I recently went with a fellow expat friend to a cafe to meet with a group of other expats to practice the language. There's a man that leads it who's been in the country for almost 40 years and likes to help. There were several of us the other night and it went well. I was a bit (read: a lot) overwhelmed, but I trudged through. I even participated a little. I ended the evening both tired and stimulated. I think I'll go back and give it a try for a bit. Even if I didn't understand everything, I think it got the 'ol gear box working, y'know? It already enforced more Dutch thinking through the week and even though it started to taper off the longer the week went, it's still good progress. W. was impressed with my reading/translating tonight.
It's also been decided that I'm (even more so) joining the magazine editors team. I already contribute recipes, but now I'm going to be helping W. with graphic design. I'm even learning Adobe's InDesign. The guy who was doing it had to leave, so I'm stepping in to help out. Besides, it's something else to add to the resume and it makes my not-working time more constructive. All of this is good progress; I'm not working, yet somehow I'm being kept busy. I'm very grateful for this.
I don't know if many of you have heard of Ello (https://ello.co/). It's touted as the new anti-Facebook. It's very simple and clean-looking. You can sign up to be on the waiting list, or get an invite from a friend who already made it on (also) through an invite from a friend. It's very quiet now with not a lot of people on it and it's still in beta stage. Anything that gives me a break from Facebook wins, so... yeah. I'll say that after looking at some people's profiles (your profile is public) that it's very much for the art or culturally-minded community. Lots of art. Lots of photography. I'm not sure I fit there. I used to be this person, but it's been a very long time. I really miss Google+, I'm not gonna lie. Not as many people are on it as Facebook (or at least they weren't when I walked away over a year or two ago) and you had more control over who could see or not see your posts, but maybe I'll try again and see who's lurking. Last I checked there were new friends on that hadn't previously joined. Google+ 's network is fantastic. Much more user-friendly, I think.
There were a couple other things I wanted to talk about, but I'm going to put them on the back-burner and talk about them another time. I wanted to share a couple of cultural differences, 'cause you know those are always fun.
So the other night on my way to choir, I was on the bus and when we turned one of the street corners, traffic came to a dead stop. You know how it goes, everyone pokes their heads up and around to see if they can tell what's going on. There's talk and guesses what's holding us up. Yeah, they had an alcohol check. So get this.. the set up is pretty much the same; cops in the middle of the road, stopping traffic both ways to check for alcohol consumption (on a busy one-lane street, no less), there's two of them per station. They check you for alcohol alright. They make you blow on the spot! Every. Single. Vehicle. Even our busdriver had to blow! They have their devices with disposable cap thingies to replace with each use. Our police guy's partner was holding two bags of them. On. The. Spot. They're not messing around! I think it's fabulous! MUCH less room for error, much less guessing (for the cop, and for you and your chances. "Oh, I've just had two tonight, it's a weeknight, a RIDE Program won't be out, I'll be fine. BAM! You'll be 'fine' alright because you'll get a fine). How it works after they find alcohol in your system, I don't know how that process works. In this instance they couldn't have exactly made you pull over, cause there was nowhere to pull over *to*. So I shall ask around about that. WHY they're not doing this where I'm from is beyond me.
Gosh, there was another cultural difference I wanted to write about. Hmm.. this one is kind of a two-parter that I don't have time for, but I will get into it a little bit. So.. the list of my friends becoming pregnant around the globe is growing. Had babies. Having babies. Going to have babies. Your social life quickly diminishes if you are of the non-baby community). Gah. It's an epidemic everywhere :P Anyhoo... did you know that when you have a baby here, there is help that comes to the house to help you clean (and do laundry), make meals, they make tea and cut cake for guests, cut your flowers. Like.. the whole shibang. I couldn't believe it. Again... fantastic idea! You're alloted a certain amount of hours (which is fairly substantial, from what I remember) and I believe everyone has access to this. Maternity leave is much shorter though (compared to Ontario); 16 weeks (combination of time off includes both before and after birth). I do side more with the year off that Ontario has; it benefits everyone.
I've decided to make (at least) one recipe a week out of my Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table cookbook. I've made a few already (and will exclude those) and have really enjoyed them. It'll broaden my cooking and baking repertoire and bring new dishes into the house at meal times. Much needed!
Okay, I'm going to take off. It's Saturday, so it's sit-back-and-binge-watch-Doctor-Who night. I better get the popcorn ready.
Hope y'all are having a good weekend. If the weather is as beautiful as it is here, be sure to get out. There is much colder weather coming around the corner.