Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Harvest

Three sprouting potatoes from the bottom of the fridge went into a crate of left over soil on the balcony in May. More soil and water was added during the summer.
Then we left for a month. The plants died without flowering. The dream of a potato harvest withered too.

STILL, look what I found yesterday.






 I eat my potatoes with butter. Sorry about the potato camera used.

Now I know that I can grow potatoes and feed myself at least once without much work.
Are you harvesting you potato crop too?


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Spark

Do you have items that spark joyously? 
Things that you look at and just makes you feel confident, content and have happy memories of? 

Do you also look around and see something that you just do not want to see for any reason? 
That thing that doesn’t work, that thing that you know you should get rid of, the thing you have no use for and it belonged to somebody that you didn’t particularly think of very fondly?

You know you could. You say you should but it ends with that and a sigh. "I really could ..."
Now is the time to do it.
Lift your eye and go and sort out that one thing you see that you do not like.

It is also easier to find the things you enjoy by cleaning and accounting for everything in your house, section by section, at least once a year. 
You  usually know immediately which things you like more than the others.
Find those. Notice those. Love those.
The items you love, you will be happy to clean, dismantle and thoroughly appreciate. You will be happy adding work to then by mending, polishing, cleaning, ironing or washing.

All other items are just draining you. 
Get them out of your ownership. Get them out of your house. 
At least put them all to the side. 

Keep them separate from the happy things you have. 

I see a computer monitor that has not been used the last year and a pile of papers. I will talk to the man about the monitor and I will sort that pile of papers. Now.
Now I will.
now I do

Monday, 22 August 2016

Art

I like art.

I used to say quoting the Pope in the Michael Angelo skit by Monty Python: I do not know much about art but I know what I like.
I later learnt more about art and definitely stopped knowing what I liked.
Very different types of art opened up to me with a little bit more knowledge. I developed from my teenage deep love for the Dutch masters and ventured into different types of art, both backwards and forwards in time. I now even like modern art, installations, events and all forms of expressions: paint, dance, video, uncommunicative, plaster, graphics - you name it.

I do not like all art. I do not like everything of anything. I do not even understand most of what is presented as art. But there is really something about art, modern art, young artists, experimental artist that shoves, drags and transports us and our society to see the unseen. It is good for us. That opening of a thought, any thought, is always a good thing; regardless of what value we as individuals put on the quality of the thought.

So I like art.

I found the most addictive little art game on-line the other day.
The United Nations World Food Programme has a free education, free food web-site called www.freerice.com It has advertisements where 10 grams of rice is donated with every page view. This is something I support and I have opened my Ad-blocker for them.

And it is addictive!

The site works as a free learning site and with every answer, a donation is made. I think you can log on and keep track of how much you donate, but I have not done that.
I donate kilo's a month anyway. Because I am addicted to the Famous Paintings subject.
The game can be set for different subjects, vocabulary, geography, human anatomy etc but also Famous Paintings. The game is simple.
They show a famous painting and my task is to identify the painter. Easy?
Yes, the first few rounds.
After that... Let me not give it away. Try it out. I get noting for it, you might learn something and the United Nations Food Program get more rice to fight hunger with.


Sunday, 21 August 2016

BANG!

BANG!

I bought a piece of art.
I liked it, I thought it looked interesting and the thrift shop only charged 50 eurocents for it.

After a bit of research, an email to an international expert, a glance at international sites for selling of items and some further reading about colonialism and history, I now know why.
It has a lot of interesting aspects.
I also know that my investment has is worth hundreds of per cent more than I paid for it, and that a lot of people would not even touch it.
I have hung it on a nail on my wall.

What I bought is a 19th century copy of a painting by Antonio (Anthony) van Dyck.

It is a portrait of James II of England (James VII of Scotland), also known as James Stewart. It is a detail from a larger painting showing the three oldest children of Charles I. (There are other paintings showing the four-five-six-seven oldest children of Charles I (Queen Elizabeth II of England owns some of them and they are displayed at Windsor Castle.)

The original of my little detail is painted probably 1635 and could possibly be from the one on display in the Galleria Sabauda in the Palazzo Reale Museum in Turin, Italy. At least it looks like this, copied http://www.jacobite.ca/gazetteer/Turin/GalleriaSabauda.htm ). 







The accompanied text from the Jacobite.co site, notes other versions of the same painting, also originals by Van Dyck. One is supposed to be in Dresden (probably Gemäldegallerie Alte Meister, but I have so far not found a picture on-line, and I have no recollection of it from the time when I called Dresden home). 



Another version by Van Dyck is supposed to be in Stanford Hall in the UK. Today Stanford Hall is today a wedding and party venue of the more exclusive kind. They have posted pictures on-line and in one of them (which I have rudely screen-shot). The Van Dyck can be seen on the wall.



 My little painting is nothing like this. Nor does my house look anything like this.

My little painting is very fine, detailed, delicate and could possibly be painted on glass. 
It is a delight to see - under a magnifying glass. There is a tiny, tiny signature (NOT Van Dyck).

It is set in ivory under a convex glass (slightly dirty on the inside ) surrounded by a not too fine yellow metal ring. It is ready to hang and it looks like this in a mirror image:


I long to break into the frame to see the back of the miniature portrait and to clean the glass but I suppose I should not. Similar 19th century copies of unknown paintings set in ivory are sold on-line for between €55-75. I am guessing that it could fetch more as it is a copy of Van Dyck and of a very very historically controversial person. If I ever sell it, I will make a donation to the thrift shop organisation.
However, it is not for sale at the moment. Ivory older than 1947 is legal to sell and the back clearly shows that this little thing is older than that. However, it is not uncontroversial to sell ivory, and a lot of people will not touch it.

I have hung it on my wall with pictures of other Catholics while the Orange family looking angrily at them from the Protestant wall.


The international expert I asked? Bendor Grosvenor from the BBC series Fake or Fortune. See his blog in my link love list to the right. Not that he gave much of an answer, but he did answer!


By the way, did you know Samuel Pepys on 11 April 1669 complained that James as the Duke of York was looking too long at his wife ("did eye my wife mightily")? You find also find Samuel Pepys Diary in my link love list to the right.

All links in this post are to link love sites, nothing commercial.



Friday, 19 August 2016

Clothes2016

We came home from our trip with our 12-13 kilo backpacks and our 2 kilo bags of clothes.
As almost everything we used for our month in Ireland was camping, hiking or running gear, it washed and dried quickly and could be folded up.
I stopped there.

I wanted to take the time to go through all my clothes before everything went into the wardrobe.
Counting, trying on, assessing needs and removing items that really should not be used much more.
I even attempted to dust and clean all shelves and hangers.

I didn't get through it all. Not even I live up to my, usually continuously reduced, requirements.

However, what I DID DO was the following:
Pile of not to be used much more-clothes:
I did bring and completely wear out some clothes in Ireland which were thrown in a container (for household waste) on our last day, including a pair of old jeans (buttocks hanging out). But as soon as I opened the wardrobe at home, I immediately saw items that I did not or should not wear much any more. They all immediately went into a pile containing odd bras, worn out socks, badly fitting tops, shorts and some almost completely worn out trousers. I will see if I will use any of this at home (I do work from home sometimes) and try to dress myself from the pile. But I doubt much of it will be selected for re-use and it will go into my "on the way out of the door" box. I will go through these as well as all other items already in the box and then be done with the whole lot. Most of it is not even good enough for charity. I do wear out my clothes but then I also have a storage of good clothes not currently in use to draw from, so I do not really need to buy new things. 

Start counting clothes and assessing needs:
I got as far as the following:
Trousers: NO NEEDS. In total 18 pairs of items to wear on my legs, including very nice, almost unworn office trousers as well as sports trousers, shorts, shorts and hiking trousers. Pyjama trousers and skirts are not included (but is seriously easy to add: 4 pyjama bottoms and 2 skirts).
Underwear: NO NEEDS unless it is free, then I can buy three very specific items in the right colour, size, design and price (so far quite elusive items). But other than that, the need for underwear, including bra's and slips is fulfilled.
Pyjama: NO NEEDS but want a silk pyjama and since they are very expensive (about €70 and my budget would be around €5) it is a no go. Still a want though. Otherwise four bottoms, three tops, two gowns and a pair of sleeping socks will see me through the winter. If I need any more, this is something I could and should sew.
Socks: NO NEEDS although I thought this was what I would have to buy this year. But with 10 warm socks, five long socks, 6 short sockies, 8 traditional black cotton socks for the office, two cheerful socks, 2 sport socks and a pairs for sleeping, I really do not need any more during the winter. Then - in 2017- I will go and buy a ten-pack of my favourite supermarket basic standard black socks (which has a distinct feature so that the man and I can differentiate between our otherwise identical standard black socks). I will then toss out all the old office socks in one go.

I did not get around to count and assess needs among tops, light sweaters, warm sweaters and jackets - but if I remember correctly and look at the piles and piles of clothes I still own (counted in 2015) -
I do not need anything soon anyway. I was given a t-shirt from the archaeological dig we attended this summer. Great quality with a funny print and I will wear it a few times and then probably sleep very well in it for about ten years.
If something changes, I'll get the clothes I then need. But I am not buying for just in case.
I have all the just in case I need.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

BABPS

Bites, aches, bruises, pimples and scratches  -
slowly they are starting to heal.

A week ago, I got severely bit by something that I have never been bit by before. I know that because my immune system told me there were absolutely no anti-bodies in my body against whatever that bug was.
I got five huge, wide, high and irrrrritatitngly itching blotches in a lovely blue colour.
(Finger, arm, bum, hip and toe)
I dove deep into my old storage of antihistamines and allergy pills for some relief.
Within four days, the blotches were starting to reduce. (And possibly completely without any help at all from the allergy pills I was eating double doses of - as I had a lot in storage.)
Now, a week later, I am left with the blue spots and the scabs from where I scratched the skin off. In another week of so, I hope all signs of them will be gone. The apartment is cleaned and vacuumd and emptied and bug-proofed and I have not got any new ones in a week.


The bruises are all starting to heel too. The typical volunteer archaeologist knee bruises are finaly starting to fade. Knee pad were of course used but I just could not stay on them.
This summer I have looked like a hard working exotic dancer or a hard working Catholic nun.
I was looking forward to some shorts or even a skirt in the warm weather when  -bang- I walked straight into a bedpost and bruised the entire leg. I now look like a four year old after her first bike ride. Band-aid and everything.

The scratches are mostly all my own doing but climbing Mesolithic tombs and the accompanying fences (barbed wire fences!) did nothing for the civilized look. The worst scratch across the upper arm is healing nicely and can almost be hidden by a t-shirt.

The pimples will clear with better food and cleaner water. I again realised how good the tap water is in the Netherlands and in Sweden, in comparison to Ireland and Belgium. Drinking a normal amount of water every day (not too much and not too little) cleans my skin and I will probably have another week or so until the cleaning and cleansing reaches from the inside all the way out. Not digging in dirt is also going to help the skin to heal itself.

I like roughing it for weeks and even months at a time. This adventure really has not been roughing it very much, although the work was very physical. Most nights we slept indoors and we always had clean tap water and even something that could be called a shower available. Not just quite the standard of living even my home apartment can give, even its low standard is higher than that.

I am very happy to have a home of my own where I can heal my BABPS.
It may not be much but the adventure this summer again made me grateful that I have it. Small as it is by normal standards, tiny by most, shocking by some, it is safe and clean and mine.
My home base is truly my first priority.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Arms

My arms started to do the double wave bye bye.
You know, the ones where you wave once with the hand and once with the floppy bit of the inside of the upper arm.

The plans for the adventure to Ireland and all the the physically hard work that it would include (archaeology is not for the weak), also included a lot of arm strengthening exercises.
I have very little sport equipment but I do have some. The plan was to do more physical exercises when watching telly or reading in the sofa. These micro exercises which I have described earlier, really made a world of difference.

Not only did all the physical hard work (think chain gang, breaking stones) not injure my arms or shoulders;
not only did I have the strength at the end of every day to lift my knife and fork for dinner (although I will admit I did feel them the first week)
but together it also actually have resulted in giving me quite nice upper arms.

The upper arms do not flap anymore.
The inner arms do not flop anymore.
The shoulder is stronger and there might even be a hint of minuscule muscle to be seen occasionally.
Most importantly, the little cushion between the chest and the arm is almost entirely gone.
(Ladies: is there a name for this useless thing? The thing that ruins every sleeveless dress or top on a woman past hmpf-hmpf-something of age?)

Anyway, my point is:
With very little effort, no sweat, no thought and only the occasional "ouch, ouch, huff, puff, only one more", I have gained armstrength and nice looking arms.
Not bad for no money at all, is it?