Saturday, January 3, 2009

Brand New 2009

I think 2008 was a difficult year for a lot of people, particularly back in America. Over here, we are somewhat affected by what happened back in the US - but for the most part, the economy is doing well. The Euro is strong, and no one I know is out of work, nor do most of the Dutch have anywhere near the problems with credit overextension (or credit cards), mortgages, gas prices, or the other issues I'm so used to from "back home."

I had my own health issues, which I mentioned in previous blogs, and it's something I am learning just to live with, as there seems to be no resolution unless my health clears up on its own. That was basically the last message I got from one of my doctors - this is just how it will be, and they don't have any way to fix it.

Speaking of resolutions, I have many. I, like a lot of other people, have a list of Things I Plan to Do This Year, and then maybe I keep at that list for a month or so, and something else in life distracts me. You know the sort of things; work out more, lose weight, be more positive, eat better...

So maybe this year will be different. This year, I think my resolutions should be to relax about the working out/losing weight thing. I'm forty, not twenty, and at the moment I don't even know what size I am (and I don't have a scale, or a non-metric tape measure). Nor do I have the money to go out and buy all new clothes. I'm a master at layering clothing now that it's been below freezing most of the time, and for that you really need clothes that fit loosely.

But hey - a 25 K (tandem) bicycle ride through sub-zero winter wonderland is really fun! If I can figure out how to do it safely, I think I'll have the opportunity to try ice skating this year. The parks flood out squares for everyone to skate on, and when the canals are mostly solid there are families skating everywhere. Really cool!

Now that the holidays are over for a while, I won't be eating so much. That was part of the problem, there are so many delicious treats to eat this time of year, and people here, (particularly those who lived through The War) get very concerned when one doesn't eat in a good, hearty, Dutch-sized portion.

For some reason, they don't notice that I'm smaller (shorter) than nearly everyone else in this country. That's cool, though. Even with all of my layers of clothing, I'm both portable and huggable - I get the really good hugs, the kind where you get lifted off the ground and held in the air. I think I've read in other places that Americans or other cultures found the Dutch to be reserved, or standoffish.

In my own experience, I have not found that to be true. Yeah, they all still laugh whenever I try to say the simplest thing in Dutch, but I have been welcomed into many Dutch homes and hearts with my American quirks, my funny accent, and my strange eating habits. (Why doesn't she eat raw fish? Smoked eel? Strange girl.)

Of course there are a lot of differences here, and products I still miss from the US. They have a ton of holidays (do you really need three entire Christmas days?) and I'm not quite as fond of the fireworks on Old Year's Eve as a real Dutchie. But I'm doing my best to enjoy and embrace the people and culture that have been so wonderful to me.

Enjoy the photos, and enjoy the New Year! The Netherlands may be a small country, but it's filled with great spirit and large hearts.


I don't think that's Sinterklaas - but that's definitely a kabouter behind the train.

Our tree, without candy canes this year, but I do love that pine scent!

Okay, so that's more of a texture, and less of a complete photo, but it's hard to wear my glasses all the time.

One of the two ornaments I got from Essen, Germany. Cute little Santa.

Yeah, they shoot off fireworks from every neighborhood, and all ages participate. And it's rare to hear of an injury, much less a fire. Still, for me it's a little scary.

Ooh, I just took this picture inside the house. Reminds me of how green it will all be outside again soon!

Toppings for pannekoeken!

Pannekoeken! Heel lekker!