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 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?

Monday, 1 July 2013

1 July 2000 - 1 July 2013

Ben, Cisca en me on my return home

Last weekend I enjoyed a few days away with a group of dear friends. Each year we ( 8 or 10 of us) spend a weekend in another part of the Netherlands, playing tourist in our own country and almost always in the last weekend in June. Just like last weekend when we went to Valkenburg.

And like most years, my thoughts turn to 1 July 2000- that's when I......!

On the 1st of July 2000 I arrived at Schiphol Airport and I just 'knew' I was home. After having spent 30 years ' Down Under' I was convinced that this wasn't to be a short stay, but a home coming. I had planned to stay a year- to regroup, to come to grips with my situation, to re-connect with my roots, family and friends and customs I held so dear. Even before the plane took off a peaceful feeling overwhelmed me.

I know, one can feel at home anywhere, it is all relevant. But for me, this is IT! A warm feeling took hold of me as I re- entered the country and looked around, hearing the voices speaking my language. I felt a sense of kinship, people biking, the markets, gables of the buildings in the narrow streets, catching the train, streets with rows of the same houses. It felt like a home coming after a long stay holiday.

To greet me and offer me a place to gather myself while I acclamitised were my dear friends Ben and Cisca. A blast from my youthful past. They were at the airport in those early hours of that morning and welcomed me home. The first week of my return I was offered hospitality and care while I took the time to let the gravity of my decision sink in.
After a short stop at a local garden centre where we bought some plants we arrived at their home- and before you could say ' Jack Robinson' I stood barefoot in the garden planting those plants. Wonderful!

The care and hospitality shown me was second to none and to this day I am grateful to my friends for welcoming me home.

The next few weeks I spent in Fryslân where the celebrations for the new millennium were in full swing. I enjoyed immensely all the activities and ambiance that was present there. It even eventuated that I was reunited with an old colleague from Philips. Due to familie ties and a surprise encounter I ended up in the middle of the Netherlands, where I still reside. I try to visit Fryslân as regularly as I can- my roots are deeply entrenched there.

I realise my decision had impact on those I love and left behind. That realisation and responsibility I carry with me every day. Looking back on my return 13 years ago, I can look back on many experiences and events that have had a lasting effect on who I am today. The contacts with my family and friends in my ' previous' or 'former life', as I sometimes call it, is strong. We SKYPE, email, phone etc and on my visits there I still am able to catch up on my friends when I visit my family.

And now, 13 years later, I am once again surrounded by a wonderful group of people whom I may call my friends. I look back on all the experiences both happy and sad, on the emotions that were experienced due to the decisions I made which affected many, and I realise I am stronger than I thought I could be, that I am capable of more than I ever imagined and that I am richer than the richest sjiek, with all his possessions, in this world.

I am a grateful and thankful person, truly blessed.