Thanksgiving away from family is a puzzle to be solved. Not celebrating is just sad and unthinkable, but since people, preferably lots of people, are a key ingredient to the holiday, celebrating does involve some planning and inviting, which can be more or less challenging depending on the circumstances. I've done my share of inviting, but I've also benefitted from some wonderful and thoughtful invitations.
Dear Loved Ones Near and Far,
I confess that one of the main reasons I write this Christmas letter is not so much to let you know what we are doing as to find out what you are doing. Sometimes I fantasize about what it would be like to grow up and live my whole life in the same little village. And then I watch a moody European crime drama awash in small town secrets and decide I don’t so much mind my itinerant city life. But I do miss being able to see all the people who mean something to me and be a part of your in-person lives.
Apparently it has been three years since I published a book review on this blog. Have I read any books in the meantime? Yes, yes, I have. Although I don’t think I did crack a book for my entire first year in Amsterdam. That’s how immersive and all-encompassing of an experience this city is. Besides the fact that I was working full-time in a different time zone. I hope I never have to do that again.
At any rate, then I started reading again but didn’t post reviews, I think because I joined a fabulous book club, which filled some of the need to tell the world what I thought of the books. I kinda missed writing these posts, though. So here you go.
A couple of weeks ago when all my Facebook friends were posting about seeing Wonder Woman, I went to book tickets on the spur of the moment for myself and Axa and discovered that, unaccountably, it opened weeks later here in the Netherlands than practically anywhere else in the world. Undaunted, I used the intervening time to get as many friends as possible to join me with their kids after the film finally opened. We ended up with 29 of us and a pre-movie dinner at Wagamama. Some of the kids were even persuaded to pose for a photo doing Wonder Woman arms.
Having a party in the city carries with it some challenges. Most of them have to do with transportation. Neither we nor many of our friends have cars, which can make transporting eight rambunctious boys a bit of an adventure. That’s why as far as I’m concerned, the perfect summer party is what Raj chose last year: pizza in the park a few blocks from our house, with the Minecraft ghast piñata his mother cleverly made out of toilet paper.
But the kid is growing up, and wanted something a bit more exciting this year. To wit: laser tag! The closest place that offers laser tag is under a bridge in the centre of the city. Which meant that I had to set out from school walking with all the boys.
Sad, but true: this is the final post in the Amsterdam House Tour. I’ve run out of house to show you. The final room is perhaps the most important, seeing as how it revolves around food. So here you go: my kitchen!
Is that a fun, bright room, or what? I am a little in love with it. As you can see, turquoise is the name of the game. I still feel a bit assaulted by the brightness of it, but I’m pretty sure I like it.
For reference, here’s what it looked like when we moved in. So you can see that for better or for worse, we’ve definitely brought it into technicolor.
On Wednesday it was Tony’s turn to walk the Avondvierdaagse with the kids while I went to a writers’ meet up in the city. And of course the weather was perfect for him: sunny until after nine o’clock, as it is here when it isn’t pouring rain.
Last night I had a second chance myself. I thought about holing up in a café while the kids walked, but in the end I decided to give it another try. And I’m glad I did. This time the weather was much better; it was even a little too warm at first, which I didn’t mind at all. I rolled up the sleeves of my cotton shirt and set off at a run after the kids, since I’d been left behind because of a last minute bathroom break.
Welcome back to the biggest tiny house in Amsterdam. Half baths, 3/4 baths, 1 1/2 baths, I never really got all the bathroom fractions straight, even through all our years of renting various houses with various configurations of bathroom facilities. However, I’m fairly sure that the bits of tile, porcelain, and chrome in our little house add up to somewhere in the vicinity of one whole bathroom.
You already met our tiny little powder room toilet in the Hallway. We are, in fact, lucky there’s a diminutive sink in there; many similar toilets in Amsterdam houses don’t have them.
Last fall Axa participated in an academic competition with kids from schools around Amsterdam to design an invention. Another team ended up winning according to the judges, but the audience prize went to Axa and her classmates from Denise.
Their winning idea was a “Party Boat”. The boat would be made of recycled plastic. On the boat would be a dance floor that collected kinetic energy from the dancers and converted it to power the boat. It would also somehow collect the energy generated when they sang into the microphone. Besides being fun, the boat was meant to raise awareness of the “plastic soup” clogging the world’s oceans and threatening the lives of marine creatures and the health of the planet.
Many of the houses we looked at in Amsterdam had some kind of storage room available. Sometimes it was a detached room on a completely different floor in the building. Once it was an attic room, weirdly accessible through an illegally built ladder right next to the fireplace in the living room.
The house we ended up picking was much more normal (not). A nine square metre (100 square feet) storage room lay just under the living room, accessible (as you’ll remember) literally through a hole in the middle of the floor.