The bowling party was really a lot of fun. We arrived just 5 mins late, but the whole department was there already having a great time with some warm-up bowling. There are just 4 lanes at this place - we rented two of them, but no one else was there so we had the whole space to ourselves. There was a very nice man in charge and he kept bringing us drinks from the bar. Gracie was over-joyed and overwhelmed by the experience - lots of noise from the crashing pins and everybody screaming and cheering. She mostly stood by the ball-return machine and pointed at the balls as they came back up the chute. And she clapped along and danced when people cheered for a good performance. But she did bowl a few times with Amber...she even got a spare! She was a very good girl and did not get in anybody's way. She also liked that it involved putting shoes on and taking shoes off!
There were so many of us that we only got about 5 or 6 full frames in before we had to go to dinner - but at that point our team (the world) was ahead of the other team (the Netherlands) so we got to stand at this cheezy podium that the worker guy brought out of the back somewhere to have our picture taken. I also won first place in the individual competition with a whopping 53 points after 5 frames. Not the best bowling bunch, but still it was an honor and fitting that I should come out on top.
Dinner was also fantastic - very slow traditional Dutch dinner that started at about 6 and finished with coffee at about 10. It was upstairs at a special outdoor seating area at the Twee Wezen, which is really quite the classy place. We had drinks and salads or soups to start (I had the french onion - excellent), then Philip made some nice remarkes about me...even read an old e-mail I sent him when I first learned about the job and contacted him to express my interst in it (so over three years ago). I also made a few comments as did Amber. They presented us with some touching gifts - especially nice was a traditional Twents wooden sculpture that hangs on the sides of farm houses to ward off evil spirits. Hans and Tiny were there from Utrecht and it was so nice to see them - Tiny gave us beautiful Delft blue tile with the image of a man sitting on a barrel eating hering...echt Nederlands! It was actually her grandmother's...so a family heirloom..how thoughtful and kind of them. So cool.
Amber and MG actually had to head home before the main course as it was 8 already! But MG had already had her meal come early thanks to Amber's foresight and she had some french fries and a bit of her hamburger - she also got some toys from the department - a nice little box with a clasp and some farm animals and a little book about the netherlands. I had the spare ribs, which were delectible...could compete with TX I am sure...and a huge TX-style portion too. Then we finished with some sparkling wine and three dessert trays filled with a variety of little ice cream thingies, each tray had a flaming, sparking roman-candle-like thing on it for the initial presentation. Whoa. At the end of the night, I picked up Amber's salmon, which they boxed-up for me to take home to her. The whole thing was free for us - paid for by the department.
It was a fantastic night...sure is going to be hard to leave this place. So many wonderful memories, so many friendships, such a charming, enchanted piece of the earth. We are off to the South of Europe tommorrow...poor us!
love you -