#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 10, 2022)

Hi everyone. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. I just had my afternoon coffee, but I’m pretty sure there’s still some left for you. Let’s have a cup of coffee and let’s chat.

If we were having coffee, I would start out by sharing I had quite an active week again. Today, I went for a 5.8km ride on the side-by-side bike again. We rode it faster than last time: 13.4km/hour. Still slowly judging by what I know is a normal bike riding speed, but then again a side-by-side bike is probably harder to ride.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I also finally gained some of my crafty mojo back. That is, I only did one polymer clay thing, but it worked out okay. I created a cat’s head charm. It still needs to go into the oven, so I can’t show you all yet.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you today is my oldest niece Janneke’s third birthday. I sent her a coloring book, some paint and a kids’ umbrella. I may try to video call my sister later to sing “Happy Birthday” to her too. In fact, I think I’m going to text my sister now to ask when she’s got time.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d complain about the fact that Apple won’t release an iPhone 14 Mini. Then again, this makes the decision about what phone to buy once my current iPhone battery dies rather easy. After all, I wasn’t completely convinced I wanted the 14 Mini even if Apple were going to release it, but now I’m certain I’m going for the SE 2022. Not that that one appeals to me that much, but well, I’ve got to have something and I don’t want a regular 14. Not because of what the so-called experts say (they claim it’s not worth your money but I haven’t read the articles explaining why), but because it’s too large for my liking.

I do really hope iOS 16 is going to be relatively bug-free from the start though, as some of its new features sound cool. Not just that, but I badly want WatchOS 9 and you need iOS 16 for that. I’ll wait for one particular member of the VoiceOver forum to voice his opinion though. He’s claimed each year except the year iOS 12 got released that the new big iOS update was the worst one ever and usually he’s been right at least that updating right away isn’t wise.

How have you been?

The Wednesday HodgePodge (September 7, 2022)

Hi everyone. It’s Wednesday again, so it’s time for the Wednesday HodgePodge. Here are Joyce’s questions and my answers.

1. Tell us a little bit about the best birthday you’ve ever had.
I honestly can’t decide on any specific one. Birthdays were always stressful when I was a child, but they’ve gotten easier as I got older. Now that I think of it, I’m going to pick last year’s, my 35th, because it wasn’t as loaded as the ones before and I got some of the loveliest presents.

2. In what way(s) have you changed in the last five years?
Five years ago, I was struggling greatly living with my husband. I had already had my first major mental crisis, but not my second or third and I was still trying to uphold the image of myself as the successful psych survivor. As such, the most important way in which I’ve changed over the past five years, is having learned to embrace myself with all my limitations, rather than wanting to prove my capabilities to the world. It’s a delicate balancing act and sometimes I wonder if I’ve swung too far to the dependent side of things. I’m trying to reclaim some of my fierce self-reliance indeed, without losing the self-determination I didn’t have five years ago. For those who don’t know, living with my husband rather than in a care facility wasn’t my choice; instead, I had been kicked out of a psych hospital in May of 2017 for allegedly misusing care. I am so glad my community support team and I eventually came to the conclusion that I needed to be in long-term care after all. Now I need to find the balance between passive dependency and stubborn self-reliance.

3. What’s your favorite thing about the street on which you live?
The fact that the care facility is right at the end of the street, overseeing the meadow, so it’s relatively quiet.

4. The Hodgepodge lands on National Beer Day…are you a beer drinker? What’s a recipe you make that lists beer as one of the ingredients? If not beer, how about yeast?
I can’t stand beer, doesn’t matter whether it’s alcohol in it. I honestly don’t know any recipe with beer or yeast in it. That being said, my father used to make bread from scratch, including “waking” the yeast for the dough. That expression always made me laugh.

5. As I grow older I would like to be a woman (or man, if there are any men in the HP today) who…
Practises expressing gratitude everyday.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
Speaking of my answer to #2, I had an interesting conversation with the student staff today. I have as soon as I came here expressed that I’d prefer not to be helped with my personal care by male staff. When discussing this with this student staff a few days ago, I said that I could try to do my personal care myself if there’s no female staff available. This staff either understood this to mean that, if he works on my side of the home, I’ll do my personal care by myself, or I thought he understood it this way. Rather, I had meant it if no female staff are available at all.

It may seem weird that, if I can do my personal care by myself if absolutely necessary, I may want help with it sometimes or most times. The reason has to do with the fact that doing my personal care costs me a lot of energy without giving me much satisfaction at all. I don’t personally feel that self-reliance is an end goal in itself, so I get help with my personal care. Thankfully, my staff agree. Then again, I can’t expect there to always be a female staff in the home, so when there isn’t, I make the choice to invest the extra energy into my personal care in order to preserve my dignity as a married woman.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (August 13, 2022)

Hi everyone. How are you doing? Want to join me for #WeekendCoffeeShare? I’ve had all my coffee for the day, but I’m soon grabbing a Dubbelfrisss (my favorite soft drink). Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would start out by asking how your weather is. Ours has been hot most of the week. Today, the weather institute officially recorded a heatwave, meaning five days in a row of daytime highs of at least 25°C, including three days of at least 30°C. Today, the temperature reached 32°C here. Tomorrow, it may even get a little hotter. The last officially-recorded heatwave was in 2020.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the woman from the care home down the road from mine was very happy with the polymer clay necklace I gifted her for her birthday. I stayed for a while to have coffee and apple pie.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my orthopedic shoes still aren’t as they should be. I developed two small blisters on my feet after a short walk yesterday evening. Granted, I’d also taken a longer walk in the morning without much trouble, but blisters really shouldn’t happen anyway.

If we were having coffee, I’d complain about the care facility’s WiFi once again. Oh wait, yesterday, I showed gratitude for it, but today I’m complaining, because three days in a row it’s now gone out in the evening. I am currently redirecting my iPhone’s mobile data to my laptop because I was in the middle of typing this blog post when the stupid thing went down.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I did start on the green polymer clay unicorn I mentioned this afternoon after all. I’ve decided it’s going to make a great present for the student staff who’s leaving at the end of this month. I so far only made the surface it’s going to stand on, which is currently in the oven. It took me 45 minutes to create a slab for it that was relatively free of air bubbles. Not completely, but enough that there hopefully won’t be huge holes in the bottom of the thing. Not that they will be seen, if they are there, when the unicorn stands on its surface, but well.

How have you been?

My 2022 Birthday Celebrations

In one of her Writer’s Workshop writing prompts for this week, Mama Kat asks us to share about something we celebrated recently. Of course, it was my birthday last Monday and I haven’t yet told you all everything about it, so here goes.

The celebrations started on Saturday with me arriving in Lobith by taxi at around noon. My husband gave me my first present after we’d had lunch. According to him, I’d been nagging him about the Cernit matt polymer clay varnish being sold out everywhere. Indeed, I had mentioned this to him (not exactly nagging, in my opinion), to which he’d replied with a challenge for me to find where it’d been allegedly sold out. I found out that a Bol.com (a Dutch site much like Amazon but more expensive) partner still had some in stock. He then asked me whether I wanted it for my birthday. I said yes. So that’s what I got. I got two 30ml pots of it, because according to my husband a Danish vendor had it in stock at half the Bol.com price including shipping.

At around 2:30PM, my parents arrived. They gave me strawberries that they’d bought from a street vendor across the German border. They also gave me German tea, which I ended up giving to my husband, since it was black tea and I only drink green tea and the occasional herbal tea. My main birthday gift was a huge box full of plastic cookie cutters to use with my polymer clay. There are 75 cutters in the box, ranging from animals to vehicles and from a few Christmas-themed and sports-themed ones to dinosaurs. The box also included cutters for all letters and numbers except for I (the box recommended cutting off a piece of the L for that). I also got a huge jar filled with beads that my parents bought at a thrift store. Lastly, I got a kit for making magnetic bracelets.

After we’d had coffee and apple pie, we chatted some. Then, it was time to leave for the restaurant my husband and I had picked out. The restaurant was called “De Revolutie” (“The Revolution”) and we’d somehow gotten the impression it was a Cuban-style restaurant. That had appealed to my husband and me, because my parents are leftists.

When we arrived, we soon figured out it was indeed hard to comprehend which revolution the restaurant was referring to. We’d hoped for pictures of Che Guevara, but there were none. I had already discovered that, what the restaurant had on the menu, definitely wasn’t Cuban cuisine, as most of its meals include beef and that’s hardly consumed in Cuba (or so Google tells me). I didn’t care though.

I chose shrimp in garlic oil as my appetizer, which was really good. My husband chose nachos and was given a huge bowl of them. I ate some of his. Then I went for a burger for my main course, while my husband chose a stew. His was a relatively small serving, while mine was quite large. I liked my burger, but had hoped for a spicier version.

After we’d finished our meal, my parents left and my husband and I drove back to our house in Lobith. The next day, we drove to my in-laws’ house, where only my mother-in-law was at the time. My mother-in-law gave me a clay extruder as a present, which I love but only figured out how to work today.

On Monday, my actual birthday, I didn’t do much out of the ordinary. I treated myself to a sausage roll for lunch, but that was it. I also tried to find ready-made cookie dough to make cookies from to give as a treat to my fellow residents. It turned out the supermarket was no longer selling this, so I went back on Tuesday to get ice cream after all.

I had decided this year that I don’t want a present from my staff, since technically you (or your family) pay for it yourself anyway. However, yesterday the new student staff brought me some plunger fondant cutters to use with my polymer clay. They weren’t even really intended as presents, but I appreciate them very much.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Joy in June

Hi all! Here I am with my monthly update on my 2022 word of the year: JOY. I am joining the Word of the Year linky and Lisa’s One Word linky.

Last year, the month of June was rather tumultuous. This year was no different at first. It started with the manager telling me that temp workers had to be put in place to work in my home more often than usual and this would mean I would get temping staff to work my one-on-one shifts too. I wasn’t amused and this caused me to be rather stubborn and strong-willed at first.

I can’t say that working with temp staff has gotten easier over the month. All I can hope for is that, by summer’s end, enough regular staff will have been hired.

Thankfully, there were a couple of extraordinarily fantastical experiences that helped me find joy this month. One was seeing my assigned staff’s pet hedgehog on the 13th. Of course, when picking my word, I intended to enjoy the ordinary. I do that, too.

That being said, I do need to practise being grateful in my heart with any blessings coming my way. My birthday celebrations this weekend show this: my parents gave me presents they’d gotten at the thrift store and, while I was genuinely happy with one of them, I wasn’t with the rest. Of course, I tried not to show it, but I need to work on cultivating a grateful heart even in this situation.

I remember, when I picked “joy” as my word of the year, being in doubt about possibly choosing a word such as “creative”. That, though, sounded too easy. Indeed, most joy I’ve found over the month of June has been with the creative process. Over the past several weeks, I’ve been genuinely enjoying the polymer clay craft in particular. I have a couple pieces that still need a few coats of glaze, but which then I’m eager to show you all.

With respect to finding daily notes or reminders of my word, in the form of quotes, Bible verses, etc., I haven’t been doing so well. I collected a few but then stopped. I might want to collect reminders of my word whenever I see them rather than focusing on one per day as a requirement.

Overall, the month ended better than it started. This may be because this weekend is my birthday weekend (tomorrow is my actual birthday). Then again, I think I said this in April and May too, so maybe the fact that I’m writing my monthly updates later in the month, makes me remember the joys of the last part of the month better, since they’re more recent.

How was your June?

The Wednesday HodgePodge (June 22, 2022)

Hi everyone. I’m joining the Wednesday HodgePodge once again. Here are Joyce’s questions for this week.

1. Something you learned from your father?
Well, I shared about this on Sunday already: my father mainly taught me academic skills. He also was the one who taught me the limited personal hygiene skills I did learn as a child. There’s a story he used to tell me about having to teach some personal care to my mother when she moved in with him at age 22. In this sense, I shouldn’t really feel embarrassed at the fact that my husband had to teach me to use shower gel when I was in my mid-twenties.

2. Do you like onions? Raw or cooked? How about onion rings? What’s something you love to eat that calls for onions?
Onions, mmm, love ’em! Raw is nice, cooked even better. I love onion rings too! A recipe I love and used to cook when I still cooked independently which calls for lots of onions (and garlic!), is macaroni with mushrooms, bell peppers, onions of course and I’d use a mushroom soup that you’d need to add water to in order to turn it into a soup as the sauce. Sadly, that brand of soup eventually added ham to its mushroom soup, which I don’t care for. When I cooked for just myself, I’d also add chicken, but when I’d cook with my husband, we’d skip that as he was a vegetarian back then.

3. It’s officially summer (in the Northern hemisphere)…your favorite and least favorite things about the season?
My favorite thing is, of course, my birthday at the end of June (in five days’ time!). Other than that, I love the longer daylight. My least favorite thing are mosquitoes and other summertime bugs such as the oak processionary.

4. When you think about the summers of your childhood what are two or three things that come to mind?
Vacationing at Vlieland, one of the Wadden Islands. For the first several years that we went there, I loved it. I remember building treehouses with my holiday friends one year when I was eight. The next year, we didn’t return. And not for another several years. When we returned to Vlieland again the summer I was twelve, I didn’t like it nearly as much, because I’d by then lost most of my vision. Besides, kids my age no longer wanted to build treehouses.

5. A hot mess, the heat of the moment, beat the heat, if you can’t stand the heat, catch heat, in a dead heat…choose a ‘hot ‘phrase and tell us how it applies to your life right now.
A hot mess… that’s my country at this point!
Today, two protests took place in the Netherlands: one by farmers against the government’s nitrogen crisis-related policies (or plans, really, as no real policies have yet been implemented), which will likely cause some farmers to need to stop business; the other by Extinction Rebellion, a group of climate activists, also against the government but with the opposite aim. The farmers caused huge traffic jams on various highways because they were coming to the protest in their farming vehicles. The climate activists gained unlawful entrance to the Tax Service main office in The Hague. The police claimed to be powerless against the farmers, but arrested 22 climate activists.

Thankfully, neither protest is impacting me personally, but all the bad news does worry me.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I was going to ramble on above about the rapid rise in COVID cases here, but I guess that needs its own heading. Last night I had a slight headache and, since that was how my COVID started last February, I worried that I was going to get it again exactly four months after I’d initially contracted the virus. That in turn would mean canceling my husband’s visit today, my birthday celebrations this weekend and my nurse practitioner’s appt on Monday, which, though Monday is my birthday, I decided to go on with after all. Thankfully, I have absolutely no symptoms indicative of the virus now. Please pray I won’t get sick anytime soon.

Poem: The Book Called “Me”

Endless streaks of time (or so it seems)
lie ahead of me,
as I turn page after page
in this book called “Me”

Until one day (possibly still far from now)
I will have reached
the page I pray concludes
with a happily ever-after

In six days, I will turn 36. I am hopeful that I am still not halfway through my life yet, but then again I recently learned that the life expectancy for someone born in 1960 was 52. I just Googled the life expectancy for my birth year, 1986, which was 74.8 years. If this is true, I am just under eighteen months shy of midlife. I am not the healthiest either, so to be fully honest, I probably can’t expect to live that long.

I didn’t want this poem to be fully about doom and gloom either, because, as a Christian, I do believe in eternal life for those who are saved. This is why I ended this poem on a positive note.

I am writing this poem for this week’s Twiglet, which is “turning page”, as well as the Go Dog Go Cafe Tuesday Writing Challenge, which is to start a poem with the word “endless”.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 11, 2022)

Hi everyone. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare again today. Grab a cup of coffee, herbal tea or I could even make you strawberry infused water, since I bought some strawberries at the supermarket yesterday and I still have a water bottle with a fruit infusion thingy that I got for my birthday two years ago and hardly even ever use. I guess I’m going to make some for myself now, so be right back. Anyway, let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, first I’d ask about your weather. Ours has been mixed this past week. Early in the week, it was quite chilly and rainy, but today we’re having sunny weather and daytime temperatures of up to 22°C. It’s a little windy, but still lovely!

If we were having coffee, I would share that the orthopedic shoemaker came by on Tuesday to do the final tweaking to my right semi-orthopedic shoe. It’s now fine or so it seems, but the left one, the one with the ankle-foot orthosis in it, is now giving me issues again. I don’t get blisters, but it does feel as though I’m getting slight pressure where the edge of the AFO touches my foot. To be honest, I am currently undecided as to which shoes I like better: my regular shoes or the semi-orthopedic shoes with the AFO. Neither is giving me the comfort I’d like and I’ve more or less lost my walking mojo altogether.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been experimenting with methods of trying to make the perfect polymer clay earrings all week. I haven’t found the perfect method yet, but today’s would-be earrings are at least better than Thursday’s, which were so curved that I threw them in the trash.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I’ve been making plans for my birthday with my parents, husband and mother-in-law. I initially invited my parents to the care facility, but, after talking it over with my husband, decided it’s better to invite them to Lobith. They will be there on the 25th (my birthday is on the 27th). My husband suggested we eat at a Cuban restaurant called “De Revolutie” (“The Revolution”). I love Latin American food, so that’s awesome. Besides, my parents are quite outspoken leftists, so I bet they can appreciate it.

Then the next day we’ll pay a visit to my mother-in-law (my father-in-law will be on vacation then). I haven’t yet decided whether to do anything special on the 27th itself. I actually have a nurse practitioner’s appt on that day and, since my appt this week got canceled too, I really don’t want to cancel. My staff suggested going out for lunch afterwards, so that’s an idea.

How have you been?

The Wednesday HodgePodge (June 8, 2022)

Hi all! Today I’m once again joining the Wednesday HodgePodge. Here goes.

1. “A daughter’s a daughter all her life, but a son’s a son til he takes a wife.” What say you? Elaborate.
In my personal life, the exact opposite is true, in that my parents were very clear that, once I was an adult (ie. once I’d turned eighteen), I had to fend for myself. My contact with them lessened even more once I got married. My husband, on the other hand, sees his parents almost on a weekly basis. I am honestly much closer with my in-laws now than with my own parents, to the point where I’ve appointed my mother-in-law as my informal representative should I become incapacitated.

2. Something you’ve seen recently that was “cuter than a June bug”?
Hmmm, I’m obviously supposed to say little Wolke, my baby niece, but to be honest I don’t really care for babies all that much. I don’t really like children in general, but I’m going with her older sister anyway. She will be three in September and talks up a storm already.

3. “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream and that’s pretty much the same thing.” Agree or disagree? Last time you had a serving of happiness ice cream? Dish-cone-milkshake-sundae…which one do you choose?
Disagree with the saying. Though I do like ice cream on occasion, it’s not at all my favorite treat. I don’t actually really have a sweet tooth since recovering from my overeating. Give me chips instead.

As for my favorite ice cream, it’s probably a cone, although I like sundaes and milkshakes too. I can’t remember when I last had ice cream. A milkshake though, yes, I do remember, but it was far from good. We got it with a paper straw, as plastic straws are banned in the EU, and it was too thick to drink with that but too thin to eat with a spoon.

4. What is one way/area in which you’re currently “swimming against the tide”?
I don’t do social media much at all. I mean, I do still have a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account, but I hardly ever use them.

5. Three things you’re looking forward to this summer?
My birthday at the end of this month. Other than that, I don’t really know. My husband and I originally thought of taking a few days out by train, since Lobith is close by the German border and Germany’s public transportation is nearly free during the summer months. However, he found out that trains are already so packed that the police had to come out to remove some of the people. Not my idea of a holiday.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I have been obsessing over crafty stuff again. I am really looking forward to doing some polymer clay work again, but can’t decide what to make, honestly. Yesterday, I tried my hand at another pair of earrings, but the slab was a true lint magnet and I was too lazy to get alcohol to remove it. I wasn’t too inspired as to what to make out of the slab anyway. Any ideas?

Sunday Ramble: Childhood Memories

Hi everyone. I’m participating in E.M.’s Sunday Ramble again. Today’s topic is childhood memories. Here are the questions.

1. What is your first good memory from your childhood? (If this is a trigger question for you, tell me how your day is and what the best thing is about today.)
My third birthday. My grandma visited and gifted me a doll she’d bought in Berlin, Germany. Either she or my father explained that, in German, the word for doll is “Puppe”, which is pronounced the same as the Dutch word for “poo”. Of course, me being three and my sister being one, we laughed our butts off.

2. Name 3 things that you loved when you were just a youngster?
Playing with PlayMobil®. Swinging on the swings. Making mud pies.

3. What did you dislike, or even hate, when you were growing up?
A lot of things, as my childhood wasn’t the best. However, I’ll keep this non-triggering. I hated it when my sister was singing or humming.

4. If you could go give your younger self one piece of advice, what would you tell them?
You have absolutely zero obligation to prove your worth to your parents or anyone else.

5. What kind of celebrations did you enjoy when you were little, and do you still like those celebrations now that you are grown?
I had a love/hate relationship with all kinds of celebrations. I loved getting presents and special treats, but hated the social obligations involved. When I was a child and teen, we celebrated St. Nicholas. This involves pretending that St. Nick gave us presents. Once I no longer believed in St. Nicholas, I greatly struggled to play along and this led to some frustration among my sister and parents. Needless to say, now that I’m an adult, we no longer celebrate St. Nicholas. My sister and her family do celebrate it with my parents though.

I felt similarly about my birthday, loving the presents but not liking the social aspects. Same now that I’m an adult and more so with my family of origin, because, well, we don’t have the best relationship. With my husband and in-laws, I do like being together for my birthday.

6. Bonus Question: What commercial did you always wait for to come on television as a child? (If you didn’t like commercials or television, what event did you wait for to come about when you were a kid?)
I didn’t really enjoy commercials, although I liked Loeki the Lion, who came on inbetween commercials on public television. He was recently reintroduced after an absence of over twenty years I believe.

With respect to TV shows in general, as a child I loved a show called Droomshow (Dream Show), in which a pair of girls competed against a pair of boys in all kinds of candy-related games and the winning team had to shoot for prizes while the losing team got the “shitty shower”.

What was your first good childhood memory?