Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Thank you 2013 - for all the experiences I have had this past year

It is nearly 2014. In less than 24 hours we will turn the page on our calendars.

What a date - 2014. 

How different the world now looks, 100 years on 1914. A time of war and poverty, hunger and unrest. I am convinced people wished each other Happy New year on the 31-12-1913. It took 4 years for that to happen.

Now here we are again- on the brink of another year, another chapter in our lives. And once again millions will be wishing each other a Happy, Healthy, Prosperous and Joyful New Year.

My wish for your 2014 year is for,

Happy -  by being thankful for what you have - not what you want. Count your blessings in thanks and gratitude. It makes the world smile at you. So smile back and enjoy.

Healthy - by making the right choices for your physical and emotional well being. Smoking, drinking, eating, exercising- all part of our responsibility- not the National Health Service! We were given a body- so we need to take care of it.

Prosperous - that you are able to take care of the needs of your family and hopefully also share and contribute to those less fortunate. This being in many forms like sharing skills, giving practical help, a listening ear, a supporting shoulder, gifts of love and compassion and where necessary monetary donations. Help others have a prosperous year too.

Joyful - that each day brings challenges and opportunities that give pleasure and satisfaction. Learn from experiences and look before you leap, take advice, weigh up pros' and cons' wisely. Life is a learning process and adventure, a gift to use well.

I am grateful for all that 2013 brought me. Yes, the sad and happy moments alike. Life isn't always a smooth ride, and it needn't be. I am grateful for those around me who walk along side me, for my faith which carries me and lifts me up when I am down, for those who laugh with me when I laugh and share with me when they need to share. With joyful anticipation I look forward to 2014 and all it's challenges and opportunities.

That the lessons I learnt in the past are strongholds and acts as a beacon for my future.



Thursday, 19 December 2013

To pa, with love

Pa loved life and all it offered him -
including a cold beer on a warm day.
Woudrichem Hotel mei 2012
On 19 December 2012 at approx. 9am pa Fijnekam, our dearest most loving and gentle father ( in law) left us for ever. What a sadness, what a pain, what a loss we felt. Unbelievable to have him with us one minute and gone the next.

Dear pa,

In just three weeks your independence slowly ebbed, your body began it's shut down process and although you wanted to ' stay just a little longer", your time to leave us had come.

We were heartbroken yet grateful that the battle was won- that you surrendered and received eternal
peace - a fitting reward for a beautiful and honourable life. Pa, you are a fine example of fatherhood, having nurtured and guided Leen and Arie in their lives, having been a wonderful father in law for both Irene ( RIP - 24 January 2001) and then accepting me as your second daughter in law- and I know from all those who knew her and loved her - you were a loving and generous husband to ma ( RIP - 24 January 1998).

Arie, pa and Leen - Zoutelande 2007
You suffered heavy losses three years apart- there were disappointments too, yet you kept your love for life alive by the way you shared this love with those around you. Every Wednesday lunchtime you sat at our table and shared lunch. Almost every evening you cooked a meal for you and Arie, every Saturday you visited tante Jaantje and most days, weather permitting,  you sat along the river watching the boats sail by accompanied 30 years long with your trusty friend(s) Rando I, II and III till July 2006 when your third German Shepperd died. Again you lost something dear to your heart.

Pa, you lived a full life, shared what you had in abundance and treated others with respect - you were loved by many and this became clear the day we committed your earthly body to the ground. What a crowd- what an attention, what a love surrounded us that day.

Today loomed, the past months you have been with us in memories and conversations. It was almost as if you hadn't quite left. Today the three of us will share our evening meal- topic of conversation- bet you can't guess what it will be? This past year, despite the highs- we've had many lows. Letting you go is harder than we thought it would be.

Dear darling pa, Rest in Peace - it is no more than you deserve. Go be with the angels and watch over us.

With love

Leen, Arie and Anita

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Picking up the routines of daily lfe

After being so spoilt, having 4 weeks of holidaying and being free from musts' and have to's it has taken longer to get back into some form of routine than I imagined. I think this was also influenced by the fact that my husband accompanied me on this trip whereas he normally stays home. Now both our routines were put on hold- instead of only mine.

Our visit to Terschelling- a joyful memory
The month November has quickly turned into December bringing with it the memories of 2012. On the 3rd of December my dearest father in law was admitted to hospital never to return his home again. I accompanied him that day in the ambulance- he was so distressed and unsure of what awaited him. So were we, my husband, brother in law and I. We were a close group of four sharing many many moments together. Enjoying each others company, respecting each others differences. We all felt deep down that this closeness was under threat. We were about to loose something and someone special. And that we did. On the 19th of december 2012 at approximately 9:00am pa ceased to be. We were devastated, totally grieved and mourned this great loss- our only comfort being that pa was without pain, at peace and sleeping the gentle everlasting sleep.

The normally cheerful month of December turned somber, dark and dreary. I remember vividly walking downstairs into the hospital lobby, after spending almost 3 full weeks at pa's bedside, wondering how on earth these people, who milled about with Christmas music everywhere and a huge Christmas Tree all decorated up, could be so cheerful on such a sad day. I wanted to scream at them- shout my grief out loud for all to hear- just as I wanted to shout my joy at the birth of my children and grandchildren. Such a huge and burdening emotion! Death - and thereby losing someone you love so dearly.

My dad always said " there is only one thing that is certain in life, and that is death. We will all experience it in due course". And I know that- but that doesn't and didn't make pa's death any easier to accept. Not on the eve of Christmas.... when the world is full of songs that proclaim the ' jolly tidings'.

I am a believer, I have faith and I pray. I pray in good times and in bad...I pray in thanksgiving and I pray for wisdom, for relief from pain and sadness, for others, for myself, for peace- for harmony and for forgiveness. I and thankful to have this faith and opportunity to pray. I also understand that there are those who don't pray or see the need to. What you've never had, you can't miss! Or don't you? I cannot for the life of me imagine what my life would be like without prayer.

Bad things happen to good people too! Having faith doesn't mean you are without life's struggles. It does offer me hope, peace, help in dark times and thankfulness in good times. When in doubt- pray! For guidance, for insight, for support, comfort, sharing a burden or joy. Praying doesn't mean begging. Praying is communicating- with one's God, for me with my God!

Here, December is in terms of seasons, the winter season. Long nights, darkish days where daylight is at a minimum- the shortest day is on the 21st december. It is, for many a time of doom and gloom, of not only dark days but also of dark thoughts. Loneliness and depression.

I have elected to pray this month for light- that lights will shine in hearts. That people will feel the message of hope that Christmas brings, that the joy isn't only heard in the carols but felt in the hearts of those needing the warmth of that light in their lives.

I know that the sadness of missing pa also allows me the room to be joyful and thankful for all he has meant to me and to all those he loved. And in that love I aim to enjoy the spirit of Christmas again- like I am meant to.

December the month of hope, light, peace and promise.

Let there be light

(Song to be heard while reading the lyrics)
Choose option - 'listen while you read'

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Girlie night- friends night

It hardly seems possible that we have been home for a week. Yes, a whole week. We fitted back into life's pattern without so much as a hitch picking up where we left off on the 4th of October.

We have made visits to friends and family, we have had a few diners sharing a meal, we have received and made welcome home phone calls and distributed the odd gifts.

Before I left I set a date with a group of women whom I am proud to call friends. We don't spend every weekend together but we are close. It is time for a girlie night. Time to share some experiences, catch up on events and just be girls.

I have chosen a movie, selected some appropriate foodies and just have to make a selection of our photo collection of our trip. My phone has pinged a few times already with messages of ' can't wait- looking forward to... etc! So nice to know I am not the only one who is looking forward to seeing everyone again.

It made me stop and think- how rich I am. Not in monetary terms believe me, but in something money can't buy. Friendship and fellowship. These five women were once the friends of my husbands late wife. They have embraced me and allowed me a place in their midst unconditionally. I have probably written about this before- it still fills me with awe.

I know I am not alone, I can find support and a shoulder when I need it - as they can with me. I know they aren't a substitute for my children and my other friends  down under but they are special and they are right here.

There is a saying- you can pick your friends but not your family. I love my family including my sister and brothers and in their own way they will have feelings for me- good or bad ;-) but I have to say-
I feel like I have gained more family since knowing these women.

I am truly blessed. I know that the gift of friendship is a wonderful thing. The bible too is full of stories about friends and friendships. Jonathan and David or Ruth and Naomi to mention a couple. Friendships are there to help celebrate life!

Being friends doesn't mean you have to agree with everything or that you can't or won't be hurt or disappointed at some stage but it does mean there are those who care just that little bit more for you than the casual people in your life.

Friends are precious, so take good care of them.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Changes- we are forever changing, evolving, adapting to our environment and needs.

Insights, understanding, wisdom comes with age ( so does hindsight ) and for some an increased tolerance level or just the opposite- less patience and/ or understanding.

I was musing on these issues the other day- I had plenty of time as my husband and I took the slow route ( and very much more inexpensive than the fast route)  back from a New Zealand holiday. Our time at the airport was spent walking, taking a sightseeing tour of the city, lazing in comfy chairs and using refreshments. I had time to mull over some things that for some reason just ' popped'  into my mind.

Funny, I am 60 now but don't feel any different to when I was 50- but is that true? Because there are differences. I found myself wrapping a scarf around my neck and shoulders at the airport and in the plane because I felt a 'draft'. I wore 'sensible'  travel clothes not conforming to fashion statements I would have done years earlier. I felt a pang of pity for a young mum with a distressed baby. Traveling isn't always fun as a mum.

For some reason I started thinking about my mum.

My youngest brother with his
two 'grown up' sisters and their children
She had her last child, the youngest of 5,  at 43 years of age- quite different to being a young mum. Her advantage was her experience. Her disadvantage was the changing times and in truth having an only child. The age gap was considerable and my youngest brother spent most of his time at home without his older siblings. On the up side, he enjoyed the outings and holiday stay overs with his older sisters who had families of their own. He enjoyed some of the financial freedom my parents had- us all being independent. So there were pros and cons in my parents having had  a later in life child.

Whilst grabbing for my scarf and pondering on what had changed for me I heard my mum's voice:
- " please close the door, it is drafty in here" - I was young and warm blooded still moving around freely and thought- drafty? that's fresh air isn't it?

Mum, you were right, at 60 that fresh breeze = draft.

I spent the past weeks observing my own children and their families at close range. I saw how they reacted and acted when situations arose, both pleasing and not so pleasant. Sibling rivalry a natural phenomena and caring moments between them. I saw and listened. I took a step back. I didn't interfere or offer suggestions. Yes, I didn't always agree on their approach or decisions- but did respect them. Who knows their child better than their own parent? My children are now adults and behave as adults do.

It gave me an opportunity to reflect on my own parenting skills, judgements and achievements. I am more tolerant now and have a wider view of things. I am proud in what I observed in my children- recognising some of myself in them. Also realising, that like my mum, times have changed and challenges though alike, the solutions are brought differently. My eyes still look at things the way they did when I was 30-40-50 but the mind processes the information with maturity, experience and insights developed over the years.

I love being a mum, an oma and a wife! All these come with blessings which reward me amply and fill me with love and energy. I an thankful for the privileges these rolls in life have given me and continue to give me.

Thanks mum- you are never far from my daily doings. Recognising your influence on me, helping shape me and allowing me the freedom of choice in becoming the parent and adult I have become.

Mum, I salute you!

Welcome home

Yes, back again. Back home after 4 weeks in New Zealand with all my children. Family complete for the first time since 2001. Also, all the grandchildren together, cousins meeting cousins. What a beautiful experience.

Spoilt were we, my husband and I. Nothing was too much trouble and all our wishes, needs and requests were fulfilled. More than that even. So spoilt, so loved, so embraced. Heartwarming.

We laughed together, ate together, walked together, had a wine together, discussed and reminisced together. Re- connected and renewed relationships.

This experience will stay with me for a long long time. A treasure of unknown value and will comfort me when I feel down en brighten my day when the sun doesn't shine.

I am a blessed and priviliged person to be surrounded by such love.

Then, we arrived home. The house was decorated in a hearty welcome, the messages and cards of welcome graced the hearth. Both 'down under' and 'up north' people showered us with friendship and love. How special is that?

Thank you all, thank you.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Old man TIME.......

Tick tock, tick tock.... the minutes are racing by. No, they aren't going any faster than always. It just SEEMS that way.

A day consists of 24 hours. Hours that can be filled with all the activities that one sees fit or needs to fill them with.

I have the luxury at present of not having to ' check in'  anywhere at a particular time. The day ( and night) is mine to fill as I see fit or choose.

But is that so? Am I free in choosing how long I spend:

- at the dining room table with my morning cuppa and newspaper
- chatting online with friends and family who live far away
- sharing coffee moments with spouse and/or friends
- spending time on my morning rituals
- shopping
- writing my BLOGS
- in the garden
- in the kitchen
- in prayer
- helping others

I regularly hear around me the comment- as soon as I get more time I will ......... !
Where do people think they will GET TIME from?

The time we have is NOW. We can't buy it, store it, pre book it, reserve it, park it. Like the ocean waves that crawl onto the shores every moment of the day and night- time too doesn't stand still.

Biblically speaking: Time is hard to define. For God, time has a different measure than for us mere mortals. In Genesis we learn that He created the world in 6 days and rested the 7th. We can find reference to how ' old'  we might become in Psalm 90 v 10.“The days of our years are threescore years and ten . . .”. What does endless mean? How long is that? Have you ever tried to explain to child how long ' forever'  is? Time: an elusive, valuable and abstract concept.
Do I use/fill/spend my time well? Do I do it justice?

Recently I wrote about having a clear ( as possible) diary. Not to plan too far in advance. ( in my dutch BLOG) Many moons ago I had made a choice not to plan too far in advance.To keep my commitments restricted to planning no more than 2 weeks in advance. I kept that up for a whole year. That way I felt less ' obliged'  to go to or take part in things that, at the time of decision making, seemed appealing or reasonable- but after months had lost their purpose or shine.

It gave me a sense of freedom, of richness. That I bathed in TIME! That I had space to do the things that I felt urged, compelled or invited to do.

Shortly I am to visit my children and grandchildren. I have had, for obvious reasons ( plane tickets and definite dates of departure and arrival), to 'make a plan'.  I have had to communicate with my children about the opportunities we would have to do special and 'ordinary' things in that time span. A tight planning one might say but with the flexibility that goes with having young busy families. So yes, there are schedule moments - a necessary thing - added to which we acknowledge that we need to be flexible in our approach. We have the opportunity to ' get as much out of that time together'  as we possible can, realising that everything we do- is a gift in time.

Here at home I have resisted the urge to pack my suitcase too soon. This from experience- 'normal'  life stops when that suitcase is positioned at or near the door. All one is focussed on is leaving, on what is to come - I started painting the deck around the house yesterday. Needs to be completed before I leave. I only have a few days- the sun is shining, the temperatures are perfect for the task. Carpe Diem! The suitcase packing ceremony will take place at the right moment- and it is something I look forward to doing. At the right time.

I guess, WAITING - is also a 'time' activity. Waiting maybe a way to try to stop the clock- futile as this is- I am going to try and track how often I ' spend' time waiting and how I spend it.

Waiting doesn't necessarily mean - doing nothing. It does create a sense of a void though. Funny how one concept ( Time) can now lead to another thought. WAITING- Hmmmmm, food for thought!

I will no doubt dwell on this sometime in the future...... Not now, I have a deck to paint!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Thought provoking- with a BIG message

What a lovely thought!

I woke up this morning and felt raring to go. Another day to fill with purpose and hopefully spend each moment doing what I ought to be doing. There are moments that I tend to get side tracked. One of my wee failings- I can be SO disciplined when I undertake tasks for others, but when I set tasks for myself- well that's a different story!

What is giving?

Do I give freely and generously? Not as much as I think I could.

Do you give?

What do you give - oh, and by the way, giving isn't sharing!
( Time, attention, money, goods, your new jacket- not that old worn out one, a warm meal, a place to rest, a seat at the table, advice, a warm handshake, your expertise knowledge, a helping hand)

Does giving come easily? Not always I am sad to say!

Have you ever regretted NOT giving? I know I have!

According to Wikipedia:

Giving may refer to:
Gift, the transfer of something without the expectation of receiving something in return
Generosity, the habit of giving freely without expecting anything in return
Charity (practice), the giving of help to those in need who are not related to the giver
Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World, a book by Bill Clinton

According to the Good Book we can find many references to giving:

1 Corinthians 16:2, Acts 20:35, James 1:17, Luke 6:38, Proverbs 11:24,

The 8th of the Ten Commandments states: " thou shalt not steal" and millions of people can claim not to ever have stolen in their lives therefor upholding that commandment. This commandment came into a new light after reading a book called 'The Grace of Giving' by Marja Meijers which tells what one CAN do.

After watching a wee clip ( link on top of the page) which had landed on my Facebook page, I was touched ( as it ought to have been ) and I felt compelled to share this round. Not just on my Facebook but also here - where other readers visit. It made me wonder if I am at al times prepared to be a giver......? At ALL times, that's a LOT! And a challenge. Am I up to it?

Should this clip and it's subject touch you too, then please - spread the word and let others also know about GIVING freely, generously and without expectation.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Taking life one day at a time...

Many years ago I promised myself not to prebook engagements more than 2 weeks in advance. It was hard, but on the whole I pretty well stuck to my resolve.

Flaked out on the couch yesterday I recalled that decision and wondered why I had only kept that promise for one year. Recently younger friends commented that they were always in awe of all the activities that my husband and I attended, ran or had some connection with. According to them they wouldn't be able to keep up the pace!

It is time for me to reinstate my earlier resolve. I feel 'lived'  instead of living. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy and look forward to fun things, like the rest of us. It is no punishment to cook a dinner for 6, or attend a birthday celebration or an chosen annual event. Just as I love meeting new friends or reacquainting myself with friends from the past. Somewhere along the line the balance between doing and relaxing and allowing for some 'own time' has been lost.

The next weeks will be spent getting organised for our visit to the children and grandchildren. In wonderful anticipation I am slowly gathering bits and bobs around me that I will need to pack into my suitcase. The cupboards and garden need attention and I want to arrive fit and capable for the days spent being oma - so I am keeping a clear diary just to protect myself.

As I reflected on this situation for myself I realised that I am not alone in this whirlwind world. There appears to be less and less 'down tools time' to catch ones breath and slow down a moment to smell the roses. Sometimes even that luxury is squeezed in between a hectic schedule. Since we have reduced our car supply by one- I have to plan my days better, take more time to get somewhere -by bike or foot-  and be more selective in my timing. A discipline that I haven't had to enforce for a long time. And funnily enough, it feels liberating.

We are into autumn, dark earlier, chillier and more indoors time. There are some chores I am keen to get stuck into. Scanning old photos,  updating my albums, finishing an embroidery I started way back, being on time with my - dare I mention them - Christmas cards, that means updating my address files, another task not high on my priority list in the summer months. Where some people feel depressed about the looming dark months, I feel a sense of peace coming over me.

Time to chill out! Time to reflect, time to just BE. It is, like the saying goes, my light at the end of a beautifully decorated tunnel of fond memories.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Pre-planning is part of the fun

In February I received an early present from my children. My husband and I are going Down Under for a visit. A 60th birthday present from my three children who all live Down Under. Two in New Zealand, and one in Australia.

Since my last visit in  February of 2011 there have been two grandchildren born- I have yet to embrace them both.

The tickets were booked well in advance- and was necessary so we could plan the break to coincide with my son's work. He and his wife and one son will also be in New Zealand for this wonderful opportunity to reunite us as a family. How awesome is that?

As the summer ebbs away - slowly, we are already planning spring activities. Not here but in New Zealand, where spring is slowly taking hold and winter making room for warmer temperatures and vibrant new colour schemes.

It is time to get our heads around the time frame, wishes and possibilities while we are there. Where, when, who and what are the main themes of these discussions. There are birthdays (4), christenings ( 2) wedding anniversary (1) and part school holidays ( 1 week). Then the desire to catch up with some friends, the drive to see more of the country and the oma activities like baking pancakes and appletaart, doing the school run, going to Plunket with the babies and child minding moments. I get the strong impression we will need a holiday when we get home......

This is an exciting time. I can already feel the butterflies taking up residence now the date is getting closer. I have a few weeks yet- to prepare. Lots to do and in joyful anticipation I am SO thankful my children have made this trip possible.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

People needing people

The past few months have been rather turbulent. We have had a few more lows than highs- but nevertheless we remain standing. Others would have liked to see the results otherwise unfortunately. It never ceases to amaze me that there are people who need to lash out, to hurt, humiliate or degrade others. No matter how much time I spend on the matter- I still cannot fathom the motivation. Maybe just as well. All I can come up with that their hearts and souls are dark places where hurt, disappointments and rejections are stored.

I am a peace loving individual. Yes, I have opinions and long held ideals that I, when I have to, defend in discussions. It should also be said that I respect those who have their own held ideals and opinions and everyone has a right to those. This is what makes our world to interesting and challenging. It isn't uncommon for me to adapt my thinking should I be convinced my ideals are somewhat misplaced or need adjusting. What I also am is a positive realist. Someone who realises she doesn't have all the answers to life's questions but someone who is always on the lookout for more insights and truths in life. 

I have reached the ripe age of 60. Recently there were attacks on my and my husband's integrity and honesty that cut to the bone. Looking back I should not have even allowed myself to be so affected by these events- knowing that there was no truth in the matter. We were both so devastated- yet knew none of what was alleged was true. For some reason we were not able to do what some people can do - and that is to ignore such instances. Like water of a duck' s back so to speak!

I am slowly gathering myself- feeling bruised and battered. Most of all disillusioned in those who made the allegations. It has unsettled me and caused sleepless nights. I have recovered enough now, re-found my inner strength and trust in myself, through prayer, meditation and especially with the help of those around me who believe in me (us).

This is the second time in my life I have been so attacked. It took years to find peace within myself- my faith life which was so much part of me had ended up on a slow back burner and I felt uncomfortable and unworthy praying. Luckily for me, that has changed, grown into something beautiful and a richness that I do not plan to let go ever again.

I feel a sadness for those who need to lash out to those around them. There must be so much pain, anguish and sadness in those hearts that the light doesn't get shine there. Who am I to judge? I do my utmost to accept people as they are- it makes for so much diversity in my life and enriches me in so many ways. I watched an episode of Extreme Makeover recently where the ' reason for the renovation' was a young man who was blind and in a wheel chair. His words really struck me when he said " my blindness isn't a disability but an ability. All I see is what's on the inside. I am not distracted by colour, creed in any shape or form. I get to meet the REAL person". How respectful is that?

I wish all those who hurt for whatever reason- peace in their hearts. With a quote I will end this BLOG for today- An old saying which was instilled in me as a child and is still relevant today.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Introducing- Bax!

Well, HE has arrived. My newest grandson. His name is Bax. I now have a Max and a Bax- how cool is that? Awesome. My grandson Archie is pleased too. He is surrounded by girls, two sisters and two girl cousins- and now finally a BOY cousin close at hand for him to play with.

It is a bonny lad. Won't say wee because he is fully grown and developed with robust chubby cheeks. A gorgeous bundle of joy. Ten fingers and toes. Dark hair and sparling eyes.

These are the harder moments in my life. The tender, loving sharing caring and emotional events when I struggle somewhat with the physical distance between us all as a family. That I cannot just ' pop in'  to have a cuddle, a cuppa, share the moment. Over the years I have learnt how to cope, how to enjoy what I have and not dwell on what I miss. In not too distant a future we will ALL be together as a family. My three children and their families. Awesome. Time to BE mum and oma. New moments to treasure and enjoy. We may live far apart however we are a close family who keep in touch, support one and other and care for each other. Distance hasn't affected how we love and care for each other- except that we intensely enjoy our times together knowing these moments are precious.

This knowledge of what is and is to come has sustained me these past few weeks. And that is just as well. My faith has once again been sorely tested due to events we have had to endure. Once again my faith in 'friendships and trust'  has suffered another disappointment. People we trusted and held dear have managed to prove that they were not of that pure and trustworthy character we thought them to be. I once again was challenged in my belief that I had placed in others. While I should have immediately entrusted this disappointment and pain in my God, I felt removed from His presence. Yet He was right there with me, in my misery.

Just like I can feel close to my children en be present at events via SKYPE- so too is God closer at hand that I give Him credit for. I thought I had to reach out and search for Him whilst all the time He was right there in my sadness and pain, wanting to comfort and sustain me.

My children and grandchildren may live far away, they are close in my heart and head. I can call upon them at all times. So too is help and support from my God at hand at ALL times. A lesson I hopefully have now finally learnt. About time one could say! I live and learn daily.

Well, I hadn't intended to have a summer stop with my writing. Wasn't planned but happened naturally which isn't a bad thing. It is Tuesday and daily routines are slowly being restored. It has been an amazing summer, with lots of sunshine, great and happy moments and certainly room for some much needed R & R. I am all set to pick up where I left off.

I feel that I lead a privileged and blessed life- despite the ups and downs! Onward and upward- there are, as always, happy events in the offing. I aim to enjoy.......!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

About being oma- in waiting!

three times three is three times three!
My body is tense- a healthy tension I may add. Any day now I will become oma once again. Oh how thrilling. And the expectations of wanting to know- is it a boy or girl do keep me occupied, although the biggest and most important factor is - as long as all goes well and mother and child are healthy- then nothing else matters really.

Many years ago now- my son rang me and said " mum you ARE oma!". I knew he was in love and in a relationship- but to already BE an oma? What did he mean? Had I missed something? He did live overseas- I could have been kept in the dark. But no, the love of his life ( and still is to this day) already had two wee boys. He had lost his heart to her and them- and he now had a ready made family. I was THRILLED. Loved the idea and felt privileged. A few years later their relationship was blessed with a child together. In him I recognise his dad and also my dad. Family traits are a great connecting factor. It was to be their only child unfortunately... but they were a happy and complete family. Still, life does have more in store than births and joys. This family has had their burden and sadness to carry- and they do it together as one.

My daughter also has three lively, beautiful children of whom I am also rightly proud. A lovely bunch of bubbling personalities in which I recognise their mum when she was young. What a enriching time of life this is- being oma!

Will it be a she or a he?
All focus at present is on the third household- that of my youngest son and daughter in law. Within 3 years they have created a beautiful family with the  arrival of number three due any day. There two wee daughters, both as bubbly and energetic as their parents, aged 32 months and 14 months are wee cherubs. I wonder how they will react to the arrival of their brother or sister? No, we don't yet know what the gender is..how awesome is that?

I can only guess at how hectic the lives of my son and daughter in law will be. I also had three children to raise but the space between the first two and the last one was huge compared to theirs. I had time to enjoy the cuddles, down times, gurgles and giggles. The older two were at school which gave me a huge freedom to enjoy those first baby years. We were also able to keep up the fun things with the older children as they were more independent.

Now that my children have their own families our relationship has taken on another deeper dimension. They now have an insight into me as a mum, not just their mum. Being a parent sheds light on ones own parents. Some traits are inherited, others discarded and others moulded to one's own personality. They raise their children 'their' way. It is touching to see how that evolves.

Not that I get to 'see'  it often. We live worlds apart- and my visits are sporadic not regular. But when I am there, we are intensely involved and I adore being part of their daily lives. Practical help I cannot give them due to the distance- but what I do do, is pray.

For a healthy baby, safe delivery, strength and health for the mum ( and dad), perseverance, gentleness and patience. I pray that this family may enjoy all the blessings and be spared great hardships. I pray for our impending visit and the chance to really be oma in the practical sense.

I pray too, that the birth won't be too far away. That we can all soon welcome this new family member with open arms and ample love!

Oooooh the expectations and anticipation!!!!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Friendships -everlasting or temporarily.

True friends are like diamonds
Precious and rare
False friends are like Autumn leaves
Found everywhere

and then there are short term, true friendships that brighten our day and enrich our lives!

Many years ago now- seems like a lifetime away, I had a dad to daughter conversation with my dad about life, friendships and values. I loved those moments with my dad- he was so clear in the way he saw life and could talk about it in such an uncomplicated way. Dear dad, I still need your wisdom- miss you!

As some of my BLOGS show, I am a blessed person with many friends. Looking back I cannot even begin to count the number of friendships I have been privileged to have been part of. There was a time however I would become unsure and/or sad when a friendship faded or even more dramatic, totally disappeared off my radar. Not due to a row, discord or whatever, but just faded away quietly and ebbed into oblivion. That used to cause me concern.

Questions like ' have I upset/hurt/neglected' the person in question? What had I 'done'  to have caused this friendship to dissolve into thin air. Wasn't I perky/chirpy/caring/sharing enough? It kept me quite occupied I can tell. So that's why, when dad and mum came to stay a while, I spent some quality time with dad and started this conversation.

"Dad, you remember Sarina? She used to pop over on and off when you stayed here the last couple of times you and mum were here. They were at the BBQ dinner, remember? She was the one whose son had all those issues at school. He loved coming over to play with the kids after school. Was a real happy chappy then. I have know her for ages, we got on so well and shared many a wine and tear when those moments presented themselves. Lately it feels as if she is avoiding me or something. Haven't seen or heard from her for ages. I know she popped in less because she started working part-time but still. I have racked my brains to discover if there was something to which I could put it down to, but I can't think of anything. I thought we were friends".

I could almost hear the cogs in dad's brain whirring. He looked in the distance and his expression let me to think that he was thinking about his own experiences with friends- remembering faces and moments.
He didn't look sad or serious, just relaxed and prepared for the discussion or rather his wise words which would answer my question. I KNEW dad KNEW what to tell me.... what the answer was I needed to hear.

In a nutshell and not as poetic, dad said that people come and go, some stay- some pop in and out of our lives and some are the wallpaper that make our lives feel comfortable and steady- well that last bit was poetic, good on you dad!). Some you wish they would be round forever, some are and that's great - some can't leave soon enough! Yet we are a fickle folk, and move on as the need or urge arises. Just like grazing cattle always looking for a better or more lush patches in the paddock.

As I reflected on past friendships with dad various names passed my lips, I had to admit to his wisdom being true. There had been many lovely, caring, sharing, happy and sad people in my life who I had lost contact with over the years and with whom I had shared much. Their 'leaving'  me hadn't harmed me, but their presence had enriched me. Their experiences, the conversations, their stories had left their mark, like a photo in an album or a page of text in a good book. That was the reward for their presence in my life.

I recently had cause to reflect back on this conversation with dad. A friend decided she didn't ' need' me as friend anymore and cut all ties- quite abruptly and in a manner I hadn't experienced before. It wasn't pleasant. It affected me like it had all those years ago - but in hindsight I realised, she acted in a manner that fitted her pattern. It wasn't personal- this was how she acted when people got too close. We had had so many discussions about this very issue of hers. Or should I say, this is what I lent her my ear for- as she had a need to tell her story.

Her feeling of inadequacy and rejection she experienced in her childhood had left her feeling unworthy. I hope and pray she will have the courage and strength to stay long enough in a friendship that will bring her peace and happiness, that she doesn't feel threatened and that she realise - she is WORTH IT!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Summer ' up north'.

It is summer. And a beaut it is too. Scorching temperatures and a drought. About 5 weeks ago we had floods, yes unbelievable how the weather can topsie turvy itself on us. We actually didn't believe we were heading for summer, just straight from winter to autumn... Mother Nature does so like to fool everyone.

Summer vacation means ( for many) letting go of daily routines, rituals and programmes. It is a time to turn of the alarm clock, to go with the flow and take each day as it comes. Today I am indulging in just that- going with the flow. My husband and I both work form home, so we don't have the daily hassle of traveling, of ' going to the office'  elsewhere. And whilst I can set my own timetable, schedule and activities- I have the urge to keep this activity ( BLOG) going even while we relax our schedules somewhat due to the excessive temperatures we are having.

My BLOGS aren't always earth shattering in it's contents, or mind boggling to process. My BLOG is a place where I can air my views, share my thoughts and events that have touched me in my daily travels.

It appears that one of my granddaughters also love to write. I have seen a number of poems and stories
she has written in her short lifetime and I have to ( rather proudly) say - she has a natural talent to communicate in writing. She was an early talker, reads well at school (just like her mum) and soared through her reading and writing assignments. At the ripe age of 9 she excels at school.

I was treated to another of her writings early this morning. She had written a poem about the events of the day she had just had with her family. - I won't publish it without her permission - only with her ok I will do so. And rightly so.

Why do people write? What motivates a writer? What motivates me?

After reading the paper I may be moved, irritated, upset, impressed, happy, confused or have an opinion of a particular article I have read. During the day I may meet someone, experience something or be confronted by something that gives food for thought. Then there are issues that I feel strongly about. These things I submit to the screen ( whereas others to paper) and by doing that I can clear my mind, get another perspective on the topic and enjoy the satisfaction of reflection and of sharing.

With some articles I hope to provoke thinking, share ideas and ideals and hopefully touch or reach out to someone who 'needs'  that bit of information at that moment.

It is a two way street. I too get provoked, challenged and enlightened when I read other BLOGS. It helps develop a more critical but also a broader outlook on life and that which makes the world go round.

To know my granddaughter like writing gives a ' feel good'  feeling. Her younger sister loves gardening and tends to the vege garden - something I feel she inherited from my dad. It is lovely to see these familiar traits re-emerging in the next generations. I have more grandchildren - some still very young, I look forward to discovering their likes, strengths and preferences.

It is going to be a laid back sort of day today. The temperature is up there in the 30's. No time to be digging or mowing, but relaxing and enjoying. I wish you reader, a happy relaxed day too - whenever the possibility arrises for you. Enjoy life!

Monday, 22 July 2013

Was in the mood for something lighthearted....... Out of the mouths of babes!


A handful of 7 year old children were asked, 'what they thought of beer.'

Tim- 'I think beer must be good. My dad says the more beer he drinks the prettier my mom gets.'

Melanie - 'Beer makes my dad sleepy and we get to watch what we want on television when he is asleep, so beer is nice.

Grady - 'My Mom gets funny when she drinks it and takes her top off at parties.'

Toby - 'My Mom and Dad talk funny when they drink beer and the more they drink the more they give kisses to each other, which is a good thing.'

Sarah - 'My Dad gets funny on beer. He is funny. He also wets his pants sometimes, so he shouldn't have too much.

Lilly - 'My Dad loves beer. The more he drinks, the better he dances. One time he danced right into the pool.'

Ethan - 'I don't like beer very much. Every time Dad drinks it, he burns the sausages on the barbecue and they taste disgusting.'

Shirley - 'I give Dad's beer to the dog and he goes to sleep.'

Alice - My sister told me you have to drink your own weight in beer before you start to like it. She has some ways to go yet, I think. The guys usually ignore her until they have had a whole lot of beer, then they get nice and play with her.

Brad - Beer tastes disgusting. My brother told me it makes you think the girls are pretty. With his girlfriend I would need an awful lot of beer.

Hic-hic-hic:  Cheers folks! Hic

Thursday, 18 July 2013

iMac and the Dial Emma part 2: The solution

It seemed to take forever, the arrival of stable summer temperatures. And just when you least expect it- there it is. Not only was I hot and bothered about my accidental mistake in placing my photo memory card in the DVD slot on the iMac, sitting in front of the computer working also resulted in warmer temperatures.

I realised I wasn't going to be able to remove the card myself so picked up heh necessary courage and energy to make an appointment with an Apple Genius- which meant a trip to Amsterdam.

In itself quite a harmless and inviting excursion. Except now, it was sweltering hot, I had to walk quite a distance AND I had to lug my iMac behind me in a wheely suitcase ( which had only one wheel).

Seeing this excursion was an event I wouldn't have missed, but certainly had it's moments I want to share it - otherwise only I can revel in it's history. Nothing like sharing the good, the bad, the funny and hilarious.

8:50 - after discovering the screen-iMac was bigger than I thought I finally managed to get it into a large suitcase all packed and ready for travel.

9:14 - Left home totally flustered and a tad late, due to the packaging hassle-leaving my water bottles in the fridge, I went to Dordrecht and picked up my brother in law. He fancied a day in Amsterdam and would accompany me as far as Apple.

11:00 - Arrived at the P&R parking just outside Amsterdam- Parking Arena, where I could leave the car for €8.00 ( which is peanuts as parking in Amsterdam costs a king's ransom hourly) and proceeded to lunge my suitcase ( with one wheel) to the Metro. We boarded only to find we had to get out three stops too soon due to Work in Progress - on the metro line! Lugged suitcase to the awaiting shuttle bus and was tossed around 2 km long to required stop.

11:20 - After asking direction we proceeded to the address of the Apple Centre. We had been advised that it might be more sensible to take the tram seeing we had the suitcase - it would take about half an hour walking to get to the store - but we chose the ' healthy option'  walking. Or in fact  dragging. Sweat poured down my back, my legs and my forehead and it wasn't even the hottest time of day. My shoulder ached. To keep up my intentions of being independent and 'tough girl'  I refused help from my brother in law. How much further could it be? We must be almost there surely.....??!! After all- my silly mistake got me here!!

12:07 - We arrived in Apple Valhalla. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined this apparition. All Apple gadgets everywhere- Apple staff everywhere, Apple lovers everywhere- Apple products everywhere.... two stories ( that were accessible to the public. Don't know what went on on the rest of the floors of this monumental building. It was A-buzz with APLLE!

12:15 - After taking the lift ( thank goodness) to the second floor where all the service geniuses held council - I was promptly assisted by an Apple staff member. Within 8 minutes my 'problem'  was resolved. I somehow couldn't equate the energy needed to get here ( and was to be needed to do a return  home) and then to have the problem resolved so quickly and easily- there was no balance here! I was bushed, whacked, hot and bothered and extremely euphoric that all was again well with my iMac. I felt elated and deflated at the same time! Weird! A sort of All that for that.

12:35 - We left the Apple Centre, leaving my treasure behind so we could indulge in some sustenance. We needed to drink and eat something as we had been on the road for some time- and burnt up all the calories we started the day with!! That was a plus to even out the minuses. Not to forget I had to do a rerun and reverse the mornings antics- dragging the suitcase ( on one wheel) back to whence I had come!!

14:30 - Time to retreat. I left my brother in law to fill in the rest of the day as he pleased and retreated back to Apple Centre where I retrieved my suitcase ( with one wheel) and trundled back to the shuttle stop, lugged it back to the Metro and dragged it back to the car. The temperature had reached 26 degrees and the perspiration had reached drowning levels. I was SOAKED to the skin.

What a day, what a journey, what an experience.

My iMac is a happy iMac, no damage done and I must have lost weight as a bonus.

So, what have I learnt- watch out where you place your memory card in the iMac.... and NEVER use a one wheeled suitcase to transport a heavy load.

Monday, 15 July 2013

iMac and a Dial Emma ( Dilemma) part 1

Maybe I shouldn't have tempted fate. I said I LOVED challenges. Well, I got one.

How does one remove the camera card out of the iMac DVD/CD slot?

I have shaken - not stirred, wobbled and tumbled but to no avail. I daren't prod in there - who knows what else could go wrong. 

The close placing of the two slots could be blamed for the misplacing of the card.... but oh well. Or you could say I wasn't careful enough. It happened. And by the reports online - I am not the only one with this experience.

I now have a reason to go to Amsterdam- take my iMac for a spin.

With a bit of luck and expertise hopefully I will return home with my photo memory card in my camera and a useable DVD/CD slot.

The friendly staff at the iMac centre didn't even laugh or snigger at my DIAL EMMA! A blessing if ever there was one and I wouldn't have blamed them.

My trip to Amsterdam wil be exactly that- an ALL DAYER!!

So Amsterdam, here I come!!

Summer has arrived

The sun is out- well actually the sun is out every day. The fact of the matter is - clouds cover the sun at times so we don't feel the benefit of the sun's warm rays. But now, after a very long wait- we finally can say - Summer has arrived in the northern hemisphere, the Netherlands to be even more precise- and the population is pleased to say the least. It has been a long, cold and windy stretch. The prospect of the washing flapping in the breeze, the long evenings outside after a day's work- Joy!

A wee bit late ( everything appears to have been set back a month) we were privy to see the two wee chicks just hatched in the chicken coupe at a friend's house. Gorgeous little bundles of fluff chirping away and hiding under mother's wings. How precious and vunerable this new life is.

At my (late) father in laws holiday address the grass had reached a point it needed mowing. The sun was up high before I managed to get there- but toil on I did. A sweatband around my forehead and plenty of water I mowed the grass to an acceptable level. It will keep another 10 days now before I need to repeat the process. It is lovely to walk with bare feet over a newly mowed lawn. The smell of the freshly cut grass is a pleasure to the nostrils.

With the rising temperatures I have had to empty my hanging baskets of the lovely yellow and blue violets. A change of plants is necessary to keep the place looking fresh and colourful. My task for this week. I am also set to paint the terrace- but can only start that in the late afternoon as the sun's rays are too hot for now. I feel a surge of energy now that our natural source of vitamin E is about.

Not only is it pleasant in temperature but the salad meals give a lift too. On my terrace table I have three planters with three different lettuces. I also have an abundance of rocket ( Rucola) so I am able to pluck a fresh salad every other day and include some fresh herbs to so liven up our meals. Yummyyumyum!

Another week and the primary schools in our ( middle) region are to close for the summer. North and South are already on holiday. It is too much for all the schools in the country to stop on the same time so a rolling routine was created to spread the flow. Europe education is shutting down for the school year 2012-13.

It is Monday morning- a fresh start, a new week- a new challenge. I love challenges.

Enjoy everyone!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Time to celebrate

I recently attended the opening of a three day weekend where believers/christians came together to share, discuss, pray and celebrate LIFE. Of Being free- of Celebration. This event has been held for some time and with different themes. This was my first visit.

My curiosity and ability to swop, shuffle and re-organise my commitments made it possible to attend at least the opening event on the first day.

I went with 3 other women to the women's morning. A programme designed to inform, support and entertain women of all ages, faiths and walks of life. The gathering was well attended I must say and the atmosphere one of fellowship and friendship. With only one of the group having attended this festival we were in fact all greenies. Didn't know what to expect and were pleasantly surprised to see so many women joining us.

The guest speaker knew how to address a crowd and she spoke on the event's theme - Celebrate Life.
Her words and relay of personal experiences hit home on a personal level. As she pointed out, there wouldn't have been any woman there present who hadn't in some way experienced sadness, trials or tribulations, disappointments or other of life's ' nasties' at some time in their lives. I can only say AMEN to that statement. Pain and sorrow has certainly been present in my life. There were times when I thought how unfair things were and didn't see how I would get through those times.

So, how do we celebrate life? How do I celebrate life? When have there been times when I didn't want to celebrate life? Well, I sure came up with some thoughts and answers on that question.

Yes, I celebrate birthdays, Christmas and New Year. I celebrate Easter and anniversaries. The birth of my grandchildren....but celebrating LIFE? What came to mind were the 'sad' moments. How did I react on those as they happened? When did I start to pray? Immediately or after I had tried to find out WHY something had happened or was influencing my life in a negative way?

Did I immediately seek help in prayer, or did I wallow in the poor me, why me?

I often hear people say (and I do so myself) " I am who I am because of what I have experienced. I have learned lessons the hard way, I have grown stronger due to the adversity in my life". The speaker made me research my heart, my way of thinking and my vision on celebrating life even in adversity.

No, I am not saying that one should say ' thank you for my illness, or thank you that I am unemployed.....'  but to be thankful that there is a place to go for help, for advice for treatment, for the strength to carry the burden, for the people around me who help carry me in times of sadness or stress. To be especially thankful and celebrate the victories after battle.

I also listened to a sermon from Jan Verschoor ( whom I mentioned in an earlier BLOG- is dutch spoken)  dated 18-11- 2012. He also touched on the subject from a different angle. The newspapers are full of all this negativity regarding the world's monetary crisis. In the Netherlands we have rising unemployment. As he pointed out, in the media we get the stats on unemployment - not on the employed. So 7% unemployed gets the attention, whilst we don't gain any satisfaction and joy from the fact that 93% ARE employed. Celebrate THAT!

I am glad I went, glad of the company I was in- and extremely thankful of the opportunity to take a step back, to rediscover what my life is about and how to live it more fully.

It is (always) time to CELEBRATE!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Yesterday- A day in the life of- in search of family history!

In (january) 2003 a (male) cousin had a Family Tree book published in both Dutch and English. It covered a number of generations and was very informative-especially as there were many relations who had immigrated over the years and scattered our genes hither and yon!

Last year another ( male) cousin decided to re-open the search for more information by using not only the information in the book but opening it up to the family by starting a FB page.

Since then relatives all over the globe have found their way to the page, registering their names and whereabouts and divulging information about their parentage and more importantly, their memories, stories and life's events to make ' the book'  come alive.

Being a bit of a 'family nut'  myself I didn't hesitate one second to join this group of people and shared my photos, stories and memories just as keen as the next person.

As we all know, one thing leads to another. With the digital possibilities of today- one can scan, search Internet and connect with people what almost seems to be - effortlessly! I had been away form the Netherlands myself for about 30 years. Due to this upsurge of interest in family ties, I have reconnected, rediscovered and renewed contact with many.

Yesterday I had a most amazing day and great experience together with a cousin. We visited a museum of a particular nature. The Papal Soldier ( Zouavenmuseum)  Museum in Oudenbosch.

Both the grandfathers of my grandparents were such soldiers. We knew there was information and possibly personal belongings gifted to this museum and we wanted to see this for ourselves and gather even more information should this be possible.

What a day- and what an experience! It was somehow surreal being able to touch the fabric of some clothing items worn by our forebearers in the 1800's ( roughly between 1840 and 1870). To read how these men looked, to see in their own handwriting their registration forms, to get a glimpse into the world in which they found themselves.

With pride the volunteer in attendance did everything in his power to explain, show and divulge any and all information he could find. He even went into the basement where the personal (wooden) chest was kept and brought it to us in the main chamber to see, touch and af course photograph.

We did however stumble on a identity puzzle. This chest which was gifted to the museum, held belongings from BOTH the men and there was only one photo. We now have the almost impossible task to discover who's photo this actually is- the paternal or maternal great grandfather. I tried to discover whether there were differences in both registered photos. Both soldiers have a photo in their file- but my cousin is adamant: they are one and the same.

With that puzzle piece now in our possession the quest and journey gathering more stories continues.

Not only has this exercise brought  me more information, it has strengthened the bond with cousins all over the Netherlands as I meet up with them on my journey.

Spot the difference- if any?
Spot the difference-if any?