Yesterday GG and I had a look at the calendar and realized that the arrival of the first of the fall season guests is a mere 44 days away. It might sound like a tremendous amount of time to prepare but with our schedules and our ability to be distracted by many more things, it is not much time at all. We agreed that today we would at the very least get the downstairs guest room in good order, including hanging the art that has been moved from place to place every time we want to get somewhere.
This morning, after two cups of coffee, we opened all the doors and headed downstairs. Of course, this meant that the dogs needed to be on the bed, so they wouldn’t have separation anxiety, which then meant that Pickle & Olive also felt the need to be present. Imagine the four of them on a big queen sized bed, while GG and I work around them trying to take down old curtains, hang up my Oma’s fantastic green ones from the 70s or earlier, measure the walls to make sure the art is hanging in the center (GG has a tic about this) and then going through the boxes of stuff that were in there.
While exploring a box of things that belonged to my Mom, including her old school agendas from the 50s, I discovered all of these letters dated from 1964. Mom passed her secretary training that year and apparently there was some sort of shortage in the Dutch labor market. There were no less than 10 letters from companies addressed to her inviting her to come to their offices for an interview. They could offer her many things from a 5 day work week to vacation pay and other benefits! They were also certain that she had many competitive offers and encouraged her to call Mr So and So to arrange directly for an interview at her convenience.
I found these letters really fantastic to read, not just because they were addressed to my Mom. She didn’t take any of these jobs but she clearly had options. Also because they were a look back into time. How things were and what was considered important, especially with the focus on what was also good for the employee. I think that is something that with the constant focus on globalisation and maximum shareholder value that has gone missing. I think it is something that more focus needs to be placed on.
In addition to all of these little things, there were more of my Opa’s navigation tools and his souvenir ruler from the Apollo 11 launch. A few fantastic pictures of the boys from their younger years which I hope they will want to have. Going through these boxes is still a big emotional thing. Luckily by this time GG starts agonizing over whether or not the picture is 3 centimeters off from center and I can shift into being Captain Logic.
We finished the guest room and we think that it might actually be a working fire place in there. However with the heat wave we have had lately, we were not going to try that out. Next project is go back into the front part of the downstairs, what has been the company HQ. We’re going to reclaim that a bit as living space, now that the company has space in Rotterdam. 😉 Now it’s the Executive HQ downstairs!
You would think that I would have learned to listen by now… you would think. 😉 The past couple of weeks have been packed full. I’ve had a new group start, the boys and I now go to the classroom three days a week. Around the school part, I’m busy heading every which way to network and potentially find future employers for our new group. That means certain things fall by the wayside. I’ve skipped yoga, skipped on sleep and skipped meals. All some how feeling that it was saving me time.
Until I woke up this morning with a runny nose and a fever. Damnit.
For most of today, I’ve read two chapters of my latest book and fallen asleep. Wake up and get some more tea and say 5 sentences to GG and open the book again. Repeat. The dogs are alternately happy with the fact that they have a dogsbody keep them warm and looking for me to get up more often to provide them with some kind of excitement.
I had a long talk today, during one of the awake periods, with my mentee in Kenya. Our last conversation was pretty tough. He’s going through some hard times and the experiences I had to share weren’t the answers he was hoping for. He’s a deep and reflective thinker so I was curious to see how our conversation would go today. Hearing his observations and his thoughts from the past ten days was such a gift. He’s a fascinating person and I hope that one day we meet in person.
If everything goes as planned, tomorrow will be the closing. I sold the house in Seattle. I knew that if I ended up moving back to Seattle someday, I couldn’t see myself living there. Still, while logically it all makes sense, it is bringing up a lot of memories. I remember going through it with my Mom and how much she loved it. I really thought we were going to have a fantastic life there. The time that we did have there, I am very grateful for.
The last time I was in there, I still flinched in the living room. I still looked for her, even amidst all of the furniture of the tenants. Then I grounded myself by reminding myself that she’s with me all the time, according to what we have been told. I carry her words daily with me.
After all, my Mom was really good at being in motion 😉
We live on a square that is anchored by The Big Church – this is a literal translation from what it is called in Dutch – De Grote Kerk. While it is known to host dance events and parties, it is still a church in service and Sunday mornings the bells ring to call people to the service. They have just finished ringing for this morning. I love this sound, even when it goes on for 10 minutes in a row.
When I get on my bike in the morning, I always look up at the church tower to see what time it is. When I am at my favorite little bar, I can see the tower clock if I look down the alley. Then I know if I have time for another drink or not 😉
When the hour strikes, I love the steady big bell sound. On the half hour, it’s a single bell. I keep time this way when I am somewhere away from a clock – like reading under the trees on the terrace.
This is why I have a hard time understanding why some people move to a house near a working church tower and then complain about the bells. Most of them want them silenced or muffled and I am like “You didn’t check before you bought that house? It’s called due diligence, jackass.” I get very heated on the topic of people moving somewhere and then feeling like things should be changed to suit them – whether it is church bells or more recently in the news, the case of Maurice the Rooster in the French countryside that apparently makes too much noise for the new “second home, escape from the city couple” that has filed a lawsuit.
This is what I saw happen in Seattle. People come to a new area and want to recreate all of the experiences that they had in their previous home without regard for what is available to them in the new setting. Understandable but defeats the purpose of moving somewhere new. Live in and experience the differences of where you are. Contribute positively by making a difference – I plan to someday open up a vegan diner in the region 😉 and leave your entitlement behind at baggage claim.
On Friday, we went for a walk with the dogs in the afternoon and while we were walking along the walls of the church, GG pointed to a cat that stood right in the middle of our path and said “Isn’t that one of ours?” Guess what, it was Pickle. He apparently found his way over the rooftops and followed us. He clearly hadn’t been out that way before because he wasn’t very good at dodging things like bicycles. So we walked back home, calling him to follow us. He did, for the most part. There were a few open doors that he ran into and quickly ran out of again. I think it was definitely by accident. We escorted him inside the house and then went back to taking a walk. While it would be ideal if he would just follow along on a walk, I am worried about him getting too used to cars, scooters and traffic in general.
Today was the first day of our new program. We are doing it entirely ourselves this time, without any other partners. I was naturally in a high state of anxiety overnight – worrying about whether or not anyone would show up, what if I overslept, what if it was terrible and everyone left, etc. All those kinds of questions.
Most of which turned out to be unnecessary. Only one person dropped out due to difficulty with finding a place to live. Everyone else showed up, nothing bad happened and I did not oversleep. 😉
I am much more relaxed about tomorrow. Much to the relief of the household!
Yesterday, after getting everything ready for today, GG and I went with the boys to her parents house. Her dad’s birthday was yesterday so we drove to the “village” and sat in the garden with the older generation 😉 Much to the delight of the boys, the whole bowl containing slices of liverworst fell on the ground. However, it was picked up too fast for them to get the whole thing. They did manage to get a slice a piece… ick. That’s also when I realized we could never leave the boys with GG’s parents for petsitting because we would come back to two very chubby dogs full of people food!
I feel good today. I am exhausted – probably from all the unnecessary anxiety. 😉 When I think about the experience today, I realize that I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. That sort of certainty is a gift. I like to think that my Mom would have enjoyed today. She certainly would have fit in with the stories and the laughter.
George is having a deep dream while Olive is curled up next to him. Apparently, his dog dream yips don’t disturb her rest at all! Starting next week, the boys will come with me to the new office. I even have a dog bed for them under my desk. Can’t wait :).