Stories to tell

I have so many stories that are bubbling up to be told that I think I will stop thinking about the order and just share them freely. You can rearrange them as you like. I am home again and sitting directly next to my laptop is Moortje. The boys are tucked around each other in their poofy basket on the floor next to my desk. The wind is noisily making it’s way through the street and it sounds terribly dramatic. I had put the laundry out to dry last night on the terrace and this morning the racks were everywhere like someone had just picked them up and thrown them around while having a temper tantrum. Overnight it also rained which was a substantial setback for the drying process.

I need to say that if I get one more email about Mother’s Day tomorrow and the last date for guaranteed delivery of flowers, fish, whatever, I think I might scream. I would prefer to ignore that it is Mother’s Day tomorrow entirely. The question I really want to ask is can they guarantee overnight delivery to the after life?

Today is five years (also on Mother’s Day in 2010) that I lost my dragon cat, Mikha. Mikha was 18 by that time and had mellowed a bit to being likely to only remove one of your fingers instead of her whole hand with her jaws of terror. Mikha was my perfect companion in the sense that she was snarly, didn’t think much of being socialized, could carry a grudge and didn’t really want or need anyone else. We had alot in common!  Mikha chose me when I was 19 and determined to have a cat in my dorm room despite the rules to the contrary. Mikha was a New Jersey cat with all the sort of attitude that implies. I remember driving down the highway to get home over school breaks and Mikha would be howling the whole way as she was perched on top of piles of dirty laundry and school books. At the time, Ramona was my Saab. Ramona was a white 1982 four door 900 Turbo with a gypsy red interior. She was my first car. Mikha would sit on the dashboard and try to stand on the turn signal indicators so as we would be driving the left, right or hazard lights would randomly signal according to her mood.

I was Mikha’s Person to be Tolerated. I think Mikha accepted my mom as a backup for that position but further than that, she had ZERO interest in doing anything social. When Mikha was 7, I bought my tiny little house in Seattle and we moved in. She had a house and a yard. A few months later, Lientje came to live with us as a kitten. In retrospect, it was not my brightest idea ever. I do have a picture of the two of them sitting together, back to back in the nursery window frame so I do know they didn’t hate each other entirely. Other cats would cross the street to go past our house instead of walking by even if Mikha wasn’t outside sitting on the front porch. That’s how strong her reputation was in the feline community.

I miss her.She was one of the constants in all those years that I had growing up to do. Mikha and I knew each other longer than I have known anyone who wasn’t a relative. And in some cases we knew each other better than those relatives. I would like to think that Mikha and Mom have found their way to each other, with Mikha not being afraid to take a swipe at Ninja’s nose, claws out, and remind him that “cats rule and dogs drool”.

The past week gave me alot of time to think and reflect. So did the wrong way detour I took yesterday that nearly put Beatrix and I on the highway! I really need to take a crash course in understanding the Dutch method of road signage. Yesterday was not the first time that I have nearly entered the highway while on my bike! I am not sure about the depth of my thinking since my language lessons consumed a considerable amount of brain cycles. I do know that I loved being outside of the city and sitting under the sky until late (1130 but that is LATE for Vught) at night. One of my fellow students said to me Thursday evening as we crossed paths at the hotel entrance “Are you going to sit outside on the terrace again the whole night?” with a faint whiff of disapproval in her voice. To which I cheerfully replied “Absolutely! And I am going to enjoy it!”

I did exactly that, sitting outside in the dark, looking at the stars and chatting with the people who work at the manor. It was so relaxed. Someone asked me why I didn’t just move to a place like Vught if I like being outdoors with peace and quiet so much. Two reasons, I really am a city person. I like to go to the country and spend time there to recharge but I love Amsterdam. The second reason is that I think I might get very easily bored in Vught. It is very homogenous. And I am not that good at fitting in, nor do I want to be.

George was really happy to see me yesterday when I came home. Henry was playing “deeply traumatized by abandonment” for all it was worth. Which I let him do because he has to work through his own attitude adjustment. Marjo came and brought me some soup. She’s on a 30 day vegan challenge and while I can’t say how it is working for her, I can certainly say that I am benefiting from all of the kitchen experimentation she is doing! We had a long conversation over good wine and Henry made a definite point to sit in her lap and stare at me from across the way. George is George and he just curled up next to her and started snoring. As I reminded Henry, I am the only one bringing home the proverbial bacon in this household so when he is willing to make a contribution to the bills, he can certainly have more to say about my schedule 😉

The coming work week is a short one, due to Hemelvaart. My religious background is skimpy. The literal translation of Hemelvaart is Sailing to Heaven so I guess in English that is Ascension Day? Anyway, it means that the office is closed Thursday and Friday so we have another long weekend! Now if only the weather would cooperate so I can transplant my tomato seedlings and the pepper plant!

This past week, I had three excellent teachers. The way the process is works is that you have 4 sessions per day with a teacher one on one, then four periods in between of multimedia or self study. What this means is that you are doing your assignment for the next teacher led session. This is personalized for every student. They base the teacher student matching on personality, learning style, etc. When you get the chance to learn something from someone who is committed and passionate about their subject, it is a gift! I look forward to seeing them again next time. You know I am going to go back next year, right? I want to sit for the native speakers proficiency exam so I need at least one more round. I did go up a level during this week so I steadily made progress.

My second teacher of the day had given me a self drawn diagram of the Danger of Prepositions. I will call her Madame Schematica because she would illustrate every lesson and topic with a schematic (Dutch for diagram) and it helped me visualize and learn. I never thought prepositions could be dangerous. I knew I often put them in the wrong place in a sentence but how harmful could they really be? Thursday afternoon I was sitting at the lunch table with a group of the Dutch students who were learning German. I was telling a story and got the point about taking off my shoes. I said something about je moet je schoenen aftrekken (you must take off your shoes) and the entire table fell on the floor laughing. I didn’t understand what was so funny. I mean, I am funny but this was like gale force hilarity. One of the students saw my confusion and said “Do you know what you just said?” And I said “Yes, you have to take your shoes off” She said “No, you didn’t. With shoes it is uittrekken. You said something entirely different”  They couldn’t stop laughing and then I got it. I think I went way beyond red and turned maroon. Uittrekken (take out) is correct for shoes, aftrekken is otherwise known as masturbation. Yep, that’s exactly what I said “you must masturbate your shoes”.  Never a dull moment with learning a language!

Time to run some errands and go to the park before wind changes to add rain!

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