Tuesday, 25 July 2017

#1. Memories of my Motherhood moments, first time round.

Memory lane: I have been sorting old photos. Scanning some, deleting others and musing over the rest. Faded memories became clearer, lost ones revived and warm moments relived.

To 'do' something with these memories I have decided to write about my 3 children and the impact their arrival had on me as a mum.

It was 1972 and I was pregnant. Bit young, but I thought I was experienced enough in life to be capable of motherhood and all that it entailed.

Those months of my pregnancy were a challenge - I lived more than 650 kms away from my parents and other family members in New Zealand. And half a world away from those in Nederland. Happily we had some lovely neighbours and one set of parents of friends. The mum was a dutch lady. She became one of my 'warm bath' people. Someone I could talk to, share worries or thoughts with. Those one would normally want to share with a mum. My dear neighbour Val, whom I remember with fondness also a great support and place to go when the emotions got too tough. No internet in those days, we didn't have a phone either. Having a private conversation with my parents just didn't happen.

Oh joy of joys when my daughter was born. I felt soooooo proud, so complete. In fact what I felt was so BIG I cannot to this day describe the emotions and feelings of that moment. Just WOW. My daughter. WOW!

She had huge inquisitive eyes, a bright spark. Her hair had a gingery glow. She was short... little- not tiny but little. Oh I was so in 'new mum' heaven. As I was used to little children having been a babysitter since my early teens, had a brother 13 years younger and my sister had already had her first child, bathing my daughter for the first time didn't scare me. I couldn't wait to truly 'care' for my daughter. The nursing staff were surprised to find the 'chore' done when they came into my room.

Breast feeding was an issue. I tried and tried - and didn't succeed past the first 6 weeks. Topping up each feed with the bottle. A choice had to be made. I switched to bottle feeding. The great part was that daddy could feed his daughter too. I felt quite sad for him all those extra moments I had and all he could do was look on. This seemed much fairer. It is also, my personal opinion, that he and she were able to bond so beautifully. He loved holding her and caring for this new life. We took turns during the night shift feeds.

As I said earlier, a bright spark. Sleep was a useless activity madam decided. It was a long day- being able to finally settle her around 9pm. The short catnaps during the day topped up her energy levels enough to last the distance.

We had a playpen- and she would lie in it at first with rugs and soft toys. It soon became a place to play. At 5 months she pulled herself up on the bars and started 'walking' round holding onto the bars. Yes, I encouraged this. She loved peanut butter sandwiches. I used to feed her through the bars, piece by piece, while she gingerly set the steps to reach the next mouthful. Many a 'expert child rearer' may be horrified at this practice- but what works for one doesn't necessarily work for others. My daughter slept on her tummy, walked early ( wobbly at 9 months and running before her 1st birthday)  and was also early out of nappies.

No, she didn't suffer traumas because of it. She is a well adjusted modern woman and mother of 3 and doing wonderful things in life.

Active, creative, self reliant, independent, private, head strong, confident, daring, challenging, serious, sporty, caring, enthusiastic, vulnerable,  tough, resilient.

We don't always see eye to eye. I can say with all honesty, she runs rings around me as far as activities and challenges are concerned. I cannot keep up with her, nor need I do so. Her life is so different yet paralel with mine way back then. Her challenges seem larger, harder, but times have changed. I am glad I had the moments I've had as a young mum when I did, and look with awe to the challenges spread out before young families today.

My greatest gift was to be a young mum with a daughter who kept me on my toes. My reward is seeing what a strong character she has grown in to be and having the privilege of being oma to her 3 children.

Darling daughter... there are no words to express my feelings and love for you. It is ever present and not a day goes by I don't think of you - so far away and yet close in my heart!

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Sharing memories- the privilege of parenting.

Our summer holiday season is mid way. I have enjoyed 2 wonderful weeks away and have since come back down to earth picking up routines and chores that I had let go so I had the space to recharge my batteries.

This morning my ICT expert assisted me in re-organising my failed Office package. I had also received numerous messages from Apple that my storage was filling up. Time to take charge and tidy up my files.

Well I don't know about you, but when I unearth old photos or letters, I tend to get a bit side tracked. The result this time has been that I have mulled over my motherhood period when my children were little. Actually the pregnancy and early years memories to be exact.

Now, I tend to overload my storage area in my head too. The way to clear it somewhat- not erase, just tidy up, is to put thoughts ''on paper'. That is exactly what I have spent the past couple of hours doing. I typed and typed. Fixed errors ( I hope) and have re-read what I've written. Many many memories remain unwritten- but that's ok. What I've shared I am content with.

As a mum and proud of all 3, I realised I have never shared these thoughts with them or anyone for that matter.

I hope that when they read it, they get to know me better. And for those 'strangers' who read my stories- maybe your own memories will float to the surface- and the knowledge of those moments may just trigger a feeling of nostalgia, pride, joy and possibly also sadness and/or regret. All these emotions are human, necessary and hold healing properties where healing is needed. Life is a combination of good with bad. Believe me, none of us escape that unfortunately. Some more often that others.

I have been privileged to have raised 3 children. They are adults now and raising their own families. May their joys be as abundant as mine were, their recollections heartwarming and their rewards unrestricted.

Parenting, one of life's privileges. And I am grateful I was one of those granted that role in life.

Over the next week or so 3 stories of my experiences will be posted...so keep your eye on my blog if you are interested.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Insecurities and expectations

This morning in our newspaper I read an interview article with a tv personality. This young woman is more active behind the scenes in tv land than up front. She has been offered a summertime programme to interview celebs or other prominent people. It is a Summertime special in which the person is interviewed for 3 hours...sort of laid back style, very personal and gives an insight into the person who holds the office or position they occupy in life.

I don't always watch the programme - depends on who the interviewer is- or the subject being interviewed.

The article this morning touched me. Funny. As I am not accustomed to being affected in this way reading about someone unknown and feeling an empathy which was most uncanny. I recognised myself in this person and some of her experiences. Her analyses of why she had developed certain mannerisms and characteristics were so familiar, that it was an eyeopener for me. It explained so much I sort of knew about myself but never acknowledged or thought consciously about. And when I did, I quickly pushed it aside. Not a nice place to visit.

Bullying: A hot item. Just the word alone makes me uncomfortable. Even as an adult it upsets me. Brings a nauseating feeling to the surface. I have no intention of 'going there' but believe me when I say, " I have first hand experience - having been at the receiving end both as a child and later as an adult."

So did the interviewee in the paper. She described some of her mannerisms and ways she had developed characteristics after her negative experiences, that are similar to mine. Always wanting to please, always needed affirmation. Always thinking that, "I am not good enough, try harder to be nicer, give more, take less, shrink don't be so present". At a gathering I would rather be in the kitchen than in the reception area. Give me the sink.... not the stage. If someone doesn't ring or call, I think it is my 'fault'.

 Now that doesn't mean I do not like to 'be nice' or even that I find myself continually in battle with myself. It just means- I have a natural tendency to say yes, to be alert, helpful or bow to other's wishes. Well, generally speaking. As I got older I grew in the need to put my foot down and my own needs came first - but that comes at a cost. I do however struggle with guilt issues when I don't meet a need or disappoint due to other commitments or circumstances where being helpful isn't possible. I enjoy seeing others happy, especially if in some way I have helped bring that about.

As I mentioned, it comes at a cost. Being well willing, comes naturally. Putting my wishes first doesn't. I am in continual battle with myself. I get nervous. Insecure, doubting. My behaviour is at times erratic and nervy. I make mistakes, bad judgements and become dithery. I come across incapable. Mostly because I am afraid of the reactions, judgements or not having pleased someone who might be affected simply because I put my foot down. I have a number of people on pedestals - at heights I can only admire, and with a certain misgiving that I will never be able to match that. It makes me nervous and uncomfortable at the same time.

Sad thing about that is, is that it colours my thinking, my actions and the expectations that others have of me. I want to meet the expectation - then I set the benchmark and I get it wrong.

How to fix something that is broken? This eternal need to please has damaged a few relationships in my time- and I hurt just remembering. Even now I know the relationship between me and a few 'close' people is precarious. Fragile and at a point where I do not know how to fix them. Me, a pleaser.

This is the first time I have put this on paper. I am, as the saying goes, finding a richer wisdom by age. Yet some answers still elude me. Having written this, thought deeply about it and re-read about 10 times, I see and understand more and more about my actions, my emotions, my 'me'.

Right now, this interview, the revelations and the inner soul searching has zapped my energy and left me feeling fragile and bruised. I know and believe that eventually I too will gain more insights to help me repair what needs repairing, adjust what needs adjusting and hopefully level off what needs leveling.

Anything with 'too' in front needs to reduce in size. Too much pleasing can be too much of a good thing. There is only one thing in life that deserves 2 OO's and that's love. One cannot love too much!

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Summer versus winter

It has come to my attention, that the winter weather Down Under has proven itself as a more Northern Hemisphere style winter than what NZ-ers are used to.

Let me then tell you, that the Northern Hemisphere summers are more like those I experienced in my years of living in NZ.

Topsie Turvy seasons at best.

Summer is my least favourite season. Yes, you read that correctly. I prefer the somewhat cooler temperatures that Spring, Autumn and even Winter brings. Not that I dislike being warm, a gentle 20-24 tops, is more than enough for me to feel as if I am in the tropics. No, I am not complaining but stating a personal preference weather wise. There are lots of things one can do, despite the weather, and still get the most out of life.

And that is one of the challenges I think. To make the most of any given opportunity and see what a richness in experience it brings. That is exactly what happened here last week.

Every year we enjoy a 3 day weekend away with friends. Each couple ( there are 4) takes turns in planning, arranging and organising such weekend. We've enjoyed 11 such events to date. The latest being last week. The only difference this time was that we spend Friday to Tuesday in each other's company.

In an impulse last year we decided, after seeing a group of men on a launch, that that is what we would like to do 'one day'. Well, obviously you don't cruise round on such a boat for one day- we made it four.

Staying in a hotel has it advantages that you can 'withdraw' and have some down time. On the boat that isn't as easy. The friendships are long, personal and valuable. How would they be after 4 days being constantly close and in a reasonably comfortable but confined space? Sharing toilets (2) and showers(2).

The weather couldn't have been beter. The boat cleaner. The area more beautiful. The timing was perfect- school holidays had started but not in the province we elected to be in. We were all ready to face whatever challenges 'driving' such a boat would bring. There were deckhands, washer uppers, and of course the captain and the cook. Two VERY IMPORTANT people.

My challenge was; to cook healthy, interesting and delicious meals for 8. To provide a good start to the day (breakfast), nourishment during the day ( lunch) and of course closure ( dinner).

The challenge for the captain, who has had some experience in a sloop - but never such a large vessel, to get the boat along side jetties and giving orders to the deckhands for tying up etc. And did he succeed - YESSIR! Learnt a few new tricks while he was about it too!



Obviously the deckhands/washer uppers, had their own challenges.

We had a ball. Yes, the space was limited, the facilities sometimes bit restricted but oh what a joy. What a support and co-operation. What companionship and commaderie! Sure, not all slept like they were used to. Making do with less a lesson in appreciating the more we have at home. Staying 'indoors' while the others bathed on deck wasn't an issue as I spent that time in the kitchen....!

Our ( hubby and mine) summer holiday experiences - both together in the MG with once again limited space, and on the boat has enriched us in ways I hadn't thought about. I cherish my friends even more, my bed as well and my kitchen- ooooh what a blessing!

Most of all. I am proud we all made this happen and came out stronger than when we started on this adventure.

Oh yes, and what did I spot while paying a visit to Sneek in Fryslรขn - KIWIS on the water partaking in a water related competition!! My holiday had it's cherry on top!

Monday, 26 June 2017

It's been a while

Last time I wrote was towards the end of April. How time flies when activities crowd the diary!

I enjoyed my time Down Under. Whilst my flight there was fraught with hassles the return trip went fine. Doesn't give me the confidence to use China Eastern Airline again though.

Before leaving to visit the (grand) children I had spent time and energy helping out my brother in law in preparation to his shift into another apartment. This I picked up as I disembarked of the plane ๐Ÿ˜„! The next weeks were spent painting, paperhanging, packing up old place, unpacking and organising the new set up. My brother in law is single and worked most of the time during this process. Hubbie and I assisted him where possible. It's what you do......!

To say it was hectic would be an understatement. To say the end result justified the means : heck yes!

Still, all 3 of us are 60+ and the energy it took has taken it's toll. So, remedy was : have a holiday to recharge the batteries. And that's what we are doing! Taking a well deserved break - away from everything and everyone. Just the 2 of us.

The European summer is starting to 'hot up' literally. For the past month the weather has been stable, dry and pretty warm. Schools are due to break for the summer break in Nederland shortly. Germany is already in holiday mode. 

Although I don't focus on who does what and why - one thing bothers me during this 'free time season' is that many people ( no, not all) appear to not only leave their work behind but also manners. This morning in the dining room - a holiday reoccuring phenomena. Lots of tables left behind in such a state - uneaten food, spilt food, disarray. It makes me sad as well as wonder how these dining rooms at home look like daily.

Most hotels and holiday resorts serve a buffet style breakfast. People can help themselves to their prefferred food type. Fair enough. But to take more than you can eat? Why not take a small serving and walk back for seconds if still hungry? Why not start with some warm savoury food and then finish with fruit or whatever - even topsie turvie if that's your thing - but to leave so much on plates untouched seems sinful - or wasteful if sin isn't your word.

Anyway, apart from that, which I thought I would mention ๐Ÿ˜‰ thinking it may influence someone in the right direction, holidays are great moments to reconnect with your spouse, children or just with yourself. No plans, timetables or 'must do's! 

We have picked up an activity long not activated - climbing to great heights. Today my feet have managed to leave 15,321 behind on the track up to and down from the Wildseeloder, Tirol. Despite the 29 degrees up the top the breeze cooled us down enough to brave the trek down! Tomorrow another challenge! Now my feet need some TLC and rest...mainly rest ๐Ÿ˜„


Sunday, 23 April 2017

Chosing an airline: flying Down Under

Analysing the trip Down Under.


As I mentioned in previous blogs, I have been planning my visit to my (grand+)children for a good while now. The closer the departure date came, the more serious I attacked the necessary arrangements and items of interest so to speak. The gifts - though not in large quantity are more for the fun and just because omaverweg's suitcase needs to hold gifts.


During those months I had booked my flight with China Eastern Airline ( using vliegtickets.nl), I received about 4 schedule adjustments. They didn't amount to much, were more a nuisance so I stoppen printing them off. This was 't something I had experienced before with the other companies I had flown with ( Cathay Pacific, Singapore Air, Qantas, China Airlines). Once a flight and time chosen this didn't vary. I always knew how long my stopovers were to be and planned accordingly.


Then the Friday afternoon before leaving ( I was due to leave the following Wednesday) I was informed that my time of my stopover in Shanghai had been increased by as much as 5 hours. My giddy aunt did that rile me. Weeks before I had tried to leave a day earlier- without succes, and now without a by your leave my schedule was altered drastically. I started to wonder about my choice of Airline.


The staff at Vliegtickets.nl were also 'not amused' and finding no joy at the airine for a hotel room, they booked me a room at their expense. What a lovely gesture. It wasn't something they needed to fix, bit did! Good on them. As a paying customer, i felt ad though they were doing me a favour by allowing me on the plane!!! Instead of being pleased I had booked with their airline.


The departure delay also meant problems with checking in. One can only do that 24 hours prior to departure. So another X on the list of unsatisfactory service. The first part of the flight was hosted by KLM. The service was great, the food was too as was the staff- ever so friendly they were. And what a lovely plane. 


Without any hickups we arrived at Shanghai Airport at the expected time. I had been informed when checking in at Schiphol, that I had to get my luggage off the bagage bay and see to it's placement on my ongoing flight. The KLM staff on board the flight were under the impression that the system wasn't automatic. So, off the plane, through customs, and because I needed to stay 15 hours I had to fill in an immigration form. " Shock horror"! It said I needed a visum. So pleased there was a passenger in the know- a stay of less than 72 hours didn't require one. Sigh of relief!


After a reasonably thorough scrutiny at customs I trotted off to the baggage pick up. I waited and waited and waited. Not anywhere in sight. Drug dogs gone, all other passengers gone- the staff member at the Luggage claim pointed me in the direction of the Luggage Information Office. English was not a language this person had managed to learn. Hands and feet did the tsking! By this stage I wasn't only tired I had added another X on my growing list of negative experiences. 


English isn't a strong point in Shanghai I have to say. They try, really they do but.......! Frustrations galore on that score too. My bag was automatically sent on, so the young man at the counter advised me. He looked at me as if I had cursed when I said that I had been told I was responsible for this. He shook his head. No, it would be on plane tomorrow ma'am, really! Here's hoping. I am on the plane writing this- I'll know in a few hours whether my suitcase was too.


So far I have to say there were a few X-es. Since returning to the airport I have had plenty of happy moments.  I was a wee bit tense as I wasn't sure how the procedure was going to flow - I had as yet not check-in nor had I my boarding pass or seat! With a few scary moments and 15 minutes with a cheery young male attendant I merrily piloted myself through customs and security. A very modern airport. My vague feeling is that it is the same architect as the one in Taipei. Very compatible.  Almost all perfume and smelly stuff stores. Can't and didn't expect Changi Airport ( Hongkong) size in Shanghai so my walkabout was reasonbly quickly 'round'.


Breakfast had been served around 8 am just before landing here from Schiphol. At the hotel I munched on a couple of Pringle chips I had fortified myself with from home. It was now almost 8 pm and time for a decent meal. First place I fancied they didn't take Mastercard but would accept Visa. Weird deduction but oh well - their loss! Then I struck GOLD. Almost next to the Gate I needed to be at for departure a cafe style eatery with genuine Chinese cuisine. Ohhhh I could have kissed the waitress. There I sat with a lushious bowl of chicken soup, a steam basket with 5 of the most delicious pork meat dim sims with sauce and as the cherry on this lovely meal event - a teapot with REAL jasmine tea. BLISS BLISS BLISS. So many sins (Xes) were pushed to the back of my mind.


I spent the next hours playing Rummicup, walking in circles and even had a sleep stretched out over 3 chairs. The departure lounge was filling up. At 00:30 the gate opened and in a very orderly fashion ( total opposite to when we left Schiphol which was bedlam) we filed down to the air bridge, got seated and were ready for takeoff before you could blink an eye. Taxi-ing to take off took longer! Thought we were going to drive to Auckland for a minute.


A light warm meal has been served and cleaned up. I think the girls are doing the dishes as we speak. Plenty of turbulance which isn't my cup o tea. 


I haven't landed yet to reclaim my suitcase, or made my return trip home. I have however decided, that is airline probably has lots going for it, but it wouldn't be my first choice - even if the price is lower than others I have had more relaxed travel experinces with. 


Maybe because things were so muddled and unpredictable. The original drama is behind me- who knows how much better things can go from here.


- Update: my suitcase WASN'T on the flight. I spent 5 days wearing the same clothes. Washed admittedly during the night but still very uncomfortable.


When I finally received my suitcase my conviction was complete. I will avoid the airline on future trips - I still have to fly home in May. My confidence is at low ebb. Here's praying for a better experience. 




Friday, 31 March 2017

That little seed called F E A R!

Many many years ago I had this wee book called, "Feel the fear and do it anyway." Can't remember the author's name. Maybe I ought to look it up. Feel free to do so if you are interested. Really worth it.

The word alone says it all. F E A R! What is your first reaction to it? How do you cope with F E A R?

Wisdom comes with age is the old saying. I am not sure about ALL wisdom, but I do know I actually 'see' things differently as my age gathers momentum.

When I was a child I was afraid of lightning. Not the thunder although they did go hand in hand- but LIGHTNING- that put the F E A R fair and square into me. An experience in my childhood was the reason for this strong and long held emotion- and truth of it all, I am still not comfortable when lightning strikes. I would hide - anywhere and for as long as it took. Even as an adult raising my children. While they laughed, I trembled.

When I was about 38 years old I needed a hysterectomy. I was all set to ring the hospital to have me taken off the list when the appointment to be admitted presented itself. I was positively scared stiff.
F E A R of the 'what if?' and 'what else will they find?' and the 'aftermath'. It all scared me to bits.

Life has a habit of producing moments of uncertainty, insecurity and unforeseen events that can cause the reaction of F E A R to overwhelm and sometimes paralyse us. But does that help in any way at all? Does it answer the most important questions that we have regarding the 'whatever we are scared about' issue? NO!

It demotivates, undermines and disables our ability to cope with the unexpected, the unwanted and the unknown. F E A R is actually the negative factor, not that 'thing' which we have to deal with.

Recently someone very dear to me underwent a series of operations to remove cancerous tissue and suspect lymph nodes - she had been diagnosed with malignant skin cancer. F E A R crept under my skin, it crawled over my scalp en got into my head. I felt paralysed and shaken. In all honesty, it took a couple of days for me to realise that I had given my control over to that F E A R again.

I spoke to a dear friend about this and she said, "watch out for that seed. If you let it, it will grow into a tree and take root. Don't let
F E A R be the ruler of your thoughts and deeds. You won't be able to think straight or offer the support needed. Your every move will be clouded by F E A R and that isn't a pretty sight." Now I already knew this but I needed someone to remind me - F E A R is the enemy not the unknown, unexpected or unwelcome challenge which life threw at me.

Since I let F E A R go and started thinking rationally again, I regained my rest, slept better and was able to be positive during a trying and uncertain period. The dangers have abated, the future looks a lot better than a few months ago and I have re-learned a lesson which I obviously needed to re-embrace and make mine. F E A R doesn't belong in my thinking or my handling. Assuming the worse isn't helpful nor is thinking that one is helpless in any given situation.

There is ALWAYS a way out, a solution. Be bold and weed out those seeds before they grow into those trees through which you can't see daylight when F E A R takes hold.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Onward and upward- TRUST and no regrets!

" Do you have any regrets? You know, like coming back here ( Nederland) to live?" Well, I was somewhat taken aback by this question. It came out of nowhere, or so it seemed. Apparently not. My friend said she had been thinking about it lately as I am preparing for another trip "Down Under' to see my children, grandchildren en friends. It set her thinking maybe I regretted my return home.

Regrets: Things one wished, in hindsight, one hadn't done.

How can you have regrets? Day to day decisions are made with the insights held at that very point in time. Whether the picture is clear or misty, it is all you have to decide on whether or not to proceed with whatever issue you are dealing with. Be it small, be it large and life changing.

I could instantly answer my friend. NO! Because I did what I did, decided what I decided with all the necessary insights of THAT moment and at that point in time. I do not have a crystal ball. Thankfully.

At the start of this year I selected a word, something I was going to consciously think about and focus on. The word is TRUST. ( Trust blog dec 2016)

Not only do I have a need to be able to TRUST those around me but also I need to be able to TRUST myself.

Our elections have been and gone- and just like in the states, there were plenty of media moments in which we were goaded into thinking no-one ( leaders, politicians) were to be TRUSTED. That terrible things might happen if we didn't show our discord by placing, preferably that is, votes that showed our dissatisfaction, our distrust and our disappointment in the leaders of the past 4 years.

It was, in my opinion, an anti campaign. Without TRUST.

I do not have the insights or qualifications to rule our country. Nor do the thousands that crowded the Social Media pages with their negative statements and curses pointed at those who spent the past 4 years working towards a more stable, financial and safe time.

I need to TRUST that those who do think they have something to offer, DO have those qualities. NOT just for little ol' me, but for the country as a whole. I am not alone in this world. Many are worse off than I am- and yes, I would also like to feel that 'things' like purchasing power, job prospects, good education and health care are at the forefront of those entrusted with the tasks thereof. I need to TRUST that this is why they choose do what they do and I don't.

Looking back is only useful if you learn from the experiences you had on the road just travelled. New insights are a given every day. Don't waste energy on the past- except to learn from it, cherish memories and be grateful.

Today, a new day. To TRUST that what I decide to do today is what is needed to feel successful, satisfied and content.

The past couple of months I have completed a few tasks that have been 'laying in wait' for a long time.

I feel a sense of relief, pride and satisfaction. Do I regret not having done these chores sooner? No, because for whatever the reasons, they were valid, contra productive and disruptive. Now I had a clear run, enjoyed the tasks and am pleased and proud of the results. My 'to-do' list isn't empty, but every tick in the box is a success story!

I TRUST you will have a nice day- I know I aim to!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

A wee lighthearted post ( for a change )

Tongue in cheek title don't you think?

The past few posts have been rather weighty. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I do also have lighthearted stuff that occupies my mind and life every now and then ๐Ÿ˜‰ . They help lift the gloom of darker moments.
As it can in circumstances like that!

Take today. I finally completed a task last night that I have had on my 'to do list' for months and months. Somehow time, interruptions and the inability to concentrate barred me to finish the job.
Now, I can breath easily, as IT weighed on my conscience that I let myself and others down. DONE. Tick in the box. ๐Ÿ‘
As one does in circumstances like that!

Full energy and enthusiasm I tackled a long awaited necessary kitchen chore. The word alone sounds ominous. CHORE! My oven. In much need of a large dosage of TLC and elbow grease. I have used and used it for many a dish, roast and baking moments. Due to other pressures I have omitted to clean the thing. Haven't even so much as wiped it with a damp cloth. ๐Ÿ˜œ
As one ought in moments like that.

So today, BIG TASK ahead. I have prepared myself well. Promised a reward for a job well done when all is gleaming and sparkling. Thing is, it may take all day- but hey, the feeling of pride and achievement are worth the effort. ๐Ÿ˜
As one hopes in situations like that.

The sun is out, the mood is positive, the task awaits.....๐Ÿ˜Š
As I tackle the dreaded smudgery in times like that!

HAVE A GREAT DAY PEOPLE!
As one choses for moments like that!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The challenges and victories of multi-culturalism

Nederland: The elections are behind us. The people have spoken. Times and situations are very turbulent. Emotions have run high. Over al the 'battle' was clean. No real scandals to speak of. We didn't need them really. Enough 'other stuff' happening.

It hasn't gone unnoticed that here in Nederland, we are struggling with international tensions between countries. Since the huge upsurge of displaced peoples who have fled their home countries due to war, hunger and little prospect of a safe existence and fulfilling future, Europa has become the prime target for migration of those seeking a better future.

I would be the last person to say that leaving a place of war or devastation is not the solution to the problem. I can imagine that for the majority, leaving loved ones, homes, culture and lifestyle behind under these circumstances must be horrific.

People immigrate every day. They seek their good ( or worse) fortune elsewhere. A choice they make for better or worse. But refugees often have no choice. So where so they go? What is the best option?

What does baffle me, is that people don't choose a country where their cultural differences are more in tune with their own. Where religion, language, weather, life style and food are more alike to their own needs, customs and comforts. Instead they brave the dangers and end up in 'holding camps' hoping for better things to come. Most of them being robbed of any dignity, all their money and possessions, hopes and dreams. Reality being:  the grass wasn't as green as they thought it might be. The differences and prospects so adversely challenging then they assumed that the realisation of what they've done adds to the already feeling of being unwanted,  not welcome. How horrible is that.

As a 'new settler' Down Under in the early1960's, our family's priority was to learn the language, attend school, find work, make friends and blend in- keeping our identity but melting into the culture we embraced as being our new 'home'. We succeeded. Yes, we still cooked evening meals 'like home' but also added new flavours and dishes to our meals. No, we didn't wear clogs to school- didn't do that in Nederland either. We did learn to accept jandals. My parents kept their accent, we children didn't.

Today, I am back in the country of my birth. I went to the local supermarket today. It is a Turkish Supermarket- AWESOME. Specialises in Turkish products but also stocks the necessary dutch daily fare. I see vegetables I am unfamiliar with. I can't read all the labels. I am curious about certain recipes. I love the meat department- lots of lamb, NZ lamb even or so I am told. I have the privilege of tasting foods from all over the world. Because others have settled here. I can't understand all the conversations as I walk down the aisle. While shopping here I am in another world. I have couscous, lam cutlets, three bunches of fresh herbs tied with string ( mint, coriander, Turkish parsley), I have chickpeas and Turkish yoghurt and bread, and a cereal as dutch as they come, Brinta.

With my Dutch heritage, my Kiwi influences and my Turkish Supermarket my life is enriched. Now here's hoping that people everywhere will attempt to accept and get to know their neighbours. Learn from their differences and share their knowledge and friendships. If we can start in the kitchen- then maybe we can also learn more about each other on other fronts- learn, accept and allow everyone to be who they are meant to be.

Upon re-reading this before publishing my blog ( which I do to erase typos etc) I can only sum up by drawing this conclusion. Other cultures arrive here looking for a better, safer life and more promising future. Then after a while there are protests and judgements about our western lifestyle, customs, religion and way of life. Why choose a Western country if our values are not approved of? If the west is 'the place to be'. Then live as the western people do - keeping own identity and customs alive at home but become part of the community which was chosen for a better and safer future.

It can work- I know that for a fact - in harmony and showing respect for each other!

Solutions to conflicts and poverty take many forms. 
Helping a country restore the balance 
so people can stay in their own environment is also an option. 
Fleeing isn't always the answer. 
Helping each other is.


Monday, 13 March 2017

Ode to my past - in loving memory!


Dear Carol

How lovely it was to have met you and spent those glorious, carefree days with you on board the f/s Flavia all those years ago. I smile at the memory.

We were young, energetic and as teenagers will be, in for a laugh.

Do you remember Semonelli, Francesco ( always remembered he said that the surname went first) the barman in the Lido lounge. I had my first 'real' adult drink, a Grasshopper. Creme de Menthe I believe.

How we enjoyed swimming and the 'grandeur' of being on board such a luxury liner. Well to us it was. Although we normally used the stairs, occasionally we would choose the lift. But, we were warned, don't get caught in the lift with some of those young, male, handsome Spanish crew members. That was enough to get us giggling.

Although we only had a few days together, we had that proverbial 'klik' that people do when the personalities match. On leaving the boat you vowed to write. And you did. When I arrived in Leeuwarden, Nederland a number of weeks later, two letters and a postcard lay waiting for me.

We kept it up, that correspondence. Girlie stuff, young womanhood. When you heard I was to return to New Zealand you mentioned the hope of seeing each other again. And we did. You had joined the crew of another cruise ship and luck would have it the boat birthed in Auckland. And we were there, at the quay to welcome you. My wee young family and I.

The kids thought you were the bees knees. An aunt from Australia. I thought that too- so lovely to see you again.

The correspondence was spasmodic but we kept each other up to date. I vaguely recall you mentioning moving out of Wangaratta. My life changed a lot too.... and then we stopped. You and I were caught up in LIFE and all that it entails.

My quest is over dear Carol, I have found you. Not how I wished but non the less, my questions have answers.

Carol, dearest friend, it was, as the saying goes " lovely to have met and known you." I will forever cherish the memories.

Rest in Peace my friend, rest in peace.

Anita
Your time here was shorter than many
I am proud to have shared some grains of it with you!



Friday, 10 March 2017

Spring has sprung

Slowly but surely the tell tale signs of spring are more apparant around the place. Crocusses ( or croci) are popping their colourful heads through the soil. Tree branches are starting to thicken and buds swelling ready to pop open en reveal new life. Even though the sun is at a distance, it's rays are gently warming the earth I walk on. The mulched leaves from autumn are decaying rapidly and fresh grasses are pushing their way to the surface.

Walking in town and looking at the window displays, one can also identify the oncoming season. Freshly couloured displays, new season fashions and smart footware tempt the shopper inside, wanting to add new season clothing to one's wardrobe- ready for outings and parties in the offing.

I love spring. Everything fresh and new. The smell of wet soil and fresh leaves. The crispness of the young green leaves on the trees, daisies littering lawns and birds cheerfully chirping whilst they flit from branch to branch looking for the ideal spot for their nest to start a new family.

The clouds, varied in size and colour. Some days dark grey and threatening to be followed by wisps of cottonwool, thin and swirly, stretching across and pale blue sky. Ducks, both male and female chasing each other, trying to impress before finding a mate to bring new life into the world.

Council workers, in charge of the green areas, busily getting the last of the tree trimming done, working hard to gather the fallen branches and finally getting the lawnmowers out again after the stunted growth of grassy fields and parks.

SPRING has SPRUNG, and even though the weather is unpredictable and whimsical, the promise of warmer weather is in the air. It is time to clean the winter smudges of green off my balcony, to let my windows sparkle again and organise my planters for new seedlings.

With gratitude to a winter well done, I welcome the newness of spring and the promise of renewal that this season brings with it.