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Posts Tagged ‘the netherlands’

It’s been another wonderful day here in the low countries. although living in the part that has the hills doesn’t quite qualify me for that, so the altitude must be blamed for whatever strangeness the day brought me. Call it altitude sickness at 90 meters height.

I was so not in the mood for ergo therapy and would have gladly bowed out, but I did that last week and didn’t think I could not show up again this week. I think it is because I am confronted with myself that I try to chicken out of it and pretend to be bored with it. I always make a lot of noise when we are told what our assignments are and balk at them quite a bit and state very clearly that I won’t be able to do them, because I feel to much resistance, and I do.

Today we had to make a drawing in sets of two and try to cooperate with each other to come to a somewhat pleasant whole. I felt ornery and not like cooperating and threw a wrench in the works by drawing flowers called “I want me nots” and one that was decapitated by the queen of “off with their heads.” In the sky there was an KLM airplane with escaping “I want me not” flowers, who were going to the Costa Brava to dance in discos. My partner drew happy blue clouds and a sun in the sky and a bird flying around and wanted to create a happy scene, but felt very frustrated by me. After talking about it with the instructor, we added a glass of wine and 5 cans of beer and a bowl of sour cream Pringles and a parachuting “I want me not,” who changed his mind and became an “I want some after all.” So all ended in laughter. I have been accused of having a sarcastic sense of humor. I said that happens when I feel cornered and I can’t get out.

Then I raced my bike to the pharmacy to get my supply of “make me feel better drugs” and the girl there thought there was a mistake in the way they were prescribed and I said that no, it was strange but true and I was the living proof of it. It bothered me that on the box I was still identified with my married name, when yesterday on my thyroid medicine I was on there with my maiden name. I must make a fuss about this. I can’t wait to get my insurance I.D. card in my own name, I know it’s on its way. Then I’ll really make some changes. I love being Irene S**ders. It comes out quite easily now and Irene is not a common name in the Netherlands, so I don’t meet many people with that name. They never look like me and I think they should.

I wasted an afternoon doing administrative work and cleaning up the house and walking the dog, whom I have discovered really understands three things really well and those are all you need to know. Those are the words NO and HERE and a good hard tug at the leash. If you say or do those things with conviction, you have no problems. All the rest is just extra noise to him that he does or does not listen to sometimes. I discovered that, because he has been testing me lately and I decided not to put up with any of his shenanigans and get tough with him and short. I saw he was waiting to see what I would do in anticipation and I tried to stay one step ahead of him. Darn dog, I’ll show him. The Uberhund, really. I am the Uberhund.

The exfactor and his friend Hans showed up at five to take his stuff to his new house. They loaded up the car quickly and the small trailer that fit the bed and some odds and ends, but took the time to have a coffee. Now this Hans is an artist whose wonderful contraptions could go straight into a museum as far as i am concerned. The man is a genius. He is also very good looking and quite sexy in an odd sort of way. I certainly would fall for him, but he is taken quite seriously. Still, he is a sight to behold and I enjoy that. I bet he looks great naked and I don’t think that about many men. Every once in a while you just meet one.

They didn’t get everything done today, so they are coming back on Friday. Mmm, get to enjoy myself again.

The thing in this apartment is, is that when you move furniture away from the walls you are either left with mildew stains or peeling wallpaper of both, so I have spent some time tonight getting rid of mildew and repasting wallpaper. I’ll have to paint over the mildew stains with special paint, which we happen to have some of and we had some thick wallpaper glue that will last for a thousand years. Besides, it’s where my new bed is going to go, so it isn’t such a big deal, but it’s a shitty apartment and you always have to have a window open because of the dampness of it. It’s like a cave. It’s got severe disabilities.

So, now I have to wait for my nice little single bed to get here. The bedroom is all ready for it. People joke and say that it’s going to get awfully cramped in my bed, but I think I will do quite well there on my own. That’s why I got it, to be there on my own. I I ever have another man in my life, he will have to sleep on the sofa or go home to his own house.

When the guys were loading up the stuff in the car, the Uberhund kept running in and out of the apartment and had a great time. he thought it was so exciting. At one point he came to get me, who was in the kitchen, but he wanted me to come and join in the fun of it. So, I took my coffee outside and sent admiring glances at the work that the guys did while the Uberhund stood beside me wagging his stubby tail. He is truly a fun and games dog.

Of course, he made a terrible big deal out of the fact that the minion cat was sitting on the Exfactor’s lap and he was ever so jealous and moaned and groaned like an old woman with arthritis. It’s all a terrible show he puts on. He does no such thing at any other time.

Now I am sitting here waiting for sleep to over take me, which it should any minute now. I feel it creeping up on me. I feel hunger in my stomach and thirst in my mouth, so I will go and satisfy them too.

Have a great evening, what’s left of it.

Ciao…

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Eduard objected to the fact that I said in my previous post that he went out back to make a quick phone call before he went off on his motorcycle. He did not make a phone call then and he says it makes him look sneaky, which he isn’t anymore. So, I withdraw that statement and say that I don’t know when he made that phone call, but he did not sneak out back and make it. That was my mistake. I hope I rectified that here.

When he came home, we had our first ‘normal’ discussion about our divorce and what we need to do in order to dissolve our marriage. It went very amicably and I think that we will handle it just fine and that we will not have any major arguments about it. We seem to agree on how we want things to go and how to divide things up and who gets which cats and Eduard is being more than fair, as he should be. We will do it so it causes the least amount of upset for me and Eduard will help me in every possible way. It will be a friendly and cordial divorce and afterwards we will have a friendly and cordial relationship. I did not say friendship, I said friendly and cordial.

I, for one, feel greatly relieved. I don’t know how Eduard feels and I won’t try to interpret that here. I feel like I am crawling out of a deep dark cave that I’ve been living in for a long while and am going out in the sunshine again. It will be wonderful to live my own life by my own rules and be answerable only to myself. I am ready to be an individual and not to be in a symbiotic relationship that was unhealthy for the both of us. We were codependent of each other and it was not good, because we fed each other’s worst aspects. Now that we are going to be apart, I can see that so clearly. A lot of good is going to come out of this, I can see that now.

I am not planning on having another relationship, because I don’t think relationships bring out the best in me. I think I am dysfunctional in relationships and I don’t wish to be. I am afraid that, until I am completely who I am supposed to be, I will not function well with somebody else, and that may take me the rest of my life. That is fine with me. I will concentrate on other sorts of relationships first. The friendship kinds and the family bonds. First I will become the Nora that I have the vision of and that is going to take some practice.

My lumbago! Well, what can I say? It is painful, but the painkillers help a lot, they really do and I get around a little better. The desk chair is still the best place to be and I spent a lot of time there yesterday. I can’t afford another round at the physiotherapist, so ten days worth of painkillers should do the trick, if I need them that long at all. I’ve heard of other people that it usually lasts 4 to 5 days. Darn, and I was doing so well too.

I found a lot of new to me artists over at Deezer’s yesterday and made a long playlist. Some of them I can get at the library, so I will get the CD”s there. In the meantime, I can listen to the playlist. I just can’t share it with you, which is kind of a bummer, because I would want you to know sometimes which artists I have found and listen to. Have you ever heard of a band called “Death Cab for Cutie”? Well, that’s my point and they are good! So are Badly Drawn Boy and The Shins and Nada Surf and Phoenix and dEUS.

Well, me and my newly found wisdom about modern music! Jeez, speaking of the newly converted. If anybody wants to point me to a really good artist, then please feel free to do so. In the meantime, you can watch and listen to this. By the way, dEUS is a Belgian rock band.

I think The Netherlands should get together with Flanders and form one country and become the United Low Countries and have a president. We share a language and a culture and a history, we may as well become one and it would make for an ever so much more interesting country if we had the Flemish in it also. They have a better sense of humor then we do, socially and politically. We would do away with the royal houses and have presidential elections and all sorts of wonderful political parties. I wonder when someone is seriously going to consider this? Maybe I should start up a movement. They have wonderful food and beers there also. I think we should do it. All those in favor…Are there any Belgian readers in the house?

Well, now I am going to end this epistle. I’ve blathered on long enough. I am going to read some blogs, I mustn’t neglect my good friends out there. I am actually waiting for it to be time for it to take the rest of my medicines. I still have to wait 45 minutes, that seems like a long time.

Have a fun Sunday. Have a sunny Sunday and a lazy one.

Ciao.

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Yesterday evening Eduard noticed that I was acting dysphoric and that I had been since the afternoon. I could only think that this was very perceptive of him and do something about my medication.

Actually, there was more that I could think about doing, being dysphoric and all, but that would have been counterproductive. I am still feeling quite contrary, so I am not out of that mood yet, and I see imaginary danger in shadows all around me. I am doubtful and weary and leery. I am suspicious, but I know it is my imagination and not to put too much value on it. A little bit of paranoia goes a long, long way.

Now I am sitting here having odd thoughts through which I swim towards reality. I must ignore the unreasonable and the illogical and come to some sort of rational thought. I think I still know the difference. I may have to take an extra pill.

I must document this process of me trying to emerge from my own irrational thoughts. Swimming in a jar of amoebas, trying to get to the surface and get out of it. It is thick and sludgy and tough going. Emerge I will. Victory will be mine. No, I am not like Nero watching Rome burn down or like Caesar conquering the barbarians.

I have just taken another pill (the kind that melts on your tongue and works quickly) and I have busied myself making cigarettes. I have turned on the kitchen faucet for the cats, but now they are only sitting there staring at it as if it is a great landscape feature like a waterfall. Maybe it works soothing for them, like a babbling brook does for us. They are absolutely hypnotized by it.

It is the coffee and the cigarettes that are giving me some semblance of normalcy. They are pulling me through this, but I think that pill is starting to work, because I am clambering out of that jar of amoebas now. I must get into a most normal as possible state by this afternoon. I can’t be all fragile and unbalanced. It will be unseemly and awkward if I am. Always go for the gold.

Life is a question of priorities, but as your mood changes, so your priorities change. When you are feeling dysphoric, all you want to do is feel as normal as quickly as possible and that means feeling not irritated and not suspicious and not impatient. Those are your only priorities then and you have no other goals or interests but those, unless you are so caught up in the feelings that you are not aware of them, because no one has pointed them out to you, and you are just speeding along in them being a danger to yourself and innocent bystanders.

Every change in mood brings the responsibility of its own set of priorities to straighten out situations as quickly as possible. So, in a way, you are constantly doing damage control and setting new priorities, unless you are between moods and are in a neutral space and have neutral feelings, when priorities seem to present themselves in their own good time at their own slow pace. I know very few people who live in spaces like these, but they do exist and I can hardly take them very seriously, because they have not done battle, but I do envy them their lives.

Of course, nobody is safe from external factors, such as war and natural catastrophes and death. We all have to deal with those things and receive the blows of them. These things don’t discriminate between those of us of complicated minds and those of us of easy minds. Imagine how difficult it must be to receive these blows when you are, for instance, already clinically depressed or hypo manic or dysphoric or psychotic. It is my experience that during such an episode, I can deal with the catastrophe, only to go tumbling down twice as hard afterwards and fall very deeply and stay down very deeply at an almost unreachable place. The catastrophe gets internalized and becomes part of the psyche of the person who was struck and is woven into the fabric of her mind.

The image above is made from a collage by Lisa Sarsfield. Here is the original:

Yesterday, I spent a lot of time sleeping. Every time in the morning I thought I was done, I went to sleep some more on the sofa, until I was well and truly done at noontime and I walked Jesker, but then Eduard came home early in the afternoon and we took another nap together until 4 PM, which was lovely also. I don’t know where all this need for sleep is coming from, but it is most welcome. I get so very grumpy when I need to sleep and ignore it and it feels like my world is falling apart when all I need is sleep. I also feel a great desire to eat when I am tired, so that’s a real big signal. It’s hard to ignore that one.

Our Queen was on a state visit to Estonia. She was traveling by herself, except for all the usual attendants and security people, of course. She is 70 years old and her husband, whom she loved very much, died some years ago. Sometimes the crown prince and his wife accompany her on visits, but often she goes alone and I feel so sorry for her. She always has a cheerful, smiling face and always looks attentive and interested and never seems to tire. She always has to look as if she is in the best of moods and as if she is knowledgeable about every subject, which she probably is, knowing our Queen. She is the best ambassador to our country that we have, but the the cameras show her sitting by herself at the dining table at some state diner and she is all alone and I do feel for her. We think she is going to abdicate in two years time, at least, that is a slip of the tongue she made to the many journalists that follow her.

There, that was just some information about the Queen I threw in. A bit of culture about the Netherlands. Oh, and her name is Beatrix of Orange-Nassau and the crown prince is Willem-Alexander of Orange-Nassau. I think he will be King Willem the IV.

I bet in England, Charles is never going to be made king and William will be crowned king after his grandmother, so you will have a King William there as well.

It has just started to rain like crazy and it is thundering also, so our spell of heat is over. It was fun while it lasted, but I didn’t get out in the sun much. There will be no tanning for me ever again. No extra wrinkles in this delicate skin which is still peachy smooth. Hey, I can’t help it, great skin runs in the family.

Okay, I think I am off to bed again. have a great day.

Ciao…

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In the Netherlands, religious holidays are always celebrated on Sunday and Monday, so today is also an official holiday and Eduard has the day off and all the stores and everything are closed. I should say that a religious holiday is celebrated for two days, so we have first and second Easter Day and first and second Christmas Day etc.

It is appreciated very much by the general population, of course, except that you always have to remember to do extra shopping, allowing for that extra day when all the shops are closed, besides them being closed on Sundays. I think in the States what we have now is called Pentecost, but I am not absolutely sure. It is Whitsun in England.

When I write England, I really mean Great Britain, Just like people say Holland when they really mean The Netherlands. Holland refers to just the two western provinces of South and North Holland. I guess it is the same as saying America when people really mean The United States of. Canada and Mexico are in North America too.

I guess it would be better if we were all more accurate, but people in the Netherlands really refer to their country as that, except for the Limburgers who mean everybody who does not come from Limburg when they say Hollanders. Then try to explain to them that you are not a Hollander when you come from some other region in the Netherlands. Somebody from the Northeast does not want to be referred to as a Hollander.

It is actually almost 5 AM and I slept from 9 PM last night. The only reason that I am up now is because I had to go to the toilet. That always wakes me up sufficiently to make me want to stay up and have my first mug of coffee and my first cigarette. It is one of the highlights of my day. I walk into the living room, turn on the lights, turn on the computer and walk into the kitchen to make my first mug of Senseo. When I am done doing that, the computer is ready and I am ready to blog.

Physically, I have all the symptoms of a depression. I am slow as a sloth and unmotivated and absentminded and uninterested in many things. My main occupations are sleeping, daydreaming and blogging, but I am not unhappy. I am just enormously slow and preoccupied with very unimportant things. Nothing really gets accomplished and I really don’t care. I am perfectly contend to just waste the whole day not accomplishing anything at all.

I would only start to worry if I got visions of doom to go with this, but I don’t have those. In my own way, I am perfectly happy, as long as no one expects anything out of the ordinary from me. A lot is out of the ordinary right now. It can mean many things, such as walking the dog at noontime in the hot sun and feeling that I have to drag my body through the warm day. What a bother. And doing yesterday’s dishes promptly in the morning, I’m just not up to it. The only thing I still don’t mind doing very much is the laundry. For some reason, that is still very satisfying.

Eduard has an outing planned for us today. It involves the motorcycle and riding into Belgium. The rest is a surprise. I hope it involves a lot of sitting down at café tables having cappuccinos. That’s what I would really like. I hope it doesn’t involve a lot of hiking, but knowing Eduard it is going to be strenuous, because he is in such good shape. I will wear my hiking boots, just in case and then I will tell you all about it tomorrow. With my bone weary body, which is going to get a nice massage then from the physiotherapist.

I have been sitting very crooked again and I think it is because I am not paying enough attention. I have a big pain in my right side from eternally leaning on the armrest of the office chair. I have to remember to sit on two buns and I keep forgetting. If I remember, I automatically sit straight. Once I am leaning on the armrest good, I have a heck of a time getting myself off it without it hurting. I move like an old injured woman.

Last night I dreamed that my ex, the republican, was working for Barack Obama and that he was begging him for a raise. Apparently I was still married to him, because we lived in a house of which the walls were covered in ivy, but that had no roof and we could not afford the mortgage and the Jeep Cherokee. Barack Obama’s wife drove her Jeep Cherokee in rallies and he suggested that I do the same thing and I told him that I could not afford the gas.

Then I dreamed that Jesus was supposed to be burned on the cross in a motel room and that it was all carefully planned by his disciples and him, according to some version of the Old Testament, except that something went wrong in the planning and that a careless chambermaid ignited the fire too soon by creating a draft while making the beds when Jesus wasn’t on the cross yet. He tried to get on in the middle of the fire, but it was too late and he and Simon were arguing about whose responsibility it had been that there had been a snafu. It was decided that the chambermaid was in cohorts with the devil and therefor she became evil.

Then I dreamed that I lived in an institution with other people who regularly became psychotic and who had to give themselves injections when they did, but there was a major campaign to get them and their periodic craziness accepted by the public at large and to have them inject themselves while they were out performing regular jobs during which they would become psychotic. One man was a door to door insurance salesman and was proud of the fact that he would get psychotic during a visit and excuse himself and give himself an injection and be alright again 20 minutes later.

One of the exercises we did in the institution was ballroom dancing and I thought it was scary to dance with crazy people and also to go out onto the grounds and go for walks with them. I was torn between accepting that I was as crazy as them and denying it and being afraid of them.

Well, some of that is pretty clear while the rest of it is very obscure. Anyone who can figure it out is welcome to.

Eduard is still very busy sleeping. Sometimes I can here him snore a bit. That never bothers me and sometimes Jesker snores too, so they snore in unisome. Yesterday morning, I didn’t let Jesker out on time and he did a piddle on the living room floor, much to his own embarrassment. He is mortified when he does and this is only the second time that he has. I must have been so preoccupied that I didn’t pick up any urgent signals. He is such a good dog and really waits until there is no other option.

Lord, the thought of getting the show on the road is really daunting. It must be done and I am trying to figure out what is important and how quickly I need to do what and in which order. I think as long as Eduard is not up, I am not going to worry about a thing, though. That’s a good excuse, don’t you think?

I suppose that is all I’ve got to share with you for now. I’ll go and visit some other bloggers in my alter ego, or should I say my real ego, because I do insist on being Norah here. Even if it means being “Bloody Norah.” Noortje is just an endearment for Norah.

Oh, by the way, after some time, I will delete my other blog. Say in about a month. That will give everybody the opportunity to have made the move. I think that is more than ample time. Maybe I’ll do it sooner. Say, in about 2 weeks. After that I will have to find a way to gather new readers around me. It will be a whole new challenge.

Have a terrific day, don’t work too hard, because none of us here are.

Ciao…

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Well, I have already been up for a while, but I didn’t get up at such an ungodly hour that is was beyond ridiculous. I have been up since 4:30 am and I think that’s not half bad. As a matter of fact, Eduard has been up to make himself something to eat and has gone back to bed with a cup of coffee, so I wasn’t the only adult up and about. Jesker was momentarily confused by the early hour, but has gone back to sleep on his pillow beside Eduard’s side of the bed.

I am working on my third cup of coffee and my third cigarette and my Oxzaepam is working. That’s always very important, because that means I feel relaxed enough to write and hopefully write with my senses wide open. When I took my Oxazepam, I took it with a swig of milk from the carton and for a second I had visions of the pill having ended up in the carton and not my stomach, but I think all is well now, because I distinctly feel it working.

Neda has a fun activity today. She wants us all to write a story together to a collage she made, so for a good try at that go here. Rima wants us to cheer up her niece’s life and to find out how to do that go here. And you can try and find out the Crime and Punishment theme in Frances’ life by going here. I couldn’t, so let me know if you could. I am a little slow in these things. I never would have made a great detective or another Agatha Christie. There hides no sleuth in me.

My friend Lucien called me yesterday to find out how my week had gone and if I had done any fun things, such as go into town, to which I replied, “No, I have become a complete home body and all I want to do is stay at home and sit behind the computer or hang out on the sofa and drink numerous cups of Senseo.” She asked me if I was depressed and I said, “Well, my body acts like it is depressed, but my mind isn’t.” And this is true. I don’t have my normal get up and go and I would rather not do something than do it, but I don’t feel unhappy. I think I would feel unhappy now if I weren’t taking the Oxazepam, but that is making me into such a nice and mellow person that I can truly still give all my days sevens, even though I accomplish so very little. Well, if you don’t count the hours I spend behind the computer generating ‘art’ and organizing it and planning on what I am going to do with it.

So, my body is sort of in a hibernation mode, but my mind is not completely shut down yet and I am still capable of thought, albeit in a nice and easy sort of way. All of this is fine with me, it doesn’t bother me at all and the days go by easily. This opposed to Lucien who seems to fall from one mood into another, as she goes from feeling fine to not feeling fine at all and it seems to change rapidly. Which makes me think she is a rapid cycler, which is a psychiatric term for people who switch moods quickly and often. I wonder if nobody picks up on this or if they think she is just a moody person? I am always surprised by the mood she is in when I pick up the phone, because it is very seldom the mood she was in when I last spoke to her. At least I am consistent. When I am down, I stay down and when I am hypo manic, I stay hypo manic.

Right now I am comfortably mellow and consistently low performing and it is all very familiar to me and causes me no great alarm, because I have seen it all before and I have experienced it all before and I know it is part of the package of how I am put together. The thing to do is not to panic, and I might easily have done so if it were not for the Oxazepam. I think when Jung speaks of the Shadow, then it is this Shadow that comes out in the wintertime and it is this entity that I grapple with and loose from if I don’t have the proper medication. It’s an antagonist you don’t want to meet in a dark alley on your own without the proper back up.

So, Lucien struggles with her demons and she hasn’t found a way to do that properly yet. I think there is a lot of psychology she has to learn still, because she seems to lack an awful lot of insight into her own behavior and relies too much on other people’s points of view to determine how she should feel about something. She doesn’t realize that she is an independent and free human being who is liberated and capable of making choices that she can base on information that is also available to her if she tried to find out about it. There is much to be said for the emancipation of the psychiatric patient and this is what is meant when my psychiatrist says that people should come out of their roles as victims and become active doers. Take matters more into their own hands. Be assertive and responsible. Become the managers of their own disorder.

I used to be a terrible victim of my disorder. All I could think of was that I was the disorder and nothing else, as if I had no personality left to me, but that of the disorder. As if all I was, was a list of symptoms and nothing else. Every word, every deed, every thought, was suspect and a direct result of the disorder. All of my innocence was gone and all of my spontaneity. Everything was held under a big microscope and examined and analyzed for faulty wiring and faulty logic. I didn’t trust my own common sense anymore, because I thought I had none. Whatever I wanted or needed was second guessed at and rejected for being probably unreasonable and coming from some deep dark recess of my mind where the disorder was settled in very well. I didn’t trust my own feelings and the people around me didn’t trust my own feelings.

Well, I have left all of that behind me now. Now I am just Ee-ray-nuh, the mostly pragmatic Dutch woman with the large amount of common sense. I do trust my gut instincts and other people trust me too. They have forgotten the time when they didn’t, because I have acted so ‘normal’ for such a long time now. Coming up on three years. No, it is three years and one month now since I have been ‘normal’. Actually, it is five years, but I don’t count all those years, because I was still depressed for a lot of that time. People think you are ‘normal’, they just don’t remember what it is like when you are your ‘normal’ cheerful self.

The church clocks just rang seven. Pretty soon we will also have people calling us to prayer from the minarets of the mosques. The country is changing. One million Muslims live in our country, so you can’t call them a minority any longer. Only sixteen million people live in this country, after all. American studies have shown that it takes three to four generations for immigrants to be integrated into a s
ociety and people here are already getting very worried about the second generation and what is to become of them. There is a disproportionate high school drop out rate and an equally high crime rate and some radicalization. Maybe we should look to the United States, which is a country of immigrants, and see how things work out in reality. Dire things were claimed about the Italians and the Irish and the Poles and many other immigrant groups, but they were all integrated eventually. We are trying to reinvent the wheel here.

My ex husband was Danish, Irish, French, British, Swiss and some other minor nationalities. None of them came over on the Mayflower, except that one British ancestor did come to the United States in the 17th century. The rest were later immigrants who came to find their fortune in the land of milk and honey. I am sure they all arrived with nothing but what they could hand carry and a small amount of money maybe. They were coming for the same reasons why South American people are trying to cross the border now. To escape a life of poverty, which is why immigrants come to Europe, mostly. We welcome them when there is enough work, but hate them when we are confronted with their social and religious systems and subsequent difficulties of integration. We like it when they do the dirty work that nobody else will do, but when, after twenty or thirty years, those jobs are gone, we don’t like them to stay here and receive unemployment benefits. And we don’t like their children, who don’t want to conform. Or so we think, because we only point our fingers at the bad cases.

Well, now, how in the world did I get on that subject? Oh yes, it was those church bells ringing. Silly custom, but you stop hearing them after a while when they ring all the time, except for when you live right next door. Limburg is a very Catholic province, so there are always church bells ringing for reasons unbeknown to me, not being familiar with those customs. Here, everybody is a Catholic, but nobody goes to church, except to be baptized and married and buried. There are no Atheists.

Well, it is time for me to be a good owner to the pets and to be a good wife to my husband, whom I think I hear waking up. We didn’t go to town yesterday, because he helped Lieve place a carburetor or something in an engine block. I don’t know, they do mysterious things with motorcycles and I don’t know anything about it. So, I missed him all yesterday afternoon, which wasn’t too bad, because I got a lot of things done behind the computer and didn’t have to worry about being anti social.

Right, have a great day, have a great Saturday, ciao…

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Firstly, before I do anything else, I want to refer you to the website of Sue O’Kieffe that is called Sacred Circle Mandalas and you will see there how a great mandala is truly made. She is the master of mandala making. I have a lot to learn and she is a great inspiration to me always. Hats off to you Sue, for doing a magnificent job all the time and for knowing how to use the Photoshop software really well and understanding the different applications so well. You have a masterly hand and brain.

The mandalas of the peaches that I am posting here, I am less happy with than the mandalas of the oranges that I posted yesterday, but I said that I would post all of my efforts, including the ones that turned out not as well as I would have liked them to. Or maybe it is just a question of personal taste and you will find these just fine. The image to start with was not that inspiring, just three peaches laying there bunched together without much other color in them. I realize now that I could have added a different color border, but I think I was trying to see what would happen if I just let the color of the peaches do their work. They did have a bit of green leaf, but not much. Anyway, you be the judge of them and tell me what you think off them.

I have had some new visitors to my blog and it is always a lot of fun to see new names pop up in the comments. Then, of course, I have to find out who they are and what their blogs are all about and that increases the fun even more. You find out that people have a diversity of hobbies and that all ages are interesting, but that the young mothers are especially endearing with their young brood and their enthusiasm for life. You hope that you convey some of that enthusiasm yourself still, beside the occasional cynicism.

Yesterday was another completely wasted day when you count it in terms of getting things done around the apartment. Eduard even commented on the fact that I didn’t seem to be taking my chores very seriously right now, to which I answered that all would get done before Friday night when I celebrate my birthday and I know I will go through this place like a whirlwind and have it cleaned up in no time at all. My motivation to clean things really well has been locked away in a box in my brain that is almost inaccessible to me right now. I know it is there and I will break it open on Friday afternoon and get everything done at the last minute and all will look spotless.

In the meantime, I sit here and am very happy that I feel such peace because of the Oxazepam and notice the difference when it has stopped working and I have to take the next pill and wait for it to start working again. I want to buy my psychiatrist a bouquet of flowers for writing me the prescription and allowing me to feel this peaceful and for shoving the unnameable stress and irrational irritation to some place in the far away nether regions. It is a joy to feel the tranquility that the medication brings and it is such a relief to function in this state of mind as opposed to the other one in which I am moody and unreasonable and panicky. I find myself to be able to open my heart to what is around me and to really enjoy those things and to appreciate them and to feel love for them. Other people may achieve this state of being by meditating, but I am glad I can take a shortcut and achieve it this way. And now, when I want to sit and contemplate my navel, I can really do that and achieve a peaceful feeling very quickly.

I didn’t wake up this morning until 5:30 am and I think that is pretty darn good. At least I am starting to sleep like a normal human being. I went to be at 10 pm and was out like a light in no time. So, I am sleeping more normal hours and I am happy about that. I do wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and I look at my watch and see that it is some ungodly hour like 1:30 am and I don’t even contemplate staying up. I go back to bed and don’t even remember pulling the duvet over me to go to sleep again. Sensibility is becoming my middle name, that and the fact that my legs seem to buckle under me when I try to walk and I feel like I am going to collapse on my way to and from the bathroom. I make a strange zig-zagging journey back to bed and sort of fall into it. I am avoiding bumping into furniture just yet, but only just yet. I do bounce off the walls.

I am always so happy when it is really morning and time to get up. When I check with myself and see that I am really and truly awake. Nowadays, the first thing I do is put on my bathrobe, because it is a little chilly in the morning and we still have the windows open on a crack. Then I turn on the computer and take my Oxazepam with a glass of water. Then I make a pot of coffee and while that is brewing, I make a cup of Senseo. By that time the computer is warmed up and I can check my emails and comments. Usually their are a bunch of comments that require a response from me and with my half sleepy head, I proceed to do that. I properly wake up after the first cup of Senseo and then proceed to drink the regular coffee. After a few cups of that, the Oxazepam also is working, and I can fully absorb all the information in other people’s blogs and I always start with my favorites, such as Frances’ and Neda’s and Rima’s and Debi’s. There are lots of other blogs I read, but I save them for later. First I have to see what my women are up to.

Imagine having to forgo this ritual when I have a job! I hope they offer me a part time job that starts in the afternoon so that I will keep waking up the way I do now. Of course, I am a morning person and it is when I would deliver my best work. So, to be fair to my future employer, I should start work in the morning. We’ll see, I may not have much choice in the matter at all and just have to take what they offer me. I think in the end that is how it will work out.

I’ve told you that I really don’t have the time to have a job, but that I need the money. I would be perfectly happy staying home, doing the things I am doing now. I am very seldom bored and very often feel that there are not enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to do. I don’t have enough time to read quality books and I don’t have enough time to watch quality films. Sadly, I don’t get paid for doing these pleasant things. I do get a monthly housewife allowance of a 156 Euros that is paid to me by the state for being a stay at home wife. That is to give women like me some pocket money, but we always end up spending it on tobacco. It’s a good initiative anyway. But I very rarely feel like I have dull days with nothing to do and nothing to fill my time. It helps that Eduard is home in the afternoons, of course, it makes for a nice break in the days. So, I actually already have a quite pleasant life.

But we do need the money, as the month is always a little too long for the paycheck we have. We nickel and dime everything to death and that causes Eduard some stress, so it would be
a very good thing if I also brought in some money. We have some debts that we need to clear up and that would make a lot of difference in our monthly financial burden. I don’t think I have any rich relatives that are going to leave me a legacy any time soon, so we have to face the reality. It would be a wonderful thing to pay those off. So, therefor, I really do need to get a job and I think that I mentally am in a good enough state to handle that now, where before I was very unsure about it.

It is almost unheard of anyway that both people in the marriage don’t work. It seems to be the rule rather than the exception. Even for couples our age. There was an item on the news last night that there were 20,000 after school care places needed for children whose parents both work. The government wants women back in the workforce, but is unable to provide the after school care that is needed and there are huge waiting list with the women generally being the victims of this problem in not being able to go to work properly and build up their careers. The government says that it had not anticipated this number of children needing after school care and had miscalculated it completely. Fathers just shrug their shoulders and carry on as usual, but it is the women that are left holding the bag.

Now, luckily, I don’t have that problem, but then again, I am not looking for a career. And when my children were growing up, I was just one of many women who stayed home and filled their time taking care of their kids and doing volunteer work. Sadly, that doesn’t prepare you for the real wold when your marriage doesn’t work out and you have to make it on your own and obtain some standard of living that you and your children are accustomed to. It was customary then to stay married, although I never knew if anyone was happily, it wasn’t discussed. Being married was our job, we just did it and received the benefits that came with it, social status and ease of living. We were living the American dream and felt ourselves to be privileged. Or so I thought.

It is nice to marry a man who can provide in your financial comfort and that of your children, but it is silly to put all your eggs in one basket. You can’t assume that you will live happily ever after, unless you are willing to go through live with blinders on and accept a lot that is unacceptable. Given optimal circumstances, it may be possible to pull it off, but that would be all that you were doing and that is not living happily ever after. Unless you don’t believe in that dream anyway. There is always an obstacle that you encounter, that suddenly makes it impossible to go on living your imaginary dream any longer and you must be prepared to take another course of action that is equally satisfying and rewarding.

Okay, I will stop preaching now, because I must take care of the animals. Eduard has already gone to work and Jesker is asleep on his pillow, no doubt waiting patiently for me to get done here and I don’t know where the cats are. None of them can be seen. They’ll suddenly appear when I get out their food dishes.

Here we go for another wonderful day in which I will probably accomplish very little, but in which I will feel good nevertheless and have my peace and tranquility all over the place. I forgot to go on the scales this morning, but yesterday I weighed 92.7 kilos, so not much is happening there. After having rated my days with fives and sixes for a while, I am now back up to sevens, and that is good and how it should be.

Have a great day, people, ciao…

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Well, I told you, I had my little sleep and here I am again, drinking my coffee, smoking my cigarettes, reading blogs, getting the day started. I wanted to go on the scales this morning, but then I forgot all about it and now I have had three cups of coffee, so I won’t. Every little ounce counts, after all, and I don’t want to become discouraged. I always want to weigh myself before any food or drink has passed my lips, in my underwear, holding my breath to make myself as light as possible.

Contrary to what I had hoped for, the last 26 lbs are not coming off that easily. They have gripped my body tightly and won’t let go. I think that I am still eating too much and that the portions should be smaller, so maybe the next time the gastric band is filled, that will make the difference between eating enough and eating just a little less. Oh, what the heck, I am going to weigh myself and see what the damage is…

Well, the damage is 93.8 kilos, which I am not happy about at all, because the last time I weighed myself it was 92.4 kilos, so this won’t do at all. I keep moving up and down a kilo or so and that’s no fun. I must be smarter about the food I eat. It isn’t that I eat large portions, but they are obviously not small enough yet for me to be losing the weight, which makes me think that the gastric band it not working optimally yet. So, next month the obesitas nurse specialist can just fill that thing a bit more and not be so careful about it, for all I care. I think I am going to live on dry toast and crackers, although I am not looking forward to that.

I remember my neighbor telling me that the last kilos were hard to get rid off. I didn’t believe her at the time, because I thought the gastric band would do the work for you, but now I am having some serious doubts. If it isn’t filled properly, it can’t work properly and you really have to diet. Right then, toast it is and Melba toast and cheese and crackers. It will be dull eating for a while, but it will be for a good cause.

I am trying to remember what we used to do when it was Labor Day weekend when I still lived in California, but nothing immediately springs to mind. I think we may have barbecued a lot, sort of the last barbecue of the year if I remember correctly. My life in the States seems as if it happened to someone else and sometimes I have a hard time remembering the details of it. Of course, I’ll never forget Christmas dinners and Thanksgiving dinners for all the abundance of food and all the left over turkey. I used to think that heated up stuffing with turkey was especially good.

We don’t do anything that traditional here. People fix more exotic foods if they have a family dinner, we don’t have a traditional dish as such. It is a bit of a custom to eat game in the form of venison or pheasant or duck or some such bird. People also eat rabbit or lamb. There are no traditional vegetables persé, although sweet and sour red cabbage with apples is eaten a lot. Potatoes are served plain boiled. We don’t have any of the delicious traditional pies for desert, like pumpkin pie or apple pie. Usually it is something like bavarois or another kind of exotic desert. Usually something with lots of fresh fruit and whipped cream. We don’t fix huge amounts of foods and then have days worth of left overs. We fix just enough and maybe some people get a small second helping if they want.

In America people as a rule eat very large portions of food. Their plates are twice as full of food as they are here when they go to a restaurant. I’ll never forget going to a Denny’s for the first time and seeing the huge breakfasts that were served there. I couldn’t believe it! This was in the early seventies when cholesterol played no role yet in the daily diet and people just ate and ate and for such a low price too. A steak dinner for 5.95 and the steak was as big as the plate it was served on!

Now that I have the gastric band, I will never be able to go to a restaurant and order a plain meal again. I did used to like eating breakfast at Denny’s, but now I would only be able to eat a portion of scrambled eggs. My favorite breakfast used to be two eggs over easy, hashed browns, sausages, bacon, wheat toast with real butter and coffee. Although the coffee never tasted that good.

I also used to like going to Chevy’s and have their fresh tortillas and what is that grilled meat dish called that you wrap in the tortillas with guacamole and sour cream and fried onions? The name escapes me. I used to be a real food connoisseur and I never gained an ounce in America. It’s all that darn medication that did it here in the Netherlands.

I don’t really have a favorite food here, except maybe for croquettes which are our take out food. They can be quite nice if they are well made with lots of meat in them. But you can’t eat too many of them, as they are deep fried. There are also the frikandel which is a sausage that should be eaten with lots of mustard and onions and ketchup on it. Sensible people don’t eat it. It is too fattening! That’s the kind of food you eat secretly and then don’t tell anyone about.

The pies here are very good to eat. They are large and flat and are filled with all sorts of good ingredients, fresh fruit and whipped cream being my favorite one. There is also one filled with thick rice pudding that is very nice. And of course apples and peaches and strawberries. Nobody sits on a café terrace without ordering a piece of pie to go with their coffee. It is actually called ‘vlaai‘ and is typical for this region. They are exported throughout the Netherlands. You can order your coffee with whipped cream too, instead of just plain cream, which makes for an extra treat. The coffee is always very good and strong and is individually made with an espresso type machine. Similar to my Senseo Coffee maker.

Oh, of course, I forgot about the famous herring that has been cleaned and decapitated and that you pick up by the tail and eat with your head bent back. With onions on it for the best flavor. They have not been cooked, but only salted on board ship and the new herring is quite a treat. Everybody in the Netherlands eats herring like this. It’s a tradition. At one point when you are a child, you get a taste of one and you learn to like it and before long you are having your own whole herring. They are also good to eat on very dark rye bread. It’s a big
day every year when the fishing fleet comes back with the first new herring of the season. The herring is then judged to be either good or superb, depending on the fleshiness and firmness of it.

Writing about food is almost as good as eating it. I think I will be writing about it more than I will be eating it from this point on. It just depends on how many adjectives I can use to describe the food. Maybe I should become a restaurant critic. I could have little bites of food of each dish and everybody in the kitchen would worry about such a picky eater. I think a sushi restaurant would be the perfect place for me.

I just realized that today is Sunday and that means laundry day, amongst other things. It also means Eduard and Irene Sunday morning ritual day of staying in bed long and Eduard boiling eggs for brunch. I think I can’t wait that long for my food, though, and I will have some Maasdammer cheese before that time. We have no plans yet for today, but since I am in my hibernation mode, I don’t need for there to be any plans, really. Maybe we can ride our bikes downtown and sit on the terrace of our favorite café. It shouldn’t be too busy with tourists anymore now and the weather is still nice enough in the afternoon to sit outside.

I haven’t been to the chapel in such a long time and really feel no desire to go. It seems that all my religious curiosity and desires have disappeared for now. They really belonged to a very different mood. You see how I could never join a church, because I would only be an active and convinced member part of the year. I go from being completely convinced of my religious convictions, to not having any at all. It all leaves me totally indifferent now and I have no desire to ride my bike to the chapel and light a candle and say the Lord’s Prayer. I do kind of hope that it will come back, as it was a good time in my life, but for now I feel very little for my Higher Being and I am not aware of him/her performing any sort of function in my life at this point, when I was so convinced of it before. I am sure I was religiously manic for several months and I enjoyed the experience, but I can’t for the life of me get this feeling back now.

I have less enthusiasm about some other things too and I will blame it on my mood. I am a bit more withdrawn and contemplative and I don’t feel like getting all excited about what goes on there in the big wide world. Life certainly is not a techno color movie now. It is more like a very subdued low light art film in which the characters are unsure of their roles and their text and the director doesn’t always know what he is doing either. Maybe now I am in an Ingmar Bergman film and it is called Shadows of Memories.

Thank goodness there is Paint Shop to be creative and colorful with. I must make something every day, that’s a rule I made for myself. It doesn’t all have to be exuberant, but it does have to please me. I must feel some degree of satisfaction when I have made something and it also has to appeal to my sense of order. Therefor a mandala and a pattern. Always the two in pairs.

Well, now I’ve got to feed those darn cats again, they are waiting impatiently and Jesker is laying here by my feet, waiting to be walked. I do like my early morning rituals, though. They are nice ways to start the day and the animals are always so grateful and happy.

Have a wonderful day, everybody, ciao…

P.S. The images came of a photograph of a sparrow sitting on a branch in a snowy landscape.

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