Blogging 101 – Thanks but no thanks

Today’s assignment is to change the title and tagline of the blog. The goal is to make sure that I love them both. The fact is though I already do. I came across the quote in the tagline from Emil Nolde some time ago, and I thought it just summed up something to perfection – clever people know the solutions to problems, but wise people illuminate the world and see it in a whole new light showing fresh difficulties. There is great truth in that, as well as a great title for a blog. It expresses my hope to use this blog to sit down, and look at familiar things again in a new light and see whether I can look at things again in a new light and see the world created afresh with whole new problems and solutions.

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Blogging 101 – Introduce yourself

So why do I wish to write or to blog, and why publicly. As I wrote on New Year’s Eve my life is going to experience a whole new set of changes, as I am leaving my job and going into business for myself fully. After April I only work for myself and my income will become very uncertain. I also am trying to build up a whole new lifestyle for myself – trying to grow some and prepare much of my own food, often in the most interesting ways, such as my experiments with various forms of Korean kimchi, tasty out of this world, and healthy as well. Tomorrow I am planning a squash kimchi.

In short I wish to blog this year, as a 45-year old man with an incurable heart disease (currently stable, but always there. Touch wood, I will be fine) in a period where everything is going to change from the rut that work and life was caught in beforehand. I will loose friends and hopefully gan new friends. I want tips and suggestions on any topic I will explore and I hope to really enjoy the experience of establishing a regular writing practice.

I want to learn to love life and love again this year. I want new challenges and fresh difficulties and build up something. Any help on the journey would be lovely..

 

New Year’s Resolutions and lots of changes

Starting or restarting a blog is an obvious give-away that this is a New Year’s resolution. Last year I flirted with blogging a little – and I actually really enjoyed the experience, so I have enrolled in Blogging University again, starting next Monday. This time I will stay the course and finish it.

First of all a Happy New Year to everyone who reads this. May it bring you joy, health and prosperity and may all the disappointments and misfortunes be bearable.

This year is going to be full of fresh difficulties for me, as I will be leaving my job at the end of April, radically restructuring an old business, and starting a new business, as well as quite possibly moving or at least getting ready to move. Did I mention I am also working on creating healthier habits – meditation and brisk walking, as well as trying to resuscitate an old love – cooking, preferably healthily, though perhaps too often indulgently. If only I could combine the two.

Anyways, plenty of stuff to write about this year – as there will be some real changes in my life for the first time in quite a few years. I can’t say I am not scared, but I am also excited – learning new things, getting out of old ruts and trying to create something that has not been there before. I will write about little things, big things and everything in between, from the nitty gritty of cleaning grills (unpleasant) to philosophy perhaps (airy like a scuffle – yet tasty like one too).

So Happy New Year again everybody, and may 2016 be a good one.

Day 6 – Writing 101 Characterisation

Today is a difficult one – make a character study of a remarkable person you met during the last year.

This is a difficult one. I haven’t met many new people over the last year, and some I do not want to write about. But after some consideration I have thought of someone to whom I owe a debt of gratitude. I never expected this. I have known him for several years, but I got to see him in a new light during the last year.

I was reluctant to go and visit him. From where I live it is a long drive down south – close to four hours – mainly along small country lanes. My house is in a beautiful nature reserve.. There is a price to pay – it is remote from everywhere if you need to go and see a specialist at a hospital, and that is precisely what I needed to do again, a routine follow-up for an operation.

The appointment was early, so I had to leave the house in darkness to get there in time.

I had seen him before – because I had this operation several times before, and each time it had failed to remedy the problem with my heart. It kept beating too fast at first, and then it would behave for a few months, and then too fast again. He was short, squat and stubby, and had all the arrogance of a young doctor in a difficult profession he had studied hard to master. Cardiologists are Gods to other doctors. He was never willing to listen more than a minute or two at most before diagnosing the situation and coming up with a solution, and never really taking any of my question seriously. I don’t think a single appointment lasted longer than five minutes, except for once when he told me about his young baby and his holiday in Greece, the one that had made me wait a month longer for an appointment – heart rate at rest 140 continuously. I might as well have phoned him for all the good that appointment did.

I once said to him – I am not a heart condition, I am a human. I don’t think he even noticed. I kind of was left feeling like a car in a garage, interesting only for the technical problem and nothing else. In short, I did not like him.

Anyways I had been in a normal heart rhythm for six months after the last operation, except for a few small hiccups, but I was worried sick about things going wrong again. There had been a bad moment a month earlier, and I had worn a monitor for a while that showed my heart wasn’t always behaving as it should.

Though it was a good summer and I walked along the beach a lot more than I had done in previous years, every single palpitation, every double beat made me break out in a cold sweat at the thought of the operation failing again. The operation had not brought relief immediately afterwards, unlike the operation before where I had been alright for almost ten months. I felt like I was living on borrowed time. In short I was pretty damn scared.

The appointment went its usual way – arrive – wait half an hour, pretending to read a magazine. Be called up for an ECG, and engage in some nervous banter with the nurse, then moved to another waiting room, another half an hour waiting, then called in.

He said everything was alright and I fumed inside. That is when I said it wasn’t and I just told him about all my fears and how dark and dank the world seemed to me. He was quiet and looked me in the eye and pondered for a moment and asked  – “So you are in a fast rhythm 2% of the time. But you are not 98% of the time. Why do you not focus on that?”. He had listened and looked at me and seen a human, not a heart problem. It felt like a lightbulb moment, because the moment he asked the question, I realised he was right. Why didn’t I look at the 98%? A lot of things were right in my life and I was enjoying parts of my life again that I had lost before my last operation.

Have things been alright since then? No, not always, but I can honestly say that that moment has been a turning point. My heart is still keeping to a normal rhythm. I can’t say I am not scared that it will go wrong again. I always will be. However, I am happier, grateful for all the moments that my heart is normal and things feel alright with the world. I owe this cardiologist a debt of gratitude for that – for at least for one moment he saw the whole car and not the part.

Today is a difficult one – make a character study of a remarkable person you met during the last year.

This is a difficult one. I haven’t met many new people over the last year, and some I do not want to write about. But after some consideration I have thought of someone to whom I owe a debt of gratitude. I never expected this. I have known him for several years, but I got to see him in a new light during the last year.

I was reluctant to go and visit him. From where I live it is a long drive down south – close to four hours – mainly along small country lanes. My house is in a beautiful nature reserve.. There is a price to pay – it is remote from everywhere if you need to go and see a specialist at a hospital, and that is precisely what I needed to do again, a routine follow-up for an operation.

The appointment was early, so I had to leave the house in darkness to get there in time.

I had seen him before – because I had this operation several times before, and each time it had failed to remedy the problem with my heart. It kept beating too fast at first, and then it would behave for a few months, and then too fast again. He was short, squat and stubby, and had all the arrogance of a young doctor in a difficult profession he had studied hard to master. Cardiologists are Gods to other doctors. He was never willing to listen more than a minute or two at most before diagnosing the situation and coming up with a solution, and never really taking any of my question seriously. I don’t think a single appointment lasted longer than five minutes, except for once when he told me about his young baby and his holiday in Greece, the one that had made me wait a month longer for an appointment – heart rate at rest 140 continuously. I might as well have phoned him for all the good that appointment did.

I once said to him – I am not a heart condition, I am a human. I don’t think he even noticed. I kind of was left feeling like a car in a garage, interesting only for the technical problem and nothing else. In short, I did not like him.

Anyways I had been in a normal heart rhythm for six months after the last operation, except for a few small hiccups, but I was worried sick about things going wrong again. There had been a bad moment a month earlier, and I had worn a monitor for a while that showed my heart wasn’t always behaving as it should.

Though it was a good summer and I walked along the beach a lot more than I had done in previous years, every single palpitation, every double beat made me break out in a cold sweat at the thought of the operation failing again. The operation had not brought relief immediately afterwards, unlike the operation before where I had been alright for almost ten months. I felt like I was living on borrowed time. In short I was pretty damn scared.

The appointment went its usual way – arrive – wait half an hour, pretending to read a magazine. Be called up for an ECG, and engage in some nervous banter with the nurse, then moved to another waiting room, another half an hour waiting, then called in.

He said everything was alright and I fumed inside. That is when I said it wasn’t and I just told him about all my fears and how dark and dank the world seemed to me. He was quiet and looked me in the eye and pondered for a moment and asked  – “So you are in a fast rhythm 2% of the time. But you are not 98% of the time. Why do you not focus on that?”. He had listened and looked at me and seen a human, not a heart problem. It felt like a lightbulb moment, because the moment he asked the question, I realised he was right. Why didn’t I look at the 98%? A lot of things were right in my life and I was enjoying parts of my life again that I had lost before my last operation.

Have things been alright since then? No, not always, but I can honestly say that that moment has been a turning point. My heart is still keeping to a normal rhythm. I can’t say I am not scared that it will go wrong again. I always will be. However, I am happier, grateful for all the moments that my heart is normal and things feel alright with the world. I owe this cardiologist a debt of gratitude for that – for at least for one moment he saw the whole car and not the part.

Writing 101 – Day 5

So today they ask us to be brief. Interesting. The following is just an attempt to describe some of the behaviours of my cat.

The cat curls up in the garden and then rolls, all four paws in the air, to sun its white-furred belly. It purrs lazily, and stretches. A butterfly flutters past erratically from flower to flower. The cat stops purring and raises it head, eyes suddenly focused narrowly and intent on the fluttering. His body grows taut like a spring, barely restrained energy. Suddenly he jumps and lunges for the butterfly in mid air, front paws stretched out to grab, back legs raised up for the killer kick. Missed by a whisker. He sits there and looks wistful. Then he looks at me. You didn’t see that did you?

Writing 101 – Day 4

So today they set us a bigger challenge – to write the first of a three part series of post. Well I guess here goes:

If it wasn’t for Adolf Hitler, I would not be around to write this today. Not that I thank him for it, nor did my grandparents, but is highly unlikely they would ever have met, if Adolf Hitler had not decided to include Holland in his planned attack on France in 1940, changing the course of many lives from the paths they would otherwise have trod. The Netherlands was a neutral nation and it did not expect to be attacked. It had survived the First World War intact as a neutral and it was trying to do the same again.

My grandfather’s ship, part of the Dutch Royal Navy, was in transit between the Dutch East Indies (modern-day indonesia) and the Netherlands when on 10 May 1940 German forces crossed the borders and in five days overran the Netherlands. His ship fled to England, and he ended up serving in both the Dutch and British Royal navies during the remainder of the Second World War on motor torpedo boats and on convoy duty.

He could have passed the entire war without meeting my grandmother however, where it not for a German torpedo sinking a British Royal Navy ship, protecting a convoy, commanded by my great grandfather. My grandfather went to rescue the survivors and saved, amongst many, a man and his dog, the ship’s mascot. It was my great grandfather, a career Royal Navy officer.

Upon his return to base he went to visit my great grandfather in hospital and was there introduced to his youngest daughter, my grandmother. Some months later they married, a quick wartime romance, and nine months after their honeymoon my mother was born, their first child.

Something had happened however before he left the Dutch East Indies … and after he left ,the Japanese had invaded and conquered the colony.