Corona ‘work’ at home day

Bad night due to mosquitoes buzzing over our heads and our electric fly swatters are all broken.

8.45 am – alarm goes off, need to get up and throw on some clothes so I can start work at nine.

9.10 am – F**k, still in bed, need to get up now.

9.15 am – OK, now I’m getting up. Just quickly check WordPress notifications and very cursory scroll through Twitter.

9.35 am – Teeth brushed, hair brushed (thank goodness I washed my hair yesterday!), t-shirt and jeans thrown on. Run upstairs to empty dryer, fill washing machine again.

9.40 am – Finally at laptop. Thank goodness, not missing much. Mr Esther is making work calls in the living room while I sit in the dining room (he did manage to get up at 8.45 am!)

9.45 am – Weetabix breakfast while reading about corona measures at work from September 1st onwards. I work at an applied sciences university. Only absolutely necessary student activities (practical classes, exams and such) will be held in the university buildings. Work from home as much as possible will still be applicable in September.

11 am – Video meeting cancelled, thank goodness. I wasn’t in the mood for that one in the first place.

11.05 am – Can’t focus, scroll through news, Twitter and WordPress blogs quickly

11.30 am – Back to work. Ugh.

11.45 am – Kids crawl out of the woodwork. Mr Esther jr decides on some downstairs computer game time. No sounds emanating from him but mini -Esther puts on a music video channel. Actually, it’s not that bad, for once the music is good.

12.30 pm – Should I do lunch? Nah, not really hungry. Mini-Esther offers a brownie we still had lying around, I do accept that gratefully. Mr. Esther does eat lunch while I take another Twitter surfing break. I can identify with this statement…

And am laughing at these… There’s a whole thread of puns, totally worth it! Of course, Mini-Esther knows these already.

12.55 pm – Read through document for upcoming video conference call. Mr Esther goes upstairs for his afternoon of video conference calls.

1 pm – Video conference call. At the beginning mini-Esther sneezes loudly in the background, which gets the one participant already present in the call laughing.

2 pm – That was a good conference call, I always love it when I can help people and they leave happy. Get up for a little walk and look over Mr Esther junior’s shoulder at the ‘Civilization’ video game he’s playing (you build worlds in that game) and chat with him a bit.

2.15 – Back to work but I’m losing focus by the minute. Mini-Esther has very quietly started baking cupcakes at the dinner table opposite me, making sure not to disturb me. Normally not a problem at all (I’m pretty good at blocking stuff out) but today I’m asking her, “Why are you cutting open the chocolate chips packet with your left hand?” and she answers, “Mama, I’m using my right hand!”

2.45 pm – Mr Esther comes downstairs, makes coffee for himself and tea for all of us. We talk about both being tired after the mosquitoes last night.

We quickly look at a few electric fly swatters online. The usual site where we order the ones we like sells them for 14 euros a piece now! Look elsewhere, and they sell the same one for 3,50 a piece.

2.50 pm – I tell Mr. Esther that I think I’ll just quit early today. Nothing pressing going on that can’t wait till tomorrow. Mr Esther goes back upstairs. Mini-Esther comes downstairs has found one working fly swatter in her room (one she stole from our room a few weeks ago). We need more than one swatter in the house, so everyone can have one in their bedrooms.

2.53 pm – I need to actually order those swatters before 3 pm, so they can be delivered tomorrow. I get to the check out section and can’t remember my pin number for digital banking! I try it twice, but no luck. Can’t try it a third time, or my account will be blocked. What the eff is that about? I use it so much, but I really can’t remember it. Mini-Esther steps in to pay with her account, I’ll pay her back later. My mind is fried.

2.59 pm – Ordered just in time. Back to work.

3.15 pm – I can not focus. Start this post.

3.45 pm – I give up. Check news. Only 2 deaths (and yes, every death is one too many) and 3 new hospital admissions for Covid in the past 24 hours. Still going alright here in The Netherlands despite loosening of measures.

4.05 pm – Mr Esther comes down, his video conference colleagues haven’t ‘arrived’ yet. “Still working?” he asks, “I thought you wanted to quit early.” Tell him I’m blogging. After a quick kiss he’s back to work and I’m signing off here. Taking my daughter to a shop in town now.

4.20 pm – Just re-read this post, think I got most of the typos and if I didn’t, then that’s another testament to how fried my brain feels today.

Over and out! Hope for a more productive working day tomorrow (and a better night’s sleep tonight).

Small wonders in May

This month the Mach’ was challenge is to do something with the month of May and I’ve had no inspiration whatsoever. I’ve been doing a fictional crush blog challenge and participated in the RA Blog Reunion and I’ve been working and I’ve been getting depressed over news in the US (police racism which led to an awful death and all that has come from that and an unhelpful dumb US president ‘dealing’ with it) and the UK (where “some animals are more equal than others” seems to be the norm during the corona crisis). So, my mind just hasn’t been occupied with this month of May challenge. Then I remembered that last week, during our end of the day walk after finishing work at home, I took a picture of a ladybird beetle. I do associate ladybirds with spring/summer and May is usually when we start seeing them. I figured this challenge is as good a time as any to show off the picture. I was experimenting with a setting called live-focus on my phone camera and I think my May ladybird photo turned out quite well.

That picture reminds me of the cake that is shaped like a strawberry, and looks a bit like a ladybird as well, that my brother got me when he came to drop some things off the other day.

He said, “We never got to celebrate your 50th properly with the family, so the least I could do was bring you a belated cake for your birthday.” It was very pretty and quite delicious!

Later that evening my daughter and I drove my brother home, but as it was a beautiful day and the sun was setting so gorgeously, I suggested we drive to the beach first. We caught the last bit of sunset just before the sun vanished from the horizon. That’s me in the first picture, my daughter in the large picture and my brother in the third picture. It was around 10 pm and I just love those late sunsets we get here in May (and June and July).

So, there you have it, a few pictures as my lazy submission to the Mach’ was challenge: a ladybird in May, a strawberry-shaped cake that looks like a ladybird and a May sunset. It helps to remind me that the world not only holds bad news but also small wonders.

Golden years

My younger brother found old slides in my mother’s apartment, I took them to be digitalized a few weeks ago in a store near me and today picked up the end result on a USB stick. What a little treasure it turned out to be! Memories of the golden years of my childhood came rushing back to me when I looked at the pictures, most of which were new to me.

The pictures of my childhood home brought out such warm feelings. This following picture was taken from the side of our house. We lived downstairs and there were two small, separate apartments upstairs that were rented to other people. The laundry you see drying must have been from our upstairs neighbour. I remember little of her (she moved away halfway through my childhood), I just remember she was an old lady called Frau Barur who liked to eat flowers and she scared me a bit. I remember she showed us pictures of herself as a dancer before the war, I think she was of Hungarian origin but not sure about that. She was also an Auschwitz survivor, I remember the number tattoo on her arm.

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The back of our house looked like this (you can see where the stairs are leading up to the upstairs apartment). We used to play on that little wall under the window. That used to be my bedroom that I shared with my older sister, I later moved to another bedroom. This picture was taken before I was born, though.

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In this next picture my older siblings are seated to the left of that back door to the garden and underneath the window that in later years would be the room I shared with my younger brother and sister. This looks like it was taken in the summer of 1968.

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We looked out over the valley from that side of the house and I used to adore looking at that view, at the houses below us and the rocks and trees and tiny buildings across the valley. I love that there’s a picture of that view in these slides. It’s also the view I remember seeing from my second bedroom at that side of the house. Between the trees, at the other side of the valley, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum is located. I remember looking toward those trees, trying to make out the museum and really wanting to visit it. My parents never let me, though, as they thought I was too young for that (we lived there until I was 10). I finally did visit Yad Vashem years later.

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Another picture taken at the end of the 1970s (I think, going by how big my younger brother and sister are here) shows how our back garden matured. We used to love to play there.

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The pictures also include a few with my oldest brother before he died at age 7 from an accident in March of 1969 (a year before I was born). This is him at the back of the house…

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… and planting trees (I think) with my father, my grandfather and other people I don’t know. That blue Renault was ours. I think I have a flash of a memory of it, but not sure whether it’s a real memory or just a memory connected to seeing pictures of it. In my mind it was a darker blue, though. I think these pictures were also taken during the summer of 1968.

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Speaking of my grandfather, there are also pictures of him and my grandmother. I barely remember my grandfather, he died when I was 4, but I do remember feeling a great warmth for him. This picture of him, taken somewhere in the Old City of Jerusalem, may be one of my fave pictures that I know of him! I have no idea who those kids are.

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I also very much like this one of my grandmother relaxing. I think it was taken in the gardens of the nearby convent which had a guesthouse. My grandparents stayed there when they visited. Our house also belonged to that convent, we hired our house from the kind and fun nuns who lived there.

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I think I even know the exact spot where this following picture of my grandfather was taken, right outside the convent’s guesthouse.

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The official entrance to the convent looked like this. The man in the picture is my grandfather, I don’t know who the lady is.

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There are also a few pictures from inside the house. We used to have an old olive press right in the middle of our living room. This picture was taken after my brother died and before my mother’s pregnancy with me showed, I think it must be fall of 1969 going by the sweaters everyone is wearing. The curtains behind the olive press lead to the door to our back garden.

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The next few pictures were taken during Christmas of (I think) 1976 when I was 6 years young. I’m the little blonde girl. We had a load of guests that year and were singing all kinds of Christmas carols. The first picture is of me and my brother performing a song, probably “Little Donkey” which is the only thing I ever remember performing with him.

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There were also some lovely pictures of my dad. In the second picture of all the clergy coming out of the church, my dad is the man in the middle (dressed in black). The third picture is typical of how my dad used to gesticulate when he spoke, I love that picture.

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Last, but not least, when my parents were engaged in 1959-1960 they went to Israel for a year (before moving there again in 1967). My dad was studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for a year and my mother worked as a librarian in Tiberias at the ‘Scots Hospice’. They used to visit each other during weekends. This picture was of them during that time…

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The final picture I want to share here is of my mother and some sheep. Somehow this picture has a “the hills are alive with the sound of music” vibe to me. Going by the fact that my mother is wearing the same outfit as in the picture above, I think this may be outside Tiberias.

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There are of course more pictures (79 in total!) but these really were my favourites. It’s been so much fun discovering them.

King’s Day in quarantine

Today is a holiday here in The Netherlands. We celebrate our King’s birthday and that usually turns the whole country into one orange (our national colour) street party with open air junk sales, music in the streets, cafés and restaurants filled to the brim and people in a festive and fun mood.

Yesterday evening I was going through previous King’s Day pictures with the kids (and before 2013 Queen’s Day when we had a queen). This was my son’s first Queen’s Day, all dressed up before we headed out and then visited my parents (second picture was taken at their house)…

This was my daughter’s first Queen’s Day two years later…

And this was in 2005 when the kids were 3 (going on 4) and 16 months old respectively…

Some more fun pictures between 2006 and 2013. We’d go to different towns each year and join the celebrations there.

Last year, my daughter, my brother and I even did a junk sale ourselves, even though the weather wasn’t great, while my son partied with friends in another town. He was part of the crowd in this video where everyone is urged to jump from left to right…

This year, however, due to Corona, all communal festivites were canceled. King’s Day was to be spent at home. The king did appear on TV for a small speech and posed for pictures with his wife and daughters but celebrations were all at home, even for the king and his family.

We had thought to go out and picnic somewhere today, maybe in the woods to the east of us, but we heard that all the parking lots were closed and people were urged not to come to recreational areas. Also, my aunt’s closest friend, a partner of sorts for her, is 95 and on her death bed. Not from Corona but from other issues and I had promised my aunt I would be there for her on standby should she finally be allowed to visit her friend to say goodbye (she hadn’t been allowed to visit the nursing home in close to two months, which was very difficult in itself). This morning the call came that the nursing home expected that my aunt might need to come and say goodbye soon and I didn’t want to be far from home in case I needed to jump into action.

So, we had a little King’s Day picnic at home. Mr Esther hung out the flag, I put out a little orange coloured plant I had bought, and we all got together for a nice lunch in the sunshine (including our cats who hung out around us in the garden).

The weather was so gorgeous, even the fuzz growing on top of my garden statue’s head seemed orange…

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Not long after our late lunch the call came that my aunt’s friend was not doing well and that my aunt could come and say goodbye. So, mini-me and I picked up my aunt and took her to the nursing home. We weren’t allowed in, only my aunt was, and we awaited her as she came out again. It was emotional, of course. We then visited my mother and brother so that my aunt could be comforted by them as well (and yes, we adhered to strict handwashing and keeping a distance). We ate pizza there and came home.

Mr Esther had gone for a bike ride in the afternoon and took pictures of our historic city hall in full glory…

… and now it’s late in the evening and we’re hangin’ on the couch looking back at a bit of a strange King’s Day which has not been as festive and was sad to boot. I hope next year’s will be happier.

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!