Monday 23 May 2022

Writing helps clear my head

 Writing helps clear my head


Welcome back! 


In my 60th year, I started writing, digitally known as blogging. I put my thoughts of ‘paper’ and posted them online for anyone to read. It helped clear my head too I might add. Thoughts have a tendency to lead a life of their own. Having captured them and placed them ‘outside’ my head I sometimes felt a great relief, other times proud of what I’d written and I also experienced moments of delight when reading the comments or even for myself, knowing what I wrote pleased and/ or amused me.


I branched out. Started writing in English and Dutch, instigated a cooking blog and an oma blog. Yep, I managed it all - till it became too much of a ‘have to’ instead of a want to. I also started a channel on YouTube in 2018 called OmaFArAway ( link below). The reason being the impending visit of my grandson Max from Australia. He was coming  to spend two months with me, his oma. What better way to document and share his experiences than with a visual record. I ran out of time. My blogs lay deserted and ignored. 


Then COVID hit the world and had us on our knees. I made an attempt to pick up writing again. Unfortunately, it stayed with the attempt. So here goes. A new start. A combination of blogs and vlogs. Not a separate series though. All in English and a mixed bag of kitchen ideas and thinking thoughts. I won’t remove the other blogs, but the new lease of life will only be on the one blog, OmaFarAway shares stories ( link below) . This blog will stay online if you are interested to read blogs from the past. For those who find English bit difficult, transfer the text into Google translate! Although not perfect it will certainly give the gist of the contents with photos to support the story. I will also post links to relevant videos..or even all the video for that matter.


So bear with me, humour me and just like the YouTube channel, leave a message, comment, note letting me know you’ve been visiting. Much appreciated.


Be good - be kind - keep smiling!






OmaFArAway shares stories: 


https://omafaraway.blogspot.com/


OmaFarAway channel: 


https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt48t5MJBQnXZFDLptJwCyg


OmaFarAway: Holiday with grandson playlist:


https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJwwv-q4OH0ljYjj0NKMVyvtZ-97nrXRg












https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt48t5MJBQnXZFDLptJwCyg

Monday 16 May 2022

My ode to my mum

 Mum’s and their stories: This is mine about my mum


It is the 1st of May. Labour Day in some parts of the world. It is also the anniversary of my mother’s birth. She was born 99 years ago today in the Netherlands. It is Labour Day there too, just like here in France, where I am at the time of writing this story.


The sun is just warm enough to feel like a smooth caress on my skin. The breeze brushes over my arms and face, ensuring I don’t over heat. I do have to squint a little as I’m not wearing my sunhat. I left it at home. Silly me. I love that hat. I remember buying it as if it were yesterday. In Workum it was, in the Netherlands. To be really precise, it was in the province Fryslรขn and along the main street. The shop sold all sorts of holiday necessities. Fishing gear, gumboots, sun hats of all description and lots of bits and bobs tourists go for in wee places like this.


I was with Annette at the time. Annette and I were just playing tourist, well she was for real, being a kiwi holidaying abroad, and me, well I belong to the Frysian landscape. It’s in my blood. We were both just having a few days sightseeing in this part of the Netherlands before sailing across the water and heading into Wales. Two ‘besties’ needing a sunhat each during the summer of 2018. But I digress.


The 1st of May 1923. My mother was to be the last baby my grandmother would bear. The doctor was quite adamant about that. My mum was baby number 9 of which 7 saw adulthood. Four boys and three girls. From tales which I can recall was that mum had a worry free childhood. She became an aunt at 11 years of age. Her eldest sister married and started her family. They lived at walking distance and as the family additions arrived, mum was often engaged in helping out with nappies, washing and other tasks to help complete those mundane chores for the busy young mother.


War broke out. My mum was a teenager. Brothers went to war breaking my grandmother’s heart. Yes, they returned home, but not unscathed. The experiences they had coloured their lives. 


Mum’s scholing and subsequent career choice, she trained as a kindergarten teacher, was marred in many ways as a result of that war. 


Mum was very close to her 2 year older sister, Evelien ( Eef or Eefie to those who knew and loved her) and as young women they were often in each other’s company. 


Marriages happened.


My parents met in 1946, and married 6 weeks later. A whirl wind courtship, again as a result of war. Tongues did wag mum told me. Even then, and maybe especially then, people were suspicious and judgemental.


My dad was due to be sent out to Indonesia and he would be away 3+ years at best. As a married soldier, he earned more, and mum could stay living at home with her parents. A shortage of housing was also prevalent. Many married couples and the birth of children were events that took place in parental homes of either partner. In this case, my eldest brother, sister and I were born in my mum’s family home. 


Finally in 1953, my parents were allocated a home of their own. We moved to a ( then) wee place called Dieren in Gelderland. Dad was back at the railway and to help make ends meet, mum sewed plastic items. At home, for a company which utilised home workers. That was ideal for a family like ours with four children and a husband who worked shifts.


I recall it a fine time. Though there were the odd hiccups. After mum had my brother she needed some time out. Also there appeared to be an arthritic situation whereby mum received painful injections from the district nurse. I so remember having to ‘go play outside’ while mum was treated. Apparently the injections were extremely painful. Later she told me, she was scared of frightening us in case she yelled out in pain. Poor mum.


 I have always had the idea mum missed being closer to her family as a car in that time wasn’t even a thinkable possibility. So the bonus of dad working for the railway was a gift. We had free travel. And visit family we did. Aunts and uncles, grandparents. It was during those visits we children got to meet our cousins. 


A new prospect for a future arose. We were to immigrate to a country so far away it was hard to imagine how one would even get there. Reality also being, once there, there would be no going back. It was 1961. We all needed to learn to speak English, children and adults alike. We had to pack up, de-clutter and farewell all we knew and loved. My parents set us off on a great life changing journey. For my mum, the distance now being created between her and those she loved, must have been heartbreaking. How she kept up her spirits up is a mystery. It must have hurt lots. 


The new life was soon not that new. We fitted in. Mum went to work in a factory sewing bras, yes indeed. Dad spent 5 minutes with the NZ railway but that wasn’t a success so he changed jobs a few times before he found his feet. Then, lo and behold, another baby arrived. Mum was 43 at this stage. More drastic changes were afoot in 1966.


We arrived back in the Netherlands for an indefinite time. My baby brother needed health care. Mum left her eldest son behind on the wharf in Auckland. The parting wasn’t to be forever but we didn’t know that then. After a space of 5 years and many ups and downs, we returned to New Zealand in 1971. 


Dad died on 4th November 1999 and mum spent quite some time missing her husband of 53.5 years. She died in 2011, just after midnight on the 1st of January. Their ashes are both interred at the cemetery just outside Hamilton, New Zealand. 


As I am writing this, hearing birds chirping in the background, the breeze is less, the heat of the sun more felt, I am in awe of all my mum endured. I am sure she was happy - while the aches and sadness must have played a big part in her life too! I do know the immigration was dad’s dream and she helped him realise it. That it didn’t all go to plan I know dad’s philosophy was, “ that’s life”. And another one of his wisdoms was, Life, is another name for The school of hard knocks”! Yet he was a very optimistic person. What mum thought, she didn’t often say, but sometimes she’d nod and say, “just like dad says, that’s life”! 


Mum wasn’t spared joys or sorrows, health or sickness. Nor did she breeze through life’s challenges or avoid the struggles. Mum just faced, accepted and took on board all which came her way - in her own way. 


And me, I am back in the Netherlands. Somehow being in the country of  my parents and my birth is where I need to be. Yet I call New Zealand my home. 


Be good - be kind - keep smiling!



Link to: buying the hat

https://youtu.be/OWKyNSgmVag





Thursday 29 July 2021

One month on

 

Where did June go?I didn’t expect that. My goal was to write 2-3 posts per month.  Time has flown! How did that happen?


Last month, almost all of the restrictions were removed by the government. Everything, well almost everything was made possible again. We could 'go all out'! Are my days now completely filled with trips, outdoor activities and a full diary? It might seem that way. Because while the world had shut down, I had more time for reflective activities including writing.  Now that  I can do more, do I? Am I ‘going all out' and catching up on lost time?


Well, no. I do venture 'into the outside world' more often". I have been spotted in the supermarket. However, only during very quiet periods. It is less busy at midday. Also round 9 am there are less shoppers around. During my husband's absence, he went on a solo camping trip, I was forced to go shopping and I'm starting to get back into the flow.


I also went with a friend by train to Den Bosch. It wasn't very busy there. A comfortable ‘crowd’. We also had plenty of space in the train. We shopped. Bought clothes. Both a bit tired of what hung in our closet. Because I take quite a lot of photos and make videos, I can see how long I have worn certain clothes. Not that this is a bad thing, because some items you never want to get rid of, but it was about the discarded pieces that ended up on a hanger in the back of the wardrobe.


We went  out for dinner recently. Yes. In a real restaurant. The staff still wore masks which I really appreciated. And we had a digital menu pad. We could order everything ourselves. Including the drinks. One of the positive developments I feel.


I played tourist in my town and did a city tour. A Street Art walk that had been on my list for a while. And, not unimportant to mention, we had our first dinner guests at home. That was great. A breath of fresh air. Liberating! I had missed cooking a 5 course dinner- challenging though it can be.


My lack of taking time for writing was more about getting used to the new 'normal'. Also gaining some interesting experiences. Seeing how I could rediscover myself in it. Hugging someone has not yet happened. I still keep my distance. Wash hands, be careful. Keep things clean and aired at home and stay alert. I think it's pretty much imbedded in me now.


The past 18+ months have been difficult. Difficult in the sense of our lives turned upside down. No, not by having had corona  within our immediate circle of family and friends. Though we experienced too many losses. Elderly family members who passed away. Two cousins, aunts, uncles a dear friend. No physical goodbyes. Grief at a distance you might say. The imposed but inevitable and inescapable measures had an impact on my mental toughness. A challenging situation that will continue for a while because of the still imposed restrictions and not being able to go to my children. That hurts- a lot! Pretty hard actually. I need to be strong and hang on a little longer. 


It is not only the youth who have been limited in their actions. All groups have suffered in their own way and still do. We'll have to have patience for a while longer. Patience to discover and see what our world will look like. Patience to process the consequences of the past few months. Patience to feel safe when we get back to being around people. Groups, large and small. Uncomfortable for many. Have patience! Everyone! Have compassion for each other. We are in this together!

Tuesday 22 June 2021

New chances- a fresh start?

 

On the 12th of March 2020 on all tv channels the people in the Netherlands were confronted with the seriousness of Covid-19 on our country. Our Prime Minister could not have looked more serious if he tried. I can imagine this being the state of disbelief when war was declared. And we were at war. Infections were increasing, fatalities were mounting and the decision was made to 'shut us down'. We too were experiencing a pandemic of unknown proportions.

Total deaths in the Netherlands due to Covid-19: 17,727 on a population of just over 17 million residents. Obviously there are Covid-19 related deaths too, like raised suicide due to mental health issues, neglected illness ( not wanting to go to a doctor during this period) to name a few.

To date there have been 13.875,172 vaccination jabs given, this includes second vaccination shots. At the height of the pandemic we had 13,066 positive tests. Yesterday 585! 

Many of the remaining restrictions will be lifted as of Saturday- with a few exceptions. In public transport we will need to keep using face masks. Distancing is still advised at 1.5 meter. Most of all, disinfecting hands is still essential. New 'healthy ways of doing things' like sneezing into elbow is desirable to keep that as the normal thing to do. I guess common sense must prevail.

Thinking back to the urgency of the hygiene measures, I can only deduct we have become complacent. Not too fussy about cleanliness as we have been in the past. A wake up call I'd say. Back to basics.

So, here we are at the brink of a new era. Like we were last summer when many rules were let go. I am hoping though, that we don't have a resurgence in September like last year. When the virus once again came home to roost. For one, I will stay vigilant. I know many in my circle will too. Let's hope we can get a grip on this virus and help it to distinction.

Let this period also be one of reflection in general. Not finger pointing. Let's not delve into the past with 'What ifs' but forge on into the future wiser ( hopefully) better prepared and less naive into thinking this won't happen again.

Most importantly, self reflection is needed. How did I react, behave, conform, assist, support and experience this period? What would I change? What did it bring me? How did I 'carry' myself throughout this time? Was I all I could be for those needing me?

I could dwell on all the losses, and there were many. I commiserate with those who have been hardest hit: The families who lost loved ones. Mourning them in remembrance would be honorable. 

Now, I must pick myself up and carry on, a new day, new chances and a fresh start! 


LIVE               LOVE        LAUGH 

LOTS

Monday 7 June 2021

The choices we make

 

" That was one heck of a choice I made all those years ago."

It is Monday morning and I am preparing breakfast for myself. I'll be the only one at the table this morning. The newspaper needs not to be divided into sections and there won't be the normal morning banter about the various topics in the news. 

For the first time in ages I am 'home alone'. And it isn't for the first time, but it is, baring any calamity, only temporary. 

Due to the stillness around me, private thoughts are different somehow. There are no distractions. The thought I had startled me. Subconsciously I ended up with a short conversation with myself. ALL my choices I ever made had consequenses. Choices are, is it yes or no, left or right, up or down! Black or white, no never that! Nothing is black or white. That would simplify life enormously. Wouldn't it?

Some steps one takes in life just flow from life's moments. They don't appear to have massive impact. The choices being daily issues, the clothes one choses to wear, the meals one eats, the mode of transport chosen. Just in the natural flow. Sometimes these things become mundane and habitual, A mood or person can have influence on these issues so one breaks habits and creates renewal. Making other choices. A new food regime, going vegan. Stopping with alcohol, smoking or taking up a new sport, hairstyle, clothing.

Then there are the BIG choices, relationships, friendships, career to name a few. Married? Children? Travel? I suppose in this time zone we live in it could be said, we have too many options. Was life for our grandparents simpler? Recognizable patterns and expectations? Always baring the exceptions of course.

Some families have bonus children, I have a bonus mother in law. She is 91 and has had her fair share of life experiences to fill a book with. Imagine the world at the time of her birth, 1930! She had a career, a marriage, children. Lived through the war, survived many tragic events and tries to make sense of our modern world, keeping up with the news and current state of affairs. She's well informed and independent to a fault. One could describe her as a "tough old cookie". I admire and love her. She's a true inspiration. Is she easy going? Well that's debate-able ๐Ÿ˜‚! Is she opinionated? Many think so ๐Ÿ˜‚! Is she wise? Definitely!

My choices would NEVER have been hers. I guess the older I get and the more evident the impact of my choices are, the more I have moments of reflexion. The more moments I am confronted with the effects not only on me, but on all those around me. It also gives me more insights into new choices I make.

I've soul searched many a time. No, this isn't an "I regret stuff" post. More a reflective moment allowing myself the space to feel the impact and results of my life's path to date. Sometimes one needs the loneliness and space to be able to do that. Unhurried and uncomplicated.

Do I wish there had been other solutions at hand? Oh yes, but they weren't. At least not ones I saw as solutions. I did what I did, when I did with the knowledge and insights I held THEN!

LIVE - LOVE - LAUGH:  Life is short, shorter than you think!



Saturday 5 June 2021

Now that's a surprise entry

 

Surprise, surprise! What a wonderful turn up- so needed and unexpected.

I've just re-read my last post. Bemoaning the weather we have been subjected to the past couple of months. Spring arrived like it ought, and disappeared again much to everyone's disdain. It sprung a leak.

We had been living in somber times for so long, being strikken by Covid-19, the restrictions and the ongoing cold and blustery weather. So when the bulbs appeared, everyone cheered, only to be deceived and left feeling cheated.

Low and behold, what we couldn't have imagined, was that Summer had other plans. So from 12 to 16 degrees, hail, with sleet, rain and wind, we were suddenly catapulted into summer. Up Up and Away the temperatures soared, high in the sky. Blue it was, that sky. Everywhere you looked. Strong, vibrant and full of promise.The spring flowers wilted, the birds chirped loudly and the trees dressed themselves vivid green in a quick hurry not to be caught bare and sad.

Our vaccination program seemed to have finally caught on and restrictions slowly being lifted. The hospital numbers are dwindling and the city streets filling. There is a sense of urgency and freedom in the air. Mustn't be too hasty though, my mind and heart are telling me. It's good though, to free myself from the semi isolation I've enshrouded myself in. To dare to roam and be seen to roam. I'm cautious, like the buds on the summer plants. Slowly showing what's possible.

Whatever people's opinions are, I am thrilled to have been vaccinated against this horror virus. I know are all prone to some form of illness from time to time. This just wasn't something to take lightly. Too many died dreadfully awful deaths. Too many were unprepared for what lay ahead. Ill and misinformed. 

We now know more and can take charge. Don't forget too soon what we were up against. Hold that thought that there are lonely people out there needing your attention and company. Remember being appreciative of organisations and individuals who did their all to help get us through this.

I've sighed a sigh of relief, I'm tentatively positive about the developments at hand. I'm forewarned and now armed. It'll be interesting to see what the population at large recalls and alters to avoid another 'bad' run! Sunshine on my face, breeze in my back and a spring in my step. Onward, upward and grateful.

Monday 24 May 2021

Our weather in the month of May

 

I consider myself a positive/realistic person. I realize there will be clouds hiding the sun from us on more occasions than I prefer. Rain is important to keep the rivers flowing and fish swimming. Just as wind is needed  to spread a breath of fresh air in our world. True, I do understand the need for the forces of nature to do what they are designed to do. It's just the timing that sometimes gets the better of me.

Not being a great fan of high temperatures, I'm more a 25 degree maximum person, and not being negative about a dash of snow here and there, I am a bit of a steady pattern person. That's why I love seasons- all four of them. All in their own good time. Not all 4 in one day let alone in an hour. They don't have to be pinpointed to a specific date, a bit of variation is perfect. Just right now, when our lives are already somewhat derailed due to Covid-19, it would be nice to have some regularity with the weather. 

Well, trying not to be sarcastic, but the weather is being regular- but regularly out of season regular.

Like today. Looked sad and dull outside when I woke. I stood on the balcony like I do each morning, and got wet feet and wet hair. Quickly back inside and made a warm cup of tea. At coffee time, the sun came out and I sighed a sigh of relief. Maybe we could still have a moment in the sun. The wind came up and howled around the walls. "Nope, stay in doors," it said. More rain, some hail. A tear in the clouds and a ray of sunshine reached the grass. Just a wee one mind you. Drizzle next. That fine annoying wet stuff that penetrates everywhere. Sun, wind, rain, hail.... for goodness sake Mother Nature. What's up?

Anyway, I did fill my day with some worthwhile tasks, regardless of the disappointment outside. So you see, I am a positive person. I just get on with other options, whilst acknowledging the bad and getting on with the good.

The lemon curd is in the jar, the other video from yesterday is online and I've purged myself from the 'weather bug' by committing it to print. I see blue sky, yes I do. It's the largest piece of blue I've seen for days. Could it be, will it be a turn around? It is the month of May, almost done. Spring hasn't even had time to unpack her bag and settle in. Maybe soon? Maybe.....!

My second favorite place: The kitchen


Monday 17 May 2021

Different strokes for different folks

 

People and the choices we make. That's what makes us different. I'm struggling to understand some held convictions some people have. Now that doesn't make them any less valid. It's just I cannot find myself seeing the logic in some of them. And because of that, I'm the dumb uneducated one? A sheep following the flock? There are so many flocks these days. The easy target for the corrupt, micro chip planting governments? I feel no fear or persecution or chip being planted when I go for my next vaccination shot.

The world is experiencing a pandemic. I do think maybe 80-85% agree. Maybe even more. The other 15-20% disagree. Are the mass graves, hospital overflows and overstretched nursing staff just figments of our imagination?

We don't need 'plots'. There are easier ways for the world to be 'taken over', destroyed, made corrupt. A few drops of 'chip fluid' in the water system will do that. We don't need a killer virus for that. Human beings are capable of horrendous acts. Look at Hiroshima! Look at Israel and Palestine. North and South Ireland. We can kill each other off without a green gremlin.

Then there are those, who are prepared to risk becoming ill, because they don't want a vaccine. Well, that's their choice. Only they aren't just a threat to themselves, but also to others. Oh no, of course not. There isn't such a thing as a virus. I wonder whether they've ever needed any form of medical care, medicine or have done years of research of the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the house they live in or the fuel they use, is safe? Can be used without risk? Just asking! For a friend.

Now the world appears to be on the winning hand, no we aren't there yet, on combating this virus. Less people becoming seriously ill and dying as the treatments are improving, many are being vaccinated and those survivors having built up their own immunity, it is time to look at returning some more freedom to the people. Proof of one's health situation is paramount here-in. We, many of us humans, would like to travel. Not just for the sake of it, but like me, visit loved ones who live far a way. Too far to reach by car. We need to fly. Cross borders and continents. To do so, the traveler needs to prove his/her health status. This can be done with a vaccination passport. I still have mine from childhood on. Every jab I've had is registered. Quite handy really. I won't make the mistake of having another shot of something I've already had.

The passport is seen as discrimination. It enables those vaccinated to travel, those who aren't are limited. Funny that. I respect everyone who stands for his/her ideals. True, I really do. I also expect the same respect from those who's thoughts differ from mine.

Country heads don't want an ongoing pandemic situation, season on, season off. So they demand that those wanting to visit their shores to be as healthy as they can be, not bringing sicknesses into their country and its people. That is their good right. In fact it is their responsibility. If you don't want to be vaccinated, then stay away. Don't feel left out- your choice has repercussions, just as those who dare to be vaccinated do.

I'm writing about the issues that float in and out of my head- influenced by everything around me. You name it, it's the topic of the day. Newspapers, internet, social media, radio, tv. Even the complot thinkers use these media to gain information, deny it and find fault with it. Funnily enough, one of the issues about the vaccine and the passport is PRIVACY. How come? One's personal situation is no longer private. Just start filling in your tax form. So much is already pre-filled in. Type your name in Google. Go on. How much is private. Do you have a passport? Driver's License? Have you studied? Got a mortgage? Registered the birth of a child? There are so many 'discussions' on Social Media. Meaning that there are accounts even for those frightened for the breach of their privacy.

So you see, I look at things quite rationally, well I think I do. I'm not a politician, a chemical scientist, a laboratory analist, doctor, nurse, undertaker or overtaker. I hope I am using my common sense when making decisions regarding my health and well being. This includes being aware of my surroundings and fellow humans. To those not wanting 'that poison' in their bodies, I wish you every health and happiness available to you. Please don't come near me or mine. To those who are struggling to regain their strength and well being, I wish you blessings and stamina to complete your fight back to a happy healthy lifestyle. To those who think the end is nigh, use your time well. To those who fear for their privacy and feel discriminated against, find an island, ditch your phone and live off the grid. No-one will bother you and you'll be free of those trying to plant a chip in you.

I feel like signing off with the famous quote: May the FORCE be with you! But most of all- may good health, respect and happiness for all be the main focus for everyone.

Tuesday 4 May 2021

Trying to keep up

 

Another month has passed. The year 2021 seems to have grown wings. How did that happen, MAY? Already!

In my last post I mentioned we had made appointments for our vaccination. The first shot has been had. Absolutely painless and without after effects. Maybe just a wee bruisey feeling where the needle entered the arm. Like someone gave a friendly shoulder thump. It was gone by morning. Now we bide our time till the 4th of June. For the total protection, so to speak.

I'm still taking care, still wear my mask where it is required. Still keep distance yet feel more relaxed. So much so that I even ventured into town by bus yesterday. That was a one way trip. I walked home. Found it still a bit uncomfortable as the bus filled up more than I thought it would. The 54 minute walk home would not only be a healthier option, also a more relaxed one.

I've become quite a hermit. It wasn't hard. My interest in life doesn't lie in shopping sprees, endless lunch dates or wine afternoons. I am a home body by nature, occasionally flying the coop to do what's necessary and yes, also enjoying the company of others, walks, a catch up chat over a coffee and a visit to share time with a friend. Since corona my 'stay at home avoid people' habit has only grown stronger. For my sake and my mental well being I decided I needed to 'get out' a bit more freely. Like taking the bus into town. I needed a new cover for my phone. I had purchased one online. Silly me. Not my thing. I need to have and hold and touch and see. Subsequently I ordered a wrong type and now have two. The company I purchased from have reimbursed me AND told me I need not return the product. Bit odd, but it fits in with my thoughts on online shopping: ODD!

The 'shopping by booking a time slot' was also something I enjoyed. I realise it's not financially viable, but it sure has a charm I enjoyed. So now we, hubby and I, have entered a new phase. We have had the first vaccination injection and already enjoy some form of protection. We feel more relaxed. Although I'd appreciate if the world didn't spin faster than it already does, the 4th of June will be welcome in due course. Onward and upward to an even more relaxed feeling.

Link to a video: Enjoy this video of a shopping moment in Dordrecht. 




Saturday 24 April 2021

Appointments made.

 

What a relief. I received a message from a friend. Her birthday is 4 days after mine. It said, " All people born in the years 1953 and 1954 may ring and make an appointment for their vaccination agains Covid-19."

Despite lots of things that 'can't' happen, we were able to have a few days away in all safety and complying to all restrictions laid upon us.We had the privilege of staying in a lovely 2 bed unit friends had built on their rather long and lovely property in the province Zeeland. An absolutely stunning piece of the Netherlands waiting to be discovered and enjoyed.

Anyway, being away didn't mean we couldn't ring the National number to make an appointment to have our vaccination shot. Phone in hand and personal details all prepared I rang the number. " All the receptionists are busy at the moment, we will get to you as soon as possible." I wasn't surprised. The phone was set on speaker and I patiently waited my turn. After about 10 minutes this very friendly male voice spoke to me. I gave all the information required and mentioned that my husband was standing next to me. Was it possible he could make use of the same phone call. So helpful..of course he could. In fact the appointments would be made adjacent so we could go together on the same day, same booked time slot.

I am no lover of needles. My husband even less. Last Autumn I had my very first flu' shot. Never felt a thing and had no flu' type symptoms as a result. I am counting on the same experience. On the other hand. Hubby has a fear of needles. He is slightly concerned he may faint or at least feel rather weak kneed and passed up the opportunity for the flu' shot for that reason. So it will be interesting to see how we get on.

The relief and euphoria we felt was weird. I was very keen to have the shot but had no idea how thrilled I would be once we had a date. It gives perspective and the outlook for some more freedom to move around more safely. I won't be racing off to the shops or seek out crowded places. Not my style to start with. But at least when I am somewhere where there are a number of people I will feel safer and more relaxed. Maybe I will share the grocery task with my husband so he doesn't have to do it all the time.

The second shot is early June. That will be the icing on the cake. Maybe, just maybe I can go and visit my children still this year. Oh I so long for that moment.

Friday 9 April 2021

Keeping the positivity going.

I am a positive person by nature. That doesn't mean my state of mind doesn't get challenged.

In a time of the uncertainty facing the world today in the form of Covid19 I, like many people I suspect, long for a bit of recognisability, stability and continuity in this strange world we live in. There are so many changes going on. New rules. In the short term too. Waking up and seeing or reading or hearing that everything has suddenly changed does nothing to create confidence or peace of mind.

But we (hubby and I) have little to complain about. Although like many, we too have our frustration moments. We are dry, warm, have enough (too much ๐Ÿ˜‰) food, clothing, regular income, a beautiful house, a beautiful view and our families are also healthy and well. If all those things are ok one has a tendency to look further, right? Call it human nature. We can move within our country: BUT we have nowhere to go. Attractions, cafes, restaurants, theaters - nothing available. Not here in the Netherlands anyway. The comforting part is, we're all in the same boat. So..

... I prefer to look at what is possible.  My husband has been shopping for groceries since March 2020. The reason being that I was sick the first week of March. Out of commission for quite a while. Because the world around us changed so drastically at the time, he kept doing the shopping. He, because sitting inside became too much for him, she, "because I didn't dare to go 'out' there."

We went to a Landal house holiday park twice this winter. Oh how wonderful. Houses far apart, you don't meet anyone in the supermarket on site and you walk a different route in a different area. (See video links at the below.)

Hubby has polished and updated his cooking skills again. How cool is that? Sometimes I just have to book my cooking moments. We enjoy the sharing and because he does the shopping anyway, hubby often determines the menu. Fine. I love to cook, but I don't need any pre-planning except for 'real planned' dinners. I mainly cook "whatever the cupboard and fridge have to offer".

Shoes: Since recently we can make shopping by appointment moments: by booking a time slot. With my forst outing I thought it was very exciting.  I was nervous. Yes, I went shopping for shoes. My shoes, after all that forced walking, really needed replacing. I was done in 20 minutes. Two pairs. With memory soles. At least then I know where I've been or where I want to go to. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚!

Garden center: This year we will be picking lettuce, tomatoes and strawberries. I really missed out last season when the garden centers opened and everyone went crazy and wanted to convert their gardens, planting vegetable gardens, etc. realising home was the place to be, holiday money had to be spent, it went to upgrading things around home. Because of my reserved attitude at the time, we were too late to purchase the seasonal plants I wanted on my balcony. Everything was sold out. Very unfortunate. Now, in a 30-minute time block, I purchased what I desired. It was so neatly arranged. You could fire a cannon at the garden centre and not hit a soul. My neighbour mentioned it so I had looked at the site that morning and 18 slots were still available at a time that suited me. Bingo!

Rug: Off to the Volero showroom. A fun, well thrilling ride, in hail and snow. You don't buy something like that online. Well I don't anyway. What a fun outing. We also got served coffee. Just like "in the old days". And we made it an outing. Round trip. Not the same route home. That's how we got through the day. It was fun.

Shopping is NOT my favorite activity. Still, it's inevitable. No, I didn't book them close together. Not sensible I thought. The past 3 weeks I booked one a week. That also gives peace of mind. If I would have been infected with the virus, I would have noticed it after 5-7 days. I'm careful about that. If I felt at all uncertain I would have cancelled the time slot. I didn't need to.

So yes, there are possibilities. It is not the freedom that I am used to, but also not the oppression that forces me to house arrest and prosecution. I am free and safe. That everything is not as I would classify as normal is another story. I/we need to focus on the positive aspects of this period and breath in, breath out, breath in breath out and hang in there. It, the pandemic, won't last forever. Changes will happen. Life does go on. Just differently and maybe we might become more reflective, less impatient and more compassionate. 

Who knows!

Saturday 27 March 2021

Positivity, apple crumble and a movie


I am going to start on a serious note and end up frivolous. Just because I can. Can't be serious all the time, it's boring and depressing. I'm all for a well balanced diet.

The serious part:

Even though there are still precious moments to celebrate, the fact of the matter is, we don't celebrate enough. Especially since Covid19 struck. During this pandemic, our eyes seem to be more focussed on what can't then on what can be realised. We seem to not only work hard at not getting infected with this virus, we also seem to have lost the zest for fun, laughter, for gratitude and daily life itself. And I get that. I do. Believe me I have my moments. Recently I've reached a point where I realise I need to get a grip. Be in charge of myself and my state of mind. Rationally, I believe we are all in charge of how we feel or experience a set back or a triumph. So, it's time for me anyway, to regroup and refocus.

The media is an essential and not unimportant aspect of life today. We want to know what's going on in the world. Thing is, depressing news travels faster than the speed of light and we appear to be attracted to it like moths to a flame when it comes to articles that get our dander up. Our blood pressure rises and our judgement calls roll out like the outgoing tide after a tsunami. Dragging everyone and everything in its wake.

The fun bit

So I'm turning over a new leaf. Well, working on it and accepting that I may occasionally have a minor set back after which I regroup and start again. I may have avoided the actual Covid19 virus but I'm done with that sad and somber variety. And how best to be happy?

Well for me, that's in the kitchen ( amongst other frivolous things) and creating something yummy to share, put a smile on faces and give me that sense of satisfaction.

Recently we invited the son of friends over for dinner. On his own, no mum and dad, well that wasn't allowed anyway. One visitor per 24 hours. Actually, this is one way to totally focus on one person. To not have to share the limelight with others. To have time for a personal and if desired, in depth conversation. So, we extended a dinner invite, a birthday dinner. It was intended as a 'replacement' for his annual concert ticket as there are no concerts.

We didn't want the evening to be boring- just three old fuddy duddies around the table, his 26 years up against our three 65+ years, so unbeknown to our guest we decided that after dinner, my hubby, brother in law and the birthday boy, would go upstairs to the other apartment and watch a 3D movie. Planning a tight schedule was paramount, as we have a 9pm curfew in place.

To be all organised I prepared the meal early and was for 85% all set by lunchtime. The meal couldn't be too extensive or we'd run out of time. A good cook plans to the minute and others consider me a good cook so I felt super confident all would be well.

I started with the dessert. Apple Crumble. I know that all 3 love this dish. There would only be a main and dessert so that was simple.

On the dot of 5:30pm our guest rang the lobby bell. Couldn't be better. I got my act together while a catch up chit chat was had on the sun warmed balcony. Before I served the main meal I looked at the apple crumble in the oven and saw the crust was cooked but pale. I upped the temperature and switched to grill. The idea was, serve the meal, put plates on the table and return to the kitchen to turn off the grill. I love it when a plan comes together.

Dinner was served. The timing went perfect. The meal was delicious, even if I do say so myself. As I picked up my glass for the last sip of the wine I glanced over to the kitchen and had this weird sensation come over me. The air looked a light shade of greying blue. For a split second I thought I needed to clean my glasses...just for a split second. Then without warning I almost flew across the table straight into the kitchen and turned off the grill. My feet never touched the ground. A cloud of sticky buttery blue-ish smoke swarmed around my head and into my nose. The apple crumble topping was as black as soot. Pitch black. And STINK. Oh my, the smell was HORRIBLE. The air now filled with smoke in the dining area, the hallway and lounge.

Throwing the front and back door open to air the place, my mind racing so fast I could barely keep up! What to do about dessert AND get those men upstairs in time for  the movie. You see, the guest didn't know about the movie surprise yet. Oh dear!

I did manage to create a rather speedy and surprisingly tasty replacement dessert to round off the meal. We all but needed gas masks to cope, so I left the doors open while we almost blew off our chairs as the breeze flowed through the building. Once the plates were empty and the meal done, the surprise 'after' was revealed. I have a strong suspicion the males were thrilled to leave me in my murky air to clean up. Some nights are just more memorable than others. This will be good fodder for a laugh at some point later, after corona. When we look back and say, " oh remember that Apple Crumble...!"

I'm looking forward to the next birthday guest.