Things I did in April

It’s been May for quite some time now and I still haven’t done my April round-up post. So here it goes.

The books I’ve read in April are the following:

De vloek van de Pelgrims (Pilgrim’s Rest)
Trixie Belden Mysterie, De Verdwijning
Vakantie op het water

I haven’t released a large amount of books, but I’m still ahead of my target, so that’s going well.

The lawn looks great now that the grass has started to grow back. For a while I thought my best bet was to dig it up (something I really wasn’t looking forward to) and start again, but time has healed it well.
We’re still very content with our new fence. Our elderly neighbour told me a few weeks back that she wished we had done the entire fence, not just the back part. But had I asked her that before we started she would’ve said no. I’m sure of that.

Both cats have had one or more trips to the vet in April. It started with Candy’s check up on her kidneys. Urine testing has shown her kidneys have deteriorated so she’s on different meds. Cat Dipsy decided she didn’t want to eat barely a week later, so another trip to the vet was issued. After some meds and laxatives she started eating very well again.

And about 2 weeks later we noticed cat Candy started falling over. Turns out she’s had a TIA. The vet wanted to keep her to see if her bloodpressure was too high, but Candy decided she didn’t like the vet anymore and started behaving badly. So we picked her up and monitored her closely. After a few days we noticed she wasn’t interested in her food anymore and called the vet again. She prescribed different meds to go with the kidney medication. Our kitchen cabinet is starting to look like a vet’s pharmacy…

The end of April we spent putting up the coat rack. It’s only been 2 and a half years since we moved, so we weren’t in a hurry… ­čśŤ
Jokes aside, I’m very happy with the result!

Coat rack

Things I did in March

I’ve been doing quite a lot in March. Mainly because the weather was gorgeous and we had a week off.

I’ve been reading quite a lot of children’s books. Easy, quick and it sure makes a dent in my TBR pile.

The Delicate Storm
Commissaris Achterberg en de verdwenen radiowagen
Hotel Rozebottel, vlam in de pan
Hotel Rozebottel, gasten op de vlucht

And I’m currently reading De vloek van de Pelgrims which hasn’t grabbed me so far.

I’ve released quite a number of books in March, mainly due to opening an OBCZ in my hometown. I’m now up to 131 books released in 20 different places. I’m trying to keep this momentum going, as I have far too much BookCrossing books lying around…

I’ve been working with the dethatcher which has worked magic on the lawn. The back lawn actually looks good, the front looks like a barren landscape at the moment. I’ve sowed new grass, so I hope it’ll get better over time. I can’t really be arsed by the front lawn. It doesn’t really look any worse than it already did.

And our new fence is up. It looks lovely. I bought 2 different types of clematis, the Joe and the Ville de Lyon. The latter mainly because it produces pink flowers and the girls next door love everything pink. They are growing very quickly and I’m hoping they’ll give lots of privacy this summer.

new fence

new fence 2

Quick Update

Just a quick update. I have no idea what happened to March… I had so many plans, so many ideas for blog posts. And yet it’s April for crying out loud.

But the ideas are still there. I still want to blog more, I’ve still got the ideas in my head… So bear with me, K?

So much to do

I planned to blog more often, but failed miserably already…It’s been almost a month since my last post.

We had a week off at the beginning of January. Which we used to install LED lighting in the kitchen. I had been complaining of the lack of light on the workspaces for ages and we finally got around to install a LED strip. Which gives a huge amount of light. Works great!
This meant we haven’t gotten around to sort out the hallway yet. This will have to wait just a little bit longer.

I’ve been very busy with BookCrossing. As I blogged earlier, I’ve committed myself to a 365/365 challenge. I’ve also managed to commit myself to the 52/52 challenge. Which basically means I have to release 52 books in 52 different towns. Not sure how that happened. I think it had something to do with night shifts and the inability to cope with the severe lack of sleep…
So far I’ve released 52 books and 4 more to come on a set time. I’ve also managed to rope in my coworkers to help with the 52/52 challenge. This means I’m now up to 9 different towns all over the Netherlands.

So much to do

So, still to do is the hallway, which won’t happen quickly. My parents in law agreed to help, but my father in law has a suspected hernia, which prevents him from even moving around. His backpains are currently controlled a bit by Morphine.
Jay and I have agreed on asking a painter to do the window and door frames inside. This would take us forever and since we have a few broken doors this is quite vital. My dad has agreed to help us place new doors once the door frames are painted.

We also had a minor problem with our washing machine. The morning after my night shifts I sat watching Homes Under The Hammer when I suddenly thought I heard a tank coming through the street. This would have been unusual, so I walked up to the kitchen window to look out. I then realised the incredible amount of noise was actually coming from somewhere above me. Turned out the washing machine had decided it was time to find a better spot. It was literally jumping up and down. I tried holding it down (silly, i know) when I noticed a burning smell and some smoke coming from the machine. I figured it was time to pull the plug. Thankfully in time to save the laundry, which contained my favourite sweater and jeans. My neighbours across the street were kind enough to lend me their washing machine for a bit so I could at least get the washing done.
So now we have a brand spanking new washing machine! Which, somehow, takes way longer to wash than the old one did…

This post has been inspired by the Daily Prompt.

My hopes, dreams and wishes for 2014

I’m not one for New Years resolutions. I joked on Twitter about it.

But there are some things I’d like to do.

Life, home and garden:

Lettuce and strawberries

  • I would like to visit the nearby Zoo a little more often. We went to a different, bigger Zoo last year and it really was a disappointment. We still have enough tickets to go at least 4 times this year, so I would like to do that.
  • I’d love to get the hallway done. Right now, we (still) don’t have a coat rack. We haven’t had one since we moved here 2 years ago. I’d like to try and finish that next week.
  • I hope my dad can get a Velux window for the attic. There’s a really old Velux and it’s drafty and leaky. We have talked about glueing it shut, but I like to have a new Velux, so I can get it open in Summer. My dad knows a few homes that are being demolished and they’ve had new Velux windows installed about 3 years ago. So he’s going to ask them if he can buy one or two for a reasonable price.
  • I haven’t yet made plans for my veggie patch. I have learned a few things from last year and I’d quite like to try to get more out of it. I think I can do that quite easily.

Books and Bookcrossing:

Books from the summer lottery

  • I have signed myself up for the 365/365 Challenge. It’s in the Dutch forum of BookCrossing and it’s started by Aaltsje. It’s nothing much, just release at least 365 books this year. Now, with lots and lots of books already registered and more to go I think I need something like this to get books out of the attic. I’m quite the hoarder…
  • I think I’ve said this last year as well, but I’d like to get on with my TBR pile. Right now, there’s more coming in than there’s going out. There’s at least 135 books on the pile, but I think it’s actually more. Sometimes I move books from the Release boxes onto the TBR box, but forget to update their status on BookCrossing. And yes, the “onto” was deliberate…
  • I’m going to try to make a list of which books I’ve read and am reading every month. Just to keep the books flowing. There’s so many books I’ve had for years now and I think it’s time to see them go.
  • I should go through my TBR pile to see if there’s books that can travel further without reading them first. With so many books on there I think I should be more picky about what goes on there.

Crafting and Hobbies:

  • I have to find a way to get googly eyes and coloured paper without paying too much for them. I have agreed to make lots and lots of little owls and other cute paper crafty things for a charity in our town. They give out boxes of toys to people who don’t have money to buy toys themselves. I might have to contact them and ask for sponsors. Not sure how I can do that…
  • I want to do more sewing. Sis in laws baby is having her birthday in May and I’d like to sew a slip dress for her. No idea what size it should be as I have no idea about babies… Might have to get help from mom in law to get the right size.
  • I want to do more cooking and baking. I have been doing a lot of it last year, but I love it, so I’d like to do more. Main problem is that I’m picky with food… Oh well, we’ll see what happens.

 

I think that’s about it. What are the things you’d like to do?

Christmas Shopping

Today I went grocery shopping for Christmas…

I tried to do it online, but the grocery stores won’t deliver in our town. So off I went. I knew it would be madness, but I didn’t expect it to be this bad…

I was glad to find a parking spot relatively close to the stores, parked my car and headed for the first grocery store. Only to find they ran out of carts…

So I waited until someone returned a cart. The handle was warm and sticky. Too late I realised there’d been a kid sitting in it who may or may not have been drooling all over it.

I had worked out a route beforehand and thought I could walk through the store without any major problems. Boy oh boy, was I wrong.

Upon entering I was hit by the blast of the heater, slamming millions of germs in my face. Only inches from the door there was a stepladder. I still have no idea why, but it might have been there to trip me up. Then I heard a buzz, as if thousands of bees were swarming around. It was worse, much worse. Lots of people, most of them complete families with the average 2.4 kids. Very little parents actually looked out for their kids. I got rammed by several carts, slammed into several people myself because they were walking backwards and got rammed by more carts.

But I made my way out of the chaos and went to Aldi. Now the Aldi in our town has just moved into a new building. It’s light and most of all big. Upon entering the store I found just a handful of carts at the entrance. So I expected the worst. But oh boy, what a peace. Yes, there were a lot of people, but in contrast to the other store Aldi was at peace. The shelves, the fridges and freezers, all were full with stock. I could even get my hands on a ham on the bone. Which has been sold out in the other store for several weeks now.
There were a few kids running around, but they got told off by the staff, something I much appreciate!

I managed to cross the road back to my car after a few minutes of waiting. I was packing everything in the car when I noticed something behind me. Two cars, one on each side, were waiting for me to get out of my parking spot. And I couldn’t help it, I packed slower and slower. I than brought my cart back to the store and walked off. I had more shopping to do…

Can we please go home?

I’ve never really liked travelling. The mere thought of airplanes scare me. The different wildlife (spiders, snakes) scares me. Thus I’ve never been far away from home.

When I was 14 we went on a schooltrip to Luxembourg. It scared me. I had to be away from my parents for 5 days, sleeping in the same room, it turned out to be the same bed, with a classmate I didn’t like. No teachers around me that I trusted.
The thought of not having enough medication on me scared me. The thought of not being able to travel home when I wanted scared me.
It turned out not to be so bad.

We had to be at school on monday, at 6 AM. This was hard for most of my classmates and at least one of them missed the bus. The first part of our trip was to a vulcanic lake. I can’t remember where exactly it was and Google brings me no further. We were allowed to swim in the lake, but one of our teachers scared us by saying it was incredibly deep.

The next stop was at a chairlift. It almost went straight up and I think it might have been in Cochem, Germany.

After this my memories are a bit foggy. This because of the damp surroundings and altitude. It made me have multiple asthma attacks for the rest of the trip.

The things I can remember are a trip to Bastogne, where we went to the Bastogne War Museum. I loved it there (pretty weird thing to say about a war museum) and I was so annoyed by my classmates not listening to the stories and not paying attention and fooling around.
We also had a walk through the M├╝llerthal, which I liked, as my last name is Muller. I remember this day clearly as I thought I had a good day, without Asthma attacks. But halfway in the walk the hills began to climb very steeply and I almost couldn’t manage. I remember classmates helping me up and teachers carrying me. But the views… The views were amazing!

The rest I really can’t remember. This trip was the furthest I’ve ever been from home. I’d like to do it again with Jay, but I’m scared of being away from home, to places I don’t know. Most of the holidays we took together we went home early because I didn’t want to stay another minute…

So Many Books

Many of you will know books are a great love of mine. I can’t get enough of them. I love books, the more the better.

One of my hobbies is reading, another is BookCrossing. BookCrossing is a site where I have registered more than 700 books to this date. The idea is to read (if I like them) and release those books. So people can find them and read them. And later hopefully release them again for the next reader.

I’ve been a BC member for 4 and a half years and I love it. I had heard of it before, but never gotten around to try to find the site.
But one day, when I was at work I found a book. I remember clearly I saw it, but couldn’t stop at that particular time. I hoped it’d still be on that bench by the time I got back. And it was.
From that day I was hooked. The idea of releasing books and reading people’s notes is so rewarding. People are mostly very happy when they find a book.

Ballycumber
If you like a book, let it go!

The first few books I released were from my own bookshelves. Books I had read, books I didn’t particularly like and books I bought from a charity shop. The first box was from CreativeChaos. After that I’ve been getting boxes from anywhere and everywhere. I’ve got friends, family, colleagues, even complete strangers giving me (boxes of) books. Just because they like the idea of BookCrossing.

In the 4 and a half years on the site I’ve been fairly active. I released hundreds of books, I’ve registered hundreds more. I’ve read more books than I ever could’ve dreamed. And I’ve met some wonderful and generous people. Many of them I call my friends. I hope to be part of this community for a long time!

This post has been made for the Weekly Photo Challenge.

A Special Toy

Everyone, meet Jiska. She’s my special toy.

She was given to me by Sinterklaas, when I was 4 years old. In about 3 months time my mom would have a baby and my parents thought me having my own doll would be a good idea. It was.

From the moment I unpacked her I loved her. I didn’t want to put her down. She was always with me, even the first time I went to school after Sinterklaas. We all were allowed to bring one toy we got given, so Jiska was the one I chose to bring to school.

I can’t really remember if anything happened that day, but reality is, nobody was allowed to touch her. I remember when I was about 12 years old I dragged a friend out of the house by her hair because she would let Jiska alone.

Jiska

Jiska doesn’t “do” anything. She can’t pee, eat, cry, or whatever dolls can do these days. She has a cloth body and the only moveable thing is her eyes.

She’s currently in a box in the attic, but thankfully Jay knows just how important she still is to me, so he put the box on top of the pile. Making her accessible all the time.

I realised yesterday, when I took her out for photos her eyes are starting to go yellow. This makes me sad. I want her to have the white eyes she always had. So I guess it’s time to find someone who cleans and repairs toys for a living…

Jiska

This post was written for the link-up on the blogpost over at Tattooed Mummy.

The end of Sinterklaas?

Open letter to Chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, Verene Shepherd

 

Dear Ms Shepherd,

I’m writing this in concern to your statements about Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). Although I’m sure you will never read it. As you seen way too busy to try to ban things that you know nothing about. For someone who says she’s a researcher you’ve sure seem to have done very little research into this matter. So let me tell you a bit about the history of Sinterklaas (or Sint Nicolaas).

Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet:
Sinterklaas or Sint Nicolaas is based on the Bishop of Myra, who was a historic 4th-century saint. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him. He’s the patron saint for children, amongst others.
Originally, the Sinterklaas feast celebrates the name day, 6 December, of Sint Nicolaas. Half of his bones are buried in Bari, a town in southwestern Italy. In the middle ages this part of Italy was part of the Kingdom of Aragon and later of Spain.
Sinterklaas is assisted by many mischievous helpers with black faces and colourful Moorish dresses. During the Middle-ages Zwarte Piet was a name for evil. Nowadays, the tasks of the Zwarte Pieten are mostly to amuse children, and to scatter pepernoten, kruidnoten and strooigoed (special sinterklaas candy) for those who come to meet the saint as he visits stores, schools, and other places. Sinterklaas arrives on a (steam) boat from Madrid with Zwarte Piet and his horse Amerigo.

Children and Sinterklaas:
Traditionally, in the weeks between his arrival and 5 December, before going to bed, children put their shoes, traditionally next to the fireplace chimney or the radiator, near a window.
The next day they will find some candy or a small present in their shoes.
On the evening of December 5th, the children will get toys, chocolate (can be dark, might be white, do you have any problems with dark chocolate Ms Shepherd?) and marzipan. In the olden days, if you were naughty you would get a lump of coal (which is also black) or a bit of salt.
Adults and older kids give each other presents, accompanied with poems.

History of Santa Claus:
I’ve read on more than one occasion you, Ms Shepherd, have said:

What’s wrong with one Santa Claus, why have two Santa’s?

Really Ms Shepherd? Really? Have you done any research at all into the history of your Santa Claus? Because I don’t think you have. You are just being narrow-minded and you must think you are always right. Let me tell you what came first.
Your Santa is derived from Sint Nicolaas (the name is a dead giveaway). The Dutch, who set up a colonial town, on the banks of the Hudson River, called New Amsterdam (it’s now called New York) took their traditions to their new homeland. But to have Sinterklaas arrive from Spain was a bit much, so over the years the traditional Sinterklaas feast was transformed to Santa Claus.

This would mean that we should ban Santa Claus, as he’s clearly an impersonator of Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas is the “real” one, Santa is not. Just because you get your gifts from Santa, doesn’t mean we Dutch should go along with that. You are not always right, Ms Shepherd!

Is Zwarte Piet racism? 

As a black person, if I were living in the Netherlands I would object to it. As a member of the working group, I am obliged to do further investigation.

Why am I not surprised Ms Shepherd? You have always plaid the racism card, why is that? Because you’re black? Do you feel you have to protect your people from all evil? I’ve worked in many stores and from what I’ve seen the black population plays the racism card ten times more than other minority groups. I’m sorry I have to say this, but it’s true. So I’m not at all surprised you’ve plaid the racism card.

I don’t think Zwarte Piet is racism. Do you really think Zwarte Piet depicts black people? Do you wear a large afro, big earhoops and do you wear very bright red lipstick that covers almost half your face? If the answer to all these questions is yes, I’d say it’s racism. But I’ve seen pictures of you, Ms Shepherd, and I don’t think you look even close to Zwarte Piet.
I wear glasses, but does that make me look like Dame Edna? No, it doesn’t. Same goes for black people and Zwarte Piet. Zwarte Pieten are mostly white people who wear huge amounts of make up to look black. Which makes it look ridiculous. Black people are much nicer to look at (well, most of them, but that goes for white people as well).

Santa Claus:
Santa has helpers too, Ms Shepherd. Little helpers. They are called elves, but are plaid by dwarves in many occasion. Wouldn’t that be more racist than putting make up on white people?
For pictures of these “elves” you might want to go here. Tell me what’s more disturbing Ms Shepherd? I’d say the “elves” are…

Sinterklaas/Santa Claus:

So, let me get this straight Ms Shepherd.

Sinterklaas has jolly helpers called Zwarte Pieten, white people who put on make up to look black. Santa Claus has little helpers called elves, but they’re really dwarves.

Sinterklaas has one horse, a domesticated animal. Santa has a bunch of reindeer, wild animals which he keeps locked up.

Sinterklaas Sinterklaas lives in Spain, a nice and warm place for such an old man. Santa lives somewhere on the North pole, but nobody knows exactly where.
Trading standards can visit Sinterklaas to see if he takes good care of his workers, but they can’t visit Santa, as nobody knows where he’s at.

Sinterklaas has a normal posture. Santa is extremely obese.

Tell me which one is better!?

All in all:
I think you’re claim to Zwarte Piet being racism is clearly ridiculous. I can understand you are hurt by your ancestors suffering under slavery. I can understand you feel the need to protect your heritage. But can you please leave an innocent celebration, one that makes so many children happy, alone? You are not always right Ms Shepherd, even if you think you are!

Regards,

Me