Monthly Archives: January 2018

15 minutes a day…

I read that somewhere last week, that the secret to greater piece of mind was to write at least four times a week for fifteen minutes a day. Since I haven’t actually reached that level of effort for this week, I can’t tell you if it works. So, I’ll give it a try starting today.

Cold season is here and while I am happily drinking Alka-Seltzer fizzy tablets each day, GG is following her preferred course of treatment with tea made of lemons, ginger and turmeric (called kukurma in Dutch) and lots of toilet paper for the sneezing and the coughing. Of course, she also calls in sick to work and I call in via Skype. It’s interesting, these cultural differences. I think she’s probably a more patient patient than I am because there is nothing that makes me more irritable than having a cold or the flu – which is quite ridiculous.

I just want to be done having a cold and feeling weird and move on, damnit. Hence the Alka-Seltzer. I am going to need a refill the next time I am back in the US. I think I have mentioned before, it is hard to get over the counter cold medicine here because when you are sick, you stay home… I know, go figure πŸ˜‰

Last week, I was quite busy, going to meetups or other gatherings nearly every night. I am kind of in massive network mode at the moment. In the middle of the week, I paused and went out to tour a dairy farm with my old interns. It was an awesome afternoon, really thought provoking. I did not get to hug a cow, which I wanted very much to do. However, I did get the answer to a question that has been bugging me for years. Cows do not smell like horses, they have a much less distinct aroma. I love the smell of horses so this was a slight letdown. I could and did watch them for a couple of hours. The afternoon on the farm also prompted me to think on the way home about just moving out of the cities all together – to the platteland (the flat land) and finding a small farm.

At the same time, I don’t think we are quite ready for that much of a conformist sensibility and in the small villages, there are a lot of social controls. Which is why we are keeping our housing search to the cities.

Also, it is the time of year where everyone is supposed to be booking their summer vacation. I tell you, the pressure is making me nuts! I have 34 vacation days to use this year. I have outsourced the search to GG – since she likes research. Β The only requirements are that the dogs can come, it is near water, not in a vacation park and preferably too close to the neighbors (attached). Trust me, my eyes are crossing from the number of places she has sent me πŸ˜‰ I was originally thinking of going off the coast to the Wadden Islands but they are already fully booked for the summer season so no way.

I’ll keep you posted on the vacation plans πŸ™‚

Latest from the Crazy Train…

It seems this week that when I try to describe my ideas to people, I often find somewhere to place the invitation for them to join me on the crazy train, all aboard. It seems like a good metaphor for me to work with. I don’t know the route that the train will take but I do know where I want to end up. Hence, only the train is crazy and not necessarily the passengers or conductor πŸ˜‰

Of course, this week has been a week where I ask more questions then normal, especially given the thoughts of Mom. I have spent more time than usual thinking about Mom, her impact on my life, my responsibilities and what kind of values do I really hold and why. You know my mom was definitely a big dreamer, Β no worries about the practical (that’s what her daughter was for), no obvious regard for what other people thought she should be and do.

So, where am I going with this? Well, yesterday we went to Delft to look at a house that we were very interested in. On the way there, I was nervous because I really do not want to have to make a choice between Delft or Schiedam but would if it meant the right house at the right price and at the right moment to move (sooner rather than later). Also, Wednesday morning, a big wreck of a house in Schiedam came on the market. Fortunately, the house in Delft, while in an amazing location, was definitely not the right house, especially for GG. We brought Sabine with us since the last time we were in Delft, we made an offer without her being there because the market was so fast.

Sometimes I think we must be Sabine’s most difficult clients. I told her yesterday over the coffee that we had afterwards that she could always fire us as clients, it wouldn’t change our friendship. Secretly, I think she likes the crazy train πŸ˜‰ So, I convinced everyone to go to Schiedam and walk around the area where the new potential wreck is – henceforth known as #8. Off we went for an exploration.

What to say? It’s awesome. It’s two buildings, one a house and the other a warehouse – currently serving as Hotel Pigeon to judge by the broken windows and the traffic flying in and out. Between these two buildings is an enclosed garden of 1600 sq feet. I know, for those of you reading from the US, you are like “That’s all?” For the Netherlands, that’s bigger than alot of houses! There’s an enormous tree right on the property line which also is super appealing.

The front house, from the outside, is in a serious state of disrepair. It dates to 1800 and over the centuries has also served home to the Roman Catholic library. You know where I am going with this, don’t you? πŸ™‚ We are really trying to get an appointment to see it, it’s still occupied as Sabine learned when she peeked in the windows! The barman from the cafe three doors down said that we definitely didn’t want to get started with that building, given the repairs it needs. He also told us we should go to the library across the street and from the second floor windows we would be able to see over to the roof of the house. Handy tip. We ran into him later at the wine bar down the street.

While we were sitting in the first cafe, GG got a call from the listing agent’s office who was trying to figure out if we were serious viewers or if we would be easily shocked and just lookieloos. Her telling them that we were actually sitting three doors down from the building kind of convinced them that we are definitely serious about seeing it. Well, I am anyway. Sabine can’t control her curiousity about it and plus she never thought we would show her a bigger project than the first one in Schiedam. I have a feeling that #8 is going to blow that one out of the water!

I feel like there’s a reason that this one is now on the market and why it keeps calling me – even if common sense says I should hang up the phone! I feel the influence of Mom, with her whole “leave the practical details to someone else, I will concentrate on the idea”. Of course, there’s nothing to say that I can’t do both…

Five years…


Today marks five years. I’ve been dreading this day for a very long time. Which doesn’t really make sense since there isn’t a day where I ever think “Wow, today’s a good day not to have your Mom”.

I’m a mess today, as I expected. Your boys are sleeping in their basket next to your desk that I use as mine now. Leonard Cohen is playing, his last album. The mostly cold coffee is sitting sourly in my stomach and I keep drinking it.

I am still missing you. And so not able to do anything with all of that. I am still trying to figure out ways to do things that hold your presence close. Last night, it was a rijstafel for 12 people, all a little bit different and with their own history. The things I take from you are making room for those who don’t fit, paying the bill secretly and feeding as many people as you can.

You make me strong in my convictions not to go and do something because it is easy, but rather because it is the right thing. Which are rarely the same. You remind me to stay true to who I am even when I know it would be easier to just stop trying so fucking hard and go with the status quo.

I’m tired, Mom. How did you do this for so long, swim upstream against the status quo? I never thought about how you must have grieved for Oma. You just kept going, kept us from derailing. I miss your strength and your stubbornness.

I’m looking up at your big frame. Later today, I am going to park a chair near it and serenade you with my banjo playing. I can still hear you telling me after I unpacked the first banjo from the mail order catalog, that if I wanted you to die sooner, I would play that banjo. I don’t know of many other people who would say that to each other. In the end, I didn’t play that banjo much and you still went way too soon. I’ve come a long way since that first banjo and I think that I will play some of that for you, in the spirit of our relationship. Β It’s not like you can stop me now!

Most of all, Mom, I wish you had been here these past five years to be part of these memories with me.

I love you, for now and for all time.


Happy Birthday, Mom…

This would have been your 78th celebration with Mexican food, one margarita and two sips of a second one and another day where we would have laughed and said insulting things to each other in the way that we could.

Right now I am sitting on the couch, with the dogs snoring beside me and listening to the wind outside. We celebrated you at dinner, at a Mexican place where they all speak our kind of Spanish πŸ™‚ In other words, the sing songy Spanish of Mexico and Latin America. You would have like the music, the people and the margaritas for sure. There’s finally a Mexican restaurant here run by three brothers from Mexico – who do not make any dishes that include pineapple and cheese in the same sentence!

I thought about how I would like to honor you today, Mom. So I applied for a new job, bringing technology to developing countries. While I was going back and forth in my head about whether or not I was really even qualified to apply, I heard you in my head yelling “Towanda!” from the movie Fried Green Tomatoes.

I love you, Mom, and I still miss you…