket and get a photo.  I went on about another half minute, and standing on the side of the trail, like the lost fawn that he was, was junior…

I managed to get this photo as he tentatively crossed the path, heading for dad (I presumed).  He was covered in fawn spots and was sprouting little baby nubs of antlers.  I continued on my way.

At the half way point I took this photo.  The Dutch skies were nice.

On my return I passed the same point I had seen the fawn and he was still there, munching away on some tender green grasses.  Hurry before the grass is all gone and all that’s left is frozen shrub!  He was quite close to the trail but didn’t seem to be too bothered about me.  I took several photos of him.  This is the best one.

This is only the second time I’ve seen deer in the dunes.  I regularly see the wild horses, the Highland cows, the sheep.  One time I saw a fox.  The Netherlands is woefully short of wild spaces and wildlife.  I always feel lucky and privileged to see these scarce animals.

FO – Gloves for DB

Finally, after a very long time (it seems to me), I have a finished object to show you!  These are gloves that I made for DB.  See the little red L at the bottom of the left hand glove?  Why did I have to label them L and R?  Because his fingers were so different from one hand to the other that I made the gloves unique to each hand.  So I had to label them.  They truly “fit like a glove”!

The yarn is Madelinetosh sock in color stovepipe.  The pattern is a highly modified version of Bobbie by Julie Mueller.  I made them more masculine.  The stitch pattern is a half linen stitch and makes gloves just a little bit warmer than a plain stockinette stitch.

I started them on August 17.  It’s now 2 months and 10 days later.  Good grief.  That seems like forever to make a pair of gloves.  I’m still not knitting nearly as much as I used to.  Stupid shoulder.

But I’m happy these are done and I’m sure DB will be happy to have them this winter.  Maybe I’ll get around to making myself a pair!

The Natural

There he is, number 25780, the natural runner of the family.  This was his second half marathon in 3 weeks.  Three weeks ago he ran in Haarlem with a time of 1:45.  Three weeks later he ran in Amsterdam with a time of 1:43.  He was SURE his Amsterdam time would be slower than Haarlem.  I had more belief in him than he did!

The Amsterdam marathon began at 9:30am.  The half marathon began at 1:30pm.  The slowest of the marathon runners were still running when the half marathoners started coming in to the finish.  The photo below was taken in the Vondelpark, 4.5 hours after these people had started running.  Let me say it again.  They had been running for nearly 5 hours when they got to the park.  They still had 3km to go.  Respect.

DB was so enthusiastic after this race that he signed up for Egmond that same evening.  And I must admit that seeing all these people running (15,000 of them just for the half marathon) made me pretty enthusiastic too.  I signed up for the Egmond 10k.  It’s in January.  I have time to get ready.  Yes, January.  In the cold.  On the beach.  Yes, we are crazy.

Grey and Blue

This is a photo with some blue in the sky.  It was taken only minutes after this other photo….

…. where the sky and the water were nothing but grey.  Our days have been very grey lately.  But, this being the Netherlands, people still get out in the grey and get on with their lives, like those sailing in the above photo.  DB went out running this morning in the rain.  He couldn’t be bothered to wait until the rain stopped.  We knew it would stop because we are keen users of www.buienradar.com.

I waited until the rain stopped, around 11:45, then I headed out to the nearby polder for a little run.  My intention was to run.  It turned into a walk.  I thought that the big muscle in my left butt cheek had healed (from being pulled back in June) but yesterday in yoga class I got a big cramp in that muscle and now it’s really painful again.  Sheesh.  It feels like my body is conspiring against me and running.  And I was doing so well earlier this year!

Anyway, it was nice to be outside and get some fresh air.  I timed it just right and missed the rain completely.

When I got home I took a photo of the last of the roses for this year.  My poor roses really struggle to bloom and not die from mould.  Maybe I don’t pay enough attention to them.  Maybe I need to put more chemicals on them to keep the mould at bay.  I’ll try to be a better gardener next year.  Until then, bye bye roses and flowers and leaves on the trees.  Winter is coming!

Whirlwind

These days I feel like I’m living in a whirlwind.  As you may know, I left corporate life at the end of 2011 and decided to become an English teacher.  I went through training.  I went through long periods of unemployment.  Then a short stint at a “training” job that had nothing to do with training.  And now, in early October, I am, by golly, an English teacher!  And suddenly I’m in big demand and keep getting asked to teach more classes.  I started out with 1 class at a travel school and 1 class at a language school.  Then they both started asking me to teach more classes.  Nice, but crazy and chaotic right now.

Here are some observations about this life change.

First of all, I’m having a hard time getting used to this un-schedule.  I spend 2 hours here, 2 hours there, 3 hours somewhere else.  I have a worse schedule than I used to have as a split shift waitress (lunch – break – dinner).  And I have to find time to prepare for classes.  This isn’t like teaching in a high school where you have lesson plans and books all ready for you and you just have to come in an hour early and your day is sorted out.  Oh no.  Maybe there is a book.  Maybe it’s a reasonable book.  Maybe it isn’t.  Thank GOD for the internet and all the teaching resources I can pull from there.  I’d be totally lost otherwise.

And I guess that’s my second issue – I’m very slow at preparing for classes because I’M NEW AT THIS!  And of course I want to be good at it.  I have good ideas I think.  I just have to keep coming up with ideas and finding resources to get those ideas across.  Everything takes more time than it would a more experienced teacher.

I really like actually teaching the classes.  Once I’m organized and have my lesson plan ready, I really enjoy the teaching.  The students are interesting and interested.  This is the fun part.  This is what I trained to do.

So, I have to get the hang of this life and decide, after one year, if this is the direction I want to continue going.

The photo above was taken at a farm we stayed at last weekend, Huis ter Lucht.  They have turned part of the farm into vacation houses.  It was the yearly Family Weekend.  I think, kids and all, there were 26 of us.  We watched the milking, petted cows and chased cats.  I went for a long walk Saturday and ended up in a boat.  It was good to get away (not very far away, but still) and not think about anything.  Here are some more photos from the weekend.  I didn’t take my camera with me, so all photos were taken with my iPhone 4S.