Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year, Everyone!

From John in Amsterdam with ice all the way across the canal and amazing private fireworks displays.

And from Shirlee enjoying visiting with family in Portland where the snow is almost gone.

We'll be together again in Amsterdam in a couple of weeks, planning for the next year's adventures.

Hope this finds you all healthy and optimistic about the year to come.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Winter wonderland

Photo credits go to the Stocks family: Sydney for the house and Mike for the cars. It's their house and cars. Doesn't the house look pretty?

Portland is tired of the snow. I'm pretty sure I can speak for everyone on this subject. It's beautiful, but we have shopping to do! Yesterday Sydney and I walked to the grocery store, mostly because she wanted to go for a walk. Today we're supposed to have a 24-hour break in the snow (but not the freezing temperatures), and Mom wants to drive to the mall. We'll see. She doesn't have chains because no one was expecting this, and the people who sell chains are all sold out.

Meanwhile, I feel very lucky to have arrived when I did. More than a hundred flight in and out of Portland International Airport were cancelled yesterday, and people have been stranded there for days. Kevin Stocks (Mike and Sydney's nephew) has been trying to get here from Minneapolis since Saturday. He's trying again tomorrow.

John had a great time at the Solstice party in Amsterdam on Sunday. He said he met lots of interesting people. And the weather there is much better than it is here.


Friday, December 19, 2008

All weather news all the time

My trip to Portland to spend the holidays with family here got off to a great start when Northwest Airlines upgraded me to business class for no apparent reason. If I knew how that happened, maybe I could repeat it for the return trip in mid-January. The plane arrived early, and I cleared customs without additional fees despite the slightly more than allowance quantity of alcoholic beverages in my luggage, and yes, I did put it all on the form. My sister and her husband (Sydney and Mike) met me at the gate. They had arrived via bus and MAX light rail due to the snow that has clogged the streets here. Then we reversed the process to get back to SW 45th and Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, where Mom met us at JoPa's and treated us to lunch.

John (and Märzen) remained behind in Amsterdam. He says it's really OK with him, and I know that he has some social activities planned: a Solstice party on Sunday at someone's house, Christmas with Dandelion in a house that they're taking care of over the holidays, Democrats Abroad fun gathering on 3 January, Anouk's open house at her new apartment on the 11th, and a boys' night out for his birthday on the 12th. I'll be back on the 17th (leaving here on the 16th).

Schools have been closed here (Portland's west side and Beaverton) all week due to snow, and more is expected over the weekend. It's really amazing: all day long the only thing on the TV is the weather news. Now it's affecting the whole country, and flights are being delayed and cancelled further east. I'm really glad that NWA had that non-stop flight from Amsterdam. The weather is delaying my long-awaited Mexican food outing, but we're having American pizza at the Stocks this evening, and it's all good (as John would say).


Monday, December 15, 2008

Brrr…. It’s really cold in Portland!

Here I am looking forward to flying to Portland on Thursday to spend the holidays with family, and then I checked the weather. Holy expletive! Schools are closed today, and the forecast for the rest of the week is for lows in the teens. That makes Amsterdam seem warm.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

December in Amsterdam

No, of course this isn’t what it looks like here now. I’m just looking forward to spring and thought I’d share this lovely picture that John took at Keukenhof in April 2004.

The weather isn’t awful here – at least, not yet. It has been cold, but we haven’t had a hard freeze. And at the moment the sun is out, so it’s actually quite pretty. With the sun as low on the horizon as it is this far north, the light is awesome.

The Sinterklaas festivities should be over now. Last night was the night when the children were supposed to set out their shoes. I actually saw a Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet yesterday evening when I took Märzen out. They were hurrying down the street – on to the next party, no doubt.

Lately we’ve been entertaining ourselves by catching up with old friends on Facebook. I’ve found people I haven’t seen since the late 60s, as well as the Silicon Valley crowd. I also found my dad there, which was a big surprise.

In other excitement, Kent and Heather Sisk (from Portland) are transiting the Panama Canal on their boat, Hiatus. We kept the webcam on all yesterday afternoon and evening in order to try to capture a picture of them. We got several, but this is the best. (Hiatus is the boat on the left, the last in the line of boats leaving the lock.) Heather posted on her Facebook page that they had to spend the night in the lake, so they’ll finish their transit today.

Otherwise, we’re just living a normal life here. Cruising isn’t always fun and excitement, you know. We are trying to figure out our plans for the summer, though, and that’s fun to look forward to.