Thursday, 29 December 2011

Rest

Well, hello everyone! Did you miss me? I know, I know, I have been away for over two weeks, but I have a good excuse: it was busy. First it was busy with work and I worked all day every day it seemed. It was quite tiring and I really needed the holiday that was coming up. But when work quietened down, it was home life that was busy. I always make the family newsletter and it's always quite hard to get everybody to send in their stories and things. Which is quite annoying, but in the end I had something that looked quite like a newsletter.

When it finally looked like a newsletter, I had to print it out, staple it together and send it to the family! Which was another day's work and finally on the day before Christmas I was finished with that. Earlier in December there had been plans to celebrate Christmas with some friends of mine, but my head was too full with busyness that I decided to cancel that and just stay home. And apart from the one day where I visited an aunt celebrating her birthday, I did just that: stay at home. Go to bed late, sleep in, eat horrid food (do Smarties count as a food group at all?) and watch television.

For the new year, other things are causing my head to be full of busyness: learning a new language, finding another job, moving to another country, it all needs to be placed somewhere in my head and on occasion I feel it might explode.

Anyway, for now it's quietened down a great deal and if the neighbourhood doesn't go overboard with all the fireworks in the next few days, I shall be fine.

PS: if you were wondering what that photo has to do with this post: absolutely nothing!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Head spinning

For some reason my boss or the planner or whoever it is that gives me the work, has decided to give me a lot of work. I was off one day only last week and worked both Saturday and Sunday. Long hours as well. On Saturday I had to go to a Yule Market which is big business in Germany. I was headed to Düsseldorf, which is quite close to the Netherlands. I had to leave from a nearby trainstation at 8am and here's how the conversation went when I arrived there:

Woman 1: Is this the bus to Düsseldorf?
Me: Yes it is.
Woman 1: Is this number 21?
Me: No, it isn't.
Woman 1: But this is the bus to Düsseldorf?
Me: Yes, it is.
Woman 2: Is this the bus to Düsseldorf?
Me, Yes, it is.
Woman 2: Is this number 24?
Me: No, it isn't.
Woman 1: But this is the bus to Düsseldorf?
Me (getting quite exasperated by now): Yes, it is.
Woman 1 and Woman 2 simultaneously: So, is this number 21/24?
Me: NO, IT ISN'T!
Man 1: Is this the bus to Düsseldorf?
Me (grinding my teeth by now): Yes. It. Is.
Man 1: Is this number 21?
Me: NO!
Woman 3: Is this the bus for FNV to Düsseldorf?
Me: Yes, it is! Welcome.
Man 1: But you're going to Düsseldorf?
Me: Yes, with the union.
Man 1: What's that?
Me (being helpful even though I was fully fed up with them): Which company have you booked your trip with?
Women and Man: GEBO.
Me: This is Connexxion Tours. (and I won't write down what I was thinking at that point, but I give you a clue: it had something to do with sods)

Anyway, the trip went off without a hitch. I was early everywhere and the return trip was good as well. On Wednesday I am off to Cologne. Another Yule Market!!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Did I tell you?

I am learning Norwegian and at the moment I have a vocabulary of about 400 words and phrases. I know what a 'bil' is (car), I know how to count to a hundred, although it does take some time to get the Norwegian answer to Norwegian sums and I am about to learn about verbs and their perfect tense and the past tense and the other tense that uses to have. And I can tell you: it's not easy!

So far, the words I have learnt (with a few exceptions) have something to do with either English, German or Dutch and sometimes it's completely alien. And then there are verbs. Those dreaded verbs. And having to learn about those tenses is in some cases the complete opposite to Dutch.

So, today I set myself a task. Every single verb I should know by now I had to write down the present, past and past perfect (is that it?). The first page was more red lines than any other colour, by page two I had figured I was doing it all wrong and went with my gut. By that time the red became less and less.

To prove to you that I have learnt something more than 'God Jul' and takk (which means thanks): here's a little story about me:

Jeg heter Mara et jeg bor i Nederland. Også har jeg bodd i Frankrike, Italia og England. Jeg er førti år. Jeg har to katter som heter Wuppie og Linette.

Easy! Right?

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Nothing

Just so you know I am not lying dead in a ditch somewhere. But I don't really have much to say right now. It's busy at work, the weather is awful (wind, rain and more wind) and I spend most of my time off learning Norwegian, doing laundry and watching television. I was supposed to go to Brussels this weekend and planning on contacting Gattina to see if we could meet up, but that was changed this morning, so unless Gattina wants to come to Düsseldorf in Germany...

Friday, 2 December 2011

Friends

Grateful for friends who make me laugh! Even if it makes for wobbly photos!!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Well...

I did it: I sent my resumé to a Eures consultant in Bergen, Norway. I don't know what will come of it, but I am keeping my fingers crossed. Wish me luck!

PS: I am having severe problems with uploading photos. On occasion it works fine, but most of the time it just doesn't. As you can see, I did add a photo to this post, but it should have been included on another post! Which didn't work... Anybody any ideas on how to solve it?

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Birthday

And there I was on Friday, sitting in church when all of a sudden my phone went off. Fortunately it happened before the service and I turned it off immediately (others hadn't been so clever or thoughtful). When I finally remembered I had received a text it was well after the service and it was from my sister-in-law: whether I would like to come to the birthday party of her youngest. Which of course I had completely forgotten about, since I forget about a lot of birthdays.

Anyway, I phoned my parents yesterday morning to ask whether they were taking the train or car and when it turned out the were driving, I asked them to come pick me up as well. So, off we all went to my brother and his family.

My youngest niece had turned three and was very happy to receive all those gifts. Although at first she was a bit confused 'because she hadn't put her shoe out the night before'. In the Netherlands we celebrate St Nicholas on December 5th and in the weeks leading up to that day, children all over the country will put out their shoe, containing wish lists, carrots and hay (for his horse) and the next morning there will be a little present in said shoe. But she wasn't one to shy away from presents and when there were none more coming, she found a mug and some wrapping paper to make her own present! So cute...

Unfortunately my parents couldn't drop me off at home at night, so I took the bus home, which of course had left five minutes before I arrived at the busstation! Or so it seemed to me. Never mind though, I had to get some money, find a toilet and I wanted something to drink anyway. And I did make it home in time for my favourite Saturday show of the moment: Strictly Come Dancing. Yea...

Friday, 25 November 2011

Laurens

Late August a colleague of mine went to see a doctor about some swelling in his groin area. A few days later he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Unfortunately not in the early stages, because it had already spread to the blood and bones, but the doctors still gave him 9 months, more if the medication would work. His weight kept dropping though, since he couldn't keep his food down and he was admitted to hospital with severe dehydration.

While in hospital they discovered it had also spread to his brain and the nine months was quickly changed into a couple of weeks. He passed away on Monday. Today all the colleagues from our lot said goodbye to him for the last time. He will be very much missed.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Busy

A few weeks ago I was told by my manager that I wasn't working enough! Since we don't have nine to five jobs, it sometimes makes it harder to actually reach the 173,3 hours of work needed in a month. Especially when work is very thin on the ground. But to then blame me is a bit much I thought and I told him so as well: if you want me to reach the hours, plan better! I will work!!

So, over the last few weeks I have been working more than 'normal'. Last week was a six-day week for me, filled with school runs, army rides, more school runs and yes, even more school runs. This week it was going to be more of the same, even if today is an easy day: just the hither in the morning and the tither in the afternoon.

To top it all off, it has been extremely tiring to drive lately: we have had a persistent fog for about a week now and on Monday especially, it was hard going: visibility going down in some cases to less than 50 meters! Very tiring on the eyes, even if I do sport a fancy yellow pair!

Whenever I have a few minutes in between runs or even during a run, I am cramming my head with Norwegian words. I thought it would be easy, but I don't know whether I underestimated the language or overestimated my ability to learn a new language, but it is proving to be harder than I thought. The reading and writing and even the hearing are okay, but the speaking? Ten words on paper and you can just hear one single sound! Incredible. I've found a solution though: Norwegian radio and every time I recognize a word or phrase I whoop. Not much whooping yet though, but it will come! After all, I only know about three hundred words so far! And according to the dictionary I just got there are a few more out there!!! Just a few...

Anyway, my head is just about swimming with Norwegian words, fog and work and (og) unfortunately (dessverre) there hasn't been a lot (mange) of time to write (skrive) my blog or read (lese) any other blogs.  

Friday, 18 November 2011

144

We have a new emergency number in the Netherlands: 144 to save an animal. If, for example, you see a horse in a ditch, you can phone them and they will put you through to the emergency service needed.

So, when I saw a horse in a ditch, I phoned 144 and was put through to the police. I told them where I had seen the horse in the ditch and that I didn't think it would be possible for the horse to get out of said ditch by itself, since the banks were too high. Fortunately I wasn't the only one who had phoned in and I hung up, relieved something was going to be done to this poor horse.

When I got back at night I wondered what had happened to the horse and after a bit of searching I finally found it. Now, I phoned at 11.15am or thereabouts and somebody else had already reported it before me. The fire department got notified at a little before midday! Anyway, the fire department made their way over to the horse, where a car rescue service and highway patrol were already on site. The fire department tried to put a harness on the horse, but that didn't go as smoothly as they had hoped.

Then the owner of the horse arrived and told the fire department that he didn't need help, he could do it himself. First he used a rope to get the horse closer to the field, then the harness was put over the head and using a tractor, the horse was pulled into the field. However, the horse was quite dizzy and actually fell back into the ditch! So, the farmer tried again and this time he was successful! The fire department did not assist and distanced itself from the method used by the farmer.

If you click on this link, you can see the photos that were taken.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Admitting defeat

Those are two of the three words I know in Norwegian. But it's not something you can use in every day life of course, unless it's Christmas all year round (it means merry Christmas)! So, I have ordered a Norwegian course to learn the language, so I won't have to say God Jul all day every day!!

And the reason I did that? Well, I think I can safely say Canada is a no-go. I always knew it was going to be extremely difficult and that the chances of me finding work there were always slim, but I tried my best and in the end... I failed. I talked it over with my mum and even though she feels sorry I haven't reached my goal, she is secretly (and not so secretly) really happy Canada is out. Norway is of course a. closer and b. it's closer and most importantly c. it's closer.

Now before you start thinking any strange things about how I can suddenly shift my focus from one to the other, it's not so sudden and it's not so different. Let me explain...

The up sides about Canada: it's roomy, the weather, nature, they speak English, the cost of living is somewhat lower and according to some who shall remain unnamed (Kay, you know who you are), there are wild animals roaming free!
The down sides: it's far, it's hard to emigrate to, I wouldn't be able to do my preferred job and I would earn a lot less than in the Netherlands.

The up sides about Norway: it's roomy, most of the weather, nature, I would be able to do my preferred job, I would earn more, it's easier to move to and it's closer. Oh, and biathlon is one of the national sports!!!
The down sides: the cost of living is higher and they speak Norwegian, which is a language I don't speak (yet).

All in all, weighing up the pros and cons (there are a few more, but I don't want this to become one of those mile long posts), I think Norway would suit me quite nicely. As long as I get that language learnt of course. Fortunately I have a knack for languages, or so I am told and I do speak Dutch and German and English and I understand Frisian, so it shouldn't be too hard (she says...).

So, now you know.

PS: I just thought about this tattoo thingy. If I were to make my new life in Norway, there is no way I will get a troll tattooed on my shoulder!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The winners

Venice in the '90's. Not in the calendar!
Ah, that give-away from last week. Filled with photos from my travels. It would look fantastic on anybody's desk, but it is only won by two. So, drumroll please...

Debby (@Just Breathe) asked for an extra day next year and guess what: she got it! Especially for her, I put an extra day in. I stuck it in at the end of February, which now has 29 instead of 28 days. An extra day to just breathe and live life to the fullest!

Cry (@Thru My Minds Eye) gave a little ditty that didn't rhyme, so we can safely say she has the modern poetry down pat! I've given her the extra day as well, so she can do some more modern poetry!

Congratulations to both of you, the calendars will be heading your way asap!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

I should have known

Remember when I told you I was feeling a bit under the weather? Well, I should have known it was a precursor for what was to come. I should have realised a hint of a headache means a headache is coming. I should have known a cold is not just a cold anymore. I just... should have known!

I had a beer on Tuesday. Nothing strange about that at all. And normally they are fine. And this one was fine. But on Wednesday morning I woke up with a headache. Which was a bit annoying: can I not have a single beer anymore? However, the headache persisted and persisted and instead of just fading away, it seemed to be getting stronger. Until at about 9pm it clicked: it wasn't the beer. It's the sinusitis. Again!!

So, paracetamols in my bag and off to work I went this morning. A day filled with primary school children and noise. Fortunately they were all reasonably quiet after I told them to be quiet because I had a severe headache. One school actually whispered all the way home! But alas, the headache didn't abate. It actually got worse and worse. Until I realised that working tomorrow would be a pain (no pun intended). I phoned my boss who was able to change my shift. I should have done an all-day trip to Germany and back, I now have to drive high school kids to school and back. A lot better. (By the way, the colleague who took over my job is off tomorrow, because the whole trip was cancelled!)

I am feeling fine(ish) now. The headache has lessened somewhat, although I know that doesn't mean it's gone. My mum got me some steaming stuff (bowl of hot water, steaming stuff and a tea towel are involved in this) and nasal spray and fortunately I still have some paracetamol. Hopefully this episode will pass soon enough!

PS: if you still want to have a shot at winning one of the desk top calendars I am giving away: go to Over Mara's Shoulder and leave a comment!

Monday, 7 November 2011

One of those weeks

As I wrote on Facebook the other day: I am tired. And not so much tired as in sleepy, but tired of everything. Of waiting to hear back from any of the 26 hotels I sent my resumé to last week (two so far and they have both put me in the pile to 'hang on to for three months'). Tired of doing the laundry that seems to keep coming back faster than I clean it. Tired of my television that has decided to not give me the sound I should (which makes it difficult to watch a region 1 dvd: I have to sit two feet away to actually be able to hear anything). Tired of the weather that still has summer temperatures, even though it's now November. And even tired of work. Because that last thing tends to be the same every day: pick up children and drop them off at school in the morning and do the reverse in the afternoon. On occasion we do the swimming pool run, which isn't that different.

On Saturday there was a bit of change from the normal: I had a football run! A local ladies' football team were playing against a team that was a bit too far to drive to themselves, so they hired a bus. It wasn't so bad. The girls were friendly, the weather was good and I managed to find the venue first time round and was able to park there without any difficulty. They won and we drove back.

Today is another break from the normal: I have to pick up a group of people at some resort or other, drive them to a town on the other side of the country, where they will visit a brewery and then tonight we will drive back. Hopefully they won't be completely drunk and will be on time.

Perhaps I just have the autumn blues, perhaps I just feel ick (yes, I spelled that right) because I am getting a cold. Either way, I hope I will win the lottery this week so I can go and have a nice holiday in some nice and warm and sunny country. Ooooohhhh....

PS: If you still want to have a shot at winning a lovely desk-top calendar, leave a comment on the following post: Over Mara's shoulder

Friday, 4 November 2011

Coffee Klatch 3



A bucket list she asks for! A bucket list!! (imagine my voice going up a bit now) But then again, it was easy for me this week, since I've got a bucket list all ready and waiting to get out of that bucket. Which is a weird thing to say in the first place. Bucket list. Anyway, here's mine!

This is more my size of horse!
Learn how to tapdance
When I was younger I was allowed to take tapdancing classes, but unfortunately I had to go to bible class. Since they were on the same night...
Learn how to ride a horse
Even though the horse I have been on was huge, I think there must be smaller ones out there. A shetland pony or something similar!
Do a sky-dive
Not really sure about this one, but once I get over the fear of jumping of the high board in the swimming pool, I might give this one a try.
Do a bungee-jump
See above!

Have tea at the Ritz in London
Ever since the doorman at the Ritz saved my life (or so it felt at the time, he only pointed me in the direction of home), I've wanted to go there some day and take tea! With scones and sandwiches and such...
Have a professional photo-shoot
Fancy clothes, great make-up, possibly a handsome model to pose with, what's not to like?
Learn how to play a musical instrument
I've tried the recorder and I've tried that Irish flute, but the only sound I have produced was a high screechy sound. I won't be playing in the Boston Philarmonic any time soon...
Emigrate to Canada
If you don't know this by now, you haven't been reading my blog at all and I suggest you go back to all the posts about me wanting to emigrate to Canada!

Own a bright pink car
And I mean properly pink. None of that baby pink for me.
Get a tattoo
I did! I got myself a tattoo!
Go mud-flat hiking
One of the great mucky things to do that sounds like it's great (albeit cold) fun. One day though, one day...

The next question was about my favourite candy. Well, when I was younger I used to love liquorice all-sorts, although I tended to pick those awful coconutty jobbies out of there: yuck! Nowadays, jellybeans I love, but since my stomach doesn't...

If you want the chance to win a desktop calendar, please leave a comment on my previous post! Click here to get there. 

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Over Mara's shoulder

Yes, it's that time of the year to give something away again. And like last year, I will be giving a desk top calendar away. Which is full of photos I took on my travels in Europe and Canada this year.

If you want to have a shot of winning one of two calendars, just leave a comment on this post! Easy peasy. You've got a whole week of thinking of a great comment, closing time is Friday, November 11th at midnight (GMT).

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The heating

The heating was fixed and the showers were nice and hot again. But there was still a problem: every other day or so, I had to refill the heating system because it was leaking. So, on Monday I made another phone call to the company who fixed the heating system and yesterday another man came out to fix the thing. And he replaced the same thing the guy replaced last week! You've got to wonder.

Anyway, since yesterday the water level in the system stays at the same point, so I can safely say the leaking has stopped. I wonder what will be next to go...

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Mr Pumpkinhead

When I was in Canada, the stores were filled with all things Hallowe'en, which was both great fun and a shame. The great fun of course was seeing all that stuff that I had previously only seen in films and on tv since we don't celebrate Hallowe'en in the Netherlands. At least not to the extent they do it in North America. The shame was about it not being Christmassy stuff that was out. Although that might have delayed my plans for moving a bit longer, since I would probably have needed another suitcase for all the stuff I might would have bought.

Anyway, as I was walking through one of the stores one day, I came across this one stand with all these outfits on. Witches and warlocks, ghosts and ghouls and of course pumpkins. But they weren't for you and me, no, they were for our little furry friends! And even though the outfits were quite pricey, I couldn't resist to pick out the pumpkin suit for the smallest dogs. I thought Mathilda would look grand in it, but of course she never got the opportunity to show it off. But I then realised Wuppie might look fantastic in it too, him being on the orange side already. The only question was: would it fit? Well, it did and there was room to spare.

Happy Hallowe'en everyone!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Coffee with friends 2

List ten things you have done! Should be easy (well, easier at least). Here goes:

Just a prop! I swear!!!
I got a tattoo. Oh yes, I did. Last year and it didn't hurt nearly as much as I had anticipated. It's of a little orange tulip and is on my right shoulderback.
I wore a wedding dress once. Not my own, my Mum's and she cut it to size so I could wear it. I wore it for the five year anniversary of my primary school during the neighbourhood parade. My teacher wore the matching groom's outfit. Well, the top anyway, the bottom was soccer gear!
I have smoked. Or should I say, tried to smoke. Twice! The very first time I was quite sozzled (not to say pissed as a fart) and actually stuck the burning end in my mouth. My colleagues got that ciggy away from me in no time! The second time I wasn't quite as sozzled and tried one. At first I didn't think it was so bad, until I tasted it properly: like licking out an ashtray! And before you ask me how I would know, when I was about 2 to 3 years old I ate all the cigaretty butts in the ashtray while my parental unit wasn't looking. He looked when I started throwing them all up again though!

I have been inhuman twice in my life. Not that I grew tentacles or horns or anything, but according to two people I was inhuman. The first because I didn't want to sleep with him, the second because I wasn't willing to give up my bed to a small child (for reasons that were her fault and then she blamed them on me).
I have taken five driving tests. Three for my car licence and two for the bus. I tended to drive like a wet flannel when having a test. As soon as I stopped telling people I was having a test I would drive like a dream. And pass of course...
I have kissed a German and a Frenchman and an Italian and an Irishman and an Englishman and a Zimbabwan and even a Dutchman or two. Oh, the memories. But I don't kiss and tell...

I've gotten lost in a wood with my bus. For some reason I missed the right turning and ended up driving up a sandpath that got narrower and narrower. Then it turned into a bridle way, crossed a very steep train track, became muddier and wetter and I was getting more and more nervous and scared. In the end I exited the wood via the cycle path which was barely wide enough for me!
I have knitted paintpots and champagne bottles. I have knitted since I was six, but never had much time for sweaters and the like. When living in England I got hold of some books with small figurines in them and have knitted those ever since. I even knitted a nativity scene including the Baby Jesus!
I have met three blogfriends (so far). Carolina helped me get my garden in order last year, and this year I met Kay twice and Jackie, a Dutch immigrant to Canada. I could have met another one if she and I had known we were within twenty minutes of each other! Alas, we didn't and we never met (still sorry about that Ginnie Marie).
I've been in prison. Well, I actually worked there for about three days. I had to check the prisoners' food and during lunch hour I had to serve in the staff restaurant. I got into a disagreement with the manager though and didn't have to come back (the same thing happened at the court house by the way).

The second part is supposed to be an autumn recipe. Go to your kitchen and find the biggest mug you can find. Make a nice hot chocolate (and I mean nice), add a good splash of Beerenburg (a Dutch Schnaps), some mini marshmellows and a great big dollop of whipped cream. Then sit on a nice comfy couch and enjoy!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Hot and cold

I wanted a nice hot shower. But when I stepped into the shower, I found the water wasn't warm. It wasn't exactly cold either, it was just sort of inbetween. Luke warm, tepid. And it would have been perfectly alright in the middle of summer. It's not summer though, it's the autumn and the temperatures outside don't go that high up anymore. So, getting out of a luke warm shower means I am freezing my behind off.

I had another problem as well. My heating. It just wouldn't turn off. So, I had taken to closing all the radiators at night, since I hate sleeping in a warm room. Unless it's summer of course, which it isn't!

Yesterday the man came to fix it all. Well, I say man, but teenager would probably be more appropriate. Perhaps early twenties, but that was it. Anyway, he opened the kettle thingy up, saw a valve was set to heating and not to hot water (it was broken), went out again and came back two minutes later with the new part and fixed it. So, that shower last night was heaven. And when I came down this morning I found that the heating worked properly again as well: I turn it off at the thermostat and it just stops.

But the best thing? Since I live in rented accommodation, the housing association pays for repairs like these. Brilliant!!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Coffee with friends


I've been wanting to join a meme again for a long time now, but hadn't really found one I wanted to join until I read Flamblogger's blog. Coffee klatch sounded great, so I will try and join every week if possible, today for certain!
Tower of London
Today's question is to list ten things you have never done. So, here goes:
I've not managed to learn Japanese. Not for lack of trying though, I've still got the books at home, but jellybeans, is that language a tough one! Nothing is like any of the languages I speak and I had to give it up in the end.
I've never used drugs, not even a joint. Knowing my tendency to get hooked onto something reasonably fast, I think it was wise never to use any, although I do wonder what it would feel like to be all high. However, this DOES NOT mean I will be trying any!! I'll climb a tower to feel high...
I've never travelled the world. At some point in my life I really wanted to see the world and go backpacking, but as I've grown older I don't think I missed much. Besides I know I like my creature comforts a bit too much as well to be roughing it in some hostel in the outback of Australia!

I've not had any children. I have got a nephew, two nieces, a goddaughter, a sugar daughter and a sugar son though. And of course my monsters who are almost like my children.
I've never ever played truant. I wouldn't have dared! The look my father or mother would have given me would have been too awful!
I've never cheated on any test. I remember once a class mate had actually gotten hold of the test and had copied it for the entire class. I was the only one who earned that grade fair and square because I refused to do it that way. My father and mother, you get the drift.

I've never seen 'The Day After' about the aftermath of the atomic bomb. I could have, I probably should have, but I refused and spent the periods when it was shown in religion class in the cafeteria of our high school. Me refusing anything was a sign that I was serious, since I usually went along with a lot.
I have never eaten mushrooms willingly. It's not so much the taste as the texture of them. Slimy, slippery, gross and they are grown on horses' poo! I will pick them out of my food. Ooh, even thinking about them makes my skin crawl!
I have never ridden a motor cycle or moped. When I was younger, the first thing I wanted to learn when I was old enough was how to ride a motor cycle. The only thing I have done so far is sit on the back and that was not the success I thought it might have been: a sore and wooden bum!
I haven't ever ridden a horse. I've been on one, but it has always been stationary. Oh, and I had to be hoisted on by two colleagues!!


Then there's a question to be answered as well: please share with us something that you do to prepare for this changing weather. Well, the thing I do is try and get my heating system to work again. It has a mind of its own after a summer of not being used and now it's quite temperamental, heating when it's not even on! But I will get it tamed before the really cold weather sets in. Or just wear thick socks!

For more Coffee Klatch, please go to The Tapestry of Life and join in!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

More Canada

Farmland with Rockies in the distance
Before you ask: no, I haven't heard anything back from either my agent or the hotel manager. I have to be patient now, because it can take up to two months before the LMO is being issued! Which isn't all bad though: it will give me a chance to add to my rather depleted savings again! A question I have been asked time and time again is why do I want to move to Canada? And it always has been hard to put into words. But I will try to give it a go.
Presbyterian Church in Banff
I have never felt that the Netherlands was the end destination for me. I had lived in several other countries during my late teens and early twenties and two of those countries were seriously considered by me: France and England. In France I was thinking about becoming a tourguide on a coach (this was way before I could drive a car, let alone a bus), but I never went through with that. And then in England I just thought I wouldn't mind living there. I don't really know what I would have done though, probably something in hospitality: waitressing or hotel reception. But in the end I moved back to the Netherlands at the grand old age(!) of 24.

Jasper National Park
I have always wanted to go someplace I wasn't: for the journey or for the greener grass or for the I don't know what. At some times that bug was dormant, at other times it was very much awake. And then about 6 years ago that bug woke up and this time I didn't want to stay in the Netherlands, I didn't even want to stay in Europe! I was fed up with European rules and regulations and wanted a big change in scenery. Of course finances were a bit dire, but after a lot of scrimping and saving I not only managed to pay off a massive debt, but also saved enough!

Jasper National Park
Choosing which non-European country was a bit random really. I didn't want to learn a new language if I could help it, so most countries in Asia, Africa and South America were out. I wanted proper summer and winter seasons. Not those wishy washy things we call seasons over here. There was no way I would put my cats in quarantine for up to 6 months (Australia and New Zealand). And I wanted some semblance of social security. Which left Canada really!

Many pine trees have fallen victim to the pine beetle
I then started doing research. And found out that Canada not only had all of what I wanted, but heaps and heaps more: nature, space and a very positive feeling towards immigrants. Warm summers, cold winters. No quarantine. They spoke English (and French), both languages I do already speak to some degree. And according to many immigrants a really nice and good place to live.

Well, at least I saw a gorilla!!!!
Of course I still wanted to see it for myself and when I did, there was only one small disappointment. Yes, there was! I had after all been promised bears and elk and moose and the likes and one chipmunk, two deer and three mountain goats do not make one bear! I have come to the conclusion that the Canadian tourist board is just putting that rumour out to have tourists come and spend bucket loads of money!

Absolutely glorious!
Other than that though I loved it. The Rocky Mountains were great, but my heart skipped a beat when I saw the Badlands and the farmlands (I still can't wait to show my sister some time soon). The houses looked so unlike the houses we have in the Netherlands and the cars, lorries and shopping centers were ridiculously large. I will learn to love hockey (see how I skipped the ice already?), since I like it already. And overall, I thought I hadn't made such a bad choice! I can't wait to book my flight...

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The weird and wonderful

I promised a post about 'Canadianisms' and other assorted things that surprised and confused me, so here it is. And from the moment I first landed in North America there has been much to surprise and confuse me...

Restaurant in Calgary
Let's start with one of the things that is always on my mind: toilets. Or as they say in North America: bathrooms, washrooms or restrooms. People please: if there's no bath, it's not a bathroom, a washroom just sounds as if you wash and a restroom is just ridiculous: if I were to spend an hour lying on the floor resting, security would be gotten and I would end up at the nearest police station! So, toilet it is. And the first thing I noticed as European is that the toilet bowls are full of water. There's enough water in the toilet bowl for a family of ducks to swim around in and there still being enough room for a crocodile! And I had heard about North America being on the prudish side (compared to Europeans), but even I don't want to bare all when I'm using the toilet. You could drive a truck through the gaps between the doors and a toddler wouldn't need to crouch to get underneath the door either!

Once I had arrived in Edmonton and had rented a car, it was difficult to remember which car was mine. Especially if it was parked in a parking lot with a lot of other silver grey Chevrolet Impalas. All facing forwards. Because for some obscure reason (don't ask me please), Alberta numberplates are only found on the back of the car! What's the deal with that? Fortunately I never parked it in a parking lot with a lot of other silver grey Chevrolet Impalas all facing forwards. And I had written down the numberplate. Somewhere!

Now, if I had rented that car in the Netherlands it would have been considered to be a big car. There was enough room for 5 and you could sleep in that boot (albeit a bit curled up). Over in Canada, that car was deemed to be small. Well, perhaps not small, but definitely not big!

3 Ave S meant Third Avenue South of the River Bow
In Europe we're used to streetnames that do make some sense, with the emphasis on some. If you're in Market Street, you are usually somewhere in the center of a town or village, if it's got a funny name of a composer or a colour or a tree or anything like that, it's usually out in the newer suburbs. But in Canada it's completely different, since it's all in a grid. Quite easy though, just count and you will be fine. And I even grasped the house numbering in Edmonton. 10325 88th Avenue (East-West) means it's close to 103rd Street (North-South). Which took me no time at all to figure out (perhaps I should add, I had read about this some time ago)!

West Edmonton Mall
Then of course there are the really shiny apples, the tax not included in the sales price, Hallowe'en (although it was probably a good thing the Christmas stuff wasn't out yet: I would have needed another suitcase), the fixed showerheads and the motorways that aren't really motorways (stopping on the hard shoulder, are you kidding me?) plus a gazillion things I won't find out until I've actually moved there!

Overall though, I quite liked Canada and wouldn't mind moving there...

Friday, 14 October 2011

Letting go of Mathilda


26th May 1998 - 13th October 2011