May Day

May in the Netherlands is a month that seems far busier here than anywhere else I have ever lived. Leading up to May is (now) King’s Day on 27 April. The first of May is Labor Day. The 4th of May is Memorial Day (for WW II victims and now expanded to all war victims) and the 5th of May is Liberation Day – for the end of the Nazi occupation. The 26th of May is Ascension Day.

Two years ago marked the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII. However, everything here was in a lockdown like in many other countries so all the activities that had been planned were cancelled or turned into remote viewing only. Then last year we were in another lockdown. This year, things are cautiously starting up again.

For the past two nights, we have been attending concerts in historic old churches of Jewish composers and musicians. Most of these composers were murdered in the concentration camps. Interwoven in their pieces of music being performed are readings about the experiences of their fellow citizen and how the two are interconnected. It’s really moving and interesting. At last night’s performance, I left with two books on the subject. There’s one more this evening, this time focused on the subversive music movement by the Jewish musicians or as the Nazis referred to it “entartete muziek” . The whole series translates to “Unleased sounds: Forbidden music in times of repression and resistance”. We have been, sadly, the youngest attendees by a long shot.

George is curled up next to me, snoring in time with the keyboard. I hear one of the cats in the kitchen, eating out of the dogs’ bowl. I suspect it is Pickle based on the volume and complete lack of discretion. Smokey has his back turned to us and is sleeping on his pillow in front of the fireplace. Henry is still upstairs in bed with GG. As for me, I’ve got my coffee and I am trying to figure out the chances of getting a refill without disturbing George.

We’re having to be a little more careful with Henry these days. His skin is quite fragile, just like it gets with very elderly people. There’s some special homepathic oil for horses and dogs that is coming this week and we will try that on him. In the meantime, he’s excused from going on walks as the harness irritates his skin. He has what are the equivalent to pressure sores, I think. He’s not really a fan of all the nursing treatment he gets as we work to find the right combination of bandage protection that fits on a small, stubborn dachshund. He’s patient up to a point but then he has had it. He does seem to like the liversausage treats he gets after his turn on the table. Thanks to Meredith for being able to provide us with a list of names of what kind of bandages we were looking for, which we could then translate into Dutch and find locally!

It’s hard sometimes, to watch him. It’s a gift that he’s still toddling along. He eats and drinks like a champ. He doesn’t always see everything so easily, like last night walking through the drinking fountain instead of around it. But he tries. I love him so much and he knows it. He is getting thinner and becoming more frail. I know that’s expected but it still sucks. Two weeks ago, we went to the beach and we walked down by the water. He was dancing along and we had a steady, mindful walk. ๐Ÿ˜‰

With George, unless you get up close, you wouldn’t really see that he is a senior dog. People are always surprised that he is the same age as Henry. We take George out more places by himself now so that he can move at a faster tempo. George also still does well on the bike whereas Henry really hates it. Now I have them both next to me, yogurt has been served along with kibble. Sounds tasty, doesn’t it? I have also managed to refill my coffee. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m doing a lot of work lately with young people who are returning to school after a prolonged absence. I spend the time with them teaching how to plan their calendars, develop good study habits, get them to read either aloud together or independently and then come back and discuss and a few other things. Mostly I want to be sure that if they leave the formal education system again, they will not stop learning. In all those years that I was working and not studying, I never stopped reading. I think that’s what really kept me going.

This means that my range of reading material spans from Percy Jackson and the Olympians to biographies of Dutch soccer players because I let the young person pick. I am learning more about professional soccer than I ever thought I would. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Speaking of, I have many more chapters to go.

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