28 June 2009

some thing strange

i received/read the following quote today:
"If you haven't found something strange during the day, it hasn't been much of a day."
John A. Wheeler

it made me laugh, as i don't think there are too many days that go by where i don't think, hmm, that's odd. i mostly blame the community for that.

for instance, on friday night, we received 8 free refrigerators. i'd heard they were coming a few days before, so it wasn't a surprise. but seriously, what do you do with 8 fridges? apparently, we've managed to find homes for most of them - although there are still two that you just miss bumping into when you walk into the office.

yesterday, i walked into our room where the freezers are - and bumped into boxes of Easter eggs. i immediately started laughing. two years ago, we'd also received Easter eggs - and it took us until practically Christmas to eat them all. even if most of us do like chocolate, seeing an unending supply of Easter eggs throughout the summer and fall will produce some groaning... ah, well, at least for now, we're all happily pillaging this stash :)

after cleaning up from our goodbye party, a number of us sat around drinking wine and continuing to talk and enjoy the gezillegheid. off to the corner of our courtyard, somebody began cutting another's hair - acting like she does this all the time. i discovered that she and her roommate apparently do - they've cut the hair of quite a number of people in the community! but this time, they got a bit more commentary on it - about how the two roommates have very different styles of cutting (one is more interested in style and another more about making it shorter). and about how it's a good thing that the guy getting his hair cut has a lovely face :)

and as i write this, someone is singing in the hallway outside of the office. and it's actually pretty good. and i've had coffee and apple pie with cake after church, been impressed by a couple of little girls hula hooping, and now i get to do whatever i want for the rest of the day. i tell you, it's a hard life here :) at least, it's definitely not dull.

26 June 2009

Some Photos from a Friend's Wedding

The following photos are from the wedding of two friends of mine - both active participants in the community. They were originally placed in the 100-praatjes, the internal newspaper of the community here.

as for the wedding itself, it was a joy to be there. Jan was befuddled at times, as would be expected of the groom who can barely take in the wonder of getting married to the beautiful woman he loves. and Natascha was bubbling - as one would expect of someone overflowing from the joy of marrying the one she loves. as Natascha put it, it was like Sinter Klaas eve - but 10 times better!

as you can expect, it was a delight to get to share the day with them :)
[and i got to dance for a couple of hours while there, which was a delightful bonus!]

16 June 2009

umm... things don't just fix themselves, you know...

i think i learnt the phrase "things don't just fix themselves" from my parents. i'm not sure, but it fits them, so i'll go with it. i was reminded of the idea behind it this past weekend.

sometime in the day on sunday, somebody mentioned to me that he'd gone into the bathroom upstairs early on sunday morning and the light was burnt out. early in the evening, i got out a new light bulb for him. he'd disappeared so i offered it to someone else - but they said that it's probably not the bulb but that there's just no electricity in that part of the house. and somebody's light had gone 'pop' last night. apparently most of the people in that area of the house had all come to the conclusion that there was no electricity there (so no use in washing your clothes).

what puzzled (and somewhat exasperated) me is that although there was a consensus that the electricity was out, i hadn't been told about it (and this weekend i was the most obvious person responsible for fixing these kind of inconveniences). nor had anyone else who probably could have fixed it been told. so i mentioned to the right person that the electricity was probably out upstairs in the house, went to check on it myself, a switch got flipped - and voilá, light in the bathroom again!

the community/house has a bit of a reputation for things rarely getting fixed on time. i'm starting to understand where this reputation might come from - and i guess it's to be expected with so many different people in a house and it being sometimes (often?) unclear about what could be done and who could do it.

i did mention to several of those who were aware of the problem that problems generally get fixed faster and better if you tell someone (at least somewhat in charge) about the problem....
although in this situation, the thing did fix itself in a way - it just took a bit of exasperation and inconvenience :)

09 June 2009

mattresses can come rolled up?!?

i'm not the only one in the community in the process of moving (-it has something to do with the time of the year - the season/year is coming to a close, building/renovation projects are further in process, and changes are being made already for next year/season). and since Ikea is the place to go to find decent, low-priced furniture that is generally compact enough to handle the crazy, steep Amsterdam staircases (or go through windows), several of us made an 'excursion' there last friday night.

the adventure began as we walked in and discovered that we could pretty much eat for free (a special for weekends in june). we'd have to pay for our food to begin with, but we'd get the entire amount back as a discount when we paid for our furniture and such. and since we together bought about 3 mattresses, 3 cupboards, 2 bookshelves, and a bunch of other things, we could have easily covered the cost of feeding 20 people well!

once we'd figured out what we'd needed (a bit of a process for me since i'm a bit too careful about spending money at times and am not always good at deciding), we had to pick it up from the large warehouse section of the store. finding my mattress was a bit of a problem. we found the other two first - both of them rolled up tightly - a bit odd but feasible since they were foam. i hadn't expected that you could also roll a spring mattress but apparently you can - or at least Ikea knows how to. and from personal experience, i've learned that unrolling them can be a bit dangerous since they are, so to say, 'spring-loaded'- i unrolled mine on my loft and had to move pretty quickly to get everything out of the way (and not fall off/out) while the mattrass sprung into shape!

on the bright side, the rolled up mattresses made loading the van a lot easier - they loaded easily into the backseat of the van with the smaller stuff, while the large number of boxes containing the shelving and cupboards was loaded into the area between the seats and the side door (i made sure i climbed in first - once the boxes of wood were in there was no way of moving from the middle seats!).

and upon arriving home at 9.30 that night and emptying the van (we conveniently parked on the street - paying minimal attention to the irritation of the tourist sitting behind us who drove in [illegally] to the city centre area - a pass is needed to park here at nights), that was more than enough 'moving' adventure for awhile. the next adventure is getting a couch from around the corner into my house - it's going to need to be hoisted up through the window on the front - and that's definitely beyond my skill level!

06 June 2009

a tulip field adventure

in honour of spring in the netherlands, which started about 1.5 months ago (although unfortunately in the last few days temporarily disappeared), a couple of friends and i went (then) out in search of tulips - more specifically, tulip fields.

the original plan was to take the train to Voorhout and rent bikes there in order to bike to Lisse through the tulip field areas. The bike renting thing didn't work out so well, so we changed plans by walking around Voorhout - just to explore it and see what was there. And we bumped into a little grassfield, an old church, with a beautiful graveyard, and even some tulips - but no tulip fields :(

so off again with the train - north to Hillegom. and there (as you can see in the picture of the train), we bumped into fields upon fields of tulips. ironically enough we managed not to bump into the crowds of people and the rather large flower parade, that was happening in the same place as we were. i'm not entirely sure how that happened, but it does say something about the random-ness of adventures.

And below are some final pictures of our adventure:

beautiful, eh?

02 June 2009

the neighbours must really think we're odd

for most people it is a bit odd to go to a chapel/church service twice every day, but being part of a monastic community, the daily prayers are expected. perhaps the neighbours think we're a bit odd - but compared to the sex industry, pot smokers, and tourists - i'd have say we're hardly the odd-est in the neighbourhood.

but then transport our chapel services to camping. in Amsterdam, the people inside and outside of the chapel are generally aware of each other (from outside you can see our signs and from inside you hear noises every so often) but are usually blocked from each other's sight. but in camping, we can't take the actual chapel with us - and we're just there out in the open singing, praying, reading, and being still. the neighbours were relatively far away (people are allowed to choose where they camp and could have had a tent close to us - but after hearing about a group of 35 people coming together, most people chose to camp further away) - and people were busy with their own thing. but sitting in the silence in the open, in a circle with our hand-made cross (it was about a metre tall and leaning fairly unobtrusively against a tree), i couldn't help but feel odd - and i wondered, what must the neighbours think?

funny thing is, the chapel services, even though they felt very odd to me, were probably not what made us stick out the most.
we stuck out because we came to the dishwashing area with 4 people, 3 tea towels, a humongous bucket full of dirty plates and cups, and these gigantic cups. and we'd approach doing the dishes nonchalantly like we did this all the time (because most of us do :)). we'd even offer to dry other people's dishes if they were alone (and we had come with more people than there was space for).
and we stuck out because we would share our toilet paper - at least i did - i'd leave it in the bathroom because i didn't want anyone in our group to discover at 3 a.m., cold and tired, that there was no toilet paper - and i wouldn't wish that experience on anyone else in the camping group - and since we'd brought 10+ rolls of paper with us, we could afford to 'lose' a couple in the bathroom.
and we stuck out because we were a group of 35 people - of mixed ages (although fairly young - the middle age was probably 28) and mixed cultures/races (such a mixture is not so unusual in Amsterdam but it is in many other places). and we were organized and didn't make too much noise and generally gracious - and those in charge of the camping were pretty impressed with our group.

we're pretty sure we left our make-shift cross behind at the camping - and we joke a bit about what people there at the camping must wonder about our strange group. and i'm not sure i like feeling so odd - or wondering about what the neighbours think. but in hindsight (and thinking over our whole experience), i realize it's not so bad to stick out. it's kind of neat to be able to let others see what it's like to live in a Christian community, including letting them see some of our oddities.