Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lake Woebegon ie Amsterdam on a rainy day

It's a rainy Sunday afternoon in Amsterdam. Because of the way my apartment is designed, I get a lot of light even if it is raining. And I love having the windows open to smell the rain and the garden so I just bundle up in sweatshirts and socks and try to keep the house fresh smelling. Although I HATE riding into a headwind in this windy, seablown country - I am grateful that I am not hermetically sealed inside my apartment in Adams Morgan where if I opened the window, a blast of hot city air that smelled like Popeye's fried chicken or the thai restaurant downstairs would get me.

Yesterday, I went with some friends from work to the Hague. I'd never been there before and it was a cute little town. We rode a barge around the small canal that they have and received a historical lecture about the differences between the "people of the mud" vs "the people of the sand" - the two types of people in the Hague. I wonder what they call all the many expats who live there? The people of the sea? the air? Anyway, it was a sunny day which was nice and we spent from 10am to 3pm cruising the canal, eating a leisurely lunch in the Hague's historical center which is much more on the European "grand plaza" design than Amsterdam with its thousands of canals. It felt more open and the Palace there was lovely. While Amsterdam does have "the Dam" - the big central square, its my least favorite place in town. IT always seems grimy and the tacky strip of tourist shops that lead up from Central Station plus all the construction that is underway for the metro line make it not a nice place to leisurely linger. I much prefer the narrow canal streets with their sidewalk cafes and barges.

I got back around 4pm and made it to the last hour of the Noordmarkt, my favorite market near my house. I hit the Moroccan olive merchant for some juicy black kalamatas, the herb lady who makes her own pesto sauce and sells pre-bundled fresh bouquet garni, the fruit stand where I bought some cherries, and three of the flower stands where I bought gentian, freesia, and lilies for a grand total of 13 euros (the flowers that is). After gathering up my goodies, I had a beer in one of the many outdoor cafes and watched a very fluffy persian cat sleep in the broad window sill of a beautiful little narrow house in the Jordaan. I must get Simon a pillow to sleep in the window. Its the coziest sweetest sight and makes me feel content when I see it. After cycling home, I put on some music and sat on the balcony to read for a while before making dinner. The few people I know here were out of town or had plans for Saturday night so I concocted a dish while downloading French 60s pop on my computer.

I cooked fresh ginger, garlic, hot thai peppers in coconut milk and chicken broth and then add tons of cilantro and lemongrass to it. I used it to poach some monkfish with sweet red peppers and green onions and then used the remaining sauce to cook up with basmati rice. Delicious! I had a strong desire to go out dancing last night but I'm just not bold enough to go to a disco alone. I wish I were. Instead, I chatted via skype with a friend and watched a movie.

Today - it's rainy altough I see a small patch of blue sky on the horizon. I dont' have any plans (which is the ideal way to spend a Sunday, I think). So I'm going to read, relax, try not to worry about all the things I have to do this weeks (deal with the foreclosure of my apartment by the bank, get my residency permit, write a paper on Ethiopia, go to London to design a study, fly to berlin for a confrontation with my operational managers who are ignoring me, find a way to go shopping, and not think about my upcoming 40th birthday). I wish the markets were open on Sundays like they are in DC because the cupboard is bare. I have some left over rice from last night and a zucchini in there along with a can of tuna and some pasta in the pantry. And that's all the news there is to report in Amsterdam today. --

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