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25-04-2018

Long time no see. Last week we had some sunny April days that fooled you into thinking it was summer already. So time had to be spent on DIY outdoors such as painting all the house doors and keeping them open for 14 hours to dry. After that it was lovely to catch some vitamin D and color up a bit after the winter. Bonita was not happy. We don’t understand how a dog who was born in Malaga, Spain in temperatures above 40 degrees can dislike the sun so much. We had lovely family outings in a great part of the Netherlands called The Veluwe. But now I have seen so much nonsense in the news that my grumpy old woman has risen again.

The item that irritated me the most was about those poor old Electric bike users who are responsible for the fact that in the Netherlands there were more accidents by cyclists than motorists. We, as I am one myself, will have to be told how dangerous such a fast bike is and wear helmets. Most of us have driven vehicles far faster than an electric bike and have been cycling for over 50 years. No one was giving any numbers about how those accidents happen mainly because of people in a car driving irresponsibly. And what was even more ridiculous was that they were showing such an old cyclist nicely paying attention to the traffic cycling between hordes of young people looking at their mobile phones or listening to music with both ear buds plugged in. There is a lot of ageism going round.

 

I have to say that I don’t envy the French president Macron who is visiting his colleague in the USA again. I think he will soon join the #metoo or the #neveragain groups as Trump was constantly kissing him, holding his hands and generally being very touchy-feelly. I know Macron is not bad looking and Melania has probably kicked him out of bed because of his affairs, but really guys : Get a room!!
And this is the same man who did not want to shake hands with Angela Merckel one of the most remarkable women of our time. She is apparently visiting next week so watch this space. 

The last few books I read were all very good. Jane Gardam is at 90 still going strong. Her Old Filth series is hilarious and written in a Jane Austen style but fully connecting the olden days with the now. I have read the fifth installment of the Space Opera The Expanse. There is already an eighth out and up till now they have been very exciting ans still different enough not to get boring. 
It is hard to do my own writing with all the good Summer reading coming out and my desire to be outside when the weather is nice. From now till end of May  find Nature at its most lush. Between all that and my outings to and with various friend I am giving myself a lot of excuses not to get on with the book.
Ah well retired people are allowed to do whatever they feel like anyway.

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05-04-2018

The Easter holidays finished and as usual I am confronted with one of my gripes: Bank computer servers apparently go on holiday too! You send some money to one of your accounts on Good Friday only to find out it has not been handled until after Easter Monday. And here I was thinking in these IT driven times we did not have to cope with any interruption of services as computers never need to rest.
But the Easter bunny brought very good news indeed as well. When I was born over 60 years ago I thought they had broke the mold as since then in my family we kept on only producing babies of the male variety. But after three brothers, two sons,five nephews and 2 great nephews finally a baby girl in the family. Not that I don’t like men but as Obama always said : It was time for a change.
She is naturally the most beautiful girl in the world and already looking like me. The latter is not true but it sounded nice. Hopefully she will take after her gorgeous mum who looked like a movie star a few minutes after giving birth to her. I am afraid the idea of raising her gender neutral is definitely not going to happen as her granny, my sister -in-law, myself and my other sister-in-law are in dire need of girly clothes shopping. Plans have already been made.
Unlike the #metoo generation she will probably grow up to make full use of her beauty and intelligence to get  and to be whatever she wants. Everything will be even more digital than today unless in the mean time Mr Trump and Mr Xi Jinping start a Trade war with actual weapons and Europe goes even further in using the assassination attempt on a former Russian spy and his daughter to start a fight with Russia. The result might be apocalyptic and bring us back to ground zero. This whole assassination thing so reminds me of the way World War I started. The so called war to end all wars. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo when they were mortally wounded by Gavrilo Princip. This was also a local affair which kick started the whole sorry episode. Will we ever learn? I don’t think so if I see and hear how intolerant people are with people living next door to them let alone when those people are from another background or country. 
Millions of people are on the move fleeing war and famine. Instead of gathering our resources to help them so our own economy and life can be sustained we seem to only want that new car, ridiculously prided phone or new outfit. 
Governments in many countries have upped their spending on the military instead of pouring it in refugee help or even better public transport so at least our environment will survive.
We actually only need a bit more time to have the twenties and thirties of today take over. It is my believe that they seem to be more and more aware that our generation is making the wrong decisions. They have grown up in a time where you don’t work all your life for the same employer and working a 4 day week makes sense be it to spend time on your hobbies or if you have them on your family. Let’s hope they get in charge on time.

 

Spring has brought the strange need to finally clean my house as the sun relentlessly shows the ancient spiderwebs,dusty shelves and doggy paws on everything. At least as far as the sun gets through those very dirty windows. I prefer to spend the time reading,writing or generally pottering around outside but I will give it a whirl as in  May I am giving a big family BBQ to celebrate my successor’s birth and one of my Canadian cousin’s visit. 
I found this list to be helpful for my fellow house cleaners and want to recommend the numbers 10 and number 14.
My dear hubby being quite a bit taller than myself has made the house completely spiderweb free. Which ticked the 10 box. So now for the rewards…

 

Just saw a rather funny news item about a train departing a busy Belgian station leaving the last carriage standing! I wish I could have seen the reaction on the faces of those unfortunates who were in that particular carriage. Not nice of me but I think it was hilarious. Trying unsuccessfully to find a nice picture about it I found that this is not the first time this has happened. The last time the train “lost”three carriages! 
Have been reading an interesting article about Jane Gardam who has been a long time favorite of mine and found out she has written a trilogy I knew nothing about so I am looking forward to dig in to those. Am still plowing on through ‘A column of fire’ by Ken Follett, but it is not half as good as the first Kingsbridge novel ‘The pillars of the earth’. But maybe that also has to do with my passion for the Medieval times. The problems between Mary queen of Scots with queen Elizabeth I has been written about so superbly by Dorothy Dunnett in the Lymond Chronicles that everything after that is a mere rehash.

Right! My 20 years postponed hot flushes are driving me outside to stand in a North Easterly wind as scantily dressed as is possible within the bounds of propriety. Little did I know all those years ago I was not skipping those dreaded episodes but just pushing them ahead. The only solution if you want to quit HRT is to have a needle stuck in your neck in a nerve node about 4 times a year and that with only 60%b of success and a lot of nasty side effect risks. And this method is still under research. Bet it would be solved pronto if men suffered this phenomenon. All this time after Eve was pushed out of Paradise and no proper remedy has been found. They don’t even really know what precisely causes it. Alcohol definitely makes it worse, but is actually sorely needed. Hopefully I will be shot of it before I, as our accountant in England used to say when advising us to make a will, pop my clogs. It has been rather beneficial to our heating bill though my husband may move out if I put the heating down once more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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25-03-2018

Yesterday I suddenly felt my age as my eldest son turned 30. As he said to me : I can remember you when you turned 40, weird! And I was what the doctors at the time called “an older mum”.
His birth was quite something and an experience I never wanted to repeat again. All these rose-colored stories about childbirth are a ruse to keep women having babies, I think. Especially the Dutch who always thought having a child in hospital is for sissies. Any medical intervention is seen as unnatural. So, misinformed like that I even joined a group called The Natural Childbirth Trust. They advocated that it was not normal to have your baby in a hospital using drugs to make the whole experience less painful. Well as I could not have my children at home I went to the hospital full of courage to deny any assistance of the medical variety. After two days of the equivalent of being run over by a train or having all my root canals drilled I was ready for all the drugs they could throw at me. It all ended up in a Cesarean section and me feeling like I let everybody down. I don’t think if men could give birth there would be any talk about not being fully sedated when having babies. The most heard argument is that in Africa women just crouch down behind a bush, deliver and continue working the field. Well, in Africa women have to do a lot of things we would never ever even think of doing and after studying a lot of National Geographic movies, I think they would be the first to sign up for a hospital delivery. Even so it all has turned out well and he has been my pride and joy to this day. And through the Trust I met some of the nicest and sweetest women friends.

In this article Kirstie explains my point of view. And by the way Queen Elizabeth II had all her 4 by C-section, so I am in good company. I so admire her stamina and her dress sense. Like me she loves vibrant colors and matching shoes and handbags. Her son will be too old to take over when she finally dies, so he might abdicate in favor of his eldest son. We will see. In the large scheme of things not very important unless you are English.

Mr.Putin has been chosen by a vast majority to keep his grip on Russia for another four plus years.’The opposition was put in jail before the election and the fake opposition was a daughter of one of Putin’s best friends, a millionaire for the Communist party (contradiction if there ever was one) and a few other nonentities. So it looked like a real election instead of a show.
He is probably guilty of all sorts of crimes against humanity, but when I see how large Russia and how divers the population I think you can only rule such a big country with an iron hand or else it will be chaos. What is disappointing is how he deals with the Russian oligarchs that have been thriving with his support. Coming from such a humble background himself I had expected better of him. But if we compare him to Trump I find it hard to chose. We are living in very interesting times.

What I do worry about is that the horror stories of war,famine and extreme weather events that kill thousands of people hardly registers with me anymore, while I really sit up and pay attention when I hear from somebody doing something marvelous for their fellow beings, like that young doctor who has set up free clinics in Marocco where he and Dutch colleagues work tirelessly to help the poor. Or business men setting up an IT college in Africa to train the local people who then can use their skills remotely for the benefit of themselves and ther foreign employers, who cannot get that expertise at home. People can attend without any previous education, but have to sit exams to be taken on. And Bill Gates who very quietly is trying to eradicate disease in poor countries.
Alas more often we hear from people who already have more money than sense that they have been trying to defraud other people or the government.Here in Belgium there is this horrible woman who had been paying herself thousands of euro’s as the manager of an organisation who works for people who live on the street for doing exactly nothing. When she was fingered she first refused to resign and after they made her she sued the government for thousands for unfair dismissal!! The wording of her dismissal letter was apparently not correct. Another Victor Meldrew moment I can tell you. Instead of hiding and hanging her head in shame she pulls a trick like this. She should be forced to live as a homeless person herself for a year.
It is one of my hobbies to invent an appropriate punishment for human misbehavior.

Am reading the latest Inspector Lynley book by Elizabeth George. She is a marvelous detective writer in the vein of the queen of crime Agatha Christie, P.D.James and Ruth Rendell. When you take in to account she is an American, her stories are very British. They also contain a good sense of humor. Ian Rankin and Reginald Hill could be her male counterparts. All five of these always managed to surprise me at the end. Which after reading hundreds of these books it not easy. My husband always gets very upset when we are watching a thriller on tv and I say after 20 or so minutes I know who did it. I have now learned not to divulge who until the end.

Small remark on a political debate going on in Belgium about to spend 4.5 billion on some more fighter planes or have the current ones refurbished at the tune of 2.5 billion. To keep us safe…Where did I hear that again? In the time of the cold war. The government guy said they had to plan 40 years ahead whereupon a nice lady on the panel said it was all a gross waste of time because in 40 years the planet would have gone to hell anyway. Global warming and draining of resources, wars and lack of clean water will be our main problems. All not to be solved with fighter jets. At least in the Netherlands the Green Party was a big winner in the local election and we can all hope that that also will continue for the general election. 
I will not start on the NRA and over a million young people marching against that organisation because it makes me too sad.

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11-03-2018

Had to change the title of my website somewhat as Sylvia’s world is a strip joint in the US apparently and I was getting some weird friend requests.