Monthly Archives: September 2016

Eleven again…

v__3652This time it is George who turns 11 today. When you are George, it seems like every day must be your birthday because the whole world is meant to be explored and sniffed and preferably marked with as many pee-mails as possible ๐Ÿ˜‰

George is up for anything. He’s the kind of dog you would take with you to explore the North Pole or Kilimanjaro. I wouldn’t actually do this for practical purposes since he is so small but that’s because I would be exercising caution, not because he wouldn’t want to do it. When he is awake, he’s aware of everything. When he’s asleep, it is the deep sleep that his whole body goes boneless and the snores are intense. That’s a good word for him, intense. George does everything with intensity.

From the beginning, George was my mom’s dog first. The first car ride with him, crossing over from Yakima, George (then Archie) was already curled in my mom’s lap and starting his big adventure. Despite us having Henry first, George quicklyย made his spot front and center.

The other big person in his life was Raven. This makes perfect sense since George is always vigilant to what is going on around him and he picks up your emotions very quickly. Then there’s the bond of two boys making their way in the world with some pretty tough experiences behind them. George is also a child’s dog in the sense that he wants to do everything, will play catch until your arm falls off and loves to run.


I don’t always appreciate George’s enthusiasm – like first thing in the morning when he is ready to face the world and I do not want to get out of bed until it is light out. There’s alot to be learned from how he faces the world ๐Ÿ™‚ Always ready, no matter what. He’s also the most affectionate one of us all. George can clearly think of no reason not to love everyone he comes into contact with.

Most of all, I love George because he makes me laugh, he will find a way to fit onto your lap regardless of whichever other pet is there and because there’s something to be said about someone who will always eat your cooking (except for that one batch of homemade tortillas). Happy 11th birthday, George ๐Ÿ™‚



One of my most favorite people on the planet, little C, is going through some serious shit right now. It isn’t anything that she won’t ultimately roll through triumphantly but for the immediate future, it sucks. So, this morning, we went to make good on our deal, to simultaneously try on a new look.ย whatsapp-image-2016-09-27-at-11-39-29

And we left with this look. We’ve called it our Stappen Look. Stappen is Dutch for going out to party. Given our history over the past couple of years, I have a feeling that we will continue to cause trouble, laugh loud and cause more than a few people to wonder “What are those two doing?”

When I was standing next to Raven’s grave, falling apart, it was Little C who was right there. When I was so frustrated I didn’t know how to find my way out of my head, it has been Little C who has not only made me laugh but also given me practical tips to sabotage the BS. She’s also the ultimate roommate for work travel (where we have to share hotel rooms) because she doesn’t hear me snore.

She’s powerful, funny, practical, technical and pragmatic. I’m deeply honored to have her in my life.



Our man Henry is eleven today. He seems to know that there is something different in the air but is not letting it stop him from relaxing in the office, as you can see…


Sometimes I think there is something slightly wrong with how much I love my pets. I wonder if other people love their pets so much. I definitely don’t think I am alone in this.

Henry is the rock, much like the man he is named for. He’s our man about the house who firmly believes that you should do the things you enjoy, put up with the quirks of your family members and never miss an opportunity to build a fort out of whatever the people have left lying around. He’s the service dog to his brother, George. He likes to go on walks with me, where he practically flies to be out in front so he can make sure everything is acceptable. This is in contrast to when he is out with George, then he’s always walking two meters behind.

Best of all, when Henry barks, it sounds like the bark of a dog that weighs about 100 kilos instead of one that weighs 7.5. He has a massive big dog bark. I love that he tries, even when he really doesn’t want to (and, yes, you can tell when he doesn’t want to) and that he always signals when he wants to go out (self taught). When he curls up next to me and I feel his solid little rhinoceros body, I know I am going to be okay.

On account of his very stocky frame, my mom used to refer to hisย ย “Hippo Hips”and “Rhino Butt”. It didn’t stop him from dancing with her to the Gipsy Kings ๐Ÿ˜‰

Since McDonald’s doesn’t deliver, I’m going to get on the bike in a few minutes and head over to get their birthday plain double cheeseburger. Right after I give him another set of hugs ๐Ÿ™‚

Sigh…winding down

Or perhaps I should say winding up? Tomorrow it is back to the office after three weeks of (mostly) being away. This has been a really busy vacation period. Between Hungary, Chicago, the sod, Moortje, the family events and lots of things in between, I feel like I could use a week off to recover.

Chicago was something else! It was four days packed full of Big. This is appropriate considering I believe one of the nicknames is “The City of Big Shoulders”. There was, of course, the whole family meeting GG thing. Which then quickly turned into letting GG see we all interact with each other. And she got to see the full range ๐Ÿ˜‰

There were a great deal of moments in Chicago that represented new. Boundaries were pushed and I think we grew closer as a family for it. I did wonder what my mom would have thought of the whole thing and I missed her even more so while we there.

We landed back in the Netherlands on Wednesday and I went to my banjo lesson that afternoon. I was holding my own until I had to learn a third new chord (D minor) and Paul remarked that he doubted I had understood anything he had just said. Oops! He was right because I am sitting here right now trying to remember the chord and it’s a blank screen.

Thursday we went to pick up Moortje’s ashes. This was pretty emotional and there were other people there who were also going through the same thing. It is really difficult to know what to say in those moments because you all know why the others are there. I seem to cry along with them.

After picking up his urn, I needed to do something productive so it was off to the garden store for three hours in the 89 degree heat. I finished the planting yesterday and this is what the garden looks like now. In the big pot, there are about 30 bulbs that will come up in the spring. I’ve also got another one in the shade that is full of hostas. This time, I am hoping that the galvanized metal keeps the snails away because the minions aren’t doing it.


Yesterday was the birthday of GG’s sister. Yep, I met her parents, her sister and her sister’s inlaws. Henry and George were also invited – and on their best behavior. I managed not to do or say anything super outrageous. The vegetarian thing created enough of a furor. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was at her sister’s house in Rotterdam and we sat outside enjoying the weather and having a last bbq of the summer.

Today, we are going to my cousin Sjoerd’s. His birthday was Friday and today he is having the family party so GG will be meeting my Dutch family. Then I think after that, we should be all done with relatives… unless the results of my DNA test turn up more ๐Ÿ˜‰

Speaking of, I got my results back. The 93% of Northern European/UK didn’t suprise me. The 6% of central Asian and 1% Pacific Islander certainly did. So now my goal is to have my cousins take the same test and see if they have the same results. I think I will bring that up later this afternoon.


Not sure what do with all this upset

I am still on vacation, and all things considered, I should be relaxed and enjoying time off. However, it is not that way at all. I keep thinking I hear Moortje walking around the house, every time I hear a noise that is not being made by one of the others. As for the boys and Lientje, they are also slightly lost. Everyone seems to know we are incomplete.

Yesterday morning early, I carried Moortje wrapped in a towel to the vet. I had asked a few weeks ago what the process was in case it happened when we were on vacation. They had me lay him down in the second exam room and told me that the animal cremation service would call me after they had picked him to discuss my wishes. I spent all day yesterday waiting for them to call and when they finally did, it was pretty hard. At any rate, they didn’t know that I wanted him cremated alone and that I wanted his ashes. So, that means they have to make other arrangements and it would be delayed. In typical Dutch fashion, the woman on the other end of the line was very practical and ignoring the fact that I was in tears and upset. I guess in that line of work, it helps to be unemotional. She was more concerned with the fact that I hadn’t received the brochure of information, including payment info, at the vet.

She told me that after I paid, and to make sure I didn’t forget the invoice number, they would contact me with the schedule. They called again today and let me know that his ashes can be picked up Thursday. I will pick them up next week after I am back from Chicago.

They are coming to put in some sod tomorrow. My terrace is tiled now with an untiled border. During many discussions, GG and I figured out that we could dig up 20 of the tiles, replace the stone border and have them put sod in space all the way to the fence, effectively making half of the terrace a lawn. So, yesterday, we started the excavation project. It didn’t take us long to to realize that underneath all the tiles is an exceptionally well laid pad of concrete and there is no way that is coming up. Instead the terrace got a thorough scrubbing and everything is ready for them tomorrow. I hope they won’t be too disappointed that their job is now half the size.

During this clean up the terrace process, I learned that snails poop. And they poop alot. And leave it everywhere, very inconsiderate. It is not enough that they have managed to eat all of my ground plants, but they have also discovered some of the hanging baskets. I don’t put poison down because of the pets and because I don’t actually want to kill the snails, I just want them to eat out of someone else’s garden for a change. I think it might be worth investing in copper flower boxes. If someone hasn’t already invented those, they should!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I didn’t make it to the third round of interviews. I am disappointed, of course. It means that I will keep exploring.

Tomorrow I also have a teeth cleaning. Not necessarily bad, just not pleasant. Somewhere between now and Thursday, I have to pack the next suitcase without the boys noticing…


Letting go again

It seems hard to believe that yesterday morning, this was the view from breakfast – which was a mix of all the left over things in the fridge that still needed to be eaten before we left. It seems like vacation is already years past.

Coming home, it has become clear that there will be another letting go soon, probably tomorrow. Moortje has gone significantly downhill over this past week. I don’t think he’s eating or drinking anymore. Last night, I held him close and woke up regularly to check his breathing. He’s not very responsive anymore and I think he might go today. If not, tomorrow, I will take him to the vet and have them ease him on his way to Mom, Raven, Mikha, Ninja and all the pets that have gone before.

It will be really difficult to do. I know that this is the hardest moment of being a pet parent – making this choice. I said awhile ago that when he stopped eating and stopped seeming to enjoy life, I would make the right decision. Well, the time is here. You can see that my little man’s engine is finally running out of steam. Even if he had reached 26 or 50, there never would have been a right time. I was thinking out loud this morning about the day I found him at the Special Needs Adoption. My mom and I had gone out for coffee that morning at C&P in West Seattle and returned home with an enormous black and white male cat with the terrible name of Peanut.


This photo was taken in 2012, right during the time Mom was admitted to the hospital and things were a little chaotic at home since I was spending most of my time there. If you look in right hand corner, you can see Henry’s rear end, with the rest of him under a blanket as dachshunds are prone to do.

Mom and I always used to wonder what circumstances did Moortje come from? By far, he could handle anything. Nothing seemed to stress him out, he knew how to meow at a door if he ended up outside and he was definitely the boss when it came to securing choice seats in front of fireplaces or outside in the sun. Even now, he sleeps closest to my heart – leaving the further away distances for the other pets.

He passed tonight, around 9PM, in my arms. With one small meow and a stretching of his legs, he was off. He is missed already. Our family seems smaller now. He was surrounded by love, and really I can’t ask for anything more than that. Safe journeys, bold little man.