corders in the hague

It's like having the Corders round for dinner - except the kids don't smash stuff and Mike doesn't drink all your booze. And when you're bored you can get rid of us with a mouse click rather than having to start tidying up the house.

My Photo
Location: The Hague, Netherlands

Monday, November 20, 2006


Esther and Julia have for the first time come face-to-face with Sinterklaas while wearing warm winter jackets and boots instead of summer dresses and shades. The Dutch keep saying how warm this autumn is but although Saturday was a beautiful sunny day, there was a bitter wind lashing us as we waited with hundreds of other kids and parents lined up along the River Vliet in Voorburg.
A quick Sinterklaas lesson for all those non-Dutch out there.
The Good Holy Man, as he's known to his friends, is basically the Dutch Santa only with a backstory slightly more firmly rooted in the religious history of Saint Nicholas, patron saint of children. He lives in Spain, has politically incorrect Moorish helpers called Black Petes who (any Dutch out there can correct me if I'm wrong on this point) BEAT children with sticks if they're naughty. He has a white horse with a name like a blend of Starbucks coffee: Americano or something like that, and he arrives in a steamboat before touring the country until December 5 when kids get presents. In the meantime, they put their shoes by the fireplace and Sint and Pete leave lollies and little gifts.
Esther's skepticism is at the moment just outweighed by her greed and Julia has also heard and chosen to ignore rumors about it all being a sham.
Anyway, Sint and Peter should be arriving any time now so I'd better sign off. Don't want to disturb them while they're working.


Esther and I were watching the news the other night and there was a brief item of the re-emergence from self-imposed exile in Dubai or some such emirate of Michael Jackson.
Esther looked at the video of him getting out of a limo in London and asked: "Papa, is that a lady?"
I said I thought that at this stage probably not.
"Well what's wrong with him then?"
Where do you start?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

All I want for Christmas

This is the slightly gory evidence that all Julia wants for Christmas, as the old song goes, is her two front teeth. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sky at night

I just got back from covering the Holland-England football match in Amsterdam (1-1, a reasonably fair result as neither side really deserved to win). As I also had to cover a war crimes hearing at the International Criminal Court today, I was forced to head from The Hague to Amsterdam during the rush hour, which basically means enduring a 70-kilometer traffic jam. As my motorcycle now has a shiney new Dutch number plate and my Australian motorbike license has not yet expired (which it will do very soon, forcing me to take three tests here, one theory and two practical), I decided to take the Sportster for a spin.

This involves a Clark Kent-like transformation at the storage unit where I keep it. I ride in on my bicycle and out on the Harley. If I'm honest, it's more Hong Kong Phooey than Superman as I have to push the motorbike out backwards, engine off and do a six point turn to get it into a lift before I can ride it out of the building.)
One great thing (possibly the only great thing in this land of long winters, low temperatures and perenially wet roads) about riding here is that you're actually allowed to cut through lines of cars sitting fuming in traffic jams. Drivers even move over for you! It's a distinct improvement on Australia where you weren't allowed to lane split and drivers seemed intent on sideswiping you as you passed.
Riding back I finally got a look at the Dutch night sky, which is an impressive thing. Having no hills, the sky really feels like a dome and tonight was cloudless so you could even see a scattering of stars. The only drawback is that the country is so damned full of stuff - houses, offices, petrol stations and huge illuminated greenhouses full of tomatoes that have been genetically modified so they don't taste like tomatoes - that the light pollution largely blots out any darkness. But there were a couple of stretches on the way home where there were only fields and few cars and it actually felt like riding through a winter night in the Outback.
It was cold. Very cold.
As I've been writing this post, the feeling is only gradually returning to my legs, hands and other extremities that were numbed by the wind and low temperatures (it was about 10 degrees, but felt much colder than that at 100 kmh). As I got off the bike, I probably could have undergone - without any anesthetic - the minor surgical procedure I keep putting off.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The bane of my life

They were the bane of my life in Sydney and I can't avoid them here either. Today while I was working, this fine gentleman from the Voorburg council spent hours blowing leaves in the street.
In Sydney, I at least had my own blower to retaliate with - if the neighbors blew leaves at 8 a.m. on Saturday, I could start blowing them at 7 a.m. on Sunday and my petrol-powered blower was far noisier than the glorified electric hair drier the neighbors used to clean up their leaf litter. Here, I have nothing but a broom.
The one good thing about leaf blowers here is that their season is considerably shorter than the year-round misery in Australia. In the last month, many of the trees here have been stripped almost bare by a couple of howling gales and the trees won't start shedding again until this time next year. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 06, 2006

Irmie's work

Work has been really good for me, I just enjoy working with people and the team I work with is fun. I ride my bike to work which only takes me 30 minutes. It has taken some of my weight as well which is a real bonus.
I have been thinking about the differences between Sydney and here and here are my ideas:
In Australia OT is a well known profession and there are far more OT's. So i'm back explaining what an OT does. In Australia OT is also well established in the community and people in general find their way to an OT. Here it's well established in rehab centres and outpatient services but not in the community.
I'm still working with the elderly but now attached to a nursing home. I see lots of people in the nursing home and in hostels or houses that are somehow connected, but very little in the community independently. So my goal in this position is to get OT at home and not to wait until all the wheels fall off. I have already started with some group work in a community centre which was well received. My next goal is to set up some kind of workshed in the community for people with early stage of dementia. At present I see too many people doing nothing and dozing off and their brain going down the drain.
What else is different? All the meetings-it's a typical Dutch thing that everyone needs to agree on everything which means that meetings take forever and everyone wants to have their say. I find it extremely boring and can only think of all the resources that are wasted.
The funding of wheelchairs, home modifications and other equipment is also extremely difficult, too many people involved and little trust in each other's work so a lot of work is repeated and more sources are wasted. All because someone might ask too much...
My collegues in the North Shore Hospital wouldn't believe their eyes if they saw our wheelchair department. We have 3 different kinds of wheelchairs (IBIS, Roxx and REA) and at least 20 chairs available at any time, and complete! We even have a wheelchair workplace with a technician who can fix anything on a wheelchair. As you can imagine he is my best friend since day one. And we hardly loose any equipment because ther is a huge planboard wih al the names of the clients with matching numbers of the wheelchairs, including cushions. Even I wouldn't dare not to keep this up to date. So for the first time in my OT career I am following the rules regarding wheelchair loans. Shirley would be proud of me.
My latest client is an 80 year old man who still wants to ride his bike after 3 strokes. I did the COPM with him and all the important problems were realted to riding his bike. He showed little insight so we had to hold him with two people to prevent him from falling off. He might join the army of scooter-riders. They are everywhere, mainly because it's all on the flat and paid for by the Government.
Next week I will be going to a conference on how to promote OT, I'm really lookin gforward to that. The good thing is that my work will pay for it. And that brings me to the last difference, courses are paid for by the employer so more people are up to date with the AMPS, A-ONE and COPM. So far I am happy with the job, it pays the bills and keeps me off the street.

Julia's question

Saturday night I had the following conversation with Julia.
Julia: Mum can I ask you a question?
Me: Sure
Julia: When are we moving back to Australia?
Me: I'm sorry darling not for a while.
Julia: I know that you were born here, but I was born in Australia and I miss Neisha, and Beecroft school and Bridget......
There was no further conversation, Julia sobbed and I had to swallow hard. She has also asked for a dog , maybe it's time for a pet...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All hail Dutch weather

So here's Schellinglaan on the day after my motorcycle came out of storage. Yes, that's hail, and plenty of it. Posted by Picasa