My mom & the tulips

This week in Beyond Layers (days 5 & 6)  is all about story.  Story of one day, story of every-day-life things… 6 pictures.  That was Monday, and Kim already revealed a bit of what was coming today, thursday: create a storyboard. Here’s the story and the board.

Last Friday (27/04) it was my birthday.  My husband and I made a habbit of visiting the world famous Keukenhof in Holland on that day.  Last year I had promised my mom – who simply adores flowers and tulips in particular – to take her with us.  She’s 77 and struggling with chronic leukemia amongst other health issues.  As a consequence of a hernia operation about 40 years ago, she has difficulties with walking and the leukemia makes her very fragile.  She had her share of life’s struggles but she’s very courageous.  Last year I invited her for our trip to the Keukenhof on the day she left the hospital after her first treatment for leukemia.  She looked at me with big eyes, sparkling for a brief moment and then she said: “But, I can’t walk that long, that far”  I smiled and carefully suggested: Well, what would you think of renting a wheelchair?  I never thought she’d want that.  But the spark came back in her eyes: “You’d do that? And walk me around ?”  My husband, Guy, reassured her:  “Sure! Why not!”   We planned to go two weeks later… Two weeks later she was in the hospital again, the cure hadn’t become her very well.  So, no trip to the Keukenhof in 2011.  We rescheduled it for 27/04/2012.  Faith has its ironic twists, and a few weeks ago she got another problem and in fact she will have an operation tomorrow (cross your fingers please).  It looked as if the Keukenhof was not for this year either.  When her doctor asked which date suited her best for the operation, she immediately said: not April 27th!

So last Friday we took my mom to the Keukenhof, in a wheelchair.  She loved it, it was one of her happiest days of the last couple of years!  And I, I had a wonderful birthday.

Apart from learning a lot about textures, Kim Klassen also introduced me to Instagram etc.  That mobile-phone-photograph-thing is a whole different style, and new to me, but I love it.  And, it is the means by excellence to capture every-day-life moments. The snapshot reinvented.  So here’s my storyboard, an impression of my (birth)day at the Keukenhof.  Taken with my I-Pod (the phone is on my wish list…)


No picture of my mom in the wheelchair, she asked me not too (still a bridge too far I guess), but other brief encounters that are totally unimportant to anyone else, but sweet memories to us.  I’ll walk you through the 6 pics, in a wheelchair ;-)

  1. The tulips of course, no explanation needed, except that it are my moms favourite flowers.
  2. “Good Food, Happy People” – was written on the napkins.  The food was not good ;-) but we sure were Happy People :-)
  3. Wooden shoes.  My mom giggled at seeing them.  She has worn wooden shoes when she was a child, with straw in them to keep her feet warm, but never such fancy pumps :-))
  4. In one of the exhibition halls there was a contest, and this was one of the walls.  My mom was the star that day, the winner.
  5. Mom was looking strangely at those 2 ladies juggling with that tablet – to her an unknown tool!  Times have changed since the wooden shoes.
  6. And then there was coffee……..

It was a beautiful day, the first sunny one in weeks.  My mom insisted on buying me the cutest little vase with tulips on it for my birthday (pictures of that follow later).  For now, I hope you like my storyboard and that I can make a new one next year, with my mom being the star again.

(Sorry Kim for not using your storyboard templates, but I wanted this to have that casual, bit shabby look).


The store that disappeared.

Isn’t it funny how small things that normally go by unnoticed, can suddenly bring memories or thoughts to one’s mind?

picture taken in my garden 25/03/12

Since a couple of days spring is definitely in the air. The weather is extraordinary kind for the time of year.  This afternoon we noted 24° C in our garden!!  Really exceptional.  And with this fine weather all the bulb flowers suddenly come out of  hybernation.  Flaming red tulips compete with sunny yellow narcisses which on their turn are dancing with white and blue muscari, whilst hyacinths spread such an incredible soft odor. It’s an amazing season!

I don’t know whether this phenomenon is also known in other parts of the world, but over here, together with the beginning of spring, people are starting to clean up, paint and do other stuff like that, as if everything deserves a fresh, spic & span start.  So, while tidying up some old paper, my eye fell on a b&w leaflet from a small vegetable store.  Amidst the colored, glossy brochures of the big stores, it humbly cried for attention “We celebrate spring! Come and buy a kilo of tomatoes and you get a kilo of onions for free!”

Taken in Gordes,Provence,France-06/11

We used to have those little grocery stores almost on every street corner.  I remember as a small child, after helping my mom doing the dishes, I’d get 1 old Belgian frank (now it would be 1 Euro, which is about 40x as much, but nobody seems to notice that!).  Then I’d run to the little shop to buy some candy, not knowing what to choose from all those goodies – all of which is considered terribly unhealthy nowadays!  But it was such a lovely moment!

All that is gone, at least it is over here.  Those small groceries couldn’t keep up with the supermarkets, which in their turn had to make room for megamarkets and shopping malls, open till late at night, some even on Sundays.  And although we got so used to those luxureous 24/7 shopping facilities, I often feel homesick for the little grocery store.

Does this sound familiar?

A warm sunny day, enjoying a nice cup of coffee or tea and you’d sure like a piece of home baked apple pie to go with it.  Everything is at hand except for a couple of eggs.  You could ask your neighbour, but, well…. it’s a bit not done nowadays, especially since you hardly know him…  Of course the megastore is open and they have plenty of eggs, but it would be such a waste of your valuable sunny time to spend it in a cue at the pay desk!  Especially since you always seem to pick the slowest line – or does that only happen to me?

And furthermore you should dress and make up!  OK, you could go in your easy garden shorts and top or lazy jogging suite, that is, if you don’t mind the very peculiar looks.  The only way to avoid those disapproving stares is by putting on some running shoes, clip a mini pod – visibly – in your pocket and plug in some fancy earphones.  Then run into the store, keep breathing like you just ran a marathon, smile and hum a bit while you grab some eggs (!) you so desperately needed during your work out!  In short, it would take you about an hour – at least – to get some eggs, after which you’d return home having lost all appetite for apple pie, let alone for baking one.

Tulips in my garden, taken 25/03/12

I’m probably sounding very old now, and I’m not pretending that everything used to be better.  But if the small grocery store could co-exist in the shadow of the mega-shopping mall, you’d get a couple of eggs in a couple of minutes, receiving a nice smile from the grocer, not minding your outfit at all, saying “enjoying the sun, are you?”.  Then you would answer: “Sure am, I’m going to bake some nice apple pie to go with my delicious cup of tea.  Fancy a piece?  I’ll bring you one in about an hour… See you!”

Better or not, the world has changed a lot.
And now I’m off, for a cup of tea in the spring sun, next to my garden tulips, but without apple pie, since I don’t have eggs in the fridge ;-).


A luxury problem… ?

It happens that I can’t sleep, actually it happens a lot! It’s nothing new, had it all my life.  I used to get very mad around 3 a.m., desperately watching  the clock and counting the hours still left to find some sleep. A very depressing occupation as the hours always got less!

But last couple of years I deleted that habbit, and instead of getting mad, sad and counting hours, I now put on the tv.  I know, I know, psychologists and sleep analysts will shake their heads now: “Bad habit, very bad habit!”   But there’s nothing to worry about ;-) I only watch harmless things, garden documentaries f.i.  No killing series or news flashes, just beautiful images of flowers, and gardens or city views.

That habbit started when I realised I always fell asleep in front of the television, whereas in my bed I was wide awake. So why not turn that into a win situation?

However, maybe those analysts are right as a few nights ago, images in one of those series confronted me with this burn-out…  I was watching the wonderful BBC series: “A year at Kew” and it showed a settlement in Madagascar.  People looked happy and content, friendly, smiling, living of their own land, hard labour.  All of a sudden it hit me: do those people know the phenomenon “burn-out”?

Probably they will feel “unhappy” from time to time, probably they will feel tired, or down, probably they will have “bad” days…  But probably they wil sigh, straighten their backs, and then go on with their lives, they simply can’t afford to feel like that or give in to it.  When they do, they don’t have food…

And realising that, I felt guilty.  Of course our ways of life are totally different.  Their hard labor and efforts to get the most simple things, like fresh water by just turning the tap, or light by pushing a button, have become totally unknown to us.  Instead we worry about electricity rates going up, internet connections that go down during 5 whole minutes (!! imagine that !!), e-mails that aren’t immediately answered and cell phones that aren’t picked up and you really need to tell someone that you sent him an e-mail and why it wasn’t answered yet………  Our life has got so unnecessary complicated with all modern technology, initially developed to make things simpler, easier.

So I felt guilty because I started to think: burn-out is actually a luxury problem…….