The question “So what have you been up to?” tends to be a real stumper for me. There’s this nagging feeling that I should have a really significant answer, whereas most weeks the answer is: “Uh, well, I made dinner, you know…. Tim’s been going to work…. I did some writing….We got together with some friends after church….” and then the conversation drifts to the weather. (Speaking of weather, though, I seriously love Dutch rain. We got some today.) Lately I’ve been stumped about what to blog about, but in a round-up style fashion to keep the momentum going, here is some of what’s been going on (no weather).
1. We live near the Hague. It still is kind of surreal to me that when I hear on the news about Ratko Mladic and the UN war crime tribunal and cases like that—that’s all going on about eight miles from here. I was reading the following from the New York Times this morning:
In the Netherlands, Mr. Mladic was whisked from the Rotterdam airport and delivered to the high-security Scheveningen prison compound near The Hague, where the United Nations has its own modern cellblocks.
and really kind of stunned by how real these places are now to me (I’m flying out of Rotterdam next week). I’ve heard that regular people can go and listen to trials in den Haag, but I don’t know exactly how that works.
2. We live near Germany. Since we’re about five hours from the center of the E. Coli outbreak there, we’ve been careful of late with cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce (though the problem has seemed completely limited to people who have actually passed through northern Germany). As of this morning it seems they’re pinning the problem on sprouts, which means I didn’t have to throw away my poor cucumbers. And I have been feeling rather heartbroken for the farms and workers in Spain (previously and erroneously blamed by Germany as the source of the contaminated food, leading to hundreds of millions of dollars of produce rotting away and farms shut down), especially since I had just read this article last week about African migrants in Andalusia. You should read this one.
3. I finished The Book Thief. You should read that, too. It was the best fiction I’ve read so far this year, and the most recent book I’ve felt like recommending to everyone I know. The imagery is fantastic; the voice is unique; the story is meaningful.
4. There is a board game called Qwirkle. My uncle sent us this game for Christmas and I am at a loss to explain why it is so addictive. We play this game, literally, at least five days a week. We just sit around and say… “Do you want to play Qwirkle?” “Yeah.”
All you have to do in Qwirkle is draw tiles, and play them in strings that match by shape or color. You could probably play it with a small child. There’s a lot of luck involved, because your plays depend on your draws. And yet… I nearly always lose this game. It has been driving me nuts. The other night I told Tim we were going to play Qwirkle UNTIL I WON. We bailed when I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer to match colors. The box of the game has one of those award stickers on it that says it’s “Mensa approved!” Whenever I lose, Tim tells me Mensa doesn’t approve.
5. I ran another 10K.
Thursday was a holiday here (Ascension Day—Tim gets off for Pentecost next week, too. Kind of surprising to me, since the Netherlands doesn’t strike me as an extremely religious country, at least not in the present day.) and there was a local race in Delft. The 10K began at 15:00, which is too late in the day to begin a 10K in June. I was so overheated. But there were three water stations and that made it all right. Soon I am going to begin training in the art of dumping a cup of water on my head while in motion.
6. I made black-bean-based brownies. Have people ever tried to tell you that you can bake with black beans and it’s really healthy? I read this on yet another blog recently and decided to try it. The author claimed you would never miss the flour, sugar, etc. The beans were the main ingredient (no flour, no sugar) though you do add cocoa powder and chocolate chips later on.
As you can see, visually, they do resemble normal brownies. And the taste wasn’t… bad. As Tim put it, however, “There is a distinct aftertaste of bean.” In the end, this made it hard to think of them as a dessert. I would probably not make this again.
7. I would make again this Shrimp Biryani. The rice was so flavorful, because of this picturesque combination of spices.
8. May was the best month ever for this blog. During the month, Unquiet Time had no less than 1,491 views. I don’t know who all you people are, but thank you! I promise to try and keep the summer posts interesting. Here are some topics that will likely appear on the blog in the coming weeks: Barcelona. Gaudi. Running half marathons? Hosting my parents. Seeing an art exhibit in Amsterdam. Puglia. Dubrovnik. Successfully growing tomatoes indoors? Only time will tell.