Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Radio, radio

What a great weekend. Perfect in its imperfections. Even though I'm still nursing a mild, but annoying head cold, I'm a in a good mood. Low-energy, tired, but still happy. It was good because I had good company--that makes all the difference, doesn't it? No romantic moments, but I didn't miss them in the least. I even spent a long afternoon with a newlywed couple and all I felt was extremely happy for them.

It's not quite like me, the way I'm feeling. I have things to do--movies to see, rowing (someday), ballgames (for watching and playing), New Yorkers to read, DVDs to watch. I'm happy (sometimes happier) to do most of these things alone or with friends. I have a work friend who wants to join a kickball team. Swell. Another friend who has recruited me to her softball team. Fantastic. A new buddy who invites me to a happy hour every week or so. Perfect. I'm getting a good amount of social interaction. At least for now, it's satisfying. I know, I don't get it either.

So, how did I spend my weekend? I'm glad you asked! I went to dinner with some work friends to celebrate Diego's birthday on Friday. I was still feeling a little under the weather so I went home early and did some guest-prep cleaning (that went on all week, but the final touches happened on Friday night and Saturday morning). Saturday, I got up early, did more cleaning, then went to the bank and the ATM (separate places! annoying!) and the Farmer's Market near my house. I bought some apples from Elise, who clearly did not recognize me when I said, "Oh, it's you! Elise!" And why should she, since we've met exactly one time before? It would have been helpful if I'd added, "It's me, Jamy!" But I was too shy to blurt out my blog name. So, Elise, if you read this, I'm the woman who said that. Sorry!

After an unnecessary, but fun, trip to Silver Spring to participate in the Marimekko "make your own bag" event, I metro-ed/bussed back to DC to meet Diane, one of my first (?) blogger friends. She, Max (her new husband) and I had a great conversation over a tasty lunch. It was so much better than the first time we met (though that was fun too), because this time we could actually hear each other. I'm very happy for her and it was a kick to see her again in person.

After Diane and Max dropped me near home, I rested briefly, then took the flexcar to pick up Piet at National.  It amazes me how little he's changed over the years--he looks and acts almost the same as when I first met him. We ate dinner nearby at a decent Italian place with some of the slowest service I've gotten in years (and we're talking DC!). However, Piet didn't mind at all, since service tends to be slower in Holland. I think he would have preferred to have a knife to eat his fish with, though, but he made do with a fork.

On Sunday, I made a little "Dutch breakfast." When I visited Piet in the past, I'm most fascinated by the many cultural differences. Americans are quite similar to the Dutch, given our upright Protestant ways, but the little differences are amusing. One difference is what you eat for breakfast. Not cereal or eggs, rather, several slices of bread, sometimes lightly toasted, eaten like an open sandwich with toppings-- cheese, margarine, peanut butter and chocolate sprinkles. The first thing I did was put the sprinkles with peanut butter, which they thought was odd. The chocolate sprinkles go with the margarine! Well, of course, what was I thinking? (To Piet's credit, he tried the peanut butter and chocolate and agreed that it was good.)

I'd bought some good bread on Saturday morning. On Sunday, I sliced a few pieces and put out cashew butter, yogurt (I strained it, so it was extra thick), honey and strawberries. It's quite a nice breakfast, actually. I told Piet there were no chocolate sprinkles to be had and he laughed. I also told him the yogurt and honey were a good combination. He was skeptical, but gave it a try. He agreed it was good. In fact, on Monday morning, given the same choices, he had two slices of bread, each topped with honey and yogurt. He eschewed the cashew butter entirely.

We also took a walk in the morning, went to the best vegetarian Indian buffet with Pele and canoed (also with Pele) in the afternoon. Along with all that, I gave Piet some work to do. I own an ancient clock radio. It was a gift from my grandfather to my mother from when she went away to college. It was my clock radio as a child. When I moved away, I took it with me. However, about nine years ago, it stopped telling time. The radio and back light still worked, but the dials no longer turned.

The radio:

I couldn't bear to part with the nearly 45-year-old radio and it's lived in a box in my closet ever since. The last time Piet was here, he took apart part of my stereo system and it occurred to me, he might be able to fix the radio. He's an electrical engineer--and has a specialty in analog devices--so he might even think it was fun.

He was not deterred by the warning printed on the bottom of the radio, which I read out loud:
Piet said, "That's me!" He took the whole thing apart while I watched. I sometimes made suggestions, which may or may not have been helpful. It was very cool to see the inside of the ancient clock radio. When he had it open, I asked Piet, "Does it mean anything to you?"

He said, "Yes..." and proceeded to explain what each of the different parts were. I found it very interesting. When he got the cover off and was trying to figure out how to take apart the insides, he said, "There has to be a way. Just think, how did they put it together..." See, that's how engineers think!

He finally figured out what was wrong. One part had a little cog on its side that turned the gears attached to the clock dials. That part was receiving power, but was broken. Unfortunately, it was a completely sealed part, so there was no way to open it. What did Piet do? He banged it on the table a few times...and it worked! But it didn't sound good. He thought a bearing was probably shot. He put the radio back together and it worked for a while, but without replacing that part, it's doomed (in fact, it stopped working again today. Sad.).

After that excitement, we ate and watched a DVD. While I feel some obligation to show my guests the sights, it's great to spend mellow time with old friends. (Fixing clock radios and eating leftovers is about as mellow as it gets.)

Piet and I walked to Union Station together on Monday morning and that's where we said goodbye. I'm not sure when I'll see him again but I'm very happy we had this time together.

I went to work and had the morning to myself before the new officemate showed up. He'd gone to "dis" orientation in the morning. When he arrived around 12:30, he was hungry and I'd delayed going to lunch, as usual, so we went together to the food court. We even sat down to eat together. It's nice that the new roomie and I have started things on a friendly footing. Oddly, he seemed to really like the food at the food court, but I won't hold that against him. There's no accounting for taste.

Grateful for: old friends and new roommates.

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