Monday, 29 April 2013

Familiarity all round

It was a great week, well I have had lots of great weeks but this one was exceptionally great.
Mirror mirror on the wall.

It was Tuesday afternoon. My cousin and her husband were coming to visit- all the way from Sweden. We hadn't seen each other since 1961 apart from the odd photo here and there. We do have very regular contact, first with emails and now we Skype regularly. We get on well.

At the end of the afternoon the doorbell rings. I open the door and we embrace emotionally. It felt GREAT. Our eyes meet and we instantly feel a warm sense of intimate recognition. Her husband is all smiles, he laughs at our abundant embrace- something special happened he said later! We didn't see it, as we were the picture he observed. It was heart warming.

As this was a festive moment we decided to celebrate and we went out for dinner. After deliberating we decided on Greek food. We, my husband and I, assured them of good food and a great atmosphere. A great evening ensued.

My cousin and I are both teachers and our experiences are equal almost in detail. We are both a bit gadget mad and we share a love for the kitchen. Also these past months, we share the ache of mother anguish as she too has a daughter living in New Zealand. The prospect of her daughter choosing this as a possible home weighs heavily. She and I understand each other and the ache we experience.

Biology lessen: comparing notes
We made plans for their stay. We would visit Kinderdijk, Park de Hoge Veluwe and de Hollandse Biesbosch. We would dine at home as well as out and catch up, catch up and catch up some more. Our jaws worked overtime. Yes, they did. The days just flew by and before we realised it, it was time to say goodbye. Luckily our men also connected on many levels. It was great to see they too had common ground to communicate and get to know each other. That can lead to some discomfort if not all personalities ' gel'.
Visiting Kinderdijk

This wasn't my first experience of instant recognition. I looked into the eyes of another family member I hadn't seen for about 40 odd years and we ' knew' each other. So familiar, so comfortable, so safe! We needed few words to express things - we just knew without speaking. Oh, it was bliss.

The recognition I had in New Zealand too! If I was in town and I saw people walking down the street I could almsot be sure to recognise the dutch ones in a crowd. Somehow that familiarity is recognisable.

A few months ago I spoke to someone on the topic of ' being a christian'. She had described herself as NOT being one. No she didn't attend church, wasn't a believer or anything. During our acquaintance she told me about her comings and  goings, the things that empowered her to help others. The commitments she made to help make a difference. I felt that many a church go-er would be inspired by the life she led.

Her love for humanity reflected in her eyes. Recognisable, comfortable and beautiful. She was doing His work without fully realising it.

What intreagues me about conversations like that is the perception that people have about being christian  and how  they  look! One can recognise a christian by their serene look, their poise, their restfulness, their patience and understanding. That they  are perceived to be the saviours of humanity and the world's problem solvers. And to do all this they  get on their knees and pray the problems away! Not to forget that being  christian also means experiencing grief, sorrow and suffering in their lives.

I hope that after our chats and exchange of ideas, she has a clearer insight of  them.  At the very least a clearer impression without destroying the whole picture. I am proud to know her and call her friend.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

...and another thing!

A(nother) piece on morals and values......

Now that I am on my hobby horse of do's and don'ts. Let me tell you a tale of something that happened right outside my front door yesterday.

I was cheerfully sitting at my desk, working hard like usual when I saw a truck approaching. My ' office' is upstairs and I overlook the road ( dyk) we live along. Across from our home and paralel to the road we have a parking bay.

The truck, belonging to a freight-and technical supplies company - Technische Dienst- screeched to a halt, the driver jumped out and while keeping the driver's door open he pee-ed all over the parking bay. So called anonymously you understand!! GROSS!!

Now I am aware that truck and delivery drivers are at a disadvantage. They are on the road a lot - but are not glued to their trucks or vans all day. They pop in and out of businesses all the time making deliveries. We border on a industrial area - places a plenty with toilets. The driver could even have knocked on a door if his urge was that high. I was appalled to witness this uncalled for call of nature.

Should I report it? You see, I was still in the frame of mind about those children on the beach. I didn't approach the parents - should I let this man know his behaviour was unacceptable.

Well, he left as abrupt as he came leaving a large dark pool on the parking area. YukYukYuk.

I looked online, found the telefoonnummer and called the company. After relaying my tale to the receptionist she connected me through and I spoke to someone ' in authority'. I received apologies ( though the poor man hadn't done anything himself ) and a promise this would be addressed. I gathered by the tone of his voice that "the boss?'  was mortified. As I was.

Morals and values, a topic on a lot of politicians lips these days. Also a topic of conversation - the unruly, disrespectful behaviour of youth. Well what a show in heaven's name do kids have if adults behave the way they do?!!

And, Mr Peebody, please use a toilet in future - your behaviour is nothing to be proud of. Have respect for yourself, your fellow beings and your environment.

Spring still hasn't sprung.....

...and my energy level is as unpredictable as the weather. I felt a resurgence of energy as we experienced a taste of what's to come. It lasted as long as the preview days we were allowed. Back to winter chills and heavy frosts. Not to mention the icy cold wind that chilled one to the bone. As there (thankfully) isn't a weather button to push or tweek - I resigned myself to mother nature's curious ways.

Today the sun is out once again. After a few low days we are experiencing a high. Awesome. And I managed to move mountains. It was 4 degrees when I went shopping - a heat wave you could call it! Excuse the sarcasm won't you? What is pleasing is the feeling of renewal all around me. Maybe also due to the feast and celebration of Easter. Renewal- new birth, new chances and opportunities. I am an Easter fan. Always have been. Christmas is important but Easter - well that's celebration No. 1 for me!

In New Zealand, Easter week was a series of church celebrations of which I took part. Now, it is  a more quiet time, with a respectful Good Friday, a preparation day on Saturday and sharing and celebrating on Easter Sunday with friends. We, 6 of us, enjoy a leisurely festive breakfast, celebrate our friendship and spend quality time together. Every year - an absolute joy.

So as not to get to settled we (5) elected to drive to the beach nearby - let the wind blow away the cobwebs and stretch our legs. Friends son, 18 years old, elected to stay 'home'  at the caravan where we were visiting. A great way to let breakfast settle and have a change of scenery. There were more like minded people at the spot we chose. Finding a park was a challenge but we only needed one spot and found one available.

We climbed the stairs leading to the top of the dunes. A large board explained the work that was being done to keep the dunes in place by investing time and effort and planted dune grasses to keep the sand from eroding away. The area was cordoned off with a sturdy fence line. A NO GO area.
While enjoying the activity below us on the beach and looking out over this great expanse of water- we were disturbed by a small group (3) of children who clambered over the fence and slid down the dunes screeching their delight as they did so. Would have been great to watch and share their joy had it  not been for the fact that this was a total NO NO. A protected area. And what really got our dander up - was that the parents stood at the bottom clapping and laughing at the children's escapades. GGGrrrrrr!

Childish, I hear you think, that we were annoyed. Maybe. I do so love to see children outside enjoying all nature has to offer - but this was an intrusion and total disrespect and disregard ( from the parents in my view) for the region. The children can't be held accountable if parents don't instruct, guide, set boundaries and educate. It could have been such a great teachable moment.

I lost my ' happy Easter' feeling for a moment. Should I say something - do I address the parents? We discussed amongst ourselves what we thought on the matter and one of the children must have overheard some of our mutterings. She gingerly walked to the fencing, looked at us over her shoulder and slowly and nervously still climbed over the fence. I don't know whether if I had gone down to the beach if I would have reproached the parents. I like to think I would have Instead we turned tail and left.

My plea to parents - You are responsible for the behaviour and upbringing of your children. It is your privilege and honour to help shape these young people into responsible adults. They need to be informed of their responsibilities, their rights and wrongs.

Maybe it is the ' teacher'  in me that drives me to comment on this type of behaviour - I lay the responsibility of a respectful upbringing totally at the foot of the parents.