Monthly Archives: January 2019

Sparks of Joy

It’s Sunday evening and we have been super productive today. We went through the kitchen. GG has this enormous kitchen table, I think it is easily 8 feet long possibly 10. We took everything out of the kitchen drawers, cupboards and assorted hutches area by area. I think there are five boxes and crates of kitchen stuff that are ready to have a new life at Het Goed (The Good) which is the biggest thriftshop in the area. In addition, every drawer and cabinet got reorganized. Here’s the evidence of just the glasses and cups that are moving on.

on to a new home

During the process, which I managed not to have a single temper tantrum, we realized that I remember to say “Thank you” and GG does not. πŸ˜‰ We also revisted our thoughts on even vs odd matching sets of things and color schemes. It was kind of fun actually. Which is definitely not something I ever thought I would say about cleaning up. It’s usually a case of where I am easily wound up and go from calm to super snarky in about .5 milleseconds.

We held on to the things that mattered and let go of others that mattered less. Even though there were things that came from my Mom and Oma and Opa, I was able to handle it. I kept the things that were the most important to me, that the biggest memories were part of and let the rest go to serve someone else.

Of course, all this reshuffling made the dogs pretty nervous. I think they were worried that we were going to move again. Which we are not, not yet anyway. πŸ˜‰

About 100 meters from our front door is a multipurpose building for the arts. They have a community cafe for freelancers and two theater rooms, which function as an independent arthouse cinema. Last night, we went to see the Β Swedish film “Border”. I am not going to share any spoilers about it. It was one of the most thought provoking films I have seen in a while. To say it was not what I was expecting is an understatement.

Last Sunday, we went to see “The Favourite” at another independent theatre, this one in Rotterdam near the Hotel New York – which is where the Holland America line ships use to sail from. That movie really put all the professional struggles I have had over the past year into perspective. πŸ˜‰

Moving here to Schiedam has brought an enormous amount of change with it. There’s things to get used, to like stores are closed on Sunday except for the first Sunday of the month. And everything takes longer. At the same time, there’s an appreciation for the fact that people look you in the eye and say “Hello” and that everything moves a little slower here. It’s good for me. We are 20 bicycle minutes from the center of Rotterdam, which is the same distance from my house in Amsterdam to the center, assuming you could bypass the legions of tourists and traffic.

Fridays are the office day for my employees. It’s also Market Day around the corner where the entire three plus blocks are transformed into an outdoor street market. You are also not supposed to park there as we discovered when the police rang the bell one morning at 7:20 AM to remind GG that it was Market Day and she needed to move her car. πŸ˜‰ This past Friday, I was in Amsterdam in the morning and when I came to the office in the afternoon, one of my employees said he completely understood the charm and why I had moved. It surprised him because the first time he came to the office, he couldn’t understand why anyone would leave Amsterdam, but now he gets it.

I use the train journey to Amsterdam as a reason to read. While I still have ties there, like my Banjo Buddha sessions, friends and work, living here is a place of sanctuary for me. Even when I yell “Slow down, asshole” at the people who are taking the corner at 45 mph. I can’t help it, I can’t seem to just say “Slow down” πŸ˜‰ And then I think to myself “Wait until I am the mayor.” Mayors are not elected in the Netherlands, they are appointed, which is still a concept I am getting my head around.

We’re going out to dinner tonight, to the little cafe on the corner. After all, we don’t want to mess up the kitchen’s new order with dirty dishes, do we?

Six years

There’s no other phrase for how I feel today than “No good, very bad, think I will go eat worms.”

I think one of the things I don’t know how to wrestle with the most is the movement from the active missing to one that just kind of becomes a steady, in the background kind of missing. You get used to it, it becomes part of your life and your experiences, who you are. It’s like a skin tag. As long as you leave it alone, it’s there and it doesn’t hurt or itch or make itself otherwise known. But when you start scratching it, picking at it or what ever your form of getting rid of it is, it starts to make itself known again.

I am not comparing my Mom to a skintag. She was way too big to be contained in a skintag! But the missing is like one. And just like with skintags, I know that if I pick at it, the grief will come back again in a full wave. Strange how that works. I remember thinking that grief was a straight line, to be overcome by following a series of steps. I know, what the hell was I thinking?? πŸ˜‰

So, here we are. Today’s weather is cold, windy and rainy. Also perfect for my bad Β sad mood. I wish I could hear my Mom laugh right now or say something offcolor or call me a “tuthola” pronounced tuut whole a . Emphasis on the vowels! It’s a catchall word for a woman who is anything from a bookworm to a bitch and everywhere in between. It sort of depended on my Mom’s mood. πŸ˜‰

I think that if I were to make a list of the things that I am most grateful to having learned from my Mom, here’s what they would be:

  • don’t pay attention to what other people think is normal.
  • know yourself and take joy from your quirks and what makes you different.
  • don’t give up even when it all seems stacked against you.
  • when you love, love fiercely without conditions.
  • always use your strengths to help others.
  • call out things that you see, don’t wait for someone else to do so.

I think it’s time to hug the pets and put on some Leonard Cohen.

Scarves of kitten…

I am not sure how this happened or where she learned this. Olive is a live scarf. As I am typing this, she is sitting tucked up under my neck, watching the screen. This seems to be her favorite place to be when it comes to people. She’s also purring continously which is an interesting complimentary note to George’s deep snoring.

Pickle is sitting right next to me, with his head on George’s shoulder. George is curled up, above his brother. Poor Henry, he never gets a break from being the pet pillow. Olive just sat up so maybe she will move to another location and I can type faster. Umm, no, she just put her head down.

I had forgotten what it was like to have kittens in the house. They manage to get everywhere they are not supposed to, repeatedly. They have graduated from having to sleep upstairs in the other bedroom to being allowed 24/7 on the first floor of our house. That would be due to the fact that the other morning I came downstairs into the kitchen and the breadbag was moving. A mouse shot out of it and ran behind the cupboards. I am not sure how much bread was consumed but looking at the slice that was interrupted, I’d say that it was quite a party.

We have an old house, nearly 160 years old. So far, I have not seen signs of any others but to be on the safe side, the kittens now get to roam as the Night’s Watch (hahahaha). When I lived in Amsterdam, you could hear rats and mice in the walls. For starters, walls between buildings are usually not solid here, they are filled with hay or straw as insulation and also to absorb water. New construction is more advanced but for anything from before the war, you can bet on straw.

You get used to the noises. The rats really scratch. The mice tend to make less noise. If I have to choose, I am a mice person. How is that for an introduction at your next social gathering? “Hi, I’m X. I’m a mouse person. And you, do you prefer rats or mice?”

I have had tapas for dinner for the last two nights. On Saturday, Marianne came to visit and we tried the little tapas bar around the corner. It was so good, I had to make a reservation again for yesterday with GG. Unfortunately, they are closing for the next six weeks or so due to the owner’s need for an operation. He’s also the chef and he doesn’t have a replacement. Tonight I was responsible and ate cauliflower and brown rice with tempeh. Not quite the same taste experience. πŸ˜‰

Like many people, we are practicing KonMari thanks to Netflix. Yesterday, I went through my closet and I was really motivated to get rid of everything. I wanted to donate it all. Then I realized that if I did that, while it would be radical decluttering, it would also mean that I would have to wear one set of clothes for the forseeable future. Not that handy. I did have so many strange dreams last night about things in the past- coincidence or just tapas overload? They were the kind of dreams that even when you wake up, you go right back into them. I hate those!

Changing of the shift – now Henry, George and Pickle are all under the same blanket. It must be a nice life to be a pet around this place. πŸ˜‰

I finished the first half of a big project this evening. I had choice stress from which format to do it in – I really wanted to use pen and paper. However, that wasn’t the right format for the potential customer. After doing the equivalent of writing something and then crumpling it up and throwing over my shoulder except digitally and in every Office product, I finally came up with something I liked. If things go well this year, I think I will invest in a digital whiteboard! For now, I will have to settle for something smaller!


I guess this is what they call life long learning…

I can definitely say that 2018 was certainly the year of learning for me. I think I learned something new in just about every corner of my life. I made a deliberate choice to learn certain things, like how to build machine learning models or how make chili pepper infused dates. Other things I learned because relying on someone else’s knowledge didn’t work out so well, like running payroll and navigating the complexities of the Dutch business codes.

The past year was also full of learning moments related to people. With so many transitions this year, there was more than enough educational moments in this area.

I am standing here, 9 days into the new year, looking at the finally sleeping pets and asking myself what I will do differently? I am still answering that question. I like to think of it as an elastic question, one that I can come back to and update.

One of the things I have decided to do is write more offline. Since starting my own little company, I have used far more paper and pen. It gives me room to think. It also connects the idea with the strategy and the action required very completely if it makes it all the way through to the To Do list. This also has been helped by the amazing amount of available notebooks I found when I was unpacking the office. πŸ˜‰

I’ve decided to go to more movies. Netflix makes it too easy to stop going. With an independent filmhouse 150 meters from our front door, it doesn’t get any easier. This part of my initiative to get better at leading a full life and not feeling guilty if I am not spending every hour of the day on the company.

However, Netflix also brought us two evenings of “I love to tidy” inspiration/intimidation and GG and I were both inspired to get rid of even more stuff. We have discovered that we have different Marie Kondo timezones. I am much better in the early morning with sorting through my batch and she is much better in the evening. Yesterday morning, I started at 630. Of course, by around 2 PM I was ready for a nap!

As much as I hate to disturb the hardwon peace around here, I think I am going to wake up the boys and take them for a drag. It’s sunny today and in sharp contrast to the high winds of yesterday, two little dogs should be able to keep all four feet on the ground today. πŸ™‚