Thursday, September 28, 2006



Main Entry: pro·cras·ti·nate
Pronunciation: pr&-'kras-t&-"nAt, prO-
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): -nat·ed; -nat·ing
Etymology: Latin procrastinatus, past participle of procrastinare, from pro- forward + crastinus of tomorrow, from cras tomorrowtransitive verb : to put off intentionally and habitually
intransitive verb : to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done
synonym see DELAY - pro·cras·ti·na·tion /-"kras-t&-'nA-sh&n/ noun - pro·cras·ti·na·tor /-'kras-t&-"nA-t&r/ noun
It's Thursday afternoon, the sun is shining and it's still 21 degrees even though it's late September. My chicken still lays an egg a day and the scabs on my elbow and knee are much better than they were. My whole shin is bruised still, but that'll be over soon enough.
Obviously, I have no classes now so this would be a good time to be working on my cultural history project. Or to be washing the windows (can't remember when the last time was I did that). Or to do various other household chores, like iron or pick up messes. But I don't feel like doing any of that!

Last school year I was so much more structured than I am now, but that was because I had to be. I was so busy that if I didn't plan everything, I was afraid it would all turn out to be a big mess. Of course it didn't. It did make me feel guilty every time I missed part of my plans, for whatever reason.

This year I have lots more time off (I work less and I have less classes to take), but I haven't used it very productively yet. I haven't even started to work on my thesis yet (but I do still have plenty of time) and that one project from last year that I haven't turned in yet is also still a work in progress.

What do I do? I read a lot more, which will eventually turn out to be handy for both my thesis and my cultural history project. I cook more elaborately (very good for my health and my relationship) and I go outside a lot more (again, health!). So it doesn't matter that I'm not working every minute of every day. I do what I have to do and if I don't feel like doing it that instant, I put it off for an hour, or a day. What matters is that it gets done and that I don't feel guilty. And I'm so much more relaxed than I was a few months ago!

Monday, September 25, 2006


Last Wednesday I had a clumsy moment. I don't even know how it happened, but I fell. I didn't fall from my bike, or from anything else, I just fell while I was walking! It happened after I had just gotten out of my car and had started to walk to school for the choir rehearsal.

It was weird, because while I was walking I was thinking about my brother, who has also recently made a fall. I wondered how it had happened and as I was thinking, I found myself lying on the street. A girl with two dogs came running to me: "Miss, are you ok?". I was shaky but all right, except for a scraped knee (boy has it been a long time since my last scraped knee) and elbow. And there was a hole in my pants, right on my knee. And they were my favorite-comfortable-bought-them-on-sale red linen pants.... with wide legs that my foot probably got caught in.

After getting up and getting my things together (of course I was carrying a guitar case, a backpack as well as a too-full music folder) I walked in the school. The seventh grade choir girls were all telling me about the hole in my pants and how I was shaking. I knew all that... My colleague sent one of them with me to the office, where I got a first aid kit and started to clean and desinfect. Of course this was a left handed girl so she couldn't cut band-aids because all the scissors we found were righties...but it was nice that she was chatting about all kinds of things because she distracted me. The cute thing was she told me that she thought that even though she was getting a little old (we're talking thirteen) she still fell a lot, and how her mom will always give her a piece of candy after she's fallen. "I'll bring you a lollipop on Friday Miss, I think you deserve one!"
She forgot it..but did apologize for forgetting and asked me if I was ok. And that was enough.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Laundry crisis

It doesn't happen very often, but once every few months it occurs at the M & Nic household: the laundry crisis. With that I don't mean the bleeding of a red sock in a white load of laundry. I mean the fact that M and I argue over laundry.

When we first moved in together, we discussed the house work and how we would divide it. We made an agreement: M promised to take care of the floors (vacuum and mop) and I would do the laundry.
This arrangement has worked well so far, but sometimes I get annoyed. I'll explain why.

We have one dirty clothes basket, and on Saturday I sort it. I make piles: a dark load, a white load, a red and pink load... it totally makes sense. I throw them in the waching machine and until that time there's piles on the utility room floor. Sometimes that means that when M comes out of the shower on Saturday night, he has to put his dirty clothes somewhere. However, he doesn't seem to understand the system. To me it's logical that his dark socks go on the dark pile, and his white undershirt should end up on the stack of whites. But he has two solutions:
a) walk in the utility room and put clothes in the middle of piles. He calls this the "multiple choice solution".
b) walk in the utility room and put clothes in the recently emptied clothes basket. This is the "good luck Nic" solution.
I've explained the system to him many times. But today he told me again: "I just don't get it!". I guess I need to find another teaching method.

Don't think I'm a whiny girl friend. (I try not to be, anyway!) I'll quote my professor in my opinion of this: "If this is your biggest problem, consider yourself a lucky girl!". And I do. I'm a very lucky girl to have a great boyfriend like him! He's very handy and can fix anything that's broken. And we did agree that doing laundry is my job, so I guess I shouldn't complain...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Good chicken news!

When I walked into the chicken shed today, I saw that Mej.Tok had laid her first egg!! Click here to see a picture, Mej.Tok is the big one.

After wondering why she wouldn't lay any eggs, I checked out some internet chicken forums (didn't know they existed but they do), and I learned that chickens need a dark spot to retreat in. When they lay eggs, they need to feel safe and a dark environment helps them feel safe.

Well, M had this wonderful idea... we had an extra unused litter box. So I put the litter box in the chicken shed, put some hay in it and four days later we have our first egg!!!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Impressive moment

Today one of my 13 year old students fainted in class. When I asked her what had happened, she told me she was dizzy because she hadn't eaten all day. I remembered I had heard her complain about being fat before (she's such a pretty, well proportioned girl!) so I took her outside for a chat.

I didn't have to ask anything, she just started to talk. Dad had finally moved out of the house last Saturday, after breaking up and getting back together with Mom several times this year. Two of her friends had told her she was getting chubby. She's insecure and she wants to be a model. "That's why I don't eat Miss, because if you don't eat you don't gain weight." She also told me she's thrown up after meal time twice, but that her mother found out and got mad with her.

We had a good talk for about half an hour in which I explained a few things about how the digestive system works. And about the importance of food when you're a growing teenager. The funny thing is that I just watched a documentary about eating disorders last night, so I was able to give her accurate information.

She gave me permission to talk to the counselor, as long as I didn't tell her home-room teacher or her parents. Well of course not. Counselor (who is also her health and science teacher) will look her up tomorrow for a chit-chat.

She said "but Miss, you're spending half the class time on me! Why would you do that?". I told her that I like it when my students know lots about music and are able to sing well, but that my first priority was that they were happy and healthy. At that she just said "thanks" and smiled.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Dahlias and zinnias

Yesterday I walked around my garden to cut some dahlias. I guess every year I have a new surprise in my garden, this is year it's definitely this awesome flower! Last year I hardly grew any flowers (a few sun flowers), just vegetables. That was fine and we ate lots of healthy, good tasting fresh veggies. But this year I decided that my garden was big enough to add something for the eye as well.
I bought eight different types of dahlia tubers (roots) on sale without really paying attention to the pictures on the bags, dug a few holes and planted them. It took a while for them to form plants but they grew out to be nice and big. And about a month ago they started to bloom. The picture on the right (taken from Wikipedia) is my favorite. I have that kind in pink, yellow and white and they're as big as my hand and really beautiful.

Then there's also a few multi-colored surprises, like the Dahlia "Jean Marie". If you want to see a picture of this gorgeous flower follow the link and scroll down. Unfortunately Blogspot won't let me post three pictuers. I also have a little red/white variety that's on there, the "Duet".
And you know what the cool thing is about dahlias? They are really easy to grow, and they give you flowers from August until frost! And then you dig up the roots (they will rot if you leave them in the ground) and plant them again next year, and the fun starts again!

Another flower I started to grow in my garden is the zinnia. It was a little harder to grow: I had to sow them in my cold frame first, and when they were big enough I could plant them in the bed. It's funny because the bag contained multi-colored seeds so it really turned out to be a surprise which color they were going to be. I have red, pink and orange zinnias. Unlike the dahlia, which gets nasty after about a week, the zinnia will stay beautiful in the vase for at least ten days. And they also continue to grow flowers. Actually, cutting flowers helps the plant create more flowers. That's because it thinks it hasn't properly reproduced yet. And that's true, because if you cut the flowers they can't be pollinated and won't form seeds.

There's no real moral in this story, except that I'm happy with my garden! It's fun to see how people respond. Older people generally don't believe that it's really my garden. They tend to think that my mother in law (who lives down the street) works it. But then they start to question me and they're surprised that I really do know things about growing veggies and plants. And the other fun thing is that I've already inspired two friends (one of which is Sheila) to start growing vegetables!

Friday, September 15, 2006


Sheila just wrote a really nice post about me. In that post she refers to something I wrote about our friendship. Click here to read it (or scroll down).
Thank you, dear Sheila!

Heart warming

Sometimes I don't like working with the lowest level kids, usually I enjoy it, but sometimes I just love it. Wednesday I had a heart warming moment.

In our school there's a short break after every second class period. That means a break after second, fourth and sixth. After eight period there's no break: school's out then. In every break teachers are on duty in the cafeteria and hall ways to make sure the children behave. It's not a job I enjoy very much, because I hate being a police officer. You can hear me say things like: ""DON'T KICK HIM or I'll have to kick you!"(kidding, you get that right?), "Pick up that Snickers wrapper please", "Please don't stick peanut butter sandwiches under the cafeteria tables".... I'd much rather give kids compliments.

Anyway, back to Wednesday. Third break I was on duty, roaming the hallways, looking for kids behaving badly when I noticed these two third year girls whom I taught last year. They were whispering behind their hands and their eyes followed me as I walked through the hall. After a couple of minutes they called me and asked: "Miss! We were just talking about you... have you lost weight? You look really good!".
Talk about heart warming moments....

Yes, I did loose weight (but not very much).

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Grandma's apple pie

After reading my last post, Yoastie asked me to share my recipe for Dutch apple pie. Because it's fresh apple season, and because I'm really proud of the pie, here it is! This used to be our Saturday and Sunday after church treat. My mom used to bake an apple pie almost every week when we were little (as long as the apples from our tree lasted).

Dutchnic's grandma's apple crumble pie

You will need:
- 500 gr. self rising flour
- 250 gr. margarine or butter
- 200 gr. white or brown sugar
- a package of vanilla sugar
- 1 egg
- ± 5 apples (I use Goldreinet or Elstar, don't know if those are available everywhere, they're sour apples)
- raisins and/or currants
- sugar
- cinnamon
- lemon juice

Heat the oven to 200°C (±400°F)
Sift the self rising flour and, using two knives or a fork, work the margarine through it. Add white or brown sugar, vanilla sugar and egg and knead until it's a good dough. Cover the dough and put it in the refrigerator.
In the mean time, peal and slice the apples. Add sugar, cinnamon and lemon to taste, as well as the washed and dried raisins and/or currants.
Grease a 28 cm diameter spring form (I use the margarine paper). Cover the spring form with 2/3 of the dough. If the apples are really wet, you can sprinkle some custard powder on the bottom of the dough before you add them to the bottom. The custard powder will be a nice sweet touch and it also absorbs excess moisture, but it's not necessary so if you don't have it, just leave it out. Put the apples in the bottom and make crumbs of the rest of the dough. Sprinkle the crumbs over the apple filling until you have a top crust (press on them a little bit to get them to stick together).
Brush the top with some egg or coffee cream for a nice shine. What also works is to brush the top of the pie with apricot jelly, but only do this after you take it out of the oven.
Bake the pie in the oven. I always do 10 minutes of 200°, then an hour on 175° (350°F) and then another 10 minutes with the oven door closed and the temperature turned off.

Very good with whipped cream, vanilla sauce or ice cream!

Oh, by the way: I got the picture off of the Internet. Don't have a picture of my apple pie...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Opposites and Foo Yong Hai

Yesterday M and I went to the Aquazoo in Düsseldorf with Sheila and her fiancé. It was fun, because even though we've been friends for, probably, six years now, this was the first time the four of us went somewhere together. We usually just hang out and play games or watch movies together.

While driving over there Sheila and I checked out bridal gowns in bridal magazines (Sheila is getting married in June), which was interesting. If you don't know Sheila, check out her log. It tells you a lot about her style and who she is. Her style and mine are very different.
We've had lots of discussions about our friendship and how it's funny that, even though we are very different, we really like one another. And we also do have a lot in common.

Sheila's parents are both from Indonesia so she was raised in a different culture than I was, even though she was born in the Netherlands and is
also very Dutch. Even after those six years of friendship we sometimes find something that is so totally different that it's funny we didn't notice that before. Looking back at that, it always raises a situation that I find very uncomfortable at the moment it happens. But then we talk about it and it ends up being funny.

For instance, yesterday I asked her for a recipe for Foo Yong Hai. She told me that she wasn't going to share it. I was surprised, because I've shared recipes (and other things) with her before, and vice versa, and it's never been a problem. But yesterday she was really firm in her not sharing the recipe. She explained to me that in the Indonesian culture recipes are handed down generation to generation, and it's not done to share it with others outside the family. I thought that was funny because in my family we also have recipes like that (like grandma's apple pie and mom's purple cabbage) but anybody who likes them can have them. But apparently in their culture food is so important that you just don't do that.

It took me a while to understand the whole thing. I was very surprised and at first a little shocked. She was suprised by the way I reacted. I thought: "why won't she give me the recipe? We're such good friends! Did I just totally insult her?" But then she explained why it was so important to her to keep the recipe to herself. Thank goodness she said she wasn't insulted and did offer to make the dish for me whenever I want to eat it. And in the mean time, I'll just try fixing something like Foo Yong Hai with the ready made spice mixes offered by our good friend Mr.Conimex!

This story reminded me that the differences between us are one of the things that make our friendship special. Sheila teaches me lots of things that I never realised. And it's good to have someone close to you who reminds you every once in a while that there are lots of different perspectives to lots of different things.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I am Sunset

You Are Sunset

Even though you still may be young, you already feel like you've accomplished a lot in life.
And you feel free to pave your own path now, and you're not even sure where it will take you.
Maybe you'll pursue higher education in a subject you enjoy - or travel the world for a few years.
Either way, you approach life with a relaxed, open attitude. And that will take you far!
And it's true, too! I do recognize myself in this. Funny! Thank you, Cltgrace!


I just came back from three days of 7th grade camp. Exhausting but fun. Thank goodness I didn't stay the night (I had college class on Thursday) so I wasn't as exhausted as my colleagues that did sleep over.
It's a good tradition in most Dutch high schools (grade 7-12) that the 7th grade classes have a camp in the beginning of the school year. It's a nice opportunity for the kids to get to know their class mates and for the teachers to observe the students. Wednesday we all rode our bikes to the camp location. It was about an hour and a half and the kids were complaining that they got tired. Which was good, because by the time we were at the camp they were nice and quiet :). We played lots of games, went swimming, bowling and Friday morning we rode our bikes back to school. The kids were tired and dirty (amazing how they bring suitcases full of stuff and end up wearing the same shirt for three days), we were just tired.

The weather has turned. After three weeks of rainy, 15 degree weather, we're back to 20 and sunny! Yeehaw. A lot of my tomatoes had started to rot but maybe some will live now that it's getting warmer again.

Tonight we're going to the movies, probably Pirates of the Caribbean II. And tomorrow to the
zoo in Duesseldorf (Germany).Oh and the chickens still don't lay any eggs. They are growing, though.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


This weekend it's fair time (kermis) in our small town. That requires a lot of explaining since Dutch fairs are way different than American fairs. No apple pies, pigs and crochet work, but a catholic mass, parades and lots of traditions.
Fairs in Holland usually take place at the end of the harvest times, so in august or september. They are traditionally catholic fests, which means they always start with Sunday Mass. The
schutterij (shooting guild) is the most important organisation that puts up the fair. It's hard to explain what the schutterij is, but if you follow the link, there's a good article.

This weekend used to be the end of harvest (so no more hard work for a little while) and therefore a time to celebrate. Everybody is dressed up in their best clothes, houses are scrubbed inside and out, gardens and lawns in perfect order. After mass, people go to their parent's or grandparent's houses to e
at soup and traditional salad. The kids don't go to school on Monday and Tuesday and most adults take those days off, too.

On Monday, contests are held to see who is the best at shooting cross bow and hand gun. The one who shoots the wooden bird off of the 10 ft high pole is elected Shooting King for the year and gets lots of honors. A parade goes to his house to pick him up, after which he and his Queen are taken to the fest tent in horse and carriage at the end of the parade.
On Tuesday there are games for the children like sack races and all 4 days there's a midway at the town square, right beside the tent.

Big thing is also the parties that are held in a big tent on town square. And yes people, this is Catholic Holland, so lots of beer will be served.. A band plays and it's a good time to catch up with people you haven't seen in a while (if the music isn't too loud).
My M is head of the division of the schutterij called the vendeliers (see pic, not of him but of a girl in our town's teenage squad of vendeliers). The vendeliers are sort of comparable to the flag squads some American schools have, only here its's adult men (and some women) who perform and do tricks with the flags. In the schutterij there are, among other things, also a brass band and a sort of drill team.

This morning we went to mass. It was beautiful to hear the band play and see all the people dressed up in their uniforms. No, I'm not a catholic, but I am proud to be a part of this town, where traditions are kept alive.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Exciting game

Click here if you have fifteen minutes and you´re up for some excitement! Thank you, Ampad! And don't give up, just use your mathematical skills and some logic. Just make sure you do better than I did!