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Saturday, 4 February 2012

Tenth letter: Sometimes flavoured with meat

Saturday the 4th of February

Hi *******

Lately, life hasn’t gone exactly to plan in the Nederlands. A couple of times fate needed to step in, to remind me of my place, and restore my faith in the power of the Universe.

The view from the balcony Friday
First failed plan.
One of the benefits of moving to the land of bitten ballen (deep fried paste balls, sometimes flavoured with meat) was of course the climate. At some point over the last few decades I’d decided that as the Netherlands was reached by traveling through France, it must be either, at least the same temperature or warmer. It’s neither, its bloody freezing, -18 on weather forecast this morning, -18! What kind of temperature is that?

I’ve had to learn a whole new set of rules to cope with the weather:
a.       Start getting ready to go out, ten minutes earlier than normal.
b.      Do not go to sleep without laying your thermal underwear next to the bed.
c.       Don’t run with Alfie, his balance on ice is better than mine.
d.      The ducks are fine on the ice; they don’t need or welcome your pity.
e.      The younger you are, the fewer clothes you need as the temperature drops.
f.        On my next birthday, I’ll be 97 years old.
Preparing to walk Alfie

Second failed plan.
Steve with the winning team, and if you look closely
you can see Andy on the right. The bucket is off camera!
Started with last weekend’s international games jam at NHTV, where Andy was supposed to be judging, as well as taking care of Steve, the keynote speaker. However Sunday morning, with typically cosmic timing, delivered to Andy, a rather serious bout of food poisoning.  Yet rather heroically (I thought) he dragged Steve and himself off to start judging – he had a job to do after all.  The day didn’t go well, Andy spent a considerable amount of time laid on the office floor with people stepping around him, and an emergency judge had to be drafted in. I arrived later for the speeches and presentations, one look at Andy had me checking for the emergency doctor’s number on my mobile.

Now normally I’m particularly unsympathetic whenever Andy has another bout of flu, or similar serious male illnesses. Stuffing toilet roll up his nose doesn’t impress, neither does littering the house with vitamin pills and flu remedies. However on Wednesday morning when he was still asleep at 8 am, I panicked, he was so still, I couldn’t hear him breathing and his skin looked grey beneath the special tan.
I held my hand close to his nose and sighed in relief when he snapped. ‘What the fuck are you doing?’  He was on the mend!

Third failed plan:
I was out walking with Andy and Alfie not long ago, complaining (a rarity!) that nothing funny ever happens to blog about anymore. Alfie chose that precise moment to squat in the frozen grass. Our little dog, still not quite recovered from his previous illness and was rather liquid. This release of liquid must have comes as something of a relief to him, as he shook his dry furry body like dog coming in from a thunder storm. Shooting a particle of a dreadfully cold, and heavy something onto my eyelashes.
 It couldn’t be, could it?
Could Alfie be any happier?
I pleaded with Andy to check my lashes for poo - he found none. However the feeling of heavy cold remained. Using the tips of my pale, pink gloved finger I carefully stroked along my lashes (away from the eye) – nothing. Yet the feeling of cold was now accompanied by a mild stinging. Andy checked unsuccessfully several more times. Before admitting that although he couldn’t see anything, he could still bizarrely smell dog shit. We eventually traced the smell to my pale, pink gloves. Alfie had indeed managed to spray stinging dog juice on to my eyelashes. Or perhaps was it the universe telling me to stop worrying, it’s still got plenty more shit to throw my way?

Trace xxx

Catching snow flakes

Our usual walk by the river, which was completed iced over

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