Wednesday, July 22, 2015

2015 - Amsterdam

I found the above 3'x4' framed photo next to the trash. Just had to save it from the dumpster. 

Time goes by fast. 

It seems like just a few days ago that Meredith was standing there at the arrival gate at Schiphol, waving to get our attention. In actuallity we've been here just over two weeks. 

With the exception of a couple of mishpaps along the way, our lives here in Amsterdam have made the transition to the Dutch culture quite effortlessly. We're in our apartment near Meredith and Elliot, do our grocery shopping, look after Isla three days a week and get around town much like any other Amsterdammer with our tram cards or by bike.

Taking care of Isla has been fun, entertaining and, at times, challenging. She definitely keeps us on our toes. The fact that she saw us in June in California and that we had weekly Facetime sessions in which she saw us, must have helped keep her memories of us crisp. Soon after our arrival, Isla seemed to be at ease with us again as mom and dad departed for work in the mornings.

                             Isla having lunch.

                                  Meredith and Isla on a borrowed "bakfiets".

                                                      Diane reading to Isla.

On the weekends, we have visited our friends, Maarten and Ineke, at their home in Loosdrecht (about a half an hour train ride outside of Amsterdam). The first weekend, they rolled out the royal carpet for us, feeding us fresh herring, salmon and other delicacies. We took a walk in the nearby woods and ended up at the local airport, where we watched gliders take off and land. The following day we went to their houseboat for the day, where we enjoyed a lazy day in the sun, a barbecue and a boat outing along the lake.

                               At Maarten and Ineke's enjoying new herring.

                        Watching the gliders take off and land.

                                                    A day at the houseboat.

                               Cruising along one of the canals by the lake.

                         Coming back in from the lake to where the houseboat is situated.

This past week, Isla was troubled with a cold and a fever. In spite of this adversity, she's been a trooper coping with it. It doesn't keep her down much (although her parents may feel otherwise, since they get the nighttime duty where sleep can be hard to come by with a sick child). 

But even with the cold, she was ready to go outside and visit the local parks, stores and a nearby petting zoo. The neighborhood zoo we visited had a variety of chickens, ducks, geese, a peacock, ponies, a donkey, goats, rabbits (some bigger than Isla), turtles and much more. It was fascinating to see the interaction (much of it hands-on) between all the kids and the animals.   

             Isla at the neighborhood zoo and enjoying the swing at the park.

On Thursday, Diane and I visited the Stedelijk Museum to see a world-class collection of works by Henri Matisse. The works of art included sketches, paintings, sculptures and cut-outs. Although his classic style of painting was my favorite, the cut-outs we very darring. To make them, he would take painted paper and cut it into all sorts of whimsical shapes to form colorful and masterful works, some the size of a room. The subjects varied from nudes and flowers to landscapes.

Late afternoon on Friday, the class that Meredith is co-teaching met at a bar on the Amstel River. It was a perfect afternoon for a beer along the Amstel and we enjoyed meeting some of the students from all walks of life and from all around the globe. 

                                Diane and I on one bike.

Saturday afternoon, we again headed out to Maarten and Ineke's, this time for a birthday celebration - Ineke's. She invited several friends and family to join her for the occasion and we ended up having a very fun-filled evening, with good food and conversation. The following morning, after breakfast we enjoyed a trip to the Singer Laren Museum, which was showing a superb collection of late 19th century Belgian painters.        

The best news to finish up with is that Isla appears to be over her cold and fever. She again is feeling her young self, something that is sure to lift everyone's spirits.