‘Tis the season!

This past weekend Mr Esther and I and two friends of ours, whom we had gone to college with, went on our yearly Christmas market trip to Germany. This time we travelled to Trier and stayed overnight in a hotel in a village about 20 minutes away from the city center. We haven’t been feeling very Christmassy yet but that changed as we got closer to Trier and there was a dusting of snow all around! Of course, ‘doing’ the Christmas market helped get us into a festive spirit as well!

We spent the second half of Saturday afternoon and the evening going around the market. It really was crowded but still fun nonetheless!

The next morning, after breakfast, we walked through Trier again, this time in daylight and in the snow which was coming down much harder on Sunday.

We also noticed extra security measures on different streets that lead to the Christmas market: these huge candles are concrete blocks with a police van in the middle to prevent anyone from doing harm with a rented van or stolen truck… the times we live in…

20171210_111703_resized

After some Käsekuchen and hot drinks we headed back for home again at around 1 pm on Sunday, on roads that were passable but also snowy…

Today (this gets posted after midnight, so on Tuesday, but I mean Monday) was an even more snowy day, we got lots where we live! Mr Esther and I worked from home today (as we had planned to do anyhow even before we knew this much snow was coming). The kids went to school but were sent home early. So, we took the time to decorate the Christmas tree. That is, Mr Esther and my daughter did (in her new Cookie Monster onesie she got from my mother that she absolutely adores!).

Our 3 year old black cat was fascinated by the snow, it’s the first time she’s experienced this…

20171211_135302_resized

Our 12 year old red cat was more interested in finding a warm spot to sleep…

20171211_135326_resized

My son admired the newly decorated tree but was soon more interested in his NBA basketball game on the Playstation…

20171211_184000_resized

And meanwhile, outside it snowed and snowed! Our backyard looked magical…

20171211_183855_resized

… as did the view from our front dining room window with newly placed Christmas lights…

20171211_184037_resized

Yep, I’m feeling it… ’tis truly the season now!

Advertisements

The Mystery Blogger Award

Herba, on her Unkraut vergeht nicht… oder doch? blog, has nominated me for The Mystery Blogger Award. Thank you for thinking of me, Herba! You can read her contribution to the award (in German) here.

So, what is The Mystery Blogger Award? I didn’t know how it works either, but here are the rules and here is the logo that goes with it:mystery-blogger-award-logo

About The Mystery Blogger Award:

This is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates, it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion.

Okoto Enigma is the creator of the award. To motivate the Blogger please do visit her blog.

The Rules of the Award:

– Put the award logo/image on your blog.
– List the rules.
– Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
– Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
– Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
– You have to nominate 10 – 20 people.
– Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
– Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
– Share a link to your best post(s).

My responses to 3 things about myself:

Hmmm, 3 things about myself… I could say many things, but I have said a lot of things about myself on blog before so I had to think a bit about what I maybe haven’t said before. Not quite sure if these things are totally new, but hopefully these 3 things about me are somewhat newish…

1.  I never drink coffee, I just do not like it, not even when it’s a tiny bit of coffee with a lot of milk! For years when I went to my parents’ house my dad would always offer, “Esther, do you want a cup of coffee?” It was this little joke between us because I would always say, “Nope, I still hate it!” I do love tea, though, especially herbal teas.

2.  I come from a large family, I am number 6 of 8 children. Half of my brothers and sisters are adopted (two of Palestinian and two of Ethiopian descent). Kids just sort of happened to appear on our doorstep, due to social projects my mother was involved in when we lived in Israel in my youth, and my parents just kept the kids who were alone in the world and adopted them later. 🙂 I have always loved our large, colourful family, warts and all. When I was a pre-teen I read a book called The Family Nobody Wanted about a couple that ends up adopting 12 children of different ethnic backgrounds and I really identified with that, as it was close to my own family experience as well! I still have that book.

All of this made me want to have 8-12 children myself and I wanted to adopt most of them! That idea quickly changed, however, when I got children of my own. I love them, I love having them in my life, but I couldn’t imagine juggling 8 or, God forbid, 12 children on a daily basis! And adoption in The Netherlands? So much more complicated, so many rules, such a long waiting period (up to 5 years!) and more expensive than the way my parents were able to do it in the 1970s… So yeah, I’m just very happy with my 2 kids now and enjoy having a lot of siblings, some of whom look nothing like me.

3.  I am NOT a morning person, I prefer to not go to bed before 1 am. It’s a real struggle getting to bed at around 11 pm on work nights.

Responses to the 5 questions Herba posed:

1. Do you have a phobia?

Yep, spiders!!! I can tolerate mice and snakes and scorpions but I can not do spiders!

2. Are you working in your dream job?

There’s a huge problem with this question: I don’t know what my dream job is! What I want to do changes all the time. Sometimes I want to be a kick ass social worker or children’s psychologist, sometimes I want to be a writer, or a web designer, or I want to go back to librarianship which is what I trained for (after trying psychology and English as fields of study first). I’ve wanted to be a teacher and a translator, I have wanted to be a journalist or a stills photographer on a TV or film set, I have wanted to be an aid worker in a developing country. What I can say is that I always look for jobs in a social field and so far, to my great satisfaction, I have worked for government, education and development aid organizations. Right now I have an IT-related job for an organization that provides healthcare and educational advice for children and youngsters and I very much enjoy it. That doesn’t stop me from still envisioning other career paths, though.

3. As a child, did you have a favourite book, a favourite movie or tv series, and a favourite singer or music group? What are your current 3 favourites?

  • Favourite book, that I read when I was about 9 or so, was a simplified children’s version of Jane Eyre and the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
  • Favourite TV series was Little House on the Prairie and I loved the first movie I remember seeing in the cinema, a Cinderella movie called The Slipper and the Rose.
  • I’m not sure I had a favourite singer or group as a kid. I do remember loving ABBA songs and I liked Boney M. My absolute favourite song was Ma Baker by Boney M:

Current favourites:

  • Favourite book: Jane Eyre is still up there, along with Jane Austen’s books Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice, but I think I’d have to go with To Kill a Mockingbird as my favourite. I still remember reading it for the first time, it was almost like a religious experience, it spoke to my very being.
  • Favourite movie – I love so so many but I think my all time favourite still is Roman Holiday. Favourite TV series: I love so many, I couldn’t just pick one. Latest obsession is Suits.
  • I already once blogged about all my musical favourites throughout my life. My current fave for the last few years has been English band Muse. Just for fun, here’s a song I haven’t linked to before in other posts; it’s one of my faves and is called Hysteria. I have blogged about 2Cellos covering Hysteria but here is Muse’s original:

4. If you could walk in someone else’s shoes for 24 hours, who would it be and why would it be that person specifically? 

I had no idea what to answer here so I asked Mr Esther who he thought I’d like to be for a day. He immediately shot out a reply: Colin Firth’s wife! And, oh my goodness, he is right! The man knows me well. 🙂 Livia Firth is smart and socially very conscious, she’s an Eco warrior with her own consulting firm through which she tries to make the fashion world a more fair place and, extremely importantly, she’s married to Colin Firth! So, yes, I wouldn’t mind being Livia Firth for a day and I know exactly on which day as well: I want to be Livia with Colin Firth on Oscar night! They had a great Oscar night in 2011 when Colin won the Oscar for The King’s Speech. They got all dressed up together (click on images to enlarge)…

… and looked quite lovey-dovey and had fun on the red carpet together…

… Colin kissed Livia when his Oscar win was announced. Ah, to be on the receiving end of Colin’s kiss..

… and Livia and Colin had fun together after the win…

So, I’d like to be either Livia on Oscar night, or I wouldn’t mind being Richard Armitage’s make up artist Tami Lane on The Hobbit for a day, specifically this day when these pictures were taken…

5. McDonald’s or Burger King?

I’m not really a fan of either. I think there are more McDonald’s than Burger Kings here in The Netherlands. I never go to Burger King, I think I can count on one hand the amount of times in my life that I’ve entered a Burger King. I do go to McDonald’s and the reason for that is not the food (I rarely eat anything there) but I do love the milkshakes! So, I choose McDonald’s for the milkshakes. Mr. Esther likes the coffee there.

Mystery Blogger nominations and my 5 questions

Nominating others is always a tough one. I’ll just throw a few names out there, but feel free to ignore or jump in, whichever! And if your name isn’t here but you’re inspired to answer, please feel free to!

So, the nominations first (trying to not nominate anyone already nominated by Herba):

Violet | SueBC | Lady Butterfly | Sarah | Gratiana | Linnetmoss | Heather | Obscura | BerLinda | Richard

And my 5 questions:

  1. Your favourite genre of book or movie? Name 3 examples of each.
  2. Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life and who should play your partner? (If you don’t have a partner, you can make up a mystery one! Even if you do have a partner, you can make up a mystery one. 🙂 )
  3. Are you sunrise, daylight, twilight, or night? Please explain why.
  4. If you won the lottery what would you do?
  5. Tacos for life or sushi for life?

Tag, you’re it if you want to be!

Down time & Mr. Rochester

After a few very busy weeks since our summer holiday, I finally feel like I have a moment to breathe again, sort of like my kids in this picture from a few weeks ago in England:

IMG_5537

Here is the list of what’s been occupying me (and I didn’t even put the news or Digital Theatre on it! Still haven’t heard from them, by the way, need to send a reminder e-mail…):

  • Attention has been focussed on my kids who both started new schools. They have both made very good starts and I can’t even begin to express how relieved I am about that! The relief is especially big in my daughter’s case, as she’s had it so tough last year. She has been coming home from school happy and I haven’t seen that in her in a long, long time. My son was a bit overwhelmed with the world of his new hotel management school at first, but even he is coming home happy. Yes, a good start and when the kids seem happy it does a lot for a mama’s happiness as well.
  • The house was in disarray for a few weeks due to some projects but that’s under control now.
  • The Dutch class I teach for a very small group of foreigners will be starting up again next week but some things in the organization have changed, so there have been meetings and e-mails and such.
  • Work has been busy for us but especially so for me. Yesterday I had to train a group of colleagues (it was a pilot) with an afternoon programme that I had completely set up and prepared. It was one of the reasons why I was hired, so the pressure was really on for it to be good. Luckily, it was! It will need a few small tweaks here and there (it’s not a pilot for nothing), but overall it went really well. Another great relief!

I have been working so much this past week that I was able to take this afternoon off and do some clothes shopping. I finally found a coat for the autumn that I like and for the right price too! Back home again and right now, my daughter is upstairs in her room chatting on her phone with friends, my son is at a friend’s house, Mr Esther is preparing his delicious signature lasagna dish for dinner and I’m on the couch at my laptop. I keep on thinking I need to jump up and DO something but no, I don’t need to do anything! I can just be! It feels a little unreal…

So, I just had to use this down time to blog again, but as I don’t know what about (and no, I can’t do news right now, it’s a bit overwhelming with all the horrible floods in Texas and South East Asia), this is the post you get. 🙂 I can now more fully focus my attention on the more trivial things in life. For example, I am excited for season 5 of A Place To Call Home to begin, the first trailer is looking lovely and dramatic…

It’ll be another month before it airs but it’s really something to look forward to!

I also just stumbled on this picture of Richard Armitage again while my screen saver was running earlier and it made my heart skip a beat again…

ra-20161201-66

And finally, I hope that this weekend I will find the peace of mind to write-up my impressions of the Jane Eyre play I saw in Leeds a few weeks ago. I’m still very much in Jane Eyre world as I am reading Mr Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker right now, which tells the story from Mr. Rochester’s point of view. The largest part of the book covers the time before he meets Jane and (almost surprisingly) I am flying through this and am finding it a great read!

This fan fiction (which this or any other re-telling basically is) is, I think, the best I’ve ever read! And hey, doesn’t the profile on the cover remind you of someone? Maybe (besides Shakespeare in the theatre in London at the end of next year – yay!), having Richard Armitage cast as Mr Rochester for a film adaptation of this book would be a good idea? A girl can dream, right?

Unrest

Ah yes, real life has begun again! I still have lovely memories of my recent holiday in England as I sip tea from my cat-cup that I bought in this wonderful cat-themed shop in York…

… but the real world has crudely descended upon me again.

My aunt’s closest friend, who has also become a friend to the family and who I have known pretty much my whole life, has suffered a brain hemorrhage and is now half paralyzed and barely conscious. She is 92 and it looks like she won’t recover from this. I’ve already seen her twice since I came back home last week Friday evening; this morning she was even conscious for a bit, recognized us visitors and was even able to communicate some things. How long she will last, we don’t know, but it could be a few months yet and it’s already heartbreaking to see her slowly waning like that…

Another worry has been my daughter. She has had to deal with some issues this past year which resulted in us all wanting to enrol her at a different school. This past July, at the end of the school year, we were interviewed by the director of a new school, he wanted to check some things with my daughter’s old school and would then let us know whether she can indeed come to this new school. We all don’t forsee too much trouble but it is a formality that apparently needs to be handled before she can change schools.

As the summer vacation was upon us, the director hadn’t been able to reach my daughter’s old school. He told us then that he couldn’t do anything until the 3rd week of August, the week before school is due to start, which is this week. He would try to get it all in order then (which is now) and hopefully have her enrolled.  But: we haven’t heard from him yet! We’ve been trying to call him since this past Monday afternoon but we can’t reach him. We couldn’t reach the school administration either. Until today… I finally got someone on the line! I asked whether my daughter is actually enrolled or not, but the admin lady didn’t know. All she could tell me was that she couldn’t find my daughter’s name on any class list yet. The school had asked for my daughter’s info before the vacation and we had e-mailed it all in July before we left, but apparently nothing has been processed yet. The admin lady needed to ask the director but she couldn’t reach him either (and hadn’t seen him around school yet)! So, here we are in limbo land… we told my daughter’s old school last July that she will be going elsewhere (and she really doesn’t want to go back there!) but she isn’t enrolled in the new school yet either… So now, we don’t know which school she can go to this coming Monday. This insecurity is stressing me out!

And then, in addition, the US political situation is freaking me out; it has a grip on my heart like an iron fist! First, last week, it felt like the orange president was about to start World War III, if not with North Korea then with Venezuela. That seems to have been smoothed over a bit for now but then this week it feels like he is unleashing a second US civil war instead! Ever since all the unrest and the terrorist attack in Charlottesville this past weekend this Muse song has been drifting through my head (“I am hungry for some unrest…”):

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hungry for unrest (the opposite, in fact!) but the phrase just keeps on popping up in my mind. To be clear, I hate violence, whether perpetrated by the right or by the left! But there is only one side that has initiated this by their blind hatred: white supremacists and nazis. “All men are created equal“, right? Not to these white supremacists who organized this hate demonstration! And here we have a world leader condoning them (despite him saying he doesn’t), enabling a society in which nazis can flourish. Where will this end? I know it’s all happening geographically far away from me, but it feels close and it scares the shit out of me.

This is a week of such great unrest for me, I find it a little difficult to cope. Work has started again and has taken my mind away from these troubles occasionally, but there is this sinking feeling, always there in the background, that I can’t quite shake. Here, some gifs that illustrate how this week has been for me…

It’ll help a little when at the very least this situation with my daughter gets resolved. Fingers crossed for tomorrow!

I was recently reminded of a picture taken a few years ago;  a picture of Esther’s treasures which really made me smile:

Esther's treasures

I’ll just hold on to that for positivity, shall I?

The Yorkshire Dales

Just a few more picture impressions to share from our holiday… Of the ducks at our campsite, for instance. There are so many of them! I love seeing them quack and waddle around although my son in his tent is less happy with them… their quacking right next to his ear each morning wakes him up before he wants to wake up.

We also passed through the village if Middleham, where Richard III (him again – a bit of a theme for us this holiday!) spent part of his childhood in the castle there (now a ruin).

 

 

The area is also known for horse-racing and we promptly walked by some stables next to the castle…

IMG_7019

We visited Aysgarth Falls in the Yorkshire Dales…

This is apparently also the location where the river fight between Robin Hood and Little John was filmed in the 1991 movie Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves:

The Dales are so beautiful, pictures can hardly do them justice! And yet we tried to capture some of the wonder (click to enlarge)…

When we saw a litte red car in the distance on one of the narrow roads, Mr Esther, a grown man of 46, exclaimed, “Hey, there’s Postman Pat!”

Another filming location we drove through was a village, Askrigg, that was used for external scenes in the 1970s/1980s TV series All Creatures Great and Small.

The series was about the Yorkshire vet James Herriott and Mr Esther kept on saying how he loved watching that TV series in his youth and how that show defined the look of the English countryside for him. It really was a great show, we also enjoyed watching it at my house, so we both were mildly excited at actually driving through this village.

We were also quite high up in the Dales at one point, it really felt like the middle of nowhere. It was quiet and windy and very chilly up there (see my shivering son) and oh so beautiful!

We start our journey back home on Thursday. We’ve totally blown our budget for this holiday but even so, I’m really not ready to leave yet…