February 2017

My Stories

Mother of all Road Trips-1

Mother of all Road Trips-2

Mother of all Road Trips-3

Mother of all Road Trips-4

Containing Jim in Paris

Ranging the Yellowstone

Lisbon Portugal- Part 1

Lisbon and Sintra- Part 2

Evora Portugal- Part 3

Coimbra Portugal- Part 4

Porto Portugal- Part 5

At the Mammogram Office

Carmel Art Gallery

Venice- Part I

Veneto- Part II

Ravenna- Part III

Cinque Terre- Part IV

Vernazza Bonus- Part V


Crunch Time

Putting on the Ritz

Granada and Sevilla


Tuscany and Umbria - 1

Tuscany and Umbria - 2

Driving in England

Dwelling in England

A Dozens Reasons

In the Hamam

Istanbul Greece Diary

Pearl Harbor Team

Old Girl



Grandpa's Cabin

Pay-It-Forward Latte

England and France

N. Italy - 1

N. Italy - 2

N. Italy - 3

N. Italy - 4

Lessons from 4 Corners


Going to the Dogs

Don't Embarrass Me!

Letter from Siena

Arrivederci Roma

Joining the Matriarchs

Living History

Newlywed Game

Chaos Theory

Zach on the Road

Huckleberry Season

Stanley & the Sunbeam

I Dare Say


Middle School Relay

Grad Party


Moving On

Radio Shack

Newlywed Couches


Old Faithful Inn


Sweet Potato

Mother Bear

Two Blondes in Iberia

Revisiting Spain

Four Seasons Camping

Curly's Truck.

Disaster Restorations

Bobbie the Wonder Dog

Ducks and Beavers

Wearing Red

Photo Boxes

Las Vegas Soufflé

40th Birthday Party

The Heart Tickler

Wonderful Little Things

Heritage Tour

Erickson Era

Old Buildings


Split Seams

All Nighter

Talent Show

A Look Back


Annie tells me that people consider Portland “the Amsterdam of the US.” 

I can see it. 

Portland International Airport doesn’t offer a whole lot of direct international flights, but they do have one to Amsterdam.  No wonder--they’re twins on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

Here are some similarities between Portland and Amsterdam:

1.  Portland routinely ranks as one of the most bike-friendly cities in America.  Amsterdam, well, let’s just say they have a few bikes here.

Allow me to digress for a moment on the subject of bikes.  Everywhere you look you’ll find gorgeous six-foot, thirty-something women with flowing blonde hair navigating bikes around Holland.  Both men and women ride sitting straight up in perfect posture:  no hunching over the handlebars here.  Women ride “girls’ bikes” and half of the men do, too.  Probably easier and safer for the guys, and apparently no threat to their masculinity. 

2.  You can stand on any given corner in downtown Portland and spot a half-dozen coffee shops.  Coffee and “Coffee shops” are big in Amsterdam, too, though the latter sells an entirely different product.

3.  Speaking of, pot is legal in both places. 

4.  The weather?  Pretty alike, with plenty of rain and drizzle much of the year.  And you’ll find lots of free-flowing waterways in both cities.  Plus bridges to accompany them. 

5.  Their vibes are indistinguishable.  That permissive as-long-as-it-doesn’t-hurt-somebody, it’s all-good attitude.  Secular and liberal thinkers reign. 

6.  Jim wants to add his own comparison:  “In Portland we have the Trailblazer basketball team; the players are all very tall.  In Amsterdam we have lots of tall people.”

(My sweetie’s feeling short in Holland.)

 7. For the most part, everyone’s friendly and helpful in both cities.

 8. Residents of both Portland and Amsterdam tend to speak English well.

So, I wondered, how come these Dutch folks are so fluent in English?

At our neighborhood Italian restaurant, our chatty waiter allowed me to quiz him on this language subject.  Young waiter spent his early childhood in Vera Cruz, Mexico with his Dutch mother and Mexican father, speaking Dutch in the home.  When he was seven, he and Mom moved back to her home country, the Netherlands. 

Though he could speak Dutch, Waiter found it challenging to write in it.  But he’d arrived just in time to start learning English along with his classmates.

Waiter said that during the last six years of public school, students are required to add either French or German (their choice) for at least two years of study.  Waiter chose French because of its similarities to Spanish--which he still speaks with his dad, back in Vera Cruz, regularly on the phone.

Waiter explained that people started learning English here post-war--Netherland’s “2nd Golden Age,” as he called it.  Suddenly the Dutch had plenty to eat again and everyone was happy.  English-based companies poured in because of a favorable Dutch taxation system.  As a result, nearly everyone in the Netherlands under 50 speaks English and Dutch fluently.

Our waiter friend completed the history lesson, but he had more to share.  He leaned in and offered his personal theories of why the Dutch speak English so beautifully:

  1.  Most television programming is in English.  It’s subtitled, not dubbed.
  2.  “We are a small country,” he elaborated, “and most of our music comes from English-speaking countries.  People want to be able to understand the words.”

This afternoon Jim and I ate lunch at a hundred-year-old pub.  Donna Summer’s MacArthur Park hummed on the radio. 

I heard someone softly join Donna in song.  It was our middle-aged Dutch proprietor.  He knew every word.

Video of us with “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” in The Haag.  I wasn’t so keen on this video because it’s kind of a mess, tech-wise, but Jim likes it because “it shows (his) excitement” on being there.

Talking about height and other things at Dam Square in Amsterdam

Being tall is relative at the North Sea

Discussing searching for tea candles at the Head Shop