Friday, 30 April 2010


Men like mysterious women. I've heard this many times, also directly from the source - men I know personally. For some time I was trying to figure out what men perceive as mysterious so I could apply this knowledge, but gave up very soon. It appeared  I get enough male attention already just the way I am. No need to become (more) mysterious.

Do women like mysterious men? Some might, but I think they are an absolute minority. I belong to the majority of women who think men are simple creatures. And I'd rather keep it that way.  All a man needs is beer, meat and sex. In any given order. When a man becomes mystery, I become nervous. Having plans for the weekend and saying "There's an issue I need to fix"- many question marks in my head. Willingly sharing his experiences from the past one time and avoiding talking about past the next time - very strange.

"There's something I have to tell you."
"I have a son."
"Why on Earth haven't you told me before?! Oh, you know what, never mind..."

Caro Emerald live during the Koninginennach was worth the trouble. That Man!

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Clean desk policy

I remember the mess on my desk in May 1996 when I was working on my final thesis at the university. My desk was loaded with all kinds of legal publications, newspaper clippings, books and my notes. I was working at nights and every evening started with looking for the mouse. Lifting all the papers made no sense, so I just pulled at the cord starting at the back of my computer. This worked every time until one evening I had found the mouse and realised that I can't see my keyboard. I took it as a sign and cleaned up all the papers I'd had processed already.

I had to think of that incident today when I needed one of my usb memory sticks. Half of my keyboard was covered in stuff too, so it was definitely time to clean up. One by one I have removed from my desk: three pairs of earrings, four rings and two necklaces; a photo camera, two sets of headphones and two plastic cases they were originally packed in; a pack of wheat crackers, a small plate with some crumbs on it and an almost empty bottle of mineral water; coins and banknotes of different foreign currencies, an empty wallet and a flight itinerary; a huge pile of electricity and insurance bills, various forms and bank statements; two writing blocks, seven pens and a letter opener. Now tell me, is this common or is it just me?

My definition of a clean desk:

Tuesday, 27 April 2010


Look, this is how an ordinary working day at the Ukrainian Parliament looks like:

In Ukrainian Parliament people bring raw eggs and smoke bombs to work. I think I'll use my Ukrainian passport to make some nice Christmas decorations.


Last weekend was very surprising - to say the least. And very emotional. I'll share bits and pieces in the coming days.

Thank you everyone who voted on my poll to help me prioritise my projects. Most people (four of thirteen) think I should start writing a novel right away. I don't have even a trace of a plot in my mind. So I've ordered this book. Wish me luck!

Three of the thirteen people think I should replace the buttons on my blouse. I have promised myself to finish that by the end of the week. As soon as I'm done, I'll post a picture.

Make a kitchen lamp, knit a cardigan, film my "Dear Edith", make rings out of spoons, learn to bake and make bracelets have all gained one vote per project. Well, I can assure you, you're not going to see "Dear Edith" in the cinemas near you any time soon.

It's amazing how ignorant my readers are to my living environment. Getting new curtains, fancy up my Ikea lamps and make my living room more liveable didn't get a single vote. Thank you. :-|

A fancy piece of music - Ben Mono - Jesus Was A B-boy

Sunday, 25 April 2010


A couple of days ago I went to see Vovka off back to Israel. He was flying with ElAl, leaving from Departures 3 at Schiphol International Airport. ElAl check in is easily recognisable: it has a wall around it and men with guns at all the corners. I was not allowed to join Vovka at the check in, but had to wait outside. I walked to the other side of the desk - the place where he would get out - and settled for waiting. One of the two armed guards approached me.

The guard: "Are you waiting for someone?"
Me thinking: "It's none of your business!"
Me saying: "Yes."
The guard: "Who are you waiting for?"
Me thinking: "How's that relevant?"
Me saying: "That tall man in a light jacket."
The guard: "You may not wait here."
Me thinking: "Says who?"
Me making two steps away and saying: "May I wait here?"
The guard: "No. You may wait over there."
Me thinking: "Don't order me around!"
Me saying: "Ah, there! Thank you."

My mind and body were rebelling against this inquiry, against the threatening sight of the armed guards and against the security interview where they ask you questions you don't want to answer. But I knew I wouldn't be able to change the situation by arguing with the guards. Instead, disobeying them could lead to more questions for Vovka. I went to the front wall, which appeared to be more fun, because I could make funny faces to Vovka while he was being interviewed. Vovka couldn't help laughing, the guy who interviewed him would turn around to see what Vovka is laughing at and I would hide behind the wall so he couldn't see me. ;)

I thought of that little country (Israel) where this level of security is a part of everyday life. And that made me (once again) realise how much I appreciate living in the Netherlands where one can bump into the Prime Minister just like that on the street.

Thursday, 22 April 2010


Here I am. We've spent 28 hours in a minivan crossing Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Germany to end up in Groningen on Tuesday morning. Every muscle in my body is still tired after this trip. I still need to catch up on sleep. I've just had a quick glance at the photos we made. The stories (if any I want to share) are stored somewhere in the back of my mind. My mind has requested me to clean up the mess at home and work first. Then I'll get my stories back, it said. I hope they won't get sour by then.

I don't want to leave you completely uninspired, so here's some nice music: Bel-Sha-Zaar with Tommy Genapopoluis & The Grecian Knights - Introduction

Monday, 19 April 2010


Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to
Alice: I don't much care where.
The Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
Alice: …so long as I get somewhere.
The Cat: Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.

Thursday, 15 April 2010
A friend's call wakes me up. "Have you boarded yet? There's been a volcano eruption in Iceland. An ash cloud is spreading itself over the North Europe. Many flights have been cancelled." I check the websites of the Schiphol airport, Air Baltic and Riga International Airport. Nothing extraordinary. All flights seem to depart and arrive as scheduled. There seem to be no problems when we arrive at Schiphol. We arrive in Riga on a cloudless warm day, happy, looking forward to the concert of Gotan Project the same evening. (It was terrific!)

Friday, 16 April 2010
Carefree sightseeing in Riga. The city centre appears to be extremely small. We have visited all the sights including climbing the tower of the St. Peter's Church, visiting a couple of amber stores and checking out the prices of Rigas Balzams. The next day would be for visiting a museum or two and shopping.

Saturday, 17 April 2010
Of all museums we picked the Museum of Foreign Art. The same building also houses the History Museum of Latvia and Presidential office. Because of the president the building has a guard marching up and down the street. While Vovka was playing with his camera trying to depict the guards I decided to check out the flights at the Riga International Airport. HELL!!! All flights are cancelled!

All of a sudden we lost all the interest in foreign art. Instead we went to a café with a free WiFi network to make Skype phone calls with our foreign cell phones. Riga Airport could not give us more information than we already had – all the flights for Saturday were cancelled. "Call again tonight. We might be able to give you more information on tomorrow."

AirBaltic was totally unreachable. "All our agents are busy. Please hold the line." After listening to this message for about thirty minutes we gave up.

Of all the car rental companies we manage to reach only Avis. Renting a car in Riga and returning it in The Hague would cost us EUR 2,000. Nice price!

At the railway station we learned that there is no direct train connection between Latvia and Lithuania. All the trains go through Russia which is a no-go area because of visa restrictions. Mental note: always take my Ukrainian passport with me, just in case.

All the bus companies have doubled their prices and threw in extra busses, but are still fully booked a week ahead.

Sunday, 18 April 2010
I wake up with a terrible headache and a serious food poisoning. At that point the fact that our flight (and all other flights Westwards) has been cancelled didn't sound as bad news at all. I stay at home trying to get myself together, Vovka heads for the airport. He is reporting every once in a while.

"There are two tickets to Berlin for tomorrow if anything is flying tomorrow. Once we change the destination, we'll not be able to change it back meaning we will have to wait for the next available flight to Berlin. There are also places for the flight to Amsterdam for the day after tomorrow. That sounds more realistic to me." "Ok, let's take that."

"There seems to be an opportunity to rent a car here and hand it over to people who want to go from Hamburg to Riga. This way we won't have the high price for returning the car in another country."

"Ok, those people are not in Hamburg, but in Munchen." "Can they take a train to Hamburg or somewhere North?" "No, there are no train tickets available."

"A taxi company offers a car with a driver all the way to the Netherlands. EUR 100 per seat. But the car is for 8 persons. I don't think we can find six more people who want to travel with us."

Later we started checking the possibility to get out of Riga by boat. Unfortunately the ferry from Riga to Lubeck is discontinued as of January 2010. There is a ferry from Klaipeda to Kiel. How do we get to Klaipeda (Lithuania)? Not by train. Busses? None of them connects to the ferry.

What if we rent a car to Klaipeda? That is possible. The car with a driver would cost us EUR 200. That's when we discover that the only places available are the luxury cabins. EUR 600 doesn't sound like a good deal considering the fact that we would still need to take a train from Lubeck to The Hague.

It's almost half past nine at night when we finally end up at a restaurant to have a dinner. The restaurant was not crowded. There was a couple at a table next to the window and a group of five men next to another window. We chose a table in the corner. I was watching the guys. They seemed very relaxed chatting and drinking red wine. Wait! Did one of them just say "gezellig"?! I get up and walk over to their table. "Are you stranded just like us?"

They guys have arranged a car to Berlin through their hotel. The car has six places and they occupy five of them. "Is it possible to change the car for something bigger?" "No, I don't think so. We have already arranged everything, have given them our names and numbers. But you can ask a hotel to arrange something for you. They are very helpful." "What hotel are you staying at?" "Iceland Hotel!"

The hotel is called Islande (has nothing to do with Iceland) and the woman at the reception was indeed very eager to help. She wasn't sure what Dutch I was talking about and wasn't sure who booked a car where and how. But she gave me the number of the taxi company their hotel works with.

I dialed the number and got the driver of the car. It sounded like the car that would bring 'our' guys to Berlin. Unless there is another group of five Dutch men staying at Islanda Hotel and travelling to Berlin by car tomorrow morning. "We have 1,5 places available." "Great, we'll take that!"

Fingers crossed! But if this doesn't work tomorrow morning, we will try renting a couple of bikes…

Saturday, 17 April 2010


Tonight we had dinner at the "authentic medieval" restaurant Rozengrals. Besides the great atmosphere I was impressed by the food and Vovka by the waitress. He had quite a busy evening. So did she.

"Is this real medieval food?" "Yes." "What if my stomach can't take it?" "We will throw you into the well."
"How do you serve the hare?" "You'll get either the front or the back."
"Did you shoot this pigeon yourself?" "No, it comes from France." "Flying?"

Nearly two-and-a-half hours later after eating way too much, paying a lot and making loads of pictures we finally left the place. "Diana is a nice name. Too bad her family name sounds so stupid." "Never mind that. She'll change that when you marry her."

The girl has made such a deep impression on him that he forgot to give her a tip! ;)

Thursday, 15 April 2010


Last time I went to Riga was in 1990. I was about to turn sixteen. We still lived in the Soviet Union. Visiting Latvia from Ukraine was no more hassle than going from South Holland to Limburg. My mother, a friend of her and I went on an organised all-in tour to Latvia. By the way, after that trip I decided that was the last time I went on an organised group tour anywhere.

Riga was a one-day stop in the beginning of the trip. We had a guided tour around the city. I don't remember much. Roosters atop of the churches. Something with the largest organ. Very nice people. Amber. Rigas Balzams (I'm afraid we'll come back loaded with bottles).

I'm sure Riga has changed a lot in the past twenty years. I have a couple of days to find out. One thing hasn't changed – people are still very friendly.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


Last night's conversation keeps on playing in my head. It was an argument. I'm not sure who won it and most importantly I'm not sure the issue is resolved now.
"You dance too close with other men. It's not acceptable! Not when you have a boyfriend!" He looked very upset and very angry.
"It's just dancing! Besides, there's a difference between close and too close. I know the difference." I was indignant and surprised by him showing his feelings so intense.
"To me it doesn't look like you do." This made me angry. I was counting to ten in the heavy silence.
"Ok, is this about men I've just met or does this apply to old dance partners as well?" I tried to figure out what exactly made him snap like that. He didn't answer. There we sat. Silent.
"You know what? Do as you please." I looked at him, puzzled.
"I talk like your husband, but I'm not. I overreacted. I'm sorry."
My further attempts to revive the subject to find a solution suitable for both of us  were totally ineffective.

How did I get here? And what do I do now?

Usher - U Got It Bad

Monday, 12 April 2010

Where to start?

This morning I woke up with a heavy cold and decided to stay in. Well, I didn't really make this decision. My body made it for me. I stayed in bed almost the entire day, getting out only to make more tea and to eat more fruits. Usually when I'm sick and have to stay in bed, my head starts bugging me with all kinds of good ideas of things I could make. Once I'm recovered I never find the time to actually realise any of the projects. They just pile up in my head and bother me all the time. At the moment the pile of projects looks like this:
  • write a novel;
  • make a lamp with kitchen equipment;
  • make new curtains for the dining room and the bedroom;
  • knit a cardigan (I have three designs in my head);
  • film my "Dear Edith" scenario;
  • finally convert my mother's tea spoons into rings (it's a weird project, but I love the idea);
  • do something creative about liveability of my living room;
  • learn baking and make yummy things every two weeks;
  • make those thin bracelets of silver coloured beads and different colours cotton cord before they get out of fashion;
  • convert my IKEA lamps into something more original;
  • replace buttons of my red blouse with coins and start wearing the blouse again.
Today I did my best not to get a new idea on this list. And I think I need to develop more discipline and actually realise the projects. I need to choose one, start doing it and finish it. But which one? Help!

I've made a poll and would be grateful for your help!


Ok, guys listen to this. This is very important. Maybe you don't understand the concept, but that is not a good reason to ignore it!

Imagine you're incredibly ill (fever, running nose, headache, pain in your throat) and feel like you are going to die very soon. Please consider texting your girlfriend about it. Communicate! I mean, if you are able to hold your phone and produce something like 'very ill' or 'dying' or such - do that. Of course, if you are dying, your head is busy with other things. Such as composing a testament. Or quickly rethinking your life and regretting the choices you've made. Or wondering how many people will show up at your funeral. All that doesn't make sense. Stop it! Instead pick up your phone and inform your girlfriend on your whereabouts.

Why would you do that? Well, imagine a miracle happens and you are not going to die after all. When you realise that, when you feel life is not going to leave you as yet, when you actually think you'll be able to take part in the City-Pier-City Run or the ING New York City Marathon tomorrow, at that moment of joy the last thing you want is discovering your girlfriend has left you.

Why would she leave you while you were deadly ill? Because you fell off her radar and she had no idea you were ill. Because you forgot to communicate. So she thought: you're ignoring her meaning you're not that into her, or you're ignoring her because you're an asshole, or don't give a damn about her, or you're very unreliable, or you want to dump her, or she gets some other (hopefully more original) idea on why it would be better to break up with you since you disappeared just like that.

So guys, C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-E!

Sunday, 11 April 2010


Right now I'd rather be angry than disappointed. Disappointment makes me feel helpless and insecure. :(

The Tumbled Sea - 97202

Friday, 9 April 2010


Sun. It's not just a sunny day today. It's a spring sunny day that reminds us that summer is on its way. We are not even in the middle of April yet, but the weather already plays some kind of a promotional trailer. Coming soon! In theatres near you! 

Anyway, something in the air this morning reminded me of my days in secondary school. I hated school, but on such a morning I left home in anticipation of the afternoon when the school goes out and I can walk on the street without putting my jacket on. We had a uniform - a brown dress and a black apron for girls, a brown suit and a plain shirt for boys. When the weather became warmer, boys could just take off their jackets and later, in May they could put on shirts with short sleeves. But that didn't apply to girls. We couldn't take off anything. So in May, when the thermometer started showing above 20 degrees Celsius we were allowed to wear something else. School without uniform!!!!! Yooohoo!!!!  The anticipation of those couple of uniformless weeks made me cheer up already in April.

It's twenty one years ago that I've worn my brown school uniform dress for the last time, but on days like today I still get the feeling of that approaching freedom.

We were allowed to wear something else than uniform, but if I'd had shown up like this it would have been a very big issue. ;)

Thursday, 8 April 2010


There’s something special about fathers. I don’t mean men who have children, but more specifically men who take care of their children. Those have extra attraction power over women. It’s not surprising men with children have that effect on me at this point of my life when I judge every man as a potential father. But I’ve been fascinated by this phenomenon long before I could imagine myself being a mother. A man with a buggy in a park. A man changing his child’s nappies in a public toilet. A man with kids in the supermarket. A man buying underwear for his ten-years-old daughter. All that makes my hart smelt (provided the man is totally in control).

Another association my mind makes when I see a man taking care of his child is – emancipation. I grew up with ‘traditional’ patterns and even though most men of my generation have a great (or even) share in the child care (at least here in the Netherlands they do) I still find it somehow surprising. The man spending time with his child (apart from playing in the weekend) has stepped out of the traditional role pattern, spends more time with his family, whereas the mother of his child probably has a professional career of her own. Emancipated men – good!

Some time ago I went to the doctor (yeah, I’m still coughing). I entered the waiting room and greeted the people who were already there. A woman in her early forties and a man with a baby in a maxi-cosi car seat. I sat next to the woman. We were both facing the man. You don’t often see fathers taking their kids to the doctor. He was calm. Every once in a while he looked or touched the baby. Totally in control. The man had a large beard and was wearing a light khamise suit and a kufi like hat. Stepping out of traditional patterns? Emancipation has many faces…

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


My friend is about to celebrate her 32nd birthday. We decided to make it our April activity (we gather friends for a common activity every month) and share the organisation tasks. Now I’m involved and responsible.

Somehow she tries to compensate for the fact that she never had birthday parties when she was little. I never felt any need to compensate for the lack of my birthday parties, so I don’t understand her at all. My birthday is in August, right in the middle of summer vacations. Most of my friends were spending their time at a camping, seaside, summer camp or elsewhere, but not anywhere near me and my birthday. Each year I ended up having a party with a couple of not so close girlfriends or a bunch of (almost) total strangers until I quit having birthday parties. Close family (nowadays basically limited to my parents) is welcome. If they are not around, I celebrate my birthday with my partner. If I have no partner I find one.

But that’s not the way my friend wants it to be. She compiled a list of twenty-eight (!) people. “What do you want to do with so many people? They won’t even fit in your house!” – I was still in a state of shock after I saw the list.
“Well, I thought we could have a dinner for a small group of friends at my place. Then the rest will come for a piece of cake and a drink. Then we can go bowling all together. And afterwards we will go dancing at La Bodeguita. A smaller group (the same as for the dinner) will gather again at my place for a brunch next afternoon.” – she announced.
“Are you insane?! Do you realise how much work it is?! You will be freaking out every twenty minutes because of stress! You will be exhausted and broke! Besides, you cannot ask your friends to spend so much time of their weekend on your birthday!”
“It sounds like you are jealous and don’t want me to have a great birthday.”

After long negotiations we agreed to skip the bowling and forget the brunch. We’ll keep it to dinner, ‘reception’ and dancing. The next shock came when I found out that the ‘small’ group of friends to be invited for the dinner consists of twelve (!) people.
“You will spend the whole day cooking! You don’t have so many chairs! Your table can hardly host eight people! How are you going to do this?”
“Oh, don’t worry. I would love everyone to come, but I’m sure some people will cancel. It’ll be ok.”
There she has a point. Experience shows that if you want to have eight people at your table, you should invite at least twelve.

We gathered e-mail addresses of everybody on the list and I sent out the invitations. I must admit – I felt relieved every time someone said they wouldn’t be coming. Today we assessed the situation. “Three people are not coming for dinner. So I invited three other friends!” – she declared with great enthusiasm.


Tuesday, 6 April 2010


“There's a girl checking on you all the time.”
“Really? Which one? … No, you're kidding!”
“I am not kidding. You should ask her for a dance.”
“I don't dare.”
“Oh, come on! Just start talking to her. You'll be fine. No woman has ever rejected.”

He didn't dare to start a conversation. But the girl kept checking so desperately that I decided to help. "Do you come here often?” – what an uninspiring start! Thanks God I don’t want to dance with her. My chances would be very low. “At what level do you dance?” – now we are getting somewhere! She asked a good question right in time – I was getting tired of talking to her. “Intermediate 2. We have lessons together.” – I pointed at my friend. They started talking. Two minutes later I moved away from them and another three minutes later they were dancing together. The girl was glowing with pleasure.

“She told me she was already 25!” – he laughed in the car on the way back.

I felt like a procuress. A good one, though.

Jan Gerritsz van Bronckhorst - The procuress

Monday, 5 April 2010

Христос воскрес!

Today I spent seven (!) hours making these little kulichiki - Easter breads. This year they had to be so small because I wanted to give them to all my neighbours. They turned out really well and I have brought them around. I also used them to get to know my new neighbours. That went well too.

I still cannot believe I've spent seven hours cooking. But I start getting a grip on how to make this complicated yeast thing work right. I used this recipe (the same as last year), but used almost 50% more flour.

While waiting for the dough for kulichiki to rise I've also managed to bake a bread - in a bread machine, but still. It looks good, but I haven't had a chance to taste it yet. I hope to enjoy it for breakfast tomorrow.

No Easter without the Jesus Christ Superstar:

Sunday, 4 April 2010


One of my strong points (according to myself) is the ability to make decisions. When a decision has to be made, I have no problem making one. I also accept all the implications of my decision.  No dwelling on 'if I'd only', just take a note for the future and move on.

Yesterday I made a decision. I decided I needed a new phone. My Nokia has been playing tricks on me even before the swim. Now after drying I have no faith it would ever recover completely. So I made a decision - a new plan + a new phone. So let me introduce my new cell phone - iPhone 3GS.

And I fully accept the implications of my decision. So I am not going to complain that I have to get used to a new piece of hardware with new software. I am not going to nag about having to copy all the contacts from my old heavily disabled phone. I am not going to annoy you with stories about how much it sucks to fill in the diary again or how much work it is to do the music fix. I'll take a deep breath and suffer through these tough times because they are an inevitable side effect of my decision.

Friday, 2 April 2010

April Fools' Day

Neither my colleagues nor my co-travellers played any jokes on me today. I guess I was lucky. Even my friends didn't make a fool of me. Maybe they'd wanted to, but it was rather difficult. I might still discover who made such an attempt. The only one who really made a fool of me was my... cell phone! It fell out of the back pocket of my jeans. Who would do such a thing?! It didn´t get lost. It didn´t fall down on the pavement leaving one more mark on the screen. It slipped out of my pocket in the toilet and fell in the water. It was 12:30 - time for lunch. The rest of the day looked like this:
12:30 to 12:45 - taking the phone apart, trying to shake as much water out of the phone as possible and leaving it on the radiator to dry;
13:05 - checking the telephone;
14:30 - checking again, trying to switch it on - the phone switched on, but the screen refused to function, back on the radiator;
15:30 - checking again, the phone switches on with no sound and gives a black screen;
16:45 - putting the phone back in one piece, ready for the journey home;
17:15 - the phone switches on, shows it hasn't lost all the contacts, and diary, only slight memory loss - doesn't remember which picture I set as background, off again;
19:30 - the phone switches on, this time with sound! Doesn't stay on for long and restarts itself, on the radiator again.

The day was quiet and peaceful. Maybe I should switch off my phone more often...

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Salad with a pear

I had a pear left from my market run last week. I like pears, but only as long as they are hard. This one was very ripe.  If I let it lay around another day it will start rotting away. When apples are not hard anymore I peel and rasp them, add a little sugar and cinnamon and eat that. Somehow it works. But a ripe pear will give too much juice and is not going well with cinnamon, not to my taste anyway. I was craving for fruits or vegetables, so I decided to make a salad and put the pear in it! It was delicious.

Feel like trying? Here's the secret.

For one salad freak like me or 2 normal human beings you will need:
3 or 4 leaves of iceberg lettuce
1/4 of a large cucumber
1/2 of a yellow paprika
1 tomato
1 pear
40g feta (I used Beyaz peynir - the Turkish equivalent)
1 table spoon of honey
1 table spoon of aceto balsamico
2 table spoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Tear the lettuce leaves into bite size pieces. Peel the cucumber and the pear. Cut the cucumber, the paprika,  the tomato and the pear into bite size slices. Cut feta in small cubes. Put all these ingredients into a salad bowl.
2. Make the dressing by mixing honey, aceto balsamico, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir well.
3. Add the dressing to the salad. Mix slightly.

Eet smakelijk!

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