Weekly Photo Challenge: Pattern


Our street borders onto the fields. This is how the fields look right now. The dandelions are really starting to take over. And, in the process my garden is full of them too. I just mow over them to prevent them from spreading too much. But I love the view right now.

For more entries for this week’s photochallenge, go here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

I’ve wrote about kaatsen before. Kaatsen is our national (Frisian) sport. The biggest event on the Kaats calender is the PC (Permanente Commissie, which means standing committee). It is held in Franeker, or Frjentsjer in Frisian.

(text is in Frisian, sorry)

Photos are not my own, but are from Sicco2007.
For more information on Keatsen, please visit PC Franeker or Wikipedia.

For more entries, please click here.

Never forget there’s a person inside that body

As a nurse it’s easy to forget the person behind the face you’re dealing with. You see your residents every day and they all have one or more issues which prevent them from caring for themselves. It’s easy to forget who they once were, to see them as just a face, a body. But there’s a person behind the exterior. A person that dealt with school, health, work, family, friends. Even if they don’t deal with that now.

The man who regularly screams for help when he hears kids playing in the street. He has lost his daughter. She drowned when she was 5. He stood on the water’s edge and couldn’t help as he can’t swim himself. No-one else was close enough to help out.

The woman who’s sitting in her wheelchair, looking out of the window all day. She doesn’t say a word. She lost two of her sons in a car crash. The same car crash which left her husband paralysed and left her with severe headaches.

the woman who clutches the babydoll and won’t let go of it, not even for food or drinks. She fell pregnant when she was 16 and had to give birth in a home. Far away from her boyfriend and her (unsupportive) family. Her child was taken away to be adopted, even though she desperately wanted to keep him. She never told anyone this story.

The man who walks into the hallway in his underwear. He once was a school director. He helped out a lot of kids in trouble. He always wanted to become a teacher and he managed to follow his dream, even though his parents had no money.

The man who lies in bed the whole time and screams loudly at night. He was a pediatrician. Many of you who care for him now, he helped when you were little.

The woman who always cries and tells you “I don’t want to live anymore.” She was the head nurse in the hospital nearby. She helped out many people in their hour of need. Now she needs your help.

It’s so easy to forget that all these people have had a whole life before they came to live in a nursing home. Looking at the pictures in their rooms, talking to them makes me realise who they once were. Now they’re just a shadow of themselves, but we should always treat them with respect.

How to treat people
Courtesy of Imgur

This post was written for the Weekly Writing Challenge.

Fryslân, my homeland

Friese vlag

I live in Fryslân, a province in the north of The Netherlands.
We have our own language, our own sports, our own history, our own heroes, our own identity.
This Frisian identity is very important to us. Many of us don’t feel like we’re dutch. I certainly am not seeing myself as dutch. I’m Frisian.

The languages most spoken in our province are Frisian and dutch. Frisian is spoken in the whole of the Waddenzee region. We like to think the English language has been derived from Frisian, but it’s probably the other way around. There are many words that look and sound a lot like English, but it’s the same for Dutch and German.
There are three dutch universities where you can take Frysk as a major (or minor).
Most of the town names are either in Frisian or in Frisian and dutch. We, of course, prefer the Frisian names.


There are a few sports that  are evident to the Frisian identity.

Keatsen is a traditional Frisian sport, related to American handball and fives, that is most commonly practiced by people from the northern Dutch province of Friesland (Fryslân). It is believed to be one of the oldest ballgames and was an unofficial demonstration sport at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. The score is similar to tennis. The first team scoring six games wins the match.

Fierljeppen is a traditional sport of the Frisians and of the Dutch. Ljeppen is West Frisian for “to leap”. It is a fine example of the close relationship between the Frisian and English languages.
The sport involves a long pole and a body of water. The pole is between 8 and 13 m long and has a flat round plate at the bottom to prevent it from sinking into the muddy river or canal bottom. A jump consists of a sprint to the pole (polsstok), jumping and grabbing it, then climbing to the top of the pole while trying to control its forward and lateral movements over a body of water, and finishing by landing on a sand bed opposite to the starting point.

Skûtsjesilen is the Frisian sailing competition with skûtsjes, in particular the competitions organized by the SKS, and the IFKS. Matches with skûtsjes have been organized since the nineteenth century. Then being sailed as the farmers had no cargo and the skippers could earn a cash prize. Often the innkeepers who wrote out a match, for example if there was a fair, so after the awards ceremony could be held in the cafe.

Schaatsen has been a national sport since the dawn of time. Especially the Elfstedentocht is very important to our province. The Elfstedentocht (West Frisian: Âlvestêdetocht, English: Eleven cities tour), at almost 200 kilometres (120 mi), is a speed skating match and a leisure skating tour. It is touching every city (by history) of the province. It is held, in practice in January or February and not more than once in a winter, when the natural ice along the entire course is at least 15 centimetres (6 in) thick; sometimes on consecutive years, other times with gaps that may exceed 20 years. When the ice is suitable the tour is announced, and starts within 48 hours.

Our culture slowly began to emerge around 400-200 BC. The Roman occupation of Frisia began in 12 BC with the campaign of Nero Claudius Drusus in Germania. The early eighth-century AD is known for the Frisian king Redbad and the missionary Saint Boniface.

At the start of the Middle Ages, Frisia stretched from what is now the Belgian border to the River Weser in Germany. After incorporation into the Frankish empire, Friesland was divided into three parts. The westernmost part developed at the start of the second millennium into the County of Holland.


Grutte Pier Pier Gerlofs Donia (c.1480 – 1520) was a Frisian warrior, pirate, and rebel. He is best known by his West Frisian nickname Grutte Pier (“Big Pier”; in the pre-1980 West Frisian spelling written as Greate Pier), or by the Dutch translation Grote Pier which referred to his legendary size and strength.
Approximately 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) to the north-east of Donia’s village of Kimswerd, in the city of Franeker, the Black Band, a Landsknecht regiment in the service of George, Duke of Saxony was quartered. The regiment was charged with suppressing the civil war between the Vetkopers, who opposed Burgundian and subsequently Habsburg rule, and the Schieringers. The Black Band were notorious as a violent military force; when their pay was insufficient or lacking, they would extract payments from local villagersand on 29 January 1515, the Black Band plundered Donia’s village, then allegedly raped and killed his wife, Rintze Syrtsema, and burnt to the ground both the village church and Donia’s estate. Seeking revenge, Pier started a guerrilla war campaign against the Habsburgs and allied himself with Charles of Egmond, Duke of Guelders (1492–1538). The legendary status of Grote Pier as a hero or a villain has endured over the centuries with his exploits retold in book, poetry, song and more recently television.
Today, a great sword that is said to have belonged to Pier is on display at the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden. It measures 2.15 metres (7 ft) in length and weighs about 6.6 kilograms (14.6 lb). Some sources put his height at 7 ft. Pier was alleged to be so strong that he could bend coins using just his thumb, index and middle finger. A huge helmet said to be Grutte Pier’s is kept in the town hall of Sneek.


This post has been written for the Weekly Writing Challenge. I couldn’t simply find one icon that would represent my homeland, so instead I chose to take fryslân as the icon.

Paperback or eBook?

This week’s writing challenge is asking: How do you prefer to read, with an eReader like a Kindle or Nook, or with an old school paperback in hand?

That’s not a hard question to answer for me. Paperback!
I like the feel of an actual book. The scent of an old book (or a new one) makes me happy.  I love going in a bookshop and just browse. I can spend ages in a charity shop, going through books. I love to see row upon row of shelving filled to the brim with books.

And, think about it. What am I supposed to do with my spare room when I don’t have books?
What about BookCrossing? I’m an avid BookCrosser. How are we going to make the world one big library when we don’t have real books anymore? It’s simply not possible.

I can see the advantages of eBooks over real books. If you travel a lot you can bring as many books as you like without the added weight. And if your book is a thick book, an eBook is easier to bring with you on a train, but there’s no joy in eBooks for me.
I’d rather take a FlipBack with me while travelling then an eReader.

So, no eReader for me. Just give me a good book and I’ll be happy.

Photo courtesy of jurvetson: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/4239651/
Photo courtesy of jurvetson: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/4239651/

If you do decide to get rid of some books, please think about donating them to BookCrossing. There are lots of BookCrossers who are always on the look out for new books to set free!

The girl in the photograph

Annie was one half of identical twins. Her mother didn’t know she was carrying twins. Annie was born on the first day of spring, early 1950s.  Her sister had died weeks before, her body poisoning the amniotic fluid. After she was born Annie’s mother was told Annie wouldn’t live very long. It may be days, may be weeks, but she was told not to expect her daughter making it through the first year.

After the twins birth the hospital chaplain came to christen Annie, for she may not survive very long. Despite church (and hospital) policies the chaplain christened the stillborn as well. So they could be together in death. This meant the stillborn girl could be buried in the family grave.

Despite what the doctors had said, Annie turned out to be stronger than anyone thought. She survived her first few days, weeks and even months. She lived to celebrate her first and second birthday. On her third birthday she was in hospital.
The photograph shows a tiny little girl in a hospital bed way too big for her. On the bedside table is a piece of cake with three candles burning. Annie is looking into the camera with a laugh on her face. Her heart-shaped face, surrounded by blonde curly hair is glowing with excitement. But her body lies stiff, she’s unable to move anything but her head.

About five months after the photograph was taken Annie’s tiny body gave up. Her mother held her in her arms when she died. Annie’s body was buried in the same grave as her sisters four days later.

The photograph clearly shows a little angel. An angel too beautiful and too good to ever stay long on this earth.

This story is a mixture of facts and fiction. The photograph exists, the girl in it died very young. She really was an angel, the photographs show that very clearly. But her name is not Annie.
I wrote this post for the Daily Post Writing Challenge.

Wrapping it up

2012 began on a low for us.

With a move at the end of October 2011 and many, many hours of DIY and sorting out our belongings we were shattered by December. Then, we got a phonecall. One that we’d been waiting for for quite some time. It was my dad, telling us my grandma had stopped eating and drinking.
Many trips were made to the nursing home that lovingly cared for her and had been doing so for the last 4 years. Early in the morning, on december 30 2011, her heart finally stopped beating. She was 92 years old.

My grandmother

The days that followed were frantic and filled with clearing out her room (to make space for the next person who desperately needed a secure place to live), getting the cards ready, arranging the funeral and 2 nightshifts. All of this in a festive period.

I don’t really remember much of the days between my grandma’s death and the funeral. Two things I do remember. Waking up to a card with spelling mistakes and finding out it had already been printed. And me falling asleep whilest arranging the funeral with the rest of the family.

After the funeral I felt terrible. I was so, so tired. Tought my Graves disease was acting up again. I had  quite a few appointments with my GP, only to find out my thyroid was working fine. As it turned out I had gotten the Kissing Disease. How? No idea.
It took months to recover.

Whilest recovering we had a few projects going on. My dad and my uncle came to lay down the tiles in the kitchen and hallway. Until then we’d been living on a bare concrete floor.
We wallpapered the hallway, the stairwell and the study. We painted the study, finished the flooring and instelled a desk. Finally, on March 10, our pc’s were turned on for the first time in 6 months.
The biggest project, the one we spent most time on, was the garden. We spent almost 4 months on it (and it’s still not finished). My dad came over quite a few times to Help Jay with it.
In summer we’ve spent many hours just relaxing in the garden.

Wild flowers in our garden

In July I got back to work fully. Despite still being tired sometimes. The tiredness still lingers to this day.

The last few months were frantic again, many people who needed our help with things and we have been away many weekends.

For 2013 I want a bit more time to relax. A bit more time to finish the house. We’ve still got loads to do. I want the skirtingboard going up in the livingroom, the hallway and stairwell painted and I want to start my veggie garden.
Oh, and I want a fullblown winter with lots of ice and skating!

2012-02-11 12.36.46

I hope to spend even more time on my blog. These were my top favourite posts:

1. Escape to the Country

2. Thank you mom/dad Bloggers

3. And there it is again…