Phew, in a couple of hours we leave and I'm glad to be able to leave anything and everything behind for two weeks. Although I was on holidays this week already, its not the same when you're at home because nothing's really different then... I'm still confronted with the same daily nonsense in the same settings, minus the work situation then but it's all still too familiar.
A good time-out should help... an internetless, blogless existence could be interesting, although I'm taking the laptop with me for the kids.
Just one of those days... although I'm on holidays now, the preparations are a little hectic at the moment.
Thankfully the car was repaired on time and I could pick it up this afternoon, after having brought my mother-in-law to physio once again with the car I'd lent in the meantime, returned the wheelchair to the depot, picked up prescriptions at the doctors and collecting them at the chemists, getting some of our jumbled finances sorted out before we leave on Friday, having a long, deep and meaningful chat with Eldest Daughter, washing the said lent car before returning it to the garage 20km from here amongst other things...
(Good luck to you)
Damn, if I didn't know myself so well, I'd almost say that I'm having a half-hearted grumble here... the upside was that it was brilliantly warm weather and it was lovely to be outside for a while...
Down to two days, and counting
I went off with Youngest Daughter this evening for her first lesson in the canoe.... she did it very well, and was complimented by those present. Mostly a child needs to be 12 to be able to participate because there's a particular level of coördination and strength needed but a youngster can keep up he/she can be included as well.
Actually, her dad had a harder time of it, but he's not telling ;-)
Pity the poor teenager, for their insecurity knows no bounds.
Today's Eldest Daughter's birthday and she's not terribly happy about it to be perfectly honest. Yes, the birthdays are coming thick and fast at the moment and Middle Daughter's is in a few weeks as well... busy time of year.
But as I said, Eldest Daughter's not exactly thrilled about her birthday, doesn't like all that much fuss and bother and right now, at almost midday, she still hasn't managed to find her way out of bed yet. I'm going to have to find a way of spoiling her this afternoon for she's the one of the three who needs most attention at the moment since she's going through a pretty moody, difficult period in her life.
I can see a lot of myself in her, perhaps because we're both eldest children and sincerely hope she's not going down the same road I have. The depressions began when I was fifteen, at first severely felt but since then taking on a simmering, chronic quality, mostly controllable but sometimes not.
I've refrained from putting any photo's up of her today since she's specifically asked me not to, so I'll respect that. Anyway, I've got to get going now, a daughter who needs chasing out of bed and a mother-in-law who needs to be taken to the physiotherapist... could somebody come and take me away as well (ha ha...)
OK, Cheryl passed on a meme today, and for a change it's one I like.
It's called "Gone 2 to the Dogs" which, for reasons I'll explain shortly, is a meme in my own life I've loved for a very long time :D You can do it yourself but unfortunately it's not all that blog or HTML friendly so you'll have to make do with the instructions on the site itself...
1. Go to www.Gone2TheDogs.com and select game.
2. Follow the instructions
3. Answer the questions
4. Find out what dog you are and
5. Post the answer on your blog!
6. Collar someone else
(and in my case, I'd like to collar Milamber and Liesl to continue this meme)
Here are the results of the "Going to the Dogs" Jury, objectively and totally impartially posted by myself... (hahaha...)
Better known as a "husky"... (which for me would be about right ;-) )
And now, of course, you're wondering why I like this meme... it's quite simple really. One of the people I've admired in the past (although he's been pretty quiet these late few years) is Wim T. Schippers, a rather gifted absurdist here in the Netherlands who, amongst other creations, produced his own version of "Going to the Dogs" in his own, unique way in 1986.
To do this, he casted six Alsatians to play the leading roles in the play, which included barking out their texts, watching television and reading newspapers... all of which took place in one of the most important Amsterdam theatres. The play causes an enormous commotion since some people openly started questioning where the borders of avant-garde playwriting should be drawn when confronting public common sense, the aftermath of which even led to questions in parliament about the way Dutch perceptions of art were being presented abroad. It was a bewilderingly original play, not all that spectacular contentwise but a rather interesting jibe at the artistic scene in general... well done in my view :D
As photographed when demonstratively emptying a bottle of softdrink in the North Sea, in his own typically confronting fashion.
Hmmm... its lovely and quiet here this morning, the rest are still asleep or off to the city, I've got coffee at hand... what more does a guy need on the first real day of his holidays :D.
Funny thing about this blogging really... I seem to be asking myself all sorts of questions and then answering them myself along the way, along with some well meant, good quality comments along the way. I appreciate the feedback, sincerely, and from what some have said I now know that the feeling of having lost something along the way is a very real part of daily life.
When I get to thinking a little longer and digging a little deeper into my past, I begin to wonder in which ways my parents, especially my mother, were "responsible", in as far as the word can be applicably used.
A child picks up most of its patterns of thought, behaviour and mannerisms from its parents in the initial years and all too often takes on board the foibles and failings, along with the necessary and desirable life skills. My mother, in particular, was a bit like I am now... very unsure of herself in the country she'd ended up in with my father, trying to make the best of things and all too often bringing back reminiscences and anecdotes of her youth in the Netherlands.
My father, on the other hand, wasn't all that troubled by his new environment and not really forthcoming with many details of his past. He usually only let loose when specifically asked or badgered by a couple of inquisitive kids, and then only in broad terms. He'd had a difficult youth, spent several years in work camps in Germany during the war, studied for a few years in Amsterdam after that but left in 1956 feeling totally disillusioned and unable to see any sort of future for himself there. I think he felt totally at home in Australia because he could find the peace of mind he needed in the surroundings and the easy-going way of life.
He died in 1995, my mother is still muddling on although she has found some sort of half-hearted peace in the meantime. I just honestly hope I'm not imprinting my own impressions on to my own children, but even now I see Eldest Daughter developing in much the same way I did 30 years ago and I'm not altogether happy about that.
I grew up feeling totally separated from the country in which I lived because we were "foreigners" who, whilst being totally accepted, were still "different" and treated as such, subconsiously being treated as not "one of us". I know, it sounds harsh and I know for a fact that there was no conscious stream of thought in that way since Australia in the 1960's and 1970's was such a culturally diverse and ethnically rich society, yet there was always a slight undercurrent of the "us and them" thing going. Unfortunately, I'm one of those people who are always picking up "vibrations" in some way or another, feeling things unsaid but active in the minds of those around me so there was always some sort of confusion going on in my mind, the rational versus the intuitive.
I had the good fortune though to spend my teenage years in a community which was so totally multicultural that most of the cultural tensions were defused in effective ways. In the years before that, however, in a small rural community almost exclusively Anglo-Saxon by descent the differences were more pronounced and identified as such. Good people, kind and well meaning, all of them, but unable to grasp the realities lived by people who'd grown up outside their own familiar mindset. In a way they were extraordinarily tolerant, in others oblivious to the needs and perceptions of their new neighbours.
It was an extraordinary time, children growing up then took on a lot more baggage than they'd realised, it was exciting, confronting and confusing... I'm glad it was all like that, did much, learnt even more, even though I still need to sift through the mess occasionally.
Now that I'm officially on holidays, as of yesterday, its almost as if my mind has been freed up again... the feeling of having shed a heavy load is just so good for me. I think I'll have to do it more often ;-).
Or perhaps I should just listen to myself more often, to the little voices and the feelings of what I should be paying more attention to. In the chaos of daily life the little intuitive bits that really matter get swamped in the noise and confusion of practical realities.
Thank you all for the thoughtful input on yesterdays post, it did me a lot of good to realise that I'm long not the only person who feels this way... I think in a way everybody faces the same feelings of insecurity and dislocation whilst growing up but some are able to deal better with it than others. I'm still learning...
Yes, the world changes and we change with it and whilst it is good and even necessary to look back occasionally and relive and relearn the lessons of the past, there is no point on dwelling on them obsessively and idealising people, places and situations. The past exists only in memory, the future still has to crystallise... the present is all we've got, like it or not.
Why is it that after having lived in the Netherlands for so long (26 years in October) I'm still troubled by bouts of homesickness. I left Australia at age 19, unemployed, totally clueless about life and living in general, turning my life upside down in one foul swoop.
It hasn't been easy... there were periods of feeling isolated and extremely lonely, adrift in a continent I felt more at home in but where I couldn't find my way initially. The more I travelled, the more I got to understand that although home can be where you hang your hat, emotions and memories are still always referred back to a place and time in the past where impressions made a lasting impact on your life.
I'm far past the self-pity thing in the meantime... going back isn't a realistic option either, but nevertheless the feelings of separation and distraction surface occasionally and I get to thinking again.
Despite all the beauty I'm managing to capture with my camera nowadays, I feel it's only fair to give an impression of another side of Amsterdam. A year or two ago, work was started on the new underground line which is resulting in most of the inner city being torn up in the construction process.
Close to Central Station, the first stages of the drill shaft being constructed.
Time passes so quickly, today my youngest turns nine. It seems like only yesterday Katie was born, the intervening years have flashed by, we've seen her and her sisters growing up at an amazing rate and in a way I do miss those few precious, early years.
She's been so nervous the last couple of days and yesterday she was even more excitable than the days before, I decided to distract her a bit by baking an apple pie. She was very happy with the result, even though she doesn't like apple pie really but she want to have something that other people would enjoy on her birthday. That's the kind of child she is, so often thinking about other people, trying to help and taking their point of view into consideration, she's really amazing for a girl of her age sometimes.
Last night it got to be a bit late, hanging up decorations through the house, the blowing up of balloons (accompanied by the occasional explosion) and making the last preparations. Just wanted to make sure it was a special day for her.
Hope I can get away early today or take the afternoon off, just to make it just a little more special for her... Oh, and I almost forgot... the quote for the day
Time flies like an arrow, Fruit flies like a banana
Hmmm... just some more thoughts on the last few posts...
Sunshine said that the United States have a awful burden to carry on this, I think most people would agree to that but would also agree that all the major players in WW2, (and in any other war) have a degree of guilt to work away as well, as also pointed out by others a couple of days ago. Germany is still in the throes of a deep self-analysis, in Japan as well but in a totally, much more subtle way. Cheryl said "the only constant factor on all sides being 'adults being rational'. A mess." which sums up rather well the interplay of international interests.
Both Irina and Fej made the (implicit) distinction between the people and the policies, the individual and the collective, the electorate and the government that is supposed to be representing their interests and how in each case there is a large gap between personal and group behaviour.
Going off into biblical terms, it would be wise to remember that how we judge other people is how we eventually will be judged ourselves. There is no point in accusing the individual for the actions taken by their governments, with the possible exception of the cases when the facts were well known and the populace chose to follow anyway in their own self interest. Looking closer one can see that all too often the population is unaware of the complexities going on through of lack of information or by deliberate misinformation.
Which brings me to the question why these things happen anyway... if a group of people in positions of power, who are sound of mind, collectively decide to act in ways contrary to decent human behaviour, could we perhaps assume that the system of power and decision structures should be open to a lot more scrutiny than is the case at the moment? Would it be fair to assume then that the mechanisms of control either fail abysmally or are at odds with the interests of those who are elected to govern a country who take whatever measures needed to cover up what they are really doing?
OK, off to work now, my brain hurts... hope this is making sense, I'm thinking while I'm writing (and vice versa occasionally) ;-)
I'm going to have to carry on this topic again now because its still weighing heavily on my mind, I'm losing sleep, my mind is practically spinning out of control considering and reconsidering, re-evaluating and internalising some of the input I've been receiving the last few days, some of which came from the thoughtful comments posted the last few days.
Today, again 60 years ago, the second atomic bomb was let loose above Nagasaki and a world perhaps semi-ignorant of the effects of the first bombing was now confronted with the realities of a new era which was about to unfold. As I write, the dead are being remembered, their voices have perhaps been silenced yet they still speak through those who refuse to forget or put down the lessons of history to unfortunate consequences.
For those who considered my August 6th post to be anti-American, I'm truly sorry for that was never my intention. If anything, it was more an anti-government indictment than anything else as I believe that in essence governments (all over the world) serve much different purposes than people imagine. I'll return to this subject later, perhaps today, perhaps later this week, this is one of the wild streams of thought I've been off on recently.
Both Panthergirl and Echovillegirl brought up an interesting point which needs some more thought. We've had much discussion here in the Netherlands concerning the atrocities in Srebrenica 10 years ago, when under the eyes of the Dutch batallion of the United Nations Peacekeeping force and their total lack of resistance, Bosnian Serb forces were able to deport and kill some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys. The ensuing debate revolved for a while around the question of whether it was ethical to place ones own armed forces in situation of risk... by doing nothing, they managed get out of the situation they were in by the skin of their teeth, if they had resisted they would have been killed themselves. One of the most relevant views put forward was that soldiers were there effectively of their own free will... they had chosen for a career in the military and knew what the consequences might have been beforehand. In the case of the Netherlands now, we have an army of professional soldiers, as opposed to an army of conscripts who might not have been in places of danger of their own volition. I'm not sure if this were the case at Pearl Harbour as well, and I'm wondering if could extend the same issues concerning innocent citizens to include drafted servicemen as well. Yet another topic that hasn't crystallised properly yet...
There is no need to be ashamed to be American, as written or alluded to by several people... people are basically good across the world, irrespective of the nations they live in, they are all different, all have their own needs, wishes and live in different cultures which have widely diverging views of reality and social structure. No person in his/her right mind though would the atrocities that take place, no reasonably well-adjusted individual would willingly inflict suffering on others... if for any reason than at least for fear that the lack of respect for human life would become his/her own fate at some time in the future. A society that descends into lawlessness is also a society that has given up on itself, going into self-destruct mode where the law of the jungle rules. I don't think we've had a whole history of trying to "civilise" ourselves for nothing, despite our baser, more destructive instincts its a way of trying to protect ourselves against... ourselves.
If anything, one would need to be throughly ashamed of those who devise policies and implement those without the knowledge or consent of the people who elected them to represent their interests.
Have to stop now, and get going for today... hope I've been making sense.
OK, the Ibuprofen helped, i've cleared my head and took a little longer than I should have just wandering around the area, trying to find some inspiration again. Sometime's I feel like I'm just bleeding dry emotionally and esthetically, needing some real input for myself as well in the world around me. It worries me, mostly at the times I need it least...
Another quiet corner...
Thanks for the kind comments this morning... they were sincerely appreciated. The "Phantom of the Opera" texts are very poignant... thanks Kayla, they sum up thiings very well, no pain no gain as they say...
So how many books could I read in an afternoon off in the park?
Lucky me though... I get off early this afternoon, there isn't all that much to do and I have to get the car to the garage to be inspected by the insurance people tomorrow.
A restless night, the echoes of Sunday resounding too long and too loudly. I'm glad when dawn arrives and the thoughts that have become larger than life are dispelled by the light. The worst of it is, I don't really know why, just strange feelings overcoming me again.
OK, we didn't go the the Castlefest today after all, which was a pity because I'd been looking forward to it for a long time.
Eldest Daughter came downstairs feeling (and looking) pretty off colour this morning, having been troubled with cramps the last few days, and Youngest Daughter had already said that she didn't want to go if it was bad weather. It was raining cats and dogs at moments, becoming one of those days you know you'll be spending most of it indoors.
In hindsight I was glad actually... it was high time to spend some extra time with the children today, I've been so self-absorbed and preoccupied recently I seem to have lost both myself and them at moments. We didn't do all that much, just a number of those little "together" things we used to do more often in the past and share some time.
First off, the car needed a good cleaning and Youngest Daughter was an excellent help there... vacuuming and washing as well as she could. Always (slightly over-)enthusiastic in anything she does, I occasionally I need to keep a foot on the brake, but if I can keep her focussed and manage to guide her a little she's a wonderful help.
After that, I spent almost two hours with Middle Daughter, cleaning out and rearranging her aquarium... and just talking a bit and being a bit silly at moments. She's very proud of her two goldfish... she's had them for almost a year without any real mishaps to date. Always efficient and precise, she looks after them well and even makes her own arrangements for getting somebody to look after them (and the mouse) when we're away on holidays. I think she's the most organised of the three, as well as being the only one who manages to keep her room in some sort of civilised state.
Eldest Daughter was busy on the computer today, reworking images and creating new ones... a new hobby of hers. She draws well, has a well developed fantasy but has problems communicating at moments... at moments she retreats a bit into her own world(s) and draws, paints, writes stories and does a lot of photo manipulation with Adobe Photoshop, which she uses very well. I took some time to show her some of the better manipulation techniques (some of which I use daily) and just spruce up her latest entries. Take a look here, and especially her Deviation Gallery halfway down the left hand side of the page. Her website is to be found here.
After dinner my partner, Middle and Youngest Daughters and I went to the fair in the city centre... every August there is a huge fair for 10 days, with all sorts of wild and wonderful things. The kids love it, its an exciting atmosphere and they're into almost anything and everything available, I prefer to watch the people around me and don't get seriously thrilled by the attractions really. The light was too dim by the time we got there, so I couldn't do any serious photography, but did manage to get a couple of good ones...
The ferris wheel, brilliantly lit at night and a treat to see across the bay in the evening light...
The "Totally Spies" lookalikes (from the television cartoon series) as a kind of special attraction for the kids...
And guess what... I'm feeling nice and relaxed at the end of a day I hadn't even thought was going to take place. Surprises all round :D
I'd like to take the opportunity to continue on from yesterdays posting... it was one that seems to have moved many readers but also led to some misconceptions as well, for which I'm truly sorry. No, no-one deserved it, no-one deserved the whole stupid war really.
The story told was not meant to be pointing a finger at one people or one country, not assigning blame in any way, because the issues involved are so horrendously complex and convoluted, the way the facts are viewed are subject to ones own personal interest and background and in the course of history open to (mis-)interpretation (either accidental or deliberate). I'd perhaps be venturous enough to say that if blame were to be laid, almost all parties involved should take it because there were so many things at stake and all involved were trying to protect something...
The story was told to highlight the human tragedy that took place on that day and seen from a different viewpoint. Children see the world in a totally different way to we adults because they don't have the life experience to change perspective. My mother told me, when the war broke out in The Netherlands in 1940 (she was 9 then), one of the first things she thought was "thank heavens something exciting's going to happen now...".
Each age and each society creates its own atrocities, with differing degrees of "success". Sometimes as a release of pent-up social forces, sometimes there's an element of culpability within certain social groups involved.
It happened... when it happens, we can't do much about it but we can work towards limiting the possibility that it would happen again. We need to work together, we need to look at each other and at ourselves as honestly as possible and try to work out the differences, irrespective of our own preconceptions.
Sorry, this has turned out to be a totally chaotic ramble, can't concentrate and too much noise going on around me, even now at almost 23.30 when i'm trying to finish something started almost two hours ago...
---------- August 6th, 1945 Hiroshima. She was eight years old. ---------- I wanted to go to school, but my father said 'I have a very strange feeling today - you shouldn't go to school, stay with us'. That morning I was on the road near the house and all of a sudden I saw a flash of blueish white light - a magnesium-like flash and soon after a big sound with dust, and I was blown away and fell on the ground. I found myself lying on the ground near the house. I thought the house was just in front of me but I couldn't see it because everything had become so dark and many pieces of wood and roof tiles and rubbish were falling on my head. And in the darkness there was a strong, strong wind like a typhoon. I couldn't open my eyes but tried to get back to my house and in the darkness I heard somebody was crying - my brother and sister. I was 2.4km from the hypocentre but houses nearer the hypocentre had caught fire and were burning.
I saw long lines of refugees, just quiet, I don't know why they were so quiet. There were long lines, like ghosts. Most of them were stretching out their arms because the skin was peeling off from the tips of their fingers. I could clearly see the hanging skin, peeling skin, and the wet red flesh and their hair was burned and smelled, the burnt hair smelled a lot. And many people, just slowly passed by the front of my house. All of a sudden a hand squeezed my ankle. I was so scared but they said 'get me water'. Almost all the people were just asking 'water', and 'help me'. I rushed into my home where there was a well and brought them water. They thanked me but some of them were drinking water and vomiting blood and [then] died, stopped moving. They died in front of me. I felt regret and so scared. Maybe I killed them? Did I kill them? And that night, 6 August, my father was so busy looking after the neighbours, but when he came back he said: 'Listen children - you shouldn't give water, some of the refugees died after drinking water. Please remember that.'
Then I felt so guilty, and I saw them many times in my nightmares. I thought I was a very bad girl - I didn't do what my father said - so I kept it a secret. I didn't tell anybody this story until my father died. There was black rain falling, black rain mingling with ashes and rubbish and oil, something like that. It smelled bad and there were many spots on my white blouse - sticky, dirty rain. In the morning people were moving, brushing away flies from their skin. My house was full of injured people. But as a little girl I was so curious. I wanted to see what the city looked like. My house was at the bottom of a hill - I climbed up the hill, near our house, and then I saw the whole city. I was so astonished - all the city was flattened and demolished. I counted just a couple of concrete buildings. The next day some of the buildings were still burning, and the next day, and the next day, and for three or four days I climbed the hill to see what the city was like. I have a brother-in-law. He was living almost at the centre of the city - his family was very close to the hypocentre. Until now his family members were missing and he didn't want to recognise they were all gone, so he refused to say and report the family's names to the officials and he didn't want to visit Hiroshima. Right now, he is living far away in Tokyo, and only last year he decided to report to Hiroshima city that his family members - his mother and sister - had passed away. And there were so many people [who saw] so many dead or dying, but actually, most of them made up their mind not to tell anyone about what they saw.
---------- I weep in silence, for the words so eloquent and so well meant, lose meaning in the darkness. Hiroshima, mon amour...