I am having homemade apple pie for breakfast, which is a very good way to start my last full work week here. (We each brought a slice into the office.)

Our going-away party yesterday was fabulous. The food was excellent, the atmosphere was cozy, and everyone including us seemed to have a good time. Apparently, one way to be have a great party is to pay a restaurant to do it, and to be leaving forever (or at least for the foreseeable future).

We probably should have invited a few more people, especially in view of the high number of people who couldn’t come (it’s Sinterklaas weekend, so not surprisingly) but most of the people here that we care about were there. One surprise was how many of them brought gifts; a high point was when some of the rowers walked in to the restaurant carrying a pair of oars. The rowing club has just retired some old wooden boats and oars; these will hang on a wall in our house being quietly beautiful, rather than being used for rowing. In fact we’d already bought a couple of wooden boat sections (might try to make a sofa out of one, or just stand it in the game / exercise room) and two other oars, but we have plenty of places for more oars, and these will be doubly precious since they’re not only reminders of our club here but of the people who gave them to us. Also, we now have lots of books about Dutch scenery and recipes to take along as memories – books are always, always welcome. So was the aforementioned pie. We accidentally left a bunch of flowers in the restaurant, but hopefully nothing else (they have our email, anyway, just in case).

Another high point was when my group did their presentation; my boss made a speech, they gave us a bunch of books, and then they sang a filk about us, based on Springsteen’s “Down to the River. I knew that was coming when one guy walked in carrying his guitar. (It’s hard to be inconspicuous with a guitar.) This is a very Dutch thing to do, and the proof of that was when everyone else joined in, following the lyric sheets they’d passed around around. I’m told these can be biting, but they went easy on us – Dutch humor can be rather on the, er, robust side.

Funny thing, though: when I got home and opened the cards from them, one was full of money! I’d assume it was meant to go for the books and was left in the card in error, but my boss didn’t seem sure and the guy who organized the collection is on a business trip. I guess I’ll have to ask when he gets back.

People seemed to enjoy talking to each other. Some were old friends – apparently Ted’s current officemate used to share an office with my boss for years. Some were newly met; I know of two couples who met last night and now have plans to get together for lunch over the holiday. And the youngest gentleman there (6 months or so) exerted his charm and won the hearts of a couple of “older women”.

We had a great time, and as far as I can tell, so did everyone else who was there.