Oct 252009
 

marketAs many of you who know me know, I am a picky eater.   Don’t get me wrong, if I am eating something I like, I am not shy about eating. However, if I can’t readily identify the food I won’t eat it.   The same goes for if I can identify it too well, then, I have a difficult time eating it.   I was a vegetarian for many, many years.   John and I laugh about my saying that I am “only one bad piece of bacon away from being a vegetarian” again.   John doesn’t think there is such a thing as a bad piece of bacon.   I mostly agree.   But wow, there are some other things that could make me run screaming towards being a fruitarian.   After today, it is a miracle I haven’t become an oxygenarian.

We had a lazy Saturday morning.   It was a cold and rainy day.   We walked over to the Saturday outdoor market a couple of blocks away.   Sima had been telling me I had to have one of the sausages from one of the vendors.   I wasn’t that keen on the idea.   sausage guyThere is a whole lot wrong about that for me.   Besides the sausage which is filled with, thankfully, unidentifable parts, there is also the issue of “street vendor.”   But we got there and I figured I had to at least try.   There were two guys behind the stand.   They had a giant skillet on the fire.   It reminded me a bit of a paella pan but 5 times the size.   On it they had sausages browning…big whitish sausages and sliced meat pork and sauerkraut.   They take a nice hard-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside roll that is warm.   They slice it down the middle and put some hot sauerkraut on it.   Then they take a large sausage and put it on top.   They have mayo and mustard to put on them.   Ben ordered and then Sima ordered.   When it was my turn to tell him what I wanted one of the guys looked at me and said, “Mama Cass!” Then they both broke into song, “All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray…California Dreaming…” Yeah, it was a moment.   And, it wasn’t like they were trying to be offensive or rude in anyway.   I could have said, “I played Mama Cass in a movie called My Dinner with Jimi.   But the moment was fast and then it was gone.   Mostly.   sim lis sausageThey kept singing while we sat there eating on a bench. I pointed to the sausage I wanted…the one that seemed the most “well done.”   He said, “that’s a small one.”   I was glad I got a small one.   It was tasty but after I was around 2/3 of the way through I just couldn’t eat any more.   The parts of it that made me not want to eat it are probably the exact reasons why people eat them.   The hard snap of the casing, the smell of the meat, the richness.   I couldn’t take another bite.   I am very glad I had the experience.   I wouldn’t be sad if I didn’t eat one again.

The fruit and vegetable stands were beautiful.  cheese The cheese stands are filled with all kinds of goat cheeses and Goudas.   The smell accosts you as you approach.   The fish stands are also a site to see.   Being on the Atlantic there are a lot of flat fish unlike fish we see on the Pacific.   The meat stands are also fascinating with parts I haven’t seen since I was in phsyiology class.

I was going to make a stew so I bought wonderful things.   All farm fresh ingredients: mushrooms, potatoes, fresh thyme, carrots with the greens and onions.   We bought a big heavy light pumpernickel bread.   I am sure I will dream about that bread for the rest of my life.   It was the end of the day at the market and I hadn’t seen any beef I was interested in purchasing.   Ben and Sima knew of a butcher so walked a couple of blocks.   Unfortunately, the butcher shop had just closed.   I understand that when a store is closed it is inappropriate to approach the doors.   Just walk away and cut your losses. However, the owner, a big, impressive older blond man, saw me look in and opened up the side door and ushered us in.   As soon as we crossed the threshold a woman shoved a plate of big slices of liverwurst at us offering us a sample.   I politely declined. The shop was quite lovely…for a butcher shop.   All glass with marble counter tops for them to cut the meats.   The floors were tiled.   And, it was CLEAN.   Very nice!   He asked what I wanted and I told him beef for stew.   Over the counter where he was cutting meat were logs of different kinds of salami/sausagy things.   He had just cut a small piece of meat he had on the counter for me when he reached up and pulled down a hung of what appeared to be a hard salami.   He cut the thing down the middle and handed a large piece to me and then a large piece to Sima.   winter salamiOn closer inspection it looked like a hard salami that was never cooked.   The outside was firm but the inside was like raw hamburger.   I am sure I had eyes the size of saucers as I looked at him like, “you don’t think I am going to eat this do you?!” He smiled and said, “EAT!   It’s beef.”   So, I took a deep breath and took a bite.   Yup, it was beef.   Raw beef.   It actually tasted a bit like summer sausage that wasn’t cooked.   I looked at Sima, who like me, has some issues with identifiable food.   I said quietly to her, “Don’t make a face…just keep smiling and take a bite.”   The butcher had gone to the back and then returned with a large piece of what I assume was chuck with the bones in and cut stew pieces for me.   Then he reaches up and grabbed another meat log of some kind and sliced off a couple of hunks of something else for us to try.   So, now I have a bag of beef for stew, a huge piece of raw summer sausage and now he is handing me this new piece of something.   It was like a cross between bologna and ham.   It was warm and had the appearance as if it had been browned in a pan.   It was actually okay.   But really I felt like I had had my share of meat products to last a lifetime at that point.   The experience of it was extraordinary.   The kindness and generosity is a great memory.

It rained a lot yesterday so on the way back from the market we decided to stop at a little cafe and sit outside under the awning and watch as they took down the market and cleaned the streets.   Ben walked back to boat to drop off our groceries. Sima and I spent time talking to a lovely woman who was visiting here from England with her niece and sister.   After two coffees I switched to beer.   They had the beer from the Brouwerg IJ which made it especially nice and memorable.

stairsAfter a dinner of stew we decided to go to a party.   Some of Sima and Ben’s friends were going to be there.   We walked and then took a tram.   It was nice to see a different neighborhood.   The flat where the out of town friends were staying was fabulous.   It was a diverse group of people. Again, I got to experience Dutch stairs.   Ohh, and the smallest bathroom outside of an airplane I have ever been in.   I didn’t take a picture of the bathroom.   I should have.   I did catch a picture of the stairs.   I don’t think the pictures do justice to the intensity of the stairs.   You don’t get the full sense of the steepness or the curve or the shallow footing.

Today, Sunday, it is quite cold outside with patches of sun peaking through the clouds.   We had thought about going to the zoo but I think we are going to wander some neighborhoods and go back down to The Dam.

 Posted by at 4:21 pm
Oct 242009
 

My sister and I got a late start yesterday.   We have been staying up late and then getting up relatively early but puttering about and chatting and drinking coffees.   So, yesterday we got out around 3p.   Sima wanted to take me to a brewery that is in a windmill.   Sure, I am in Holland…we could have gone on the Heineken tour but this was a much better idea for me.   We walked many blocks to catch the tram.   It was a lovely walk.   It was brisk yesterday.   The sun was shining but it was definitely cool as we walked these beautiful Amsterdam neighborhoods.neighborhood ij

We got over to the tram and were looking at the map.   Sima was explaining where we were going and how to read the tram schedule when this old man walked up to us pushing his bicycle.   He was grinning at me.   As he stood in front of me he had me blocked by his bike and he was speaking to me in Dutch.   At least, I think it was Dutch and he had this big smile as he spoke to me.   Then he reached out to me.   I thought I would be polite and shake his hand as he was reaching for me.   Plus it was odd.   Honestly, I wasn’t sure why he was reaching out to touch me.   I figured a hand shake would put the kabosh on the ensuing weirdness.   As he took my hand and started shaking it his grip got tighter.   He wouldn’t let go of my hand.   I tired to pull my hand away but couldn’t. He kept looking at me and muttering in Dutch.   Then, EEWWWW, he started to rub the inside of my palm with his fingers while he smiled and muttered at me.   I couldn’t rip my hand away.   I finally took my left hand and pried my right from him.   I kept explaining I only spoke English.   Then Sima told him the same.   Then he reached over and started rubbing my belly and saying, “Kinder.”   Okay, so the guy thought I was pregnant!!   If he thought I was pregnant why was he molesting me?   It was a bizarre moment.   I explained I wasn’t pregnant.   I kept saying, “No!!”   It was a combination of if you speak loud enough in any language “they” will understand you.   Finally, the guy shuffled off after Sima got very stern with him.

breweryThe brewery was a much better experience than Lester the Molester at the tram stop.   The windmill is beautiful.   The guide at the brewery was great!   He was very knowledgeable on the beer making process and knew a lot about this particular brewery.   Up until recently it was owned by one man.   That man, Kasper, sold the business to a larger business.   But it has remained a small brewery making 250,000 liters a year up from the previous 200,000.   They only export 1% of the beer they produce to the US and the UK.   Pretty unfortunate as I found the beer to be delicious!   I am not a big drinker or a big beer drinker but this is beer I could drink a lot and often!

We started the tour on the top floor.   He explained the hops and the barley processes to us.   Fascinating! brewery stairs Then he said, “now, we are going downstairs.”   I felt a moment of panic.   Not only am I not a huge fan of stairs…especially, going down them…I just didn’t want to embarrass myself as I had heard tales about Dutch stairs.   Dutch stairs are known to be windy and tight and very shallow.   They also don’t always have handrails.   I let everyone go down the stairs ahead of me until there was just me and a young couple waiting to go down the stairs.   One of the men had crutches.   I told him I was going to be slow going down.   He laughed and said, “Me too.”   He went first.   I stood at the top and, well, you can imagine the words that were running through my head.   They were steep, and windy, and curved and had no handrail.   The good news is since I am so wide my body hugged every curve and I got down no problem.   When I met the tour in the room everyone turned and looked as they were waiting for me.   I threw my hands in the air, curtseyed and said, “Ta Dah!”   Sima said to the group, “those were her first Dutch stairs.”   Everyone clapped. Then I thought the guide asked, “Am I your first Dutch guy?” To which I responded, “No.” Then Sima said, “guide.”   Then I said, “Your not my first Dutch guy but you are my first Dutch guide.”   Everyone laughed.   It was a very fun moment.   I went up the stairs last, again.   I climbed them like a ladder with my hands on the steps in front of me. biertje

After the tour we sat outside under the windmill and drank beer.   I shared Sima’s since the beer was strong, 8% alcohol.   We talked and people watched and talked to other people.   It was a great time.

Last night we went to dinner at a little neighborhood cafe.   I usually have menu item envy.   Inevitably, when I go out with people I often times wish I ordered what someone else ordered.   Last night, however, I was very pleased with my choice.   Ben ordered venison.   Besides being Bambi it was so rare I kept expecting it to hop off the table and search for Santa.   sima fishSima ordered sole in butter sauce, which I had considered, but was very, very glad I hadn’t when it came with the tail, head and skeleton attached. I ordered the chicken satay.   It came with spicy green beans that were cooked in a hot red coconut sauce.   In the US, satay sauce, at least the sauce that I am used to, is light in color.   This sauce was dark and rich and thick.   It was delicious.

fri dinner

 Posted by at 10:50 pm
Oct 232009
 

cafeOne of my concerns before my trip was about fitting in Amsterdam.   Not fitting in figuratively but literally.   Being a big woman I have to consider the space I take up in the world.   I remember years ago my parents went on a trip to Paris.   When they returned my mother told me that I would love it there but that I wouldn’t fit.   I remember thinking, “Really!? I wouldn’t fit in the entire city of Paris?!”   The imagery in my mind was that of my picture up a the customs desk with a big red circle around me with a diagonal line…kind of like a “No Fat Chicks” bumper sticker.   The truth of it is that it is an honest concern.   People here aren’t as large.   The chairs at cafes are small and flimsy to our standards.   There is also much less real estate for things.   The buildings here are close together.   The streets and sidewalks (if there sidewalks) are much more narrow.   The cars are tiny. Everyone here rides bicycles or scooters or walks.   The bustling sounds you hear aren’t that of a morning commute with cars and horns but of rickety bikes that are rusty and squeaky from the rain and bike bells and of people talking on their cell phones as they walk the streets to their destination.

Yesterday, my sister and I walked to the center, The Dam.   There was a carnival there.   They had a HUGE Ferris Wheel.   There isn’t a chance I would go on it but it was amazing to see.   They also had food stands.   There was a bratwurst stand, a frie stand, a fried dough stand that I would liken to a donut or fritter.  Mmm, fries

I had been hearing about the fries here since my sister moved here.   I couldn’t wait to try them.   They are served in a big paper cone with mayonnaise.   The mayo here is sweeter than ours and much thicker.   Of course, I had to share some with my sister.   What a great treat to have cold hands and eat piping hot, crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside fries with this tangy seasoning salt lightly dusted on them with this thick, almost gelatinous, squirt of mayo. Oh, and be sure to not call them “French” fries.   Here they are frittes or fries or Belgian fries.

pancakesWalking further we passed a stand where they were making waffles and these tiny pancakes called poffertjes.   I have seen them called fritters but they really aren’t to me since they are not deep fried.   We got a small order with butter and powdered sugar.   WOW!!! is what my taste buds screamed as popped this little tender light brown pancake in my mouth.   I have never tasted anything like it.   We stood there with the crowds of people moving around us as if we were the only two people in the world.   It was a great moment – two sisters, giggling, both of us covered in powdered sugar, eating these yummy treats.   I took a picture of them on the pan.   The cook reached over so I could hand him my camera.   He took a picture of us looking through the glass while they cooked.   It was a kind gesture and now we have this moment memorialized.

We headed over to a large department store here to get some new coffee for the Nespresso machine.   That is another blog in itself.   Here you have to pay to use the restrooms.   Ostensibly, it is paying to keep the bathroom clean after each use.   The stall was small and it seemed to me the toilet was quite a bit smaller than our standard toilets at home.   What has amazed me the most here is how solid the toilets have seemed.   Watch, now I will use a toilet somewhere and it will come crashing off the wall when I sit on it.   But so far they have seemed MUCH more solid than some of the toilets I have used in the states.   I am sure even “averaged” sized people have heard or felt the telltale creak when they sit on a public toilet attached to a wall.   Even if you don’t actually sit on them you can see they aren’t attached as well as one would like.   Is this TMI?

bitterballenA friend told me I had to try Indonesian food while I am here.   We went to a little neighborhood restaurant last night for beer and snacks.   They actually call them snacks which pleases me!   I love snacks.   I love the term snacks.   It is evocative to me of something tasty and fun without the air of prentention that the hor’dourves or even appetizers has.   Snacks are exactly that.   They don’t can stand on their own.   These did!!   We had cheese snacks.   They took chalk sized pieces of gouda cheese then wrapped them in filo and fried them.   Those cheese snacks have now taken their rightful place on the list of my favorite foods of all time.   They had these little croquettes of a beef ragu that are also fried called bitterballen.   Imagine the tastiest stew you can imagine with a hint of Indonesian spice then fried like an arancini (an Italian rice ball).   So, you end up with this crispy on the outside, hot and steamy and soft on the inside.   They are served with this spicy smoothe mustard.   We had other snacks too.   All great but not nearly as memorable to me as the cheese snacks.   And, did I mention beer?   We had many ice cold beers to go with our snacks.   Then it was a quick walk back over the bridge to the boat.

 Posted by at 1:45 pm
Oct 222009
 

In London, there is the saying, “Mind the Gap.”   The “gap” is the area between the train and the train platform.   The saying was coined in the 60’s so people wouldn’t trip and fall getting on and off the trains.   Well, here in Amsterdam my sister lives on a fabulous houseboat on one of the canals.   I had been warned there was a big gap between the landing/platform attached to the street and the boat stoop.   Depending on the water level of the canal the gap can be as large as 2 feet.   I had been warned by my cousin who had visited here a couple of months ago.   My father warned me as he had heard from my little brother who visited some time ago as well.   A warning only works if one heeds the warning seriously not as “take it or leave it” advice.   It really could   have been much, much worse for me.

I am not very tall and I am definitely very wide.   I had traveled for days to get here.   When I arrived yesterday morning we took the train and then walked here from the train station with my luggage.   Then we spent the day walking around.   My first attempt to get down onto the boat went well.   I definitely clomped down onto the boat.   When we left later in the day I was able to step up with a bit of effort but without incident.   When we came back in the afternoon I was able to get down fairly well.   Then we had to go to the grocery store.   It was time to step up, again, and mind the gap Amsterdam style.   I suppose, since I didn’t end up in the canal, it was a successful attempt.   However, my knees might beg to differ.

I got my right leg up and my foot flat on the landing.   Then I went to get my left leg up onto the landing and my body just wasn’t having any of it.   It was done.   My body was tired.   I hadn’t lied down in well over 36 hours and my legs were tired.   As I tried to bring my left leg up onto the landing to meet my right I caught my left foot under the landing.   The momentum threw me forward.   I found myself landing on my knees on the platform.   It was a hard fall but not a bad fall in that, miraculously, I didn’t hurt myself.   My knees throbbed for a moment like I had skinned them.   I didn’t.   The only thing bruised in the fall was my ego but that has healed well.   I am cutting myself some slack given it was my first day.

We’ll see what the rest of the day brings.   I feel much more agile on the stairs getting into the belly of the boat as well.   When you first step into the boat you step into a beautiful sun room.   If the boat had an engine it would be the steering room.   Since there is no engine there is no need for a steering wheel.   Instead the room is benched like a restaurant booth.   Then there are stairs down into the boat.   It is rather ingenious that all the stairs are also drawers for storage.   Artistically, they are beautiful.   They are gorgeous dark wood.   The poor design of them is they are shaped like paisleys with the big sections running opposite of each other.   Kind of like ying/yang. Does that make sense?   I will post pictures at some point and attach them this post.   So, in essence you have to step left first then right then left etc.   I am not a left stepper.   I step right first.   It took a little getting used to but this morning I was able to do it with ease.   I am hoping that when we leave later the gap as easy to mind as the stairs have become.

 Posted by at 11:06 am
Oct 212009
 

Spent part of the day walking the streets of Amsterdam around my sister’s beautiful neighborhood.   We sat at a cafe and drank latte’s and people watched.   I am astounded that so many of the intersections have no signs or instruction.   You will find bicycles whizzing through intersections just missing someone in a small car who has just swerved to not hit a delivery van and none of them look out for pedestrians.   I guess it is how they keep the gene pool clean.   I have been warned to look both ways and to be really sure I will be able to make it across the street because no one is going to stop.

We sat at a lovely cafe called Tazinna.   We sat outside and had coffee drinks.   I love that when I asked for sweetener that wasn’t sugar they brought me this tiny packet with 2 tiny pills in it.   They reminded me of when I was younger and that saccharin came as either liquid or as little tablets   in little TicTac like container.   We also split a sandwich.   I was surprised at how small the sandwich was.   What came as a whole sandwich would have been a half sandwich in the US.   All the flavors were so sharp.   In comparing the sandwich to something comparable in the US I would think the bread wouldn’t be as good and there would be a lot of filling.   This sandwich the bread was dark and left flour on my lips.   The filling was a couple of thin slices of salami, fresh arugula (unlike what I have gotten at home…the leaves were more like parsley but had that lovely earthy flavor), a thin slice of sharp parmesean cheese and thin sliced tomato.   Then the sandwich was heated so all the flavors married.

We then went to the Kaas-Brood store.   The Bread and Cheese store. WOW!   The bread smells were fantastic.   There was the smell of yeast and the smells of freshly made cheese sticks.   Light and flaky bread sticks twisted with cheese.   They were hot when we bought them.   We both had to have a bite as we walked down the street.

I am not sure if I wrote about the fact that I lost a prescription on my journey.   I think I did.   Well, we went to a pharmacy and told them what happened.   At first they were adamant about me needing a prescription.   Then one woman told us I needed to see a Dutch doctor.   Then they changed their mind and were considering just giving me the meds.   I called my husband and he scanned an old bottle from the same prescription and emailed me.   My BIL printed it for me and we brought it back to the pharmacy.   Within minutes I had a prescription.   It’s a much different world.

After the pharmacy we noticed a small Farmer’s Market in one of the squares.   We sauntered over and looked at the stands.   There was an olive stand that had a beautiful selection of olives.   There were a couple of vegetable stands.   What comes to mind were squashes that looked more like a cross between a gourd and a pumpkin but weren’t either.   There were gorgeous fresh leeks and huge deep purple beets.   Stunning.

We found ourselves at a fresh pork stand.   Some of his selection was a bit difficult for me.   I am not a fan of being easily able to identify my food as a living creature.   I never understand chicken places that have chickens selling their food.   “I taste great so, slaughter and eat me!” isn’t marketing that works for me.   This guy was great.     He had pictures of his livestock and talked about the great life they have.   I suppose it’s like Free Range chicken etc.   (Of course, if the chicken’s could argue they would say they aren’t really “free”.)   At any rate, he had salami that was Truffle Salami.   We had to ask about it and we had to have a sample and then we had to buy some.   I have never in my life tasted anything like it.   It was wickedly tasty. His web site is in Dutch.   His name is Frank Bunnik and his company is http://berkshirebutcher.com.

Okay, I must end this now.   We are going to be eating dinner in a few minutes and then I must lie down and sleep for a long time!   Please forgive typing errors and grammatical mistakes.   I am not completely in my right mind.

 Posted by at 7:49 pm
Oct 212009
 

I arrived in New Amsterdam yesterday morning.   Tuesday morning rather.   I am a bit confused on what time or day it is.   The redeye was crazy from LAX to JFK.   It was supposed to be “wide open” and it wasn’t.   Lots of last minute travelers got on that flight.   So, my stand   by for Business Class ticket rapidly turned into a coach ticket.   Luckily, the gate agent took pity on me and left the seat next to me open so I didn’t   have to squeeze.   The flight was on a Boeing 757.   Those are particularly long planes but not generous in width.   I did look at the bathroom on board and decided it would be best to just wait the 6 hours.   It was fine.   The flight attendant graciously brought me a seatbelt extender and we were on our way.   I didn’t sleep much on that flight.   The seat in front of me was barely inches away from me.   I was fortunate that no one was sitting in the seat in front of me so I didn’t have someone’s head pressed against my belly for the flight.   The snack was pretzels, or peanuts or cookies.   I had club soda.

We landed in NY at 7:30.   I wandered around the terminal for a little while.   I found a food court and got a little breakfast and a bottle of water and planted myself.   I made some calls.   Then I realized somewhere along the way I lost a prescription.   It is possible I left it at home but it is also likely I left it on the plane when I was searching my bag for something else.   I went to the Delta customer service desk.   They called the gate to find out the plane I had been on had already left for San Francisco.   If the meds were left on the plane it is doubtful I will ever see them again.   I then went to the Delta SkyClub and bought a day pass.   It was a lovely place to sit and relax for my very long layover.   I was hoping for a couch or a loveseat so I could have gotten more comfortable but the big chair was fine.   I dozed off and on throughout the day and then got the shuttle from the terminal to the new Delta terminal to catch my international flight.

I did get Business Class from JFK to Old Amsterdam.   It was very nice.   The seats aren’t that wide and the arms don’t move so I did find it to be a snug fit.   I had to get out of the seat to pull out the remote for the TV and I did have to get up to plug in my headset.   But once in the seat it was mostly comfortable.   There is at least 3 feet between the seats so you can recline fully and not be bothered by any other passenger.   There was no one sitting next to me so I was able to use the seat for my purse as well as use the tray for my meals.   I was envious of people who slept on the sides in the chairs.   I suppose I could have figured out the logistics and done it myself but I never did get fully comfortable.

The meals and service in Business Class is night and day from coach.   They brought us menus before we took off and the champagne and beautiful wine choices flowed throughout the flight.   I didn’t drink on the plane as I was so confused and tired from travelling for so long and from not sleeping.   I didn’t want to add alcohol to the mix.   The food choices ranged from crab cakes with pasta to beef tenderloin with lemon risotto.   Amazing!

I think one of the flight attendants thought I was pregnant.   I was sitting in my seat with my arms folded over my belly.   As she walked by she patted my hands and said something in a very sweet tone.

We landed at 5:25a this morning, Wednesday.   We taxied for what seemed like an eternity to the gate.   Customs was a breeze here.   They asked why I was here and for how long then stamped my passport.   My luggage was some of the first pieces off as they were the last ones on.   My bags didn’t get on the flight until my stand by seat was approved.   It worked out perfectly.   Then there were two lines to go to.   One was for people with goods to declare and the other was for those with nothing to declare.   There was no one working the line for people with things to declare and no one was there to ask if you really didn’t have anything to declare.   I walked right through with my bags on a cart.   My sister and BIL were on the other side of the door.

From there we took a train to the city and then walked around 10 blocks from the train station to the boat.   It was interesting to be walking in the dark at nearly 7a.   the sun didn’t start to warm the cold sky until around 8a.   Then the sky started to glow a beautiful light pink.   The air this morning was very cold.   It has since warmed up to a lovely 50 degrees.

To say that it is beautiful here is a ridiculous understatement.   It is absolutely breathtaking.   The boat is gorgeous.   We opened the windows on the boat and fed ducks on the canal.   Their cat sits up top in the sun room (what would be the steering room if there was a steering wheel.)   I have taken pictures and will post them over time. We are going to go venture out and do some shopping today.

I am very tired.   I haven’t lied down since Monday morning when I got up at 7a.   It is now noon on Wednesday here which means it is 3a at home.   It is funny to think my husband is home sleeping in our bed and I have already showered and started my day.   I am sure I will sleep like a stone tonight.   I brought my own pillow which will make sleeping anywhere easy.

Let me know if there is anything you would like to know or any pictures you would like to see.

Oct 182009
 

When reading other people’s blogs I have often thought of them as self indulgent and arrogant.   I don’t know that mine will be different.   I started thinking what do I have to offer people that would be of any interest.   Besides my upcoming travels to Amsterdam what is it that would make people be interested in what I have to say?   What is it about me that is different?   Uhh, the obvious thing is, as Bob Goen said over and over   again on Entertainment Tonight about me, “…and she weighs over 300 pounds!!”   Yes, I do. It isn’t that miraculous actually.   Honestly, I have lived a pretty charmed life.   Sure I am big but it really hasn’t stopped me…except when it has.   There are things that smaller people never consider and if they do they don’t consider the magnitude of how it would affect someone larger.   For example, airplane bathrooms are very small.   Most people find them to be uncomfortable and cramped.   For me, it is like I am the last sardine in the can, so-to-speak.   Other common considerations in life are restaurant booths, armed chairs, the dentist chair, movie theatre seats, life jackets, roller coasters and my favorite – seat belts.   (Remind me and I will tell the story of the Torrance police officer who pulled me over for not wearing my seat belt years ago…)

While I am excited about this trip to Amsterdam, to see my sister and my BIL, there is for me a level of apprehension and fear (more than the plane falling out of the sky but I have drugs for that.)   You know that feeling when you are all settled in your seat on the airplane and you see the fat girl squeezing down the aisle trying not to hip check any of the passengers she is walking by and you cringe knowing she is going to try and climb over you and squeeze into the seat next to you undoubtedly ooozing some of her copious flesh onto your seat, or leg, or arm?   Well, I’m her.   Believe me, I certainly don’t want to disturb your travels or make your flight any more uncomfortable than it is.   I have in the past bought two seats so as to not disturb anyone.   When I fly with my husband, he doesn’t care that I need a bit of his seat.   But for a stranger it is uncomfortable.   Believe me, I know.

With the airplane seat issue it raises the question of whether or not I am buying a seat to my destination or am I purchasing passage.   There have been a lot of ugly fights in the media about this issue.   People have found themselves at a midway point in their trip when suddenly a gate agent decides they must purchase an additional seat to finish the last leg of their trip.   The rules are rather discretionary.   So, a big guy flying from LAX to JFK with a stop in Chicago may have no problem getting on the first leg of his flights.   He asks for a seatbelt extender and luckily there is an empty middle seat next to him so no one says a word to him.   He flies in comfort to Chicago.   He gets off the plane in Chicago and races to his next gate.   When he arrives and attempts to check in for the 2nd leg of his trip to JFK, the gate agent informs him he must buy a second seat on the plane because the flight is full.   If he doesn’t he can’t carry on to his destination.   But you see, this is an error in logic.   If the flight is full there shouldn’t be an additional seat to purchase.   Ostensibly, he should be stuck in Chicago until there is a flight that has empty seats.   Should he then be forced to purchase an additional seat on a flight with empty seats?   I know when I have purchased two tickets to a destination I was told that if the flight had empty seats they would refund my money for the additional seat purchased.   I don’t know the answer to these questions.   Bigger seats all around?   Bigger seats for larger people?   What about seats with legroom for taller people?   What about a sound proof area for those flying with small children? Obviously, the airline is a business.   They have the right to run their business as they choose.   I also understand an average sized person who already feels cramped in their seat doesn’t want to feel infringed upon by someone else using up what little personal space they have.   It’s a conundrum.   One that I am going to face over the next couple of days and then again in two weeks.     While I doubt I will come up with a solution for this situation that affects all travellers in one way or another it will definitely be an interesting time.   I will keep you all posted.

Oct 172009
 

Just got off the phone with Delta.   My ticket has been reissued and the flights look good.   I will, of course, have a 9 hour layover at JFK.   The current plan is to purchase a day pass for the SkyClub.   While it isn’t a bed, it will be a nice place to relax all day.   Flying stand by is good news and bad news.   The woman at the reissue desk was very nice and very helpful.   I am definitely keeping my fingers crossed that I get Business Class but more than that I just want to get there.   The anxiety of trying to get there has overshadowed my panic about flying.

 Posted by at 10:52 am
Oct 162009
 

Since not making my flight to Amsterdam Wednesday night, and now having 3 days before I try again, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to start a blog.   Originally, I was going to keep a daily handwritten journal.   I still may do that.   Old habits die hard.   I figured this would be a great way for family and friends and any interested party to follow my adventure.   This will be the first of many posts.