Archive for October, 2010

saying goodbye to Taiwan, hello whatever’s next

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

It always feels strange saying goodbye. For me it’s a weird feeling being back at my old desk; I still work with my old colleagues sometimes but not as much. I don’t know if I’ll be back here – if I do have trips back to Taiwan for work, they could easily be to Hsinchu or Tainan instead of Taipei. Ted will certainly be back, but it’s still a big deal to leave the department you built from the ground up and all the people you’ve worked with for three years. We’ve had a bunch of hassles closing out our bank accounts, but I think it’s all dealt with now (fingers crossed!). And yes, that’s plural; it turned out mine was still open though I thought it had been closed months ago. Tomorrow the movers come to pack up; as with the last two times, the challenge will be to make sure they take all of our stuff and only our stuff, since it’s a furnished apartment.

Meanwhile, we’ve been thinking about what we’ll do after this stint in the Netherlands (still a mystery), and about the house in Oregon. We’re hoping to spend Christmas there, if everything works out. We won’t be doing anything to it soon, but Ted had the most brilliant idea ever for the mystery bathroom. That’s the very large room (seriously, about 11′ square, plus a toilet alcove) that contains a toilet, two sinks, and a tub that’s not hooked up. We haven’t figured out why anyone would turn a room that big into a bath, especially with three full baths already in the house including one literally next toor. It’s a nice room, though, with a tile floor, and we’ve been playing around with ideas – hot tub? wine cellar? Ted’s latest suggestion is that we build bookshelves all around, put a big rug on the floor, a couple of comfy chairs, and make it into a library. The coolest part is what to do about the plumbing: keep the toilet in the alcove, add a small sink, and put in a camouflaged door in the form of a rotating bookshelf. Add a tiny drinks fridge and a snack cupboard and he may never get me out of there!

I don’t know how likely that all is, but it’s a lot of fun to think about. 🙂

End of an epoch

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

this is it – the end of 7 months of separation. I’m at the airport now, waiting to board a plane to Taipei so
I can go get Ted and bring him back with me (and help pack his boat and other stuff).

It’s being a somewhat challenging trip – first I had to cross through the Eindhoven Marathin to get to the train station, then theyvwrre testing a special winter-storm train schedule so I had to take four trains instead of one to get to Schiphol. Hopefully the flight will be completely uneventful; then I just have to hope I get to our apartment either before the doorman leaves or after Ted gets home, because while I do have an apartment key, I don’t have the special keyfob to get into the building.

You know what they say about the course of true love…,

the new place

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Poor Mom has managed to avoid moving house for nearly 44 years, but I ruined her streak. Actually, over the past few weeks, Ted and I have inflicted moving on three out of our four parents; only my Dad escaped. Mom tried to avoid it, napping on the couch while the movers packed up the old place, but she did unpack a lot of the books in the new apartment. At least she didn’t get stuck with the big move Ted’s parents did!

Anyway, here’s the new apartment – you enter on the first floor, and that’s where the bedrooms are. Please excuse the mess and boxes, and click on photos if you want to see them bigger. They’re a pretty good size, for bedrooms here, but note the small amount of clothing storage:

There is a huge laundry / storage room, though, and decks on both levels – this is the lower one:

The bath is nicer than the one in the previous place, and as usual here the toilet is separate (a Dutch person once said to me, “Doesn’t it bother you having the toilet right in there with the bath?”)

Here’s Mom’s least favorite part of the flat:

Here’s what’s at the top of those stairs – you can also see a bit of the upper deck:

and the dining room and kitchen:

By the way, the step-stools you see in the master bedroom and the kitchen are *not* there because I’m still moving in – I need those just to reach everyday things. The lower edge of those kitchen cabinets is about level with my chin!

Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Mom left this morning. A recap of her visit: the day she arrived I almost didn’t find her at the airport (we’d arranged for me to arrive half an hour after she landed, but she got through quickly and didn’t stay by the arrival area as requested but wandered off to buy a phone card) but we finally found each other. We didn’t do much else that day except go to a new trivia night in a local bar. It can be very useful to have someone who remembers 1960s music on your team! The next afternoon we went to s’Hertogenbosch and took a tour of the binnendienst, the canal system there that runs through tunnels and under buildings, then walked around the city market square and the beautiful cathedral. Back in EIndhoven that night we went for CHinese food with my friend Lieke. I told them this was the restaurant my Taiwanese colleagues prefer when in Eindhoven – and we met two of them there to prove it. (You can click on all photos to make them bigger.)

On Saturday we went to London on the Eurostar, though first we had to take three different Dutch trains to get to Brussels. (It might have been possible to get there in two – oh, well. We stayed at the George, a hotel recommended by a friend of mine, that is in a Georgian crescent. The location was great – a short walk from St. Pancras where the Eurostar comes in, and convenient to Russell Square and Euston Tube stations as well. I think Mom might have appreciated a few less stairs up to the rooms, though! That night we got London Eye out of the way (Mom wanted to go – I haven’t quite figured out why anyone needs to do it more than once, but Mom wanted to go and at least we had some decent light. (Photos are of the Eye itself and the view downriver.)

On our first full day we went on a bus tour to WIndsor Palace, Stonehenge, and Bath. That was a hard choice; we’d been thinking of a tour to Oxford and Stonehenge, but ended up with this one because I’d rather go to Oxford someday when I can spend more time. I think that was a good choice; it was a bit of a whirlwind tour. Unfortunately we even skipped Queen Mary’s dollhouse because the line to it was moving so slowly we were afraid we wouldn’t get to see the rest of the palace. We did have enough time to get a good look at Stonehenge, though at the moment you’re not allowed to get all that close. On the other hand, that makes it easier to get photos without other people in them. We mostly saw Bath from the bus, except for a stop at the Roman Baths – there was a bit of time after that, but it was 5PM on Sunday afternoon and the cathedral and shops were all closed.

On Monday we walked to and through the National Portrait Gallery (slight disappointment – Richard III wasn’t there and most of the Tudor rooms were closed), then window-shopped up Regent Street, with a stop in Hamley’s for Mom to buy a few presents. On Tuesday we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral, where Mom wants me to tell you (and will be telling everyone she meets, I’m sure) that she climbed all the way up to the Whispering Gallery, 257 steps. Funny thing about St. Paul’s; half of it is decorated in mosaic, half is left white – from inside when you’re standing under the dome, if you look left and right it looks like two different churches. Here’s a photo of the decorated side, toward the high altar. We walked from there to Sir John Soanes’ house – they don’t let you go down to the basement any more, darn it. On our last morning, we went to the British Library, since it’s very close to our hotel, then back to the hotel for our luggage and back to Eindhoven.

Looking over the Library to St. Pancras station:

We spent the next couple of days moving into my new apartment, but I’d better make that a separate entry.