Saturday, June 23, 2012

More government control?!?!?!

Today we went into a liquor store to buy a bottle of whiskey.  Before being allowed to make the purchase Andrew was asked to stand in front of a machine used for facial identification supposedly to verify the age of the customer purchasing the alcohol. The owner of the store told us there is a person on the other end of that machine that gives the okay that the customer is over the age of 18 so the purchase can be made!  If age cannot be verified by the person on the other end of this camera, then the customer's identification must be placed in the machine for verification.  What?!?!?!  Who isssss that person on the other end of the camera?!?!?  Are they keeping our pictures on file somewhere for some future use?!?!?  It's kind of creepy how government is intruding ever so slowly into our lives.........

We went to the Gelato place downtown. We were sitting there (2200hrs and still light outside!) talking with some young girls. They asked where we were from. When we told them we just moved here from California they said we were crazy to move to such a cold place! LOL!

Today I got my bike back from the shop. I have a new basket and everything is working great!  Sooooo, tomorrow is the big day.......taking it out for a ride!  I'm going to walk it over to a nearby parking lot first to practice and get comfortable and then we'll take it from there. I'll be the only one with a helmet on in the whole country!!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer Parka vs. Winter Parka!

Oh myyyyyy......soooo, I have a summer parka annnnnd a winter parka!  Yes, there is a difference. My summer parka is a raincoat with a nice thick lining and my winter parka has down lining!  One thing I know, it is nottttt very warm here in the summer!  The stores have sandals galore, but I have yet to put a pair's been too cold!  Today the high was 59 degrees....tomorrow high predicted to be 64 degrees! Some people are so acclimated that I see them going around in short sleeves, but that is a bit much for me!

Today's verse of the day:

Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Colossians 3:12-13                    NLT

I hope I can learn to live by those words at all times!

Yesterday, I received pictures of my Grandparent's house in Minnesota that my sister had taken the other day.....she just happened to be in the neighborhood and had some time to go by and take pictures. Those pictures brought back many fond memories......picking blackberries in the back yard, going for walks with Grandma, watching football games on t.v., etc.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Studying Dutch and poison hemlock?!?

Oh my, this is difficult!  Trying to learn another language is hard!  Well, now I certainly feel more empathy towards people in the U.S. who don't speak English. Especially as an "older" person.....I certainly don't learn as quickly or easily as I did when I was twenty or thirty!

Our next door neighbor teaches Dutch at a nearby school. She is teaching a 5 week summer class next month that I've signed up for. It will be mostly speaking the language and hearing it spoken. All I can do is try, right?!?!  She gave me a bunch of websites to go to to help me learn, so I've been doing that for at least an hour a day. It's mostly familiarization and memorization of words and simple phrases. Andrew and I also have Rosetta Stone, so I've been using that too.

Everyone here speaks English, so we don't have to learn Dutch. But, I'd at least like to make a concerted effort to learn what I can.

This week I've been relaxing at home. Reading the book "The Art of Fielding" by Chad Harbach. It's an excellent book...I highly recommend it!  I will be going to a Book Club meeting in a couple of weeks and that is the book we will be discussing.

Last night I spent some time cleaning up the front entrance to the house. This morning I cleaned up the back yard. I trimmed the bushes and pulled weeds. Andrew planted some moss that is starting to "take"'s filling in nicely!  We bought a little motorless lawn mower that we'll have to put together this weekend to cut what grass there is! Tomorrow the landlords' "Real Estate Manager" is coming to see the house with some prospective buyers. The contract we signed is a two year agreement. If they sell the house in the meantime, the buyers have to wait till the end of our contract to move in. We, of course, will have the house spotless to show, but we're hoping they don't sell right away!

Yesterday I received the nicest e-mail from the buyer's of our house in Pleasanton. They love the house and are making it their home!  That makes me feel good, knowing a nice family bought it. I hope they make many happy memories there!

The other day as I was walking in the park, I noticed these flowers! They are huuuuuge!  The stems are at least 10' high!  I sent a couple of pictures to Mom to see if she could identify it.......she believes it's poison hemlock.  See:

It's 2000hrs and the sky opened up and it's now pouring down rain!   Thissssss is the Netherlands!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Remember BOB?

Well, I found out what all the billboards on the freeway are all about!

Remember BOB?!?!?

 It means "Bewust Onbeschonken Bestuurder: Consciencely Not-drinking Driver"......
Apparently there is another meaning too, but I'll have to find that out later!!!

I am finding that the Google Translate program is pretty good, but you just can't literally translate a lot of things.

Over the last few days I've noticed that my brain injury problems have gotten worse. I think it's because I was getting less than 8 hours of sleep a night. When I look at the computer for more than a couple of minutes I get the sensation of falling. So I have to walk away from it, or at least close my eyes while I type.  When Andrew and I were at the Arc de Triomphe and I was walking down the stairs I had to keep stopping and let people pass me...I was sooooo dizzy, I had to hold the railing with both hands to get down. When I go through pictures on the IPAD it still makes me sooooo dizzy. I just can't use that to look at a lot of pictures. For some reason it's better with IPhoto on my laptop...that doesn't seem to bother me....Sometimes I wonder if my brain will ever's been almost 2 years now since my accident.....I'm sooooo terrified to ride my bike. I bought it, and I know it's the only way to get around sometimes, so I will just have to get past my fear. If I get dizzy I can always stop!  

Monday morning it was pouring down rain. Andrew had decided to work from home that day. We were sitting in the dining room area and heard water...not good! We found a leak in the ceiling next to the door!  So, I put a bucket under it and made sure I kept sopping up the water to lessen the damage and called the landlord. Hans came over that afternoon and discovered one of the tiles on the roof had fallen causing the leak.

Weekend trip to Paris!


This past Friday we left for Parijs (Dutch spelling for Paris) for the weekend. Andrew's brother, Dan, was there all week on business and stayed a few extra days so we could meet up!

Our very kind neighbors took care of the pets while we were away. They came in and fed them, and took Sammy for walks in the nearby park.

Friday morning we hit the road at around 0745hrs.  It was pouring down rain. Around 0930hrs we stopped at a McDonald's for breakfast. While we were there, there was a group of motorcyclists who had been riding in the rain that rendezvoused inside.

On the road again!


Coming into Paris!

What was supposed to be a 5 hour drive turned into an 8 hour drive because of the earlier rainy weather and Friday commute traffic once we got into Paris!  If/when we go back, we will leave the car at home and take the train!

Ahhhhh....we've finally arrived!

We met up with Dan at the hotel when we arrived. From there we went to a restaurant that Dan had found in the Bon Appetit magazine, the Le Bal Restaurant.
After dinner we walked down the Champs Elysees.

We stopped at a little cafe for a little something to drink:
And later got back on the Metro to head back to the hotel:
The view from our hotel room on the 14th floor:

 We decided to go to Versailles for the day!
From Wikipedia:

The Palace of Versailles (play /vɛərˈs/ vair-sy or /vərˈs/French: [vɛʁsɑj]), or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles.
When the château was built, Versailles was a country village; today, however, it is a suburb of Paris, some 20 kilometres southwest of the French capital. The court of Versailles was the centre of political power in France from 1682, when Louis XIV moved from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789 after the beginning of the French Revolution. Versailles is therefore famous not only as a building, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime.

Who is that in the Hall of Mirrors?!?!?

Modern Art displayed in the Versailles Castle:

After a full day of walking we headed back to Paris on the RER train...There we walked along the Seine River.....

 As we were walking we saw some protestors and a lot of police......we have no idea what they were protesting as we chose to stay away!

We walked up to Notre Dame....

Where we found a wonderful place to stop and have dinner.....on a boat! We sat and ate, drank and the "boys" smoked.....for hours!

On our way back to the hotel we went through the Cite Station...which I thought was quite beautiful:

We met for breakfast around 0800hrs. Dan went to his favorite cheese shop in another part of the City while Andrew and I went to the Arc de Triomphe. We paid 10 Euro for the opportunity to walk to the top....what a view!!!

Afterwards we met Dan for lunch before heading back to Haarlem.....While walking to the restaurant we saw a man selling locks and decided, why not?!?!? So, we bought a lock for 4 Euro and put it on the fence amongst hundreds of others!!!

Another way to get around besides walking!!!

We left Paris around 1400hrs.  Dan was set to leave Monday morning for the States.....We had a wonderful visit to Paris!

During our drive going to and from Paris we noticed that the onnnnly billboards on the road were for McDonald's and for "BOB"!  Who is BOB you ask?!?!  Heck if I know!  I'll find out and get back to you!!!!  I've used Google Translate to translate the signs into English, but I still can't figure out what it's all about!

The old and the new:

It took us only 5 hours to get home!  Yippee!