A very cold Amsterdam

For more than a week the temperatures were well below freezing and the canals actually froze.

The Dutch left work early on Friday to go skating, but the ice wasn't anywhere near thick enough for me to trust. They were amazing to watch though.

Birds #1

Birds #2 and #3, on the ice flow by our apartment.


On the eve of a great day

Tomorrow at 6pm Amsterdam time, I will close my computer and glue myself to the television to watch President Obama take office. Talking to another American today at work, we admitted to the shame spiral that we have been swept up in for most of our lives. Except for a brief respite in the first Clinton term, there has been a constant urge to apologize for or rage against the US leadership. As a post-Watergate kid, I grew up believing that politicians were liars. And when I polled the playground in 1980, I was amazed that kids and adults wanted Reagan to win when Carter was so clearly the nicer person. And look who was right!

The Reagan era, though clearly Nixon-like in its antipathy toward the law, gave me something to fight against. Something to argue and debate about over the dinner table. The world was black and white to me then, as it has never been since. When George the First took office, I was sad that the first vote I cast was wasted, and when the first bombs fell on Iraq, I cried with all my fellow journalism students at University of Oregon. We were a liberal bunch.

When Clinton won the election, I cried again, only this time with joy. I thought everything would change, but instead it got worse, with the rise of Newt and Rush and the further fall of the golden rule. Neighbors began to mistrust neighbors and rule by logic and intelligence dwindled. Clinton was too human. Too much of a punchline to be effective in his second term. And then the dark days began.

Eight years of shame. Eight years of embarrassment. Eight years of apologizing for something that I didn't do. All ending tomorrow. Tomorrow!

I hope Obama will be everything I hope he will be. I hope the United States becomes the country I have always wanted and expected it to be. I am so grateful that this moment has happened and that my nieces and nephews and children I know will know that truth, justice and the American way isn't just a comic book construct. It is possible. God bless.


Do I REALLY have to go back to reality tomorrow?

What a fantastic few weeks it has been. Time off. Time in Portland with family and friends. And Tom and I got engaged. Should I have led with that?

Here is the story:
When we were in Rome, I was drawn into a small jewelry shop off Campo de' Fiori, which, though I love jewelry, was unusual because I tend not to not even window shop for it, much less go inside. As opposed to say, being drawn into shoe stores. Digression.

I went into the shop and saw a beautiful antique ring in the side case and gestured and smiled my way into asking the shop keeper to show it to me. It fit and I fell in love with it right away. I showed Tom and left it at that.

On Christmas Eve, just after finishing my super-sentimental post, Tom told me to open my last present next to the tree because, "the box is fragile and I am afraid it will fall apart if you move it." So I did. He went over to the stereo, put on "Downtown" and came over and got on one knee as I opened the box and saw my Roman ring sitting in a mass of rose petals. He said something about "happy" and "love" and "marry", but I couldn't really hear him through my crying. It was a lovely moment and we both kept looking at each other and saying, "Me? You really want to marry me?" Later that night we went up to the freezing cold roof and threw red rose petals into the air. Tom said he saw them on the street for days afterwards. Apparently there are no gift boxes to be had in Amsterdam, so Tom had to buy a large porcelain bell in order to get the right sized container. So if you come to my house and see the bell, now you know why it is there.

So we are getting married! No plans yet, but it is doubtful that it will be this year. I want to enjoy being engaged to my lovely man and let things come together as they may.

After spending Christmas day lazing on the couch with stockings and presents from family, I took off to a very snowy Portland. We had the Miller Family Christmas on Saturday, which was a riot. Seriously good times with lots of laughter and some impromptu dancing to scenes from "Summer Holiday." My nieces and nephews are getting so grown up and funny, but I was most struck by the moments where my brother, sister and I do whatever it is we do to make each other laugh. We are freaking hysterical.

I didn't get to see as many people as I would have liked, but did manage to check in with some good friends and see their rapidly growing children and some new babies. Portland doesn't change, but the kids do. It is such a great place to be from and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to fly back for a bit.

And now back to work. I expect to be crazy with football content and site production for months and months. So the posts may be short, but I'll try to stay current. Happy New Year everyone!