Here I am in Bodegraven, Netherlands. What am I doing here? I’ve debated about re-hashing the past four years or so since I last wrote here, but I think I’ll just let things fall out of my head as they will.
Tonight, I will try to sleep in a very old house in a very hot, upstairs room. I am tempted to just lay my spine along that metal strip on the floor (in the photo) because it is very cool. It was 35° today; 27° now, but warmer still inside.
Fortunately, during the day my part of the office had working air-conditioning—some colleagues were less fortunate. When I stepped outside I was slammed in the face by a very tropical heat. I suffered through the start-stop traffic, windows down (which made zero difference for the inescapable heat that scorched its way across my path. And then sauntered my way through a calmer traffic (one-laner) in a south-easterly fashion until I arrived at the oldest house in the Netherlands. (I’m sure it’s not the oldest.)
Ella lives here. She is 77 and doing quite well on her own. In a giant house that she rents out rooms to all sorts of people, through AirBnB. She hates spiders. Makes a great ardtjes?? cake* (no idea what it’s called). Her husband passed away five years ago and he was a bee keeper and liked gardening. Ella doesn’t have as much of a green thumb. She’s lived here for 50 years. She has 10 children and….23 grandchildren! She spoke no English…fair enough…forced me to pull out my Swiss-army-knife of Dutch tools (in my head) and we learned a bit about each other.
She said I should sit outside with her on the back deck overlooking her not-too-bad-of-a-yard-for-someone-who-doesn’t-have-a-green-thumb garden. She brought me a slice of that cake she made…soooo good. Didn’t want more cake (birthday cake at work**), but I also didn’t want to explain why and make her sad after she brought me a piece. It was more the size of half a bread slice, than a big, fat cake slice. So it was doable.
She asked if I was a Christian. I wasn’t surprised after earlier being given her Dutch Reformist newspaper to gander through while I ate my salad that I brought from home. She was very pleasant up until that question. Should I have lied? Said I was what I wasn’t? Her eyes scoffed me when I said I wasn’t. Oops. Then, she was still ‘niiice’, but if I was in a cartoon I’d have released steam from my collar in an uh-oh-sheesh sort of way. And that was that.