This Father’s Day…

… I’m again appreciating the wonderful father to my children, he was deservedly spoiled this morning…

… and I’m also thinking about my own papa, who I will miss forever and whose hand I used to hold all the time. I can still remember the feeling of his large hand clasping mine.

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers and beloved father figures out there.

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 sister. 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.

A hole in the stomach

I came across this image of a statue a little while ago. It’s called Melancholy by Albert György and is apparently situated in Geneva. The moment I saw it, before I knew or read anything about it, it really hit home for me because instantly to me this showed what grief feels like…

It’s been six years today and that sounds way longer than it feels. I miss you, papa.

Orange

This month’s Mach’ Was challenge has the colour orange as its theme. Well, the first thing that pops up in my mind when the word orange is mentioned is my country, The Netherlands. Orange is an important colour here.

Our royal family is from the noble house of Orange-Nassau, the name originates from the municipality of Orange in the south of France. While we do have a monarchy here (since 1815) our king has no real powers, all political power lies with the prime minister and the government. The king can’t even make an official speech that is not approved by the prime minister but the monarchy is popular here, for their representative and symbolic value. I won’t further elaborate on Dutch constitutional politics here, but what is essential to know is that because our King Willem-Alexander is from that house of Orange-Nassau (and his ancestors before him), orange has become our national colour. It’s a conspicuous colour and is used a lot here.

Orange has historically been an important colour because of this royal house association. During the Second World War it became a symbol for Dutch resistance after the Dutch capitulated to the Nazis in May 1940 and Queen Wilhelmina fled to England. During the war “Radio Oranje” became very important to the Dutch resistance, where messages were broadcast to the Dutch from London by Dutch officials and our Dutch queen Wilhelmina in exile. It was forbidden to listen to the radio during the war but secretly it was done a lot.

Official commendations given by the king are in orange. My father received one for his life’s work in 2003 (not actually from the queen at the time but presented to him by the mayor of the town he lived in).

Nowadays, the most popular use of orange is for anything to do with our national football (soccer to the Americans) teams. Football is our national sport and our national team is called “Oranje” (Dutch for orange). Our female football team is doing really well internationally and is called the “Oranje Leeuwinnen” (orange lionesses – the lion is part of the Dutch coat of arms, Mr Esther could tell you all about it, he is a heraldry expert).

Google ‘Oranje supporters’ (see search result here) and you can see how orange the fans get! The sports fans even have a name, they are called “Het Oranje Legioen” (the orange legion). During the football European and World Championships ‘orange fever’ hits the nation and the streets here are decorated in orange, some more than others (more examples of decorations in this article)…

Thankfully, I have never lived in a street that gets that orange. Frankly, such over the top, nationalistic displays always scare me a little. So far these have only ever been in good fun but what if nationalism like this gets taken too seriously, like it was in Nazi Germany and what I see in the US now as well? Not the topic to discuss in this post, but I do wonder sometimes when and if the scale will be tipped. Anyway, back to the colour orange as used by the Dutch…

For any big international sporting event, orange will always be represented somehow. It’s also popular duing speed skating events (the Dutch perform excellently on the world stage when it comes to speed skating)…

… even our king and his wife, Queen Maxima, come to show support dressed in orange…

International sports tournaments aside, there is one day every year where the country also turns orange and that is during King’s Day when our monarch’s birthday is celebrated. It used to be Queen’s Day when we had Queen Beatrix (who abdicated in 2013) but after 7 years I still catch myself sometimes saying “Koninginnedag” (Queen’s Day) instead of “Koningsdag” (King’s Day). I have posted about King’s Day several times before (see the King’s Day tag) and I admit that I give in to nationalist sentiment then when I wear my one orange item of clothing: an orange scarf that I’ve had for many years. It’s the one nationalist day a year that I really do enjoy, as everything is one big outdoor party.

We even have orange pastry to celebrate, with the oblong-shaped tompouce being the most popular orange pastry.

So yeah, when you come to The Netherlands, and especially when you stay here for a longer period, the colour orange can not be escaped! It is the symbol of Dutch togetherness and patriotism.