28 June 2010

A Good Day

When I went to bed on Saturday, I had the feeling that it had been a "good day." (Some days aren't so good - and some days, I'm too tired or busy or something to even recognize whether the day might have been good!) And what made it good?

Most importantly it was a day of celebration. On Saturday br Rik, one of the members of the community here in Amsterdam, was ordained. And since he's been moving towards this point for quite awhile, it was extra exciting for all of us to see that the big moment had finally arrived.

A year ago br Rik was ordained to a deacon - an important day in his process toward becoming a priest but also the day when I bumped into Matthijs. Matthijs and I remembered each other from a conference a year before, we talked about old testament, communities, and music; and I gave him my email address (and as they say, the rest is history :))

It was also a good day because I had time on Saturday to do things for myself, time with Matthijs, I got to meet good friends of Matthijs (something surprisingly complicated to organize - mostly because we live in different places and his friends don't visit him for a week, like many of mine do :)), and got to celebrate an event with Oudezijds 100.

The ordination and the party afterwards felt classic Oudezijds 100, with a little bit of Anglican high church mixed in (more from the presence of the bishop than from Christ Church herself). And as was usual with organization in the community, there were a few glitches: for example, 15 minutes before the service, we discovered that one of the robes (mantels) was missing, so I got to quickly bike back to the house and pick it up before we started. But there was also lots of food and music and lots of people, so it was fun to talk about nothing and everything - and simply enjoy the celebration together. The only down side of the day was the felt absence of one of the community members, an absence that brings a lot of uncertainties with it. But even then, grieving together an absence is also a good thing; a good thing that does not diminish the celebration of the rest of the day.

See Christ Church's website for photos from the Ordination service.

22 June 2010


The other day at breakfast I asked one of our volunteers learning dutch if he knew what the word "verloofd" meant. He was pretty sure it had to do with a german word and had something to do with engaged. Since we'd spent more of breakfast talking about language stuff, it hadn't seemed like so strange of a question. But then I mentioned how Niagara Falls is a rather romantic place, and suspicions were raised that there was something more than just a dutch lesson behind my original question. And so I confirmed it: while we were visiting Niagara Falls, Matthijs had gotten down on his knees and proposed to me - and I had gladly accepted. We hope to get married this November and plan to live in the community here to see if this might be a good fit for us together.

In the weeks after getting engaged, I've not only been initiated to the world of wedding planning but also to the strange ritual of 'how do we share the good news'. Although with some people you can just announce the wedding plans right after saying hello, for others there feels like there ought to be more of a moment to mention it, a moment that doesn't always come naturally. I had thought that the wedding planning itself was one of the biggest challenges of getting married but this finding the best way to tell people in a timely manner, well, that's been a good preparatory challenge. Fortunately, there's still email and phones and everyone seems pretty okay with my just announcing the news, even if it might be awkward at times :) The question of how to share the good news is overshadowed by the good news itself: the excitement and wonder of planning to begin a life together.

10 June 2010

back in Amsterdam

I began the day in blue jeans, but sometime in the morning I changed into a skirt. I also changed my shirt to something that was a bit wider in the neck, and I put my contacts in. And then I put my hair up and pulled on my great dutch high-heeled boots.

As the university doesn't pay me to do research, I figure I don't have to look like I work there (although most people there also look pretty casual much of the time). So I just wear whatever I'm in the mood for.
So what was the reason for all this effort? Not work itself - but the trip to work:
- the contact lenses are because they, unlike glasses, don't get all wet and spotty when it rains,
- the boots were to protect me against the puddles I was biking through;
- the skirt was short enough to be covered by my poncho, so that only my boots and legs would get wet;
- the wider neck was to make sure I didn't arrive with a damp colour leaked onto through the coat and poncho; and
- hair drips less (and looks less wet) when it's pulled back.

I guess I could have taken the subway/metro to work but who wants to be stuffed with everybody else into a clammy subway car? And if I did that, how would I ever get to show off my sense of accomplishment of learning how to have a somewhat pleasant bike ride in the rain and arrive without looking and feeling like a drowned rat?

[I must say it's good to be back in Amsterdam (and I'm also okay if it doesn't rain again this week :)]

05 June 2010

Update on my dad

Since last posting about my dad's surgery, I haven't written much - life's been kind of busy. Not only has there been the surgery, where everything has been going well, there has also been my semi-annual trip to Canada to visit friends and family, and there was quite a bit of things to do before leaving and while here.

My dad was quite tired last week still, but this week he's had more energy (well, except for now as he's dozing in his chair). And it's been really good to see him, and I'm really glad to see in person that he's doing well. Even though I can also see that it's hard for him to be still so tired so much - he's used to being able to do so much whenever he wants.

And the visit itself has been good, although a bit different than usual since Matthijs came with. I've still been trying to visit lots of people like usual, but it's been rather busy with trying to visit/meet so many different people and also trying to see some of the things there are to see here. I'm really glad to have been here and done everything, but I'm also looking forward to returning again to life in Amsterdam.