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: (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: (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 )
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: (hanging around)
I had an interview with a recruitment agency this morning, so I woke up early and took the recently extended metro into Rotterdam (The Hague has no metro system; but Rotterdam's had one since the 70s. Last year, their E line was extended to The Hague Central Station). It turned out the agency's office is situated on the right bank of the river Meuse, and afforded a good view of the 1996 Erasmusbrug, which is referred to locally as 'De Zwaan' (i.e., the swan). It's one of the best known bridges in The Netherlands, mainly because shortly after its opening, it had to be closed down again for modification: its original design caused it to start swaying in a combination of wind (force 6 on the Beaufort scale) and rain.

De Zwaan )

As to my interview, the recruiter told me she would get back to me this afternoon (she was going to meet with her client after I left), but she hasn't...so I think I may have had a wasted journey.
gamiila: (camera)


I'm very pleased with the way this morning's photograph, of gulls on the wing, has turned out. It was taken with my mobile in the woods at the bottom of my street, in a split second...I was expecting for it to come out as a blur to be honest, but was quite pleasantly surprised when I viewed the result on my computer screen just now.

Anyway, I'm going back out in a moment - Bruce Springsteen is playing a festival in Limburg on May 28th and I want to try and get a ticket; unfortunately though, neither the festival's nor several other ticketing websites could be reached yesterday morning when the sale started, and by the afternoon had put up notices to say they were sold out. I hope I can still get one through a ticket booth...but I won't be too upset if I can't. I'm sure my sister and her boyfriend won't miss me.

ETA: no ticket...oh well.
gamiila: (bang!)
I found a leaflet in my letterbox a couple of days ago, informing me of a tai chi Open Day prior to classes starting in my neighbourhood from next week.

For years, I used to take yoga classes in Amsterdam; but I gave it up after I gave up working at hp, simply because I no longer had any reason to be in the area...I do miss it, though. Unfortunately, as I'm no good at exercising and meditating on my own, I've never found an alternative closer to home offering classes at a time and place to suit me. So when this leaflet arrived, an idea popped into my head: why don't I go and give it a try?

My first proper lesson starts Wednesday evening, and I'm really looking forward to it. Just looking at the demonstration today made me feel calmer and more relaxed than I have in weeks!

my new hobby )
gamiila: (eyesight)
Hurrah! My new contact lens has restored the sight in my left eye to 150%, or so the optician assured me - although I'm not sure how that works, exactly. I'm just happy to have a 100% unobstructed view in all directions back again. Also, I've just found out I can claim 80 euros back on my insurance, so I'm well happy...or as happy as anyone can be after they've found themselves 170-odd euros out of pocket through their own carelessness.

Going back to my avian theme, look who's back! Spring surely can't be far off now!

stork )
gamiila: (cat)
A new month brings new opportunities! I was approached by a recruiter for a large telecom company who thought they might have an opening for me, and so I've agreed to meet with them on Monday. It would be another interim job, looking after large business accounts, and the profile seems to fit so...fingers crossed (again)!

In other news, today's the day when Manasse, the benjamin in my household, turns 8 years old. Converted into human years, this makes him almost as old as I am (48 to my 49). He's been eluding me all day, refusing to sit for his portrait, but I managed to snap his picture anyway when he let his guard down momentarily.

birthday boy )
gamiila: (sexy)
Today's photo is one of myself, as having spent most of the day indoors composing an application letter to Dell, I didn't really have a chance to look for a more suitable subject for picture-taking. If you look carefully (click the picture for a bigger image), you'll see that I'm wearing glasses -- the ones I won in that Facebook comp last month, as I still haven't received the call that my replacement contact lens has arrived at the optician's. They're alright, if a little uncomfortable, pinching the bridge of my nose. Also, I think my ears aren't properly aligned...

moi )

According to my phone's manual, it should enable me to take self-portraits with it easily. However, even when I follow the instructions to the letter, it doesn't seem to want to work. In the end, I was reduced to taking a quick pic of my reflection in an in-store mirror.
gamiila: (good days & bad days)
I'm beginning to think I may have been a tad unrealistic in my expectations of finding employment after leaving the Apple job back in October. Another month of not having had any luck whatsoever on that score is drawing to a close and it's getting increasingly harder to motivate myself now that I seem to have lost the knack of writing cover letters that prompt recruiters to invite me to an interview at least ...I haven't had any such invitation in the last 8 weeks. In fact, I'm lucky to get any reaction at all, even if it is just to tell me my application has been unsuccessful for whatever reason.

It's not the money worries - which are luckily still hypothetical at the moment and nothing some careful budgetting wouldn't be able to take care of; it's the daily interaction with colleagues and customers that I miss, the feeling that one is part of a group and is making oneself useful and just doing something, as opposed to this enforced idleness. Much as I love to read, it's not an activity that is all that fulfilling in itself.

Anyway, for today's picture I give you: lunch!

kippers )

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