Otherwise known as the Queens Day. A wonderfully dutch holiday which I have heard is getting imitated in Germany and even in England!
The 30th of April is when we celebrate our Queens birthday. Her birthday is not actually today, it was her mothers birthday, but she decided to stick to this day to honor her mother.
So what do we do on this nationalistic holiday?
The biggest attraction and the most fun is the free market which takes place in almost every town and city. Basically it's just a garbage garage sale which is spread out over the streets. Everybody and their cousin lays out all their old clothes, books, toys, furniture, computers, lamps, tools, .... you name it, you'll be able to find it! The most creative salesmen then dress themselves up in orange, as you can see in these pictures and encourage you to buy their
wares. In the big cities, like Utrecht (where I used to live), the joy starts the night before and people stay up all night drinking, laughing and selling their stuff. There's wars fought over who gets to spread their blanket where, students hang out of the windows with their speakers blaring music, all kinds of food is sold on every street corner, and thousands and thousands of euros are spent and earned. I love it!
The last couple of years we lived in Houten, where they focussed mainly on entertaining the kids. So only kids got to sell their stuff. I went with Tristan a number of times and we made quite a big amount of cash! What a way to effectively clean up a room! And it's just great fun haggling with people and then going out to spend the money on books (for example).

This year was our first year in this town. The school around the corner had decorated a truck, all the kindergartners were put in and there was a parade to the town center. The mayor made a speech, music was played, and the sales started. Herman and I walked aroud and bought a lamp for Marinda's room and a microwave oven which we then transported back home on the back of our bikes. Really, I should have gotten a picture!
Those who don't sell or buy stuff on the market stay at home and watch the Queen and her family making her rounds in one of Hollands towns. Believe me, it's a big deal when the Queen comes to visit. Usually a lot of traditional dutch stuff is set up for the Queen to ooooh and aaaah at. The whole visit is shown live on tv. Traditionally you must drink coffee and eat one of these while watching.
I love Holland on days like these! People are in a good mood and acting quirky. It's great!

Movie day

Today is movie day in our residence. It's the first day of the Spring holidays and Marinda has her boyfriend over and Tristan a friend who will stay the night. I watched The Green Mile with Marinda and company and banished the boys upstairs during the watching of it. I didn't think it would be too appropriate and I'm not sure how strict Tristans friend is raised. Didn't want to risk any parental conflicts! So now the boys are hanging on the sofa watching Transformers. From the sounds that are emanating from our surround system, I seriously wonder if this is much better than The Green Mile! But this movie was okayed by Tristans friends mom, so I will let boys be boys. Loud noises of fighting, explosions, sparks shooting, dramatic music and panicked voices... what more can any boy want? I think I will run upstairs though if this volume is kept up!
Herman is stacking dishes, I will go wash them soon, and then maybe catch up on some correspondence I have been neglecting lately.

Things I did this weekend

I thought I would entertain everybody by listing the things I did this weekend, AFTER spending even more time cleaning the fridge. Which is finally standing in the kitchen still slightly odorous but functioning nevertheless.

So here's my list:
- enjoyed the sunshine
- planted flowers in the garden
- re-potted our indoor plants (is that an english word?)
- washed several loads of italian laundry
- went to Tristans soccer match. He scored a goal and seems to be fully recovered from all the pain that has been plagueing him over the last couple of weeks (BIG HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF)
- used my "new" oven for the first time to make some goodies for my sisterinlaws hen party (and then burned everything to a crisp)
- went to church only to discover that this particular church still doesn't hold much appeal for us.
- visited my sister and family and had our first barbeque of the year. Lise always has the best barbeques!
- discovered I've pretty much read every readable english book in the library here :-(
- planned a number of visits from friends from our old church :-)

I'm looking forward to this coming week of free days, including one of my favorite dutch holidays, the Queens birthday. More on that on April the 30th!

currently reading: magazines borrowed off my sister and a sappy, stupid, silly book in which the poor traumatized lovelorn gorgeous female meets an equally traumatized handsome man in a beautiful romantic setting. After some misunderstandings they discover their love for one another and they live happily ever after........ (though I may be wrong about the ending as I havn't finished reading the book yet).

Nooks and Crannies

How do you feel about cleaning every nook and cranny of a fridge that seems to have been soaked in nicotine? Yes, nicotine!
How did this come to be?
Well, yesterday my hubby went and bought a secondhand fridge. We did this through the dutch version of e-bay. Yeah for a "new" fridge! He brought it in and parked it in the shed so I could give it a clean today and mentioned it was yellowed a bit. I walked over last night and got hit in the nostrils by the strong smell of cigarettes.
Today I went to clean the thing (as a matter of fact, I am in the middle of it. Just taking a break to share...) and my goodness gracious me..... the fridge is actually white, once you bother to get the nicotine off. If I had known it was this gross, then we would never have bought the thing! I took a sponge with scouring powder to it and the water is coming off BROWN!! I opened the door of the fridge and the reek of cigarettes wafted out. Just lovely!
So here's to me, doing my most favorite thing. :-(
Thank goodness the sun is shining, I have new plants for the garden, my lovely daughter has returned from her Italian expedition, sonny boy is jumping on the trampoline and I have a whole week of vacation to look forward to!


Although I don't have small kids anymore, this just about covers it.

Our first washing machine

Young Love

I was going to write about how I met Herman, only to find out that I already did so here. So there's no news there! But really I only wanted an excuse to show these cute picture of young love. Aren't we adorable??
The other day Herman dug up our box of photo albums looking for some pictures for his sisters upcoming wedding. I made use of the moment and took a number of pictures of the pictures so I could put them up here on my blog. Looking through them just now, I figured I could make a picture time line and intersperse my usual rantings and ravings with pictures of us through the years. I've even got some wedding shots!
These pictures were first in line. Young love, a couple of months into our relationship, romance blooming, presents and love letters flowing. (I still have most of those letters. Need to read them sometime soon and refresh the memories!).
My, aren't we young? Although Herman was 25 at the time, so not that young really. But anytime I see couples getting married who are just twenty I just really wonder what on earth those children are doing!?! I forget that I was that young as well, and I really thought I knew it all. HAH! Wisdom certainly comes with the years. It gives me shudders to think of Marinda getting married in 5 years time though. I wonder if I'll ever think she's adult enough to get married!

A big thank you for the sympathetic reactions to yesterdays post!


Feeling just a tad discouraged today. Tristan possibly has another bleed in his thumb and really sore feet from playing soccer. It's a recurring problem, so I think I'll have to go get some medical advice. Not something I really feel up to as it will mean more medical appointments. Marinda called from Italy with a bad headache, poor girl. I'm feeling bad I can't be there to feed her aspirin and cuddle up to her until she falls asleep. And I had a "grit my teeth and hang on by my fingernails" kind of day despite the fact that the sun actually shone!
So I'll keep this short and hope tomorrow will be better.

Things that go bump in the night

I'm reading The Mist by Stephen King. Maybe I shouldn't be, because I tend to get spooked easily. Some nights when I go up the stairs I end up running the last couple of steps up because I'm scared the bogeyman is after me! So Stephen King might not be a very wise decision. I didn't read him for the longest time out of principle. I didn't like the fact that he wrote so much horror. I like a good thrill, but ever since I "watched" a horror movie when I was a teen (I was actually cowering behind the sofa with my hands over my eyes and ears, I'm really not kidding!) and then ended up not being able to go to sleep without the lights on for weeks afterward, I have an aversion to horror. And I really do think there is an evil world out there and I shouldn't be encouraging it by reading or watching "satanically tinted" books or movies. There, I have spoken!
But then some of my principles have become more watered down lately. There's a fine line between fantasy and horror, demons and fairies, and I have discovered that Stephen King hovers around that fine line as far as my interests are concerned. He writes well, and some of his books are thrillers, not horrors. Not too sure about this one yet, I think it could get pretty creepy and have me scared to look out my windows or to get out of bed to go to the toilet (you never know what may be hiding under your bed!).


Yes, toilets. Why toilets? Because the way dutch toilets are is totally typical and weird when you think about it.
When you step into a dutch house, the first door on your left or right is the toilet door. What on earth made anybody think that that is practical? I for one do not like to be welcomed into someone's house with the smell of their latest toilet production....
Then the size. Dutch toilets are tiny. Any larger american would not fit. Seriously. If you sit and lean forward too far you hit your head on the teeny tiny sink that's stuck in the corner. (that is, if there is a sink, sometimes there is no sink!).
Many houses have only one toilet. We luckily have two, thanks to my handy husband.
And last but not least, the soundproofness. Or lack of it. At work it is quite humiliating to be sitting on the toilet (in this case located in a small narrow hallway) and hear your boss talking on the phone in the room next door. I used her office once, and believe me, she can hear every tinkle!! Or if we sit outside for lunch, I hear my colleague's sighs of relief from the open toilet window.
Charming, isn't it!!

Please do come and visit!


I just got a sms (or whatever you call a telefoon message) from my daughter. Translated it says "we're all installed and watching Step Up. Life can't get much better :-)"
It's her first sms from her trip to Italy. Yes, Italy. I admit to great jealousy and envy....
It's a cultural school trip that she's on. 18 hours in a bus and then a week long lightning visit through Tuscany. Lucky, lucky girl! She's going to places I read about in The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone. How cool is that?!?
As she and I pointed out to eachother, she's lucky because she gets to go to France, has been on tour through Hungary and is now going to Italy. I was lucky because I got to see Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Uganda and a couple more non-european countries. Maybe later on in life we'll get to trade. I will culturally explore Europe and she will live somewhere in Africa. Who knows!

currently reading The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve


Before you get discouraged by seeing so many words, let me just explain why I put this up here. In 1999 I was surfing the RVA site (the boarding school I went to when I was 16/17) and came upon this column, written by one of my teachers. Only to discover that it was me he was referring to in one of his anecdotes! I smiled, laughed, wiped away a sentimental tear and felt so darn good to be remembered! So I thought I'd let you enjoy as well, and maybe get a feel for what my life in boarding school was like every now and again. (and if you want to have a peek at the couple in question check out this previous post)

On Campus
with Tim Bannister

The February '99 Edition

The idea of romance at RVA sometimes sounds like a contradiction in terms, despite the relationships here that persist and become marriages (Hi, Miriches and Pumpellys). However, at the Rift these days Valentine's Day is brightened by the efforts of the sophomore classes. In addition to selling all those flattering valentines and balloons, they sell long-stem roses (delivered with a smile to your increasingly significant other), and singing telegrams. When was the last time you had "Blue Moon" sung to you and had flowers delivered to your dorm room? It's a pretty romantic day, even by RVA standards. Why, just the other day, Cupid himself graced the stage of Centennial Hall (the offspring of Jubilee Hall, in case you're wondering), and shot his little arrows straight into the heart of an unsuspecting staff member (well, okay, it was a student masquerading as a staffie, and well, maybe Cupid was a student, too, but the idea was there, and where there's a will, there's a way, which is more-or-less how romances survive here, anyhow). Ah, love - Kijabe style.

My favorite RVA love story involves the lower verandah of Kiambogo, scene of countless Late Studie romances. For those who remember, the room next to the Staff Lounge, facing downhill, used to be a photocopy room. It also had a typewriter for staff use, and the typewriter was on a desk directly in front of the window. It was relaxing to sit there and type. There was a great view of the valley from that window, and (most importantly) a view of the lower Kiambogo verandah. When this story happened, there were no security lights on the lower verandah, so it was strictly (ho-ho-ho) off-limits to couples during late Studie.

One evening, I went to type up a test, and entered through the upper door of the staffroom. As you may remember, Kenya's fluorescent lights sometimes take five or ten seconds to come on. When they did, I was standing about a foot from THE window. Sitting on the window sill was one of RVA's hottest couples (and in case they are reading this, I remember who you are, W and M... and I may yet turn you in). and they looked like one body unit. She noticed me first, after about five seconds, but he was a tad slow to respond (to me, at least). He didn't actually react until she was well into the only syllable she could scream, "MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!" Heaven knows what he thought she was trying to communicate... When he did notice me, he literally lifted off the window sill (what glutes!) and the two of them landed, still entwined, on the verandah. For the remainder of the term, she couldn't look at me without blushing. He wisely didn't even try to make eye contact. Pity they split up. They made a handsome couple. I hope I didn't discourage them.

One thing that has always interested me is the creative effort made to circumvent the couples rules without necessarily breaking them.

Like the Grade Nine couple from the Class of '91 who hired a fellow student to "chaperone" them, so they technically weren't alone as a couple (verdict - they got shut down, repeatedly). Or the groups of couples who make sure there are large (and even) numbers together at all times, so they aren't alone as couples. Not that they communicate and socialize all that much as a group, what with other distractions (verdict - shut down only if there is a staff member athletic enough to be jogging around the field). Or the station kids who don't have to be in at any particular time, so are able to visit through the Kedong windows (verdict - frequently successful, but they may have to bribe the night guards). I have often wondered why so few RVA students become lawyers, considering their creative approach to law.

Another thing that occasionally brightens the romantic mood around here is when staffies fall in love. Forgive me for this, Liz (Winterberg, in case anyone is unaware), but the RVA world needs to know how much fun it was to watch you and the Gentleman-Known-As-Scott stroll around the campus arm in arm, oblivious to the rest of the world. Or how you completely dismissed the idea of a third term research paper because you didn't feel like marking one that year. Or how all of us, posing as surrogate parents, checked this guy out pretty carefully before we put our stamp of approval on this engagement. Wish we could have been there for the big day.

Such is life. Romance, like dinosaurs, will always find a way (sorry, Mr. Chrichton). And in a place with such beautiful sunsets, and a vista of two dormant but simmering volcanoes (now, ain't that a metaphor?), romance occasionally struggles to the surface and brings a little joy and zest into the lives of us all. Happy Valentines's Day, all you wonderful alumni. Hope your life has its share of romance. Thanks for all the emails last week. Bye-bye


This morning my half-sick hubby and I went to the garden store (or whatever it should be called) to pick up plants. FINALLY! So now I have a ton of plants and empty pots sitting outside waiting for me to get the job done. I'm seriously hoping there will be no more frost at night, otherwise I'll have to haul all the plants back indoors to save them from freezing!
But just the sight of all the plants is a joy. I'm looking forward to looking out my window and seeing some color instead of plain walls and green grass. I am not, however, looking forward to the proces of getting the plants in the pots. I have only just managed to get my nails growing again and I don't want dirt all under them. Yes, silly me. And perhaps is just laziness as well. I want the pleasure of the nice view, but not the hard work of getting it done! I sincerely wish the sun was shining, that might make it a bit easier.
But anyway, I will gird up my loins and get my hands to work and then sit back and enjoy the end result. If it is at all worth making a picture of, I will do so. Funny how many more pictures I take now that I'm blogging!

just finished reading The Russian Concubine by Furnivall
before that I was reading Silent Witness by Simon Tolkein (the grandson of). Very strange to be reading a crime novel by an author whose name is so closely linked to fantasy!


How come so many christian women are out there blogging? I have a habit of randomly clicking on blogs looking for something new, and sometimes searching for blogs deliberately. Practically each and every time I end up on a christan womans blog. Now is that coincidence, or are there just a lot of christian bloggers? Makes me wonder....
I found a blog the other day that I really enjoy. The blogger takes pictures of people reading and does a short interview with the reader. I've even thought of making a dutch version of it, only to discover I really don't see all that many people reading and the blog would probably get boring in a very very short time! Her blog is a great combination of books and little peeks into peoples lives, really cool. And today I found a blog which I assume is not christian. I so especially loved this post that she wrote. Made me grin and then laugh out loud!
I have a huge list of blogs in my Google reader and eagerly check them (if at all possible, several times a day!). The disadvantage of my work space is that I have people looking in at all sides, so I can't check when I'm having an "off" moment at work! What a bummer. But first thing I do in the morning (once I have gotten dressed, have gotten the kids up, breakfast made and lunches packed -and sometimes before that....-) is check my mail (two adresses!) and then check my blog counter to see if anything exciting has happened, and then check my reader list and catch up on other peoples lives. A very satisfying start to the day!
Now I so have to get Marinda to bed, and myself as well. Goodnight!


I like this picture because it pretty accurately portrays the amount of bicycles you can find in any city or town in Holland. And these bikes are "parked" pretty decently. Go outside the train station of any big city and you will see bicycles piled up like trash to anywhere within a kilometer circumference of the building. I always wonder how people find their bikes back! There's a lot of bicycle stealing, with insurance for the bikes being a lot higher in some places than others. I went to school with a girl who thought it to be quite normal to steal someone elses bike when her own was gone.
Without a bike, one can be quite alienated! That's why I keep putting off having my bike checked, who knows how long I'll have to do without, as it's rattling and the gears are all out of whack.
Another dutch thing. Kids get bike and traffic lessons at school. Next week Tristan will have to make a 5 km bike ride through the town and will be judged if his bike is up to standard, and if he's obeying the traffic rules. I'm afraid he's going to get lost, as it's not a route that he's ever done before!

currently reading: Nothing! I'm all out of non serious books and have no desire whatsoever to read anything "heavy".

Too tired to function

Does anybody else ever get that way? When just the simplest things are overwhelming? I have a lot of that lately. Right now it's the dishes. They're lying there washed and drained and I cannot find the energy to put them away. They are haunting me! And are keeping me from getting anything else done. Or maybe I shouldn't blame the poor dishes but take a good look at little old me who is going through a tough patch when anything at all seems to take too much effort.
Not a very uplifting post, this. And I have been hesitant about posting about this looming feeling of depression because I don't want all kinds of well-meant advice or a pity party. Send me a joke instead!


Today I told my boss that I would not be working the extra hours they offered me. And that after only trying it for one week! But this morning a colleague came up to me and asked how it was going with a couple of PR things and I realized that I would never be able to do everything that they ask in the time that is now given me. I'm just too harried trying to get my regular work done and don't need the extra pressure of PR deadlines. So I went to the boss and wept and apologized and then felt a huge load lift off my shoulders.
This week has made me realize how much time and effort it takes to be fully informed for the kind of job I'm doing. I need to know the city and all the relevant organisations in order to do my work well, and that just takes a stunning amount of time. I forgot how easy it is to get things done when you know exactly who you need to talk to. And now I have to figure that all out because everything is new. I feel like I've landed in another country, it's almost like a culture shock. Except everybody speaks the same language......
This is a picture of the back of the building where I work. In the lower middle part of the picture are two white windows rectangles behind which I work. In case you want to drop by or something. And though it may look like I work in a church, it's actually across the street on the other side. But it's gorgeous inside, as you can see!

Wonderful Hubby

How great is it to come home and find that the computer has found a home on an actual desk? To see boxes that used to contain lamps lying empty on the table? To see the counter empty of dishes and food preparations made? To see hubby carrying around tools and pieces of wood? To crash on the sofa and be offered a hot meal and cold drink? To find that the grocery shopping has been done?
Let me tell you, IT'S REALLY GREAT!!
Now I will go admire the rest of the work that he has done in Tristans room and give him a HUGE HUG.

(this is not our kitchen, but my moms, picture taken in Ethiopia!)
currently reading Shake Hands for Ever by Ruth Rendell


Two posts in one day!?!? What is the world coming to?
But this is to celebrate that I am sitting at home, with a fixed computer (fixed so well that we will soon be able move the computer to an actual desk instead of having to lean over the couch to type anything). So I thought that would be worth mentioning.
And I want to write at least a little bit about our weekend...

We went and saw The Kite Runner with free tickets that I had got through my work. On Sunday we took the train to Kampen and walked an art route. Basically people open up their houses and artists show off their work. Saw some fun stuff and some stuff that was just garbage. Had lunch in the sunshine (with our jackets on, but the SUN was there!).

Went shopping on saturday, trying desperately to find Herman some nice clothes for his sisters wedding. I DON'T LIKE SHOPPING! We had a long dinner on friday evening and did some major talking and got down to the depths of one of our differences without killing eachother in the process (tears were shed though). And we got some close personal time ;-) So methinks it was a succes!

I hope you can make some sense of the pictures. It took me forever to upload them, and I can't seem to get them to align properly!


The computer is out, so I'm posting this at the library about 10 minutes before the door closes for the day. Being without internet has left me feeling jittery, nervous and restless all day. I think I'm detoxing.....
But we had a good weekend, and did not wear eachother out too much ;-). Actually, I am pretty tired but that's mostly from not sleeping well. I took some pictures of things we saw and have every intention of posting them (some time). Don't hold your breath waiting, as it might take a while for us to get up and running again with the computer. But who knows? Maybe my brother in law, who is at this moment in our house working on the thing, will get it to work.
This week is my first week of working 20 hours instead of 16. I hope the 3 day work week will be easier than 2. That sounds strange, but to me it's a lot easier to balance things out this way. Though I'm feeling so tired lately, that all I want to do a lot of the time is dig a hole and go into hibernation.

I'll tell you something else. Writing down what I'm reading has made me a more critical reader. I was looking at books today and turned down a few just because it would embaress me to write down the sappy titles on this blog! Isn't that aweful? Making my life public has its consequences!
Writing in this unfamiliar setting with the clock ticking is destroying my creativitity. So you'll just have to live with the randomness of what I have written down. I sincerely hope to get back online at home soon! But if you don't hear anything, then you know the reason why. If you feel like writing, please do though. I will check in at the library and at work and look forward to all your many messages :-)

currently reading: something too shamefully sappy to write down. And I have a good excuse for not writing the title. I don't have the book here, so I can't remember (or maybe I don't want to!)

16 years

16 years is how long Herman and I have been married. Today is our anniversary. Although that is up for discussion as we got married legally on april first and had our church wedding on april third! We always count the third as our "real" wedding day though.
In Holland a church wedding is not considered the legal wedding. So everyone has to have an official wedding ceremony and then add on the religious ceremony of choice. Usually this is done on one day, but we chose two because on the first of april we could get married for free and we wanted to place emphasis on our church wedding.
We organized our wedding by ourselves, made our own invitations, and decided on how we wanted our church service. It was a pretty low-key, low budet affair as I was still studying and Herman had only just started working so money was kind of short! I was so laid back about the whole thing that I even went to school to do an exam on the day between our ceremonies and I had a nap in the car on the way to our photo shoot on the day of our church wedding. My, I have had some people amazed at that! Some other day I will see if I can get some pictures of our young foolish selves posted on here!
One of the good habits that we picked up in the last 16 years is to go away for a weekend every year around our anniversary. So this weekend that is what we will be doing. So far we have gone to a different city in Holland each year, and then we fill our time with a bit of shopping, culture, sleep, food and sex (not neccesarily in that order ;-) ). And on the serious side, we often do a bit of evaluating and making goals for the next year or so.
So it might be silent here for the next couple of days! I will have to see if I can do without blogging (and checking who's lurking!) for a while.


I was going to write about my tiring day with my new colleague who is so competent and capable that she made me feel totally useless. But instead I will write about my lovely little skate with my daughter, down the smoothest road through the meadows, with a chilld in the air, but the sun also glinting on the green green grass. Looking forward to more of that!

Being Social (or is it being sociable?)

I was at the gym today. I don't have any social contacts there yet and it makes it that much more fun to be active if you can have a little social chat every now and again. Now in the last couple of years I have not often bothered to start talking to people without there being a really obvious functional reason for doing so. The last weeks I have bothered. I figure, what the heck, I have nothing to lose and possibly some friendships to gain. And even though a little chat is not lifechanging or thought provoking, it can add a little sparkle to the day.
Today was an example of that. I went to the gym, did my thing, saw a group of ladies sitting around the table having coffee and just planted my sweaty butt down on a chair at the table and started listening in with a smiling face. And then I started participating in the conversation even though I hadn't the faintest clue who these ladies were. Funny thing is, it works! Though really I think it could also be construed as being really rude and nosy (and maybe that really is what all those lovely ladies thought!). Anyway, I figure the next time it will be that much easier to smile and say something low key like "great weather, isn't it!" or something really insightful like "wow, that elliptical really makes you work hard!".
I seem to have gotten over some of my aversion to idle chit-chat

(I spent an age looking for an appropriate picture...... not to be found! )
Currently reading Boy in the Water by Stephen Dobyns.
Just finished reading Roses for Rebecca (yes, I know, the title alone is just sickening!) and
What She Wants by Cathy Kelly (not bad as an author, sweet but not toooooo sweet)