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Archive for July, 2007

Allergies.

After I posted yesterday, I sat around feeling pretty lousy for a while because of my allergies. I took care of my sore throat by taking paracetamol and my runny nose by carrying around paper tissues in my back pocket. I slathered ointment on my sore and itching ear and that was about all I could do. Then I fed the cats and walked the dog and saw that my sister and her family were home again, because the car was parked in their driveway. When Eduard left to go to work, I cleaned up the kitchen and vacuumed the apartment and visited some more museum websites until I had my fill of that. You do get an overdose at one point.

Then I tried to find some interesting web logs by pushing on the button ‘next blog’. Have you ever tried that? I came to all sorts of web logs, some which looked interesting, but were in languages I don’t speak. There was also a lot of junk there and some pornography. I haven’t found anything yet that looks really interesting, but I may want to try it again and see what I can come up with. There may be other ways to search for good blogs that I have not tried yet. I’ll go to the home page of blogger and see what they have to offer there. I can also Google for best blogs or something like that, of course.

My sister called me. They had gotten home from their vacation in the middle of the night, but she hadn’t slept much and had been up since seven. She sounded very happy about their vacation and ready to share all of their adventures and I promised to come over when I walked the dog next. First I turned on the TV and I thought I might take a little nap, but Eduard came home before I could fall asleep and greeted me with much enthusiasm. He told me a very excited story about the amount of visitors that they had the night before at the film theater, but it didn’t quite penetrate my already sleepy head. I fell asleep.

When I woke up some time later, Eduard was gone and it was already 1:30 pm. I still had to walk the dog and go to my sister’s. Jesker is always so patient when I don’t take him out on time. He never starts to protest because it is taking too long. He just lies beside the sofa and waits for me to wake up. I got the butt pack ready and off we went and when we got to my sister’s house and she opened the door, Jesker was beside himself with happiness. He wagged his whole body when he saw her. He isn’t always that enthused about other people, so my sister felt real privileged.

We drank espressos and ate numerous cookies while we talked about the vacation. She had downloaded some of the pictures already and what I saw was beautiful. They were pictures of the island Elba. They went to the Tuscan Coast and to the Garda Lake. She said that all the Italians spoke with their hands and they all liked the bambinos and the bambinas. The food was great and reasonably priced and the weather had been beautiful. My nephew, however, had been homesick for Holland and was very excited to be back home and couldn’t wait to see all of his friends to play football with on the field. My sister said that my fourteen year old niece got looked at a lot by the Italian men and that it was just a little bit disconcerting, because she is still so young, but looks like she is going on nineteen.

Anyway, I left with a bag of gifts of things that my sister had left over from their trip. Bottles of wine, oregano, plastic containers with air tight lids (which I need), matches, a book, a dish washing brush. Just odds and ends. Stuff I like to get. I want to save the wine for my birthday, so I must tell Eduard not to drink it. They are good rosés and I am sure people will want to try them. The book is an English language paperback, so that will be handy to read in bed. It’s called Bergdorf Blondes by Plum Sykes and it was a New York Times Bestseller. Should be good.

I took another paracetamol when I got home to get rid of my sore throat. I didn’t know if I was supposed to, but I did it anyway. I didn’t bother to read the enclosure. Eduard was still gone to his friend in Belgium to put the motorcycle back together. It was very quiet in the apartment and all the cats were asleep on the bed and the dog went to sleep on his pillow in the living room. I thought of laying down again on the sofa. but then decided to look for fun web logs instead. I found them on the homepage of blogger and in the archives of blogs that were spotted. So, now I have some extra ones to read regularly.

Eduard came home with Lieve on the back of his motorcycle. He had invited her for dinner and proceeded to make that North African dish of which I now can’t remember the name. Oh yes, it is called couscous. So Lieve and I visited while Eduard cooked and she is actually such a kind and interesting person to talk to and she isn’t in the least bit shy or unwilling to talk about anything and everything. Eduard and Lieve ate the couscous while I sat and had a good cup of coffee. I didn’t want to eat the couscous, because I was trying to watch what I ate yesterday and I was planning on eating some raisin crackers later on. After dinner, Eduard left with Lieve to put her on the bus back to her home town in Belgium and Eduard had to go to work. I walked the dog and then visited the web logs I had found and read a bunch of them. Some are better than others, but all will be interesting to read, but you do overdose on them after awhile.

I read the paracetamol enclosure and found out that you can take those four to six times a day, so that is good to know. Having your allergies kick in feels a bit like having the flue, so taking paracetamol makes you feel better. My ear and head have stopped itching and now I just apply the ointment to my ear. Eduard will have to do my head this morning, we mustn’t forget to do that.

I stayed up last night until Eduard came home at 10:30 and then I took my medication and stayed up some more, so by the time I went to bed, the Temazepam was really working and I did strange things in bed, like sit there with a half eaten raisin cracker in my mouth and a glass of milk in my hands that I threatened to pour all over the bed if Eduard hadn’t warned me and told me to put it down on my nightstand. He kept telling me to eat my cracker and put down the milk and to lie down and go to sleep, until I finally stopped being stubborn about it and did. I don’t know why that was so difficult!

This morning I still have a sore throat and I am still plugged up, so I will take more paracetamol and keep the tissues handy. Eduard is sleeping late, because he has to work all afternoon and in the evening.

Today’s picture is Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, but you had already seen that, of course. I put it in for cheerfulness. If I find a really good blog, I will send you all the link to it, first I have to really read them myself and see if they measure up. I am still trying to figure out a way to better list my favorite blogs on the left side of my posts. I think there may be a better way to do it, but I don’t know how yet. I have asked my daughter, but she has been busy with other things and I am sure it has slipped her mind.

I was discussing art with Lieve yesterday and I said that I had discovered that I didn’t much appreciate modern art past the first few decades of the 20th century and that maybe this was because I didn’t understand what I was looking at, but she said that art has to hit you in your guts when you see it and that you shouldn’t have to read a four page explanation about it in order to appreciate what you are looking at. She is a sculptor and that is why I wanted to discuss it with her. She said that art is about emotions first and that modern art is a lot about intellectualism and therefor less approachable. She said that, if she was commissioned to do a sculpture, she couldn’t really do it unless she was emotionally in the right space, even though intellectually she would now how to do it.

So, in my case, a piece of art has to speak to me emotionally and I do feel redeemed a little bit, because I thought maybe I was missing something crucial. Van Gogh speaks to me emotionally. His colors and shapes do, but especially his colors. He must speak to an awful lot of people, because I know there are always enormous lines to get into his museum. A lot of them are Japanese tourists. That makes me want to go to the KröllerMüller Museum first. It’s a good thing that the museums show their collections on line now, because I can enjoy so much without actually having to go there yet. Maybe my sister and her husband will want to go there also and we can go together.

I am going to concentrate my efforts on art of the period 1880-1930 and see what there is that I find especially attractive during that time. I want to limit myself to that period, because I think a lot was happening then. I want to know which movements there were in the art world and how they were expressed in painting and sculpture and architecture and furniture. I think that covers a lot actually and I may limit myself to painting, I just realized that, because you have the whole art nouveau and the art deco movements then. I just want to find out what I like best about that time. I think I already know that Van Gogh is at the absolute top, but their may be surprises still like Charley Toorop, whom I don’t know a lot about yet or if she even belongs in that period. I would like to see more early work of Picasso before he became a cubist, like the Sleeping Peasants. I still have to find out where I can find work like that from him.

When I took my art history courses I had to drop out of the last part of the second course because of a herniated disk in my back. I missed the period that was discussed after the impressionists. So Mondriaan and Picasso and Kadinsky etc. The professor was such a good teacher, she made the subject come alive with a lively lecture and many slides to complement the textbook. I was taking the courses for my own enrichment, I had no big plans to do anything with them. It was all for my own development as a human being. I made a friend there who was seriously pursuing an interior decorating degree, specializing in lighting. She was a dedicated student and very serious about the classes. We did our homework together.

I also took an interior design class and that was interesting. I don’t think the teacher for that class was very good, but she was adequate and I did learn some things, which I have not all forgotten. I just don’t apply much of that knowledge now due to limited finances and limited space. There is so much more you can do when you have the money and the room to do it in. In a way I am glad that I don’t have to worry about it anymore, because I did really sit and nitpick about those things and I was forever looking for ways to improve the interior of my living room. I was too focused on it. Now we just place things where they will fit and keep it orderly and are happy with that. I am out of the middle class rat race and it is a bit of a relief.

Now I am just into decorating myself and I find that a lot easier and cheaper to do. It can be done for little money if you spot the sales on time. I don’t have to keep up with anybody either, I get to decide for myself what I look like and I don’t have to fit any sort of stereo type. It would be different if I belonged to the upper middle class, I am sure that I would have all sorts of peer pressure then, but luckily there is none of that now. Now I belong to the X-class, non describable and I don’t have to have the right car and the right house and the right clothes.

Eduard has been up to get his first cup of coffee and has taken it back to bed with him. There is the dog and some cats, but it is still early. Jesker just wants to be petted, so I did that for a while. He is a sleepy head in the morning, so cuddly and cute.

Today I will organize my film watching schedule with the help of the film guide and the calender. It’s a shame that I can’t read the film guide with my regular glasses on, the letters are too small, I have to wear my reading glasses and then I forget that I am wearing those and wonder why I can’t see anything from a distance. Life sure gets confusing with more than one set of glasses. Or is it getting older that makes it so?

Anyway, I will get going and feed those sweet looking cats that are waiting so patiently for me to get done. Hope you all have a wonderful non confusing day. Ciao…

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Museums.


While looking up the Van Gogh paintings at the Van Gogh museum, I also ended up at the website of the KröllerMüller Museum on the Veluwe in the Netherlands, which has a very good collection of Van Gogh paintings, some of which I like better than the ones at the Van Gogh Museum. One thing led to another and I started visiting websites of other museums and I had a lot of fun doing that. The amount of art in the world boggles the mind. I ended up at the MOMA and at Musée d’Orsay and at the Guggenheim amongst others. I still have a lot of looking around to do.

This picture on the bottom is one of a gouache, watercolor and pencil drawing by Picasso that was made in 1919 and is called Sleeping Peasants. I do appreciate his cubism, but I like this one very much, because it has an abundance of color. The people are still recognizable and have all of their body parts in the right places, still they seem loosely jointed and carefree, even in their sleep. I found it while visiting the website of the MOMA. The other picture is the painting of Van Gogh of Gauguin’s chair which I really like and is very colorful and lively too. Notice the pattern on the rug and the beautiful green on the wall.

While extensively browsing through the collection of the MOMA, I did discover that my appreciation of ‘modern’ art ends pretty much in the late 19th and early 20th century with all the obvious artists like Picasso and Chagall and Gauguin and Van Gogh. After that things become a little too minimalistic and bare for me. I like abundance and solidness in my art.

I like how in the late 19th and early 20th century you see the whole evolution of art from realism to modernism. Seeing Van Gogh move from realism to post impressionism and seeing Picasso move from realism to cubism. I guess I like to see that process and you don’t see that later on anymore, everybody just goes straight into modernism and you don’t see the evolution from one style to the other. There are exceptions that I do appreciate like Karel Appel and Claas van Oldenburg. I think you see less of their realistic work and more of their abstract work emerge right away. Or Jackson Pollock with his dribble paintings which I also like and which have nothing to do with any realism at all.

Maybe I need to take another art appreciation course and really concentrate on modernism or should I say post modernism or what ever it is now. I am sure that I don’t know enough about it and I am just letting my guts speak. I think given the choice, I would not go to the MOMA, but I would go to the KröllerMüller Museum, which isn’t hard to do, because it is only a few hours drive away from here. The museum here in town gives a guided tour on Sundays with an explanation about the art that is exhibited there and I wonder if it would make me appreciate any of the exhibits better. Would I look at it with a different opinion? I came away from that so disappointed, it might help. I’ll think about it.

I very much like Van Gogh’s later work and the brightness and looseness of it reminds me of some things that my father did when he was just doodling around. When he was testing different flower patterns to paint, for instance, or boat scenes. There is the same kind of lunatic disconnectedness, although my father didn’t even come close to the genius of Van Gogh.

So, so far the conclusion is that I am most awe inspired by some of the work of Vincent van Gogh and possibly some of the earlier work of Picasso, but I have a lot of museum websites to visit yet and I may run into other artists I like also. I don’t like most of the work of the later 20th century painters. I don’t know what that style of painting is called and what it is all about, except that is is so bare and minimalistic.

In the meantime, it is the middle of the night and I woke up with a very sore throat and a plugged up nose. I don’t know if this has to do with my allergies or if I am just having a cold. Either way, it is annoying, especially the sore throat. My nose is plugged up at the left side were my ear was bothering me so much too. I very seldom get sick. I had bronchitis quite a few years ago and that was the last time I was sick. Eduard had a cold a few weeks ago, but I am sure I didn’t catch this from him. Oh well, it will pass.

Yesterday I had a bit of a cleaning spurt. I got the day started very late, because I had gotten up late and as a result I kept running behind with everything. After I finally cleaned the kitchen really well, I cleaned the bathroom, after I had hung up the laundry to dry outside. I even cleaned that pesky toilet! I also cleaned every little bottle that sat on the shelf above the bathroom sink and now they all shine and sparkle. Sometimes I don’t see the dirt and I don’t realize things could look differently. Then, I start cleaning something with a bottle of Windex and I realize that there are lots of things that could look better and before I know it, I have cleaned some things that hadn’t been cleaned in ages. There are still things in the bathroom that I need to clean today and I hope I don’t forget to do them now.

Anyway, after most of the laundry was dry, I moved my area of operation outside and weeded the flowerbeds, which turned out not to be such a bad job at all. The rain had made the soil really soft and the weeds were pulled out easily. I discovered another little tree hidden in the winter blooming jasmine and I trimmed the jasmine to give the tree some room to grow and trimmed some side shoots off the tree to give the main shoot a chance to grow really well. It is only about a foot tall now, but I am going to keep an eye on it and maybe it will grow quicker if I pay proper attention to it. I also trimmed one of the three shoots that wasn’t going anywhere off one of the other trees. It is about four feet tall now and a foot shorter than its neighbor. There are new leaves growing at the top of them constantly and it is so exciting to see them grow. I would like to put a chair out there and just sit there and watch them.

I loosened the soil really well and raked it with a three prong whatchamacallit. The soil is now ready to be planted with some ground cover and I need to go to the nursery around the corner this week to buy some of that. Hopefully they will have something
interesting there with maybe a bit of bloom. I also want to get some plant food to mix in the watering can that I water the trees with when it isn’t raining. I would like to buy a climbing plant to climb against the fence that separates us from the neighbors to our left, but I am unsure yet what to get. I think maybe a honeysuckle, but I am not sure. It has to be something hardy in case I forget to take care of it. I could get another jasmine, but not the same as I have now, because it is a bush and I am not that fond of it. It was a bit of a mistake to get it.

Eduard swept the patio and now that little place looks good. He also bought a new doormat for the outside and it looks spiffy and cared for. I am sure the neighbors will be happy about this, because both our neighbors care very much for their gardens and we hadn’t. It was still a post depression garden pretty much. I would like to get two chairs and a table out there for some spontaneous outside sitting and having a coffee there to watch the trees grow. I sat outside to watch my garden grow a lot in California and I know that it is a very peaceful pastime. You can contemplate your navel and nature at the same time.

I was going to vacuum yesterday afternoon, but then I got side tracked visiting all those museum websites. Browsing through the MOMA collection took a lot of time. I still need to have a really good look at the other websites. I am very curious about the Guggenheim one and the Musée d’Orsay. Eduard and I have pretty much decided that we will go to Paris next year and we will visit it then. Unless we need a major appliance before that time, then we don’t go. I am hoping that the washing machine will last for a few more years, but it is a second hand one and it may not. We’ll see. So far, so good.

So, I didn’t vacuum and I see drifts of dog hair under the furniture, so that will have to be done today most definitely. It just appears suddenly overnight as if by magic. One night everything looks fine and then the next morning all this hair is suddenly all over the place. Maybe the dog goes around shedding bits of hair on purpose. Let’s see…a little bit here and a little bit there. He does this while we sleep to make my life more interesting.

As I am up so early, I have gone back to the museum websites and looked up some more artists. I found someone else at the KröllerMüller Museum whom I find interesting and that is Charley Toorop (1891-1955). His work is a little bit manic, but fascinating none the less. I have also gone back to the website of Musée d’Orsay and looked up all the obvious artists like Degas and Renoir and Monet and find Monet still to be very good and I take back what I said about impressionists being too common now and that we have been overexposed to them, because looking at them again does make me appreciate them all over again. Not everything and everybody, but a lot of it I do, Monet being my favorite one of that group. I just wish there was more of a description of each painting, besides the title and the date, so you would have a little background on it.

I am sorry if I am boring you with all of this art now. When I get stuck on a subject, I really get stuck on it, but I also realize that I don’t know enough about it and that I could use some help in seeing what I am looking at. Maybe I can find some books at the library on modern art that would help me look at it better. I have a book here about the history of art into the 20th century that should give me some information too. I think it may be a very good idea if I read some chapters of it and get some information before I go on with this search for good art.

Toby is looking at me as if he is trying to figure out what I am doing up so early. He is pondering the meaning of it. Maybe he thinks that he will get to eat now. I fed the cats twice last night, after their first meal they were actually begging for more and I could not resist them and they ate the second helping too. It must be because we have especially good food lately. We found the stuff they really like. I am waiting to see them turn into big round cats who sort of waddle through the apartment like ducks.

Well, I’ll end this epistle now and go and make myself a really good cup of coffee and put on my bathrobe, because I just realized that it’s a little bit cold just sitting here in my pajamas which don’t amount to much.

Have a great day, people. If any of you know anything about art, please feel free to comment. Ciao…

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This morning I visited everybody else’s website first and that includes some that aren’t listed on the left of my blog. So I got very busy doing that and then some disk cleaner tried to install itself on my computer and I couldn’t get it to stop, no matter how often I cancelled it. So I just shut off the computer completely and hoped it wouldn’t show up again. So far it hasn’t. I do hate it when things try to install themselves on my computer even when I very clearly indicate that I don’t want them to. I use Mozilla FireFox as a browser to prevent this from happening too much, but I suppose there isn’t much that can be done about it. Or will I now be inundated with comments telling me there is? Eduard say that the Norton anti virus program should take care of it, but apparently nothing is if full proof.

One time, when we were still using the phone connection for the Internet, another phone number installed itself as first choice and we got a huge phone bill as a result. We were called by the phone company to warn us that this was going to happen and to check and see what was going on. Eduard tracked down the company that had installed the phone number and was able to get all the money back from them. They didn’t protest, so they must have had complaining ‘customers’ before. They’re very sneaky people that try to install themselves in your computer. If you push the cancel button, it just gets ignored and it goes on with installing, or it doesn’t allow you to push the no button.

Anyway, here I am finally, drinking my third cup of coffee, smoking my third cigarette, having had my little shot of adrenaline already to wake up with. What sky I can glimpse through the kitchen window is blue, so maybe I can dry some laundry outside today. It isn’t drying very quickly in the bathroom.

Well, now it is so late already that I first have to walk the dog and feed the cats, so I will see you all later…

Okay, I have done those things and taken my medicines and my vitamins. I am dressed, but my face is not on yet and I have no jewelry on. I am still wearing my little gold stud earrings, but I think the hole in my earlobe is okay now. It is just the rest of the ear that is trying to get better. Frances suggested that chili powder could cause a reaction like I had, and that is just possible as there is chili powder in the hot salsa and I did eat that when I ate the tortilla chips. I have decided to stay away from both and to not take any chances at all. I see no purpose in going through this again simply to stuff my mouth with something I shouldn’t be eating in the first place. Yesterday I lived on raisin crackers and cheese, but this morning I didn’t weigh myself yet and I won’t for a while. It will be another three weeks before my gastric band gets filled again, and that is still a long time to wait. I think I will weigh myself next weekend and I hope I will not be unpleasantly surprised.

Yesterday was such a mellow day. It rained like crazy and I got very wet when I first took the dog out. We had to go at one point, because it just didn’t stop raining. The dog also got very wet, but I dried him with a big towel and he always seems to like this, because he comes to the bathroom on his own to get it done. He always has that good old dog smell when he is wet, but it disappears again when he is dry.

Eduard and I had our normal lazy Sunday morning ritual and when we finally got up, it was almost noon time and we still had not had breakfast yet. I had a big piece of Maasdammer cheese and Eduard boiled himself some eggs to put on white bread. The dog likes this very much and is torn between which person he is going to sit next to. Is the cheese better or are the eggs? Can I possible have both?

The cats decided that they didn’t like the food in the little pouches that much and kept begging for something else. I finally opened up a package of wet dog food and divided it up between the cats and the dog and they all loved it very much. Sometimes it is easy to make them all happy.

We watched the final stage of the Tour de France in the afternoon and I am kind of sorry that it is over, because it has been a nice way to pass the afternoons. Especially with the little bits of drama about the doping and having the different riders dismissed from the race. There will be nothing to replace it this summer, there is nothing like it. Maybe now I will watch some movies. The new film guide came and I still have to check it to see which movies will be shown in August. Eduard has to check it too and see which film house movies are being shown. I never did see As It Is In Heaven and I hope they show it again in August.

I wore my new wrap around dress, but I changed it in the evening when I walked the dog. Somehow it seemed to formal for dog walking. It looks good on me, except for when I stand sideways and you see my fat stomach. I sure hope to get rid of that one of these days, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be the last to go. Eduard says that I am starting to look real good from the rear, so now I will approach everybody backwards. My stomach is still larger then my breasts and only if I suck it in, do I get an idea of what I will look like down the line. I can’t quite walk around like that, though. I think I need to do stomach strengthening exercises.

In the evening I watched a sweet Spanish movie called Tapas. It was about love, but not sentimentally so. The bad part is that I fell asleep during the last fifteen minutes when everything unraveled, so I don’t know what happened to everybody and now I will have to watch it again or have Eduard tell me the ending. I think he showed that movie at the film house and I hope he remembers it. I do love to watch foreign films, because it shows how people behave in other cultures and that is always so interesting. Actually, people are more alike than they are different. A complete fool is the same fool in any other language and love is the same too. The way it is expressed is sometimes different and that makes it fascinating. You catch yourself making comparisons all the time. But more than anything people are similar to one another and have the same desires and the same shortcomings. I am sure that to an alien we would all look alike. I am sure that to a Higher Being we all look alike too.

Even though I find the Dutch book not so well written, I do keep reading it and I am nearing the end. I have given all of my library books to Eduard to take back to the library, because I was not getting around to reading them at all. I still have another book that my sister gave me that I want to read. My sister orders a lot of books on line, as I used to do before I started buying clothes. She buys Dutch language books and that is how I end up reading them. We have similar tastes in books, although my sister’s isn’t quite as evolved yet. I am a little bit ahead of her. That sounds a bit conceited, but it is true. I am ahead of her in the reading department and I know a bit more about different subjects and writers than she does. She is also seven years younger than I am, so maybe that accounts for some of that. I like difficult books, I like books that require some effort on my part. That is why I like Virginia Woolf and A.S. Byatt and Nadine Gordimer amongst others. They challenge me. I need to feel that it is a book that is written with total skill and inspiration and absolute knowledge about the subject. Books that I would never be able to write myself in a million years, no matter how skilled I became.

I like to read women writers and there is no shortage of them, luckily, in the English language. Not all of them are equally skilled, but I usually like the subjects they write about, which is human relations. It is said that a woman will never write a great literary piece because of this and that is a real sh
ame, because I think there are some great women writers out there. Who do deserve great recognition. When you read Edna O”Brien’s Down by the River, you learn a lot about human nature and hypocrisy and about how things were in Ireland and how they possibly still are. It leaves you very much touched by the events. Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse is a great commentary on family life back then and the fleetingness of it and leaves you with a feeling of sorrow and longing for another time. For another dimension almost.

Once I wished to be a writer, but I know I don’t have it in me, because I think I know what a great writer is and I wouldn’t want to be anything else. That is why I enjoy excellent books so much and I can become quite jubilant about them when I read them. It’s like hearing very well done music or seeing a very well done film. It satisfies a very deep longing inside of me and I am glad that it has been done. That someone exists or existed on this earth and was able to do that. I always hope to feel the same sort of awe and satisfaction when I see a piece of art, but I am seldom struck that way. I suppose I don’t appreciate it quite as much, even though I have taken art courses. I didn’t feel moved when I saw the Mona Lisa and I only thought it somewhat moving when I saw the Night Watch. I am still waiting for that piece of art to really move me the way a book does or a piece of music or a film.

I saw some of Rodin’s sculptures once that were purposely left half finished and in which the figures where still caught in the unfinished stone. This made me feel clausterphobic and captured and I wanted to pull them out and set them free. When I see the Venus de Milo, I want to attach a head and the arms. I like modern painting in that it can really be impressive with its audacity of colors and size and lack of clear subject. I don’t like expressionism, because I find it brutal and it gives me a headache, although I can see its purpose at the time it was made. Impressionism has become too popular and is almost too common now, but Vincent van Gogh always impresses and the later his work, the better he is. I guess he is considered a post impressionist who came out of the impressionist movement. I suppose that his work is as close as I have ever been to being awe struck by a piece of art as I can be. Starry Night being one of them.

I imagine being an artist and being very bold and passionate and making very large and colorful paintings. Paintings that take up a whole wall. Bright colors that jump out at you in many shapes and angles and up and down movements. Not paintings that disturb, but paintings that make you happy and bring a smile to your face. Maybe in my next life I will get some other talents. Or get some talents period. I think I have the imagination, I just need the skill to go with it the next time. I have some things that I have done hanging on the walls now. They are okay, but they need better frames and pass par touts. It will make them more attractive. There is a lot to be said for proper framing. I did these things when I was in more turmoil, and I think that I am more creative when I am in turmoil, so lately I am not creative anymore.

Anyway, today is not going to be very exciting. I have no appointments and only the apartment to clean. There are two loads of laundry that I have to hang up outside to dry. It looks as though the weather is going to be staying good. The bathroom needs cleaning and I am very excited about that! Just thrilled about it, really! I may weed the flowerbed, we’ll see how much my knees like that. I wonder if there are any more gifts of nature there to surprise me?

Well, people. It has been fun, but now I have to go. I do have to get the show on the road slowly. Not too quickly, I do want my own shadow to keep catching up with me all the time, but I do want to get some things done before Eduard gets home again.

Have a wonderful day, ciao…

P.S. I have visited the website of the Van Gogh Museum and you can see his collection here:
http://www3.vangoghmuseum.nl/vgm/index.jsp?page=425&lang=en

Some of his paintings that I really like are:

1. Wheatfield with Crows
2. Tree Roots
3. Gauguins’s Chair
4. Fishingboats by Les Saintes Maries de la Mer

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When I make a pot of coffee in the morning, I make a cup of Senseo while I wait for it to get done. The Senseo gets done very quickly and it tastes delicious. I would wish for all my cups of coffee to be Senseo, but that would be too expensive, so I limit them to three or four cups a day. Just as special treats. I now have the regular and decaf pads for the machine, but I know they have some other special coffees for it, like Kenyan coffee, so I will try those also. This way I am going to become a bit of a coffee connoisseur. It can be a whole new hobby! I can try all the different cafés in town and see where the best cup of coffee is to be had, although usually they all have very decent coffee. Still it may be a fun thing to do.

Yesterday morning it rained, but in the afternoon things cleared up. Eduard and I had already decided not to go to the Carrefour, because of the traffic, so when Eduard sat behind the computer and I was being a bit bored, I said: Lets go into town! Eduard agreed and two minutes later we were unlocking our bikes. The ride into town is so easy for me now. I do it without giving it a thought. I go through the bicycle tunnel and up the old bridge as if I have always done it without any problems. My knees don’t protest too much.

It was busy in town with all the usual tourist walking mindlessly into the traffic. I yell at them when they do really stupid things. I told Eduard that I am just going to be a very verbal lady when I am on my bike. It’s unbelievable how dumb people can be!

Anyway, we parked our bikes by the bridge and walked into the downtown area. We went to M&S Fashions first to check their sales. Luckily, some things were marked down very much and we bought a wrap around dress with long sleeves to be worn in cold weather for seven Euros. You can wear this over a pair of leggings, which they were sold out of, so we walked to the Hema to see if they had any, but they didn’t. The woman at M&S Fashions had said they would get more leggings at a later date, so I will wait for them to get those.

While at the Hema, I bought some very good shower gel and a new tube of face wash. The shower gel is supposed to be good for people with sensitive skin and I know the face wash leaves my face feeling very soft, because I am already using it. I don’t spend huge amounts of money on stuff like this. I don’t think it is necessary to spend 25 Euros on a jar of moisturizer, for instance. I just find the stuff that works for me and the Hema usually has good products that they develop themselves and sell under their own name and that is good enough for me. I had a shower gel with sea minerals, but they were sold out of that one, so now I am trying this one that has a rice emulsion in it, and we will see if it leaves my skin soft. I have a tendency to have dry skin, so that is my main concern.

Then we wanted to have coffee and pie at our regular café, but because of all the tourists, there was not an empty table to be found and we walked down the sidewalk until we found an empty table at an other café. This one was called La Différence, which is funny, because all the cafés look alike at that point. We ordered coffee and their last two pieces of pie and watched the people walk by on the sidewalk.

It’s really interesting to sit and watch the tourists. A lot of them come from the west of the country and come to Limburg because Limburg is like a foreign country to them. We listen to them talk in their Western accents with their Western attitudes which are all over the place. They’re kind of like New Yorkers, very present. They’re mostly older couples who want to have a foreign experience, but not be too far away from home. The women all have big hairdos and the men drink their beers stoically. I should be an anthropologist, I love observing people.

We had very good coffee and very good pie. There were separate little glasses with whipped cream and an almond extract in it to put in the coffee which was good. At one point the sky became very dark and ominous looking and the wind kicked up and threatened to blow away everything that wasn’t attached. It looked like it was going to rain, but this passed after some time and the sun came out again.

When we were done, we walked to the chapel where it was very busy and where I just found one place to place a candle after pulling out one candle stub. I prayed the Our Father, but I am not very inspired lately. I don’t feel very much in touch with my Higher Being. This may be a temporary situation. I don’t know, I want to keep going to the chapel and keep the communication channels open and see what happens. I don’t feel that the Higher Being is doing much in my life right now, but maybe I am overlooking the obvious and missing some things that are good. That’s going to require some thought on my part. I must pay attention to the things that are going right and concentrate on them and not worry too much on the things that turn out differently than I had hoped. I mean in the lives of my loved ones.

When we rode our bikes home, we nearly had an accident because two women decided to cross the road just in front of us. It was very strange. They looked right at us and then stepped right off the sidewalk. I was so surprised, that I could only yell at them in English. I couldn’t think of the Dutch word for pedestrian crossing. People must think that you are just going to hit the brakes and wait for them while they go their merry mindless way.

When we got home, the dog was being his usual cuddly self and I had to pet him for quite awhile. I don’t mind doing this bonding with him, as I think it is a good thing to do for him as well as for me. It is very relaxing and makes us both feel good. It is like coming home and having your child be happy that you are there again. It makes you feel loved.

It was too hot to try on my new purchase, so I just hung that in the closet for another day. I did change my clothes, as it had become hot and muggy again. Nowadays, it is hard to figure out what to put on in the morning. Usually, I have to change my clothes half way through the day.

This morning it is raining and it is supposed to rain all day. Well, it is good for the garden. I should say, it is good for the trees, because there isn’t much in the garden yet.

I’ve got an appointment to do the profile test on the 13th of August. I am curious about what kind of a test this really is. What kind of competencies it is going to measure. I suppose some of it will be like an I.Q. test. Maybe a bit of an aptitude test. I am not worried, as I think I will do fine. I do believe in my own competencies well enough. I just think that it is a shame that they don’t look at the tests that I have al
ready done and draw their conclusions from those. I guess that is bureaucracy for you. I have looked at the address where I have to go for the test and I think it is somewhere in the industrial park, so I have to make sure to look up the directions before I go, otherwise I will get hopelessly lost.

That’s how I got my first job ever. I was looking for the place that had placed an advertisement for an administrative assistant. It was in the industrial park and I couldn’t find it anywhere. So, instead, I went to Honeywell which was a big company even then in our town, and where my cousin had recently found a job. I just walked in and said that I was looking for a job and they sent me to the head of Personnel who interviewed me right away for a job that had just come up, but had not been advertised yet. I made such a good impression that I was hired almost immediately and I started working there a few days later. My mother was beside herself with pride and practically stopped people on the road to tell them about it.

It was nice to be earning my own money. I saved some of it, spent some of it and gave some of it to my parents for room and board. That was quite usual in those days. I don’t know how things are now, but then it was normal that you paid your own way. I was very frugal and really made my money last. I bought a new article of clothing once a month and saved up my money to buy stereo equipment. I did love listening to music, classical mostly. My father decorated my room very nicely and my mother had a hot meal on the table every night. I didn’t go out much, as I did most of my socializing at work and that was good enough for me. I had my friends and visited with them. They all had jobs and we were all saving our money. Once in a while I went out on a date, but there was never anything serious. Eduard had gone to university and I didn’t see much of him anymore. Our relationship sort of petered out.

I really enjoyed my job. It was a pleasant place to work and my colleagues were nice people. There was a lot of laughter there. We only really got uptight when the president of the company came to the department to have a talk with somebody. Luckily, that didn’t happen too often, but he did intimidate me quite a bit. He was that kind of man. Of course, I was awfully young and easily intimidated by a man of power. Everybody else in the company was my friend. I was naive enough not to realize when somebody developed a crush on me. I didn’t find out about that until much later. I thought everybody was just really friendly. I would love to find that kind of a job again.

I am waiting for it to stop raining so I can take the dog for his walk. He has been out here already to be petted, but has gone back to the bedroom to sleep some more. Eduard is sleeping late, because he worked the late shift last night. He won’t be up for another hour at least.

Last night, I talked to my daughter and even though she is having a heck of a time finding a job, she does keep her spirits up. Having a law degree doesn’t guarantee anything. She has been contacted by a head hunter, so maybe something will happen there. Her ex wants to move to Northern California and wants Nick to go with him to keep their son close by and she may go. It is where she comes from, after all, and if she can find a good job there, it may just work out. We’ll see. Personally, I would like it if she lived in California, but that is just selfishly thinking. It is my old stomping ground and I feel very much at home in Northern California. I would love to see San Francisco again and Sonoma County. So, I guess I am not the right person to ask if she should do this, because I would say yes right away.

Well, I think I will read the news until the weather clears. Feed the cats if they are around. They shouldn’t be too far away with this kind of rain.

Have a great day everyone. Ciao…

P.S. No, I didn’t go on the scales this morning and I won’t for a while because I expect the worst. First I need to go back to eating little amounts of food and then I will weigh myself again.

I had claimed that the tortilla chips hadn’t caused me to have an allergic reaction, but since the last time I ate them,which was yesterday and the day before, my left ear is in bad shape. Fluid is leaking from it and it is itching quite badly inside and out. Big patches of skin are peeling from my ear and it is getting all kind of raw looking, so I think I will not eat the tortilla chips anymore. It was an experiment that proved the point. My head is also itching quite a lot, so today it is back to the lotion and the ointment. That can’t be a coincidence, can it?

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I forgot to go on the scales this morning and I am already working on my second cup of coffee, so I won’t bother now. I think it is going to be too much anyway, because I ate tortilla chips and guacamole dip yesterday, which I thought I could just eat on the weekends, but which I have now decided I should not be eating at all, because I like it too much and eat to much of it in one sitting. I mustn’t forget that there is a reason why I have the gastric band and that is because I have a tendency to overeat. Even now I will do that, because I find my solace in food and the gastric band is still allowing me to eat too much. So, I will tell Eduard not to buy me that anymore and to just stick to the raisin crackers. I know that Eduard likes to buy me food that I enjoy eating, but in this case it is totally inappropriate and not at all smart to do. I think I will also go back to having Cup a Soups when I feel like having something substantial, regardless of the meat in it. It does satisfy some of my cravings for hearty things to eat. Well, I am glad I made that decision! I am also glad that I don’t have to be perfect all the time!

I sure appreciate people commenting on my posts. Sometimes I really pour my heart out and it is super to get some feed back. You feel like you aren’t speaking into a void. You feel like you get to know one another too and you build up some trust and you do read their blogs also and get to read what their lives are all about.

As I write this, it is raining outside, which is good, because it means that we don’t have to water my sister’s garden while she is gone on vacation. Everything should look good when she gets back, which is Monday night. The two weeks that she and her family were gone have gone by very quickly and we hardly had time to miss them. Their house is still standing there, safe and well. There have been no burglars or burst pipes or other calamities.

Yesterday was an alright day. I vacuumed everything really well and the cats only hid under the bed, they didn’t flee the apartment. Jesker sits and watches me vacuum, as if he doesn’t quite agree with me doing it and is impatiently waiting for me to get done. I get a great pleasure out of vacuuming the big bunches of hair that accumulate in the corners of the rooms. You do feel like it is actually worth it. We had also tracked grass into the place from the field, because I inevitably forget to take my shoes off when I get back from my walk with the dog and so does Eduard. Then there are the tobacco crumbs by the dining table from when I sit and make cigarettes. It’s always something!

I watched a good British movie on the film channel called Separate Lies, about a woman who leaves her husband after she accidentally kills the husband of her cleaning lady. She has an affair with another man who later on develops cancer and she goes on to care for him until he dies. Very well done in an understated way. No jealous fist fights or anything like that. Lots of psychological suspense. I usually do like British films and not just for the scenery. It is good to see foreign films as it exposes us to other lives and other ways of thinking. Besides the usual Hollywood blockbusters.

I changed my clothes three times yesterday. First because I wanted to wear something completely different from what I had put on in the morning when I walked the dog and then I changed clothes again when what I had put on turned out to be much to warm to wear, even though the weather was cloudy all day. It was actually kind of muggy and it was warm in the apartment. I put on a tank top, even though this exposes my arms completely and my arms aren’t pretty to look at what with all the scars. I forget about them being there mostly, but I do notice other people staring at them sometimes. When people have the audacity to ask me about them, I always say that I have been in an accident. This happened to me on the operating table when I went to have my gastric band put in. The nurses were trying to guess what happened to my arms and I let them and sort of agreed with whatever they came up with. They thought they were burn marks and I pretended they were. Whatever…

Eduard was gone to work in the morning and in the afternoon he went to his friend Lieve in Belgium to help her put the engine block of her motorcycle back together again. I think she has a BMW and Eduard doesn’t have that much experience with those, but he manages okay. They exchange emails about which little parts need to be bought before everything gets put back together again. When we win the lottery, Eduard is definitely getting a BMW motorcycle! He now has an MZ 300 cc which was made in an East German factory when it was still officially East Germany. In the evening he had to go to work and next week he will have to work seven nights, because his colleague is on vacation. He will take more time off during the day to compensate.

We were planning a bit of a trip somewhere this weekend, but the weather probably won’t allow it. Eduard thought of going to the Carrefour mega store in Liege in Belgium, where they sell everything under the sun, but I think we should boycott stores like that, because they put the smaller stores out of business. The jury is still out on that one. Besides, today is Black Saturday and the freeway to the south, called the Route du Soleil, is going to be jam packed with traffic trying to get to the sunny south of Europe. Some people never learn and insist on leaving on this Saturday in spite of the miles long traffic jams where they will be stuck for hours in their cars with moody children saying: Are we there yet? I know that Eduard wants to go and buy a supply of soft goat cheeses, which he always used to get when his sister still lived in France. I don’t think it is worth it.

The mountain ash berry trees are growing like cabbages, as they say here. One of them is five feet tall now. All the rain is really helping them grow fast. I am so excited about them growing this fast and I look at them every day. I can see one of them from the computer here through the window of Eduard’s work room. Now that I know what they are, I am not worried about them growing there and taking up too much room, as they will be slender trees. Before that I thought they might become to big for that spot. One of them has gotten three shoots, but I think one of those has stagnated and isn’t growing anymore and I will cut that one off and have the other two grow well. I used to be such a gardener, but maybe some of my interest is coming back through these two trees. I do need to weed that patch of ground again, so I will do that when the rain stops and then maybe plant something else there to cover the ground with. Maybe I should just plant some ground cover or some ivy. We’ll see. It has to be low maintenance because of my knees. I may have a green thumb, but I definitely don’t have gardener’s knees anymore!

I watched a bit of the Tour on my own yesterday, although it wasn’t nearly as much fun as watching it with Eduard. It is kind of a shame that Rasmussen is gone now, but I don’t quite know what to think of it. It is all one great big soap with new developments every day. A Dutch man finished fourth yesterday, he just didn’t have enough power left to get in first, you could see he was really beat. They have so many castles in France! It seems as though every town has one. I know we used to have more castles in the Netherlands, but I think a lot of them were pulled down in the 19th century, or even earlier, instead of being restored. I know that people used the stones to build other buildings. There are still castles here in Limburg, but what you see here are the farms that used to belong
to the castles with the castles gone. The farms are quite impressive and a bit fortified also with small towers. They are built around a courtyard with big massive walls. All of the farms here are built on that floor plan, which is different from the rest of the country and must be due to Roman influence. They have a great big gate in one of the walls and they all look fortified to some extent.

When Eduard had to work in the evening, I watched the news twice and they showed an interview with the Palestinian doctor who had been freed by Libya and he told how he had been tortured all those years while he was in prison there. You wonder how he is going to deal with the aftermath of that. There must be a lot of psychological scarring. He is coming to live in the Netherlands with the rest of his family and I hope they give him all the help he needs. God only knows what happened to the nurses that were in prison all that time. There is no news on them. It is really a shame that Libya can’t be sanctioned because of this, as the European Union wants to normalize relations as quickly as possible. The nature of man never ceases to amaze me and I don’t mean that in a good way. The cruelty of it.

If I had the money, I would support Amnesty International, so let me put a good word in for them here. They deserve all the support they can get. When I have my own income, I will support them, it is a cause I find very important, just as I find Green Peace very important. I used to support them when I was financially more comfortable. We now support our political party and a foundation that buys land that gets restored back to its natural habitat and is opened to the public through hiking paths and other activities. If there are any significant buildings on the land, they are preserved also. You also see a lot of farmers becoming land managers now. Their meadows become natural wetlands, for instance, and they manage that and care for the preservation of it and the animals on it. Slowly bits of agricultural land are being given back to nature. It used to be that the Netherlands needed more agricultural land, but that is changing now. We created a whole new province out of an area of what used to be the Zuiderzee to use as farm land, but now other bits of farmland are being given back to the sea and the rivers.

I was born in the city of Utrecht, even though my mother originally came from the province of Drenthe and we went there every vacation when I was little. Utrecht wasn’t nearly the size it is now and when I was a little kid, we used to go for bike rides in the weekends into the countryside which only took us ten minutes to get there. It was mostly flat around there and there were a lot of orchards. I remember a lot of cherry orchards and sitting by the side of the road eating cherries out of a paper bag and thinking that was just the best thing. The farms were built along the road and separated from it by a narrow stretch of water connected by a small bridge to the road. Behind the farm the land stretched for miles and miles, with in the distance little villages with church spires sticking in the air. There were several lakes there and sometimes we would hire a rowboat and go rowing on the clear water for hours. Water lilies grew there that my mother picked and floated in a bowl of water at home. You could see through the water of the lake to the bottom and we saw all the green plants growing there and sometimes small fish. I was fascinated and scared at the same time, afraid of falling in and wanting to look too.

In spite of us being a dysfunctional family, my memories of Utrecht are good because of these weekends and because of the neighborhood that we lived in. There were a lot of kids in our street and we all played together. We had such interesting games too. And in the wintertime the tennis courts were flooded and you could go skating there, which I did with my Dad. We also went sledding in the park and in the summertime we went pick nicking there. On Saturday afternoons, we went to the cinema and saw Rin Tin Tin and all the cartoons. Living in a city is not such a bad thing, providing your parents help you do interesting things. I did love the countryside and felt very romantic about the stretches of meadows interspersed by the bits of woods. I was a romantic kid.

Anyway, it is that time of the morning again. The cats want to be fed and the dog wants to be walked and it has stopped raining, so I must go.

Have a great day, people. Ciao…

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This morning I weigh 92.7 kilos, even though I ate very little yesterday. I basically lived on raisin crackers and cheese and wasn’t in the mood much for eating. I forgot to eat on time and had to remind my self to grab something quickly when I did get hungry.

Yesterday morning, after I wrote my post and walked the dog, I decided to start reading my older posts, so I started to read in the month July and I completely got hooked doing that. After I finished reading July, I cleaned up the kitchen, but then I decided to read June as well. It made for fascinating reading and before I knew it, it was time to walk the dog again and after I did that, Eduard came home again to watch the Tour de France. I felt sort of guilty for having sat there all morning having done nothing much but read my blog, but he didn’t seem to notice that I really should have vacuumed. I stopped reading June and Eduard took his turn behind the computer while he waited for the Tour to get started. I made myself a cup of Senseo and watched some of the preliminaries of the Tour and the big to do about Rasmussen having been kicked of the Rabo Bank Team.

Then I had a brilliant idea and asked Eduard if he would take some more photographs of me by natural light to see if these would turn out better. So he did that and I put on my best face and tried to smile becomingly. We took pictures of me with and without glasses and maybe one of them will turn out right and be posted on this blog. We also took some pictures of Jesker and we still have to take pictures of Toby to be posted here also. I also took some pictures of Eduard with his hair and beard trimmed and if they turn out well, I will post those also. Eduard is more photogenic than I am, so chances are they will show up here.

Then I continued reading my blog while Eduard watched the Tour. I was so fascinated by what I read, that I forgot everything around me and pretty soon it was four o’clock and Eduard had to leave, because he and a volunteer of his had an interview with a local TV station because the volunteer had been picked as Volunteer of the Month.

I briefly lost my Internet connection and the telephone and the TV also stopped working, so that was a perfect time to walk the dog again and when I came back, everything was working again and I picked up reading where I had left off.

Now, you are thinking, what is so fascinating about reading your own blog? But it was truly an experience. The further back I read, the less I remembered and the more I was surprised by what I had written. I thought I had been very even tempered these last months, but I saw lots of changes in my moods and in my ways of dealing with things and I saw how I sometimes got completely off the track and started having all sorts of convictions about things that later on cleared up magically. So, I still do get fixated ideas and I thought I didn’t have those anymore.

I kept reading into the evening and when it as ten o’clock, I realized I would have to stop, because it was getting late and I still had to make some cigarettes. I was getting a bit tired, but I called Eduard to find out what time he was getting home. Well, he said he wouldn’t be home until after midnight and that was a little late for me, so I ended up going to bed at eleven, after I made myself a lovely cup of foamy decaf. I was asleep very quickly and didn’t hear Eduard come home.

The good part is, that I read the blog all day long without once putting my reading glasses on.Yes, that’s right, I read the whole thing with my regular glasses! My eyes didn’t bother me once! The little bit of TV I watched went fine too, so maybe things are getting better with my eyes. I’ll have to watch more TV to make sure before I can make any pronouncements about it for sure.

In the past months my daily ratings have gone from fives to eights. Sometimes it is clear why my ratings go down, they are clearly influenced by an outside occurrence, but it is not always clear why they go up. Sometimes I worry very much about getting to bed on time, but at other times, this does not worry me at all and I do fine regardless of when I go to bed. I nitpick about my food and make an issue of that sometimes, when at other times I just eat and loose weight. Sometimes I am just a bit neurotic. I see I went through a bit of religious mania, although that may be too big of a word for that. It had grabbed me quite a bit and I was very convinced of it for awhile. I really and truly thought God was influencing daily events involving me and my loved ones and that I could influence that by going to the chapel often and praying fervently about those things. I am much more tempered about that now. Sometimes I don’t go to the chapel when I could. I see I had some hypo manic episodes that I didn’t recognize as such back then. When things definitely had a movie like quality. I also see that I got down in the dumps several times and that I saw things very somberly every now and then. When I was too contemplative and doubtful and insecure.

Well, it was all very interesting. I realize that I am in a good space now and I have been for some weeks. I give myself sevens without having to think about it much. Sometimes I get an eight.

I talked to my friend Lucien recently and she said how she was suddenly feeling so much better and that she thought that, looking back, she had actually been depressed for the past eight weeks or so. So, very often you don’t realize how bad a shape you are in until afterwards when you feel differently. If you keep functioning to some extent, you don’t realize how much you are not really doing well until it is over and you feel better and the depressed mood slides off you like a blanket off your shoulders. It’s like living with chronic pain and suddenly having that stop. Likewise, you learn to adapt to the depression like you would to chronic pain, you calculate it into your daily routine as far as that is possible. It does color your perspective though and you think much more pessimistically about things under those circumstances. The glass really is only half empty and getting emptier fast.

Yesterday I did clean the computer and the computer desk after I washed the dishes. It needed it badly. I took all the odds and ends of the desk and saw all the hair and the dust on it. I had kept putting off cleaning it. Things dirtify quickly here. Today I must vacuum, I have no excuse not to, even when the cats are sleeping peacefully and the vacuum cleaner scares them out of their sleep. The dog is so much easier, he stays put until I move him with the nozzle. My sister vacuums her dog, but I don’t think Jesker will go along with that.

God, it is so nice to drink coffee in the morning. I just can’t get enough of it first thing. I think I will have to take a nap today, because I woke up at five and I don’t think I got quite enough sleep yet. Eduard is the sleep master. He sleeps long and hard. I haven’t really slept well for many nights in a row for years. It is like I forgot how to do that. I have the odd normal night, but mostly they are very short.

When I was in the hospital and I couldn’t sleep, I would get up and talk with with the night nurse. She would allow this for a little while and then chase me off to bed again. Patients aren’t allowed up at night. When she was done with her rounds, I would sneak into the patients’ living room with a cup of tea and my cigarettes and get through the night that way. Inevitably she discovered me and sent me to bed again, but I just kept getting up while she watched TV in the nurses’ room. The nights are hard to get through in the hospital. The day times are better, because there are all sorts of planned activities and the meals and other patients to talk to. Some of
them are even more depressed than you are, but it does create a bond. You see some people who will never get better again and that is scary, because you don’t know what your destiny is going to be. You hope that the medication starts to work and that all the therapeutic activities will help you, but there are no guarantees.

The first time I was there, I was there for five months and I went from depression to hypo mania and then to normal after my medication had been adjusted. When I say normal, I mean as in acceptable, I don’t mean as in, there is Irene as she normally is. That person was gone. Going through an experience like that certainly alters your state of mind and it takes a long time to get over it. The hospital wasn’t a bad place to be. We were well looked after and well cared for. Sometimes things seemed unreasonable and slow, but in the end, the system worked and they did the best they could. I was a difficult patient. Rebellious and unreasonable when I was hypo manic and very immobile and passive when I was depressed. There were only ten patients there to take care of and each patient had her/his own room, so it was all very luxurious. The activities were well thought out, although when you are really depressed, you don’t appreciate that and it all seems senseless. It all does start to work after some time and you slowly do get better.

I haven’t been to the hospital for more than five years now, I think I am coming up on six years. I only go when I am very depressed and I can’t manage on my own at home. So, that has been awhile. I’ll knock on wood and hope I never have to go there again, but it is the best place to be when you are in dire straights. For awhile there this winter I felt like going there, when I was drinking a lot and I was waiting for the Topamax to start working. I was scared about being on my own then and getting through the day. My psychiatrist discouraged me from going and in the end I didn’t need to, as things quickly changed.

I don’t know how things are in psychiatric hospitals around the world. I was in a psychiatric ward once in California and it was all sort of archaic and run down and not very uplifting. This hospital here is good, as far as I can tell. All new buildings have been built now and I haven’t seen where the mood disorders are housed now. There is also the psychiatric ward of the hospital that is also quite nice and well run and has a friendly staff, although their activities are less intensive and less interesting. The woman that runs the activities center is actually kind of a bitch, but the only bitch working there. The rest of the staff is fine. Some of them you end up liking better than others, but that is normal.

I have heard that psychiatric care in England is not so good and I have met English psychiatric patients who were quite militant about their efforts to get good care. A lot of them sounded bitter about the system and I guess things aren’t that bad here then when you compare it.

Regional health services are a bit swamped and some of the psychiatrists don’t have enough time to spend with their patients, or clients as they prefer to call them. I am very lucky with my psychiatrist as he spent a lot of time with me when I needed it. I don’t know how he managed that. My first psychiatrist didn’t have the time and only wrote prescriptions basically, there was no real therapy. I don’t know if I need any therapy now. Sometimes I think I need to talk about my feelings about my mother, but I think there is no real rush or urgency. And I don’t think I necessarily need to talk to my psychiatrist, any other therapist will do. Someone with a good listening ear. I solve a lot of things just by writing this blog and talking to Eduard.

Well, speak of the devil…

Eduard is up now and I have to start my day. The second pot of coffee has been made. The dog has been walked in the meantime and the cats have been fed. I have been multi tasking again while you all thought I was just sitting here writing this post.

Have a wonderful day everybody, ciao…

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I hope you all enjoyed the pictures on the post below of Monschau. I had a heck of a time placing them in the right order and then decided not to give them any order at all, but just have them come as they did. It is impossible for me yet to put a text with each picture. I’ll have to figure that one out still.

It is really flattering how some people thought it was me and my husband on the picture of the cats and the book case. It was a picture of my children when they were in their early teens all dressed up to go to a prom. I must admit that they looked great and very mature in their evening wear. My son looked very handsome in his smoking. It was the first time he wore one and he looked so dashing. And my daughter, well, she looked good in any gown you put on her! I was the very proud mother of two very handsome children. My daughter is still a very beautiful woman. She’s got a terrific body with not an ounce of fat on it and a face like the sunshine. It brightens your day! Both my children were blessed with good looks. Their father was a handsome man and I wasn’t too bad looking either.

Which makes me very hesitant to post my picture that Eduard took of me with my new glasses on. I don’t think it turned out that well and I don’t think that it does me justice. I think that in real life I am much better looking. At the same time, I want you all to know what this writer of these daily epistles looks like, so you can have a face to go with the story. I have two not so becoming pimples on my face that I had been picking at and my cheeks are rosy red as they always are. It shows my wrinkly neck and my fat chin. Actually, it needs to be photo shopped really well, but I don’t have that possibility, so I am being brave and exposing myself to you with all the wrinkles and pimples and rose colored veins. You can obviously see that my hair has been cut too short, but I will have Eduard take another picture in a few weeks and maybe I will look a lot better and you will all think I am beautiful then.

To make matters really worse, I am adding a picture of me and Eduard that is also not that flattering, but gives you a chance to see us as a couple. It was taken by his colleague on her back patio and I look like a kindly fat Chinese woman, while Eduard looks more like himself. We have both had a haircut since then and Eduard has also had his beard trimmed.

Well, as you can see, I have deleted the picture of me by myself, so you will just have to stay curious a little while longer. It can’t be helped. I had another look at it and was nearly blinded by its ugliness and we can’t have that. So the picture of Eduard and me will have to suffice. But, I really did try to show you. Hey, that sounds like a line from a song. I promise that I will pose for Eduard this very afternoon and have him take numerous shots, one of which surely will turn out well and I will post it. And I will keep posing for pictures until we get one right. It can’t be that hard, after all. I am not a complete goon. I used to actually be thought of as a good looking broad in my early years.

Well, enough of that. Today I weigh the same as yesterday, 92.4 kilos. I lived on raisin crackers and cheese and Melba toast. I love the raisin crackers and I am so glad that I discovered them again after they had been laying on the shelf for months still wrapped airtight in their plastic wrapping. The dog also likes them and wakes up, wherever he is, and comes and sits beside me for his little share. He hears the sound of crinkly plastic and associates it with food immediately. He has Pavlov experiences all day long. That’s what makes it so simple to be a dog, because we co-operate completely.

Yesterday was a very non eventful day and I am trying to decide if I like that. On the one hand you can say that, yes, at least nothing bad happened, on the other hand, a little action now and then isn’t bad either. Eduard slept late and when he did show up he was very bright eyed and awake and ready to tackle the day. I knew he was going to have a stressful day, what with all the new films coming in at the last minute. That is always a rush to get them ready to show to the public on time. Eduard prides himself on always showing his films on time and having them run smoothly, including the soundtrack, so everything has to be done perfectly beforehand. The worst thing that you can have happen to you, is a member of the audience complain to you about the quality of the movie projection or the quality of the sound. Eduard takes great pride in having the least amount of complaints. He trains his people very carefully and guards over them like a mother hen. They show a lot of movies in one night , so it all has to run like clockwork.

I had to sit and wait for the Senseo machine to be delivered. They had said they would be here between noon and six o’clock and they got here at three. Unpacked the machine from its box and read the instructions carefully. Luckily, it wasn’t rocket science and a very good cup of coffee was quickly made. Boy, that tasted good! You get a foamy cup of strong coffee, just the way I like it, so the first thing I did this morning, while I waited for the regular coffee to get done, was make a cup of Senseo coffee, because it gets done so quickly. It really is a treat. You do really have to buy the right kind of coffee, the expensive stuff, the cheap stuff is not as good, although it can be done with that also. But it is like with any kind of coffee, the better the brand, the better the cup of coffee. In the Netherlands, I think the best brand is Douwe Egberts. You can always rely on them to make a good cup of coffee. One thing about going to cafés in the Netherlands, no matter where you go, you always get a good cup of coffee. They are all individually made, so you don’t get a brew that’s been cooking for an hour.

So, that is my early birthday present sitting there on the kitchen counter. I had to make room for it by moving the dish rack. I will have to put that somewhere else and hand dry the dishes from now on instead of letting them dry in the rack. I’ll just have to be a little more organized, because the kitchen is very little and I don’t have a lot of room for modern equipment. We have a kitchen machine that we never use, because there is no room for it to use comfortably. It sits on a shelf, gathering dust, and gets cleaned by me a few times a year. The microwave is in a handy spot, luckily we do use that. The toaster always needs to be put away. I don’t know what Dutch architects were thinking when they designed row houses, they certainly didn’t have the ease and comfort of the average house wife in mind. Coming from California, I am used to large kitchens, the ones you can wear roller skates in. And there is always a dishwasher and a garbage disposal. In the Netherlands, everything is small, it is like everything is miniaturized. That’s okay, there isn’t a lot of room and there are a lot of people. I would just like there to be larger kitchens. A bit more realistic. How is that in England?

I didn’t fall asleep on the sofa once yesterday. It must have been because I slept so well the night before. I didn’t watch too much TV either. Just a silly movie on the film channel, the plot of which I have already forgotten. Something with Drew Barrymore. A ditsy blond movie, definitely. The film channel is great, but sometimes they have The Lesser Movies That Didn’t Draw An Audience! I see them as filler between the real good stuff. I suppose they are
okay if you are sick in bed with the flue and you don’t give a damn.

Eduard came home briefly for dinner, which consisted of a quick omelet. He barely had time to sit down and eat it, he was so rushed. He had gone by the store to get the photographs and then the ones of me turned out to be so disappointing! I can’t blame him, or can I? He claims to be a bit of a photographer, but I think I have to have him take my picture when he has nothing else on his mind. When he is in artistic form, so to say. We have some terrific black and white photographs that he made in Paris of objects that he met along the way as he walked through town. I don’t think that Eduard is a people photographer. I think he is more into angular shapes and shadows and light and contrast and immobile things. Like I said, I have a very good camera that has stopped working and it is a real shame, because Eduard’s camera is harder for me to focus properly and I don’t think I can get the quality pictures with it that I want. Besides, it is always a bit more difficult to use someone else’s camera. You really feel that you are using something that is very personal to them. I know I felt very proprietary about my camera. When it hung around my neck, I didn’t want anybody else to use it. We want to get a digital camera, but we won’t have the money to get a good one until next year, so we have to be patient.

In the evening I watched stupid TV. With that I mean TV that is mindless. Well, almost, because I do watch the news and that isn’t completely mindless. The big item is the floods in England. They have reporters on the spot and will have as they are expecting more rain. Which brought about the discussion about what would happen in the Netherlands if we got that much rain in such a short amount of time. Well, it turns out that our drainage systems wouldn’t be able to handle that much water either and we would have the same problems, but there is nothing that can be done about it. Changing the volume would take years and would cost billions of Euros. So we pray for little rain. It seems that we have more coming for the next weeks. The systems over the Atlantic Ocean just keep bringing more bad weather, while the South of Europe suffers from a drought and forest fires. Things are always divided unequally in the extremes.

I went to bed at a very decent hour and fell asleep sitting up, because after I had taken my medicines, my daughter called and my sleeping pills started to work while I was talking to her and piddling around afterwards. I almost stayed up to watch Inspector Frost, but then realized I couldn’t because I had already taken the pills. My timing was a little bit off. Next time better. I am reading a Dutch book, which I so seldom do. I notice the difference in style with the English language books and I find it hard to get used to. There is something missing. The Dutch book has a sparseness and frugality of words that the English language books don’t have. I miss a certain abundance and fantasy. It is all so bare and stripped of eloquence. As if the language is there only to show the minimum amount of feeling. I will finish the book and maybe try another one. This book I am reading came highly praised and I am trying to figure out why this is so, because I wouldn’t have known this on my own. The subject is interesting, about a mother leaving her husband and children, but the style of writing strikes me as strange and not so passionate. I suppose I just really like the English language. After all, I am writing this blog in English and that is not just so my friends in California can read it. I just like writing in it. I think it gives me more possibilities to say what I mean, to be more accurate. There is an infinite more choice of ways to say things in English. I also think that if you speak a language daily from age seventeen to age thirty nine, this becomes the language you are most comfortable with.

It was really hard to speak Dutch well when I came back here. I think I spoke Dutch at an elementary school level, while I spoke English at college level. I could say things and express feeling in English that I could not in Dutch. It was all very frustrating. Eduard has taught me to speak Dutch well again, but I still make mistakes and he still corrects me. It would be better if I read a lot of Dutch books, but I get by and that is the most important thing. People don’t believe me when I say that I don’t speak Dutch well enough, but I think: You should hear me speak English! If I say something in English, because I can’t think of the Dutch word in a hurry, people think I am conceited and think I am trying to be more important than I am. It is very fashionable to pepper your language with English terms, as it used to be to do that with French. It seems that people forget the Dutch word for an item and use the English word instead, because everybody knows what they are talking about. I am a fore stander of using the Dutch language as much as possible and not to use so many borrowed words if that is not necessary. I think you should save your own language as much as possible and very often, the words in the original Dutch are very pretty and earthy. It is nice that, through the English language, we can all understand each other so well and that people from different European communities can communicate in it with each other. It is a bit of a shame though, that English speaking people have so little knowledge of foreign languages, at least most Americans do, although there are exceptions. But it is easy if your language is spoken by so many people around the world and it is such a good language too. The language of Shakespeare and Chaucer.

For Dutch people it is really a fun experience to hear Afrikaans spoken or to see it written down. It is a form of Dutch that is close to what was probably spoken here in the 17th century. A variety of a dialect most likely. Afrikaans in its pure form is a variety of pure Dutch. There are very few borrowed words in it, contrary to popular belief. What is really funny is how they use the double negative as in: You mustn’t smoke not. I first saw that on an airplane going over to South Africa in the nineties. My sister in law speaks Afrikaans and I like to listen to her speak it. I also like to read it and I can follow it pretty well. After a while you get used to the words and the flow of the sentences and it becomes easy. It is all very fascinating if you are interested in languages. German is also fairly easy to learn, especially if you speak any of the border dialects, but German is a more formal language than Dutch with many more rules that you have to learn by heart. I used to know all of them, but I have forgotten them through not using the language for a long time. I can speak German, but I probably break all the grammar rules. Sometimes, for fun, I will watch a German TV channel to see if I can still understand what is being talked about and mostly I can follow it if the subject is not too complicated. Germans don’t subtitle foreign movies and TV series, they dub them, so you have John Wayne speaking German and when we were kids, we watched Lassie on German TV in German. We did learn to speak it really fast.

In the Netherlands, all the foreign movies and the TV series are subtitled, so you listen and read at the same time. It is a good way to learn a foreign language and kids pick up English very quickly. Both my nieces spoke English before they learned it in school. My nephew was too shy to speak it, but now he gets very good grades in it. When you live in a little country like the Netherlands, you always have to learn to speak a foreign language, because there are so few people in the world that speak Dutch. I have been told by foreigners, that Dutch is not a pretty language to listen to and when people try to imitate it, it does indeed not sound very good. I very much like to listen to people speak Swedish, I don’t really understand much of it, but I like to listen to it. It is li
ke they sing when they talk.

One time I was standing in line in a store behind an old Danish woman, and when she found out I was Dutch, she said: Oh, you speak a horrible language, I don’t like it at all. Well, so much for foreign relations. Not very diplomatic. I forgave her on the spot, she had probably met those pesky drunk Dutch people on vacation in Denmark who spoil it for everybody else.

Well, this is all very good and well, but now I have to stop and feed the cats and walk the dog. It really is that time of the morning again. It has been fun sitting here chatting away, depriving you of pictures of me, but there has to be an end to it some time.

Have a terrific day everybody. All of you people in England, keep your feet dry. Ciao…

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