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22 December 2009 @ 08:02 pm

A few wintery images from yesterday's lunch break. Normally I wouldn't dream of going out voluntarily in this weather, but I had brought food for the animals which otherwise I would have had to throw away, as I knew I'd not be able to go out today, plus I have the rest of the week off.

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Wishing everybody happy holidays!

Current Mood: goodgood
Current Music: Viens me le dire - JP Nataf
02 September 2009 @ 10:40 pm

When I first saw the announcements for Carl's R.I.P. IV I thought, "Nooooo! Go away, I don't want to know about it yet! It's still summer here!" but barely a week later the weather has definitely changed. We have had more rain, the temperature has dropped several degrees (in my house too, finally!), and I'm slowly getting in the mood for autumn, and this book challenge.

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I have had a look at my bookshelves and decided to do Peril the Second; reading two books of any length between 1 September and 31 October that fit into one or more of these categories: mystery, suspense, thriller, dark fantasy, gothic, horror, supernatural.

This is my provisional list:

Danielewski, Mark Z.: House of Leaves

Halbertsma, Joost Hiddes: Het heksershol ("the witches' den") - inherited from my mum; according to the introduction, this Frisian folktale is a mocking ghost story

Homes, A.M.: The End of Alice - from last year's list

Kafka, Franz: Het slot (The Castle)

Krabbé, Tim: De grot (The Cave) - from the same author as the chilling Het gouden ei, which was filmed as Spoorloos/The Vanishing (not to be confused with the awful American remake)

Laski, Marghanita: The Victorian Chaise-Longue - from last year's list

Verhoef, Esther: Erken mij ("acknowledge me") - a short thriller

and, depending on whether I can get my hands on them at the library (they are forever taken out):

Summerscale, Kate: The Suspicions of Mr Whicher

Waters, Sarah: The Little Stranger

But first I have to make a start with The Progress of Love by Alice Munro. Back in May I agreed with Anna from Anna's leesreis that this September we would finally read Munro. We both have had a copy of one of her short story collections languishing on our respective shelves for far too long.

Current Mood: mellowmellow
Current Music: The songs that we sing - Charlotte Gainsbourg
17 September 2008 @ 07:23 pm

Yesterday I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I had wanted to finish The Fortnight in September before starting on the R.I.P. Challenge, but I was in the mood for something more exciting and even though the afternoon had been reasonably sunny, it was chilly enough that I had to turn the central heating on for the first time again, which helped create the necessary autumn feel.

So I picked Shirley Jackson's book to read first. I had expected it to be really scary, but it wasn't at all, probably because it was a thriller and not a horror story, as I had thought. It was full of suspense and creepy, but not in a "leaving me wanting to sleep with the lights on" kind of way. In fact, when I rolled into bed after finishing it at 1.30 a.m. I slept like a baby.

I did enjoy it. Jackson writes very well, she knows how to create an atmosphere and a sense of foreboding, and while reading I thought it must surely deserve 4 stars (out of 5), but in the end I was left feeling slightly disappointed. Yet another 3-star book. (But funnily enough, in some ways it reminded me of my favourite Ruth Rendell, Heartstones.)

It is true that I would have liked to know more of the "why", but I suspect it is not so much Jackson's fault as it is my own frame of mind at the moment. I'm starting to think I have lost the capacity for unbridled enthusiasm concerning the books I read. I gave The Dolls' House 4 stars recently, but that was a re-read and perhaps more for old times' sake, because I had loved it as a child and spent many years tracking it down. The last newly read book I gave 4 stars to was Sylvia Townsend Warner's Letters, and that was in May. Oh, well. It'll pass, I hope.

By the way, if you plan on reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle for the first time and come across it in the Penguin Classics Deluxe edition, be sure to do as I did and save the introduction until last, as Jonathan Lethem happily reveals way too much. Even while looking for the first page I couldn't help catching a word here and there which made me deduce a couple of things I'd rather found out about while reading the actual story. The less you know about it, the more you'll enjoy it.

Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: Shouldn't have to be like that - Fra Lippo Lippi
31 August 2008 @ 11:11 pm

Summer has returned for the weekend, it was a beautiful ending to an otherwise grey and wet August. Back to cooler weather tomorrow.

Current Mood: goodgood
Current Music: Spain - Tom Robinson
21 July 2008 @ 09:36 pm

It's the height of summer and I've just turned the central heating on because I'm cold. It's only 15°C outside. Yet the weather forecast says it will be 26°C in a few days' time. Ridiculous.

Current Mood: coldcold
Current Music: Dounia - Rokia Traoré

If this heatwave does not end soon a small puddle will be all that's left of me.

Current Mood: hothot
06 November 2005 @ 07:17 pm

When I came back from the doctor it was still quite early, and I decided to watch the second half of Angels in America, finally! I found it just as brilliant as I did last year, and I'm thinking of making it a tradition to watch it every autumn.

With the arrival of Marianne Faithfull the next day the angelfest was continued a little longer (her "Crazy love" will forever be linked to AiA in my mind). "Last song" is another favourite of mine on the album.

The latter half of the week the weather turned lovely, or heavenly, to keep in style, with temperatures of around 20°C. On Thursday I was even moved to tear myself away from the computer in my lunch break in order to go for a walk with J.

The weekend was the warmest last weekend of October ever recorded. It was also the end of daylight saving time, which meant an extra hour of sleep. Hurrah! My biological clock hates DST, and 7 months out of 12 is simply too long.

Oh yes, and on Wednesday I watched All the Queen's men. Rather disappointing on the whole, but Eddie Izzard was hilarious as the diva giving a performance for the Germans. He really seemed to be enjoying himself. :D

Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Wonderful world - Nine Horses
24 October 2005 @ 11:59 pm

Autumn is truly upon us, we have had continuous rain today, and it was quite dark. But I love this kind of weather, if it doesn't last too long.

Again, it took me a long time to fall asleep last night. As I have no trouble sleeping in the morning, I figured it was the time-released vitamin C tablets taken at dinner these past few days that have been keeping me awake. I took only one today and at a much earlier time. Tonight I'll find out if that was indeed the problem.

Current Mood: apatheticheadachy
Current Music: Serpentine - dEUS
06 October 2005 @ 02:39 pm

Excruciating headache.

Also, it would be 20°C and sunny today, but instead it is cold and gray and hazy.

Current Mood: soresore and sorry for myself
Current Music: the sound of my head exploding
17 August 2005 @ 11:59 pm

I guess I should update even though I don't really feel like it. If I had been woken up by lawnmowers again this morning, I could have simply recycled my entry of 28 July last year, but as it happens today's culprits were the construction workers who are renovating the church. In a way that was worse, because although they don't produce as much noise as the gardeners, they do start producing it a lot earlier. So hardly any catching up on sleep this morning.

It has been autumn since the end of July, with lots of grey days and some rain. Also occasional sunshine, but far too cold (around 18-19°C) for the time of year. Yesterday and today the weather was better, but after about half an hour in the garden today I was driven back inside by the wind, even though the Amsterdam weather forecast had said that there was hardly any. Very strange.

Work is fine. I do have to get used to my time not being entirely my own any more, but it feels good to have structure again and not to have Social Security on my back.

Starting this week I have begun to take the scenic route to work, i.e. by tram through a beautiful part of the city, instead of by metro. Now I can either just take the tram and then have a brisk 20-minute walk to work, or get off one stop earlier and catch a bus that will bring me within about 7 minutes' walking distance. And if the weather is really bad I can wait at the bus stop and haul the shuttle bus that runs between the train station and the office.

I thought with this new scheme I would have to get up at least half an hour earlier in order to be on time, but as it turns out 7 minutes and one tram earlier are all it takes. I never cared for the metro and these days I like it even less, so I'm very happy about this solution.

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Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: next-door neighbours yapping (shut UP!)
26 June 2005 @ 02:11 am

At last we had a thundery shower this early morning, and the weather today was a lot cooler, with some wind.

I went for a walk in the park and it smelled lovely and fresh. However, the dampness had brought out a large number of slugs, and I had to be careful not to step on any. There were already many casualties lying about. Also a little mole, right in the middle of the path. Aww.

I was so busy watching out for slugs that I did not notice an overhanging branch, and when my head brushed the leaves I got a cold shower in my neck, hehe.

On the way back I saw a pigeon that had obviously been ripped apart. Bloodied remnants lay everywhere. (It was the puma! I'm sure of it!*)

I had stayed at my mum's overnight and when I went back home on the tram I saw a dead crow on the motorway. Another crow was sitting on the side of the road. Whether it kept watch over its mate or just waited for traffic to pass so it could take a nibble, I do not know.

When I came home, the temperature inside had dropped to 25°C. Hurrah! I had religiously kept the light-proof curtains closed each day until around 14:30, when the sun had left my windows, and even so the temperature had gradually managed to climb to 27°C. This morning I almost had a panic attack when I realized I had forgotten to close the curtains before leaving yesterday afternoon. I dreaded to think what my room would feel like when the sun could shine in freely. But fortunately the sky was overcast and remained that way for most of the day.

I kept my window and front door open for a while, thereby creating a draught which made the temperature drop to 24°C. It's funny, when it had climbed to 24°C I thought it was too warm, but now it's back down there it feels rather nice and cool. :)

In other news, I sort of watched the 8th episode of Carnivàle tonight and I still can't say I care for it much.

*Note to readers abroad: there is a puma at large on the Veluwe (a nature reserve in the east of the Netherlands). Despite numerous sightings, search teams have not been able to catch it yet. Photos that were taken have been dismissed as being photoshopped. Today I read that the puma has been spotted as early as 5 years ago. This creature is quickly turning into our very own Loch Ness Monster.

Current Mood: contentcool
Current Music: Der Kanonen-Song (Brecht/Weill)
24 June 2005 @ 02:56 am

On my Saturday-morning walk in the park I spotted two spotted woodpeckers. :) I think they were Mr and Mrs.

Monday afternoon I almost fainted, from the heat and/or slight dehydration, I guess. I was chatting with E. in her garden. She sat and I stood on high-heeled espadrilles looking down at her, and I suddenly grew dizzy. She let me sit in her chair and I asked "Do you hear crickets, too?" Turned out it was the blood singing in my ears. Fortunately the dizzy spell passed quickly.

Tuesday I went to a shoeshop that has a large selection of Camper shoes. I tried several styles, but none of them felt very comfortable, which was rather a disappointment. Although they didn't have the flamenco Twins I coveted, they had several like-shaped shoes, but I found them quite wobbly to walk on. All this has cooled my love for the Twins a bit, and I don't think I will order them after all.

I did unexpectedly find a pair of gorgeous red boots in beautiful, soft leather, but again it is not the right red to go with my pants, so I will have to return them. Or maybe I should keep them and try to find pants to go with them, hehe.

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I also bought the first Franz Ferdinand CD, at last! As I do not want to do unto my neighbours as they do unto me, i.e. make lots of noise while having doors and windows wide open (excluding my downstairs neighbour, she is quiet as a mouse), I didn't play it until this afternoon for the first (and 2nd, and 3rd) time. Because it was 30°C outside and only 25/26°C inside, I kept the windows closed and could play music at normal sound level.

Yesterday, BTW, J. and I went for another walk in the Vondelpark. Again we had picked a good day for it: very pleasant, not as hot as the rest of the week was. It was quite lovely.

And finally, I was tagged by sophyq ages ago to do this song meme:

List six of your current favourite songs and list six other people to do the same.

As I found it impossible to list only 6 all-time favourites, I took 'current' to mean 'recent':

Trouble with dreams - Eels
Versace - Bettie Serveert
Man is the baby - Antony & The Johnsons
Home - Stuurbaard Bakkebaard
Feel good, Inc. - Gorillaz
40' - Franz Ferdinand (OK, this was last year, but, see above, I only bought it now)



Sorry guys! :D

Current Mood: hothot
Current Music: The weaver's answer - Family
29 May 2005 @ 01:24 am

Thursday afternoon a week ago I caught cold sitting scarfless in the garden, and within 24 hours it had developed into a full-blown head cold. Because I had become ill so quickly I hoped it would pass quickly too, but alas, no such luck.

One downside of living alone is definitely the fact that when you're ill and you want a cup of tea or something to eat the only way you are going to get it is by rising from your sickbed to prepare it yourself. Fortunately that was only a problem for the first few days. Even though I still have a head full of snot I don't feel that ill any more, and my energy, which had gone in a flash and left me listless and not feeling up to anything except reading magazines, is slowly returning. Just as well, because I have a lot of catching up to do: housework, homework (aargh), LJ, etc. etc. The mere thought is daunting.

BTW, a curious but welcome side-effect I noticed is that I'm not bothered so much by the heat. Yesterday it was around 30ºC here and while everyone around me in the tram was huffing and puffing, I just sat there serenely and comfortably basking in the warmth. It made a nice change. :)

Current Mood: groggywobbly
Current Music: Tomorrow started - Talk Talk
03 May 2005 @ 05:59 pm

Unfortunately the weather on 'Koninginnedag' (30 April) was not half as good as predicted, but Sunday was warm and glorious. In the morning I went for a walk in the park. In the afternoon I first watched an energetic Franz Ferdinand concert on TV, recorded live at Pinkpop last year (I really must buy their CD), and when the sun had left my garden I sat outside reading until 7. My rumbling stomach finally drove me back inside to make dinner.

Recently I read a raving review of Extremely loud & incredibly close by Jonathan Safran Foer and I had planned to go out yesterday afternoon to check it out at the bookshop. As luck would have it, the chapter I read in So many books, so little time yesterday morning dealt with hypes. Sara Nelson specifically mentioned Safran Foer's first book Everything is illuminated, and that she felt a resistance to it because it had been hyped so much. She liked it, but didn't think it was all that brilliant.

So it was with slightly curbed enthusiasm that I set out to the bookshops. It didn't take long for me to surrender to EL&IC, though. Intriguing illustrations and layout, not as weird as House of leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (another hyped book I couldn't resist at the time), but interesting enough. So even if the story or the style of writing turn out to be disappointing, at least it's a good-looking book.

And this morning I rolled out of bed to watch L'une chante, l'autre pas by Agnès Varda on TV5. It must be at least 20, maybe even 25 years since I last saw it, and when I checked the new TV guide last week I was overjoyed to see the announcement. Later I suddenly remembered that I was scheduled for an appointment with the dental hygienist at the same time the film would be on, so I immediately called her to postpone it. It is important to get one's priorities right.

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L'une chante, l'autre pas is typically '70s. That era was great for film, and especially for European cinema. Most of my favourites date back to that time, although that could have more to do with my being an impressionable teenager then. I still loved the film today, though.

Current Mood: optimisticoptimistic
Current Music: Song for Sharon - Joni Mitchell
25 April 2005 @ 02:10 am

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I took an interesting quiz from bezigebij; it gives an indication of our impact on the Earth's resources.

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And a FIVE BOOK MEME from heartofdavid:


1. Take five books off your bookshelf.

2. Book #1 -- first sentence: Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.

3. Book #2 -- last sentence on page fifty: Such a lovely day!

4. Book #3 -- second sentence on page one hundred: 'We were expecting you sooner,' Robert said.

5. Book #4 -- next to the last sentence on page one hundred fifty: That should do.

6. Book #5 -- final sentence of the book: I took a taxi back to the shop, it was that kind of day.

7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph:

I took a taxi back to the shop, it was that kind of day. Such a lovely day! 'We were expecting you sooner,' Robert said. Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. That should do.

8. Feel free to "cheat" to make a better paragraph:

Alternatively: Such a lovely day! Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. That should do. I took a taxi back to the shop, it was that kind of day. 'We were expecting you sooner,' Robert said.

9. Name your sources:

Book 5 – Russell Hoban – Turtle diary
Book 4 – Jeanette Winterson – Oranges are not the only fruit
Book 3 – Ian McEwan – The comfort of strangers
Book 2 – Fay Weldon – Female friends
Book 1 – Virginia Woolf – Mrs Dalloway

10. Post to your blog.

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Current Mood: discontentdiscontent
Current Music: If there is something - Roxy Music
28 February 2005 @ 12:43 am

Another uneventful day. I have been doing laundry, two machine loads and one bucket load. This morning it snowed, but in the afternoon the weather was beautiful and sunny, so I braved the cold and ventured out for a while.

When I came back, I wanted to pay some bills online, but found out that there was only just enough money to pay next month's rent. I have now 12 euros left in my account. It is such a nuisance that I receive my unemployment benefit on a 4-weekly basis instead of monthly. I can't keep track of when it is paid out exactly, and it totally screws up my financial organization. Most of my (monthly) recurring expenses are automatically deducted at the beginning of each month, so I'll probably be in the red the coming week. Yuk.

Remembering the success with the miso soup, I tried a little bruschetta in the spaghetti aglio e olio tonight. That also tasted good. I should write a book: "101 Ways You Had Never Dreamed Of Using Bruschetta". I can see a sparkling future as innovative cook ahead of me. Watch out, Jamie Oliver!

I have had very little time to read lj lately and so am still not up to date. I'd like to suggest you all take a posting break and let me catch up and catch my breath, how's that? :)

OK, time for The Mighty Boosh!

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Les Marquises - Jacques Brel
23 February 2005 @ 11:34 pm

The weekend was full, but nice, except that H. (the BF) was ill. I had to write a few application letters, and have been decluttering, mostly papers. Saturday night I watched From hell, which proved that a film with Johnny Depp and a host of great British actors can still be shite. On Sunday night I went to see a comic play with my mum and we had a great time. We told each other we should really do this more often. We'll see.

Monday night the BBC showed The conversation and of course I had to watch it.

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This was the third or fourth time for me, and while I still find it a great film, I think I'm done with it now. A bit odd, because usually when I love a film I can watch it over and over again, but in this case the element of suspense is too important, I guess. When you've seen it and know what's going to happen, it loses a lot of its interest. But perhaps that's just the way I feel because it lasted until 3 a.m. and by 2:30 I had already become very sleepy and wanted the film to end.

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This morning I woke up to a white world. Ugh! Snow is nice for the Christmas holidays and that's about it, IMO. Fortunately in the afternoon most of it had gone, but more is expected. Hrm. Some good news: I received the reintegration plan today, so tomorrow I'll phone up my case manager (if he is in...) to make an appointment, or maybe I can just drop it off.

I also made a culinary discovery. Last year I had bought a pack of instant miso soup from the organic shop, as I had heard that it is a healthy snack and very suitable for hypoglycaemics, due to its protein content. After trying 3 times I decided that I Did Not Care for miso soup. I still had 9 one-cup-packets left, and this afternoon when I felt peckish I tried it again, but this time I added some dried bruschetta which I had acquired recently. And it tasted really good! I might even buy the miso soup again. :D

And over the past few days I have tried to catch up with lj, but people have been posting like mad, so I'm not quite up to date yet... well, what else is new.

Current Mood: okayokay
Current Music: Plain gold ring - Nina Simone
07 February 2005 @ 11:59 pm

I had a wonderfully relaxed couple of days. Yesterday I first did some chores like the laundry and financial administration, and in the afternoon I went out. The weather was truly lovely, sunny and mild. I could sense spring waiting around the corner.

I posted some letters and took old paper and glass to the container to be recycled. At the chemist's I bought a large jar of Omega 3-6-9 capsules at 50% off. Let's see if they are any good.

When I came home again I put on a CD, burned an incense stick (something I had not done for a long time), and curled up on the couch with my beloved STW. I read on until 6, and then I started cooking dinner, because I wanted to watch an early movie. It turned out to be a rather silly film, but I doubletasked in the mean time by folding laundry and sorting out my overflowing socks drawer. A lot of those socks were ready for the dump: elastic gone, etc. By the time the film was finished, the drawer was looking organized again. I felt so accomplished. ;)

After watching Never mind The Buzzcocks and Six feet under I tried to catch up on lj, but succeeded only halfway, and I went to bed at 1:15.

This morning I rearranged some of my books and in the afternoon I went out again. Though beautifully sunny, it was much colder than yesterday, due to the wind. The shopping mall was nice and warm though. Some of life's necessities were on special offer, and I made good use of that. The money I saved on those necessities I immediately splurged tenfold on a lovely, luxurious L'Occitane cleansing fluid, but hey. Nothing's too good for my extremely hard-to-please skin. Besides I was given some samples of other products I was interested in.

When I came home this afternoon, I had a smoked salmon sandwich, and then much the same ritual as yesterday: incense and STW. When I finished a chapter, I went on to read lj. The catching up took so long that I did not start dinner until 20:45, which made me late for the rest of the evening, but never mind.

I am now seriously contemplating having an early night, after trying out all the lovely new products, of course! It's probably a good idea, because my neighbour has some furniture delivered tomorrow, and those delivery guys usually show up really early.

Current Mood: sleepybored to sleep ;)
Current Music: Summer's here - Magnus
23 September 2004 @ 10:09 pm

"Lovely are these autumn days on the heath; the gorse is still as smooth as silk, & the air fragrant. I had almost said, regretful, as though there were some tinge of melancholy in its sweetness. All the months are crude experiments out of which the perfect September is made."

Virginia Woolf, 'The Lands End', 14 Sept. 1905
(In: A passionate apprentice : the early journals 1897-1909)

(Ah yes, September can be so beautiful. Here it's nothing like that at the moment, autumn has started off very chilly and stormy, with lots of rain and more to follow.)

Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: Herfst en Nieuwegein - Spinvis
25 August 2004 @ 07:29 pm

We have had quite enough thundery showers for now, thank you.

Current Mood: irritatedirritated
Current Music: Tinseltown in the rain - The Blue Nile