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.

King’s Day in quarantine again

It’s King’s Day here in The Netherlands today where we celebrate the king’s birthday (he’s 54 today). Normally the country errupts into one big orange festival but we’re still in Corona crisis quarantine lockdown, so it’s all low-key yet again. Last year we already spent an even more low-key King’s Day in lockdown at home. Quarantine isn’t as strict and as new as it was last year so this year we opted for a little more mobility.

Junior was picked up by three friends at the end of the morning and they spent the day having their own little party amongst themselves and walking in a nature area where they saw this…

Meanwhile at home mini me had some studying to do for exams tomorrow and I had some homework to do for my Stephen Macht drama masterclass that I hadn’t gotten around to earlier. I first watched a bit of our royal family on TV visiting the city of Eindhoven in the south for a socially distanced birthday celebration where they participated in a socially distanced talk show setting and played a virtual quiz game. It was good that I could fastforward a lot of it (hadn’t watched live from the beginning) as it wasn’t that interesting but I did get a bit of an impression.

I then turned to my homework, watching the drama Tender Mercies from 1983, a movie I hadn’t really heard of before, despite the movie earning an Oscar for best script and for best actor Robert Duvall. Thankfully, it really was a good movie…

Afterwards Mr Esther, mini me and I decided to drive to Den Haag and take a walk around there. Some cities were apparently very busy and people were asked to leave according to the news but Den Haag wasn’t bad at all. The sun was out, we got some fish to eat at a fish stand, the trams even had little Dutch and orange flags and it was at least a little bit festive as we walked around for maybe an hour and a half…

When we got home again, Junior was back and sitting in the sun in our front garden (yes, we have the flag out for the occasion, a thing Mr Esther always likes to do) with the cats around as well…

At 7 pm I had my third Stephen Macht drama masterclass which was again interesting (a longer post will follow at some later time). I do notice in the background that he has what looks like Billy bookshelves from Ikea (we have the same but in a lighter wood colour and in white).

After a late dinner the family reunited in the living room again to watch soccer on TV (Madrid versus Chelsea in the Champions League).

The day ended with some gazing at the beautiful full moon. Couldn’t get a good picture yet as it is still quite low and obscured by trees but I got a little something…

I hope next year we can have a real King’s Day with the country turning into an orange street party again with open air junk sales, music in the streets and cafés and restaurants open again to all the celebrating people. I hoped the same last year and look where that got me. Still, a woman can wish, can’t she?

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.

What happens when we die

The other day I came across this profound moment of truth, stated so beautifully and simply by Keanu Reeves.

I had seen it before but it popped up again for me just as I was remembering my dad’s passing on March 12th and today my oldest brother’s passing 52 years ago at the age of 7, a year before I was born.

My brother is buried in a convent’s graveyard in Israel, just outside of Jerusalem. The Hebrew inscription on his grave (“The Lord is my banner”) is the same as the one we also had engraved on my dad’s headstone here in The Netherlands, forever connecting my brother to my father who had always missed him.

I miss my father and my whole life I missed my oldest brother, always wishing I could have known him. Keanu Reeves is a wise man, knowing this profound truth about the human condition and internalizing it in such a way that he could express it so beautifully and succintly on a talkshow. It’s a nugget of wisdom to remember for the ages and additionally a reminder to me that missing the people we have loved and lost will also always keep them alive in our hearts.

It’s done

Mr Esther and mini me were busy with the votes counting till close to 1 a.m. in their respective counting locations last night.

Most of the election results are now in. Alas, the right wing (from center right to far right) does get the biggest slice of votes. Luckily the far right votes are splintered between several parties so none of them will, I think, have a chance to make it into government and they will remain in opposition. At least, I hope so and that the center right VVD party (the largest party) will adhere to its promise to not go into coalition with these chaotic far right parties. Still, 29 seats going to far-right parties is a very concerning thing! It’s really depressing that I live in country where these extreme and xenophobic viewpoints have such a large following.

The encouraging news is that the center-left D66 party made some big gains and is now the second largest party! They are part of the current coaltion government, together with our prime-minister’s party (VVD) and two other Christian conservative parties, but as they have gained quite a lot of seats (possibly their greatest election result ever) they willl hopefully be able to gain a stronger voice in a new government. I’m not going to go into a whole analysis here, if you are interested in reading more, you can read this article. Suffice it to say that it looks like Mark Rutte will stay PM and, while I hate his flirting with right wing speech on occaison and I’m not too fond of some of his more right-wing policies, he is a stable leader especially during this Corona crisis. I just hope that with a stronger D66 some policies can also be liberalized in a new government. Go, Sigrid Kaag (she danced on a table last night when news of the big gains for her party came in)!

I also hope a government can be formed quickly (and it doesn’t take a record 225 days like last time around).