Anniversary

Exactly one year ago I arrived back in the Netherlands to live, again, for good, after 3.5 years living in California, again. What a coincidence with the one year anniversary of this pandemic. I promise that is only a coincidence.

I went back and read my blog post from March 23, 2020 where I listed the top 10 reasons I was happy to be back in NL. They are all still true, except for the one about political leaders. The crazy man is out of the White House, and at the same time our leaders here in NL are showing themselves to be less than open and honest and often not competent to handle this crisis. I’ve been thinking lately about what I miss most about living in the U.S., and it’s a pretty small list:

  1. Friends and family – obviously. Especially my mom. Especially my spinning group in Redlands who saved my sanity many times. I do miss a thriving fiber community. While the knitting community in Amsterdam, and NL in general, is pretty amazing, it just not the same as the welcoming and interesting entire fiber arts scene in the U.S., and surprisingly SoCal (being a hot climate).
  2. Space – this is always my issue living in a tightly packed country where it’s impossible to go a day without seeing people and no wilderness at all. Our house is large by Dutch standards, but very small by U.S. standards. But all our stuff fits and honestly what more “stuff” does a person need?
  3. Variety of food – I didn’t realize how much I would miss being able to choose from 50 different brands of yogurt. Here there are 2. Maybe 3 if you look hard. I order baking ingredients from a speciality web shop. We had to order Swiss cheese from a shop in another town because you can only find Dutch cheese in our town and a little commercial French cheese. And it’s a good thing I like broccoli. I suppose I should learn to like Brussels sprouts. I miss all the varieties of winter squash (here there is 1), good avocados (you’re lucky here when they are not black or hard), any kind of Mexican food and good sushi. I probably shouldn’t even mention good thick juicy steaks since we should all be eating less red meat.
  4. Sunshine – I just ordered a daylight SAD treatment light to help me deal with these grey days and lack of sunshine. By the time March comes around I’m really feeling it – like an itch I can’t scratch, an irritation that only a day of sunshine in the mountains can fix. Or hopefully a SAD lamp.

And that’s it. I do miss my big car, but I don’t miss the crowded highways and where can you go these days anyway?

So that’s my moan about what I miss after living one year in the Netherlands after 3.5 in the U.S. There are other things I’m missing like crazy right now but they are related to the pandemic and not where I live, like going out, concerts, restaurants, movie theaters, etc etc. Not to mention seeing friends IRL. Can we be hopeful that this will change within 6 months? I think so.

In craft news, the ceramics class I signed up for is postponed til the end of March due to the pandemic. I hope it can start then and not be postponed again. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos about pottery and ceramics and I can’t wait to get my hands dirty.

You haven’t seen much knitting news from me lately (here or on Instagram) because I’ve been either knitting gifts that I can’t show yet, or a new design that I’m not ready to share. However, I just gave one gift, and it’s been received, so I can share it online now. This is a baby blanket made for Ben and Asha, who are divers, so fish are a perfect design for their second baby.

The yarn is Life in the Long Grass DK and I used exactly 4 skeins for this blanket. Details on my Ravelry projects page.

I’ve also just finished the 3rd border section of a christening blanket, in fine Shetland lace that I spun myself. I only have 1 more section to knit and then I can block it and sew it all together. I will be very happy to have it finished and ready to deliver. No photos now because it is still a surprise. They know I’m making it, but have no idea what it looks like.

The photo above was taken during our walk today, just a few minutes from our house. There are more photos from the day on Insta. It’s another cold grey day, but people are out walking and biking anyway. Scout doesn’t care. She’s just happy to be outside, smelling everything, eating the occasional rabbit droppings found on the dike, watching birds.

Have a good week. Coming up next week – iPhone camera vs entry level Nikon camera. Ooooo spannend.

Another Year Older

A Neil Young lyric just popped into my head – “Here we are in the years…”

Just about a year ago, on March 6, 2020, I flew back to the Netherlands. Our California adventure was over and our lives in NL were starting again. Except that it hasn’t really started, has it? People ask me “what’s it like to live in Den Helder?” and I tell them that I don’t know. I’ve spent the year in our house (but the first 2 months in my in-laws house), knitting, sewing, cooking, raising a puppy, and that’s about it. We ate out at restaurants a total of 4 times in all of 2020, and that was all during the summer when the pandemic was at an ebb. We used to go to the movies a LOT in California. Now we watch Netflix and Disney+ and Apple TV+ and HBO. I can’t remember the last live concert I went to.

Blah blah blah. It’s the same story for you too, I know.

I’ve been especially down the past few days. Maybe because this anniversary has come up and things are not better. Festivals for 2021 are being canceled. Events I look forward to are postponed to 2022. The vaccine rollout in NL is incredibly slow and haphazard and unpredictable. I think the unpredictability of the world is what has me depressed.

I am a planner. I cruise the internet looking for camping vacations for September. I browse shops that have tents on sale and I’m tempted to buy one even if I won’t use it for a year just because the act of buying it will give me hope and allow me to plan ahead for something fun. My planning instincts have been slammed flat all year long and it makes me feel things I’ve never felt before. Like futureless. Rudderless. Adrift.

During all of my working years I dreamed of being able to stay at home, not work, and do whatever I want. I’m KIND OF in that situation now. I don’t HAVE to work. I can knit all day long if I want. Or sew. So why do I have no enthusiasm anymore for any of that? I thought I would write a book. Or learn a new skill. And here I sit, feeling sad and bad and listless. ”What a waste of a year!” I think. But no, of course not. I have a puppy (almost a dog) and a home and a husband. We have a life in progress. I know how lucky we are.

I think starting up this blog again will help me to focus and give me a place to put down what I feel – to get it out there into the world and out of my body. DB thinks I should start running again. Maybe. I think I’ll start with writing again. Stay tuned.

The photo above was taken last Sunday on the morning dog walk, at Willemsoord wharf, just minutes from our house. With full moon and fog. The fog horns were going. I can’t upload a video to the free WordPress site here, but if you follow me on Instagram you can see videos and hear birds and the foghorn. If that’s your thing.

Keep Moving

My only dedicated activities these days are walking and knitting. In the past 3 weeks I think I’ve walked less than 10,000 steps on only 3 days. DB and I try to walk at 6:30 every morning and since we’ve changed to daylight savings time, it’s still dark when we leave the house. Sometimes we get to see a nice sunrise. Sometimes it’s too cloudy. Every morning the birdsong is becoming louder and more varied. Since this is a coastal town we get city birds and sea birds. It’s so nice to hear them in the mornings!

 Above is the little video I took this morning on the dike.

I’m posting photos on Instagram every day so if you want to see more photos I’ve taken on walks, with birds, ducks, scenes from the dike and beaches, check out my Insta feed.

In knitting news, I’ve passed the armholes on my Foldlines sweater and am working on the front. I’m going to lower the neckline by 1”/2.5cm as I really don’t like sweaters touching my neck. I’m sweating running out of yarn! I was saving 2 skeins for the sleeves but I will definitely have to start using one of those skeins soon. This is a really boxy sweater so the sleeves will be more like T-Rex arms so I should be ok. I hope! I’ll post a new photo when I’ve finished the front.

I’m also knitting a second sweater, “Stern” pattern, using West Wool Bicycle. I’m still working on the patterning around the yoke. I work on this when I get sick of knitting on the Foldlines sweater. It will be really good TV knitting once I’m finished with the yoke and it’s only Stockinette on 3mm needles forever and ever. I’ll post a photo of this also this weekend.

Stay tuned, stay safe, stay home.

Top 10

top of the dike this morning

A friend asked on Facebook “Why am I not knitting?”. She’s an avid knitter and a knitting designer. It was totally out of character for her to not be knitting. I ask myself, “Why am I not writing in the blog after a good start and lots to write about?”.

The answers are probably about the same – these are strange days that give us emotions we aren’t used to feeling and energy that moves in different directions than we are used to. Every day I think about what to write here but I don’t have the mental energy to actually do it. I think going forward even if I don’t write something I will at least post a photo a day. I do take at least 1 photo every day. That is a habit that hasn’t been broken by this virus situation.

Today marks 2 weeks and 1 day since I arrived in the Netherlands, living in my in-law’s small house, in a small bedroom, in a small town. It feels like a lot longer mostly because every day is a new reality. News from the government every day. A message from the King. Yesterday complaints from mayors because they have no power to enforce the “social distancing” without stronger rules from the government and stupid young people still gather in groups (MOSTLY young people – some older ones too).

In light of all the negative news, here are my top 10 reasons I am happy to be where I am:

  1. I can walk 30 minutes from the house and be in (albeit a small piece of) nature. The beach. The dunes. Some wild animals.
  2. I can walk 10 minutes from the house and watch boats on the North Sea come and go and hear and watch sea birds fly.
  3. The air is super clean which is good for my lungs.
  4. I don’t have to worry (so far) about being well taken care of medically if I get really sick and it won’t cost me any more than my 300euro deductible. No matter what.
  5. While there was a little hoarding going on here a week ago, that has settled down and we can buy whatever we need from the grocery stores in town. Which are walking distance away.
  6. Even though we are cramped in this small house, we are saving money until our own home purchase is final.
  7. DB has a good job and is not in danger of losing it due to this crisis. He can work from home easily. This was not our situation in California where my job could have been terminated at a moments notice.
  8. I can catch my breath from the past 3 years of stressful life. This virus crisis is stressful, but in a very different way. I have no control over how this will play out and so my stress about it is less. My stress level from commuting long hours on SoCal highways and working in a crappy job and being the main wage earner was far more stressful. I’m knitting 2 sweaters and a pair of socks – all at the same time!
  9. The political leaders in the Netherlands are much smarter and level headed than those in the U.S. They don’t make nonsense statements or make such outrageous lies that the population doesn’t trust them anymore. In fact Rutter’s ratings as a leader have never been higher.
  10. I never, ever, feel afraid that some idiot in Walmart is going to start shooting.

DB and I do go out every day for a walk. Yesterday, Sunday, we walked for 2 hours which I’m not used to and had sore muscles afterwards and still today feel it. We walked 50 minutes to the beach, then walked along the beach northwards to Huisduinen and then through housing areas to home. Here is a photo from the beach yesterday.

Row Your Boat

Well, we’re all in the same boat now aren’t we!

Since we don’t yet have a house of our own and are living in a small house with two elderly people, we are very housebound, even compared with other people who are laying low, staying at home. It does feel like a kind of war situation. Our fellow citizens are deciding what we ourselves must ration by their hoarding behavior. Luckily we haven’t run out of anything and have been able to find what we need in the grocery store. No panic in our house. DB is working from home and his parents don’t go out, so I have become the designated grocery shopper. I’m being very careful myself because of asthma. Cross fingers and wash hands.

DB and I are going out every morning, early, and walking for an hour. This allows me to get to know my new town better, we get some exercise, and my lungs become acclimated to this new clean sea air. I take photos.

The top photo was taken today at sunrise while we walked on top of the dike from Huisduinen back to the town center. That’s the Texel ferry in the distance. Texel is probably the safest place in the world to be right now but we’ve been told to stay away by the Texel authorities. I can’t blame them.

Here are some other photos of the area that is within a 30 minute walk from my in-law’s house. For the coming few weeks the only things I’m doing is knitting, reading, writing, walking and taking photos.

Every day there is new news about this Corona virus situation. Up until today I was sliding back and forth between nervous fear and relaxed vacation feeling. But today I feel annoyed and jumpy. Maybe I have to start walking twice a day.

Here’s a knitting update. I’m making good progress on my sweater. I should have it finished in 5 weeks or maybe less!