gamiila: (a good read)
01) Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
- although it started off well, I soon found myself paralysed with not caring about any of it...the main characters seem to me to lack any kind of depth and the plot relies on too many improbable coincidences, and the whole is steeped in far too much of the Victorian bathos for my liking.

02) Jean Auel, The Land of Painted Caves
- the concluding part of her Earth's Children-series, and one that she would have done better not to publish. A sad disappointment for the conclusion to a story I'd been following for three decades.

03) Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey - Austen spoofs the gothic novel while exposing the Bath season as a meat market. Light-hearted in tone and funny in places, this is probably her fluffiest book.

45 more titles )
gamiila: (awkward moment)
...for having left you in the lurch all this time. I don't know how it happened exactly, but I seem to have suddenly fallen out of the habit of logging onto LJ earlier this year; and the longer I've been out of it, the harder it got to get back into. I got to this stage where I was so depressed, that I couldn't think of inflicting any of my tales of unmitigating woe on you lot. To tell the truth, I'm still struggling, but a few things have recently started happening in my life that have given me a glimmer of hope -- though not of paid employment any time soon, I don't think.

It's been a year since I left Apple. At the time, everyone was quick to assure me that with my cv, I'd soon find work again; but that has proven not to be the case. There just isn't, or doesn't seem to be, that much call for an experienced Customer Experience Manager these days. Trust me to have once again picked a profession that doesn't do well in a recession.

So, I've thrown myself into volunteering again. This time, I'm co-coordinating the annual International Food Fair of The Hague. It's my job to approach and recruit the individual countries' boothholders, and make sure they have everything they need from licences to cutlery and electrics, and a sufficient number of volunteers to serve their customers. The event will be held over the weekend of 17/18 Nov. and my job will officially end on the 25th with a wrap-up meeting and evaluation. It's a charitable event, with the proceeds going to all sorts of projects around the world.

Apart from this, I've also started as a catechist (i.e. the RC equivalent of a Sunday school teacher) teaching 2nd grade (7-8 year olds) in preparation for their first Holy Communion in May. Which can be quite challenging at times! Just last Sunday, after I'd related the story of John the Baptist e.g., Gonzalo raised his hand and asked "Miss, don't you think these kind of stories are a nonsense, really?" He was referring, or so I presumed, to the supposed leaping of joy that John, as a foetus, did when he sensed the presence of his Saviour when Mary came to visit Elizabeth; and later, the vision of the Holy Spirit alighting on Jesus in the form of a dove at the time of his baptism. I don't know what the bishop would have thought of my answer, but I didn't think I could dismiss his objection out of hand, so I told him (and the rest of the class) that no, I didn't think these stories were a nonsense per se, but preserved in such a way that people could remember and pass them on easily in the days before books and computers. He's a clever one, that Gonzalo, and I like that at 7 1/2, he's already thinking for himself and questioning authority ;-).

Anyway, autumn's firmly upon us now, and the day before yesterday I took a stroll through the woods near my home. Thankfully, I had my trusty mobile with me, as without it I wouldn't have been able to show you what I saw...

Toadstools! Mushrooms! Fungi! )
gamiila: (fork)
It's autumn again and although I love this all year round, for most folks this is *the* time of the year for braised beef.

Ingredients (to serve 4):

800 grs of brisket
8 shallots
16 cloves of garlic
500 grs white mushrooms
some rosemary
some thyme
some basil
1 teaspoon of fresh ground nutmeg
4 bay leaves
12 cloves
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of red mild paprika powder
1 ltr of chicken stock
1 small tin of tomato paste
75 grs butter
20cl hazelnut oil
2 tablespoons of HP Guinness sauce (or regular HP sauce if not available)
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
a pint of Guinness beer or if not available, another dark beer.

Cut the beef in 4 portions, and rub the beef with the ground pepper and nutmeg
Cut the shallots in halves, cut the mushrooms in halves, cut 4 of the garlic cloves in slices and chop up the rosemary, thyme and basil; keep the other garlic unpeeled
Heat up the chicken stock
Melt and clarify the butter on low heat a large cast-iron casserole
Add the hazelnut oil and turn up the heat

Carefully sauté the 4 pieces for about 2 minutes on each side, to a rich dark brown
Now add the sliced garlic, and the shallots and sauté for 2 minutes
Add the mushrooms and the unpeeled garlic and sauté for 2 minutes
Then add the chicken stock and make sure it mixes well with all the cooking oil
Add the herbs, the tomato paste, the ground paprika, the cloves, the bay leaves, the Guinness sauce and the Worcestershire sauce, mix everything well and add a quarter of the pint of Guinness

Don't add any salt, as there is salt in the chicken stock and the sauces! (You can always add salt on your plate, but you can't get it out once it's in the casserole)

Bring to the boil then simmer and put on a very low fire for at least 4 hours.

Coldplay

Sep. 6th, 2012 11:04 pm
gamiila: (guitar man)
I spent most of my evening out on my front balcony, listening to Coldplay play the Malieveld (an open field around the corner from where I live) -- not my favourite band in the world, but I don't hate them either; and a gift horse and all that...
gamiila: (woosh)
fiets

I damaged my bike in a collision with a yellow moped last Wednesday. It was my fault; I thought I could cross in front of it and get out of its way with seconds to spare. I was wrong.

My career counsellor, who witnessed the accident (we'd just finished a session), says it's due in large part to my failure to live in the moment -- I'm so preoccupied by my current jobless state that my mind keeps worrying away at it 24/7, with the result that I pay little or no attention to what's going on around me. She may very well be right.

Luckily, I'm okay, apart from a few cuts and bruises. And my bike should be good as new by the end of the week, too.

As for the moped and its owner, other than a few scratches, they were fine; and we decided not to bother with insurance forms. Instead, we exchanged phone numbers, and I called him the following day to find out how he was and what the damage to his moped came to, but he didn't pick up and even though I left a message, he hasn't rung back yet. Let's hope it means he's not interested in pursuing this, as the cost of repairs to my bike are already steep enough on their own.
gamiila: (not important)
...not that I ever really did imagine it, but...

I'll be turning 50 in two days time. And like every other birthday I've had so far, it will come and go without any fuss. Mum phoned yesterday, to ask what I was planning on doing, and then invited herself round for coffee. I expect she'll bring me a card and a bunch of flowers; we'll sit and chat for an hour, and that'll be it.

I never really gave it much thought, but if someone had told me 25 years ago that my 50th birthday would be as uneventful as this, I would probably not have believed them. I would also probably not have believed that at 50, I would still be single (which I honestly don't mind), and unemployed (which I emphatically do). But...here we are.

Quick question: does anyone have any (home) remedies to recommend to stop a cat from overgrooming? I noticed the other day that Manasse has lost most of the fur on his abdomen; and no, he does not have fleas, or a flea allergy. I went to the pet shop but they just sold me a salve that he licked right off again...
gamiila: (camera)
Back in 2005, [livejournal.com profile] curiouswombat and [livejournal.com profile] frimfram set up a community and called it [livejournal.com profile] wild_photos, where members post and share photos of where they live on days referred to as Where I Live Days. These days occur with irregular frequency, usually about 2 years apart.

I have participated in these WILDays from the start, and when another was announced for this weekend, I betook myself and my mobile phone to Delft, a town not far from where I actually live, on a day that the sun was out and made everything look so much better.

What follows are the pictures that I took and posted in the community, so those of you who have already seen them may want to skip this post. As to the others, let me take you on a tour of Delft's two main churches.

Delft01
The steeple in this picture belongs to the church we'll visit first: the New Church, dating from 1351 in its oldest parts.

more behind the cut - be warned: image-heavy! )
gamiila: (Mitchell)
No post for ages, then three come at once (or follow shortly upon one another)!

Casting about for a job to go on the 'list of successes', this morning I hit upon the idea of giving the kitchen a good clean. So I got on my new stepladder, and began by scrubbing the tops of the upper cabinets. I am not a housewife, and when it comes to household chores, my usual philosophy to doing them can be described as "out of sight is out of mind"; so after I raised my eyebrows, I grit my teeth, and set to. I finished the cabinets, mopped the floor, scrubbed the splashback tiles, cleaned the work surfaces, scrubbed the cooker, cleaned the microwave...I'm on a roll!

I also plan to clean and wax the parquet flooring - I can't remember when I last performed that task, it must be some years. It's such a hassle, as it involves clearing the rooms of all their furniture, leaving it piled up in the bedroom while waiting for the treated floors to dry. I used to do it once a year until someone told me I was a fool and to wait till one could actually see and appreciate the difference. I think one might, now.

I'm meeting Mum to go see a film. I was hoping we could go see The Dark Knight Rises, but Mum wasn't keen and so we've decided on The Intouchables instead. Apparently, it's won a bunch of Césars -- which hopefully translates to an eminently watchable film.
gamiila: (fun & games)
Gacked from [livejournal.com profile] chicklet73, the 50 Questions-meme:

Read more... )
gamiila: (awkward moment)
Still not sure whether or not I did the right thing hiring in the services of a career counsellor. We met again for the second time yesterday and she let me ramble on and on. However, she did suggest I start the search anew by drawing up a plan and sticking to it, rather than continue in the haphazard way I've been going about it the last couple of months. My homework for the next two weeks consists of thinking up, formulating and documenting this plan; and listing all my daily 'successes' in the meantime, a minimum of 10 a day, that I'm to e-mail her at two day intervals.

She's helpfully written down what these successes might consist of:

1) results (i.e. something you have long wanted to achieve, e.g. a diploma)
2) actions (either planned & done, or hesitated & done)
3) expanding on previous knowledge\skill
4) acquisition of new insights
5) recognition and acknowledgement of mistakes

I wonder if she might accept 'ironing' as an action, that I hesitated about doing, but did anyway?
gamiila: (River Song)
I should be putting more effort in. I should be out there, looking for work. I should be writing letters, phoning recruiters and possible employers, but I just can't get myself to do any of it. Instead, I'm looking at pictures of myself back in the day when life was sweet and uncomplicated.

Click here to view these pictures larger

gamiila: (control)
So I made the acquaintance of my career counsellor yesterday, a woman by the name of Vivian. She seems nice enough, but we didn't really discuss anything of much importance in this first session, except for what I hoped to get out of it (some focus and renewed energy for the search) and how soon I could expect the bill and what it was going to come to, including VAT. After we signed the contract, she gave me a book to read and a set of questions to ponder, and we'll meet again in a fortnight.

I hope to God I'm doing the right thing here.

OTOH, I can't see what else I can do. Now that I've started on my 9th month of unemployment, it's obvious I've got to do something to get me out of this blasted funk I've been in for the last couple of months - since my fall, actually, in which I haven't really been trying.
gamiila: (camera)
I took a stroll around my neighbourhood earlier in the week -Tuesday, actually-, when for once it wasn't raining and\or blowing a hoolie. I was curious to see how the storks were doing, and I didn't have far to go before I spotted them, but unfortunately, they were too far away for my mobile to pick up any details:

2012-06-26 13.19.11

The nest site was empty and I don't think this pair have reproduced this year, which is somewhat disappointing, but maybe, considering the appalling weather we've been having these last few months, a blessing. After all, storks nest high up and exposed.

On my way back, I came upon this idyllic scene:

2012-06-26 13.21.04

I think that's what I like best about living in The Hague: on the one hand, it's got all the amenities necessary for city life, while on the other, it's never really lost its aspect of 'biggest village in Europe'.
gamiila: (kiss kiss)
The two teeth that were damaged beyond salvation in my recent fall were pulled this morning, and replaced by an RPD. It feels weird to have this foreign object in my mouth. For one thing, it makes it difficult to enunciate clearly, as all of a sudden my tongue feels as if it's too big for my mouth, but my dentist assures me I'll get the hang of it soon enough.

I went for coffee and a sandwich immediately upon leaving the dentist's, to see what it felt like to eat and drink with this thing in my mouth. Perhaps I should have waited for the novocaine to have worn off first, as it wasn't a big success. I'll try again tonight.

Earlier this year, I started a 365 photo project, but then I fell off that ladder and into a gloomy outlook, and abandoned it. I don't think I'll resurrect it, either; but I started messing with Instagram the other day, after the world and his wife had gone before me, and I may show you the odd one or two here, before I get bored with it. For instance, this morning I looked up and snapped this picture of (the gable of) our old town hall (1595; the bell tower is a later addition of the 1600s). These days, it's only used for weddings, book launches, and the council's New Year's reception.

townhall
gamiila: (*hides*)
It may be the summer solstice, but you'd never guess...It's another dull, grey day full of showers and short on sunshine, like too many we have had this year. It seems winter gave way to autumn, skipping spring altogether; and it's anyone's guess whether we'll actually get to summer later on.

Anyway, I do apologise for having gone AWOL for a while, though not quite, as I have been lurking here, checking on my flist, but not actually updating. There just didn't seem that much point, as my period of unemployment stretched into its eighth month, and there are only so many ways one can hide one's gradual descent into depression and despair. Though I still have no news to report on that score, and I am still none too happy about my situation, I think it's time I let you know that I've decided to try and break through my despondency by calling in the help of a bona fide career coach. When I received my tax return last month, I suddenly had the funds to hire a professional to help me get back on track and find out a) what it is that I'm looking for, job-wise and b) what's preventing me from getting it, so far. Hopefully then, by the end of the summer, I will be in a much better frame of mind again, full of new energy and ideas, and in a much better position to find work again before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, it's been three months since my unfortunate tumble, and my face has healed up pretty well. There is a scar on my upper lip, and although I still have to get used to how it feels (i.e., a bit tight when I yawn or smile), it's not too bad.

see? )

Unfortunately, my teeth haven't fared that well, and I'm going to have to say goodbye to two of them this coming Monday. The canine that was reinserted has failed to re-attach itself, and the one next to it that has gone up into the jaw is causing me such discomfort that it's been decided to extract it rather than leave it. The last X-ray showed it to have been broken as well, so how my dentist is going to get all the pieces out, I can't tell you; but he's had a couple of weeks to ponder the problem and I'm sure I'll be fine. However, I will be left with a gaping big hole in my upper row of teeth, and will need a partial denture to cover it up.

I know it's my only option, but I'm vain enough to hate the idea of it. I may never have had the dazzling American smile that's becoming ever more fashionable over here too, with whiteners and straighteners and whathaveyous, but I had my own teeth for half a century and if I hadn't fallen off that ladder I might have had them for a half century more...but now I'll have to get used to keeping my teeth in a jar by the bed. It's scary, how utterly past it that makes me feel.
gamiila: (she always wished for shoes)
Damn you, shoe shops, and your sinister attraction! Lure me in with the promise of a summer sale, then seduce me with your new collection. What chance did I have against these suede, sunflower yellow, fringed ankleboots with Spanish heels?

17/06/2012

Night out

May. 21st, 2012 03:03 pm
gamiila: (being human)
When [livejournal.com profile] suze2000 and her husband Darren visited The Netherlands last month, we met up for the evening, and these pictures were taken:

me and Suze: )

me and Darren: )

They were posted to Darren's Facebook but I'm re-posting them here for safe-keeping; to remind me of an excellent evening spent with two wonderful people who I hope to see again some day (in Australia, perhaps)!
gamiila: (I just want to be OK today)
I received a phone call from Verizon a minute ago. Despite the very 'positive overall impression' I had made in my interview, they had decided they weren't comfortable with the fact that I had no previous experience in Sales and so, wouldn't be taking the process any further. I was sorry to hear it, as over the last few days I had allowed myself to dream that my search was almost at an end. Also, the company seemed like one I would enjoy working at...international, technologically innovative, dynamic...

On Sunday, I went to see The Avengers in 3D. It was a spur of the moment thing, and therefore not the kind of film I would have queued up for if I'd given the matter any thought, but I enjoyed it greatly - despite the fact that I've never read any Marvel comics and (apart from the Hulk, who I knew from the 70s TV-series) have no idea of any of these characters' back stories. Robert Downey Jr. starred in it though, and that was enough to keep me happy. Joss Whedon's name popped up in the end credits as the director and gave me a little jolt of recognition and surprise, but the person I went to see the movie with isn't familiar with the Buffyverse and so I didn't comment on it. I understand some people on my flist are looking forward to seeing it and so I won't spoil them with any thoughts on plot or character development, but will only say that it is marvellous good fun (the audience erupted in gales of laughter at several points) and well worth the price of admission.

Queen's Day

May. 1st, 2012 05:27 pm
gamiila: (the follies)
The skies were leaden and the temperatures low all throughout the whole of last month, but as if by magic, on the very last day, traditionally known as Koninginnedag or Queen's Day, the sun came out, the skies turned blue and the temperatures soared to the mid-20s.

I'd gone up to Amsterdam to join in the festivities with a friend of mine, but because I'd forgotten to charge my phone, and had foolishly left my camera at home, I can only give you the most fleeting of impressions.

Have you ever seen so much orange? )

Unfortunately this morning, the weather's gone back to being cold, wet and miserable.

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gamiila: (Default)
gamiila

December 2012

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