Half a century

It was a bit of an odd day to be in Corona-isolation as today was my 50th birthday! I’m never one to do a huge celebration, all I really want is my little family around me and so they were. Yet even on such a small scale and in isolation it turned out to be a very special day!

It started with well wishes streaming in on my phone in chats and on Facebook (I never go on there anymore, so am always surprised at how many people even remember me on there) and then my husband giving me some lovely flowers…

I worked for about an hour and then took the rest of the day off as planned. Not going into all the details of the day but my surprises from family and friends included some cards with lovely messages, a festive brunch, phone calls, the delivery of a small magnolia tree with beginning buds on it, cake, more flowers, and we table grilled for dinner.

Mr Esther and I also took the time to go out for a walk; the weather was a little chilly but gorgeous!

Mini-Esther surprised me with a new hairdryer I desperately wanted which has a bluish/purple (my fave colour) accent on it and Mr Esther jr. got me a big bottle of Baileys that I love!

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Mr Esther got me a beautifully gorgeous ring with 5 small sapphires, one for each decade. The ring has a personal inscription and I wear it together with my wedding ring now. The family moment we shared when I received this ring will be etched in my heart forever.

I feel so very blessed with such a loving family, lovely friends, a roof over my head, steady jobs and good health. On to the next 50…

The Littlest Angel

The new Mach’ was challenge is to do something with a children’s book. Immediately I thought of The Littlest Angel, a children’s book I have owned from when I was 6 years old. My The Slipper and the Rose book also came to mind, but I think I got that one a little later. So, The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell it is. It’s become a little tattered over the years and as a child I even traced over the letters in the word “Angel” on the cover.

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I know I’ve had this children’s book from when I was 6 years old because the book has an inscription for me written by my mother.

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Only looking at it now do I realize that the illustrator is named Sergio Leone! I don’t think it’s the Sergio Leone, the director of those famous Westerns. I’ve been trying to research it online for a bit but all I can find to connect the two Sergios is this blog post about a ‘same name syndrome’. That author also thinks these are two different men.

Anyway, The Littlest Angel used to be a favourite book of mine, otherwise I wouldn’t have kept it so carefully all these years. However, I don’t think I’ve actually read it since my childhood! It has moved with me from Israel where it was gifted to me, to three addresses in Germany, to five addresses in The Netherlands. Well, maybe four, I don’t think I took it with me to boarding school in The Netherlands. Recently, we set up new bookshelves in our living room and many of “my” books were transferred from the large shelves to the new ones. The Littlest Angel moved to the top shelf on the left, bottom of the pile, and it was the first time I had actually held the book and looked into it in years!

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The book is a very Christian Christmas story (not that I remember noticing that at the time) and is about a little angel, 4 and a half years old, who presents himself at the gates of heaven.

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I’m not sure I can post all the pictures I took of this book (you know, copyright and all) but the story is about this little angel not quite fitting in. His whistle is too loud and disturbs the “Patriarch prophets”, he sings off-key thus disturbing the ethereal sound of the celestial choirs, he has trouble flying with his tiny wings and he can’t keep his little halo in check: “However, owing to the regrettable fact that he always forgot to move his wings, the Littlest Angel always fell head over halo!”. I used to love the images of paths in between the clouds and the little angel chasing after his halo.

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The Littlest Angel needs a little disciplining and he dawdles a bit on his way to the angel he has to speak with…

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He gets to the Understanding Angel, immediately feels at ease, and tells the Understanding Angel that he’s a little bored and longs for a box he used to have under his bed which contains his earthly treasures. It is brought to him and he is happy. Then the time comes that the Christ Child is to be born and each angel has to pick a gift to give the Child. The Littlest Angel tries to figure out what to do.

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In the end he decides to gift his little box to the Christ Child but he also starts to feel embarrassed and inadequate because his gift isn’t as beautiful and glorious as all the other gifts. Oh wonder of wonders, the Hand of God in the end decides to pick that little brown box as the main gift for the Christ Child. It contains ordinary, child treasures, such as “a butterfly with golden wings, captured one bright summer on the hills above Jerusalem, and a sky-blue egg from a bird’s nest in the olive tree that stood to shade at his mother’s kitchen door.” Seeing that I was living right outside Jerusalem at the time I read this book, in a village in the Jerusalem hills, and there were indeed more than enough olive trees to be found, I could completely picture all of this in my mind’s eye.

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The little box gets lifted up into the heavens, it starts to glow, and ends up being the Star of Bethlehem, shining over Jesus’  crib.

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At the end of the book, you  can really see how tattered it’s becoming. It is, however, still in one piece, so that’s something!

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While I did remember large chunks of the story, I didn’t remember the end part. Maybe even then I thought the whole box as a Star of Bethlehem thing was a little far-fetched and tended to skip that part? What I mostly remember is that I liked it being about a little bit of a naughty angel who did his own thing and I liked the image of what life in heaven, up there on the clouds, must be like. I also had this image in my head of these angels sliding down to earth on a rainbow slide to paint the flowers and then later watering the plants with little watering cans from the skies, thus making it rain on earth. That must have been from another angel book, though, which I think I must now go in search of. My mum was always into angels, so has all kinds of angels throughout her house (like the ones in the pictures below). My kids even call her “Oma Engel”  (Grandma Angel), so it’s no wonder I had all these angel books growing up.

How fun that this Mach’ was challenge made me travel down memory lane and read that book again for the first time in 37-40 years or so! Thank you Herba and Die Pö.

(Home)work & Gregory Peck

Mini-Esther had math homework to do while I was working today. Messy table and all but it was nice having a little company. She hates math, needed a little help here and there. Not that I know anything about math (it’s always been my worst subject, Mr Esther’s worst subject too, so Mini-Esther is biologically challenged when it comes to understanding math) but I could at least help her understand the questions.

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And last night I watched Gregory Peck, Diane Baker and Walter Matthau in the pyscho-mystery movie Mirage from 1965. It’s quite a good mystery about a man with amnesia trying to figure out why he’s being chased. I had seen it before soooo many years ago but remembered nothing about it except this part where he’s convinced that there are several sub levels in a building that he can’t find anymore. It’s viewable on YouTube here, should it take your fancy. Peck sure remains a joy to watch! Still love the man after having first seen him some 38 years ago or so! I took a ton of screenshots. Of Greg alone…

…with Walter Matthau, who is awesome in his own right and I felt had a special bit of magic with Greg…

… and with Diane Baker…

So, yeah, those were just about the highlights of the last 24 hours. It’s also the end of my little break now, back to work again for another hour and a half or so.

Making the best of longer isolation

Our prime minister, Mark Rutte, gave a press conference yesterday and all measures that had been taken to combat the Corona virus have been extended from April 6th till April 28th. To quote the statement:

“The extension means that sports facilities, establishments serving food and drink, childcare centres and other locations will remain closed until 28 April inclusive. Schools will remain closed until at least the end of the May school holidays. The ban on events still applies until 1 June.”

It’s all getting more and more grim.

Total number of confirmed cases: 12,595 (+845)
Total number of confirmed cases who are or were admitted to hospital: 4.712(+722)
Total number of reported deaths: 1.039 (+175)
The number of patients admitted to hospital and the number of deceased patients reported in the Netherlands are increasing less rapidly than would have been expected without measures in place. The province of Noord-Brabant seems to have moved past the peak of new hospital admissions. Hospital admissions are still increasing in Zuid-Holland, Noord-Holland, Gelderland and Limburg.

We live in Zuid-Holland so we’re still getting the worst in this part of the country. It’s no surprise that the measures have been extended and, listening to the press conference yesterday, chances are that the measures will be extended even longer after that date. We’ll have to wait and see. I’ve got to say that with all the criticism I have had in the past of our PM and his policies, I do feel like he is handling this crisis very well.

So, at the very least, we have another 4 weeks of this isolation thing to go… I am extremely grateful that Mr Esther and I both have steady work and a steady paycheck. Not everyone has that luxury and very many don’t have work they can do from home but this stay at home thing is not a holiday either like many in (social-)media do seem to suggest. So many ads and social media posts giving well-meant advice to combat boredom and I keep on thinking, “Really? Is no one else working except for hospital & care staff, grocery store staff and Mr Esther and I”? I really don’t have time to read 10 books a week, watch 20 Netflix series, do full time meditation retreats and play indoor games all day (even if I do have a day off work today). I’m not so much bothered by boredom, rather I am affected by restriction. Our world is large in virtual life but very small and confined in real life. And even then I am lucky that I have a good home life, a good internet connection, am healthy and not lonely.

I hope all these measures to stay at home will help stop the spread of the disease, I hope that all healthcare staff and all other people that work so hard to keep everything going get through this unscathed, I hope that all those who are now not able to work or fear losing their jobs and businesses stay well, I hope that those who have difficult at home lives or no home at all come through this alright and I also hope that in all this darkness we can also try to see some light now and again. With so many people here and around the world getting sick and dying, and these economic problems looming, and our home lives and contacts being restricted, life can be a little demoralizing. So, for me as a cup half full sort of person, I’m tyring to make the most of the little things, like enjoying a geriatric 15 year old cat in the sunshine in our back garden…

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…or taking a walk with my home office colleague while keeping our distance from others…

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Our black cat is happy that we’re home all day as it means she can always find someone to stretch out on (mostly on my daughter who, by the way, is bored)…

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… and faithful reader Squirrel sent me this picture of her son which made me smile and that she asked me to blur and share on my blog. She says, “My son is creating 3D printing masks at home, in his narrow student studio, during spare times.”

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And last but not least, sharing a gorgeous Richard Armitage in Uncle Vanya image might help a tiny bit as well with cheering up. It’s topical too, as he is a doctor.

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If Dr. Astrov really were a good doctor, I’m sure he’d say, “Take care of yourselves and each other!” and I second that. Here’s to making the best of at least another 4 weeks in isolation.

 

Tea break…

… in my home office…

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I have this Roman Holiday tea set that was sitting decoratively on a shelf but I figured, what use is a tea set if you never use it? The tea cups are a bit small for my liking, so I prefer my cat-cup that can hold a whole lot more tea, but the plates are perfect for a piece of carrot cake! It was yummy.

My view right now shows that the sun is shining and it’s beautiful outside.

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I should really go outside for a lunchtime walk but that means I have to get out of my pj bottoms and the Muse t-shirt I slept in and have to get dressed.

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No time for that because I have another video call at 1 pm. So, here I am on my lunch break, blogging instead about tea and cake and t-shirts. I think I’ll go have a sandwich now with my home-office-colleague. What another riveting day in Corona isolation it is!