Weathering the Storm

The Netherlands experienced a very strong autumn storm yesterday with gale force winds of up to 11. Much damage has been left in its wake, people lost their lives, their homes, their property. Those traveling lost time since boats, planes and trains couldn’t make their scheduled runs. If you were by car, chances were you lost time too because of slow speeds and accidents on the road. A man on his bike nearly lost his life when a tree fell on his path but he ended up in between its branches. Not so for a woman who was walking by a canal in the city center, her tree was her fate.



I’m one of the lucky ones. I could watch nature’s force in the comfort of my home. While working yesterday, I heard and saw the roof blew off from this industrial building across the canal.

And here we are now, the morning after. The wind is gentle, barely ruffling those leaves left on the trees which made it through the storm. The birds, who were in distress yesterday as they hid in bushes or sheltered under eaves, are back playing on this tree top outside my window.



Maybe it is not for me to ask why, why am I here? But to just be thankful that I have this day.


Color Me Warm

2012-11-04 11.29.15Oooof! It’s that kind of autumn day in the lowlands when it’s dark and grey and cold and wet. We’re having a die-hard drizzle out there and I wish I didn’t have to go out and brave the elements. Today, my tropical wimp is out in full force, but I’ve been getting my armor ready. Now I just need to put them on and get out. If I have to think about it, I’m going to call up and say, “I’m not able to make it. I’m sick. Cough. Cough.”

Thank God for warm clothes!


ImageFriday night proof of true integration into the Dutch culture: sitting under a retractable awning at a neighborhood restaurant terrace while gulping 8% La Chouffe, listening to the wind blowing, seeing the rain falling, and taking huge bites of cheese lumpias dipped into jelly-like sweet-sour sauce. The red haze was from a wall-mounted patio heater so I had a toasty neck. Proost!


ImageKäsekopf, that’s what the Germans call the Dutch. I’m a cheesehead too now, fully integrated into the Dutch culture, having devoured several cheese wheels in more than a decade. Lactose intolerance? What’s that? It was a matter of gaining immunity after several slabs of cheese. And now it’s easy-peasy-yellow-cheesy on bread, on pasta, on vegetables, in soup, on rice, on fish and beef and chicken and pork, on cake, or on its own, pure, unadulterated goodness. Yum!

Open Sesame

ImageDespite living in Amsterdam for more than a decade, I still find it special when bridges go up to let the boats through. If you’re in a rush and you have to wait before you can go on your way, this can cause you some stress. But if you know the beat of this city by heart, then you will find this as just one of the things that makes this place so extraordinary.