I have blown it

Last December, when everyone was busy thinking up New Year’s resolutions, I just dug up the one from last year: being more creative, doing more healthy/sporty things. The usual. Prone to fail, as always.

But then something happened. I had started two calendars, one for the creative things, one for the healthy ones. As usual, at the beginning of the year, everything worked out fine. Every day I did something creative (blogging, writing, working on a photo-book I coloured in one calendar day in dark blue. And everyday I did something sporty (talking a long walk, dropping Little One off at school on the bike, yoga) I coloured in one calendar day in turquoise. Quite soon, the dark blue calendar showed some white spots. Days I was too busy being creative. But the turquoise one filled up. And up. Very soon I found myself doing a little yoga in the evening, even if I had done something else too. Even if I did not feel well. Even if we were travelling and arrived late. I did something. Maybe not much, maybe just a bit, but I went through my moves, I stretched and bent and it always made me feel better.

I started to be really proud of myself. And a goal appeared: a the end of the year, I did not want see a single white day in that turquoise calendar. October passed, November passed, December came. All good. I could already see the finishing line.

But then yesterday happened. An incredibly busy day with me buzzing around the whole day. Which is not unheard of. We also had family coming, to stay for the weekend. Also not completely uncommon. I cooked and took care of the dishes and got the boys to bed, I set with family to chat. At one point I excused myself, being very tired. Husband stayed down for a bit longer to chat with his dad.

I went upstairs with the thought in my head ‘I still need to do my yoga – I will just do it on the bedroom floor, as the living room is still blocked’. Also not the first time.

But then I forgot.

I got ready for bed, I brushed my teeth, I snuggled under my blanket. Done with the day.

No yoga. Nothing else done that day I could remotely call “sporty” or “healthy”.

So, with the end in sight, I blew it.

I wanted to stand there on the evening of the 31st, having proved to myself that I, Miss Absolutely Unsporty, can have the discipline to pull it through.

But I haven’t. So I can’t.


And it wasn’t even my choice.

When the choices get bigger – for all of us

Sometimes, when you are busy in your own little world, happily spinning in your comfy cocoon, something happens in the world that wakes you up, pulls you out, gets you to start thinking again.

While I spent a carefree summer in Austria, watching the boys play in grandma’s garden, a lot of other people where on the journey of their lives. A journey that might end their lives or maybe give them a chance for a new one.

While I was lying in the hammock under the trees, a few white clouds sailing a happy blue summer sky, people sailed and drove and walked towards Europe. Some of them died, and we heard about it on the news, shook our heads and went on with our daily doings. It seemed far away, sad as it was.

But it got closer. Now there are thousands arriving every day at our borders, my borders. I see pictures of overflowing camps in Austria – my country. I see borders opened and closed again, trains and busses arriving, people camping on train stations because there are not enough means of transportation. I hear what the politicians say, the Hungarians, the Austrians, the Germans.

And I also see and hear about people helping – bringing food, clothes, toys, opening their houses. I see sign “refugees welcome”.

And the other ones, who think “the boat is full”, which is a especially ironic comment considering all those people on the little boats that sometimes  sink.

These are the big choices we are facing now:

What will we do? What will Europe do, its politicians, its people?

Will we face this together – that was the whole point of the EU right? – or will we revert to guarding our own little countries again, shutting the doors to the problems of the world and our neighbours?

Will we find a way of helping these people without tearing ourselves apart, without deepening the crevice that already runs through our society?

Back in the Netherlands, I am sitting at my desk, wondering. This might be the biggest challenge Europe has been facing since it managed to rise again after the horrors of World War II.

Let’s hope we are up to it.






Eye Trouble Continued – My endless story

Isn’t it ironic? Roughly two months ago I happily announced my blog anniversary, stating how much I like the whole blogging thing and that I would definitely go on.

A few days later my stupid eye injury raised its ugly head again, so I cut down on screen time. Obviously this blog is the first to feel it – I do rely on email for a lot of daily communication, but blogging is something that is not strictly necessary. As is reading books and writing … all the things I love to do. You can imagine my humour dropped.

November was not great, but December was worse. I spent a lot of time lying on the couch with my eyes closed. I managed to attend all the important pre-Christmas events at school (Christmas concerts, Christmas dinner for the children), we spent Christmas at the in-laws (saved me some cooking at least), but looking back now it all seems a blur.

It slowly got better and the last few days I started feeling like me again – the active me with plans and ideas, running up and down the stairs in my house (yep, we are back home again), tackling the chaos, shopping for groceries, that kind of stuff. I actually opened the book I got for Christmas from my mother-in-law, and yes, I dare look at the computer screen for more than a few minutes in a row.

And I stopped wearing my sun glasses in the house.

I had a chat with my eye-specialist (if you could call it a “chat”: I kept asking questions and he mumbled answers). We agreed to give it one more chance: four more weeks wearing that contact lens for protection, then take it off and see how it goes. If it turns bad again (with or without the lens), I will have another treatment, this time with a laser – apparently the success rate is much higher than with the one I had before, so fingers crossed. (Yes, of course: when I heard that I was thinking: why didn’t we do that in the first place then??? But it is a bit more expensive, and the insurance wants to try the cheaper one first, thank you very much.) If I interpret his mumbling correctly, my eye doctor thinks the cornea does look better and better, so maybe I have a chance to dodge another operation after all. We will see.

So hopefully it continues to go up from here – and I can start thinking and writing about other stuff again. And catch up with my reading… Just thinking of all the cool posts I have missed…. even if I only try to catch up with my four or five favourite blogs, this will mean a lot of work for my eye… But I will try to be patient, finish this post and then go offline again. Start the catching up tomorrow, maybe.

It is almost end of the year. Time to close a few not so nice chapters. Time to move on and concentrate on the nice things. There were a lot of those in 2014 too.



Eye Trouble – Part III

Yes, I know, this seems to be a never ending story. Believe me, I would be the one happiest if it already had ended.

But it didn’t – get much better. Maybe a bit. But when we returned from our holiday I was still wearing sun glasses most of the day, even inside. Still could not read much without a worn and burning feeling in my right eye. Still could not see sharply on that eye.

So I went back to the friendly young doctor in the hospital. She looked in my eye. Said “hmm”, which did not sound quite as optimistic as before. Then she went to fetch a collegue, and older doctor. He came in, looked into my eye, starting showing her things. He did not seem as surprised as she had been. Then he told me that basically, yes, the wound had healed, but it had grown a scar. Which was now smuggly sitting on my eye, causing all the trouble. To top it all, it was not likely it would go away by itself.

“OK…” was all I could say first. Which was a bit ridiculous, since I felt everything but ok.

The doctor then told me they could remove the scar by sort of scraping it off my cornea. Creating a new wound, in fact, but a smooth one, one that should heal better. Hopefully without any scars. He also told me that for two or three days it would not feel great, but after that it should be ok.

Well. Sort of.

To cut things short, they did remove the scar. For two days I felt like a sort of vampire, hiding from any kind of light, wearing my sun glasses even in the evening, plus a baseball cap. Light hurt. Light made my eye stream with tears. So I kept it shut most of the day. Luckily, husband could work from home, basically taking care of the boys, putting eye drops in my eye, comforting me.

From the third day on, things began to improve. After a week, the young doctor declared that the wound had closed nicely. They had put a sort of contact lens on my eye like a bandage, but that could go off now.

I was happy, my eye felt better, had definitely improved. I still could not see as sharp as before the accident, but better than before the operation, and they told me the rest would come in time.

I was happy until last night, when I woke up, opened my eye and felt a shart pain again, felt tears streaming down my face. “Not good”, I thought again.

So today I went back to the hospital. The older doctor looked in my eye and asked my why I was not wearing the bandage lens. I told him they had take it off 5 days ago. He shook is head. “No, no”, he said, “this lens needs to be replaced weekly with a new one. You will need to have one in for three months.”

Three months??? That was the first time they told me that. I guess the young doctor did not know this procedure either, otherwise she would not had taken it out. Apparently the wound had opened again last night, at least a bit. Now it was closed again, but the cornea was still very thin. The bandage lens was supposed to protect it until it has grown thick enough and has attached itself firmly onto the underlying layers. Or so I was told. If the wound keeps opening up, it would stay a weak spot, not being able to heal properly.

Great. So here we go again.

New bandage lens. New eye drops. Appointments for weekly changing of the lens. And an appointment with the doctor in four weeks time.


If I am lucky, my cornea has not yet decided it wants to have a weak spot.

If I am lucky, the wound will stay closed now.

If I am lucky, in December I will finally be rid of that lens and have a properly functioning right eye again.

If I am really really lucky, my eye sight will have gone back to normal then.


Can I be please be really really lucky???

Eye Trouble – Part II

When I woke up an hour later, at least I could open my eye again without too much pain. But still I could not see properly. Everything that was not really close up was very hazy. That must be how short-sighted people feel, I thought. Or maybe not. Up till then I had never had any trouble with my eyes (apart from itchiness due to hay-fever, but that does not really count, I guess).

Hazy is not good, I decided and called my doc. I felt quite embarrassed telling my story (who is so stupid to poke herself in the eye with her own finger? ME!!), but he was quite unfazed. “It happens more often than you think”, said, not specifying if he meant eye-injuries in general or silly accidents like mine. “The cornea reacts very sensitive, but it will heal. It just need a little time.” “Like, hours?” I asked hopefully. “Could be a day or two”, he answerded. He told me to rest my eye and call him again if it did not get better at all after a few hours.

So I went back to bed.

It did not get better after a few hours. So I called him again. “I should better see you then”, he decided and gave me an appointment for in the afternoon.

Until then at least the feeling inside the eye had improved – but I still felt like a mole on that eye. Doc put some stinging yellow fluid in my eye and looked at it with a blue light. “Oh yes”, I can see it, “he told me placidly. “You managed to scratch yourself right in front of the pupil. But it is not a big one. I am sure it will heal soon without complications.”He put some antibiotic cream in my eye just in case and put a patch over it. So for the rest of the day I walked around looking like a pirate captain, much to the astonishment of my boys. Interestingly enough they did not roll on the floor laughing but looked at me with real concern. “Can you take this off now?” Little One asked. “Tomorrow”, I promised.

Tomorrow came, the patch came off, the haze was still there. Ok, I thought, give it another day. Don’t worry.

Monday came, no change in eye-sight. I called my doc again, getting a little worried. He seemed concerned. “Maybe you should let an eye specialist look at it just in case”, he told me and arranged an appointment at the hospital (in the Netherlands, the specialist doctors do not have their own practice).

When I went there, a young and very friendly eye-specialist checked my eye-sight, put the yellow drops in again, looked with differents lights at different angles, measured my eye pressure – the whole lot. She then said cheerfully: “Yes, you managed to scratch your cornea right in front of the pupil.” (I already knew that.) “I can see that it is healing and it looks fine.” (Did not feel fine.) “At the moment you can see 80% with your right eye.” (Felt like less.) It should heal by itself in about one week. I can give you a gel to keep the eye moist, so that it feels better.” On one hand I felt relieved, on the other not completely reassured. “If it is not better after a week, should I call you again?” I asked. He shrugged. “You can call, if you like”, she said, which sounded a lot like “it would not change a thing”. She added “some people heal faster than others”, which hinted at a longer period of recovery.

That was almost three weeks ago. Since then, my eye-sight has not really improved. I can see ok-ish up close, blurry at a distance. It does feel better, less sensitive to light though (during the first week I was wearing sun-glasses almost constantly, even in-doors). I found some eye-drops and cream that is supposed to help (via my mum and her doc, because this stuff is not sold in the Netherlands, even though it is available at my mum’s place without prescription), and I am trying to be patient. It helps that we are on holidays at my mum’s place now.

I have tried to keep the computer time to a minimum and I am not reading a lot either. I could try to get an appointment at my mum’s own eye specialist here, but I am not sure if he will tell me anything else. I just hope this thing will heal, and at a reasonable pace.

Just now my eye feels a bit used and worn again… so, good night. Hopefully be back soon.

Eye Trouble – Part I

Do you have an internal list of stupid things you did to yourself?

Well, I do, and I have a new number one.

Right on top before was hitting the stairs with my fist out of anger and frustration about a good friend’s early death. Another story. Number two was missing the last step of – different – stairs and spraying my ankle. Stupid, but not unheard of. Rather common in fact.

But last Friday I managed to poke myself in the eye with my own finger. Don’t ask how I managed to do such a tremendously silly thing. I really don’t know it myself. I only know it was early in the morning, I had just gotten up, was searching for a pack of tissues in the bathroom to blow my nose. Found the tissues. Next thing I know is “ouch”. Really ouch. My eye clamped shut and was not ready to be opened again for quite some time. Tears streaming down my face, I stumbled into the bedroom, where Husband was just getting out of bed. “Can you have a look at my eye?” I asked him, “I poked myself with my finger.” “What?” His was still trying to really wake up and did defintely not look like he was ready to investigate anything, let alone some delicate eye business.

“Never mind.” I went back to the bathroom. Put some cold wet tissue on my eye. Managed to get dressed, to get downstairs to the kitchen, starting to prepare breakfast one-handedly. (One hand I needed to hold the wet tissue to my eye.) In between I tried to open my eye from time to time, without big success.

Husband came down, looked at my eye, did not see anything wrong. Which was a relief of some sort, but did not take away the feeling that there was something not right at all.

Boys came down, looked astonished at their mother’s strange behaviour, but wolved down their cereals as usual. Husband offered to drop the boys of at school, which was a relief as I was not fit for traffic at all.

So, with all three of them out of the house, I thought I might as well go back to bed, close both eyes and hope that things would be better after half an hour’s rest.

They were not. Not really. – They are now, but not completely. Which is why I not only have been missing out on everyone’s lovely blogs during the last week, but also why I should give my eye some rest now. And tell the second part of the story maybe tomorrow.


To be continued.

Still there… but lying low…

Today is the first day in ages that I am back in the WordPress universe. Ok, maybe not ages, but it has been about… three weeks? Feels like ages. Tried to read all the wonderful posts that have been accumulating in my reader, but could not do it. Too many. But I think I read the ones most important to me.

I had not planned to be absent for so long. The holidays, yes, that was planned. Ten days of almost-no-internet, except for the husband’s mobile, for a quick check of really important emails. It was good, being in another world completely for that time. My great plan was to come back, blog about our glamorous holidays and then go on ranting about life, universe and the huge amount of moving boxes I have to fill until June.

So much for the plan. Coming back I first got lost in the biggest mountain of dirty laundry you can imagine (I just say two phrases: “rainy weather” – “boys playing outside a lot” and you will get the pictures). After I had tackled the mountain (“Mount Mud”), little one got sick. Just after I had the (dangerous) thought in my head: “Hey, we really came through this winter without illness (apart from the odd snotty nose and cough)!” Yep, got punished instantly by little one turning into a little heating stove  the other day. He got over it quite quickly though. Meanwhile I was frantically conjuring up to-do-lists for our move. What to pack next, who to inform when, blablabla…  Yuck.

And of course you know what happened next. Sure, I got little one’s bug. I do most times. He is extra specially cuddly when he is sick, giving me a healthy dose of his bugs via a good sneeze now and then. That plus my own stress, probably lowering my immune system. So now I am the snotty one, feeling miserable. Husband travelling. And a big bunch of family coming for a visit this upcoming weekend. Yeah!!!

But here I am, finally getting to read again. And writing down this pitiful little post.

And hoping that, when the virus and the family have left again, maybe I can finally get down to writing something about our holidays. Or my army of boxes. Or whatever.

Hope to see you then!

Holidays and the weather

I admit I have a fixation about the weather. I check the forecast a lot. I like to be prepared, in normal life but even more so on holidays. Holidays, that’s the key-word here. We will be leaving for Italy in a couple of days, and of course the visits to my preferred weather-website now also include the place where we will be staying, plus some place we want to visit. I want to know what kind of clothes to pack, when to plan which day trip. Yes, say it, I am a control freak. Guilty as charged.

But the whole weather business got me thinking: Have you noticed that people do not only care about the weather at their holiday destination – they also want to know how the weather  is/was like at home. So when they come back, one of the first questions they will ask is: “By the way, how was the weather here?” If the answer is “great, we had lovely, sunny weather”, they will nod politely. But look at them when you tell them “horrible, cold, rainy and stormy”. They will say something like “oh, what I pity”, but in their eyes you will see a spark of deep satisfaction. Because that is what they want. Great weather during their holidays and everyone else suffering.

Why is this? Why do we care? Why not just be happy if we have a great holiday? I guess it is a question of choice again. If we have a great time and the ones at home sit in the rain, we did the right thing: we choose to be away and we choose the right place to go. If we have a great time, and the ones at home too, well, that is ok, but not the optimum. We just could have stayed at home then too, right? And if, worst thing that can happen holiday-wise, we sit in the rain and see the money we payed drifting gently away, plus the others at home have the sun we ordered for us – oh my, definitely the wrong choice. Should have stayed at home. Bad, bad. And we hate it if we make wrong choices, do we? Can’t stand it at all.

So, if one of your friends comes back from holidays and ask you about the weather, be a kind soul: No matter how sunny and warm it was, just wave your hand at say “utterly rubbish”. It will make your friend  very happy. And isn’t that what counts?

And know please excuse me. I need to check the weather forecast for Italy again (not brilliant, I am afraid… but maybe it will rain in Holland too…) 😉

No riots in this town

Whatever it was they were afraid of – it did not happen. No anarchist army trying to storm the city, no one trying to climb those fences or crash into those barricades. Just a lot of curious Dutch people with their bikes or on foot, standing around and hoping for a glimpse of someone important arriving for the Nuclear Security Summit.

Apart from that, empty streets. No traffic chaos. Apparently they really scared everyone off, the warnings have worked. On Monday morning the city stayed in Sunday mode. While biking to school with the boys I had to suppress the urge to check if it was really Monday.

Exceptionally nice traffic wardens and police men (in black combat uniform!) showed us where we were allowed to cycle and were not. They smiled, wished us a good day and were open for chats. The only thing disturbing the peace was the constant hum of the helicopters circling the area, until late at night.

On Tuesday, some cars ventured into the streets again, but still too few to cause serious problems. While cycling back from school in the afternoon we did encounter an annoying situation though: The police suddenly started to block one of the (officially open) side roads – someone important apparently needed to drive there. So we had to turn and ride back quite a bit and make a detour. Older boy sighed but did not complain. Younger boy was munching a cookie on his seat on my bike. (He complained later that he had gotten cold though… he did not like those policemen so much.)

Tuesday evening the helicopters stopped and it seemed that this was the end of the NSS for us.

Except for the fact that the fences and barricades were still there. It had taken some time to built them up, so naturally it will take some time to take them down again. Which goes without saying – and therefore no one had really mentioned it (or is it possible that they just thought it would sound too bad… having to live with blocked roads for a week instead of 2-4 days?)

So on Wednesday morning everyone took out their cars again, and we all found ourselves in a huge traffic jam after all. Hurray.

P.S. If I remember it correctly the whole thing cost more than 20 million Euro… I don’t know how much of that sum went into the fences and barricades…. but I think they could have saved some money there…

Blogging in view of a fence

At the moment we have a big metal fence near our house. Plus black roundish barricades. Plus a lot of policemen patrolling in the streets. And helicopters circling the area.

No, I am not living in some sort of dangerous place, but in the peaceful (some say boring) Netherlands. From tomorrow morning on The Hague will be hosting the Nuclear Security Summit – a lot of very important statesmen discussing a lot of very important things (yes, Obama will be there too). It is the most important international political event in modern Netherlands so far, and the Dutch are taking their responsibility very seriously. The whole area has been divided into colour-coded zones, depending on the proximity to the conference hotel. There are zones where you cannot park your car, zones where you are not allowed to drive but ride your bike, zones where you have to walk (or push your bike). And the inner zone (the red one!) is surrounded by big metal fences the Dutch have borrowed from UK (where they allegedly have been used at the Olympic Games in London… though not as part of any competition, I think). A lot of roads have been closed and everyone is warned not to come into the city by car during the next two days, to avoid a complete traffic chaos. The roads from the airport to The Hague are also partly closed. You can imagine what this will do to Monday morning rush hour, if enough people insist on still travelling by car. Everyone is encouraged to use public transport – great idea, except for the fact that the tram we would use in our area is not riding its usual route because of the NSS. So it will be biking to school tomorrow. Luckily it is not that far.

But when I look at all these fences and barricades and policemen I start asking myself: what are they expecting? A violent mob trying to storm the conference building? I cannot really imagine the Dutch doing that. Granted, they are not really fond of authority, but what they would normally do is probably trying to engage everyone in a loooong discussion about it. Now, earnestly, I cannot imagine a big anarchist crowd flooding the city.

But if they are so paranoid about it, why do they have to do the whole event in a city? Why not on the countryside, maybe one of the little Dutch islands up North? Just bring everyone there, shut down the ferry service and enjoy. Maybe let a few ships patrol the North Sea, and if you have to, bring those helicopters over too. – But no, it has to be here, and all the Dutch politicians are so vey proud about the role their country is playing. The eyes of the world are on The Hague. Oh well.

Am I being too cynical? Should I be proud too? – Anyway, I just hope anything good will come out of those two days, not only quarrelling and digging in of metaphorical heels. And with a bit of luck, the anarchists will stay home too or just enjoy the nice spring weather at the beach.

I will let you know.

Good night.