Relaxing after @home work

Really busy working from home today so it’s been good to unwind after. And a nice evening it was too!

It was decided by popular vote in this house that we would have a cold dinner this evening with baguette and different kinds of cheese and paté and filet americain (a kind of beef spread) and guacamole and scrambled eggs and wine. It was our first dinner outside this year as the weather was still really nice at around 7 pm.

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We saw something wriggling in the grass while we were eating and it turned out to be a caterpillar…

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… and after dinner our old cat actually was playful! He’s 15 and very rarely plays anymore, so this was fun to see.

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Meanwhile our black cat was hiding behind a lamp, not sure why.

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The weather was so nice, Mr Esther and I decided on an after dinner stroll.

And this evening my son came downstairs for a little cuddle with our old cat before grabbing a beer and disappearing to his room again.

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Now off to read a little before I head to bed. One more day of work tomorrow and then I have a week and a half off!

The sun is shining

Finished work an hour early today – a little compensation as I need to work extra tomorrow. The sun is shining so I’m enjoying it in our back garden now while Mr Esther is still working. And see, the magnolia I got for my birthday has started to bloom!

I like using my laptop on my lap for leisure but for work I prefer a table (and using a mouse). So, unlike Mr Esther, I’ve been working inside. If the weather stays good I may start considering putting a table out for a garden office instead of a home office. Meanwhile, it’s nice watching our cat play with our daughter while the space isn’t cluttered with any work tables yet…

And our old red cat has come to take a look as well before lying down for a rest.

Spring is truly here now and Easter is around the corner. And should you be worried about the Easter Bunny – don’t be. New Zealand’s prime minister has a reassuring message…

Ah, sunshine and spring and lovely messages by Jacinda Ardern sure do cheer me up. 🌞

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.

 

A cat, childhood & Jane Eyre

Just as I wanted to start typing this post, this happened…

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My black cat decided to stretch out between me and my laptop. I was distracted by a 30 minute portrait of Orson Welles on BBC TV (after watching another one on Joan Fontaine) and before I knew it there she was. I was able to shift her…

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… but she didn’t stay long and has now found a spot on my daughter’s lap…

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No work today, which is nice for a change. I was tired yesterday after a busy week and a busy working morning. In the afternoon I met up with a neighbour for a walk while we kept our 1,5 meter distance. It’s quite weird taking a walk with someone while maintaining a distance but it is doable and was actually quite nice getting away and chatting like that. Mr Esther, the kids and I had dinner infront of the TV last night with a lovely glass of red wine.

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I was talking to my mother on the phone yesterday, she was asking me for the 2011 Jane Eyre movie that isn’t available on Netflix and wanted to watch Pride and Prejudice as well. So, after two weeks at home and being extremely careful with no sign of sickness, we all decided we felt safe enough to venture out carefully and drop some DVD’s off at my mother’s house. It turned out that she had no DVD player anymore so my older brother found a spare one and offered it to her. To minimize outside contact between my mom and others I arranged to pick up the DVD player at my brother’s and then drive on to my mother’s to loan her the DVDs she and I had selected over the phone (picture taken so I know which DVDs to ask back)…

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Mini-Esther joined me and while on the road we saw signs saying, “Just stepping outside? Keep a distance of 1,5 meters!” and “Together against Corona. Avoid busy spaces.”

At my brother’s house we kept our distance, which is pretty weird when it’s family. No hugs hello or goodbye, no touching. Surreal. My brother, his partner and their kids (15 and 13) are doing well so far and my brother remarked how we were the first people outside their little family to enter their house in two weeks. First time we’ve been inside another house in two weeks as well. We stayed for only 10 minutes or so and then drove on to my mother’s to give her the DVD player and the DVDs. There too we kept our distance to my mother and my younger brother who is staying with her for now. Again, that felt surreal.

We visited longer with my mother and brother, catching up. My brother has been sorting through all the family photos and I took a few pictures of some of the old ones, like this one of me (little girl in the pink dress) taking a walk next to my grandfather (my father’s father) when I was 3 years old and he visited us in Israel…

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He died a year later and it must have been the last time I saw him. I have two vague (and warm) memories of my grandfather. One memory is of him reading me a book before bedtime and the other is of me holding his hand while we were out walking somewhere. It could very well have been on this exact walk!

There were pictures of us visiting the zoo in Jerusalem with my grandmother (my mother’s mother), it must have been around a similar time…

I also enjoyed this picture of us visiting the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, even though you can’t see that much. We are right infront of the altar built over the spot where Jesus is said to have been born. My dad is on the left, I am on the right, closest to the wall.

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There’s a fun picture of me meeting Sinterklaas at the Dutch embassy that used to be in Jerusalem (later moved to Tel Aviv). I think I was 7 or 8 there and I still remember that dress and that necklace! I looked at the picture and exclaimed to my mother, “Isn’t the man playing Sinterklaas Mr. M?”. She said it was indeed. Mr. M. held a high position at the embassy and was a family friend of ours at the time. We used to play with his kids (who were the ages of my eldest brothers and sisters). He had kind eyes and I’ve got to say that after all this time (some 40 years!),  I surprised myself that I still recognized him underneath that outfit.

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There was a picture with my other grandmother (my father’s mother) enjoying a falafel with us, I think I’m about 9 years old here. Not the most flattering picture of me but it made me grin.

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The final picture was taken not long before we left Israel to live in Germany. It think this picture was taken while we were loading the van we had for our journey north. We had bought the van a year or two before in The Netherlands while visiting there on summer holiday and had driven it to Israel (via land and ship). Our final trek away from Israel was also the ship and land route and this was taken just before we embarked on that adventure.

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How our lives would change after this moment in time! Ah, the memories…

Mini Esther and I left my mother’s after about an hour and it’s back into full on isolation again here at home. My mom was going to enjoy The Nun’s Story as we left and it’s taken ages to type this up because (after that Orson Welles portrait on the BBC) they aired 1943’s Jane Eyre with Fontaine and Welles. It’s just finished (it’s a pretty good adaptation!)…

… so I can now proof read this post again for corrections and finally hit “publish”. And so we arrive at dinner time during another day in isolation.

Cats over fandom today…

I was going to post Richard Armitage pictures today but then we went to visit Mr Esther’s aunt and uncle to meet their new kittens and that whole plan went out the window. So, it’s cats over fandom here today!

It’s no secret that I adore cats. We had loads of pets growing up (especially dogs and guinea pigs) but we didn’t have cats. I always wanted cats, was famous for that wish and the nickname my parents gave me as a little girl was “Poestie” (“poes” is cat in Dutch). My mother still calls me “Poes” sometimes. When I went off to college there was no room for cats in my life and when I moved in with Mr Esther, he wasn’t about to have cats move in as well. He was a dog person but that soon changed.

We’d been living together for a year when we went to visit my parents who were living in Jerusalem again at the time, bordering the checkpoint to Bethlehem. When we came to visit them my mother had rescued two kittens that had been orphaned by a wild dog on the grounds of the institute they were living at. She hand-reared them and didn’t have the heart to release them again into a very uncertain wild future. When Mr Esther and I came to visit I fell in love! I mean, who wouldn’t with kittens such as these?

During the 3 weeks we stayed with my parents especially the kitten on the left (in my brother’s hand) was able to win Mr Esther over and when we travelled back to The Netherlands, we travelled back with two kittens. We called them our Palestinian refugees. One of the cats became ill at the age of 8 and died, the other cat was thankfully with us much longer.

When my baby son arrived, the cats didn’t trust the crying baby and virtually lived in the attic the first three months of his life. Yeah, they were scaredy cats and remained that always. They came to tolerate the children but weren’t that close to them. Babies and toddlers are scary beings but they adored Mr Esther and me. When one of the cats died, the other one seemed lonely for a while and hovered around me more than ever.

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We then went to the local shelter and asked for advice and they told us it would best to add a kitten for company. So, we got a beige-reddish kitten out of the shelter. Our old cat didn’t trust the kitten much at first…

… but in the end they learned to at first tolerate each other and in the black & white cat’s older age, they’d even lie against each other at times.

Where the black & white cat was somewhat stand-offish with our small kids, our beige cat instantly became fast friends with them, always searching them out. He has the dearest soul, loves everyone and allows everyone to love him.

When five years ago our old b&w cat died aged 17, my heart broke. We had loved her so dearly!

However, as our beige cat is such a social cat, we decided to adopt another kitten from a shelter a few months later. No one wanted the black cats there, so we took one home. This black cat, even though she turned out to be a mass murderer, instantly took hold of our hearts.

The two cats needed a few days to get used to each other but soon became friends, even though the beige cat really needed to get used to the playfulness of a kitten after only having lived with an older cat.

Nowadays the beige cat is the old cat, he’s 14. The cats still occasionally tumble over each other for a minute or two to play but mostly lead separate lives. They both love their cuddles from us. The beige cat takes to my son a lot of the time while the black one takes to my daughter but they both also love to spend time with Mr Esther or me when I sit on the couch and have a cup of tea, as pictured here last week…

The beige cat lies against me or Mr Esther on the couch almost every evening and likes to come on the bed when I put him there (the jump is now too high for him)…

Our beige cat used to greet us outside our house when he heard the car come home but now that we have a quiet hybrid Toyota, he doesn’t always come out anymore. He does often still come out to say goodbye when we leave, though.

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Anyway, this whole post came about because Mr Esther’s aunt and uncle have adopted two kittens from a charity in Greece. They were inspired to do so after we told them about visiting a cat shelter on Rhodos last year and when their cat died, the decision to adopt these kittens was made. This afternoon we went to visit these kittens who are now about 5 months old. Although they look completely different, it reminded me of us adopting our two black & white sisters from Jerusalem, which kickstarted sharing our house with cats. These two kittens were found in a dumpster on the Greek island of Crete and are so very affectionate and playful! I think they will have a very happy home here in The Netherlands.

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We’re in love yet again.

As I finish this post and link back to earlier posts on this blog, I’m realizing that this september is the 5 year anniversary of this blog! Coincidentally, I am also just seeing, this is my 600th post. Not as many posts as many bloggers out there (I, by far, don’t post daily), but 600 still seems like a lot to me. How fun that I was able to celebrate this with cats. 🙂