Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What else do you do on Second Pentecost Day?

I am back now and feeling a little less stressed.  I've gotten to a better place with my chapter and presentation and I sent Sea Legs Girl my story about running, whew.   Now that I have downshifted into regular stress mode instead of the very unattractive freakout gear, it's time to get back to some writing that doesn't involve footnotes or citations of any kind.  Just thinking about writing without those restrictions makes me feel all dangerous, as if I could say anything on here without the requirement to back up my claims.  Good thing I pretty much only write about food and what happens in my own kitchen.

Because it was finally warm and sunny here this weekend, we ventured outside our own four walls and felt very social.  Saturday and Sunday were packed with a birthday celebration for a friend and an excursion to a park with the in-laws, all wonderful stuff that I can post about later.  The big question on my mind and I am sure yours as well: "What does one do the day after Pentecost?"  That's right, it was time on Monday for Second Pentecost Day.  Most places are closed giving you the opportunity to relax and do nothing.  We could have also headed to IKEA, which is open on this holiday of holidays, for their blowout breakfast special.  We could have wandered the massive showroom in search of affordable Swedish design that doesn't look like it came from IKEA.  As we are not in the market for an Ektorp or a Florö, and I detest crowds, that was nixed as an option.  Instead, I foolishly decided we should spend our morning productively at a garden center.  My mint looked like it was dying a slow death, and the basil needed a bigger pot.

Do you know where the Dutch people go who don't end up at IKEA?  They go to the garden center...the horrible, gigantic, crowded garden center.  I just wanted a bag of soil and a few terra cotta pots, and it ended up taking us almost two hours to get that accomplished.  There was a traffic jam of carts full of geraniums and cherry tomatoes stretching for what seemed an eternity through the maze.   It was probably like any major garden center on a holiday weekend, but I have never in my life visited such a place.  If I had taken pictures of my experience you would only see pictures of me really irritated by a lack of customer service and the very long lines.  Better you should see the following pictures:
I think your third option for getting out of the house and "doing something" on Second Pentecost Day is sitting on a sunny terrace with a Belgian witbier while you watch the boats go by.  Once you've done that, you can really enjoy re-potting your herbs.  Watch out, tomato basil salad!  I'm getting ready for you.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Still kickin'

James just informed me that I should post at least a few sentences on this blog, assuring readers that the malaria did not kill me.  And neither has Nigeria.  Yet.

However, as I write this I realize that I have probably spoken to every single blog reader in the past three hours.  So you all know that I am cured of malaria (after one month of avoiding the doctor and then - finally - two shots in the bum-bum by a distinctly unsympathetic nurse).  Now the only excuse I have for not posting on the blog is sheer, unadulterated laziness.  But I would like to point out, in my defense, that a day of research in Nigeria requires a long recovery period and involves drinking of Coke and watching of bootlegged movies, not writing of thoughtful blog posts.  (Also, I am quite lazy.  But look James - I've written more than two sentences!)

So.  Here is my solemn vow: to try with all my might to avoid malaria for the next two months -- to resist the temptation of okadas, even though I love the feeling of the wind blowing through my hair as we weave around taxis and fly across potholes -- to continue my quest for those elusive things we call "documents" or "historical sources" so that I might one day write a dissertation (fingers crossed, people! seriously) -- and to eat many delicious and non-delicious Nigerian foods and report back to you, our dear readers.

And, finally, some photographic proof that I remain among the living:

(Learning how to plant cassava on the Iheanacho's farm, which is right next to our house.  I claim to be making plans for my own farm.  Abigail finds this fabulously funny since she's on to me and propensity for sitting around.  But I have big plans; I just need to buy a hoe and some seeds!)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Stress...just stress

A much more competent and organized person than I would be able to handle a few writing deadlines while maintaining a tiny blog.  How I wish I were one of those people.  I promise that Potatoes and Yams will again fill your blog reader with all sorts of wonderful tidbits about food and life abroad in the near future, as soon as I can stop stressing so much and Regan is fully recovered from her malaria scare.  For right now, though, all my writing energy is going into a horribly overdue chapter and a paper I am presenting at a conference in June that a bunch of respected Dutch historians will also be attending--nothing like heaping a little pressure on top of that stress--oh and also a writing project Sea Legs Girl is working on (my chapter is coming, I promise!).  So until I get a grip on myself, you can go check out her blog.  :)
I will leave you with a few lovely pictures of Koninginnedag, Queen's Day.  Every April 30, the streets become awash in a sea of orange-clad, drunk, Dutch people celebrating the glory of the monarchy. 
I took these pictures last year during my first Queen's Day experience.  I could only handle the large crowd for a few hours before escaping to the countryside for a little bike ride.  The lambs in the field were much more entertaining than the masses strolling around Amsterdam.  This past Friday, Niek and I skipped it altogether and escaped to a deserted beach with the dog.  It was awesome.