Esther family for democracy

It’s election day in The Netherlands today and the whole Esther household is involved. Mr. Esther volunteered to work the polling station. Before he left the house he looked like this…

He hasn’t looked this dressed up and well-groomed since we went to a funeral last year early in May and the kids and I did a double take. I like that I still fancy my man after 29 years together. 🙂

Today is also the first time that Junior (he’s 19) is allowed to vote and he did so while Mr Esther and I could look proudly on (Mr Esther was already at work at the polling station).

As for mini-me: her school in the town next to ours had asked for volunteers for vote counting and she and her friend will do that this evening from 9 pm when the polling stations close. They will get paid a small compensation, so that did help with the will to volunteer. They also had to write a motivation letter on why they wanted to help with vote counting and based on that she and her friend were selected for the job (30 kids out of 60 applicants made it in). It is a little weird to me that she may help with the counting but, at 17, isn’t allowed to vote yet. We’ve all been discussing some politics at home and reading up on party manifestoes and, like Junior, she’d picked her preferred party and candidate. Alas, she’ll still have to wait to vote (but not too long, next year she can vote in the municipal elections).

As for the election itself, we have a center right government now (not extreme right, thank goodness!), I’d prefer center left, but I don’t think there will be a huge shift in government after this vote. As long as any winner refuses to govern with any of the two extreme right wing parties (one of them is the second largest party here right now – eek!) I will be able to live with the results. Just keep your fingers crossed that the extreme right doesn’t win any more than it already has.

I’ve got to say that I’m really proud to be able to pass on this basic ideal of free democratic elections to my children. Free elections are not a given for everyone and we are very lucky to have them.

A castle & brown eyes

First off, my vertigo is subsiding, woohoo!! Not all gone yet, but definitely improving. This means that on Sunday, after visiting my mother, I was well enough to take a day trip with my daughter and we visited my old boarding school which used to be situated in a castle near Utrecht. In my day (35-33 years ago… that sounds so old and long ago!) it all looked a bit different – in the second picture with the red arrow is the ‘Blokhut’ where I used to board with the school nurse and 4 other girls.

Mini me was curious about my boarding school years and as the grounds were open, we were able to walk around and look around. I always loved the driveway up to the castle and it still looks lovely…

The old coach house was still looking good from the outside, it used to be the girls dorm, where most of the girls lived…

There used to be a little wooden building to the left of the coach house that we used to call “The Chambre”. There we could buy evening snacks, play some pool (although I rarely did that) and socialize; it is completely in ruins now…

To the right of the coach house, the “Blokhut” was situated where I used to live. I first thought it was not there anymore as it is now almost obscured from view by shrubbery overgrowing it. I remember it like this (red arrow is pointing to my room)…

On Sunday the Blokhut looked like this… Only when we came up close could we see the entrance, the side of the building where I’d lived was only partially accessible around the back. Through the door I could look into the hall but my old bedroom window was boarded up.

The castle itself was still very pretty (although I don’t like the white plaster as much, it used to be all red brick)…

It was a lovely trip down memory lane and now my daughter wants to go to boarding school as well (even though I told her that boarding school also had its downsides).

The kids have spring break this week and I am off for the most part as well. Today Mr Esther and I decided to go for a walk somewhere further east and Junior was the one to join us for a change. He’s pretty busy normally with school or his girlfriend, but today, while mini me decided to spend the day with a friend, he had no plans. He decided to join us for our walk and it was lovely to have him alone with us for a whole afternoon for a change.

Besides vertigo, work and socially distanced outings here and there, I’ve been keeping busy with the Sue Thomas obsession, making two fan videos (now also up on the Sue Thomas video page that I set up).

I’ve also been re-watching bits and pieces of Suits again as Yannick Bisson’s brown eyes made me long for Gabriel Macht’s brown eyes again. I still love how the character of Harvey Specter developed and changed in the nine seasons that the show had.

Bisson’s Murdoch Mysteries season 14 is now airing, so I’m also watching the new episodes of that show as they come out. Nothing too challenging but a lot of fun, especially last night’s episode with the return of the whacko Newsome family.

I swear, I’d watch a spinoff sitcom with just Ruth Newsome-Higgins (Siobhan Murphy, a character that was introduced in season 10 and appears occasionally), she’s brilliant.

Another thing that has me fascinated is the Mars landing and the images coming from there…

Following NASA Perseverance on Twitter is cool.

Speaking of space, I know, I know that I should watch Richard Armitage’s new movie Space Sweepers over on Netflix, but I can’t quite make myself do so yet. While I enjoy some scifi, it’s not my go to genre and Richard’s role isn’t that huge, is it?

I’ll watch in time, maybe someone in the comments can let me know if it’s worth it? Maybe if his eyes were brown (my current obsession is kind, brown eyes) like in My Zoe I would be more tempted? Although, I admit that seeing brown eyes on Richard instead of his blue eyes is a little weird to me.

When I’m in obsession mode, normal online activities fall by the wayside, which means I have a huge backlog of blog reading to do. I don’t think I can or will promise to catch up on all, so my sincere apologies to those readers who are used to me commenting on their blogs! I’ll probably start coming around again more but not this evening, I have some more brown eyes that I need to get lost in after I post this…

Winter has come

It doesn’t snow often here and the past few winters have only on occasion given us a dusting here and there, but yesterday evening and last night, we got some real snow (and yes, we still have twinkle lights up in our garden as the evenings come so early here in winter)…

And it’s still snowing today, which has made it all somewhat thicker…

Mr Esther and I took a little walk through the snow while Junior is away with his girlfriend for the weekend and mini-me had enough of the snow after she had a little fun with it around our house…

It was a bit of a test for my vertigo and I’m back to reclining on my couch again but it was a lot of fun nonetheless. The snow is too powdery for snowballs or snowmen but maybe that will change as the week progresses? The forecast is that it will remain this cold for at least the rest of this week. It’s different for my brother in the southern tip of Israel. While we were sharing snow pictures in our family chat, he shared this view from the kibbutz where he lives…

That feels like a different world and, although I am enjoying our snow world right now, it also makes me long to travel again.

Winter wonderland

It was snowing this afternoon, our first snow this winter. I love a winter wonderland, even if it is only a dusting of snow, as here in our back garden…

Had some chores to do but the afternoon became good when the mail came and finally, finally my winnings from the RA Christmas auctions arrived! It took close to 6 weeks to get here but that didn’t take away from the awesome Christmas decoration (thank you Rachel!), my lovely mini Pride & Prejudice brooch and earrings and a fun Christmas card (thank you, Guylty!) and some nice reading to look forward to on Jane Austen related subjects.

At the end of the afternoon, Mr Esther and I went for a nice little walk in the little bit of snow we had…

This evening, the house looked like this, still just enough snow there to make it look wintery…

Junior now has a friend over to play videogames with him in his room, while Mr Esther and I enjoy some wine and mini me has been enjoying some hot chocolate, with our cat trying to get to the whipped cream she still had in her cup.

We’ve just been watching Michael Palin on the BBC walking through the desert with a camel caravan in his travel programme Sahara from 2002 (very different from a winter wonderland!) and now some blogging before I put my nose into a either book or a movie. Some quarantine days are quite lovely.

A quieter Christmas

Christmas this year was quite lovely albeit a little more low key than usual due to Covid 19 restrictions. Thankfully everyone I know is in good health, so we actually could still have a nice Christmas and see a few people.

This year we didn’t get to go to a Christmas market in Germany with two good friends of ours from college, like we do every year. At the Christmas markets we sometimes keep the commemorative mug from the Glühwein (mulled wine) that we usually drink then. This year there would be no Glühwein in mugs at markets like we’d been having for more than 20 years. So, I had our own commemorative mugs made with selfies from Christmas markets past, for Mr Esther, myself and for our two friends.

The text translates to “Due to Covid 19, a mug instead of a Christmas market. Merry Christmas 2020!”

We were going to try a socially distanced get together instead of a market at one of our friends’ houses about a week before Christmas but then the other friend canceled because she had some cold symptoms. Good thing she did too as she tested positive for Covid 19 a day later! She and her husband both had it, although luckily only mildly. I still wanted to get my mugs to our friends, so last Monday mini me and I drove to the healthy friend, handed her her mug and spent half an hour drinking tea with her at a distance. On Christmas Eve Mr Esther, mini me and I drove over an hour north and dropped off the other mug. We set it down infront of our other friend’s door and then, keeping a good distance outside despite her not having any symptoms anymore, we chatted across her front garden with her for about 15 minutes. It was good to bring a little Christmas cheer that way.

We had a nice drive back home coming through some typical Dutch landscapes and the picturesque town of Volendam, which was quite deserted due to the lockdown we’re now having…

Back at home again, we had a quiet Christmas Eve dinner with Junior’s girlfriend also present and we unwrapped a few small gifts with her as he wouldn’t be seeing her for the rest of Christmas. Afterwards I dedicated myself to finally reading the rest of my Michelle Obama “Becoming” book that I had bought second hand a while back and had started reading the first 3 or 4 chapters of but still needed to finish. The cats seized that opportunity to lie on and next to me.

One of my favourite things that day was my brother sending us a video of my mother reading the Christmas story from our old family bible. On Second Christmas Day (or Boxing Day, December 26th) we usually have a big family get together where she does that but, as the whole family get together wasn’t happening this year, I loved that my brother (who’s temporarily living with her) made that little video and sent it out. It’s one to cherish for the ages.

On Christmas morning, Mr Esther made us a nice brunch, we then unwrapped our gifts. I got lovely cat socks that I adore and chocolates from mini me, Junior got me Barack Obama’s “Promised Land” that I had wanted and Mr Esther got me a Audrey Hepburn calendar and a portable record player, so that I could play my old Bowie records. My fave thing that I got for Mr Esther was a “Blessed are the cheesemakers” t-shirt (a line from the brilliant Monty Python’s The Life of Brian). As Mr Esther is a cheese nerd, it felt like a very fitting gift for him.

Mr Esther has no siblings so we could adhere the ‘no more than 3 guests’ rule easily by inviting our in laws (whom we hadn’t seen in months) over for dinner. We table grilled. On Second Christmas Day in the afternoon we went to my mother and my brother and had a low key delicious turkey buffet dinner at her house.

In between these social activities we played a game or two and I read and read and read, really enjoying the Michelle Obama book. Today is a lazing around day, I finished the book a few hours ago but, even though I love the Obamas (even made a video once as they left office in January 2017), I need a little Obama break before I start Barack’s book.

Anyway, I hope all of you who celebrate in one way or another had a nice Christmas too. Now it’s back to the real world again, I guess. For me that means that from tomorrow I should become productive again (we have some storage clearing out to do). For now I’m loving the down time, though, so we’ll see if that happens.