Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The meaning of Life: by Rick Warren

It is Wednesday evening. A balmy summer evening, the first ( of many?) this summer. What words of
wisdom, what experience did I have today that marks this day and makes it special?

Today I read another chapter in a book I am currently reading- and meet with others every Wednesday to discuss the book and it's content. The title: The purpose of Driven Life- what on Earth am I here for? written by Rick Warren, 2002. 

We take it one step at a time, reading one chapter a week even though the book suggests a chapter a day!! Too much info and food for thought. So we mull it over, discuss and let things sink in and find a spot to settle into.

I have read many books similar to this one - and one book in particular is the driving force behind the intention of the author. That is the bible. A collection of writings in which teachings are entwined with humour, honesty, expectations, requests and specific guidelines in how we ought to conduct ourselves.

What makes this weekly event so valuable to me is that while listening to others air their views and interpretations I find I am not alone in my quest to try to live as best a life as I know how - to be the person I was designed to be. Taking into account all the failings, doubts, insecurities and keenness to know more, which are part of my personality. To identify and develop the talents I have been given. To achieve and strive for more. I am not in it alone.

The past few weeks have been focussed on forgiveness, the human trait of felling judgement and of gossip. HUGE!! I think these subjects will take more than a week each to find their way and leave the necessary wisdom and tools I need to use to put into practice what is required of me. Someone said ( and rightly so) each chapter could have a whole book dedicated to it. That would mean 3 more books to read!

Anyway, my Wednesdays evenings are great. Spent in the company of a diverse group of people who stimulate, enthuse and challenge my thinking.

Travel Light

Morning world. How was your day yesterday? As good as mine? I hope so. I will start at the end and work my way into a good theme. Have so many themes in my head - every day I am touched by people and their circumstance that I learn more each day.

Left of the text is a logo of a Trust called 'Traveling Light'. A play on words, you understand!

Marja en Jan Verschoor have dedicated their lives to God and those needing help to re-integrate into the world without drugs and violence. Traveling Light is a trust deeply devoted to this cause and I cannot say anything else but that I have a deep respect for Marja and Jan in what and how they do what they do.

Marja spreads the news, alerts people about the activities and makes announcements for necessary fundraisers. Marja is an author and has a number of Blogs ( dutch and English) so as to keep everyone up to date, informed and enthused. Jan is a born servant of God's word. He is a frequent guest speaker and preacher in churches, at gatherings and the like. A wise man.

It strikes me, how come some people are so committed, enthusiastic, totally focussed? Yes, Marja would like a larger kitchen, new furniture and 'worldly' things as would Jan in a very modest way. They are never out of work, relocating elsewhere if the need arrises. They are so confident that the Lord will see to it that their income fits the budget they need to meet their daily needs. They are what I call ' beautiful people'.

Marja and Jan love to travel, they also prefer to travel light taking only the bare necessities with them. Their preference and their life's philosophy lent itself to an appropriate name for their trust. They also love to shine the light of their God into the lives of others, helping those in dark times, to see again.

Marja is also a writer of books, an authoress of some standing having been awarded the Literature Prize for Religious books in the states last year. There are 5 books out on the commandments of which 4 in English and one translated into dutch. Book number 5 is on it's way I believe.

Marja doesn't write about what we are asked NOT to do, but about what she thinks we SHOULD be doing! That the commandments aren't 'don't do this and don't do that' rules, but a litany of how we should live. So, not ' do not steal' but give, share- help. She also points out that it isn't only in money or things we are guilty of ' taking what isn't ours, but also in time, in friendships and in not sharing that we are taking away from others instead of enriching lives. Anyway, that in a nutshell to make you curious.

Like I said at the start... I keep meeting people who inspire me, touch me and shape me and Jan and Marja Verschoor (Meijers)  are 2 of those people. Through them I have met so many more. They have shone their light on me too and I thank them for that. I now need to be guided by that light to discover where my path leads...........

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Renewing a friendship

" We have the ability and possibility to
allow all things (talents) to grow and be fruitful."
A message on the back of the card from Pieter.
Oh dear, snuck in again... a relapse! Why didn't I write something yesterday? No idea.

I had a really special day yesterday. Actually all days are special. Some pass more anonimously than others. That doesn't make them less special.

Last week I received an unexpected invite to have a 'catch up' visit with a very special person. After the first 2 years back home in the Netherlands, when life really took shape, I had a huge ' dip' to climb out of.

All of a sudden I became overwhelmed by emotions and fears that, although real to me, were actually unfounded. Only I needed help to see that, and get through it. That help was given to me by Pieter Megens. A life coach. What a tremendous support. What a great sense of humour, reality moments and wisdom. It was like landing in a warm bath. I felt so incredible listened to and 'rescued and restored'.

Anyway, Pieter and I go back a ways now and every so often we are in touch. The past 2 years have been heavy for him - and his wife, as she is slowly climbing out of a cancer cycle with the added burden of new hips etc. Yes, even 'life coaches' need life coaches occasionally.

Pieter's boot
Pieter and I vowed we would stay friends because we know too much about each other to become enemies. That would be too dangerous :-) ! Every now and then either he or I would drop a line... nothing mayor just letting the other know we were still around, and that is exactly what happened last week.

Yesterday I went to see Pieter on his boat he single handedly built the interior of. Great craftsmanship - he even surprised himself ( his words). And what made the visit so special was that Pieter didn't just 'dig' into my brain - he did listen after asking me to unravel the past few months - then he also shared his story. Like friends do.

After copious cups of coffee, laughter and frowns, sunshine and lots of wind we parted company with a promise of a trip next time. We hadn't really allowed enough time for that now plus the wind's strength wasn't very favourable. Good for yachties, not for this sloop.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

It is Sunday- a gift!

A day of rest- a gift

Sunday, a day of rest. And that is what we are doing. Taking it easy - but not by being inactive. A phone call to an aunt, a phone call to pa and two visits to show we care, family we care day!

People who are no longer in their youthful years but aging. Ma Netten- 81 years old and already farewelled a husband and daughter ( Leen's first wife), tante Jaantje at 85 and a widow for the past 20 years, not in good health. Pa-, alone for the past 15 years and at 84 still trying to stay independant. Tante Lien 'only' 72, farewelled 2 husbands  and last Friday lost her nephew who was like a son to her. Our Sunday- a day to give our time and attention to those dear to us.

That doesn't mean others aren't as special. A visit to my children would have been awesome to have been able to make, but isn't on the cards just at present. A visit to other family members... will also happen but not today! For now, we made a choice and on another Sunday others will see us appear on their doorstep.

Family, blood ties or not, people who are dear to us. People who play a part in our lives- near or far. Time, one of our most precious gifts - and the love we share. It is Sunday!

Saturday, 23 June 2012


A long day, satisfying and a full day and tiring day.....

Airing the bedding a springtime chore!
It started by getting the groceries at 8 am, walked to the vege market at 10 am with Leen and off to " the keet" in the Hollandse Biesbosch bij 11:30.

I slept like a baby last night. Without a care in the world.

Yesterday a prayer was answered. Funnily enough I just read a piece about not worrying and how we are told that to worry is to not have confidence that the Lord will provide.

Sometimes I feel so silly- I know that prayer and conversing with God helps, yet when I feel really stressed I seem to forget that lifeline, and I did just that.

So today, after feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, I felt ready to conquer the world and enjoy all which may come on my path.

And just as well I had the energy needed to do all that was required. We, a small group of enthusiasts, are guides in this National Park. We are responsible for preserving and passing on information about this area, it's purpose and history. That brings with it responsibilities and tasks so we can do history  and the people who made it, justice.

We tell visitors about how important this area and the willow that grows here was, and still is, for the dutch culture and water projects. That the hardships here were unthinkable in todays world and that the living and working conditions would challenge any hardy person and now, this piece of the universe is history.

We are in charge of a small brick dwelling we call a 'keet'. We maintain this dwelling in a state of usefulness and the way it may have looked in 1935-40. We are proud to tell others about this way of life that has now been delegated to the past.

Curious about this subject and special place, leave me a message and I will explain in more detail.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Who is your family

Friday evening. It has been a full on week. Activities galore. Monday organising the shopping for our family day with pa. Tuesday baking and making preparing the lunch. Wednesday amongst the winmills at Kinderdijk ( all 17 of them) our family day fishing contest and later on dinner at the Wok restaurant in Papendrecht. Thursday I spent 6,5 hours hard on gardening...well not just weeding you understand, but hard on with the heavy stuff. A sparkling moment when I chopped the extension cord with the hedge trimmer. No damage done, except for the cord that is. Has a new plug on it now. I used it today... After I shortened the other and one accidentally blew a fuse this time. New plug coming up and the fuse has been replaced.

I had plenty of time to think about family today ( again). My cousin Renè called in at the caravan - to pick up a parcel he is going to take to New Zealand on Sunday. He is going to visit Trees ( my cousin on mum's side) and my oom Wim ( dad's youngest brother) they married almost 50 years ago.

My relationship with Renè is special. It is a mixture of cousin, brother and best friend. He supported me and encouraged me in my first few years back home. He believed in me and my ability to achieve all I wanted to achieve.

My oom Wim, my dad's youngest brother. Ever since I can remember he is my favourite uncle on dad's side. Now he is struggling with cancer... It hurts. He feels much like a father figure...wise, gentle, cheerful, consoling just like a dad can be. Oom Wim is married to a cousin on my mum's side. Trees, or Teresa as she is known in New Zealand. A wise nonsense type and very caring - an older sister. Things aren't always what they seem or are labelled.

Then Andreas called in. Andreas is a young man, newly married and related to my next door neighbour. He isn't your family, I hear you think. Wrong! He may not be a blood tie, but Andreas and I share faith. We are both believers. We belong to the faith family. We discussed why he came outside on the deck....then during a cloud burst we retreated indoors and chatted about our faith.

Faith in that when things go wrong, they do come right - with faith. That we don't necessarily feel good, or happy go lucky all the time- but with positive thoughts, prayer and faith- we can turn the tide.

I LOVE my children and grandchildren- my family. They are so far away in miles but when I close my eyes I can almost touch them, smell them, ALMOST! My children are my energy, my dreams, my pride and hope my lifeline.

What is family? People who matter. Connected by blood line, by name and by faith... Family, celebrate it.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

I digress

I promised to write about family today.

And I spent lots of time on the subject matter while mowing three lawns and trimming plenty of trees. Glad I did too, heaps to do and needed dry weather to do it in.

Now the weather changed. Code orange. About half an hour ago it was total bedlam outside.... Sirens whisked past so someone had a bad experience. Maybe flash flooding. Who knows.

How intricate the weather system is. Yesterday we had our Family day. Lightly and partly cloudy, plenty of warm moments, licht breeze, around 20 degrees. Today, lighter sky till noon, then cloudy, VERY warm- 24 degrees and humid.

Tonight 100 kph winds, heavy thunder and lightening and torrential rain. It is wind still now, a sort of weird after that violence. Leen is at a meeting at the City Council. I'm off to bed early....whacked after extreme physical work today. Nothing much on tv. Summer season- all reruns.

So, the family story will have to wait.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Fishing fun

What a day.... Sunshine, that was a surprise.

A mammoth record fish caught, and ....saved the best for last: a new baby and all that on today the 32nd annual family day. One new family member, born during our annual family get together. How wonderful is that?

Tantje Jaantje proud to be great (oma) grandmother. Leen's cousin Adrie a proud ( opa) grandad of his first grandson, already having two cutie pie granddaughters.

It brought tears to my eyes and goosebumps on my arms...... Shucks.

Today we celebrated Indi's arrival. Now that is reason to celebrate.

I am going to muse over this phenomena- family and being an oma. After a good night's rest I will have a clearer head about what I want to say over that matter.

It was a busy day.... Drinks, coffee, food for all and being the chief kitchen hand I was rushed of my feet. They need an early night and it is 23:30 already. Nite nite for now and till tomorrow.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

A family gathering

Wednesday 20 June 2012. is the date for the 32 nd annual Family Fish Day.

For the past 33 years Leen's family, on his mum's side, have held a family day. This entailes gathering together at around 9:30 am, drinking a cuppa while re-aquainting with relatives only sighted once a year. Then the fun begins.

The theme has always been ' fishing'. That means, you draw a number, get allocated a fishing spot, catch fish ( yeah right) have it measured and flip it back into the water. During the fishing period, the contestants ( and others) are watered and fed at the waters edge. A halt is called at 12:30 with an hour for lunch - I just buttered 80 bread rolls and 20 currant buns and baked 3 cakes doubling the recipes so as to have enough to go round!

Then there is a second draw. Another fishing spot and the fishing starts again till 16:30. The catch is kept a secret from all contestants. No-one knows how " long" the fish is and from who. Not till dinner and the trophy is handed over.

Drinkies at the end of the fishing spree...then a quick change and off to the restaurant for dinner. The attendance varies as some come all day, some join after lunch and others come for dinner. After all these years the event still attracts many family members, we now have 4 generations attending.

Seeing the whole family is present I use the occasion too to celebrate special moments of my own- so the birth of my granddaughter got the appropriate attention

Families- fun- support - friendship.

More tomorrow, now it's time for bed, an early start in the morning.

Monday, 18 June 2012

A too full an agenda

Having spent a restless night with VERY little sleep I found myself being agitated at little hitches that plagued my day.

After a rather heavy storm which passed overhead I picked up pa and we ordered the bits and bobs for the family day on Wednesday.

Later on I took the waterbus/ferry to Dordrecht so I could complete the purchases for my cousin Trees in NZ. My cousin René is going over next Sunday. He will be able to see how things are with oom Wim and also be there when Trees and oom Wim celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

I spent the rest of the day working on the 2 sites really. Looking around for some more site information, writing some bits and bobs and trying to get my head round my strategie on that book I am wanting to get out.

The next couple of days will be activities for the up and coming family day, as I need to bake and get the rest of the catering organised. Do love doing that though.... I don't work outside the home at present and that may just be as well.

My eyes are stinging a bit - must be the fatigue and lack of sleep so won't be making it too late tonight.

Had a phone call from Pieter Megens. My mentor and coach from a few years back. I don't believe in coincidences and his timing was perfect. Will go and see him next Monday. Weather wise if in favour we will go for a boat jaunt in his new launch. I've only seen it in it's raw state with Pieter himself wanting to complete the interior himself.

It'll be good to run my ideas past him and pick up the necessary wise comments and advice.

Well, signing off tonight not feeling like I have written what I wanted but at least managed to stay awake long enough to do what I set out to do.

My bed is calling me, I can hear it......... ttfn and till tomorrow.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Honour your father and your mother

Last Tuesday evening Arie my brother- in- law, Leen and I decided it might be cool to take pa away for an overnight stay this weekend.

Planning on the short term. Weather looked promising, we felt pa could do with the attention and 'spoil me' content so without much ado we got sorted. Thursday Leen booked two rooms at a hotel, in a historic building in a pictoresque township which once was my ' home' for 14 months, called Woudrichem. We had a ball. Pa was ( once again) kidnapped and whisked off and let us surprise him for the next 24 hours, and surprise him we did. Topping it off with a dinner on the second day pa returned home tired, pleased and lost for words. It is such a treat to spoil that man. Happy with little - overjoyed with everything that comes his way. I sometimes wonder who gets the biggest thrill.

Daily in my thoughts, my parents live on in my memory. On trips like this I miss them soooo much. I would like to think that I did my utmost for them while they made up part of my life. Reflecting back, there are so many loving memories of times spent together, I am sure that they too enjoyed our special moments.

Honour your father and your mother - a commandment many strive to meet, others fail to understand. It isn't only in what you do for them, also what you do with them and because of who they are.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Today- is NOW

Saturday... the start of another weekend.

End of week 24 of the calendar year. Here in the Netherlands ( and possibly elsewhere) many organisations and businesses work in terms of week numbers. Not dates. I had to really get used to that. At school too. Now, I only know which week it is because it says so on my calendar.

I wonder actually how it would be not to have a calendar, or diary for that matter. Could we still live like that? Are we game to let all that pre-planning go....? Is it, in this wondrous world of ours, possible to live each day as it comes? Accepting the situation at hand and make the most of our days in this manner.

I did have a year in which I planned no further than two weeks in advance. It was quite hard really.. at first. I was determined to keep it up a whole year. Yes, there were moments when I didn't adhere too strictly - but it did make me VERY aware of how we get caught up in the
futuristic living towards - and loose some of the joys of the here and now. Try making an appointment with a friend or friends to share time ( impromptu).

Two scenarios. It is mid May and the weather is improving after a long cold and dark winter-

  • a. "When shall we have a bbq people? When suits?" and everyone dives into their diaries... and it appears it is well into Autumn before ALL are available on the same date
  • b. " We are having a BBQ on the 20th June... how many of you can make it"? and once again all dive into the diaries - and only a handful are available, the BBQ is a great success - with a small group there is more scope to talk to each other.

Now, no diary:

  • a. " right, day after tomorrow we are BBqing - who-ever wants to join us, Feel free to do so." Everyone nods. That evening the garden is jam packed with friends all sharing time, energy and friendship. MMmmm... would it really work like that?

I also plan. And I love the preparations. Before an impending holiday it is fun to prepare, I have the house well organised, I look forward to the trip, I take care to pack what I think I might need. The day of departure as already been topic of discussion..... planning is part of the fun. Last year I planned an Garden Party.... had weeks of fun doing so!

I think what I loose sight of sometimes ( and I am jolly sure I am not alone) is that in wanting to 'do' everything we over book our lives and ourselves. Maybe that's the answer, it might all be fun - but so is just ' being' and enjoying what IS and to not always to assume that what is to come will bring even MORE joy!

Enjoy the NOW!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Rain or shine, it's just fine!

I woke up this morning and like a past 3 mornings, it was dry outside. My first thought...oh good, I'll hang out the washing as soon as I have read the paper.

Yes well, famous last thoughts. It is in the dryer as I type. It has rained for most of the day. It set me to thinking. How 'lost' we can become if our day doesn't take shape or unfold as we imagine it ought.

Now I am a flexible type...have always got an inside and outside list of things to do. But I do know there are those who haven't got such an easy to get at reset button. What happens to those people? Do they dive back into bed, throw up their arms in the air with desperation in their eyes? Flake out on the couch? Mmmm. How do they cope?

I picked up pa (my father- in- law) and we did the grocery shopping for our family day. It's the 32nd gathering of it's kind this year. Next Wednesday is tagged to hold this special event. Every year on the third Wednesday of June. Rain or no rain, blistering sun or not..... No-one needs to push any buttons. We just forge on regardless and relentlessly. So amazing, so many layers of family ( 4 generations).

After returning him home, I met up with my cousin René. He is off to NZ next weekend (24th) for 4 weeks. We had planned to sit outside on the terrace along the river.... But flexi cuzzies that we are, we sat inside, behind glass along the river. Two cappuccinos followed by two wines later we parted company. It was dry. The clouds had managed to lift their spirits as we had, and gave the impression that we could expect less water from above. For the time being anyway.

Did it matter it rained...? No not one iota. The washing is dry, the chores got done and I had one of the sunniest days for a long time and didn't need sunblock!

Happy days, wet or fine, dull or with sunshine.

Thursday, 14 June 2012


Almost 12 years ago I returned home to the Netherlands. Not that NZ wasn't a home for me all the years I was privileged to live there, but it did feel different. That difference was quite plain once I resettled myself and joined the daily humdrum and routines of daily life. Two sorts of relationships with two different countries. Yet the same. A strange experience I can tell you. Still baffles me when I think about it.

Last Saturday was one of those moments that emotion was hugely present whilst I attended a book presentation in Leeuwarden, my dad's place of birth and where I spent my adolencent years and young adulthood.

With locals, on holiday from NZ frisians and others we sang the NZ anthem in both Maori and dutch. Tears welled up, goodebumps on my arms my emotions bubbled up to the surface. I felt a strong bond with these people it felt like family.

Last night I watched the soccer match between the Netherlands and Germany. The national anthem was played for both teams. I sang the National anthem whilst sitting on the couch.... Goosebumps again. A strong feeling of belonging like which I experienced the Saturday before.

You could say that I am privileged to have two homelands. And in some ways it is. It is also a heavy burden. My children have a different home than I do. They are welcome here...but NZ is their home. Reece has in some ways, my experience. His home is NZ but also due to the nature of his realtionship, birthplace of Ros, Kirk and Max is Australia his home now... And here will also be home for him should he ever want and be able to visit.

With the birth of Indi, second daughter of Steve and Kylie this distance, this fenomena of " home" is once again food for lots of thought. I know I have a strong sense of belonging here... But that brings with it a strong sense of yearning. Not of regret, but a feeling of whishfulness. Of separtedness, of sadness and the knowledge that " hopping accross that great ditch" not always realisable is...certainly not in the situation at present.

In my heart and in my thoughts I am close to my children and grandchildren. They are part of my day. Although the contact is regular... And I am " kept in the loop" so to speak, I cannot ever get too much requests for skype, for messages, for txts on my phone. They keep me connected and close. They are my life line. Without the contact I would certainly feel allienated. Cut off from what feeds me- the love I have for my children.

Sometimes when I start writing I have no idea what it will be about, sometimes I have a plan. Tonight I let my fingers do the walking- no plan!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Mid week-Wednesday

For some Hump Day, for others mid week. For us, fish day. Father-in-law arrives every Wednesday round 12:30 and joins us for lunch. A fishy lunch. He has been doing that for years and we just hope he can continue to do so. Otherwise we will just take the fish to him!

We noticed recently that my father-in-law isn't quite his sprightly self. His energy level has dropped dramatically though he wants to give the impression there is nothing wrong. We expect much from our children when they are young. To pick up all this information, to become more independent, to " grow up" with the result we chase them through childhood into adulthood.

Now, the roles are reversed. We take care of pa with things that are now beyond him. We want to
" take the sting" out of his daily doings. I notice we pop in more often. Last week when he showed signs of stress and fatigue I unpacked and stored his shopping. We have explained repeatedly how his car locking system works. Just push the button twice pa, then all the doors are unlocked. Yes, the one with the open lock pictogram. No, that one locks the car. No to lock you don't have to push the button twice, once locks everything. Poor man. Must be so confusing to have gone from a key central locking system to a ' just push the button' system. Still we understand the confusion and are patient with him while he learns new tricks.

Yet on the home front, he has a computer. Just so he can listen to organ music and look at a couple of hobby youtube films. Arie, my brother in law has taught him how to use the computer, and how to 'click' on his films and shut them off. He has a list with steps and loves it when it works. He does have a great back up system if it doesn't work. "I just switch it off and watch tv".

Pa, a lovely soft hearted man, becoming more and more aware of his fragility, his humanness. He himself is aware he is becoming frailer and more vulnerable. Tries to hide it, but it is already obvious to us. At 84, he still drives ( for now) cooks for two as my brother-in-law who is single, eats with dad every day, does his own shopping and because he is mobile doesn't 'sit around'. He enjoys reasonable health, has home help for 3 hours a week and has a sunny disposition.

We enjoy going places and sharing time with him while we can.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

One step at a time

Another day another dollar - so the saying goes! Well, I don't know about the dollar but here we are, another day.

Funny how things change just when you think you have a handle on stuff. Yesterday started well, I had all the best intentions of the world - and then it all fell apart. What a disappointment is that! Never mind, I took it in my stride, adjusted my expectations and took it on the chin. I spent half the day in bed, sleeping like a baby. I must have needed it I hear you think!! I was VERY disappointed that I couldn't fulfill my promise to myself - to clean up my office, but in having said that I now have the energy it will take to do so.

Today I aim to do a catch up. I have got a few ideas for my BLOGs and websites and hope to work on the albums " in the make". A long list, but exciting and I am keen to accomplish things to day to my satisfaction. I've got till tonight - the day is but young.

Funny, I feel awful when I cannot complete a promise to others, but I also feel that disappointment when I cannot complete a promise to myself. I used to beat down on myself when this happened, now I don't chastise myself, just am disappointed. Saves a lot of valuable energy.

Enough about me. I heard a sad story today about a young woman/girl who has been harassed on Internet and has unfortunately taken the insults to heart. How heartbreaking that must be, for all those who love her. The happy part is that she is surrounded by positive loving people who support her and will accompany her on her walk back to happier times.

What is it about people that makes them want to lash out, to damage and hurt another human being? Is it their own insecurity, their own desire to be 'boss'  powerful in some way? I cannot for the life of me imagine that in being a bully that it gives satisfaction. How deplorably sad these people must be themselves.

All I can think of is that they too are hurting and by hurting another they feel their pain less. Imagine, you have back ache. It hurts and you think about it all day. The while eating dinner, you break a piece of tooth. Ouch! This pain is stabbing, numbing and for a while you forget about your backache. One pain overrides the other. It doesn't in any way excuse their behaviour, but does in effect explain it. All I can imagine then is that there isn't someone to take that pain away, loving people who can guide them and console them in their pain. Victims are apparently easy to find..... and why are they ( the victims) so vulnerable? Is this a modern day trend? or is it more in focus now with the social media and communication possibilities with which we inform the world.

Many years ago I read this on a A4 piece for paper on a wall somewhere

Believe in yourself
and in your plan
say not " I cannot"
but that " I can".

The joys of life we fail to win
Because I doubt
"The Power within".

I love that and believe in this statement hides many a truth. It can be applied to any situation - one's plan for one's life, in who we are and who we want to be, who we aspire to be -


Monday, 11 June 2012


I received the most WONDERFUL message today from darling Ros. 

She wanted me to know how much better she is feeling and learning to cope. 
Prayers are strong and are being answered. Amen... go for it Ros!! 

With love and respect..I love you xxxxx Mum

I think this blog is as big as it will get for today....! I can't think anything more beautiful to write than this!

Wardrobe and stuff like that

It is time. It is well overdue. It is shamefull that I waited so long. Today I just gotta, gotta,gotta get cracking.

I took the descision to "do" stuff. Not that I have been sitting round or anything but somehow I had let myself " be led" instead of being in charge.

Today the wardrobe is on the list at number one.....

Second chore: my "office"- my desk for a starter and my ceedees. Can't do the whole room at once - too much so I am breaking it up into small chunks.

Then I need to sort out my accounts: that is messy but also a priority. Doing well so far.

Today is Monday - a new week. Am going to make the most of it.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Memories and emotions

What a day, what a beautiful day. The weather was beautiful, got quite a tan. We spent the whole day home, in the deck at water's edge lazing, reading, fluffing sbout. It has been months simce we have been able to do that. What a treat.

It has been a week of emotions. So many different ones it has become a jumble inside. Needed today to untangle them I think. It hardly seems possible that Mitch died 2 years ago, yet a lifetime of events have happened since then. Summah and Indi have been born, mum died as did a number of others close to me. Job gone, health has been an issue but has improved no end now. What a see-saw of BIG things and emotions to work through.

What hit hardest about Mitchell apart from the fact that he isn't with us, and I truly and utterly deplore that. is that it shouldn't happen that a child leaves this world before it's parents. What weighed heavily on me is the pain in Ros and Reece's eyes. What still troubles me is Ros's pain and anguish. I wish I could help her be freed from the desperateness she is experiencing. She still experiences such accute lows.

True, to loose a child is devastating, to have lost him so tragically in such a horrific accident, has been harsh, cruel. Yet the inner peace she needs to carry on is still beyond her grasp.... Oh Ros you are so loved. Your two sons are so in need of you. Your husband so loves you. I wish you a year of rebuilding, of strength and hope. Ros, I love you like my own. I am here for you. Mitch has found his peace, nothing harmful will ever touch him again, he is free and in a good place where only peace and joy fill his days. He wants that for you too. I cry for you and about you.

These few days are in memory of Mitch and not a day goes by I don't think of him - teenager, searching where he fitted, rebelious, loving, cheeky, sparky, helpfull, beligerent, funny, serious, mixed up. Mitch you were all you were meant to be - an adolescent looking, searching for what life had to offer you. Looking for your own spot. Your 17 years with us was too short.... But long enough for us to know you, share with you and love you.

Rest in Peace Mitch and let that same peace descend upon your loving mum.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Melis van der Sluis

The photos haven't caught up with me yet! I am home and they are still up in the air somewhere.

What an eventful day it has been. I travelled to and from Leeuwarden today, about 220km's one way! Lousy driving weather but the warm welcome more than made up for it.

A visit with pastoor Jelmer, dad's cousin and time with tante Alie, dad's sister and her husband oom Siep, started the ball rolling. The weather wasn't that wonderful, but the day was one big sunny event.

Melis van der Sluis, frisian born and living in Hamilton, New Zealand - making headlines in his home country and even more important his home province. I received an invitation to attend the book presentation of his life and life's work. Eager to see Ruth his wife and Melis again I gratefully accepted this invitation with both hands.

A small contingent of other frisians also living in NZ who were here on holiday were also present. They had arranged as surprise a moment to sing the NZ national anthem in both Maori and English, as the frisians are true to their own language as the Maori are to theirs.What an ode, what an honour. What a moving moment. I found myself singing with the group in full gusto with goosebumps on my arms and tears welling up in my eyes. How thankful I am to have been part of this awesome day. What a mixture of emotions.

I left home here in Papendrecht exactly 12 hours ago. I am shattered - feel wonderful but am exhausted. Glad and proud to have been granted such a blessed day!!

Will add photos tomorrow. And yes, I have a signed copy of the book, printed in 3 languages - English, dutch and frisian. And the prints of his works are amazing.

The past couple of days have really impacted on me emotionally. Having just received the wonderful announcement of my granddaughter's birth and now meeting up with old friends... all quite intense. It occurred to me, Indi's birth was sandwiched in between two book presentations. Both to which I was invited, both writers are people I admire. I will relive her birthday ever year with warm memories, and on my dad's birthday after all!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Time to broadcast the good news

Good evening folks. About half an hour ago I thought, "after I finished washing the floors ( yes on a Friday night) I am going to write my BLOG". Trying to eliminate the gaps that threaten to reoccur. So I downed tools and thought - no I am going to write now!!

I was awake early. Real early. Round 5:30 I think. Yes, I just checked. Low and behold - I went online and SKYPED with Kylie, Steve and Indy from 5:41 till 6:05 local time. It was wonderful. Not only did I get to meet my granddaughter for the first time - Summah, Charlie, Danni and Archie accompanied Toni into the room as well. What fun! How cool. Did do a pang thought though " now Reece, Ros, Kirk and Max and then the family would be complete. I'm not greedy, not unsatisfied at all. Honestly, I couldn't have been happier with this gift. It was awesome - but surely it isn't strange to want to include everyone in such a "first time moment?"

I know the photo isn't very clear, but the moment in my mind is. I had to take this with my camera off the computer screen. Not bad all things considered. Four kiddies in a row on the window seat and Kylie accepting a snack from the bowl Toni is holding in front of her! Steve was left holding the baby. What a proud dad. His eyes just shone a thousand watt lights looking at Indi. I was euphoric being able to 'be' there on this special day- not in person but at least visiting by means that were available. A trip Down Under right now just ins't possible for a number of reasons.

After my "visit"  with the kids I had a Skype contact with an old friend - by old I mean 'from way back'. V, she is gorgeous. Am so proud of her, after 40 years she stopped smoking and is changing her whole life style. She is an inspiration that woman. Will share her story sometime. What a treasure and I am allowed to call her 'friend'. Anyway, I was on cloud 9, with my talk about Indi's arrival and sharing oma stories.

Downstairs I carried on my cloud 9 emotions after my two visits " Down under". It set the mood for the day that's for sure. I washed a couple of loads of washing, totally stripped our bedroom and managed to get into nooks and crannies that even they didn't realise existed. Took the electric blanket off the bed - maybe too soon but oh well, no going back now. Shopped, tidied, sent cards off in the post before 5pm ( or else they don't get lifted till Sunday evening). Cooked dinner, cleaned up, ironed and folded the washing, washed some more floors and am now sitting here thinking, who cares about what you did today?

More important is that I mailed friends and relatives with the glad tidings, that I received umpteen congrats messages that made me proud and happy as a sand boy/girl. That the txt messages kept peeping in... and that we had " beschuit met muisjes"  a dutch tradition when a baby is born. My treat naturally. First at our neighbour's home, Mrs van de Graaf. A regular group of people come over for coffee at 10am. There are a few regulars and all know at 10 am the coffee is ready. Pa ( or for the kids opaopa) and my brother in law Arie called in - coffee and more bischuit met muisjes. Pink ones, of course. What a great way to welcome Indo to the family.

I spent today " being oma". Humming, kept looking at her photo and just beaming. My life is good, my life is blessed, my life is living and loving.... I am a rich person with untold treasures. Mine to enjoy and share with others.

Another child is born

Here we go again, another gap and so soon.

Yesterday was a weird day. I was restless but from about 4pm on I was so restless and couldn't concentrate on anything. And would you believe it? Kylie, my daughter - in - law was in labour. Wow!! I wasn't aware she was, but since this morning I know that she started labour round the same time as I felt uncomfortable.

I had kidded Kylie about the birthday for the new born - to take the place on my dad's birthday, the 7th June. Well yesterday was the 7th June, here in Nederland and no phone call. I had worked out that by 2pm local time if I hadn't heard then the baby wouldn't make it on that date.

And sure enough no call came. The day rolled on while I cleaned the chook pen and rabbit cage, fluffed around with small stuff. Unsettled as I was it was hard to concentrate on anything in particular.

In the evening I attended a book presentation. A few weeks ago I received the invitation to be present at the presentation of the book Theba - Thera ( dutch version). I kept my phone on quiet but on my lap so I would notice if a message came in- and low and behold!! It did. " Mum would you ring Steve pls. He can't txt you". Toni x. ( Toni being my oldest child- a daughter so sweet). My son Steve obviously had something to tell!!!

I rushed out of the presentation hall and went to where the " drinkies"  were to be served, sat down, rang and spoke to Steve- obviously in English. " Mum" , he said, "mum we have a daughter. Just born 27 minutes ago..... Her name will be Indi Johanna Simmonds!" Oh me, oh my.  A healthy bubbling baby. Blessed are we all. Not only that. I have the privilege of sharing my name with Indi. My granddaughter. She and I now both carry my mother's name, Johanna. Oh wow! I was crying and laughing all at the same time. There were some ladies standing round who were there to hand out drinks and books - they were all looking and smiling and talking amongst themselves. It must have been quite a sight. I also came to realise- it was still the 7th of June in the Netherlands. Due to the time difference- I still received the news of Indi's birth on my dad's birthday! Quircky.

When the call ended someone pushed a glass of wine in my hands and congratulated me..then the other ladies joined me all curious as to what just happened. Very surreal. Here I was, only knowing the author and his wife at this presentation. The other 120 or so people were complete strangers. I gulped down my wine and sped home - oh no-one home! That's right, Leen is at a council meeting. Then knocked on the neighbours door, Geert-Jan took one look and asked " en oma wat is it geworden?"  He poured me a coffee and we chatted a while. I was so bubbly. Once home reality hit me and I had a " oma moment". No first born cuddles, no yummy baby smells, no mother and son hugs, no Kylie and mum hugs, no Summah bouncy bounce. Oh dear. I got quite morbid.

Leen arrived home just in time. We sat up for a wee while, Leen toasting Indi's arrival and me, just thinking. Time for bed. welcome Indi Johanna Simmonds.

Oma loves you!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Let your inner sun shine...

Upon awakening I started thinking about the day and how I was to fill it so it would be put to good use. Not wasted away into nothingness.

Yesterday a cousin rang, he wanted to know if I had heard anymore news regarding our uncle Wim. After a short update he proceeded to fill me in on his plans for his trip to NZ on the 24th of June.

Oh how my heart skipped a beat. I had had the chance to go as well. I didn't take it because I had commitments ( or so I thought) to a business contact and my business venture. A missed opportunity both business wise and to see my children once again.

The price tag on the ticket was 890 euro. No use crying over spilt milk - get on with the job of spending the day in a positive manor. My kids are as close as the phone, iPad with Skype or even closer, in my heart!!

On Facebook I read a message from someone who is cheesed off because it is raining ( again). She mentioned one could get pretty depressed due to the weather. I thought, that's sad. So I placed a positive message back saying " I planted some plants yesterday, they are being watered today!"

I had a nickname in the family - the eternal optimist - and they didn't mean to flatter me with this, they were actually quite narked I am "sunny side up". These days I don't get upset when I get " branded"  in this way. It makes me smile 'cos the sun shines more on me than on those with dismal dark thoughts.

I do believe that we are influenced by those around us. That also means we can influence others. A smile on a dull day, a compliment, a helping hand, a cup of coffee shared, a listening ear. A positive message on a message board. That is what makes the sun shine...............

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Good news? Why not.....

As soon as I woke I realised I had not written my BLOG yesterday. That brassed me off no end. Still, it isn't the end of the world, life went on and another day started. I put it out of my mind...and tackled the day. The sun was out and I couldn't be happier. Garden time today.

Before I even had my first cuppa I spoke to Trees who was online. She told me that oom Wim's surgery had gone well, though it was an arduous 4 1/2 hours worth. There wasn't really any startling statements or predictions made. Too early for that. Slowly my tummy ache eased.... I knew I was concerned, but to the level that I now realised I was came as a surprise.

Next was my dearest friend Robyn ( Napier, NZ) on Skype. And while we were nattering and catching up... her daughter Jody and wee Benjamin came on screen. How cool was that? Benjamin burbeled away and was all smiles. I do so love starting my day with a Skype or two.

I spent a short time reading the paper, checked my email and stuff then went to have my legs massaged. A whole 45 minutes of being spoilt. Makes me feel soooo good.

The afternoon was spent in the first at my neighbour's place..we hadn't chinwagged for a while. And what do I hear, they might shift. I can honestly say that I have NEVER had such a wonderful couple next door. There is a possibility that they might add on, but their house is a monumental design and there are strict guidelines about what can and can't be done. Bother it all. That will be a dark sad day, should they decide to leave. I'm hoping for an extension.

The garden looks great. Need more seasonal plants now to fill the gaps where the bulbs were in the spring. Will make it bright and cheery this summer. The garden was renovated last year so it is still in a build up stage. What I have learnt is: don't hang bird seed feeders above your flower garden in winter. It turns it into a lawn in the spring.

After dinner I went to my "accross the way" neighbour, Dicky. We sorted heaps of photos so in a couple of weeks we will embark on another album making journey. Cool.

It is 23:45 and time to close. Will do my best to limit the gaps..... Nite nite!

My first ( missed) Monday

It happened. I did it! I missed a day. Well I didn't miss a day, I fell asleep on the couch and didn't get to write my blog before midnight. I won't let that get me down... Onward and upward. I'll try not to leave too many gaps this year.

Now I have two days to write about. Enough impressions to fill the pages. It were two of the most different days one could imagine.

Yesterday was wet, cold and dreary, inside as well as outside ( well that dreary bit anyway). I spent nearly all day in my wee office trying to get some of my admin done, paid a bill for repairs on my car and my road tax. Then I got stuck into my two websites.

Leen was busy with his work and the day passed without any great dramas, unexpected happenings or eventful anythings. After a sandwich Leen went and picked up pa-his dad. They had an appointment at the bank. Sorting out power of attorney and signing rights ( just in case). A very sensible thing to have in place. Pa is 84 and although still capable of lots of his own care.... One never knows what's round the corner.

After the banking business was settled they went to look at a replacement car for pa. At present pa's drivers licence is up for renewal and he needs to go for an eye test. Could be that in November pa no longer has his license. It may also be that he passes the tests and does still have his mobility. Pa wants another car and it was time to look for one. Should he not be allowed to drive after October the company have told him they will buy back the car. Pa is happy. Now the eye test.

Leen cooked dinner... It was lovely. I spent so much time working on my sites Leen felt the need to provide me with dinner. Can't be all bad. On my mind all day was the possibility that Kylie, my daughter- in- law, might start her labour and the closer to evening it got  the more I started also thinking about my oom Wim, my dad's youngest brother living in New Zealand. He was due to have bowel surgery. The later it got here, the earlier it got in New Zealand the closer the operation came. I fell asleep on the couch thinking about oom Wim, my dad and all those hit by this cruel " thing" we call cancer.

That was my Monday.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Sunday, a day of rest

Today, Sunday, a day of rest. And rest I did. Sure I pottered around a wee bit. I also visited ma.  Ma Netten,  a special relationship.

My husband's first wife died at the age of 45 as a result of her battle with cancer. Her mum and I enjoy a good and respectful relationship together. She is now my mother -in-law.

Ma was a professional sewer. She worked for a local fashion house. Any clothing alteration necessary is therefor in good hands, should you call in her expertise. And I has cause to aske her for help with my full length cape. She had inserted, and very professionally too I might add, arm openings in my cape. I found it really irritating when I wore my cloak and I wanted to have a coffee or hold onto something that I had to "part"  the cloak and subsequently would get cold. Now I have " sleeve holes"  and can stay warm.

We chatted about all sorts of topics and drank two cups of coffee. A Sunday can be a long lonely day for her at times as she has been widowed for quite some years now. A visit is always appreciated and looked forward to.

Leen went to Dordrecht. Every two years there is a " steam weekend". The focus on all steam driven machinery. Boats, trains, cars, tractors - you name it. Appears to be the most intense and broad event of it's type in all northern hemisphere. It attracts people from all over Europe and wider. Why I didn't go...the weather killed it for me. I go for the fun of it and couldn't see the fun of getting rained on, blown about and chilled to the bone ( only 9 degrees today) so I elected to stay home.

Around 4pm I decided I wanted to wallow in a warm bath, taking a glass of port and small bowl of nuts with me.... needless to say my drowsy state ensured I dozed off waking only when Leen came home. Seeing we had invited a friend ( Merie) to tea I shot out of the bath and proceeded to cook dinner,

We had a lovely mellow sort of evening. Merie bringing with her a birthday gift for me - so sweet and thoughtful. It is still pretty chilly out. I have had the central heating on all day and now also switched the electric blanket on. I am quite a positive thinker really - though the thought of this being a foreboding of what is to come....Bbbrrr!

Anyway, I hate to sound boring: but once again, I am pleased with today and all it brought me. I'm off to bed feeling very pleasantly satisfied with today!!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Saturday- Biesbosch day

Another Saturday...sunshine and a good mood!

Saturday morning.

07:00 Leen was up early as he had to be at the Visitor's Centre Hollandse Biesbosch, Dordrecht to greet the guests who had booked a kayaking trip. He and another guide were to accompany them through the Hollands Biesbosch, trying to spot birds and beavers.

10:30 off to buy a gift for our hosts where we are going for dinner tonight. Then on to the Biesbosch where I am to join Leen.

11:00 onboard the "Otter"  and off to the keet! There to share info to those walking the interesting walkway " Griend Museum Pad".

The weather was GREAT. We (Leen and I ) were accompanied by Rien and Frans - also keen guides and hard workers on our project.

We have a " group of 5"  who are responsible for the tourists who venture into  the park and walk in the area where we keep ourselves busy with the historical aspect of the Griend. We tell people how it was here in years gone by.

A "griend"  is a willow tree orchard/area which is controlled by the tide. Willows like wet feet. Many moons ago the willow branches were used for spade and other tool handles because of it's flexible and long lasting properties. It had many other uses too, including being used to make the
" mats"  on which our dikes are built. Enough history. Saturday, A sunny and most enjoyable day! May there be many more of the same.

16:30 Back in the boat and off home. Shower and get dressed for dinner out. The mayor and his wife have invited us for dinner. We get along extremely well on a personal level and they decided it was time we had a cosy evening together at home instead of always at formal occasions. It was a hugely successful evening with delicious food and great conversation.