Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Just something that happened

Warning: this is quite a graphic post about a smelly subject. Just so you know!

Disclaimer: this has absolutely nothing to do with Miss Oswin. Obviously a feline of her caliber would never be involved in something smelly. And any photos are for illustration purposes only... Just so you know!!

The other day there was a certain feline who was making a racket. This particular feline wanted to go outside, but the weather was rain, hail and thunderstorms, so that was a no. At some point this feline seemed to give up and visited a certain area. When this feline came back to the living room, it was thumping its tail, which made both humans in the room look up. Why was it doing that?

On closer inspection it was found that the feline had a poo hanging out. It sometimes happens to felines with longer fur. The thing to do was to remove said poo. First to catch the feline though, which happened after a little chase was given.

The feline was held closely and then the poo was removed, which caused the feline to howl a bit. Because the inch of poo showing, was still attached to two inches of poo that were stuck together with something that looked a lot like a twig. And all that was still stuck inside the feline! 

Once removed however, the feline seemed to be much happier. The things they get up to though...

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

So, these books then

Lately I have been reading a fair amount of books. As I mentioned the other day: I read mostly at work, although I will read a few chapters before going to bed as well. Although the other night it turned out to be nearly a quarter of a fairly big book! 

So, what have I read then? First I read a book that was set by somebody in my book club: An Olive Grove at the Edge of the World. Basically an autobiography of the writer and his partner setting up home in rural New Zealand. It was written in the form of blog posts and concerned everything from olive harvests to killing chickens. It was a fun read and I gave it 3 out of 5.

My next outing was The Tattooist from Auschwitz. Another true story, this time about the man who had to tattoo all those numbers on the prisoners who lived to see at least one other day. One of those was a woman he fell in love with and tried to spend time with outside working hours. For some reason it just never really did much for me though. The main character or the story never grabbed me. The only reason I gave it 3 out of 5 stars was the story. The story telling was what kept the score down!

Next came The Travelling Cat Chronicles. The cat Nana is telling about his life with his owner and how at some point they go travelling in the silver van. The owner wants to find him a new home, but doesn't mention why. This story had me hooked from the beginning. It had me smiling, it had me laughing and in the end it had me bawling my eyes out. Obviously I gave it 5 out of 5.

Then it was the turn of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It was a documentary book, telling the story about Henrietta Lacks and her family and how her cells became the most important in the world, helping to find cures and medicines for everything from Polio to Diabetes. HeLa cells may be immortal and generated billions of dollars, but her family lived from pay check to pay check, not even knowing their wife/mother/friend was famous. It was a really thought provoking book, especially in this day and age of personal liberties and privacy. Another 5 out of 5.

My last book so far was Little. I didn't know who it was about really, not until I read the last couple of pages when I wasn't even close to the end. Marie is born in Switzerland, loses her parents, leaves Bern for Paris with her employer, lives at the Palace of Versailles all the while making wax figures of body parts and people. It was quite a macabre book, filled with drawings by the author, but for some reason it kept me gripped. In the end I gave it 4 out of 5.

My next outings will be: Early Riser by Jasper Fforde; A Country Escape by Katie Fforde (no relation); Maybe This Time by Jill Mansell; The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg (love her) and The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Alphabet rice

I have this bottle. A beautiful blue bottle which holds a liter of water. I can use it again and again. It's a lovely bottle. When I go to work, it comes with me. In my bag, nice and snug. But then one day, I was perhaps a bit rough with the bag and when I opened it, out came the bottle: empty! A liter of water had emptied in my bag, soaking my bag, my book, my lunch and several other things. 

From then on, I was very careful with the bottle. But alas, a week or so later: another mishap. Fortunately this time not in my bag, but in my cooling bag which is plastic and can be emptied out easily. Of course the story doesn't end there, because last Friday, you've guessed it, the same problem again! The bottle was closed, but through a wrong move it opened and emptied itself over the contents of the bag, the bag itself and the seat the bag was standing on.

One of the things that had been in the bag, also the first time around, was my Kindle. I like to read you see and do a lot of that at work. Not while driving, although plenty of passengers pass me their papers or phone to do exactly that (it's dangerous folks!), but during my 15 minute breaks I have every hour. Back to the Kindle however. It had been in my bag the first time around and came out of it unscathed. A few drops on the cover and that was it. 

This time around though: a bit more water. This was at the start of my shift and even though I tried to get as much water removed from it, it seemed some of it had found its way inside and frozen the screen. I tried several times during my shift, but no go. When I got home that evening, I asked my mother for some rice and even though she only had dessert rice, it was rice. So, I put my Kindle in a container and poured the rice onto it. 

I also tried to load the Kindle and that was promising: the orange loading light did come on and the screen did flicker briefly. Only briefly though and it was still frozen. On Saturday, I removed it from the rice and left it on the table. Again I tried loading it, but with the same result: orange light, a brief flicker and nothing else. 

On Sunday morning, I decided to take my Kindle up to my computer. Perhaps it could talk some sense into my Kindle. I plugged it in and lo and behold: the orange light came on. And then... the screen changed! And within five minutes I had a working Kindle again. 

From now on I will keep my Kindle well away from my lovely water bottle. But, when I will get myself a new Kindle at some point in the future, I might just invest in a waterproof one...

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Photo on Sunday 2019-27

Bowl of (desert) rice to try and dry my Kindle. It was touch and go, but today it showed signs of life again...

Friday, 9 August 2019

Some stuff that happened

Venice, and I do the line to 'Dutch Venice'.
When I first started working for my 'old' company, I had some days with touring work. I liked it, it was like the old days. But I knew that if I said to the jobs during the day, it wouldn't be long before those jobs would extend into very early morning or late evening/night. Not what I wanted anymore and I told them I would prefer to stick to my public transport line.

I call it public transport because it is open to everybody (as long as they pay), but I do not drive the regular line. I drive the tourist line. With a lot of people from the Asian continent, which occasionally means having to roll my eyes in disbelief and sighing very deeply. Their English is sometimes very good and sometimes non-existent. And the latter especially requires heavy eye rolling!

Rembrandt's Night Watch in sand
But there are also things that make me smile. Sometimes with passengers, often with stuff on the outside. During spring there were a lot of geese in the area. They are still there now really, but they all fly now. During the spring they walk, as their young can't fly yet. And seeing Mummy Goose, several goslings and Daddy Goose crossing the road is fun. It gets less fun when not only the Goose Family, but the extended Gooses cross, as you can sometimes sit there for nearly five minutes for all of them to cross. Unfortunately no photos.

Whereas the Gooses come with both mum and dad, the Ducks come with mum only. But she leads them with the same determination as the Gooses! And when she has tiny newly hatched ducklings, there is a huge ooooooh-factor, including from the passengers.

"I am gonna get you"
The other day I saw two dogs, a big one and a smaller one, the smaller rubbing against the big dog. As I got closer however, I realised it was a large dog and a cat! That was a smile for me. 

Because much of the area I drive through is adjacent to a National Park, nature is beautiful. Trees and flowers are fantastic to see change through the seasons. Talking about National Parks: I once had a lady who came at the end of the day and she wanted to visit said park. She wanted to see the mountains! Ehm... there are no mountains, it's flat here. But it's a National Park, she replied... 

The last thing I wanted to share with you has nothing to do with work. But the other day I went into a fast food restaurant to get a McKroket and as I was waiting for it to be prepared, a girl was called forward. The server wondered whether her order was right, as she had ordered a cheeseburger. Without cheese! 

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Wood cutting

I haven't even shown you all of the fantastic sand displays and they will probably pop up in the blogs to come, but I wanted to show you something else as well.

There was a whole 'army'
The place we went to was originally a sculpture garden. Basically a small garden center that specialised in garden sculptures. For sale as well, although some of them wanted a wallet heavier than the actual sculpture! Some were more in our range, even if we didn't take any home, not even the sleeping cat. 

Through the wood chipper or turn into art?? 
Even though the main focus seems to be on the sand sculptures now, they still have a fair amount of other sculptures out in the 'garden' and in the parking area as well. Not sculptures that once built will remain for ever, but ones that will over time disintegrate and disappear. Very environmentally friendly.

Don't you dare let one rip!!!
Where some people work with sand to show their art, others take to the chainsaw and carve the most fantastic scenes out of trees and wood. Sometimes you can clearly see the origins (like the boar's head), other times it is a bit more difficult. 

However, also with these: the artistry and skill to make those beautiful sculptures is amazing! We weren't allowed to touch the sand sculptures (for obvious reasons), but most of the tree sculptures were okay to touch. Even this very angry bear!

An Elepus? Or an Octophant?
When we were driving away from the village, there were several trees that had been turned into pieces of art as well. Those trees were dead or dying and were then used to make something beautiful! No photos of that though: too blurry.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Sand castles

A small part of the 'skyline of the world'
Back in May, my parents asked me whether I wanted to come to the sand sculpture festival, that is held each year in a village not far from here. Of course! So, we set out to pick a date. Either I was at work, or my father was at work or one or the other or all of us had to go visit some medical person. Finally however, we agreed on a date. Late July.

The Colosseum in Rome with the Pyramid of Gizeh in the background
The day came and went and I hadn't seen a single grain of sand, as I had stayed indoors for much of the day. Temperatures of close to 40 degrees C are not fun if you want to go and visit things. The visit was put on hold. 

Wouldn't want to meet this fellow in a dark creek...
This week arrived and lo and behold: a free day for all of us! Let's do it. And we did. And hundreds of other people too: it was heaving! Despite the amount of people there though, it was great fun and we got to see skill that went far beyond my abilities to build a sand castle. People, places, animals. All beautifully crafted.

In the saloon
The theme was all around the world and it was really well done. The bigger part of the exhibition was inside, but even the parts that were outside, were still beautiful. We haven't had much rain this year, but the rain we have had was sometimes torrential, however, by the look of them, you wouldn't have known.

Angela Merkel, Putin and the Chinese leader?
We started off with the skyline of the world, showing famous buildings from several places. Then there was a fishy bit of which I didn't take that many photos. We continued outside, where it seemed the Chinese leader (or North Korean one) seemed to be waving at Donald Trump. 

Mont Saint Michel
There was a view of Jerusalem, there was a fish and chips shop, a cloth seller and my favourite: Mont Saint Michel in France. To make that from sand is just incredible. 

A close-up of Mont Saint Michel.
Here you can really see it's made of sand
On we went inside, where there were several lovely displays, but the biggest and best had to have been the animal one. A massive display showing anything from elephant and rhino to monkey and moth. 

Part of the massive animal display
The final part of the display was again inside and it was also a scavenger hunt of sorts. We had to join the event displayed to the list we had been given. Most of the events were Dutch and wouldn't have meant much to foreigners, but again: the skill!

Close your beaks and your eyes: goodnight!
The visit ended then and we finished it by having pancakes in a small village close by. Mmmmm

The assassination of President Kennedy

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

More health news

Our home is a home filled with pills. Out of us three, two have to take medication on a daily basis. My mother is the only one who doesn't. That doesn't mean however that she is without her medical problems. 

As you probably remember, my mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer a couple of years ago. They caught it in the early stages and she was given the all clear eventually. But, as with all cancers, she has to have regular check-ups. Yesterday was one such and she came out with a positive result! Next year is the next check-up. This was happy news.

My father is not free of medication. His 'illness of choice' being diabetes. He has worked really hard in losing weight and getting this, that and the other down and yesterday he had his check-up. His doctor was really pleased with his progress. Keep up the good work. 

And lastly there's me. I take daily medication for migraines (the beta blockers) which really help. I have not had a migraine attack in several months now (the headaches are not migraine related, but bad body posture related). The other medication is for endometriosis.

First of all: endometriosis is a condition where the female body decides that the eggs released are foreign bodies and decides to treat them accordingly. They encapsulate the 'foreign body', but then don't seem to stop. In my case it had not only encapsulated the 'fb', but also part of the urinal tract and the bowels. Turning a quite harmless condition (most women have it to a certain degree) into a potentially lethal one. 

I had my operation in 2015 and since then I have been using the anti conception pill to combat a re-occurrence. It basically stops the endometrium in the uterus or belly cavity to react and cause more problems. But, despite using the pill, I had never had a check-up since. I wanted answers.

Yesterday I went to see a gynaecologist, after having asked my gp for a referral. He listened to my story and checked me out down there. 'The Norwegians had done a good job, both in the operation as in the advice regarding the pill departments'. He couldn't see anything wrong, nor could he really find my remaining ovary, which apparently shrivels up with age. 

He then told me that as most Dutch women go through menopause between 50 and 52, he felt that if I were to take the pill for two more years, that would be enough. When I turn 50 I can stop taking the pill and any problem arising from the endometriosis will be dealt with and removed when I go through the change.

So, that's us three! We may not be the healthiest family, but we all got good news yesterday!

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Blisteringly hot

One thing I have in my arsenal to combat the headaches is heat pads. Last year I used them with my bout of lumbago and they really did the trick. I also have been using them in my neck a fair bit. However, there was one area that I hadn't used them on yet: my middle back, where most tension seems to gather.

During the week I am fine with short and long shifts alike. We have decent enough buses that have enough give in the seats to absorb some of the hits and knocks I get from the road. During the weekend however, we drive buses that seem to have concrete seats. No give at all. Which means that shorter shifts are best for me. 

Saturday started fine and I felt I could forego the pads. It was a short shift and if I stayed moving after my shift, I should be okay. And I would have been too, had it not been for those famous circumstances changing. Instead of my 5 hour shift, I ended up working for closer to 12! But, the back and the head were fine.

On Sunday I had another short shift and this time I did want to use a pad, just to be on the safe side and to remedy the day before. I put it on, put my bra on and left for work. The shift was five hours and remained five hours (yippee). When I got home I removed the pad in my neck, which is always bugging me, but the one on my back stayed on. And on. 

Late at night I realised my bra was starting to 'work' a bit. Anybody who has ever worn a bra that may not be exactly right, knows what I mean. So, I took it off. And the pad as well. It hurt. When I looked in the mirror, I saw blisters, one of which was open. In a spot I would never be able to reach as I am not a contortionist!

I thought at first that the blisters had come from the bra. In a way they did as well. However, the heat pad caused most problems. I was warned about it on the box as well: too long on too thin skin... And covering a pad with a bra strap was just asking for trouble. Pressing the heat pad down into the skin. At least the blisters are in a neat row.

But: NO HEADACHE, which was the goal!!

Thursday, 25 July 2019

A bigger update

I have to start with Miss Oswin of course. Who is being stubborn and not wanting to use the plastic pellets at all. However, she needs to, because I have to collect another sample to take to the vet's to get checked. 

She was off her food (starting before she got her first dose of meds) and even her treats, but after a couple of days she seemed to be feeling a bit better and started eating again. I had given her plenty of wet food, always mixed with a bit of water as well and she would get her syringe of meds and then a syringe of water. No food is one thing, but no water was very much not good.

Back in 1992, when I was used to very hot
Especially as the temperatures were going up. And up. And up. Yesterday a nearly 75-year old record was broken as the highest temperature ever was measured. Well, since measuring began anyway! They are expecting it to go even higher today. Close to 40 degrees. Body temperature sits around 37, so you can imagine it's a bit warm...

The temperatures are expected to drop as of Saturday, but not by much. It will still be hot. Just not very hot! And they will stay very warm to hot for some time. Joy.

When I was at work the other day my mother took a phone call. The gynaecologist had an opening and would I be interested. After some detective work from my mother regarding the work rota I have, she accepted. Which means that on Tuesday I will see the gynaecologist regarding the endometriosis and the pill. 

In other health news: I decided to skip the walking this week. I don't mind walking when it's warm (I did last week), but very hot is another matter that could be very dangerous. Especially as I have some extra weight, am not trained and not used to this weather. So, I will continue again when we are back in regular summer temps.

In the mean time though: ICE CREAMS!