Archives for September 2009

Trolley Cars, FLOWERS, and Great Food…

Do you prefer your blooms beautiful now? Or in the future? Like things looking gorgeous year-round? Well, might I advise a trip to the Amsterdam flower market (aptly called Bloemenmarkt). Such fun! A whole string of permanently temporary, medal-sided, over-sized sheds lines one side of Singelgracht (for ‘gracht,’ read canal) near one of the city’s main hang-out areas – Spui (pronounced ‘spow’ – who knew??). We first saw this lovely market from our canal boat tour two days ago and determined to make it back there on foot. Actually, we took a number of different trolleys to get around town today. Rode the #13 back to the Dam Square (largest one in city), got on the #5 headed out to the Rijksmuseum, where we spent about two hours in the very truncated viewing area while most of the museum undergoes extensive renovation. Thoroughly enjoyed several Rembrandt masters, several of his students and contemporaries, including a Vermeer I love – the woman reading the letter in the light of a nearby window. Lovely, lovely things of beauty which provide remarkable insight into a people and time long gone. Wish they’d had more of those wonderful, large cushion/benches that allow lingering looks and observations. Lots of people to move through, lots of paintings just a little too closely spaced together to do much reflecting, but still wonderful to see.

Then we got back on the #5 trolley/tram and took it back to Spui for the flower market experience you see pictured here. As I looked at the spread of bulbs below (and there were several stalls specializing in bulbs rather than blooming plants), I couldn’t help thinking….what if some impish person came along and just sort of casually started mixing things up – who would know? And the gardener thinking s/he had purchased the makings of a wonderful pink and lavender bulb bed might be surprised to find orange and green showing up next spring. Hmm….

As has been our pattern for each of the last 3 days, we returned to our dingy, damp apt. and flung ourselves down on bed and couch for a 2-3 hour nap! I must have been sleep-deprived for a very long time, because I am sleeping a ton, especially in the afternoons! Then we followed our feet this time to a highly recommended dining experience from our ‘friend,’ Rick Steves. He did not disappoint. The Cafe Restaurant de Reiger, pictured below in the soft 8:00 p.m. light. Dick had the special salad with smoked salmon. I had the zucchini/chicken soup – we both LOVED our opening selections. Then he had a lamb shank special and I ordered the vegetarian dish, which was described to us as a souffle of several cheeses, but was, in real life not quite that. Whatever it was, I loved it and enjoyed every bite. Then we meandered back to our last night in this strange home of ours and began to pack up for delivery to the Viking Spirit tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. More later…

Arriving in Amsterdam…

After a rather tense two weeks, we left home for a long-planned (and paid for!) 45th anniversary trip to Europe. (Well, it’s a year early – but we were never very good at counting. :>) We rented an apartment, sight unseen, alongside the lovely canal above, planning to stay 4 nights and then board a Viking river cruise ship on Sunday afternoon for a 2 week voyage up the rivers of Central Europe to Budapest. Why the tension? Dick’s mom took a very bad fall on the 26th of August, hitting her head hard and suffering lingering after effects, including inter-cranial bleeding, dizziness, confusion, volatile blood pressure and an erratic heartbeat. She now seems relatively stable, so we kept our original plans in play and flew out of LAX on Tuesday evening, the 8th of September.

We got bumped to business class by our booking company due to some badly managed seating arrangements – much to our delight and refreshment. This is the first time I have ever actually slept more than about 20 minutes on any flight of any kind, ever. The seat reclined almost fully and the food was almost too good. We arrived in Amsterdam at about 1:00 p.m. the next day and were met by a driver we had arranged for with the limo service we used at home – which was a great idea. Even though public transport in this city is excellent, trying to maneuver streets and canals and side streets and side canals when you don’t speak the language is a major challenge, especially when faced with jetlag and general exhaustion from just trying to get outta town!
The apartment? Well…we’ve had better luck with other internet finds. It’s on the dingy side, smells of the damp and is very long, narrow and dark. BUT it’s got a small kitchen, a bed that’s moderately comfy and it sure feels good to come back to after a long day hiking around a new city.
We’ve had 2 full days here now – been to Anne Frank’s home, Westerkirk, the Dam Square, took a one hour canal boat tour, rode the tram home (think trolley car, very modern – only we missed our stop and had to walk about as far as we might have if we’d skipped the dang thing entirely). Today we took the train to Haarlem, toured the Church of St. Bevo on the lovely city square and went through Corrie ten Boom’s home. Each day we’ve enjoyed lunch at an outdoor cafe and dinner at a different neighborhood restaurant near our apt. in the Jordaan neighborhood. Tomorrow, we head to the the Rijksmuseum, then Sunday we board our boat and the next morning, they take us on another canal tour and a trip to the Van Gogh museum. That night, we sail to Cologne and begin our river adventures! Looking forward to it all!

Table Prayer

For Communion Sunday this month, we are moving our ‘Prayer of Intercession and Dedication,’ which usually follows the offering, to our time around the table itself.

“All who are thirsty, all who are weak, come to the fountain.
Dip your heart in the stream of life…”
Today, Lord, we come to the fountain,
to this table,
so that the pain and the sorrow of this past week can be
“wash’d away in the waves of your mercy.”
And we sing: “Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Come, Holy Spirit, come.”
We know that we’ve said and done things this past week
that have caused pain and sorrow,
for others and for ourselves.
And we recognize today that, before we can say another word,
we need to say this word:
“We are so sorry.”
Hear, O Lord, our prayers of confession and contrition
as we offer them silently to you now:
— Silence —
We thank you that your word to us is love,
your word is
encouragement to do better tomorrow,
to take our newly washed and cleansed selves and,
empowered by your Holy Spirit at work within us,
go back to our homes,
our jobs,
our friends,
our family,
our neighbor
and to give gentle witness to what happens in us
and through us
because of your loving forgiveness and acceptance.
And so we pause now to say, “Thank you!”
for this, and for so many good and lovely things in our lives
and in our world.
In this time of silence,
hear the thankful prayers of our hearts as we offer them to you.
— Silence —
Lord God, we are your free and forgiven children,
we are your thankful children,
and we are also your broken and worried children,
fully aware of our own needs
and the needs of others in our community.
We remember Bryan Anderson and his family today,
in the loss of his dad this past week.
Will you bring healing, peace and hope in the midst of
this pain, this pain of grief and loss?
We remember Kathryn Trautwein today,
still suffering the after-effects of a serious head injury
sustained in a fall two weeks ago and aggravated
by a second fall just days ago.
In your good and perfect plan, will you bring whatever healing is needed?
We remember all of the students in our midst
who are beginning again –
studying hard, trying to find new friends,
figuring out how to live life well while keeping all the plates spinning evenly.
Be very near to them, O Lord, whispering your words of hope and love
as they move through their days.
We remember the teachers in our community, as well.
They, too, are beginning again,
taking up the load of guiding, informing, counseling, grading,
meeting the expectations of students and parents and administrators.
Encourage them, Holy Spirit. Remind them of the deep and lasting difference
they can make in this world.
And so we pray also for parents today, Lord.
For wisdom and patience and the ability to see
and appreciate
the wonder that is their child.
You give us no richer gifts than these children of ours –
may we see them as such,
even when they exhaust and frustrate us,
even when they mystify and puzzle us.
Each of us in this room is holding in our hearts
some worry or concern that we need to bring to you today.
It may be something deeply personal,
it may be something public and political,
all of it is welcome in your presence.
So, dear Holy Spirit, come and remind us,
pray in us,
so that we might,
in this silent space, offer these cares to you.
Lord, hear our prayer.
— Silence —
So, now, O Lord, we are ready.
We are ready to meet you in the bread and in the cup.
We are ready to share in this holy meal with you,
and with one another.
Set aside these simple table gifts for
sacred and transforming purposes.
We pray this, and all these things,
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.