Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Vision and Verb

You've seen her before, many times, I know. I used to call her my Soul Girl, but after sister Ruth called her my avatar, I've quite liked the new designation, especially in light of the current movie.

Today I want to direct you to a new website that was started 2 weeks ago as a collaboration of 15 "women of a certain age" who happen to be photographers and writers. (Add "aspiring" to either category for some of us!) I happen to be one of the lucky ones who was asked to contribute.

Today is my debut at Vision and Verb. I'll let it speak to why my avatar is important to me. But then, I'm guessing you are the ones who already know!

Thanks for being my fan club. THIS is where I first started blogging 5 years ago, In Soul, to write the things that are important to me. Then I added Shutterchance, where I could highlight my photos. Now this new site...where I can put both things together twice a month. I hope you can feel and share my excitement. The timing, as I start a new life in a new country, does not seem coincidental!


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Home Sweet Home

With my new laptop in hand since Wednesday, here I am again, feeling at home more and more with every day. Today marks my 7th week since arriving in Holland on Dec. 5.

As you see, Gathering Wisdom has found her resting place.
Almost everything, in fact, is situated...except for all the nic-nacs that go on the glass shelves in the left of this cabinet. We'll work on that in the next week, taking our time to get the right mix of hers, mine and ours.

In the meantime, we've had a bit of a setback with Astrid, who fell off her bike this past Monday while riding to work on slippery roads. She has since found out that everyone and their aunt and uncle did the same thing that day. The temps were just above freezing, which tricked everyone, I guess, into thinking they didn't have to worry. Sigh. Her left arm took the brunt of the fall and was too swollen for x-rays when she went to the doctor. Yesterday she was finally able to get an x-ray and found out her elbow, at the tip of the humerus, is fractured. She'll wear a soft cast and sling for a week and plans to go to work, as long as they allow her to do her job (controlling the manufacturing of cabinets and doors) without lifting/carrying. They've promised and said they need her. So we'll see what happens!

Adding to the intrigue of all that's happening, we received the official paperwork saying we can now get married (and have until June 28 to do so before applying again!). They believe, in other words, it will not be a fake marriage for me to simply gain long-term residence in Holland. It's real. We really do want to be married!

So the date has been set for February 5 at 2p on Friday afternoon, two weeks from now. All marriages in Holland have to be performed by an official at City Hall (whether also performed in a church ceremony or not). So we're getting married at the Gorinchem Stadhuis Trouwzaal (the City Hall Wedding Chapel) by a female official who is downright excited for us. We'll be meeting with her next Thursday to go over all the details.

This is fast and short notice, we know. However, it's something we want to do AND will hasten my staying-permit process which has to be begun by March 5 without my being forced to return to the States for 3 months. We've jumped through too many hoops to let the ball drop at this stage of the game. We will keep going till the opera's over.

Things will be hectic these next two weeks, so we covet your mindfulness of us. We want to "be prepared" but we also want to live in the moment every day and not get caught up in the tyranny of the urgent. Thanks for hanging in there with we create this place we call Home.


ADDENDUM (Tuesday, 26 Jan.): That was then, this is now. Astrid was in so much pain on Sunday that we went to the Emergency Room at the hospital where they couldn't believe how bruised and swollen her arm still was. In fact, they thought maybe even her wrist was broken. I don't totally understand the Dutch system on such things but they weren't able to x-ray it then. We had to go back the next day (yesterday) and NO, the wrist is not broken. Thank God.

Later in the afternoon she then had to go to her doctor's office to check it all out. The doctor does not think it's infected but after changing her pain med to one that includes an antibiotic, Astrid has been a totally different person...feeling and acting almost "normal." So, who knows! She remains off work till Thursday when she hopes to get back into the swing of things...with her sling on for protection, if anything else, and a message that says she can't lift or do hard work (which she is always offering to do as she controls, wanting to help whenever she can).

Maybe we're out of the woods?!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's Just Money; Nobody Died

You could call this a Good News/Bad News post but in the end, "It's just money; nobody died." So that's the Good News.

It started last week when suddenly my laptop died dead in its tracks. Bottom line, it was the motherboard. Kaput. All my data from the internal hard drive was saved; all the programs were lost. But, good news, some of my most important programs, like PhotoShop, will be installed by the techies on my new laptop hopefully by the end of the week. The bad news is that everything costs more over here, especially when you do the dollar to euro conversion (1 Euro = 1.4503 U.S. dollars right now). Nor was it how I expected to use my money right now. BUT...nobody died!

So now I'm using Astrid's laptop, thanks to her undying generosity....and am figuring out how to process pics through Picasa for this post. So far so good....except for wrapping, which I forgot how to do....

OK. Now to the fun stuff....

THE TRUCKPACKS ARE HERE! We had them delivered to us instead of renting a van and driving to Rotterdam to pick them up. It didn't take long to calculate that we were better off to have someone else do the hard work for us. However, would you believe...the driver did not come with a hand forklift! So we had to empty the packs from the van while he waited for us. Actually, he helped us, thankfully. In the end, it took 50 minutes to get everything out of the van for him to leave (with a nice tip, I might add) and another 40 minutes to get everything up into our 1st floor apartment. By 11 a.m. on Friday, the deed was done, 5 weeks after my arrival in the Netherlands!

After all was said and done, it cost almost as much to receive the go0ds here (again, after the dollar to euro conversion) as it took to ship them over the Pond from the States. And that's without having to pay any tax. Something's not quite right about that picture! But it's just money...and nobody died!

How's that for a mess!

The good news is that Eva was with us for an hour's worth of help. She's the girlfriend of Astrid's son, and is totally worth her weight in gold. Thank you, Eva!

Now you know what I've been doing since last Friday! Astrid, too, as the chief builder of shelves and organizing space for me as I unpack boxes! Little by little, beetje bij beetje.

Once I get my new laptop and once the unpacking is done, I will feel like a new woman. All the birthing pangs will be forgotten. It all was just money. Nobody died. In fact, if anything, as we start the new year, all is NEW. All is being born!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Never Perfect, Never Finished

While I'm on windmills....

There are only two windmills (out of the original 17) still standing within the citadel walls of our city Gorinchem here in Holland. The one I've shown thus far (last post) is De Hoop (= Hope), about 15 minutes walk from our apartment.

This windmill here is almost in our backyard and is called Nooit Volmaakt (= Never Perfect). Every time Astrid tells me what it means, she uses two words...never perfect OR finished.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the fact that windmills have names here in the Netherlands. Maybe most windmills everywhere do, I don't know. Many cities here have a windmill named De Hoop. Makes sense to me. Hope seems so crucial for a country that is 27% below sea level, needing mills to keep pumping the water off the land. But Nooit Volmaakt? Never Perfect? Not a run-of-the-mill name, trust me.

This particular mill was built in 1718 as a gristmill for grinding grain for bakers. It still operates today on a random/voluntary basis to keep up its running hours for remaining "official." You can read more about its turbulent history here, which may explain how it got its name after a devastating fire in 1889!

This past weekend I celebrated my first month here in Gorinchem! Throughout the month I have seen many faces of this mill through all kinds of weather, with each face having its own Soul....

After the first snow before Christmas, 12/22/09.

After the Christmas meltdown, 12/28/09.

The waxing Blue Moon before December 31, 12/28/09.

This was the face of Nooit Volmaakt yesterday, Sunday, 01/03/10, on a gloriously sunshiny but bitterly cold day. It's the same image I have posted on my Shutterchance blog today. Does anything about that not look perfect to you??

My mantra for 2009 was the verse from Isaiah 30:15: "In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength." This year, as I learn what it means to be in relationship again, making a marriage work, I think my mantra will be Nooit Volmaakt. Astrid often says to me, after a disagreement or spat and I'm feeling terrible, "But Ginnie, that's only natural that we'll have these times. We're only human!"

I'm such a damn perfectionist; I hate making mistakes. But if a windmill that looks this perfect can be named NEVER PERFECT, why can't I, who am imperfect...and never finished. "God's not finished with me yet" would be the loose translation, right? It's only natural to be Nooit Volmaakt!

Thus is my mantra for 2010: Nooit Volmaakt: Never Perfect, Never Finished. Happy New Year to you, too!