Thursday, August 31, 2006

Beautiful things

Everybody who knows me knows that I'm not good at hiding my emotions. If I'm happy, I laugh, if I'm sad, I cry... I cry at movies, or when I feel sorry for myself, but last night I cried because I saw something beautiful.
Two fellow members of my choir are mother and daughter (15). Four months ago, daughter ran away from home because she said her mother was too strict. She moved to her father's instead, who lives in the district of the city where lots of bars and clubs are. Father, being away lots of times, and disliking mother, decided to let daughter do anything she wanted to, even if that meant going to clubs (you have to be 16 but she looks 16) and getting home at 2:30 AM.

Mother and daughter have not talked in four months. Daughter quit coming to choir rehearsals because she knew mother would be there. But last night, on her birthday, daughter came to rehearsal.

Because we knew it was her birthday, we sang "Happy Birthday" to her and the director (my dad) congratulated both mother and daughter (though that was a little awkward since noone knew if they had made up or not). A little after that, mother walked out of the room, crying.
After rehearsal, dad and I waited in the office for about ten minutes, since mother and daughter stood in the choir room and talked. It was touching to see their body language change from arms crossed, to hands on hips, to a very open posture. It was also touching to see how much daughter looks like mother.
I walked by them to get a cup of coffee from the coffee machine in the adjacent staff room. When I got back they were hugging, gave each other a kiss and both went their seperate ways.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Dennis update and schedule

We went to the vet twice on Saturday, but we didn't need to go on Sunday. He peed and started to perk up a little. He eats everything I put in his dish and then still asks for more. No wonder if you consider that this 5 kg (15.43 lbs) cat lost 700 gr (1.5 lbs) in a week.
I'm relieved! We go back on Wednesday for his last shot of antibiotics, and then he should be fine. Yea!

And to prevent this log from becoming a story of just cats and chickens, here's how I am doing!
I went to my college today for the opening of the school year. My schedule is amazing: I only have 1 class until fall break, and 1 class from fall break to Christmas. All of the other assignments don't require presence at school. That means
that, including work, my week will look like this:
Monday: 1 class 2nd 9 weeks, after that: nothing (I mean write thesis)
Tuesday: work afternoons, evening: Italian class
Wednesday: work full day and choir at night
Thursday: 1st 9 weeks 1 class, after that: write thesis
Friday: work

That should be doable. Last year I had to go to work/college every day, and there were 3 days a week where I had to be at both places so I was constantly rushing from one place to the next. Hopefully this year will be less stressfull!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Poor Little Dennis II

So I took Dennis to the vet this morning. He got another shot of antibiotics and I was told to keep an eye on him and if everything stayed quiet return on Monday.
Well, he did stay quiet. Too quiet. He tried to go on the litter box lots of times, but he couldn't go. He started to walk a little queasy again, and his eyes looked blurry. So I took him back to the vet at 17:00. He said he didn't look good (boy am I a good diagnostician) and gave him a different shot. He told me the first shot was related to aspirin, which tends to thin the blood. And when he pressed on the bladder, lots of urin and blood came out, so he had started to bleed again. No wonder he didn't feel good.
Now we have to watch him and if he doesn't pee tonight take him back in the morning. If he does and he looks better, Monday. We have a birthday party tonight. I'm glad it's only 2 houses away so I can go and check on him a couple of times.

Poor little Dennis

My cats go outside a lot. When the weather is nice (i.e. when it's not raining) and we're home, we let them go out. There are lots of interesting cat play places around our house. A vegetable garden, chicken shed, and 2 big fields behind the house, one of which with horses. Then there's the neighbour's chicken shed (where they have caught many a sparrow and starling).
When they play outside, I usually leave the back door open so they can come in to eat, drink or use the littler box. And whenever I'm outside, they usually stay close to me. I like that, because I can see what they do.
Last Tuesday something went wrong, however.
As usual, Dennis and Cilla had been outside all afternoon. They came in when it got dark, but Dennis spent almost all night on the litter box. We were conspiring a birthday surprise for my brother in law, and from the litter box he could see what we were doing. We made fun of him: look, he found a new chair with a lovely view!
Little did we know that he had a problem...
Wednesday he went outside, but didn't come in. He stayed outside all night and all day Thursday. Nobody had seen him in the day time though, which is very unusual. At 21:30 he walked in and went straight to the litter box. He couldn't walk straight, his fur was pale and he was very skinny. I called the vet and he told me to come to the office straight away.
The vet examined him and found that his bladder was clogged and therefore he couldn't pee. It had been like that for a few days (apparently since Tuesday) and it had been infected. Because he couldn't get rid of his waste, it had gone back into his veins and had started to poison him, that's why he walked so funny. The vet flushed his bladder and called me at 23:00 that all was well and I could pick him up after work.
What happened? He was probably kicked by a horse, which made him bleed internally. The blood had clogged his bladder. The vet told me we were lucky he came in and we found him, because usually cats that feel that badly find a quiet spot to die..
I took him back there this morning and he got another shot of antibiotics and anti-infection. We'll go back again Monday to see how he's doing. In the mean time he has to eat a lot, sleep a lot and stay in. He does look a lot better now though, thank goodness!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thank you, Falleri

Falleri made this new lay-out for me. I really like it, so thank you!! She also helped me with my first steps in the Blogspot world, which was really handy.


My birthday was awesome... never before did I have so many people at my party. I was very spoiled with all kinds of cool presents.. Games, books, 3 pepper grinders, and 3 chickens! Their names are Kerrie (Dutch for curry), Tandoori and Mejuffrouw Tok (miss Tok) and they are very cute. So far they haven't given me any eggs yet, but Kerrie and Tandoori are too young to lay eggs and Miss Tok has to get used to her new environment first.
Here they are!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

An attempt to use Blogspot

Because of numerous complaints that non-Xanga users couldn't post comments on my Xanga site, I decided to open this Blogspot. Happy now, Sheila and Falleri? :)
Since the school year has started again (I start teaching on Friday) I don't know how often I will update. But I'll try to keep it interesting..

Friday, August 18, 2006

Tomato soup

Because tomorrow will my 25th birthday, my grandpa and parents are coming over for dinner tonight. Grandpa has a hearing aid and doesn't like birthday parties because he has trouble hearing conversations when there are lots of people talking at the same time. My parents will pick grandpa up and I will take care of dinner. I'm going to fix tomato soup, pork tenderloins, cauliflower, fried potatoes and a salad. And cobbler for dessert.To let you all share in my night-before-birthday dinner, here's the recipe for

Dutchnic's Birthday Tomato Soup (serves at least 5, I hope)

You will need:
1 kg tomatoes (2 lbs), chopped
1 leek, finely sliced
1 onion or 2 shallots, diced
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 small carrots, sliced
500 gr ground beef (1 lb)
1 bay leaf
fresh basil, chopped
pepper, salt
beef broth
a little olive oil

Start by browning the onion and garlic in the olive oil. When it's all soft and smells good, add the carrots and stir until soft. Add the tomatoes and the bay leaf. Simmer for about 30-45 minutes, until it's all cooked through and the carrots can be mashed.Using a Foley (yes Justplanedwight, I have one too and know how to use it!) or other pureeing device, make the carrot-onion-tomato into a smooth mushy liquid, without tomato skins. Make sure you remove the bay leaf before you use the Foley, because it doesn't like Foleys.Add the leek and return the bay leaf and simmer for another ten minutes. If the mixture doesn't look tomatoey enough, you can add some tomato puree or a can of tomatoes (I do it too, although I do consider that cheating ). Add the beef broth and salt and pepper if necessary.Well, this is a basic soup, but you're probably wondering, what about the ground beef? Make little meat balls (the size of a cherry) after you've spiced the beef up with a little salt and pepper, and other seasonings that you want to add. Drop them into a little pot of boiling water, until they are cooked. The water will get a little nasty, but that's ok. You're boiling the meat balls in this water so the soup won't look like this. When cooked, fish out the balls and drop them in the soup.Finish by adding the basil, serve, and enjoy!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Thank you, cltgrace!

Cltgrace gave me the idea for this world map, and state map, of all the countries and US states I've visited. Looks like I have some more traveling to do...You can make your own maps here.

Italy in a nutshell

I promised to tell y'all about our vacation in Italy. I already told you that we went to the Caldonazzo lake. That's one of the warmest mountain lakes in the Dolomites (Italian part of the Alps), with an average water temperature of 25 degrees. Oh, sorry, 77, for all you Fahrenheiters... Divide by 5, times 9 plus 32..So good swimming is guaranteed, and it turned out to be true.We booked a room in a nice hotel, about 50m from the lake. (Roughly 50 yards...) All we had to do was cross a railway crossing and then we were at the "beach". But since the mountain lakes don't have sandy bottoms, the beaches are made out of grass. Pretty comfy and it doesn't get your towel all sandy.

We didn't do very much, which was perfectly fine with both of us. In the day time we went swimming, visited 2 beautiful cities: Trento (I'm in front of the Castelvecchio, or Old Castle in the picture) and Verona, where we were caught in a huge thunder storm and ended up in front of the Louis Vuiton store, where they sold crocheted (Is that the past tense of "to crochet"?) broches for €35 ($44) I guess I could have gotten rich if I had thought of that first. And when it rained one day we drove through the mountains to have lunch at the hotel where we always stay when we go skiing. That was only 2 hours away so a nice rainy-day outing.
And at night we enjoyed the hotel's four course dinners (yes, really! But that's typical in Italy.) First they serve soup, then the "first course", which is a pasta with a simple sauce without vegetables, after which follows the "second course", a meat or fish dish with a warm veggie, and then of course a dessert. You can imagine we were pretty stuffed after dinner, so we would take a walk by the lake and have a capuccino somewhere. And when we got back to the hotel we would play games. Lots of Sequence, Settlers of Catan (has that caught on in the USA yet? It's very popular over here. I think it's a game that the Jarboes would really enjoy) and Triominos. And I happened to beat my Maarten most of the time, ha!We also read lots of books and slept. It was so nice!!!
Isn't this a nice picture? It's taken in Verona, at 11 AM! You would think it would be a night time pic, but it got so dark because of the thunder storm that the street lights came on!