Thursday, 29 April 2010

darling asus

Yesterday the postgirl delivered a package.
Ordered the day before on-line, a lucky guess, meaning the cheapest, as I hadn't a clue what to look for, an eee pc came to me.
It is absolutely delightful.
I marvel at what the little thing can do, which is all and more than my regular one.
I can carry it with me like a magazine, into the garden, to the park, the kitchen, play mahjong lying in the bath, take it to bed with me, chat, write - it connects wireless to the internet and battery operated if desired.
I love it.

I realise this is probably old-hat to most of you but to me it's the best thing since sliced bread. Oh, I'd love some sliced bread right now, but, never mind, I'll get to that later.
This nifty piece of equipment is nothing like the laptop I had last year in Clédat, the one I trusted pages and pages to, only to find the hard disc was irreparably broken when I got back home. I never got the hang of it anyway and Dick discretely disposed of it, sensing I couldn't stand the sight of it any more.
But this beauty looks promising and the instruction manual reads like a love letter.
I actually understand, it's all there, pure and simple - I feel like writing back:

Dear, dear mr. Asus, things will never be the same since you came into my life.
I've had computers before, more than a few, I'm ashamed to say, but none of them came close to you. I reach out and touch you at night, and know, you'll be there in the morning, ready for me. My fingertips already know their way about........

Hmm, think I am getting carried away here. But Asus and I are going places together, I've got plans for us and if he is anywhere near as good as he promises our union might bear fruit. Love some fruit now - sorry, this bloody diet is distracting me from my new buddy.

I'm going to find something to eat now, I am not starving, I am craving........ chocolate, strawberries and whiskey.

I'll leave Asus here though - it's too early in our relationship to confront him with my weaknesses.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

no limits

When I started off here some 7 weeks ago I thought I could easily write a bit every other day or so, but for the moment, I can't.

It's not just a matter of time, even though this is always a very busy period, getting ready for France, there is quite a lot to be seen to. Paperwork, practical stuff, business and private has to be moved from one country to another, it takes some preparation and organising to make that work.

Even so, I guess I could still find the odd moment to write, the computer is right here, but my mind is all over the place.
France, England, South Africa and now Rome too, where Rose and her lover Twan are spending some romantic days.
I find myself thinking of the time I lived in Italy, young and carefree. A wonderful way of life, different from anything I'd known till then. Vibrant and passionate.
Perilous too. I actually managed to get abducted by the Mafia. No?
Yes, it happened, but I live to tell the tale.

I think I will tell it. Not today, tomorrow, maybe.
Things to do, promises to keep. Diets to keep, or maybe not.......:)
After consuming vast amounts of halibut, bacon, roast beef and cheese, dozens of boiled and scrambled eggs, morning, noon and night for five days, I am beginning to see the true meaning of this Diet4idiots.
Not a carb in sight.

OK, I'm off.
Lunch soon. Let's see what's on the menu.
Bacon strips and ham slices. That's it. No bread, no veg. But you can eat as much as you like. No limitations, they have the nerve to say. Ha!
You could have fooled me.

I must be an idiot - at least they got that right......

Sunday, 25 April 2010

baby fat

One of the downsides of being pregnant, bearing children, is that your body will never be the same again.
Even if you are lucky enough to regain your former shape.
I was not one of the lucky ones.
Five pregnancies, resulting in three beautiful children, and with each one came some ten unshiftable pounds. But I was in denial through out the whole childbearing period. According to the professionals I am very good at blocking out what I don't want to know, I suppose this was a perfect example. I was high on being fertile and my body was doing something that astounded me, that it could actually do this - I was hooked; the mystery, the miracle, I wanted to be be pregnant, expecting, forever.
A natural high, I never felt better.

All my life, I was nearing 28 when I had Rose, I had been slim. Something I took absolutely for granted, I couldn't imagine the concept of being plump or fat. Women around me discussing weight-loss and diets might as well have been speaking a foreign language for all I knew.
Only once do I remember my thenadays boyfriend's father warning me: Mark my words, you will not always stay this slim if you don't look after your body properly.
I must have given him a funny look, what on earth was he on about? But he loved me as his own and had my best interest at heart. And he was right. Though at the time I wasn't receptive and it wouldn't have made an ounce of difference anyway.

Eventually I tried, in many different ways, to get rid of those pounds and most often with success.
A short-lived one, they just kept coming back soon as I thought I was all right, let go of whatever diet I was on. Bringing an extra bonus with them too, till I thought: Enough! What's so bad about being curvy anyway? Long as it stays within proportion.
My friend Remi has defined this very well: It stops being attractive when the stomach protrudes more than the chest.
Fortunately my chest is working with me here.
So, by and large, I came to terms with my more womanly shape and have stayed the same for years now, wryly watching others fuss, lose and gain, getting nowhere in the end, congratulating myself on making a wise decision.

Of course, you all know what this is leading up to.
For more than one reason, but one of them being the oncoming strenuous hike (thanks Bob, the party, remember?), I have grudgingly resolved to lose some weight.

It seemed a good idea to write about it here, maybe an incentive going public - for one thing I am sure of is I am not alone here.
Maybe some encouragement, some support might come my way?
Ach, I hate doing it, I hate any restrictions and I really love food, and drink.
That might prove to be the crux, one glass of wine a day??!!!

In case anyone might be interested, the name of the diet:


Sounds about right, hey?

Saturday, 24 April 2010

peeing for africa

Hi, it's been a while. I've been busy!
A surprise visit, American honeymooners, our dear friends' daughter and her new husband were caught by the volcanic cloud. It was a pleasure to have them and, of course, we got taking about South Africa.

Looking around me now, I see the town is getting ready to celebrate Queens Day, or Koninginnedag, Holland's biggest party, Amsterdam in particular. Every year on the 30th of April the place goes mad.
People dress up, silly hats and make-up, weird outfits or nothing much at all, but the predominant colour is orange. The Dutch national colour in honour of the 'Oranjes', the royal familie.
Podiums are being erected, there will be bands playing, music blasting day and night; people living near often go to sleep elsewhere.
It is a silly and happy party.

One of the best things is the free market. Everyone can sell whatever they like, junk, home-made food, you name it, or make money more creatively, let people throw eggs at you, strip, cash in on kisses, take people's picture. Children sing or play the violin, badly but cutely. There are all kind of games and tricks.
Some make a tidy profit but it is mostly about fun. Good humour, it is amazing, each and every year how happy people are - smiles, singing, laughing, dancing - of course the drink and drugs add to the sense of  daftness and freedom. Anything goes.
Good time for me to get a whole new wardrobe for next to nothing, taste new foods and find little treasures, join in the fun just let yourself be jostled around for the city is packed. People from all over the world, never mind Holland, are drifting in now.

So yes, it is my favourite day of the year. Usually it's Mieke and me, on the go, non-stop, you need some stamina. No trading for me, I'll be spending.
Last year I decided to forgo this pleasure - I was going to make money to take with me to South Africa. Volunteers are requested to try and raise funds before they arrive but the idea of asking my family and friends did not appeal to me. I was touched by the ones who generously handed over some cash without being prompted, and here's a nice opportunity to thank you all again. It came to good use, believe me.

Anyway, since we have the studio at street level, any given day  people are pleading to use our toilet and even offer to pay. If it's a real emergency, pregnant women, little kids etc. we'll make an exception, but in the past we've had the nicest people cleaning their syringes, hiding from the police or even checking the place out for valuables, on the pretext of using our w.c., so, no offence but sorry, no go.

Last Koninginnedag it seemed the perfect opportunity to raise funds for my project.
Peeing for Africa. Also to kindle some awareness. I had a table outside, covered with an exotic cloth, piles of information on the shelter, posters, an African bowl for donations, a little stuffed giraffe and hippopotamus and we made a big sign of a toilet bowl, the seat the map of Africa, inviting the party goers to use our loo for a small contribution.

What can I tell you?
It was an overwhelming experience, not in the least because I spent a large part of the day with my head down the toilet pot.
It was madness, too many people to handle, standing in line, drunk, rowdy, pushing and shoving. Safe to say more than a few didn't pay. And the hippo along with a handful of euros did not survive the day.

I learned a lot though. My American visitors made me laugh by calling the lavatory 'the rest room' but actually that was very appropriate then, I mean folks were stuck in there for ages, what on earth were they doing?
Well, we cottoned on. The girls were doing their make-up and hair. Passing lipsticks back and forth, trying on clothes they just bought. Right, we removed the mirror and would only let one at a time go in. That's because we found two girls sitting fully dressed, high heeled, opposite each other in our bathtub, giggling and smoking.
That was not on.
The guys, we realised, meant business, they were not here to pee, they could do that in the park across the street like everybody else. My little park smells like a urinal for days after the event.
They took their time, used up rolls of toilet paper, pee-ed all over the toilets seat - some even threw up. Yuck!
The sign outside was changed to: Women and children only.
I was accused of discrimination.
Mieke and I took turns standing at the door, trying to control the impatient lot, some quite desperate, complaining. But we had a laugh, interesting talks, met all kinds of strange and funny people. Some genuinely interested, giving more than necessary, encouraging, and those who couldn't care less, one even wanting her money back!
One of my 'guests' was a South African woman, I was dying to hear what she thought of it all, the situation at home, how we were trying to lend a hand. She was ungracious, telling me: try living there for a while first and see if you're still this keen to help. Huh?

It was a crazy experience, if nothing else.
I wont be doing it again this year though. No fear. I am going to enjoy myself, I've still got time to think of ways to get some money for the next project in September.
Clédat first, then the Hadrian's wall walk.
That is going to be wonderful - not easy,  mind you.

Anybody fancy sponsoring me? :)

Friday, 16 April 2010

aunt hermine

Aunt Hermine is the only 94 year old I know whose hair never turned grey.
It was once striking, a pile of wonderful, chestnut brown shiny hair, like my grandmother's. The colour has faded and dulled, but not a wisp of grey. Unusual.

Aunt Hermine is unusual, she is a real character. My mum's eldest sister. Had she been young now she would have been someone to reckon with. A rock-bitch, a powerful business woman, a high class madame. Something outrageous.

Her husband, uncle Ad, a little younger, 88, but by no means a toy-boy. Never was - always the dependable, solid, slightly boring accountant. As kids we thought the most interesting thing about him was his glass eye.
He is said to be 99% blind now, so what does the 1% eyesight amount to?

Femke and I almost slunk away after ringing the bell. We waited for what seemed ages and were just deciding what to do now, when uncle Ad's voice came through the intercom, wanting to know who was there.
'Surprise! Your nieces, Femke and Katie.' Silence. 'Can we come in?'
'Suppose so' he says gruffly, as if we turn up on their doorstep every day. Haven't seen them for years.......
By the time we make it through the building's front door, reception, corridors, lifts etc they have regained some kind of composure and are standing at their open door.
I realise now, uncle Ad can't have seen us coming, aunt Hermine looked agitated and somewhat cross.
They were actually both dead pleased but taken off guard and our aunt always needs to be in charge.
10 years senior to my mum, who was in awe of her all her life. She used to terrify us when we were small but look at her now - a frail,old, bird-like lady.

She goes straight for the kill.
Her sharp beady eyes don't miss a trick and before we have our coats off she is interrogating us. Wanting to know about our families, our love lives, jobs and journeys.
It is amazing what she knows and remembers, as if we are all very much part of her life, she still wants to boss us around.
She cares. In her own obtrusive way, she is letting us know we are important to her.
And for the second time today I feel a pang of remorse. Family;  we too are responsible for these people, we share the same genes - I look at my aunt and see some of my mum. Tears well up.
Aunt Hermine must have been thinking along the genes line too when she approvingly remarked on Femke's bust and then sharply turns to me, pointing an accusing bony finger at my décolleté:
'And you' she says, 'aren't you done with that by now?'
Huh?  I look down to check my bosom, surely not that tacky?  A sideways glance at uncle Ad, he has an amused expression on his face. Ah, I'm sure he'd give an arm an a leg if he could see my, or anyone else's, cleavage.
 It is something short of a miracle the two of them are still together after more than sixty years. Uncle Ad could never curb Aunt Hermine's passion and waywardness, instead he turned a blind eye. No pun intended, but fitting, it seems.
And as the saying goes, an old fox never loses its tricks. Layed out on the table are aunt Hermine's water colours. The tubes twisted and the paint dry. She proudly talks of her arts teacher, the one she never met, the lessons are conducted by mail.
She is in love with him. She doesn't use those words but she doesn't have to.
It shows.
She casts a defiant look at us. Dare say she is a fool, too old to be in love, to be desirable.

Ah, aunt Hermine, she looks me straight in the eye and knows I know.
My heart goes out to her but I am proud of her, too. Till the very end, she won't give in, comply or deny who she is.
She will live her life, regardless of the waves, with what I can only call a wicked relish.

Our two aunties. Two very different women. Both special and worthwhile.

Femke and I drove back musing about the day, what took us so long to make the effort and how good it was to see them again.
We too had been surprised. We were impressed.

Funny how you sometimes overlook things, people, when they are right in front of you.
If only you could focus on what really matters.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

aunt marie

Last Sunday my sister Femke and I dedicated the day to visiting two old aunts.
Surprise visits, for they are 90 and 94 years old, and if they know you are coming, the stress is almost too much for them to bear.
We don't see them often, I am ashamed to say. Quite a drive, and then a good hour's distance between them.
Both still live independently, albeit in the shelter of an institution.
Small, modern little flats, more like bedsits, amongst the remnants of a whole life; bits of furniture, crockery, paintings.
It's depressing, is this what's left at the end of the day?
Aunt Marie, she remained childless,  has been a widow for many years. The last surviving of my step-father's siblings, her late husband was a keen antiques dealer.
What happened to all the beautiful pieces she once owned? There is not one thing in her home worth admiring. Ugly, sturdy ageless furniture, tired plants, a large outdated television. The view from her window, anonymous houses and boring little gardens, she must spend hours watching that, is giving away nothing.
It could be anywhere, it has no connection to her life as it was.

She is, very, surprised when we show up on her doorstep. We have obviously disturbed her routine and she is noticeably  struggling between the pleasure of seeing us and the fact that she'd just popped a pre-fab meal into the microwave.
Good manners prevail, of course, she is a very formal, stiff old lady. In spite of our protests to go ahead, tuck in, she sits down with us, relieved to hear we don't want anything to drink and are not staying for long.
We haven't really got that much to say and after the polite inquiries after her health and the extensive reply, it seems we have done our duty, on to the next.

Suddenly I realise this might be the last time we ever see her. When she dies all her memories go with her, there will be no-one left who knew my step-father as a boy, who can explain what it was like for them being adolescents during the 2nd world war, who was there when our family arrived in Holland after my daddy died.
There is so much I want to know, private, intimate things. But dare I ask, we have never been close.
Will she think I am cheeky or will she care to go back and reminisce?

Our stony, bourgeois step-aunt's face softened as she spoke of the secrets, the love and the shame she had met in her life. Behind the façade of correctness and reservation was a woman who had lived and loved but had learned to keep these things to herself, whose stories shall soon die with her.

An irretrievable loss of precious knowledge, family history, hidden tales - what a pity.

I hope to see her soon again.
I'd like to get to know this distant old lady.

(to be continued)

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

turkish delight

Just back from hospital where I spent the night for a neurological physiological examination.
Sounds worse than it is but I am sure my health insurer will be overjoyed when I finally kick the bucket.

Anyway, I was expected at 2 pm, and after going through the whole admission procedure, we had to change the sleeping arrangements.
I was accidentally booked- in with a, very nice looking, Turkish man, who could not sleep with me because of his beliefs.

I felt quite hurt; when I was in hospital for my back last November, I shared a room with three ancient gentlemen. I lay awake trying to find some rhythm to their nightly grunts, snores and wheezing to lull me to sleep, but they were the sweetest things, fussing over me, giving me all kinds of advice - as if I still had my whole life in front of me.
I wasn't complaining, they did me a lot of good, kind of put things in perspective.
Maybe I could do the same for my Turkish friend here?
Never mind, it got sorted and I was sent off to get geared up.

Dear me, I had electrodes and wires glued on all over my head and body, even up my nostrils.
A heavy recorder in a black leather case strapped to me and I was partly wearing what I would be sleeping in - a nice lacy little set - because I couldn't change once I was wired up.

Right, I had come well prepared. My notebook in case of a story welling up, a tricky cryptogram, a good book.
Time would fly.
But it didn't. I couldn't relax, just sit down and concentrate. I was distracted by the place, the coming and going. I was hungry, thirsty, wanted a drink. Preferably alcoholic.
Nothing going. Coffee then - I craved coffee. The shop was closed.

There was internet. I tried a game of mah-jong but couldn't stop thinking of the germs that must be on the keyboard,  I gave up.
I couldn't stand my surroundings any more so I went for a walk.
And missed the coffee lady. Damn.
'Where were you then?' asked the woman I was sharing a room with. She was quite upset because she had said 'milk' when asked what I might want to drink, and I couldn't hide my disappointment.

'But you are not allowed to leave the building, didn't you know? she said shocked.
I didn't and I didn't care anyway. Why ever not?
'I'm not sure' she answered, 'but have you had a look in the mirror?'
I went to the bathroom to check and the image I saw was of an agitated woman with dishevelled hair, strangely dressed in loose fitting lingerie and purple harem pants, wired up and carrying what looked like a detonator - the epitome of a suicide bomber!!!

                                                                                                  (I looked far worse)

It's a good thing I live in Amsterdam. Anywhere else I would have been shot on sight.
What was I thinking of?

Ah, that was exactly what was bothering me: What am I thinking of? And will my thoughts, my dreams somehow show in the data they  gather?
Silly, I know, but still, all this modern technology...................

Enough, I am home now and I am going to get into a nice warm bath, wash off the glue, finish my book and drink coffee, lots of it.
Nothing like the bath to calm down and collect your thoughts.
My thoughts?

Three old men, a foolhardy woman and Turkish delight - what would that look like on the doctor's chart?

Monday, 12 April 2010

empty nest syndrome

A few days ago Rose appeared in the doorway saying: 'Beschuit met muisjes, mum.'

Beschuit met muisjes is what is traditionally served when a baby is born. Rusk with aniseed comfits (according to the dictionary.) Pink and white, nowadays blue and white, if the newborn is a boy.
So when someone says that, it is to herald a birth or a way of letting you know someone is pregnant.
Which is she telling me? I mentally check any expectant mums about to pop, while scrutinizing Roosje's tummy.
Nothing comes up and a little panicky I stammer: 'Just tell me - who?'
'The duck' she laughs, 'come and see, the eggs are hatching.'

I jump up, the duck!
I am not a patient person and for weeks now I have been waiting for those damn eggs to hatch. Driving everybody mad talking about them, my friends in the park were starting to avoid me.
They were getting a daily update of nothing much really.
The weather has been pretty dreary lately, that poor mother duck has been sat on those eggs, which by now I was convinced were stone cold, forever. Each morning I would look out of the bathroom window and see her, just sitting there, in the same position, on the damp, uncomfortable nest.
She wouldn't bat an eye, even when we started feeding her - at a respectful distance at first, not wanting to disturb the progress of this miracle. All kinds of other birds came flocking in, pecking away at the bread, but she wouldn't budge.
What was she, some kind of a martyr?
I am ashamed to say I started pelting her with crumbs, stupid bird, I was trying to help, wasn't I?

Now all is forgotten, ridiculously happy we peer out of the window and low and behold, two eggshells have been cast out of the nest. The mother is shifting about, trying to accommodate whatever is going on beneath her.
We are actually holding our breath.
Of course I expected all nine? ducklings to just  hop out of the nest, hello world, hello Katherine.
I wanted to get there as I had heard they would follow the first moving thing as their mother, but that wouldn't have been fair.

On the other hand, I couldn't detect much emotion coming from the new mum. She wasn't jumping for joy. She wasn't doing much at all. After seemingly irritated tossing away a bit of eggshell she had regained her natural placid expression and eventually Rose and I gave up.

It was obviously going to take a while.
I was on a cloud the rest of the day, regular checks, no, nothing changed, and by the time I went to bed I was ready to pluck that duck from the nest, I wanted to see the babies!

Next morning I find an empty nest. Meaning no ducks but evidence of a messy labour. What the f........!
'Peter' I cry, 'the ducks, where are they, what happened?'
'Oh, they are fine' he replies matter-of-factly. 'All eleven of them. Have a look, I managed to take a picture of them as they swam off.'
I am inconsolable. I don't want to look at the stupid photo, I want my duckies.

They are gone. Swimming around the Amsterdam canals, the waterside is too high for the little ones to get back up to our garden.

Every day, the mother duck comes back for lunch, she thinks she's got that coming now. But she leaves her offspring at safe distance.
Safe from me, but not from the pike, the rats, the herons.
I heard their feeble quacking this morning and in the distance I could just make out three little ducklings.
What happened to the rest?

I should have stood by that nest, all night if I had to, while they hatched.
They should have followed me.
I would have done a damn sight better at being their mum than their own stupid one.

I am feeling down, a bit tearful and some thing's missing in my life.

I think I am suffering from the empty nest syndrome.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

a mixed blessing

This morning I found in my email messages from two old friends.

Jasmine and Remi.
Our friendship has weathered the best part of forty years now.
I met Jasmine when she was a promising young student and, accordingly, she became the youngest dentist in Holland.
Remi was starting out a career as stained-glass artist, an extremely talented painter.

Both their messages have to do with internet contact.
Remi tells me he read my last story and how he could relate to that. He struggles with what we call here 'mensenvrees', fear of people, and explains how it is crippling his social life. He lives only at night, has difficulties doing simple things like shopping, public transport, a visit to the doctor.
You can manage a lot on the internet but for some things you still have to leave your house.
He finds some solace in chatting late at night, but he wryly adds, there is no chance of him ever meeting any of his cyber-friends.

Jasmine has sent a common mail to all her friends, apologizing for the inconvenience, someone has hacked her hotmail account and is sending out stuff to her contacts, in her name.
She hopes we are not now infected by a computer virus.
Can anyone explain to me the point, the fun in interfering in someone's life in such an inane way?

I hope to see Jasmine soon, before I leave for France and onwards. She and her family moved away from Amsterdam years ago, but in spite of the distance, we make an effort to meet; a kiss, a smile, we walk and talk, eat and drink a little.
As friends do.

Remi? I haven't seen him for a while. But we keep in touch - by email.

The World Wide Web.

Remi lives just a few doors down from me.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


How often have I been warned not to be too trusting?

Probably as often as I have thought I will not go through life with reservations, suspicions and fear.
As far as I can see people are potentially good and kind, and more often than not, there is a valid reason if they do not live up to those expectations.
Consequently, I suppose, I have been conned, robbed, taken advantage of in some way or other, more often than most.
I accept that as the price you must pay for naively embracing our fellow human beings and society in general.

Hopefully it will never be too much to pay.

Why am I saying this?
I have been wondering about a whole new danger zone, intangible, invisible, but not less harmful than the grabbing fingers, the school bullies, the knife that stabs you in the back.
An exciting place to meet new people, to make friends.
Here you can feel someone's presence at your very fingertips, magically believe you can trust and confide in a way you may never have done were you actually face-to-face with this person.
But internet contact has no room for body language, it doesn't show the tears in ones eyes, scorn in words spoken, a loving touch, the good and the bad intentions, the fine nuances and subtleties that can make all the difference.
 These are not transmitted when 'send' is pressed.

We live in a world full of warnings.
You find them on cigarette packs, drugs, booze, zoos, trains, areas considered unsafe.
Your mum warned you not to talk to strangers.
Why don't email accounts come with a warning?
'To be used with discretion'
'This product is potentially harmful to your relationships'
'Do not use in sensitive situations'

We are vulnerable.
Moreover because the potential harm is not visible, we are not using all of our instincts.
How high is the price of being lied to, financially duped or worse, robbed of your trust, your dignity, when you can't size up the opponent, when you had no idea of the odds?

By now, I have met quite a few nice and interesting people on the internet.
Probably by and large a representation of the people you meet in real life. But I am not sure I would have struck up an acquaintance with any or all of them, had we met in a different way.
That is a strange thought.
Maybe that is one of the wonderful things about 'internet friendships' - you get to know, in a special way, people you might otherwise have passed by, for whatever reason.

I have yet to really meet one of them though.

Can't wait to report back on that, if ever, if anyone dares....................

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

just follow me......

There is a little tag at the bottom of the page, statcounter, brown at the moment, but I can change the colour and also, I can make it public, if I want.
But that wouldn't be fair right now because when I started off, almost a month ago, I took the Blogger's advice and signed on for 1000 hits, at a small price. Just to get going.
Well, the goods are being delivered, spread over a month but as far as I can see it is not doing me much good.
I can boast to have readers all over the world, no, not readers actually, hitters. I am being hit from Siberia to Timbuktu, I see little red markers all over the world map, innocent people having being directed to my page, their visits lasting 0 seconds or less.

Am I the only one not able to hold these fine folk's, I'm sure, attention? I check with Statcounters help desk and to my relief I see other disappointed bloggers have voiced their doubts, too.
Not to worry, they say, you just have to make your site more interesting, like people take one look and are dying to know all about you.
Things like photos and gadgets seem to be the answer.
All I have is one little picture of my self, taken last Christmas. Passable I thought, if only you don't enlarge it - DONT ENLARGE IT , I SAID!
Obviously that's not doing the trick.
I have a request: Has any of you got some earth-shattering picture or tool I can use?
Sorry for laughing there, I'm sure some men are thinking their tool might qualify. But you know what I mean.

Another thing is placing a comment.
People I  know are telling me they  find it complicated. Not just my sisters who don't know a computer from a sewing machine, but computer competent friends too.
I am going to get to the bottom of this, well somebody is, Dick most likely, he's a wizard on the computer, and will get back to you.
I need those comments.
They motivate and stimulate me and if I don't like them I can delete them. Apparently I am the boss here, I can do what ever I like, if only I knew how.
It is a whole new experience for me and it involves a lot of time, more than I bargained for really, but who knows I can put these newly acquired skills to good use when I am back in South Africa.

Next, it is hard to become a follower.
A follower makes me think of some sect, I have 3 public followers who managed to get in, and also some anonymous ones, but they might come out of the closet some day.

But on the whole, I am very surprised and happy to find quite a few are enjoying my stuff, encouraging me to go on.
Just waiting for my month of prescription visitors to run out and hopefully I'll still be this pleased.

No, honestly, thank you all for reading, wouldn't be much fun without you.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

not my cuppa tea

I am drinking tea.
You might think, so what? but I hardly ever drink it. People in Holland think because I am English I must drink it all the time. But I don't, I don't really like it. I like English tea, but only in England, it's just not the same here.
However, this is Chinese tea, Chinese slimming tea.
So that explains a lot.
Nah, not really. Thing is, I don't actually believe it will help me slim, more than that, I know it won't.
I guess it's the idea I am doing something, like the buying of soap and Vim gives you the feeling you have already made great progress cleaning up the place.

The other day we went to a party, unexpectedly we got a call asking us to come straight away.
Hmm, that probably meant no-one showed up and they were desperate. I honestly didn't like the idea of having to crank up a dud party and besides, I had other plans, but Peter already had his coat on, urging me to get a move on.
I was not looking my best, never am, but as a rule I make an effort for parties and doctors, a confidence boost, nothing to do with stripping. But I wasn't granted the time now and thought, sod it, they'll just have to take me as I am.

To our surprise, the party was in full swing when we got there.
I was soon engaged in a lively conversation with a amiable, big man with curly hair and a chequered shirt. Beaming at me, actually listening and giving the right answers, I felt encouraged, see, he is interested in me as a person, not checking me out.
I moved on though, who wants to be taken serious at a party?

Back home Peter, the insensitive bastard, tells me: 'You know that big man with the shirt you were talking to? I told him you were going to do the Coast-to-Coast with your sisters and he said you could stand to loose a few pounds first.'
'No,' said Peter, 'it was funny, because he was really sincere, but he immediately realised that could be taken wrong and profusely stated that of course you were a very attractive woman. He actually blushed.'

Oh shut up, you are making it worse, the damage is done now.

Dejectedly I feel about my bra for the calling card an adventurous rock-star/gardener had slipped me.
I suppose he just wanted to get into my garden.........

Now I am sipping this horrible slimming tea, thanks to that oh so congenial and understanding man, who could do with a few gallon of the stuff himself, by the way.

It gives you the runs.

You know, for people who are full of it :)

Thursday, 1 April 2010

most taxing


But instead of feeling relieved I feel deflated.
The last days passed in a flurry of utmost irritation and chagrin,  ready to lash out at anyone who dared come near me let alone speak to me. Nothing went smoothly, everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong.
I cursed this day and age, where you can't simply add up and subtract a few bills and hand it over, pay up, or maybe get a return.

First of all, I discover I made a bit of a hash of things last year, doing the 2008 taxes.
I remember I had left it, literally, to the last minute. Trying to rush off a wild guess before midnight on the 31st of March, I couldn't log in, the server was overcrowded so it didn't get sent till 01.30 hrs April 1st.
I got fined for that, 90 minutes late, typical Dutch, time is money here.
Totally pissed off I just shoved the lot into my desk and blocked it all out, till now.
And now I can't make sense of it, too much time has passed, got to go over it all again and come up with something credible.
Then there's the calculator.
Each time I add up numbers, the outcome is different. It's not just this calculator, I have had them in all shapes and forms, always the same problem.
Must be me, an unconscious form of passive resistance? Very annoying and counter productive.

I'll save you the aggravating details, like all of a sudden everybody I know needed me for some trivial thing or other, disturbing me, well, I told them where they could stick their cups of coffee and feeble attempts at joviality.
Are they mad?
Well, they are now. I just about managed to alienate everyone near to me. 

A few hours before the deadline I came up with something I hoped we could all live with.
Log in, fill in, get their result and if that seems right, you submit - not that I am feeling in any way submissive. But, hey, almost there.

Can't log in. Something to do with the password. But I've got it here, worked last time.
Two more attempts to go. Caps locked? No, one more go and if that fails I can't try again till after the zero hour.
Damn. Another fine.

I find out you have to renew your password every two years, mine has lapsed.
God give me strength. The new passwords that come to mind are not fit to repeat here, but use your imagination.
I fill it in, just in the nick of time, quick, without checking, I send it off - hold on.............
What did it say at the bottom? What was the result? Pay, return, even?
I didn't look. Stupid.

But at least I got it done in time and I can now take it easy and calmly study what I have actually done.
I need to print it out for my accountant too (of course, I do have one, I am just doing the prelims.)

I can't. For some incomprehensible reason I can see I delivered the goods but now the taxman wont let me check what I sent, probably laughing his head off now.

I am going to have a drink or two.
Sooner or later a blue envelope will fall onto the doormat and all will be revealed.
I am past caring.

Whatever happened to those unsmiling tax-inspectors who summoned you to their bleak offices?
One once demanded I'd show him the minus 2.038, 67 euro I had in the kitty.
Explaining it's impossible to have less than nothing in your possession, he all but slapped me with his ruler.
I was mortified.

Come to think of it, on-line bureaucracy has its advantages.
No tell tale blushes or stammering, never mind hot angry tears.

Well, dear cyber tax man, see you next year, same time, I guess, or maybe just a little sooner would be prudent............

what do you think?