Monday, September 27, 2010

As If That Weren't Enough

Do you realize, I'm still finishing the story of everything that happened over the last two weekends! I have to laugh when I work on my pictures throughout the week because I say to myself, "Did we really do that much???" And the answer is always YES.

First things first. The new dining table with 6 ladder-back chairs that we bought at the thrift store for €50....

It so happens we went to the thrift store to find a CD rack to match our DVD racks. Like magic, we found one exactly like what we pictured, for €2.50. Why do I mention the price, you ask? BECAUSE WE LOVE BARGAINS! Punt uit (period!)! And because it's fun, we just happened to look around a bit when Voilà. There she stood, as though waiting for us.

It had to be refinished. Well, it didn't have to be but Astrid and I both saw the hidden potential. What you have to understand is this is Astrid's life! I have done such projects myself at different points over time and I, too, enjoy working with wood. But Astrid knows all the tricks. Did you know that you can take a piece of cut glass to scrape off all the old finish on a flat wood surface? Did you know there are electric sanders that can be hooked up to the vacuum hose to suck up the dust as you sand? Little tricks of the trade.
And four coats of boat lacquer to last a lifetime.

There was nothing wrong with our old table (lower-left corner). It never occurred to us to get a new one, to be honest. Astrid had found a solid, thick piece of wood 5 years ago by the side of the road for the dump truck and because it was a beautiful piece of wood, she grabbed it and always kept it. When she knew we'd need a table for this apartment, she worked her magic and made our dining table/desk out of it...with 4 accompanying folding chairs. I think we could have lived with it forever.

But when we saw that table at the thrift store, we put a reserved sign on it, drove back home to measure if it would fit into our limited space. Yes, it would. SEE! Just enough more space for 'easy listening!' I even show an image of the nearby rug in the living area that I brought with me from Atlanta...matching the muted burgundy of the table and the cabinet from Astrid's mom.


Now switch gears to the Koorfestival (Choir Festival) held a week ago Saturday. Astrid was still in the throes of her sinus infection and couldn't go anywhere. So I went out on my own to scope it all out, with camera in hand...the second year of its kind here in Gorinchem.

There were 10 venues with stages for around 27 choirs who hopped from place to place. Three of the venues were in neighboring towns, but I only went to ones nearby, in walking distance. The above collage represents 4 of the choirs in 4 separate locations, two of which you might recognize from the churches of my last post. Read the collage as 4 separate choirs, each on their own row, with the choral conductor at the beginning.
That last choir (4th/bottom row) is called 4 Times a Lady. How cool is that!

Now, listen to this! In between choir performances (each choir sang for 30 minutes before switching venues), one of the ladies from the first-row choir above saw me walking elsewhere and stopped me, asking if I could by chance send them my pictures. She recognized me from when they were singing. She also told me their next venue in case I wanted to hear them the Rehoboth Church (from last post). So, not shying from the recognition (HA!), I went....

This is my collage of the Mamma's & Pappa's (in Dutch, the plural for a word ending in an 'a' is an apostrophe s = 's). For them I did a photo album of 37 pictures and sent it to the lady who then forwarded it on to the other members. The things I do! (I declare.)

After all that was done--the choir hopping, that is--I headed home to share my excitement with sick Astrid. But not before snapping the following picture (click all pictures to enlarge):

Immediately, 4 boys at my elbow on the street asked if I would take their picture. My impression was they were not expecting me to say Yes but were more or less jokingly daring me. We have lots of Mid-Easterners in our city whose kids are always out-n-about having fun. So I just decided to play along...surprise, surprise (but my camera is big; you don't mess around with me)...and on the spot took these 3 pictures, ordering them around like I was a professional knowing what I was doing:

Notice the one guy who shoots the bird but never looks at the camera. The other hand gesture has no meaning to Astrid or anyone else we've asked. Who knows what it means. But I just laughed and said to myself,
"Boys will be boys!"

Then suddenly 2 of them wanted me to send them the pictures. So after they wrote down their e-mails, they asked when I would send the images? I said "By tomorrow." "That fast?" the shoot-the-bird guy asked.
"Yes," I said.

When I got home and showed the pictures to Astrid, I told her those would be the first pictures I'd process and would send them that very night. She half-kiddingly told me NOT to expect a response from either of them. "No way," she said. So in my e-mail I told the guys I now wanted them to do something nice for someone.
"You owe me big time!"

The next morning I had heard from BOTH guys, thanking me and telling me that YES, they did owe me big time. See how we need to have faith in our youth and just expect the best from them!

One last thing before I tell you how Astrid is doing. During the early choir-hopping that Saturday, I entered the back entrance of our Grote Kerk (Great Church) because the door was standing wide open for those wanting to climb the tower. (By the way, do you see how that tower leans in the top-left image below? It really does lean like that!) To my surprise, this is what I saw:

It's an art project that has a continuing life of its own. I wish now that I had asked more about it, but as you can see, there are hundreds of fishing-line cords attached to the window that look like rays of light, gathered together near the ceiling and then dropped to just above the floor with hundreds of attached metal vials.

A lady was sitting nearby for the tower tourists, so I asked for an explanation. She said the vials are for people who want to write prayers of remembrance for their deceased parents/friends. I asked her if anyone could do it...and how much it cost? It was for anyone, of course, and without cost. So in that "eternalized" moment, I wrote my note to Mom and Dad and had her insert it and cap the vial while I took pictures. Then I cried and gave her a hug. Even now I have tears in my eyes.
I LOVE YOU, Mom and Dad!

Astrid's 7-day antibiotic regimen finally kicked in after 5 days, so she's a brand new person once again. The marvels of medicine and the mindfulness of others! Thank you from her and me both.


  1. The pictures of the collage of the vials are so unique and I am glad you made use of this special occasion, tears in my eyes right now, thank you for sharing this wonderful moment.
    I still have to smile about those kids....little faith I have sometimes, ha.
    We know that the ladies were very happy with their pictures taken, I think you did your good deed for the rest of the month ;).
    That table is just a piece of joy and more than that, it looks as if it is part of this family already for a long time, this is what I love, bringing new life in something of no use to anybody else anymore, it sure deserves more years of love and taking care of......
    I like to say 'thank you' for all that wished me well during me being sick.
    Not because I have to say it, but because it is true, I always look forward to your blog, it is a wonderful memory added, thank you MLS.

  2. I was mesmerized by every bit of that table and chairs story. I love seeing Astrid at work there making it beautiful. It's wonderful how it fits just perfectly in your place. What a happy surprise you found. Six chairs!

    The boys sure are cheeky, a little disrespectful I think. So it was very good of you to laugh about it and send them pictures. Maybe what you did will soften up the boy shooting the bird. :)

    Now your message to Mom and Dad in the vial is in the eternal ether, and it will bless us all. Precious!

  3. So many wonderful things in this post. It was a joy to read. I am glad Astrid is feeling better.

  4. OH Ginnie, there are two things in this post that really got to me. Of course the note to your parents was one, and it made me choke up.
    The other was the boys. I have a very soft spot for young fellows of that age and a bit younger. Partly because I have a terrific relationship with my youngest son, who's 22. You did exactly the right thing. These kids are so often used to either being ignored, or being thought of as intimidating, and of course that's probably what they wanted to be seen as. Dang, but you've got attitude! Not only did you look behind their facade, but you showed them how wrong their own perceptions were of, em, people with some years under their belt. Win win!!!

    I like the table a lot, and thanks for the tips on removing an old finish. Second-hand Bargains are satisfying in a way that ordinary purchases can never be, and especially when you really bring them back to life yourself. And whose bubble-gum machine is that in the corner?? Too funny!

  5. That was a great post Ginnie – I don’t know what to comment on as there are so many neat things you did. First it’s great that Astrid is OK now, that’s the most important. Next I like your choir pictures. I used to be in a choir in France, but not a church choir, just a regular choir singing show tunes and the like. Also your story about the boys – special. I worked for many years with young North Africans here and they are so nice when you try to know them, they are very proud though so you need to know how to speak to them and you did great. As for the table, well, hubby and I used to go to the Lakewood Antique Show and still go to the Scott’s Antique Show here in Atlanta and love picking up old things. I’ll copy the tricks from Astrid. The table and chairs look lovely – now that will be a good place to eat gourmet meals (who is the cook?) And the finale, your note to your parents was so touching and sweet. A well rounded post that was Ginnie.

  6. I know you're done working Ginnie, but maybe you can moonlight as official event photographer :)

    Astrid has got the magic touch with that table.

  7. I'm happy to hear that Astrid is all "gezond" again. How lucky that she was healthy enough to lend her capable hands to this woodworking project. I love learning simple trade secrets that make a huge difference. I agree that the table and chairs look like they've been there forever. The chairs are reminiscent of the Amish chairs of Pennsylvania.

    Thanks for taking the picture of the cornices and the Phoenix and the Sun. I enjoyed viewing it in full size.

    The photos of the "stoere jongens" are great. I do think that you may have helped them by validating their presence.

    The memory vials are inspirational and I'm absolutely intrigued by the ray of wires holding them.

  8. Astrid: You are my biggest fan, of course, which I cherish. Hartstikke bedankt, mijn vrouw. I was so glad the boys proved you wrong. I was very matter of fact with them and just treated them like they were to be taken seriously. They were a great ending to a good day. The only thing better would have been if you hadn't been sick and could have shared it all with me in person! Speaking of which, I'm so glad you're well now!

    Ruth: Almost everything Astrid touches is made better, and that's the truth. I love her workmanship.

    To be honest, I didn't see the boys' hand gestures till after I got home and looked at the pictures. Maybe that was good. I acted like they didn't phase me at all. Truth be known, The Netherlands is dealing with a lot of hoodlum issues from the kids of Mid-Easterners seeking assylum here. The Dutch are getting pretty fed up with it, which explains Astrid's reaction. Her son would be put in jail immediately if he were guilty of some of the things they are doing. They only get their hands slapped. It's sad to hear/see. Hopefully it'll get figured out because it has the chance of changing the look and feel of an otherwise peaceful country.

    I will never think of the Grote Kerk in the same way, whenever I see it, knowing Mom and Dad are somehow immortalized there!

    Deborah: Thank you, as always, for your kind words! The thing is, there was nothing at all intimidating to me about the boys. It helped that I never saw their hand gestures till after I got home and saw the pictures. If anything, I think they were intimidated by me with my camera. :) It was almost like they didn't believe it/I could possibly stoop to take a picture of them! It was a good lesson for us all that day, I think.

    Every day we still make an exclamation over the table and chairs. We sit better, for one thing and somehow everything even tastes better. :)

    That gumball machine is one of the things I brought with me from Atlanta. I have had it now for about 20 years. It's part of the Child in me and perhaps is my best symbol of wanting to always enjoy life! Thank you for noticing. :)

    Vagabonde: Astrid appreciates your well wishes and really is back to her old self. I used to sing in choirs, too, both church and otherwise. So much fun. I can just see you with boys of any age from any country, working so well with them and knowing exactly how to treat them...just like you did with my little Nicholas. I see that you and hubby really do get around all over the world, let alone Atlanta. I have been to Scott's much to see and choose from! I am the one who does the cooking, of course, since Astrid is the employed one. But she, too, can definitely put a meal on the table. Sometimes she has a hankering to cook, so I give my consent and take a break. That's fun. :) As always, VB, thank you for your kindest of words!

    PC: I think it would be fun to be an event photographer, actually, but I'm not sure I would like the pressure. Hmmm. We know the city photographer of Gorinchem who lives here in our apartment complex. He LOVES what he does, but he can be called at any time of the day or night, depending on what's happening. Not for me. But it would be fun to figure out how to get paid for what I do. :)

    DB: Astrid appreciates all the well wishes from y'all! She actually did some of the table work while she was sick, to be honest. I think it helped her spirits. She lived in Hatfield, PA, for a year, so maybe that's why she, too, loves the table so much. I hadn't thought of that. Thanks always for your comments and for appreciating the things that connect you to these posts.

  9. First of all I admire that you can do such works (I mean with the table)-my skills within that scope are almost 0. The story with the boys-interesting. I like listening to choirs, esp. when they sing in the churches (there is this special feeling about it). Greetings!

  10. Hi Ginnie, I am popping over from Carola's blog. I just had to take a peak because my ancestry is 100% Dutch. Both of my grandfathers were born in Holland. I have been there twice and I have relatives there (which I'm not in touch with). It's interesting to see life there from your perspective!

  11. Ola: It's fun to be handy with tools and wood because of all that can be done. Thanks for the admiration. :) And thanks again for your lovely comment.

    Patty: That is so sweet. Thank you kindly for stopping by and checking me out. I absolutely LOVE your country of heritage. It feels more like home, to be honest, than the States!

  12. HI Ginnie.... I haven't been blogging for a while, too many tbnings going on with buying (or NOT buying, it's a long story) a house, so I'm catching up now. That was a great post, love the refinished table, love the choirs, love the pictures of those crazy boys, and love the idea of the art project in the church.

  13. Sham: WOW! I know you’ve been very busy! DUH! So I’m honored that you stopped by. I’m sure you’ll be catching us all up on your blog…which I’ll go and check…..

  14. Ginny, you really do lead a busy, productive, and creative life!

  15. Tim: You can say that again! :) Thanks.

  16. I decided to stop by today (having only today discovered that you found my travel blog where I post so infrequently and do not seem to get notified when someone leaves a comment there)... run on sentences with lots of parens are my forte!

    This post brought tears to my eyes... what a wonderful idea to "send" messages that way to deceased friends/family/loved ones. And the story about the table is perfect! (Will Astrid come refinish my kitchen table for me? I will remember the hint about using cut glass to remove the old finish if/when I get around to doing it!)

    The pictures of those boys are priceless... maybe the "bird-flipper" will decide that he shouldn't be immortalized doing that the next time someone takes his picture! ;-)

  17. Victoria: I wonder if it's in your settings where you can be notified? Maybe you can check. I always am notified, so that helps.

    I continue to be amazed at the things I see/find here...and am so glad I can document them. When I go back to older posts, like now, it becomes fresh all over again. I feel so fortunate to be here, experiencing these things.

    Thank you, dear lady, for backtracking and commenting. It means the world to me.

  18. That 'great church' looks beautiful, and that art project is amazing. What wonderful pictures of it, too! I can see how that would be very sentimental.

  19. Mark: Thank you ever so much for taking the time to comment here. That means the world to me. It really was a moving piece of artistry for me!