International Day of Families

Apparently, every May 15th it’s the International Day of Families. It’s as good a reason as any to pay tribute to my family.

I come from a bit of an unusual family and I still think it’s a cool one. My parents were married in September 1960 and nine months later my oldest brother was born. The family soon expanded and by the end of 1966 my parents had four children. In 1967 they moved to Israel and in 1968 my family looked like this…

My oldest brother died after an accident in early 1969 and the family then came to look like this (yes, we had an old olive press in the middle of the living room)…

I was born in the spring of 1970, in 1973 my parents adopted two babies of Palestinian origin (seven months apart in age) and in 1976, this was our family…

At the end of the 1970s an Ethiopian girl aged 16 came to our family, followed by an Ethiopian boy aged 11 and just before we moved away from Israel in 1980, our family looked like this (eight kids and two dogs in total):

In 1980, when I was 10 years old, we packed up our VW van and with a caravan in tow we moved to Germany where my father had accepted a new job.

Six years later my family looked like this, with a new second family dog after our old little black dog had passed away (the dog was called Dunya, and we always used to impatiently urge her to ‘mach was’ (‘do something’) when she would dawdle about doing her business)…

Another four years later, this was our family, with yet another second dog after Dunya had died. By then several siblings and I who were in school and university lived in a house in The Netherlans while my parents still lived in Germany. My oldest Ethiopian sister was drawing away from us (and we very sadly have no contact with her anymore now) and the first sister-in-law joined the family. From here on in I’m blurring the pictures as we get older and look more like we do now…

The family has slowly grown as we got married and had children and for my parents 50th wedding anniversary in 2010, this was us…

Our family is still changing. There have been separations and divorces and we all deeply miss my father. There will be additions now as well, as the grandkids start getting life partners. Last November, for my mother’s 86th birthday, this was our whole group (minus only a niece and nephew living in South Korea and Israel)…

I now have a little family of my own that I am also extremely proud of and my children too are really growing up.

Junior has just returned from travels on his own to Istanbul and Barcelona and has been cuddling our very old cat and catching up on sleep. He has also decided on a university course that he will start in the fall (Sport Management) and I think he is gearing up to spread his wings and fly out of the nest (also symbolized by the tattoo he got a few months ago)…

Mini-me has been studying very hard for her final exams while we were away. She relished the time alone and the quiet to do so and our black cat decided to ‘help’ her…

Our dining table has become a study station and she is relieved that at least the math part of the exams is over (and that it went alright). Back at it for another week and a half and then she will be done with secondary school. In the fall she will move on to university for her nursing studies.

Families can be complicated things. There’s always something going on, positive and negative, but despite all problems that we too have encountered along the way, I am deeply grateful for my family and deeply impressed with my parents who have built all this and given us, their children, such a good foundation to build our own families.

Families are never static, they always develop and evolve, they diminish or expand, there’s always an ebb and a flow. Sometimes we are lucky and are born into good families, other times we have to build them ourselves, whether with partners and/or children or friends or even pets. We all need a place to call home, whether alone or with others, where we feel safe and secure, with loved ones to fall back on. On this International Day of Families I wish that for everyone…

King’s Day has come and gone

It was King’s Day here yesterday, where the Dutch celebrate our king’s birthday with street markets and games and music and such. The King, his wife and 3 daughters visited Maastricht yesterday and there apparently was a bit of a party…

For us, it was all very much toned down. Well, it wasn’t that toned down for Junior as he went to Breda with friends, to a big outdoor party that he had bought tickets for weeks ago. It feels weird seeing this after two years of King’s Days in lockdowns.

Mini me has final exams coming up so she opted for sudying at home. Mr E and I were just tired, so stayed home for most of the day as well. At the end of the afternoon we did go into town for a little walk around and some drinks at a café.

Mini me joined us at the beginning of the evening and we had a very nice dinner together and that was pretty much that. Maybe next year we’ll celebrate more exuberantly?

Lazy Sunday and Colman in colour

Mr E and mini me were out and about somewhere this afternoon, sitting in the sun at a cafe, sipping ice tea and eating calamari.

Junior played handball today, injured his leg and was resting on the couch, surrounded by cats…

As for me, I was holed up in my room until the end of the afternoon while awaiting the results of my Corona test that I took this morning. Turns out it’s negative and all I have is a bad cold. Such a relief! Now I don’t have to worry about Mr Esther (who has asthma) getting Covid from me.

While lazing away in my bed this Sunday afternoon, I re-watched a little Bridgerton season 2, which I have really enjoyed. Looking at Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) and his lush brown hair and beautiful brown eyes (I LOVE brown eyes) made me think of Ronald Colman (yes, I know, yet again, he’s never far from my thoughts these days…) and I wished so badly that there would be more Ronald Colman in colour pictures and films out there. He had brown eyes and lush brown hair too, although I have never actually seen him with lush brown hair in colour.

Ronald Colman seems to exist almost only in black and white. The few glimpses of him in colour, from late in his career when he was in his fifties and sixties, are already fascinating, but not really clear enough. He only made three colour films and even candids of him are all black and white.

I took some screenshots from his first colour movie, Kismet from 1944, when he was 53 but the quality isn’t great and there’s so much make up messing with the Colman look. However, it is the first glimpse in colour of his warm brown eyes. For most of the movie I don’t really like his look but Colman in that black outfit, salt and pepper hair and with those warm deeply brown eyes is quite something. He should’ve looked like that throughout the whole movie and not just at the end.

His warm brown eyes are also seen in his last two films that he filmed in his mid sixties. His final film from 1957 was called The Story of Mankind (a bit of a weird one where he advocates against the devil at a tribunal to keep humanity alive) and shows some of his brown eyes, but never quite close-up enough…

The sun does shine nicely into his brown eyes in a cameo in the 1956 David Niven version of Around the World in 80 Days but he’s very much in costume there and the moments we see him are over all too soon.

I have searched for other Colman in colour images but there just isn’t much out there. There’s one with his wife Benita, also from the early 1950s, I think.

But mostly I only find colourized pictures of old black and white photos.

Especially the first two photos give a bit of an idea of how heart-stoppingly handsome and charismatic he must have looked in real life / colour. The dark hair and warm brown eyes certainly contributed to that. I wish he’d been able to do far more in colour. A girl can dream on a lazy Sunday afternoon and evening…

Municipal elections

Today all over the country we have our municipal elections. You don’t have to be Dutch to vote. If you’ve lived here for 5 years or longer you are eligible to vote for your local city council. An American comedian living in The Netherlands made a little ad spot for voting in these elections (maybe some of you recognize his voice from that famous ‘America first, The Netherlands second’ spoof that was once made when Trump was elected president).

Last year during our parliamentary elections, Junior voted for his first time ever. This afternoon mini me, who turned 18 last December, was able to vote for her first time as well! Junior had gone in to vote earlier on his own and I went in with mini me at the end of the afternoon.

It really was a proud parents moment (Mr E is volunteering at the polling station again so was able to see her do this as well). We have the privilege to live in a real Democracy, I’m so glad our kids are also learning to safeguard it by going out to vote.

Positive

Mini me has been self testing a lot because kids at her school and also in her football team have been testing postive for Covid these past few weeks. Some football matches have even been cancelled. Yesterday she came home from school sneezing and with a bit of a throat ache, so in the afternoon she did an at home test. Sure enough, she tested postive for Covid which was today confirmed by an official PCR test.

We were already feeling that it was only a matter of time before this came to our house and it turns out we were right. Mini me has been keeping her distance, we have self tested here today as well and so far it all remains negative for the rest of us. We are all vaccinated and have had our booster shots so as long as we don’t have any symptoms, we don’t need to quarantine. We are being extra careful, though, with distance keeping (I cancelled my visit to my mother today), hand washing and using our masks. Fingers crossed that mini me is symptom free again soon (she already seems better than yesterday) and that the rest of us don’t get infected. Can this stupid pandemic be over already?