Archive for May, 2011

regatta in Haarlem (he Spaarne Lente Race)

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Thursday night I got a call from a local rower: could I cox his quad in a race on Sunday? Apparently they were desperate, because all of the people who usually do it were already scheduled to cox or row other boats. (In the US, quads (four rowers, two oars each) are usually “straight”, meaning no cox, but here they often have one due to the narrow canals.) I hadn’t coxed any boat at all since last fall’s Rondje Eindhoven tour, and I hadn’t coxed in a race for a few years – I may not have done any since leaving the US – but it sounded like fun and I didn’t have any plans for Sunday, so I said yes.

Regattas here are run a bit differently than in the US, so I’ll just give a run-down of the day. At 7AM, I met my crew at the boathouse for the drive to Haarlem. There’s the first difference; in the US, we’d already be at the race by then, attending the coxswain’s meeting and setting up boats. We drove about an hour and a half to the race – that’s certainly possible some places, but since all my rowing was in Texas and Arizona, ‘away’ races were always far away, four or more hours. We always had to head out the night before, so regattas were always a weekend event rather than a day trip.

Once we got there, we quickly rigged the boat (we always send our boats on the local college’s boat trailer – they have the best trailer ever, developed as someone’s student design project). Then everyone adjourned to change and grab coffee at the rowing club there. (More differences: at US regattas you often don’t have a boathouse handy; if you do,it doesn’t have a cafe on the top floor selling coffee and beer; and people show up in rowing gear plus whatever layers they need for warmth instead of walking around a regatta in jeans and then changing). Boat launching started at 10 for the morning races; races are in “blocks”, so instead of having an assigned time per even, there are maybe two start times at which all the events are lined up. In this case blocks 2 and 3 (who raced 2.5 km) started at 10:45 and 10:50 respectively and block 1 (our block, who raced 4.5 km) started at 11. Another group raced at 3:30PM. The advantage to grouping the races like this is that you’re not having to make your way down one side of the course while the race comes up the other side; on the downside, everyone has to launch at once, which makes for horrible traffic jams trying to get the boats onto the water.

Our race went pretty well; the predicted rain held off and it wasn’t too cold. Lucky for me it was a relatively easy course, with just two bridges and one sharp turn, and one shallow area marked off with a couple of buoys. My crew had pretty decent strength and fitness and excellent rhythm, just a couple of technical issues, we came in 14 of 21. I don’t think anyone really noticed, but (I guess it’s OK to brag on this blog) I steered a heck of a course and may have bought them a couple of seconds. If so, that made a difference, because we were only 2 seconds slower than one crew and a second ahead of another.) A cox has two jobs during a race; to steer and to motivate the crew. A really top-notch cox can do both, even with a crew who is strange to her; I think I did well steering, but only okay on the motivating, because I didn’t know this crew well, haven’t worked with them before at all, and have a language barrier to boot. They were pretty happy to have found a “new back-up”.

We were home by 4, in time for me to cook up a big and very tasty pot of jambalaya, another thing that never seems to happen in the US (the timing, not the jambalaya). I’d really forgotten how much fun it can be to cox at a regatta; you get all the excitement of racing without actually having to sweat and exhaust yourself.

the Oregon trail

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

See pictures in the previous post.

We’re back. I am tired (jetlagged) and sore, having pulled a rib muscle (gardening injury!). I guess that means it was a good vacation.

Short version: We spent a few days at our house near Eugene, then we drove down to Ted’s parents’ town a couple hours away, picked up my parents at the local airport, had a Passover Seder at my (non-Jewish) in-laws’ house, spent a couple of days driving along the Oregon coast with my parents, spent a few days at our house to let them see it, then back to GP to drop them off. Then we returned to the house for a few more days. Family visited, scenery seen, house stuff done, garden put in, American food eaten.

And all the gory detail:

We got bumped up to business class on the flight to the US, which is so much nicer. It was especially good timing because I hadn’t been feeling all that well. The seats didn’t recline flat, but almost; the food was good enough that I wouldn’t have minded being served it at a restaurant. There was room to move, not sit frozen for ten hours. It was very nice – but still not worth what the airlines charge for it when you have to pay in money.

I am unreasonably excited that we got a washer and dryer; we stopped at Sears literally before even getting to the house, on our way in from the Portland International Airport. We got there about 2:15 on Saturday; they only deliver to our town on Sunday and Thursday, and by Thursday we knew we’d be off on our travels. It turned out the deadline for Sunday delivery was 3PM Saturday so we were just in time. Before this my in-laws would take sheets and towels back to their house to be washed, and I felt bad about that. Also, it was so nice to be able to use a big and speedy American washer and dryer after all our frustration with the tiny slow European ones, that I did a lot more laundry than was strictly necessary. They’re not anything terribly special, just a high-efficiency top loader and a basic dryer, not even of the same brand. (I’ve been told there’s not much difference between dryers, so we got a cheaper one). They don’t match, but they work well and who looks at a washer anyway?

Ted got a lot of work done on our boat rack, which was his goal for the trip, so hopefully next time we can bring our boats home from my in-laws’ garage where they’ve been stored since 2006.

With a lot of help and advice from my in-laws and especially my MIL who is a Master Gardener, we put in plants on three berms we’d had made in back of the house. We discussed our dock and some other planned plantings with the architect who is helping us get those done (the plantings are on land belonging to the Army Corps of Engineers and require permission), got all our locks changed and set to one key, and had the fireplaces looked at. Somehow, I feel like we’ve established a real partnership with my in-laws, who have been very generous with their time and help on this house. They get a nice vacation house on a lake to use whenever they want, but I think we benefit more from having someone trustworthy keeping an eye on things and being there when necessary (e.g. they’ll go up when the fireplace guy comes back to install a blower on the two fireplaces that don’t have one), not to mention all the work they’ve done on the garden.

My parents and in-laws got to hang out together for the first time since our wedding in 1993 and I think they all enjoyed that. I led the Seder, which I’ve never done before, and everyone seemed to like that as well – Dad even complimented me on it and he doesn’t do that much. I just did sort of a mini-Seder, only 20 minutes or so, but we got through the essentials.

After we dropped my parents off for their flight back, we were hoping to see one of Ted’s grandfathers (the one we didn’t see at Christmas), who was going to drive in to see us and for an eye-doctor appointment (he’s 90, but very independent). Unfortunately, he’s getting over a virus and woke up feeling too crappy to drive that morning, and we didn’t find out about it until it was too late to go see him – 4+ hours each way and we had commitments the next day. (He’d been planning to stay over.) So instead we went to the house a day early, which was good because we got to buy the plants then, on Wednesday. On Thursday we put them in on the berms we’d had made behind the house, first thing in the morning before it rained. Forty-three of them, to be precise. I dug the holes, my MIL planted them, Ted and his father moved rocks and reshaped the berms. Friday it rained, but we put out the manure and bark mulch anyway., and Saturday/Sunday we flew back to the Netherlands, just in time to miss Queen’s Day (which is crowded and VERY LOUD when you live int he center of Eindhoven!)

Getting back to work wasn’t that much fun, but at least the jetlag didn’t hit too badly. It did start to hit a bit on the ride home. Ted too – I can tell because as we pulled in yesterday he said “I am starting to fade now,” then promptly proved it by sideswiping the post that borders our parking space. Oops. (And evil wishes to the ones who designed our lot and its too-small spaces.) I keep remniding myself that being int he US is so much nicer mostly because we’re on vacation there and at work here, but I do miss American food, ease of shopping, and a few other things.

April in Oregon

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

We’re just back from two weeks in Oregon, where we got to have my parents out to our house, show them around the coast a bit. After they left, we added plants on to the berms that we had built close to the house (we did all the planting in two days – it wouldn’t have been possible without a lot of both help and advice from Ted’s parents). Here are some of the better photos from the trip – captions are below.

Click on any photo to see it larger.
First row: inside the house, then a very calm day on the lake behind us.
Second row: Tulips in my in-laws’ garden, then Dad and Ted’s parents at a local restaurant.
Third row: Us goofing around in the redwoods and before breakfast at Gold Beach
Fourth row: Stops along the coast. (You can’t really tell, but according to Ted, that starfish int he middle photo is eating a crab.)
Fifth row: Mom in a lighthouse (for some reason I really like this photo of her), an Oregon beach, us and my parents at Sea Lion Caves.
Sixth row: a jellyfish and a puffin at the aquarium in Newport, and a first look at 2/3 of our new garden.
Last row: the oak in our back yard, an overhead view of part of the garden.