Sunday, August 12, 2007

summer 2007 (imholte family)

this has been the best summer ever!

it breaks down like this: in mid-june i flew back home to minneapolis to see my mom's family. i spent a few days up in wisconsin to see my dad's family. in between there i saw a few good friends and went up to the college of st. benedict/st. john's university where i went to college. then flew to colorado in early july to spend the rest of my holiday with my inlaws and my mountains and my massage clients and my friends. adam joined me in mid-july. (he had conferences in ireland and on both coasts of the usa, so he was working hard while i was hardly working.)

so, this is the blog about what i did in minnesota.

i flew to minneapolis, like i said, in mid-june. my mom and my brother, sean, picked me up at the airport. we ran to the health food store and to subway so i could get some food, and i remember very clearly how difficult it was to do that stuff in english! i'm serious! though my dutch is not very good, i have spent the last year in public settings speaking in the little dutch that i know. i operate almost completely in dutch when i go to the market, to the grocery store, to a restaurant, to the library, etc. though my conversational dutch is pretty horrendous, i must say that my getting-around-town-to-do-errands dutch is pretty decent. and so i spend most of my out-in-public time speaking in dutch. so it really was challenging for me to speak in english, because it didn't feel right. the girl at subway would ask me what i wanted, in english, and i would have to translate my dutch script of mag ik en broodje met kaas and groenten into i'd like a veggie sub. "what kind of bread?" meergranen, i mean, multigrain please. "would you like a receipt? would you like anything to drink? do you need a bag?" was translated from nee, het is niet nodig to, no, i'm okay, thank you. it was the strangest thing. because even though she was speaking english to me, i had to translate my dutch script back into english so she could understand me. the thing that i never did get used to the whole summer was handing money to people. in holland, we say alstublieft which means something like "please if you would like to take it"... it is very polite and friendly, and i appreciate it. but in the US we just say, "here you go," or simply "here", or more often than not, we say nothing at all. so i got in the habit of saying "please" when i handed something to someone. it seems much more polite to me, and easier than saying alstublieft.

okay, so once i got over the whole don't-speak-dutch thing, i did just fine. everything was just where i left it: wendy's was still open late, you could still eat burritos for breakfast, target still had my shampoo that i liked, the cereal aisle was still overflowing with sugary goodness. it was very easy to slip back into my life in america, which surprised me. there was very little reverse culture shock. except for all the HUGE, disgusting vehicles everywhere. "my carbon footprint is bigger than your carbon footprint." what is going on with us? it's horrifying.

okay, so now onto minnesota. i remember that every person i talked to on my trip, i was excited to tell them about my plans for the summer. "the first thing i'm going to do when i wake up tomorrow," i smiled to them, "is eat breakfast!" and not just any old breakfast, i'd explain. i'm talking about a lumberjack breakfast: eggs, french toast, hashbrowns, juice, coffee, bacon. american bacon, none of this canadian-bacon-meets-dutch-ham nonsense. i'm talking about breakfast. the dutch don't do breakfast. nothing in hengelo opens until 9:00 a.m. (you're already at work by then), and those places, if they do breakfast at all, pretty much only serve little pastries or rolls and tiny tiny tiny cups of coffee. on saturdays, those places don't open until 10:00, and they are certainly not open on sundays ("who wants to work on a sunday?" they'd ask wisely), so brunch is definitely out of the question.

so, on my first morning, mom and my other brother, victor, took me to the "windmill cafe" (appropriately named since i was just off the plane from holland). it was a little mom-and-pop diner and it lived up to my expectations. i got the windmill special, which was the lumberjack breakfast i had hoped for, complete with crispy hashbrowns (OH how i miss hashbrowns!) smothered in ketchup and tabasco, fried eggs, french toast (frying bread in eggs and butter? genius!) with maple syrup, eggs, bacon AND sausage... and... i think that was it. grapefruit juice. (i can't find that here. i can't find lemonade either. but i can find grapefruits and lemons, and orange juice, but for some reason they haven't thought of turning other citrus fruits into juices too.) i even ate off of victor's plate and my mom's biscuits and gravy.

a note to the reader: a lot of my blogs from this summer are going to talk about food. we have some GREAT food in america. yes, you read that correctly. we also have a lot of crap food, or food products, that we fill ourselves up on unnecessarily. but in america, you can eat anything you want, at any time of day, for like $1.50. hashbrowns, tater tots, sushi, lemonade, pizza with mozzerella cheese on it, breakfast burritos, black beans, salsa (REAL salsa!), tortillas, thai food, tamales with green chili or mole. if you want breakfast for dinner, then eat it! if you want chicken fried steak at 3:00 in the morning, it's yours! we are so spoiled!

(yes, i can find some of those things in holland, but living in this small town they are difficult if not impossible to get. just like in the usa, if you live in a little town, you're not really going to have many options for sushi. but my point is that in america, it is so much more accessible and bountiful, and i was so grateful for all the varieties of barbecue sauce and breakfast cereals. the dutch, at least in my town, are not especially daring in their cuisine. have you ever heard of dutch food? no? there's a reason for that.)

okay so i digress. but i had breakfast and it was awesome.

mostly i spent my time in minneapolis seeing my family. i had dinner with my gramma, i met my cousin's newborn baby girl, i had a happy hour with some of my cousins, and my mom had a huge HUGE gathering at her place one weekend. it was seriously spectacular. just about everyone was there, and to say that just about everyone was there is quite an accomplishment on my
mom's side of the family. she is the 2nd oldest of 7 kids, and all of her brothers and sisters are grown up and married with kids of their own. which means i have something close to like 20 cousins. something like that. i lose count.

and the coolest thing about my family is that all of us cousins actually get along and play with each other still, even as adults. none of us has to come to any family function anymore since we're all grownups. but we do, because they're fun, and we want to see everyone. we try to have "cousin happy hours" whenever possible, and many of us email and/or snail mail each other quite frequently. i even IM with a couple of cousins and an aunt of mine. my gramma has a webcam, and another aunt is working on getting one set up so we can IM too. it's great! i love love love my family. it's a big reason why we want to move back to the usa when we're done here in holland, because when we have a family we want to be sure that our child/ren have cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents to grow up with. it's such a rare thing these days, i think especially for white americans, to have such a tight-knit extended family. i'm so blessed, and i always have such a fun and loving time with everyone when i'm with them.

look! they're laughing so hard that they can't even keep their eyes open! my family is FUN!

so here's a bunch of pics of everyone. it was my mom's first time ever to host the family at her house, and she did great. (my mom is the one in the floral print, lavender colored dress. my gramma is the one in the bright turquoise shirt. she's always had such a great sense of style! she always looks so good!)


Anonymous said...

I had such a good time visiting with you while we were in MN! Love ya! -Chandra

Valerie said...

hashbrowns = rosti
tater tots = rostikroketjes/kroketten
french toast = wentelteefjes

Glad to have you back here, hope to see you soon, soon, soon!!!!!