gamiila: (who's there?)
Oops! Seems I've been away from LJ for two whole weeks - how did that happen? Oh Facebook, you've got a lot to answer for!

I think this 100 things to blog about-challenge is a brilliant idea! I'll have to have a think about what topic I can possibly devote 100 entries to...100 Rubbish Ideas I've Had, perhaps?

I had an interview with Verizon Business yesterday, for a position in Sales Channel Management. I think I did well, but won't know for certain until the end of next week when they said they'd let me know, as they still had a few more candidates to interview. Be interesting to see what decision they come to, as the other two both appear to have a background in Sales, but I'm the only one with previous experience in the field of Channel Management.

Earlier in the week, I met up with [ profile] suze2000 and her husband Darren in Amsterdam for an evening. They'd expressed an interest in getting acquainted with traditional Dutch cuisine, so I guided them to a small bistro that specialises in just that. Darren showed himself fearless of sampling our jenevers and (liquorice) liqueurs, and suggested we end the night in Wynand Fockink's, a distillery and tasting room dating back to 1679, where we arrived just before closing time and then enjoyed half an hour's worth of a lock-in.

Meanwhile, I'm pleased to report that my face has almost gone back to normal again; obviously I'm now sporting a scar, which is very noticeable to me (mostly because there's some pain and discomfort there), but as long as I keep from smiling too widely, you wouldn't know I'm missing a tooth.

Other than that, I can't think of anything else noteworthy to relate, and so I'll say goodnight.


Apr. 12th, 2012 04:58 pm
gamiila: (Annie)
This coming Sunday, it will have been 4 weeks since my accident. My bruises have faded, the swellings have gone down significantly, and my lip, now sporting a fresh red scar, seems to be healing well. The deep gash on my shin has also finally scabbed over, and will probably leave a scar there, too. But my teeth...oh Lord have mercy! my teeth are in a right state.

I'd knocked one out, or so I thought. I haven't found it, and so at first I assumed I'd swallowed it. But as my face started to heal, I became aware of something hard and painful stuck up my upper jaw. This morning, my dentist confirmed my suspicion: instead of the tooth having been knocked out, it's been knocked upwards.

I expected him to start making preparations to extract it from its current position. It is causing me a (minor, but still) amount of pain and discomfort (it exerts pressure on the side of my nose, which is a most uncomfortable feeling), but he's decided to leave it in and let nature take its course - eventually, he told me, "the body will dissolve and absorb it" - though it may take a while.

We also found out that the tooth he put back when I saw him last month, hadn't re-rooted itself sufficiently secure yet, and so the splint holding it in place couldn't be removed. He recommended leaving it in for another 8 weeks, then check again. So in the end, and much to my chagrin, all my dentist was able to do for me today was clean and polish my remaining teeth, which needed this attention desperately, due to the side effect of the mouthwash I've been using for the last 4 weeks: it stains the teeth a particularly nasty-looking dark brown.

But at least my palate is healing nicely and I can now open my mouth wide enough to admit an electric toothbrush, and once it's finished charging (I went and bought one especially), I'll be returning to a more conventional method of dental hygiene. The horrid mouthwash is in the bin.
gamiila: (book)
It seems like everyone on my flist is participating in the FIRST meme, making me want to meme, too; but unfortunately, the questions in that particular meme seem to refer to a strictly American setting. Proms, sleep-overs, first grade teachers, first alcoholic beverage as some sort of rite of passage...none of these hold any particular meaning to someone living this side of the Atlantic (OK: my primary school teacher was called Mrs. McGillivray and she was 100 if she was a day, or looked it; and I tasted my very first (watered-down) glass of red wine with my 6th birthday dinner - but I don't see how I can make a post out of that). So instead, I decided to look for a meme that I could find answers to, and found

15 Question Book Meme )

There, I've memed.


Apr. 9th, 2012 12:52 pm
gamiila: (yay!)
It's been 9 years since I put up my very first, and very tentative, LJ-post. At the time, I had no conception of how much this journal would come to mean to me in the years following: more than simply allowing me to keep a(n infrequent) record of my all too mundane life, it has allowed me to encounter people, knowledge and ideas I never would have encountered otherwise, and consequently has helped me broaden my horizons.

Now it's Easter and I've had quite a busy few days in terms of church attendance, starting with a long evening Mass on Holy (or Maundy) Thursday, followed by an equally long one including Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday, after which I even stayed for the prayer vigil until midnight; Easter Vigil Mass including four Confirmations on Saturday night, and the festive Easter Mass including two christenings on Easter Sunday. I was actually quite relieved to find there was no Mass scheduled for today.

What with all of the to-ing and fro-ing, I haven't had much of a chance to spend any meaningful time online, and so I missed my chance to wish [ profile] enigmaticblues a happy birthday on the day, for which I'm heartily sorry. Obviously, I wish her a very happy belated one today, and hope that this belated happy birthday will last the entire year until the next one, when I hope to present her with my birthday wishes in time.

Meanwhile, I was saddened by the news (received a couple of weeks after the fact) of the death of Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Church last month. I met him in Leiden a few times, when I was a student of early-Christian utilitarian architecture and he, accompanied by some of his fellow priests, visited our University to look at some ancient manuscripts. He struck me then as a warm and friendly shepherd of his flock, as well as quite a jovial man in his dealings with us students.

Palm Sunday

Apr. 1st, 2012 04:12 pm
gamiila: (treading water)
Liturgical colour: red.

For Palm Sunday (and the beginning of Holy Week), Mass began with a procession and the blessing of palm fronds and crosses outside; and ended with a rousing chorus of 'Happy Birthday' for our parish priest, who will be 52 tomorrow. The church was filled to the rafters for the occasion, but I've noticed in the last few weeks that even on ordinary Sundays, attendance here is high - such a difference to how things were in my old parish. After Mass, I participated in a sponsored walk across The Hague to the ICC, to raise money for providing a proper healthcare in Kenyan refugee camps as part of our Lenten campaign. At the ICC, we were given a short but very interesting presentation about the Court and the cases that are brought before it. There are 4 crimes within the Court's jurisdiction, namely: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes committed after July 1st, 2002 and, under certain circumstances, the crime of aggression. The ICC differs from the ICJ in that here cases are brought against individuals, rather than against nations. There are currently 7 investigations and 8 preliminary examinations underway; all in all, 15 cases have been brought before the Court since it was established in 2002, of which 6 are currently at the trial stage.

I got chatting to one of my fellow parishioners, and she turned out to be working in HR. She's asked me to mail her my cv, which I will do...but without expecting too much at this stage.

But now: a recipe, courtesy of one of my French Facebook friends, one that I will certainly try next time I have a dinner party - although it's actually a traditional dish for Easter (apparently).

épaule d'agneau boulangère )


Mar. 31st, 2012 12:53 pm
gamiila: (fun & games)
1. Leave a comment to this post - specifically saying that you would like a letter.
2. I will give you a letter.
3. Post the names of five fictional characters whose names begin with that letter, and your thoughts on each. The characters can be from books, movies, or TV shows.

[ profile] enigmaticblues gave me "M":

1. Maid Marian, in Robin of Sherwood: Robin of Sherwood is, and always will be, my favourite reimagining of the Robin Hood-legend, and Michael Praed my favourite Robin Hood bar none. Also, this was probably the first time that I was introduced to a Maid Marian that could hold her own and fight as well as the rest of the gang, as opposed to the delicate flower Marians in the earlier Hollywood films.

2. Maid Marian, in Maid Marian and her Merry Men: one of my favourite CBBC-series ever, so funny and original in turning the Robin Hood-legend on its head. This Maid Marian is passionate and idealistic, and consequently often blind to the bungling incompetence of the Merry Men she leads in her fight against injustice. I do like her, even if she can be a bit full-on at times. (Of course, I like the Sheriff of Nottingham even more in this series, but his name doesn't begin with M).

3. Merlin: most specifically, as imagined and portrayed in Mary Stewart's Merlin-trilogy of the 1970s, but also as the powerful, slightly sinister wizard of the mediaeval romances, and his latest incarnation, as the jug-eared, cute Merlin in the current BBC-series.
I loved the Arthurian tales as a child, and the figure of Merlin intrigued me from the start.
When Mary Stewart combined all the disjointed legends into a flowing narrative, I fell in love with the character forever.

4. Maedhros: I love flawed heroes, in literature and in films. There are many such in Tolkien's The Silmarillion, but Maedhros is the one that springs most readily to mind. Capable of steadfast love and friendship, and fiercely loyal, he is not above treachery and deceit when the oath he and his brothers swore demands he act against his better nature. I cried when he ended his torment by killing himself.

5. Mark Darcy: Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy was already a much-loved romantic hero of mine when Colin Firth took on the role in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and put his indelible stamp on the character. Helen Fielding's reimagining of the character as Bridget Jones's love interest, and Colin Firth's portrayal of him in the films (as if Fitzwilliam Darcy had made it anachronistically into the 1990s) make Mark Darcy my favourite matinee idol.
gamiila: (boobs)
The results from my breast cancer screening have come back negative; which even though I didn't expect to hear any different, is still good to know. Never having had a mammogram before, I was a bit nervous before going there, but you were all right and the examination really wasn't all that uncomfortable and certainly wasn't as painful as I had feared.

It's been 12 days since I've hurt myself, and my face seems to be returning to its more usual, non-swollen, shape. The bruises are starting to fade away, too, and my upper lip appears to be healing well: the stitches came out a week ago and appear to have done the trick of knitting my torn flesh back together, apart from where the gash runs through the vermillion zone. This part started bleeding again 2 days ago; it's not bleeding now but it's very sore and tingly. The swelling inside my mouth has gone done a lot, too, but I still can't eat solids very well unless I mash everything, and I've noticed that I can't taste very well, either. At the moment, I can only distinguish between 'bland' and 'very faintly sweet'.

Meanwhile, the gash on my shin refuses to scab over, howevermuch Betadine I keep pouring onto it.

More proof, if proof were needed, that I was born under an unlucky star came earlier this week when I had to go out for a couple of hours and when I came back, discovered that Leila and Manasse had both been locked in the wardrobe. This happens occasionally, although it's usually just the one cat who's stupid enough to sneak in and hide while I'm grabbing my coat, and they're usually smart enough to settle down and wait patiently for release. Not this time, though. This time, one or both of them decided to climb up to the topmost shelf, and USE MY BRAND NEW RED LEATHER JACKET THAT I'VE ONLY WORN ONCE as their means of getting there. One of the sleeves is now all puckered and torn, the jacket completely ruined.

Still, some people have real problems, and I shouldn't complain, really.
gamiila: (painful)
The stitches came out this morning, but that hasn't improved my looks one little bit. My lip: still swollen and showing a bloody gash. My cheek: still swollen and covered in a big purple bruise. My jaw: the same. My knees: grazed and bruised. More bruises on my left shoulder, elbow and breast, and another bloody gash on my left shin.

The dentist was able to put back one (eye) tooth; but I seem to have swallowed the tooth that came after it in the aftermath of the fall. Despite starting on the disinfecting mouthwash within 24 hours of knocking my teeth out, my palate has become slightly infected as a result of which I have become slightly feverish, while the pain in my mouth is wearing me out. I can't eat, making me feel weak as a kitten. I survive on 2 or 3 mugs of yoghurt a day, which I painfully suck through a straw; it wards off the hunger pangs but can hardly be described as a satisfying meal. Still, I expect this new diet will allow me to lose a little weight, so it looks like some good is likely to come out of this sorry situation, after all.

Obviously, I've had to suspend the 365 Photo A Day project...for the foreseeable, at least.
gamiila: (always ends in tears)
And the day started off rather well, too. The 4th Sunday in Lent, Laetare Sunday. The Sunday of Joy, liturgical colour: pink...I went to Mass in my new church, amazed to find the church choc-a-bloc. The morning Mass was devoted to the commemmoration of the 28 Belgian and Dutch children and teachers who died in a bus accident after their school skiing trip in Switzerland earlier in the week, and was attended by some 800 people, as well as the Belgian ambassador and a representative of the Dutch government. The radio and TV news were there as well. After Mass, I got roped into the Welcome Desk team, and later that afternoon, when I returned for the Stations of the Cross (a devotional procession around the church), was asked to act as second reader. Everyone liked my reading and and I was told they could do with another lector on the roster.

That evening though, I went to change a lightbulb in the living room, and ended up in A&E.

A&E )

I knew that stepladder was past its sell-by date. And yet I chose to use it...It collapsed beneath me and I fell with some considerable and frightening speed, hitting the side of my face hard on the parquet flooring. There was blood everywhere, streaming off my face from a gash in my lip and the inside of my mouth. I got to my knees rather painfully (I'd banged them hard and all), and went to see what damage I had done to myself. The cold water I splashed on my face eventually drained away pink more than red, and what I saw convinced me I'd better go to hospital. I grabbed my keys and went to bang on my downstairs neighbour's door, asking him to drive me to A&E.

Of course, it was busy when we got there, and we were stuck in a treatment room waiting to be seen for two hours, before I told him to go home to his wife and I would call for him to come pick me up again when I was done. He'd hardly left or a resident appeared, apologising for the delay. I told her that was quite alright, and listed my injuries: two of my upper teeth knocked out, a great big tear across the roof of my mouth, and an upper lip that had split right through. Although I looked a fright, I didn't think I'd broken any facial bones, which she, having a look, could confirm. Then she left me for another hour to consult with the otolaryngologist and the emergency dentist, after which she returned to tell me they'd decided that the injury to the palate would probably heal best on its own, that the emergency dentist would be willing to do some emergency repairs but had quite a backlog to clear that night and recommended I ring my own dentist in the morning, and that all she needed to do now was stitch my lip. Which she did beautifully, even if she did warn me that I'd probably have a scar as the cut had gone right through the vermillion zone.

So now I'm at home, after a wakeful night, waiting with a hurty, swollen, black and blue face for my dentist to get to work...
gamiila: (guitars)
Amazing, the things you unearth when you decide to do a little tidy-up! While still on the hunt for Dad's photo album, I came across these photographs, taken on January 29th, 1979, in Rotterdam Ahoy - my second time seeing Queen live on stage. I thought I'd lost them in a house move aeons ago.

There's a reason why they're all of Brian May: my friend Ingrid and I (who shared the camera between us, so that we could take turns yelling and photographing) counted him as our favourite band member, and so we wouldn't budge from his side of the stage once we'd managed to fight our way there.

Brian May and Queen )

I wonder what happened to Ingrid? I haven't seen or heard from her in 30 years...
gamiila: (pieta)
The subject isn't often broached, but when asked what -if any- religious affiliation I profess, I usually answer that I'm a Catholic, and try to leave it at that, even or especially if my interlocutor then wants to have a 'frank' discussion about contraceptives, the rights of women and\or gays, and paedophile priests. I recognise that these are extremely difficult and very sensitive issues, that have angered me and that I struggle with same as any non-Catholic, and that I deal with by differentiating between the faith, the Church and in the cases of abuse past and present, between the faith, the Church and the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. Maybe that's a cop-out, I don't know; but it allows me to still identify as Catholic.

However, in recent years, I have had to admit to myself that in truth I ought to describe myself as a lapsed Catholic - over the last decennium, I have somehow fallen out of the habit of attending Mass regularly. This has been a gradual process, from practising my faith before and after my conversion (I was baptised in Oct 1994), to Christmas and Easter Only, to the point where I am now, of being "of the faith chiefly in the sense that the church I currently do not attend is Catholic" (thank you, Kingsley Amis!).

There is no barrier to a lapsed Catholic such as myself to seek readmittance to the Church; one need only return to practising the faith (going to Mass or to what used to be called confession -which these days is known as reconciliation- or carry out other practises of Catholicism), but somehow, even once I realised I genuinely missed going to church and even while I recognised that in order to have a relationship with God, one doesn't have to go to church, I couldn't bring myself to take that step. Catholic guilt, perhaps?

But this morning I woke up and knew: I'm going back to church. And what's more, I'm going to tell people and set expectations, so that I can't back out of it next time it rains on Sunday morning. So I walked over to the nearest Catholic church in my neighbourhood, that I supposed must be my parish church (the parish I was confirmed and baptised in is in the town centre and I stopped going regularly when I moved into my current flat); and as luck would have it, even though it was a hive of activity, with lots of people milling about (the craft workshop, the liturgical committee, the secretaries in the office), the priest -who I caught in the middle of his preparations for the weekend's sermons- was all friendliness and more than willing to lend me his ear. Long story short: I have started on my way back to being a practising Catholic again, in the English Speaking International Roman Catholic Parish of The Hague Church of Our Saviour. I didn't know it was an English expat church when I barged in ;-)!

I didn't take any pictures today, but I went for a nice long walk with a friend of mine, and she took the following

portrait of me )

which I think is lovely; and which she thinks shows me with 'a characteristic expression' on my face - her words, not mine! All I know is, I need a haircut again!
gamiila: (hyacinths)
I have to say that spring is fast becoming my favourite time of year. It seems that every time I step outside, the world's been made anew - new sounds, new colours, new vistas. I never knew that where I lived could be so beautiful, but carrying my camera with me is teaching me to stop and look in a way I never thought about before.

woodscape )
gamiila: (birds)
Egyptian goose )

As you can see, I encountered another goose at the water's edge - a non-indigenous species this time, the Egyptian goose, which nevertheless appears to be thriving so far north of its original home, the Nile Valley. This particular one seemed to me to be half-tame, as it purposefully waddled up to me to see if it could cadge a few crumbs. Quickly realising I hadn't brought it anything to eat, it disdainfully turned away from me and went back into the water.

So far, I haven't sighted any goslings, ducklings, or cygnets, but I expect it can't be long now. Spring seems to be establishing itself more firmly with every day that passes, and while I'm happy to see it do so, it also serves as a reminder that a whole season has passed without me finding another job. I know that it's mostly out of my hands and I shouldn't beat myself up about it too much, but I honestly didn't expect it to take this long when I started the search back in October.

Speaking of searching, I still haven't been able to find my dad's photo album, which given the fact that my flat measures a mere 75 square metres, is definitely starting to worry me somewhat.
gamiila: (Top Gear trio)
Thanks to [ profile] suze2000, I have found out that there are prompts for participants in the Photo-A-Day challenges, of which there appear to be several, to be found on the interwebs. I have no doubt that knowing this will help me keep this Project 365 going when inspiration fails me.

My route today took me to The Hague Central Station, which is undergoing a massive refurb at the moment. The present building was erected in the early to mid-70s, which means it was an ugly, low-ceilinged, dark and claustrophobic pile of concrete. I was therefore quite pleased to see that they'd taken out one of the façades since my last visit, allowing lots more light in. I'm kind of hoping they'll keep it open; or if they have to fill it in, use glass and plenty of it.

The Hague Central Station )
gamiila: (daff)
The sun is out for the third consecutive day, and so it seems that spring has, rather unexpectedly to me at least, sprung. As little as a few days ago, the trees were still bare; but earlier, on my way to the shops, I noticed that catkins were sprouting on the willows that line the ditch. Also, snowdrops, (grape) hyacinths, and daffodils have started pushing up through the grass all around.

daffodils )

Daffodils have been my favourite flowers ever since I was a child. There's something about the sight of them that never fails to flood my being with instant happiness. There's a picture of me as an 8-month old baby, happily sitting in a cluster of them, and I can only assume that my fondness for this type of flower goes back to that particular occasion. I drew countless pictures of them in nursery and primary school, and although I later came to appreciate a whole range of different flowers, none have ever replaced the humble daffodil in my affection.
gamiila: (grumpypants)
I spent all day yesterday and most of the day today looking for something - a photo album that belonged to my dad, with pictures taken on his tour of duty in Korea. Even though I can clearly remember bringing it home with me, I can't for the life of me remember where I put it, and it's driving me mad not being able to find it. The Korean War Veterans Association has been in touch; I sort of promised I would have copies made of the photos, to donate to their I can't deliver.

In the end, I went for a stroll - it was a lovely spring day and I was wasting it indoors. I heard a bird singing to my right, swung around, camera at the ready and...

hello there, robin redbreast )
gamiila: (nothing ever happens to me)
I spent a rare afternoon in the bosom of my family, as my aunt and uncle (my dad's youngest brother) came to visit. I hadn't seen them in an age, and I quite enjoyed spending some time with them. They're approaching fourscore years, and in reasonably good health; but they do have this one big worry: what will happen to their son after they themselves have gone? My cousin Peter is 56, but has a mental age of 8, and is totally dependent on them for everything.

We couldn't find an answer to that question today, either.

Anyway, I didn't have time to look for a more interesting subject for taking a picture, so a view of the houses of parliament must suffice.

het Binnenhof )
gamiila: (tree)
fish stall )

I sometimes wonder why we've never thought of fish & chip shops. We have chippies, and we have fish stalls where we can buy fish in batter (like this one), but no one's ever thought to combine the two; and if we want a fish supper, we'll either have to make it ourselves or find an English or Irish pub somewhere.

I've been called up for a clinical breast examination later this month as part of the on-going national screening programme, and I'm a little apprehensive about it. Mum reckons it's easily one of the most unpleasant exams she's ever gone for; and I can't help remembering that 2 years ago, when I got called up for a cervical smear test, I spotted for 3 days and hurt for a week. But what's a little discomfort if it can help detect cancer in the early stages, eh?
gamiila: (rain dance)
Some 20 people turned up for their very first (and free) tai chi lesson last night, me among them. As far as I can make out at this early stage, we'll be taught the so-called Yang-style tai chi (chuan) in which we'll learn a set of 108 movements, of which in this first lesson we were taught just 2. I can't say too much about it at this early stage, except that I think my previous experience with yoga may come in handy in keeping my balance; and that I enjoyed the exercise.

There's a number of pools and ponds in the woods around the corner from where I live, and I expect that I will visit them often in the course of this photo project. There's always something going on there:

at the pond )
gamiila: (stay focused)
The sun's come out and all is right with the world, even if yesterday's recruiter has just come back to me with the message that the telco (T-Mobile) has ixnayed on my candicacy for their vacancy. I thought they might, as the job as it was described to me yesterday led me to suspect that while it wasn't an entry-level position, it wasn't exactly mid-career, either. They've now confirmed that I have "too much seniority", and I'm fine with that. Basically, it means they're looking for someone cheaper.

For the subject of today's picture, I'm going back to birds, just because they were so cute when I spied them this morning. There's a small colony of parakeets living in the neighbourhood, who must have descended from a couple of escapees, and who have been doing remarkably well in the last few years, considering the winters we've had. This morning, I spotted two of them all lovey-dovey in the bushes ;-)

aww )


gamiila: (Default)

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