Belgium Pictures

Filed under: Personal — joy at 8:55 am on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

In addition to our trip to Amsterdam, we took a day trip to Bruges, Belgium. It’s a medieval town with several tall churches and a town square with a clock tower. Here are some pictures:

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That’s me taking a picture in a reflective art sculpture. ARTY.

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While there, we ate so much. I can’t believe I lost three pounds on this trip.

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Belgium chocolates. I had the best caramel I’ve ever had at Pralinette.

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Beer, of course. I was rather proud to see I was familiar with almost all the Belgium beers we encountered. Woman of the world. Or at least, a beer pub.

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Here’s Kyle eating a waffle. You can add lots of toppings: sprinkles, chocolate, fruit, and so forth. Kyle just had whip cream.

After eating, we walked around more.

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There are lace shops everywhere.

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You know how in 18th-19th century novels, women are always going on about lace, and how they have to buy a new lace collar, and how lace is so special and expensive and wonderful? I never understood that until this trip. Lace making is a complex craft that has been almost lost in the age of machinery. To see what I mean, check out this video of a woman in Bruges making lace.

Amsterdam Pictures

Filed under: Personal — joy at 10:12 am on Thursday, October 22, 2015

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Last month, I went to Amsterdam and Belgium for a week with my husband, best friend, and toddler. It was a great trip. Amsterdam is an easy place to visit. It rained, but not to the point that it ruined the trip. In fact, when the sun came out on Saturday, I got a sense of what the crowds would have been like if it hadn’t rained, and decided the bad weather was a blessing in disguise.

Of course, there are the canals.

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And the great architecture.

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We visited many museums. My favorites were the Anne Frank House–incredibly moving–and the Van Gogh Museum.

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Here are people crowding around Rembrandt’s Night Watch in Rijksmuseum.

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They have a whole room on the Battle of Waterloo. Here’s Kyle looking at things.

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Marcia and me standing in front of the Rijksmuseum. Marcia’s family is from Holland, so not only does she speak Dutch, she knows all about the culture, including the food.

While there, we ate things like: sandwiches, seafood, stroopwafels, BamiGoreng, Gevulde Koeken/Almond Paste Cookies, Dutch croquettes (essentially deep-fried gravy–don’t tell America about that), excellent French fries, and cheese. We took a side trip to Edam to try cheese. Here’s one of the cheese shops.

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The Dutch like to dip food in condiments. And you know what? They have better condiments. Better ketchup. Better mayonnaise. Hey, did you know that Heineken beer actually tastes good in Holland? What’s up with that?

The one thing I wasn’t crazy about is the pickled herring, which you can buy from stands all over the city.

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It tastes like you suspect it would.

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I was surprised to find that I liked bicycling in Amsterdam. In California, people are annoying with their bikes, wearing spandex and huffing and puffing up hills. In Amsterdam, people sail around on bikes wearing coats, smoking cigarettes, talking on cell phones, and dragging their children in carts. It’s charming.

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Crowds on the street.

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Woman and dog in the rain.

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I took lots of pictures of people in Amsterdam. She’s my favorite.

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Here’s the flower market.

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Marcia and I bought tulip bulbs that were inspected and approved for entry into the United States, but customs threw them out anyway. Welcome back to the US. Here’s a slap in the face.

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World traveler.

Turns out traveling in Europe with a toddler isn’t that hard. You have to go slower and you have to make sure he’s fed and happy, but overall, I think we’ll be taking him to Europe again in the future.

Stay tuned for Belgium pictures.

New Kitten!

Filed under: Personal — joy at 12:07 pm on Thursday, September 24, 2015

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We have a new family member. She’s 8 weeks old. Name suggestions?

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I’m Back From Holland

Filed under: Personal — joy at 4:17 am on Monday, September 21, 2015

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Look! Marijuana seeds in a can!

More pictures coming soon.

(Don’t worry, America; I didn’t smuggle the can back with me.)

Beautiful Sky

Filed under: Personal — joy at 6:38 am on Friday, September 11, 2015

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Good morning.

Trying Out The New Camera

Filed under: Personal — joy at 1:06 pm on Sunday, September 6, 2015

I have a new camera. I went out on Saturday and tried it out, going to the Jack London State Park and a winery. I’m happy with it.

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Luther Burbank’s spineless cactus.

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A boy and some fish.

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I love this old tree. I’d heard they might have to take it down, and it looks like they didn’t have to after all.

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It’s harvest time in wine country. Here’s some carts of chardonnay grapes.

Things Going On Right Now

Filed under: Personal — joy at 7:57 am on Thursday, September 3, 2015

What’s going on with you? Here’s some things going on with me:

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I’m harvesting hops. I have at least 15 ounces of Cascade and Sterling hops from the garden. Kyle is going to make a beer with them.

I’m sewing a shirt. I got so sick of the fashion options in the store that I took a pattern from an old shirt and am trying to recreate it. I’ll put up a picture if it works out.

I’m reading Ulysses. I’m embarrassed that I’ve never read James Joyce’s masterpiece, so I’m plowing through it. So far I like it.

I’ve read some other good books.
Lately I’ve enjoyed My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard, The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro, and The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

Kyle has a new job.
He’s Vice President of Engineering Ops for Final.

We’re going to Europe soon. I’m trying to get a bunch of work done before then. Better get back to it.

One more picture of the this year’s garden harvest. Notice the grapes.

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Swimming In Produce

Filed under: Personal — joy at 7:22 am on Monday, August 17, 2015

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I saw this gorgeous garden at a winery. I want my yard to look like that.

I’m regarding 2015 as a difficult gardening year. Sow bugs are devouring the roots of my plants and slowing my yield. I’m not getting a enough green beans or peppers or tomatoes to suit me.

And yet every time I go out to pick, I come back with a basket overflowing with food:

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But I’m not happy with my tomatoes this year; I’m really not.

There’s a great metaphor in this story. It’s about the Judean date palm trees, a tree from the ancient world that was once plentiful. It’s even mentioned in the Bible. (“The righteous himself will blossom forth as a palm tree does.” Psalm 92)

The tree has been extinct for thousands of years. Then they discovered some of the tree’s seeds in the 1960s during the excavations of Herod the Great’s palace in Israel. In 2005 they decided to plant some of the seeds. One seed grew into a tree.

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That there is a 1,300-year-old plant.

I Love Manzanita Trees

Filed under: Personal — joy at 7:02 am on Monday, July 27, 2015

Marcia and I went on a hike and I remembered how much I love manzanita trees.

From far away, manzanitas are all scraggly and ancient and gnarled looking.

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They look like they belong in a Van Gogh painting.

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Up close, the bark is this weird thin tissue paper that’s red and orange and yellow.

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It comes away in flakes. …

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And underneath, the wood is green!

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Coast Trip 2015

Filed under: Personal — joy at 7:27 am on Wednesday, July 22, 2015

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Last month, we rented a cabin on a bluff overlooking the California coast. It was a great four days. We played banjo and card games and took walks and roasted hot dogs over an open fire. There was even a fire pit. Here’s some pictures:

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View of the deck.

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There was even a fire pit.

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Look at that water.

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Lots of fishing boats.

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More gorgeous water

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And more.

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Flowers and beach and water.

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Sunset.

I want to go back there. Perfect place for a writing retreat.

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