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: (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: (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: (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: (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)!

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.
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 [livejournal.com 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 fa├žades 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 archive...now 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 )

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