Cyber-Gish | Kiffin's blog
For anyone interested, I made a photo gallery of our summer vacation to Crete.
Just click on the following link:
Hope you like it.
Two weeks seem like a long time, but when it comes to a fun and relaxing adventure in Crete, time flies by pretty darn quickly. And then again.
In other words, we made it back safe and sound.
The fine village called Matala where we stayed hadn't changed much in the twenty years since Thea and I went there on our first romantic journey way back in the good old days.
Except that this time around we had four wild-and-crazy kids keeping us occupied and entertained.
Quite an adventure you could say.
Alright, we're finally off to Crete.
Away from it all, enjoying the sunny beach.
Just relaxing and doing nothing in particular for as long as possible.
See you in a little more than two weeks.
So how the heck am I supposed to get in shape as well as sufficiently tanned in preparation for Crete when it has been pouring down rain here for most of the summer?
Hopefully, I will not get burned to a crisp the first few days that I am there, and my flabby belly will not hang out of my swimming suit too badly that I feel overly embarrassed.
I never could have imagined that I would be able to nod off in the train while sitting up. However, during the last week I have slowly but surely mastered this fine art of sleeping while on the move. When you think about it, things could get nasty if you fail to wake up in time. You open your eyes and the train is empty and you are sitting all alone at the final destination somewhere random in Holland. This almost happened to me in the afternoon on my way back home. Not like you are sleeping real deep, but it is close to the edge. A semi-light wavering dream state during which your hearing is blocked off like you have been placed in your own sealed jar. At the last possible moment when the train was slowing to a stop at the Gouda station, I just happened to wake up thank God. Kind of like when you somehow wake up ten seconds before your alarm clock goes off.
Just to be on the safe side, I decided to sit with my back facing the direction that the train was going. While I prefer to sit facing the direction I am traveling, you never know when an accident might happen. That way, if there was a head-on collision, I would not be flung across the aisle and get smashed into the front wall of the wagon. Hopefully the wagon would not be smashed like an accordion, and I would be able to escape by climbing out of the window.
Fortunately for me, I decided to leave work one hour earlier yesterday afternoon. Had I heeded to my usual predictable routine and left sixty minutes later, it could have been a whole different story.
Try to be careful out there. The mistress of fate is not always as forgiving as you might hope she would be.
Matala Beach front.
Alright then, after a difficult and sometimes stressful previous year, we decided this time around to splurge a little and have more fun in life. As a kind of celebration of life and how thankful we are that everything is going so much better.
So for summer vacation, we will be spending a couple weeks in Matala, Crete.
Back in the romantic days before the arrival of our kids, Thea and I had the times of our lives there. We feel that it would be nice to go back and show the children.
Hard to believe that that was some twenty odd years ago.
Today is the last day before we set off on our three week long adventure through France, our long awaited for summer vacation. We have been looking forward to it for some time now, and while it may not be as exotic as our trip to America last year, it is a much deserved break which we will certainly enjoy to the fullest.
July 12 - July 13 : Nancy, stay over night in a Formule 1 hotel.
July 13 - July 18 : Murs-de-Gelignieux, camping Ile de la Comptesse.
July 18 - July 28 : Frejus, camping le Frejus.
July 28 - August 2 : Vesoul, camping International du Lac.
See you all in three weeks or so. Off we go...
Now that summer vacation is approaching quickly, I gave in and let my wife trim off all of that excess fur of mine. You know, all that hair I have on my chest, arms, neck and back.
[An aside. I do not mind having so much hair at all, but it sure bugs the heck out of my family (for some strange reason). I kind of like the feeling of that flowing, grayish hair rising as a thriving bush above my chest and flowing forth from my open collar. Although the hair is curled inward and does not seem at first glance to be that much, if I pull at a single and random hair just right, one is amazed to watch the strand stretch taut at no less than about six inches.]
"You have got to get it shaved!" they keep yelling at me. "Alright, do it then," I succumbed to an attack I could no longer ward off. Wads and wads of the fluffy fur were sheared off in single strokes of the mad machine, butchered into non-existence, falling like globs of leftover spaghetti, on my lap and then on to the ground.
Now that I have been transformed into a somewhat acceptable vision of a father, I can feel better wandering around the swimming pool knowing I will not be embarrassing my family (too much). I feel relieved that through exercise and diet at least my last year's pot-belly has all but disappeared. Otherwise who knows what means would have been necessary to shear it off also at the last minute!
Right now, my upper torso is itchy, terribly itchy and unbearably so. It is driving me crazy, but in a few days it should get less.
It sure feels good to be sheared for good reason, I mean measure.
For those of you interested in exploring the coast of California, that wonderful sunny state where I grew up, check out the California Coastline Project web site.
Highlights for me were the following hotspots:
You can click along the whole Californian coast and discover the rest of the pictures yourself. Have fun!
Looking at that mangled mess when I drove by hit me hard and really got me thinking. About how short life is and how it is over an an instant. The burnt out frame of distorted metal had been blackened so badly that it barely resembled the automobile that it had once been. The driver flamed into non-existence without a chance. You see, one moment you are there and one moment you have disappeared, perhaps one last instant of awareness just before the inevitable happens. I could not stop and think much about the event and just continued with the regular flow of traffic onward to who knows where.
When it comes to organizing things I guess you could say that I am boringly predictable. For example, our summer vacation has been researched in depth and finally arranged. The times, places and accommodations. This is where we will be headed:
A nice well-balanced vacation of mountains, beach and countryside.
This is a pretty loosely made schedule with a resolution of one week at most. In the past, I had it down to the day with a daily itinerary up and running one year in advance. Even certain days were subdivided into hourly activities.
Times have changed. After all, a vacation is supposed to be fun and relaxing, isn't it?
For our wedding anniversary, Thea and I spent the weekend spoiling ourselves in the south of Holland at a health retreat called Thermae 2000.
Just floating around in luke-warm water, inhaling all the super-healthy fumes and other scents, soaking in the afternoon rays, running around naked from one sauna to the other, savoring a fancy five coarse dinner of French cuisine, etc. All the while far away from the noise of the kids and society.
Hard to believe that we have been married now for exactly 18 years, and that we have known each other exactly 23 years. That is exactly half my life time ago.
The letter came from Southern France, and when I opened it this is what I read:
"Nous vous remercions d'avoir bien voulu confier vos vacances à notre camping. Nous avons bien reçu votre contrat de location d'emplacement ainsi que votre versement de... Aussi, nous vous confirmons pars la présente la réservation définitive d'un emplacement camping à votre nom pour la période ..."
Hurrah, it is now official! We are going to the Côte d'Azur (Frejus) this summer for our vacation! At the Camping Caravaning Le Frejvs to be more precise. We are sure excited.
In exactly two weeks this time we will be in California. Well, not quite exactly, if you really want to be precise about it. There is a nine hour time difference between Gouda NL and Monterey CA. This means that it will be two o'clock in the afternoon, such that the plane we are in will be flying somewhere above the States between Dulles Airport and the San Francisco. We have all been waiting a long time for this exciting adventure, especially the kids, and before we realize it we will be back at Grandma's house. I hope that three weeks will be enough time to see everyone and everything.
Tons of flickering lights all over the place. Some of them decide not to stay any longer and turn around. Out the back door, down the hill, through the trees where the car is parked. Because night has fallen along with the temperature, beads of moisture have formed on the windshield along with the foreheads, and at first it is hard to see where they are driving. Wipe that sweat off the eye brows. But it does not matter. Does not matter. Once the bottom of the driveway has been reached it is full speed ahead. Roll down the windows to let out the smell of sweat, they are all sweating. Sweating so hard that it is easy to forget that the temperature has dipped below zero. Degrees centigrade that is. Alright, when the journey has ended they will have to decide what the next step will be. The next step. There is no need, nor the slightest concern as to what this could possibly be. The reason for this is because not even the halfway zone has been reached, the point in the road where the vertical climb upwards begins again, the minima followed by the maxima. Once the halfway zone has been reached, crossed over, then it will be time to decide. Up the long hill sloping upwards again. Yes, they can see it, they can see it alright. What now?
There was this guy carrying a duck under his arm as he walked down the aisle. Strange, I thought. I had on occasion seen dogs, cats and even once a tarantula in a glass jar, but never had I seen a live duck in the train before. The guy walked past me and then on into the next carriage. As the door between carriages slid shut again behind him, I could barely make out the ducks beak and its beady eyes. At the next train stop it was time for the guy and the duck to get out. The door at the opposite end of the carriage slid open, and the man with the duck under his arm approached me. Kind of like everything was happening in reverse motion. As the guy got closer to me I tried not to be too rude by staring at the duck's head and beady eyes. All of a sudden I realized that it was not a duck at all, but an umbrella he was carrying. The wooden handle of the umbrella was carved by some artisan's hands into the shape of a duck's head with an orange beak and two shiny black gems for the eyes. Can you believe it? I mean, who in his right mind would buy such an awful looking umbrella? This person was obviously from a foreign land where it is more than likely some kind of status symbol having an umbrella with a handle in the shape of a duck's head. There I was trying to figure things out when the guy with the duck under his arm jumped out of the train and continued on his way. As the train picked up speed, it passed him walking on the platform. For the life of me I still could have sworn that it was a real duck he was carrying, seen at that distance. Life remains deceptive in more ways than one.
If you do not believe me that this really happened, then I invite you to check out this duck handle umbrella google search.
I looked up from the book I was reading and the person sitting diagonally across from me was staring right back at me. My instinct was to look away quickly in slight embarrassment, which I did. But as I could still sense this person's eye still peering at me, I slowly regained my composure and looked back. Still staring at me. What was he looking at that caused him to stare unwaveringly at me or in my general direction? It could have been some object in the distant landscape as the train skirted along, or he was enamored with my bald spot, or perhaps the title of the book I was reading, or something else at which he had to look for a long time in order to understand. I looked down and continued reading my book. And then I looked up again, and though the head was now slightly bent to the left and his left hand was raised to support his forehead, the staring eye was still watching me. Or was it? Then I realized the truth of the matter, and it was this. The person sitting diagonally across from me had nodded off like many an average fellow passenger does after a long and weary day. The only difference was that while this person's left eye lid was closed, the right eye lid had failed to slide down like it was supposed to. The glass eye remained exposed and for a one eyed person this was no big deal. He could not see out of it anyway. But was it really a glass eye, or was he fooling me for fun? I bent over and looked more closely. I waved my hand up and down, and then wagged my fingers violently in front of his eye. With a swift movement I then made a jabbing motion with my forefinger so that the tip ended up no more than half a millimeter from the surface of the (artificial glass?) sphere. Not the slightest motion. I noticed some other fellow passengers watching my antics and reacting a bit surprised, but I just smiled and raised my shoulders as if I knew what I were doing. So this is reality then. A glass eye giving the appearance of sight and observation and thinking when that was not the case at all. What would my life be like with only one fully-functional eyeball? In a way I felt thankful, and then I understood the meaning of all this, the meaning of life. We are all looking through glass eyes and we portray to others that we are really seeing them. But in reality we are not. Not really. When the train came to a halt at the next station, the guy woke up and got off the train, with his carry-bag dangling to the side, one eye looking this way and the other eye looking that way. I vowed to focus on the future with both my eyes no matter if I was really seeing or not seeing with glass eyes or real eyes.
There is a moment in time when the speed of the decelerating train coming to a halt matches perfectly the speed of my person walking on the platform towards the soon-to-open doors. My speed is constant while the deceleration of the train is constant in that it approaches zero. There is a fraction of a second, a sliver really according to a delta function in time, when the passenger to the left looking outside of the window could be sitting in a stationary train with me standing still, but this is not so. It is an illusion of movement. One object slowing down and the other looking for an entrance which will slide open with a pumping sound of air exuding.
Once in awhile I get overly irritated by seemingly trivial matters. Take for instance this morning in the train on my way to work. I ended up sitting next to this fat guy. Not that I have anything against people who are overweight, but this guy was the sweating, burping, puffing type of obese person who is not exactly the ideal fellow passenger to be sitting next to on a busy hot Monday morning. Rather than just sitting up straight in his seat, he was turned sideways for some reason with his hefty backside rotated forty-five degrees from the more usual appropriate orientation of the body. Forget about sitting up straight, because he was slumped over and half lying. While he could easily have fit into the right half of the seat, he slouched so that his left buttock extended more than just a few inches onto my half of the cushioned property. Just enough that I was pressed slightly between the left side of the cabin and his sweating burping body. Why couldn't he just sit normally like the rest of us? You would think that he would be conscious of his massive size, and feeling slightly embarrassed or even concerned for the comfort of his fellow human beings, he would do his best to leave enough breathing space for the poor soul wedged to the left side of him. But he could care less and didn't even notice. Did he care? Sometimes he would even twist his trunk and belly back and forth banging into my right arm arm and elbow. Was this necessary? I should have said something, but what? "Excuse me sir, but your fat body is smothering me." Or better yet, something like "Could you please shift your left buttock over a foot?" Why was I so irritated? Perhaps I was a victim of the Monday morning blues which can get to even the most patient and content among us positive thinkers. Fortunately, the fat guy got out at the Zoetermeer train stop. He unwedged his person with a slight popping sound, a release of air suctioned outwards, nearly lost his balance in the suddenly unexpected release of fattiness, and left me forever. All of a sudden I had this oversized seat all to myself, and I did not know what to do with it. The reddish imprint he had left on my forearm was slowly disappearing. What a relief, I could breath again! I felt kind of guilty having been overly impatient and negative about this fat person. Should I feel sorry for him or just accept the way he is? We are all manifestations of the very same primordial form (some of us consisting of more weighty clay than others). My first morning of the week turned out to be alright anyway. No use getting overly irritated by some fat guy on the train.
This month I have a first class train ticket. At first I was a little hesitant about paying the extra sixty euros to be able to travel first class. Feeling a little guilty about forking out even more money for myself made the decision even more difficult. To be honest, I was sick and tired of having to stand all the time, thirty minutes each way, often in extremely crowded circumstances being pressed hard against other sweating and breathing bodies. Not that I have anything against my fellow human beings, but this was asking too much. Being pressed together like that is inhuman afterall. You would think that the train should offer an attractive service people would wish to buy. But that is not the case. Often enough I was in or near a smoking carriage which when combined with the swerving motion of the train made me feel pretty nauseas. However, now after having enjoyed the comforts of first class for three days now, I have to admit that it is a quantum leap in comfort. What an improvement indeed! So what, if you can afford it why not do it? Sitting is no longer a luxury as there is always at least one spot free. The people I end up sitting next to are far less grungy and more respectable in sight as well as in smell. I will try first class out for the month of June and come to a conclusion if it is really worth continuing. Being objective in making this difficult decision will be close to impossible as it is obviously biased by a month's experience of increased comfort and relaxation. The times just before work and just afterwords are important moments to contemplate and prepare. Time to catch the next train to Gouda.
My early morning bike trip to the train station takes only about ten minutes. Within that short interval of time I am able to attain consciousness at a relaxed pace. This in preparation for the unpredictable day ahead of me. If the weather is nice like it was this morning I am invigorated by the beauty of nature all around me. The water and the trees and the clear sky, reflected green in blue, blue in green and subtle combinations of the two. On the water there drift whole colonies of water lilies, an amazing sight when you are speeding along in one direction and the lilies are disappearing quickly behind you. Staying the same or maybe just changing a little bit in shape and color until the end of the day when I cycle back. Opposite direction but the same spot, the same view only slightly different. With so much water around and especially after a run of several rainy days, there is moisture in the air and a slight dampness on the asphalt evaporating at the last minute. Tiny little flying creatures and various types of insects clattering against my bared arms. Enclosing my face there is a gentle breeze, and all because of the motion I am making. The water lilies are floating and nothing more. I float with them in my mind. Nothing more.
This is the monthly train ticket needed to get me to and from my new work. Check out the hooligan who is covering for me with his picture: