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: (being human)
Came across a British supermarket catering to the expat community here in The Hague, and am now fully stocked up on such items as Scotch eggs, clotted cream and cheesy oatcakes, and had a Cornish pasty for lunch. I love me a Cornish pasty, and now I'm wondering -and not for the first time, either- why no one's thought to set up shop and sell these freshly made here. I'm sure I can't be the only Dutch person that likes them. Whenever I'm at Paddington station, e.g. my first instinct is to make a beeline to the Cornish pasty shop on the upper concourse, and indulge. I've tried them all, but the beef & Stilton one is always my favourite.

Had lunch with an old Uni friend a couple of days ago, who I hadn't seen for 21 years. She hadn't changed one bit, but her daughter had turned from a little girl in pigtails when I'd last seen her into a gorgeous young marketing exec of 28, and it took me a while to get my head around that. Time goes by so quickly, and you never notice it until you see your friends' children have all grown up while you were distracted doing other stuff.

Speaking of which, Soraya has got her first assignment for Schwarzkopf hair products under her belt and seems to be on her way to being a full-fledged model. I'm still not sure whether to cheer or frown with the career choice she's made, but I'm careful not to rain on her parade. She'll be 18 in a couple of months, and if she doesn't want to go to Uni even though she's got the brains for it, that's her decision. She'll still be my favourite niece, whatever she ends up doing.

Before I go:

You were born during a First Quarter moon

This phase occurs in the middle of the moon's waning phases, after the full moon and before the new moon.

- what it says about you -

You like to make up your own mind. You may find it hard to relate to mainstream opinions on issues, and you definitely don't always like what's popular. You can work out solutions and give birth to big ideas when left to yourself, and other people will be impressed with your conclusions even if they're not sure how you arrived at them.

What phase was the moon at on your birthday? Find out at

Pretty accurate, I'd say.
gamiila: (cowboy hat)
Once, on a summer's day sometime in the 80s, I sat on a mountain top in Savoy and looked out over Italy. The sky was blue, there was no one else around, and all I heard was the sound of the wind in the grass. I wasn't thinking of anything in particular...and suddenly I was overwhelmed by this immense feeling of deep contentment. I'm sure it can't have lasted for very long, but the memory of that moment has stayed with me ever since.

the rest of the days )

Secretly, I always thought my niece Soraya was being a tad unrealistic not to think seriously about what she wanted to do when she grew up, but like so many other girls of her generation dream of being spotted by a talent scout and embark on a glittering career as a model jetsetting from catwalk to catwalk wearing pretty dresses -- but apparently, this is exactly what has happened in the last few weeks. She has been spotted, given a makeover (that is to say, her hair was cut and dyed), been photographed and signed up with a reputable agency in Amsterdam -- all in the space of less than 2 weeks since I last saw her!

And I'm happy for her, really, I am -- but I'm also a bit worried. She's 17 and still has school to finish (my sister let her miss several days out of school for this), and also, she's been told she has to lose weight. She's thin as a rake already! But apparently, her hips are a little too wide for supermodel dimensions. So what? I say -- Sophie Dahl didn't conform to the norm when she started out, either. I think Soraya's perfect just the way she is. But my sister, who's proud as a peacock, has put her on a diet, and huffed when I asked her to be very, very careful with that.
gamiila: (Default)
A disappointing match. The Netherlands won, but through luck rather than brilliance. The Danish defense was solid, and try as they might, our side just couldn't get enough room to manoeuvre in front of their goal. Also, they lacked both speed and depth in their play during the first half, and it was all rather boring to watch.

They picked up the pace in the second half and, especially after Elia was brought in, brought some flow into the game...but it took a Danish own goal to relieve the pressure and for a while it seemed as if we would have to content ourselves with that for a win. Thank God Dirk Kuijt scored a genuine Dutch goal in the 85th minute, enabling the team to walk off the pitch with their heads held high. But so far, the only team that's really impressed me with their play is, painful as it is for me to have to admit, die Mannschaft.

If you had better things to do than sit down and watch the game, FIFA have been kind enough to put this video showing a few highlights of the match up on its webpages.

I also watched the match between Italy and Paraguay, and enjoyed that much more. I always like to see gli Azzurri being taken down a peg or two, and the Paraguayan squad did just that. Viva Paraguay!

Mum called to upbraid me about the fact that I hadn't shown up at my niece's birthday party yesterday. I tried to tell her I most probably would have done if anyone had invited me or at least would have let me know when they were planning to have the party (her birthday having been earlier in the week), but she didn't accept this as a valid excuse. Moreover, she let me know that since I wasn't currently doing anything of any importance, and my sister and her boyfriend have booked a romantic break for two in Madrid, my youngest nephew will be staying with me next weekend.

I like my nephew well enough, I do. But I hate to be taken for granted as a babysitter. Why his older brother and sister can't take care of him for 2 days? Because they made it clear to my sister, when she booked the holiday several months ago, that they didn't like to be taken for granted as babysitters, either.
gamiila: (Default)
When I think back and remember what a loveable little boy my oldest nephew Mick used to be, and I look at the young man he's become, I can't help but wonder what on earth happened to him. He started acting out when he was 13, but we thought it was just the onset of puberty; e.g. he got into trouble with the police by breaking in and stealing materials from a building site. When he was 16, we found out he had a tendency to self-harm. He's had periods of severe depression and has attempted suicide on more than one occasion. He thought he might be transgender, and got accepted into a counselling programme prior to having a sex change...then changed his mind about two years later. He's run away from home more times than we care to remember, ending up in squats all over the country, sliding into drug abuse and petty crime (shoplifting). He's dropped out of every school or vocational training he's ever signed up for and at 21, has no qualifications and no prospects. Two years ago, he was diagnosed as having severe bipolar disorder; today, the latest round of psychiatric assessment has labelled him schizophrenic. Yet when all's said and done, he's still our lovely, likeable boy underneath. Whatever is to become of him?

Meanwhile, it looks as if his little brother Romeo is heading back into hospital to have yet another operation to his lymph nodes. His neck/jaw area is full of lumps and bumps again that will need draining very soon. The infection has now been raging in his lymphatic system for a full 5 months -- yet his doctors are satisfied that it's nothing more than a case of cat scratch fever?

With all this going on, is it any wonder I like to escape from reality by looking covetously at footwear? Which reminds me, I was going to show you these I bought the other day:

To be honest, I'm not very excited by them, but they'll come in handy one day, I'm sure.
gamiila: (Default)
LJ is being a complete pain again...but [ profile] ezagaaikwe asked for cat picspam so cat picspam she will get, even if it means I'm going to have to do this in several installments. Seriously, as Scrapbook refuses to play ball, I've had to reactivate my Photobucket-account, which had lain dormant for some years, and then to rack my brain as to how to import the pictures into my journal...where's the FAQ when you need it?

Who's a pretty boy, then? )

I'm freezing. The sun shone brightly this morning so I opted for a skirt and a light jacket, then caught my death hanging around Rotterdam Central Station in the icy winds waiting for my uncle to come pick me up. At my dad's cremation ceremony, I'd promised I'd visit him and my aunt soon; but I've never been much of a family-minded person, and 'soon' is rather an elastic concept in my book. Still, they hadn't forgotten and that's how I came to be so flipping cold. None of us had stopped to realise Rotterdam would pretty much come to a standstill because of the annual marathon being run today.

This particular uncle (let's call him Piet, 'cause that's his name) is my dad's youngest brother --Dad was the eldest of three, but the middle brother cut off all ties with his birth family when he got married and moved to Germany, for reasons no one knows or understands-- and is a lot like him, physically as well as in temperament, though I've always thought him to be kinder, somehow. I wouldn't say Dad was intentionally unkind often, but he certainly was never a patient man; and he could, and sometimes did, yell and throw his weight around. By contrast, I don't think I've heard my uncle raise his voice even once. When he was in the home, uncle Piet was my father's lifeline; rain or shine, he always came to visit him at least once every fortnight, which I know meant the world to my father. He didn't have that many visitors apart from me and my mum, as most all his chums had predeceased him.

So I spent the afternoon in idle chitchat with really the sweetest people in the world, who fed me pie and soup, and when they drove me back to the station took the initiative to exchange mobile phone numbers. My uncle, ever the gentleman, opened the car door for me and hugging me tight, thanked me from the bottom of his heart for having come to see them. There were tears in his eyes as he said it, and I wish I could have said we'll do this again some time...but it would only have been a lie. A little white one, but still...Like I said, I'm not that big on family, and it'll probably be months, if not years, before I'll think to call again.

Oh well

Mar. 3rd, 2010 08:36 pm
gamiila: (Default)
I was going to go and vote in the local elections today (had even decided who I was going to vote for), but I seem to have misplaced my summons...and it's no use turning up at the polling station without it. There's general elections coming up in two or three months' time; I'll have to make sure I don't misplace that one as well.

Nothing much to report: as you may have noticed, I haven't been around much even if my Internet connection has been restored (though it's still not quite as I would like it) -- I seem to have fallen out of the habit of logging on and pestering you all with my musings, for which you may all be grateful. Who knows how much longer it's going to last?

I owe you one update before I go, though: my nephew, it appears, is suffering from a nasty case of bartonella other words, after 3 months of trial and error, the doctors have finally diagnosed his condition as (atypical) cat-scratch disease. As the disease is self-limiting, no further treatment is needed, though the swollen lymph nodes may persist for some months. Romeo doesn't care, he's just glad to be back in school.

Good news

Feb. 17th, 2010 09:40 pm
gamiila: (Default)
Romeo is in the clear - well, at least as far as the possibility of him having any kind of cancer is concerned. Other than that, they're still no nearer to finding out what's really wrong with him.


Feb. 8th, 2010 08:21 pm
gamiila: (Default)
[ profile] vegmb, your card came today. Thank you, it was a lovely surprise!

My little nephew Romeo was taken into hospital today. He fell ill just around Christmas time, with his face/neck/shoulder area swelling up, first on one side, then the other. At first they thought it was an infection, but none of the antibiotics they used to treat him had any effect, and last month he had surgery to the worst affected of the lymph nodes, to drain some of the superfluous fluid, but the symptoms soon reappeared. They then thought he might have tb, so they kept him on an isolation ward for a week but the tests came back negative and he was sent home again with a course of penicillin, which again had no effect other than making him feel worse and break out in a rash.

He went in for a check-up this afternoon, and after detecting some unexplained clusters of nodules, they decided to admit him immediately and book him in for surgery tomorrow. They're going to do a biopsy; he'll be in surgery for an hour, and then we'll have to wait another week probably for the results to come back. They're working on the premise that it might be either Hodgkin's or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. If it is, then we're encouraged to think that although treatment would most likely involve some form of chemo, there's a 90% survival rate in children.

Meanwhile, Romeo is getting pretty darn tired of all this poking and prodding. Apart from feeling tired and losing weight, he seems to be feeling okay, with no pain or fever; but he is going a little stir crazy as he hasn't been to school for the last 7 weeks and he's missing his friends and worried about falling behind. Also, he says he hates looking like a freak.

Needless to say, the last few weeks have been a bit of a tense time in the family, and likely to remain so until we know for sure what we're dealing with.
gamiila: (Default)
We picked our father's final resting place this morning, my sister and I. He will be interred in the 'urn garden' of the Nieuw Eykenduynen cemetery in The Hague sometime next month, the exact date to be decided still as we've agreed to wait until the headstone of polished green granite that we also picked out and ordered this morning, is ready. That way we can inter him and place the stone at the same time. So it will probably be some 6 to 7 weeks from now.

We've bagged him a lovely spot, next to a bamboo grove and with an impressive water feature close by...and, as we were being informed that the spot we'd picked actually held enough room for 2 urns, I quickly decided that I would quite like for my urn to be buried there as well when my time comes. My sister readily concurred, as she prefers to be buried in the family plot, which happens to be in the same cemetery and currently holds the remains of our maternal grandmother, one of her sisters, and one of our aunts. I didn't know my sister preferred burial to cremation, but since that's the choice she's made, it means she was quite happy to let me have that leftover space if -God forbid- I should die within the next 5 years, which is the time we've purchased the plot for. And who knows, we may just extend the contract after that.
gamiila: (Default)
My sister and I are having to decide on what to do with Dad's ashes. There's quite a number of options to choose from, ranging from the traditional (interment in either a grave or a wall), to the sublime (sending him up 20 kilometres in the sky in a balloon), the morbid (taking the urn home to sit on the mantlepiece) and the ridiculous (having jewelry fashioned out of him). The undertaker didn't even flinch when we asked if we couldn't use the ashes in a tattoo!

I know Dad wanted for his ashes to be scattered. He didn't stipulate whether this should happen on land or at sea, but since he had no particular attachment to or connection with the latter, personally I'd favour a scattering on land. My sister however, and to my surprise, is vehemently opposed to this. She says she's not ready to say goodbye to him forever, and wants to have him interred so she can visit him often and lay flowers...The surprise in this is that she hardly ever bothered to visit him when he was alive...

But, I've agreed to hold off the scattering for a few years. I don't think Dad would have really minded either way, and if it makes my sister feel better, then why not?


Oct. 15th, 2009 05:49 pm
gamiila: (Default)
my father passed away this morning at 9:15
gamiila: (Default)
It's the last day of my summer hols, and weather-wise, it looks to be a good one. Unfortunately, now that the sun has finally started to peek through the clouds, I still won't be able to take much notice nor indeed advantage of it, as I'll be running around doing all sorts of errands.

First off, I have a meeting with the house doctor, a representative of the nursing home's management, and the head of the nursing staff to discuss my father's care and how he's been faring since arriving at the home three weeks ago. Then it's off to the police station to file a report, as it has transpired that Dad has lost his identity card/passport, probably in the move from the care home where he was first located to the last. I went to get a replacement at the town hall, but was told a police report would be required before they could process the application. When I rang the police I was told Dad would have to come to the station in person, and bring identification. When I explained that my father no longer had any identification other than a driver's licence that had expired in 1975, and that moreover he was physically and mentally unfit to go anywhere, they relented and told me that as long as I could bring a signed proxy, they would allow me to come down and file the report on his behalf. I just hope they won't have changed their minds in the intervening days, as I do realise that the compromise we arrived at is highly unusual and probably not even legal.

I'll be meeting my sister and nephew at the train station later, so as to be there at the other end of the country for our uncle's cremation ceremony tomorrow morning. Ronnie's funeral is set for Saturday as well, but as we were already committed to attending our uncle's send-off, all we could do was arrange for a wreath to be sent to his. So before we leave The Hague, I'll also have to find time to pop into the florist's and make sure our floral tribute is delivered on time and as specified.

One bit of good news before I go: my geyser finally got repaired yesterday, apparently not a moment too soon -- the repair man/plumber/gasfitter when he checked it over concluded that it had been a health hazard for some time in that it had been emitting dangerous levels of carbon monoxide gas, so he fixed it and installed an alarm at no extra charge. I don't know if it's the reassuring presence of that white box in the hallway, or the fact that there's no more carbon monoxide wafting through the flat, but I did wake up far more alert than usual this morning.
gamiila: (Default)
Dad hates it in the nursing home. He says it's worse than prison, and he wishes he were dead. I understand why he would say that; he can't get off the ward, so is forced to spend his days in the communal area, where the home's inhabitants all sit around without speaking. There's a bird cage, but none of them seem to pay the parakeets and budgerigars any attention. He's lost his reading glasses, but even if he had them, there aren't any books to read; and for someone like him who used to smoke like a chimney, it must be very hard to only be allowed one cigarette an hour.

I spoke to one of the nurses. She says he spends most of his time lying on his bed. I think it's out of boredom, but Dad says it's because he can't sleep; the man in the bed next to him makes too much noise. "I told him, one more peep out of you and I'll beat you to a pulp" -- hardly the kind of attitude to win him any friends, and definitely not the kind of threat the staff take lightly. They've already complained to my mum, and he's only been there 6 days!

It's early days yet; perhaps he will settle in later. If he doesn't, as awful as it may sound to say it, perhaps he really would be better off dead.
gamiila: (Default)
There's nothing on the telly tonight, except for the Eurovision Songcontest, and I stopped watching that event sometime in the early eighties, I think. It's such a waste of license payers' money; and if I did watch it, it'd be a waste of two or three valuable hours of my life, too.

Dad will be moved into the nursing home on Monday. Mum took him for an inspection of the place last Thursday, at the end of which he gave it a cautious thumbs-up. Let's hope that once he's moved, he'll settle into the routine of the home quickly enough, because there won't be any going back to the kind of semi-independent way of life he's led in the care home. I don't think at present he realises how big a change this is going to be, and I just hope he won't have any regrets later on.
gamiila: (Default)
I got a call last Thursday, telling me that the 'indication' as they call it had come through, and that Dad will have to be moved to the nursing home within the next 7 days. It came on the same day my department had been told that because of 'business needs', all leave for the coming fortnight had been cancelled. Definitely a conflict of interests there, then.

I'd been feeling grotty, sniffly and sneezy all week, so I took a sickie last Friday, and then, after moping around at home for a few hours, took myself off for a little spot of retail therapy (ssshhhh, don't tell my boss!). It proved quite successful, in that lightening my purse cured my sniffles and sneezes most effectively as soon as I'd acquired these:

Read more... )

But...there is a God, and vengeance is His: the next day, I discovered I had an ingrown toenail, and now I won't be able to wear them any time soon. Well, not this week, I think.


Mar. 6th, 2009 06:41 pm
gamiila: (Default)
I always used to do my taxes myself, but this year I decided to let the Union take care of it (they have this free service for Union members, whereby you come in with your papers and someone will do it for you). I wish I'd done this years ago because my word! I've been doing it wrong all these years, been far too honest (or unimaginative) and have consequently done myself out of thousands of euros. For instance, it would never have occured to me that sanitary towels could be construed as 'recurring medical expenses for a chronic condition'. As a result of this and other clever bits of accounting, I have now been able claim back more than double what I usually do; so I'm well chuffed. Now I'll just have to wait and see if the IR will pay up without asking any embarrassing questions.

I met with Dad's carers this afternoon, and I'm amazed at how quickly they thought Dad could be placed in a nursing home. If it had been up to them, they would have had him relocated within the week, but I scuppered their plans when I refused to concur that he was mentally unfit. I found out they'd had a doctor in to assess his mental state the other week (before they called and asked me to come and talk to them), whose report was inconclusive: yes, Dad can be forgetful to a frightening extent, and he does require more care, but he's not doddering...doddering he is not. His mind is still sound, though it's clear that his brain has suffered from the two strokes he's had and his memory and overall brain function is worsening. In the end, I won't be able to stop Dad's move, but I can delay it for a while by insisting on a more extensive survey to be carried out.

ETA: Oh darn! I knew it was too good to be true: in checking the figures I found the lady's made an error and left off a nought in the value of my flat. So the IR has just this morning received a valuation on a garden shed rather than the des res I inhabit. I shouldn't wonder if I come to do my taxes again, which I will have to do now that I've spotted this error, the return should shrink back to a more realistic, lower sum.
gamiila: (Default)
All through last week, the care home kept leaving messages for me to get back to them urgently, but we kept missing each other until this afternoon. The news is not good: they want to meet with me to discuss how soon I can move Dad into another facility, as he's become a danger to himself and others now that he frequently forgets he has lit a cigarette, or leaves the taps running, or flushes his nappies down the loo causing the bathroom to flood. So it looks like it's going to be the nursing home for Dad soon, and I know he's not going to go quietly; but that's not the worst of it -- it's that I'm pretty convinced that he'll deteriorate in even more rapid stages once what little semblance of independence and privacy has been taken away from him, and knowing that I had a hand in it as much as his care givers...Poor Daddy! He'll probably tell me I might as well shoot him, and I'm not sure that might not be the kinder thing to do.
gamiila: (Default)
Some mornings you wake up and you know, right from the off, that it's not going to be a good day. Today was a case in point: I woke up with a headache, which worsened as the day went on, then progressed into nausea and the shivers, and has just culminated into a violent bout of vomiting. Hopefully now, having got rid of its contents, my stomach will settle and my headache subside.

The other day, I noticed my Dad was still sleeping under a thin summer blanket, and a quick inspection of his cupboards led me to conclude that his winter bedding had either not come with him in the move, or gone AWOL since then...and I very much suspected the former to be true. So before I went to see him today, I went into town and got him a brand new duvet and a couple of covers, and the look on his face when I presented him with my gift told me he had been feeling the cold a bit in recent nights, but old soldier that he is, would rather have continued to suffer in silence than mention it to anyone. He keeps forgetting that now that he's in his 80th year of life, he's not as robust as he used to be when he snatched forty winks in the snow in Korea 50-odd years ago; and that moreover he's entitled to a little luxury every now and again. He was so pleased with his new bedding, kept saying how much he was looking forward to going to sleep tonight, that I was just sorry I hadn't thought of bringing him some before.
gamiila: (Default)
1) My nephew Mick has come back from Le Marche (Italy), where he'd gone to stay with his dad. He found out the hard way that the grass isn't always greener, and has returned home determined to make a fresh start and finish his schooling - let's hope he sticks to this New Year's resolution.

2) I'm on Facebook now, too. It's not as good as LiveJournal, but it's there so why not use it? If you're there too and I haven't found you yet, point me in your direction, will you?


gamiila: (Default)

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