Back to work

Back to work today again and I’m wishing my holiday back again. Word fight this morning during a video conference between two colleagues doesn’t help me get into the mood for this. And I keep on thinking, how important is all of this that I do in the big scheme of things? I’ve been a little but not very productive today and here I find myself blogging instead of working! Motivation is low.

My employer did send sweets via mail to cheer us up (the text translates to “heart for the business” which is a bit of Dutch saying expressing working somewhere ‘from the heart’ and going the extra mile)…

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… but I’m feeling cynical today and am not feeling the heart. First thing I thought was “couldn’t they spend their money on something else, rather than waste it on sweets for 3500 employees?”. These are sugary, heart-shaped sweets that I don’t particularly like but then I told myself to shut up. It’s a very sweet (ha! wordplay!) surprise and gesture, a showing of approval and support. Not everyone has work, times are tough and to receive a bit of appreciation from the top brass is really quite nice. So, stop being negative and cynical and get back to work, Esther!

‘Unorthodox’ and back to work

Covid-19 quarantine at home has started its 5th week now and today it’s back to the new normal of home-working life again after a few days off. Easter is done and dusted, we didn’t do much except have nice brunches on both Easter days (here in The Netherlands the day after Easter Sunday is also a day off and is called Second Easter day), the kids went out to play basketball yesterday (just the two of them) and Mr Esther and I went for a nice walk. Yesterday I also watched the four episodes of Unorthodox on Netflix about a 19 year old young woman who leaves her ultra-orthodox Jewish life and arranged marriage in New York and flees to Berlin (of all places, where she is also confronted with the Nazi history of the place).

I really enjoyed watching this, so much food for thought, and binged two episodes in the afternoon and two in the evening. The lead actress Shira Haas – wow! – she deserves an award. All the actors were really great in this! It all felt very authentic to me, probably because it was based on a true story and I loved that large portions of this were Yiddish-spoken. It’s a mini series of four 50 minute or so episodes, so should you have some time on your hands, I can highly recommend this! It really stuck with me and is still sticking with me today in my thoughts when I need to be focusing on other things for work. I just finished two hours of video meetings and a lunch and am now back at my laptop with no motivation whatsoever to write up that little report I promised.

Working in my dining room does have some perks (took these pictures earlier today while playing around with my work laptop camera): when I look up and move my head slightly to the left I see this…

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…and when I look to my right is see this…

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OK, so have I procrastinated long enough? I really need to get back to work again to that report and a hundred other things (and stop thinking about Unorthodox). 

Home office for the afternoon

No more calls and video meetings planned and the weather’s beautiful today, so I decided to try out something new: work in our front garden! We have a little white-washed iron garden table there, I placed a pillow on the chair and I’m all set. There’s enough shadow so I don’t have a glare on my screen but the sun is peeking through to keep me nice and warm.

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My view was this (in the left corner you can see that a few tulips have come up)…

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… but I have shifted the table a bit to get out of the sun that was creeping up, so that the view is now this…

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Yeah, front garden also needs work and I can already tell by my shoulders that this office can’t be a permanent one but for now I’m loving it. Hardly no one is out and about and I can hear the birds in the trees around me. Not a bad way to work on a day when I’d normally be off. 🙂

The sun is shining

Finished work an hour early today – a little compensation as I need to work extra tomorrow. The sun is shining so I’m enjoying it in our back garden now while Mr Esther is still working. And see, the magnolia I got for my birthday has started to bloom!

I like using my laptop on my lap for leisure but for work I prefer a table (and using a mouse). So, unlike Mr Esther, I’ve been working inside. If the weather stays good I may start considering putting a table out for a garden office instead of a home office. Meanwhile, it’s nice watching our cat play with our daughter while the space isn’t cluttered with any work tables yet…

And our old red cat has come to take a look as well before lying down for a rest.

Spring is truly here now and Easter is around the corner. And should you be worried about the Easter Bunny – don’t be. New Zealand’s prime minister has a reassuring message…

Ah, sunshine and spring and lovely messages by Jacinda Ardern sure do cheer me up. 🌞

Making the best of longer isolation

Our prime minister, Mark Rutte, gave a press conference yesterday and all measures that had been taken to combat the Corona virus have been extended from April 6th till April 28th. To quote the statement:

“The extension means that sports facilities, establishments serving food and drink, childcare centres and other locations will remain closed until 28 April inclusive. Schools will remain closed until at least the end of the May school holidays. The ban on events still applies until 1 June.”

It’s all getting more and more grim.

Total number of confirmed cases: 12,595 (+845)
Total number of confirmed cases who are or were admitted to hospital: 4.712(+722)
Total number of reported deaths: 1.039 (+175)
The number of patients admitted to hospital and the number of deceased patients reported in the Netherlands are increasing less rapidly than would have been expected without measures in place. The province of Noord-Brabant seems to have moved past the peak of new hospital admissions. Hospital admissions are still increasing in Zuid-Holland, Noord-Holland, Gelderland and Limburg.

We live in Zuid-Holland so we’re still getting the worst in this part of the country. It’s no surprise that the measures have been extended and, listening to the press conference yesterday, chances are that the measures will be extended even longer after that date. We’ll have to wait and see. I’ve got to say that with all the criticism I have had in the past of our PM and his policies, I do feel like he is handling this crisis very well.

So, at the very least, we have another 4 weeks of this isolation thing to go… I am extremely grateful that Mr Esther and I both have steady work and a steady paycheck. Not everyone has that luxury and very many don’t have work they can do from home but this stay at home thing is not a holiday either like many in (social-)media do seem to suggest. So many ads and social media posts giving well-meant advice to combat boredom and I keep on thinking, “Really? Is no one else working except for hospital & care staff, grocery store staff and Mr Esther and I”? I really don’t have time to read 10 books a week, watch 20 Netflix series, do full time meditation retreats and play indoor games all day (even if I do have a day off work today). I’m not so much bothered by boredom, rather I am affected by restriction. Our world is large in virtual life but very small and confined in real life. And even then I am lucky that I have a good home life, a good internet connection, am healthy and not lonely.

I hope all these measures to stay at home will help stop the spread of the disease, I hope that all healthcare staff and all other people that work so hard to keep everything going get through this unscathed, I hope that all those who are now not able to work or fear losing their jobs and businesses stay well, I hope that those who have difficult at home lives or no home at all come through this alright and I also hope that in all this darkness we can also try to see some light now and again. With so many people here and around the world getting sick and dying, and these economic problems looming, and our home lives and contacts being restricted, life can be a little demoralizing. So, for me as a cup half full sort of person, I’m tyring to make the most of the little things, like enjoying a geriatric 15 year old cat in the sunshine in our back garden…

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…or taking a walk with my home office colleague while keeping our distance from others…

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Our black cat is happy that we’re home all day as it means she can always find someone to stretch out on (mostly on my daughter who, by the way, is bored)…

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… and faithful reader Squirrel sent me this picture of her son which made me smile and that she asked me to blur and share on my blog. She says, “My son is creating 3D printing masks at home, in his narrow student studio, during spare times.”

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And last but not least, sharing a gorgeous Richard Armitage in Uncle Vanya image might help a tiny bit as well with cheering up. It’s topical too, as he is a doctor.

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If Dr. Astrov really were a good doctor, I’m sure he’d say, “Take care of yourselves and each other!” and I second that. Here’s to making the best of at least another 4 weeks in isolation.