In Leiden there are dozens of tiny garden courtyards that used to be associated with almshouses, but are now simply open to the public. However, they're not particularly well publicized, and I had never been inside of more than one or two of them until this Spring when I went with a friend on a self-guided tour, and found the doors to the secret gardens everywhere.
|This isn't even the prettiest one.|
In June it gets warm enough that some canals turn green with algee, and some are covered with lilypads.
|I like to think the ducks enjoy the lilypads|
We had been wanting to do some sort of origami installation for a long time, but this May before my parents came to visit we put it together. You can see it here in the dark, as it took us a long time to put it up, but the night is a rare sight these days. This far north in June the sun doesn't set until well after 10, and it stays light a good while after. We have hardly used our bike lights in ages, and sometimes we still wake up confused very early in the morning, because at 4 am it is already light again. It reminds me of nothing so much as a chorale we sang in college choir which ended with a triumphant phrase about heaven: "and there we shall walk in endless light."
|They're made from tracing paper|
Our neighborhood had a party this weekend, complete with a band, lots of free food, information about a community garden starting up, a place to sign up for helping out elderly neighbors (which we successfully negotiated in Dutch!) and arts and crafts. There were photographs of our park from previous decades, and prints of paintings from before then all on display. There was even an association handing out beautiful gift bags of looseleaf tea to everyone from the neighborhood. Often at festivals I get a little overwhelmed by the crowd and the noise, but this was nothing like a typical festival. We bumped into our Dutch teacher, our friends from church, and walked around with them, and painted some mugs, we felt like this is our home. The girl singing and playing guitar was doing a lovely cover of "fix you" by Coldplay, and we walked around the park, happy and content.
|We painted these mugs!|
Teaching violin--sometimes in Dutch!
On a more practical side, I'm now registered with a music lesson association and have found several more students, many of which I am teaching almost entirely in Dutch. The children have very understanding parents, and they help me translate when I need help with a few words, but for the most part it's been going really well.
|I have no pictures of my violin students but here is our orchid!|
Because so many of our good friends are having babies (last count it was more than 30 friends in the last two years), Owen and I have decided that knitting some baby hats is an order, and have gone on a trip to the yarn shop accordingly. It's really nice to be knitting again, as both Owen and I had taken a bit of a break, and find that we've missed it.
|Let there be baby hats!|
This Summer Owen will spend four weeks in Utah at the 2015 Summer Institute on Algebraic Geometry, and I'll be traveling around Europe for some of that time, visiting friends in London and Paris, and having friends visit me as well. It will be an exciting time.
|The park near our flat|
Plans for the Future
Some of you have asked what we've decided about staying in the Netherlands, and here is our answer for now. We're staying one more year, so we plan on leaving in August 2016, which is three years total. That means this year I'll be applying to PhD programs, and Owen will be looking for jobs, and we'll do what we can to land ourselves in a place that's reasonable for both of us, and hopefully not so far away from family.
|Here we are, married for two years already!|
That's the news from Leiden.