Counting my blessings

Recently I’ve not been in the best of places and to counteract that I’ve decided that today is for counting my blessings of this past week.

First off, it’s been a short working week as we had a holiday yesterday (Ascension Day) and at my work place the day after that (today) is also free. So, yay, very long weekend for me! It feels like a Saturday for me today but it’s only Friday and what a pleasant thing it is to have this extra free time.

The best news this past week has been that Mr Esther got his first Covid vaccination! He has asthma and is in a higher (though not highest) risk group, so was able to get it yesterday (in a town 20 minutes from here). Mini me and I waited in the car (Junior had decided on a lazy day at home) and afterwards we drove on and just made a nice day of it. It’s so nice that terraces outside restaurants are open again during the day.

Last Tuesday was my final Stephen Macht masterclass on dramatic movie analysis. I couldn’t make the final class but was sent a recording which I will watch this weekend. Those classes have been giving me joy these past 5 weeks and have set me thinking, which I love. In fact, I have requested and have been sent recordings of all 5 of the classes so I can re-watch it all if I feel the need to.

These past few weeks, on Wednesday afternoons, I’ve been doing some volunteer work for the Council of Refugees. Socially distanced with screens and masks and very few people present and by appointment only but I am really enjoying it. It also puts into perspective yet again how very privileged I am that I have not had to flee my country, leave family and other loved ones behind and start life over in a totally different country with a weird language and a huge amount of confusing bureaucracy. On Wednesday I was trying to comfort a woman my age from Eritrea, who doesn’t speak any Dutch or English or German, with a cup of tea. It’s so tough to be a refugee and I am just happy that I can try to make a little bit of a difference.

Another blessing is that I came across these pictures taken of my small family during our holiday to Israel eight years ago last February. All four of us in a picture is quite rare and these were taken by two close friends of ours who came with us on that trip. I really should frame some of these. (Pictures were taken at the Jordan river, Old City of Jerusalem, Ein Kerem overlooking the valley, at the Dead Sea and in the desert near Eilat).

Back to the present day and it’s still on the chilly side here in The Netherlands. It is getting a bit warmer, though, and in the sun it is possible to sit in our garden for a bit again and look adoringly at my two favourite garden statues.

While enjoying the sun in our back garden I decided to listen to some David Bowie again (despite me repeatedly mentioning him on blog I don’t listen to him that often). As my David Bowie song of the day I would pick this one, a duet with Queen…

Insanity laughs under pressure we’re cracking –
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can’t we give love one more chance
Why can’t we give love?
Cause love’s such an old fashioned word,
And love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves.
This is our last dance, this is our last dance.
This is ourselves, under pressure

Funniest movie moment of this week was from the animated movie Zootopia. I had never seen it before but mini me watched it and we watched along. The scene with the sloth just made me laugh so much, it was a much needed relief.

I recall seeing this gif often online, now I know where it’s from and I love it…

This evening we had a cosy dinner with just Junior, eating cheese fondue. Yumm!

Despite continued lockdown and getting sad seeing images from India and the Covid tragedy happening there and worrying about Israel & Palestine and worrying about work and not really feeling like myself of late, there are still blessings to be found and that is a good thing.

A festive ex-Queen’s Day

Before 2014, April 30th used to be our national holiday (as opposed to now April 27th) when we used to celebrate our then-Queen’s birthday. I’m not really a monarchist but I do love this national holiday for all it’s fun-filled celebrations.

Queen Beatrix’ birthday is actually on January 31st but as that is too chilly for a celebration, she chose to keep Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag) on April 30th, which had been her mother’s birthday. Even though it’s 8 years ago since the last Koninginnedag in 2013 (and since the coronation of her son as King), I still need to remind myself to call the new festival on April 27th King’s Day (our king’s actual birthday) and I still need to remember that April 30th, as it is today, is now just a regular day.

With Corona crisis measures still in place, there hasn’t been much public celebrating for King’s Day and today, on what I still like to call Queen’s Day, there are of course no parties to be found either. That doesn’t mean that this day hasn’t felt a little festive to me (and it’s got nothing to do with our ex-Queen)! Some Corona crisis measures have been slightly loosened here two days ago (the day after King’s Day), which means that there is no curfew anymore from 10 pm – 4.30 am, all shops are open again under strict regulations (mask wearing, hand sanitizing and limited visitor numbers) and from noon till 6 pm restaurants are allowed to open their terraces for outdoor lunching. So, today, despite chilly and wet weather, Mr Esther, mini me and I tried our luck.

We drove to Noordwijk, which is on the coast to the north of The Hague, and tried to find a terrace that is covered so we could eat out for the first time in over six months and stay dry as well. We found an Italian place and filled in the health check form…

… and although it was chilly and we had to keep our thick coats on, it was lovely to be able to eat out again! We warmed ourselves with hot chocolate and omelettes and a sandwich for Mr Esther…

Afterwards I wanted a glimpse of the sea but as we were cold and it was wet, we didn’t do any more than just glimpse.

Despite the cold, it felt like a little feast to be able to do this again on an ex-festive day such as ex-Koninginnedag. On a little side note: this going for lunch outside thing will be even more fun when the weather gets warmer but for today I will take what I can get.

Strange dreams

Man, I just had a strange night with two very weird dreams.

In the first one I was getting married to Mr Esther, not as we were 22 years ago but as we are now and we were very happy. Everything had been arranged at some minimalist low-key venue / restaurant place but then I found I had forgotten something essential (flowers? dress?) and Mr. Esther and my oldest brother went off in search of it. The next moment it wasn’t me getting married but my younger sister and we were at the speeches part. My father stood up to give his speech and I was really looking forward to that as he always gave well thought through speeches. He walked over to another open area and we all followed with interest (strangely, my sister didn’t have a partner there, so who she was actually marrying was unclear). My father started to address my sister but after two sentences some very corny song started playing (can’t remember which one) and my dad transformed into a walrus! He was wearing a walrus suit and lying on the ground, holding a microphone pretending to sing that song to my daughter. He had no tusks and looked pretty much like this…

Everyone was laughing as it was so out of character for my dad to do this, he was not a performer and certainly not someone who liked to dress up. “I need to film this for Mr. Esther!” I immediately thought as Mr Esther wasn’t back from his errand yet and I took out my phone to do so. When my father ended his act everyone applauded and I just felt very sad because that really hadn’t felt like my father at all; I really missed the thoughtful speech he could have given. At that moment I woke up, feeling very out of sorts.

It took a while for me to fall asleep again and then I had my second weird dream. Due to Corona restrictions all restaurants here are closed and dining indoors or outdoors at one is prohibited. I was walking in a town and saw that outside a restaurant some tables were occupied by diners. A lady waiter in passing said that it was just the staff taking a break but it looked like there were too many people there to just be staff servicing take away orders. Then Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) from the TV show was suddenly there, looking very much like this…

… and he started asking the same questions, intending to enforce the Corona restrictions. He wanted everyone to disperse but first started grilling the waiter about why so many people were eating outdoors and clearly didn’t believe all the people there were staff. I didn’t want to stick around for that, mostly because I suddenly found myself standing there in just my underwear without a bra! I turned around to leave and just then a tram arrived. I quickly hopped in, feeling very self conscious about my state of undress (even though I did have a lovely, trim body very unlike my own). I walked to the back of the thankfully almost empty tram and there found a bra and a trenchcoat which I quickly put on. At this point I again woke up.

Yeah… I’m still trying to figure out what all that was about… Showing your true self? Missing my father? Missing family parties? Desperately wanting to eat out again? Wishing law enforcement looked like William Murdoch? I think I’m going to be feeling a little weird all day.

Another Easter in quarantine

The second Easter spent in quarantine and this Corona crisis thing really isn’t over yet. Yesterday we heard that someone in my daughter’s soccer team and someone in my son’s class have been tested positive for Covid 19. Both are asymptomatic and both haven’t been in close contact with my kids but with quickly spreading variant Covid strains you never know. Today we heard that someone else in my son’s handball team was also tested positive. So, we are stuck inside and around the house a little more now (especially difficult for the kids who had been happy to do their sports and go to school again from time to time) until somewhere in the coming week the kids can get tested.

We did enjoy a lovely Easter brunch this morning, prepared (as every year) by the wonderful Mr. Esther…

… and this evening the four of us will have a nice table grill dinner, making the best of having a little time off over Easter. I wish those who celebrate a…

… and may the new hope of spring also bring new hope for better days without Covid.

My moments of Zen

I have been moving far too little of late and I really should go out and move more with walking or biking as my physical fitness feels almost non-existant at the moment. I admit to getting bored with doing the same old routes over and over again for the past year and so daily walks have become walks once or twice a week, which really is not enough.

Last Friday evening after work I got my butt in gear again for a nice evening walk, this time without Mr Esther who needed a rest. The good thing about walking with Mr Esther is that we catch up and chat and I love that one on one time with him. The good thing about walking on my own is that I notice my surroundings more and even though the route is overly familiar, it sometimes can still make me stop for a few moments and realize again that my small corner of the world is still quite beautiful.

I notice the way the late afternoon sky looks through the branches of leafless trees, I realize that seeing a broken, rusty ruin of a bike in a pond feels like a very Dutch sight, I notice the way the horizon glows at dusk through the trees overlooking the nearby highway, I stare at the moon appearing through the branches of a tree in the slowly darkening sky and I take a moment to admire a young girl in the sunset exercising a horse at the riding school that I pass en route. These moments of Zen, although they happened a few days ago, still carry me today on Monday at noon where I’m trying to not let dissatisfaction win. I’m posting these pictures today to remind myself to hold on to that…

My cats don’t seem to mind the same old, same old routine of life, they still sleep for a large portion of the day on us or on the couch…

… and I take a moment to remind myself that it’s OK to just accept that for now things are just the same old thing. If the cats can do it, I can do it.

It’s not only the same old stuff getting me down, I also harbour all these frustrations about not liking my job, manifesting themselves most strongly on Mondays. Then there are also all the bad things happening in the world (among other things, today I hear that our prime minister and winner of our elections is flirting with the idea of including a small far right party to his coalition – seriously?) and I just need to continue reminding myself that the world during this Corona crisis also still harbours beautiful things like nature and cats living their best lives doing nothing. For today I’ll try to appreciate more little things, like writing this post on my lunch break and drinking the chocolate milk mini-me just brought me. There is always hope for better times, right?