Thanks to some of the best friends in the world, my stuff is mostly unpacked (aside from the things that need special attention, like clothes and hobby stuff, and while things are a bit chaotic, I can still enjoy the peace of my own space.
I had to stop by the Amsterdam place to pick up the TV and computer screens, with the help of another brilliant friend, because there was simply not enough space in the van to transport it safely.
After a cup of tea she also left and I was alone in my place for the first time. I love getting used to it, to the creaks in the floor and the sounds of the neighbourhood. It’s like making a new friend.
Finally the day has come where all my things are packed up in boxes and ready to move to my new home. It was more than a little stressful to think about where will the movers park, how will they get my things down the crazy Amsterdam stairs and safely into my new place. Plus the added matter of what to do if the van arrives before I do. This is a real possibility, because due to Corona I can’t travel with them, and public transport, though efficient, will still take longer…
Luckily Marinus stepped in to help, by calming me down, getting us (movers included) coffee and then setting off a bit earlier to meet them on arrival.
When I arrived, the van was already parked outside and my potplants in the windowsill!
Now everything is inside and the big unpacking will start!
One day, about 5 years ago I had a big important meeting. I was responsible for a big project with a lot of things that had to happen in a very specific, very short time. The meeting was planned weeks in advance to make sure all the experts from the South African office and the German office is available. I set up the video conference facilities in the main boardroom and made sure everything was just right.
About 30 min before the meeting started, I received a call from my landlord. Someone had broken into my home and I should come immediately. He was checking in at my apartment on the plumbing guy, and when he got there the door was open and the people inside were not the plumbing guys…
So I rushed home, and I called the police and I set up my laptop to dial into my own meeting. We started the meeting and I had to take a break once or twice to talk to the police and the landlord and the actual plumber, because of course he also arrived.
Whenever I have a crazy day at work, I think to myself, well, I survived that one!
It’s a grey winter’s day, the sun rises later than I would like and goes down way too early.
The highlight of my day is a draw between 2 very different things.
The first was a meeting and a site visit for one of my projects. It’s rare these days to meet with actual people in person, and it is remarkable how easy it is to resolve matters if we can look at a drawing and point out things on site. It made me remember what it’s like to work in a full compliment team.
The second one is is the little DIY I did to fix the spots in the walls where I had a picture and a couple of mirrors in my rented flat. It is so satisfying to get something just right. I can highly recommend it.
The highlight of today was again my music lesson. While trying to play the chords we sort of played around with some new chords, doing a bit of jamming, finding the notes, little runs or phrases, that sort of things.
It reminded me of the song Lisa se Klavier, that tells of Lisa who can unlock the mysteries and tunes locked up inside the piano.
Perhaps we all have some music locked up inside us.
On this Sunday morning after Sinterklaas, we are finally allowed to put up the Christmas tree.
A few days ago, Marinus told me he had a surprise for me: it was a massive Christmas tree that he had ordered from a friend, and it was waiting outside for a few days to be decorated.
Today we brought it inside, and I have to say, it looks like I always imagined a Christmas tree should look like! It is big and luscious green and just amazing.
Over a morning koffie verkeerd, we set about decorating the tree with all sorts of goodies, such as a set of delft like ornaments, and other ornaments that we found all over.
Marinus found a shiny golden monkey in his shoe one day, probably a gift from Sint or Piet, and I received a beautiful hand carved bird from Marinus. I also added some of my own favourites, such as the edelweiss from Switzerland that I received as a gift last year.
This year I experienced my first real sinterklaas. Last year I had barely moved into my rental apartment and my energy was all in getting my boxes delivered from both South Africa and Peru, and the height of my celebration was wishing my Dutch colleagues a happy Sinterklaas.
This year, however, was a bit different!
Marinus acted as my local guide and guru on all things Sinterklaas. In the morning we wrapped all the presents, and I was told that I’m a much better wrapper than him. I am not so sure, because he wrapped one as a robot, complete with a face and arms drawn on!
After packing the presents in a big duffel bag, we took the bag and the robot on a train to where his sister’s family lives (Marinus’s sister, not the robots).
After we arrived, we left the presents in the car and waited for the rest of the family to arrive, which was quite soon after.
The youngest of the family(5) was all dressed up in his Piet costume, but with a hat that has his own name, and he was just about ready to party.
When everyone was there we gathered around the big dining room table, laden with traditional sinterklaas sweets, and sang songs waiting for Sinterklaas (they sang, I don’t know it yet).
The presents had been sneakily piled outside the door, and a neighbour got the signal to knock on the door 3 times and then disappear.
The next moment the kids went to look for Sint, but only found a pile of presents. They were so excited, the little one even did a little happy dance!
The big bags of presents were dragged into the house and then given to the recipients one by one. Once received, the recipient opens it before the next is handed out, and everyone has a chance to ooh and aah.
I was so spoiled and I received a big stack of presents myself!
One of the kids got 2 boxes of elastic rubber bands, and then got really excited when he got what looked like a mobile phone, but really it was more rubber bands. His face kind of fell and I felt sorry for him. But then at the end, the robot present was opened to reveal a beautiful wooden rubberband gatling gun, lovingly made by his uncle Marinus.
After everyone received their presents, we inspected it some more, the kids (and grownups) built some lego, and we had such a jovial time, singing together and being “gezellig”. Baby Shark made an appearance, as well as I want to break free, and we had a really fun time.
After a delightful dinner we headed home again and I could comfortably say I had just experienced my best Sinterklaas ever!
It started off with a meeting with the company leadership and I also had to present. I won’t lie, it is nerve wrecking to say the least. But it is also amazing to be part of a company like this one and to be able to provide input on the things I’m passionate about.
As the day went by I managed to meet both deadlines I had for this week and still have a catch up with my managers about where I see myself in 5 years (it’s not just an interview question.)
After wrapping up the busy work week, I could make my way to Marinus’s for the start of a weekend filled with festivities!