The site works very simple. Just go to where you want to go and read what you want to read. You can scroll or swipe your way up and down each page, or use the arrows at the bottom right of your screen, to navigate through the site.
A bit further below you might find a few Tabs with a green button in it, reading “Back to About”. You can click on it. Don’t be afraid… That will bring you back to the beginning of the “About” section, from where you are free to select any other “About” tab.
Mobile users don’t have to use that button and can easily navigate back and forth between the tabs… Except on Mondays.
And please… just prevent clicking that button too unnecessarily often… so annoying!
At the Music side of this site you will find that most categories come with a YouTube Playlist and you can play that list by clicking on the associated picture.
Lastly, if your English is not as good as my gin-gin-cinamoney concoction, than you can click the blue globe and multiple flags will appear. Clicking on any of those flags will automatically translate the site into the corresponding language. I made available Google’s German… Zulu… Afrikaans,… Dutch… and English.
Thank you Google Translate… and dear reader, don’t look surprised when you read a nonsensical translation… Just know that a piece of coding did the translation… not me… But first…
What motivated me to build this site..?
Well, I always wanted to build one and I gained some web- building skills while helping a local SME company with building theirs.
Back in 2021, while being admitted to the hospital in acritical situation twice in less than 4 months, I felt the need to document my story rather sooner than later.
Especially the Covid hospitalisation made me aware of my temporary earthly existence. That was an extremely confusing episode, where my mind constantly played tricks on me and I questioned my sanity while trying to remember who all those people were, trying to clean and feed me.
That was followed by a long and difficult recovery period. I am getting stronger and stronger by the day… but I had to give up on my sanity and accept my losses… sorry… Our losses.
I had an urge to create some sort of testimonial of my life… to have a reference about me… for me. Something to fall back on when my resilience, courage, faith and my love for life are being tested again. To relive memorable moments with and for my family… who all live far, far away, in a land they call ‘home’.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that my life has been amazing and still evolves beautifully, filled with new experiences, memories and surprises. Definitely worth to live for.
Yep, my story is worth to be remembered… especially by (the ever getting greyer) me.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Ferris Bueller, not really relevant.
It was time to start my site…
I got myself fully re-stocked on gin, 0% beer, Doritos, chicken breasts, gin, beef, lamb, Tika Masala & Khorma cook-in sauces, full fat humus, pitted olives, gin, haloumi with herbs, pizza, naan, pakchoi, black garlic, peppers, gin (for emergency), cinnamon sticks, raw honey, exotic mushrooms, spring onions, roti, and pita bread. I was SO READY…
SHIT! Forgot the wine! How stupid and careless of me. Why even bother trying? Why set myself up for failure? Do I really hate myself that much? WELL, DO YOU?
I just lost two hours of valuable productive build-time, but wine levels are A-o-K now…
This site is primarily created for myself but open to the public.
I will keep the development alive and will add new content on a regular basis.
You are free to sent me a message with a request to be updated on any major new addition to the site, like new biographical almost true stories, newly added music and next month’s lucky losers.
Or just to type Hi…
Be almost rest assured that all names and personal data of individuals, featuring in any of my memories, are erased.
With the exception of Jesus, Sherene, Ronny, Rebone, Desmond Tutu, Gerda, Lisa, Rijk, and a few others…
I hope you will find it entertaining and, who knows, maybe it will make you smile for a while.
Now some relaxing music…
Protoje – Switch It Up
The "About..." Section
By activating any of the buttons below, you choose to dive deep into my world. I did not force you… Let’s be clear about that!
Oh yeah, one small point of attention…. I have the habit of writing to myself in a third-person style. So, when you read “You”, it might mean “Me” or “I”, not you… Makes sense?
I do that deliberately to create some distance between me, myself and the others. I sometimes also use it to give myself a little emotional or psychological boost. Not that I need it, but you definitely could use some.
Enjoy… You did while… Sorry, I did while you creating it.
Are you ready? I am…
Hi again… Jan here.
Thinking about what to write, about me, that is recognizable to me, when I need to be recognized… by me. Let me start with listing some personal characteristics.
Obviously I have to start with revealing my nationality…
Dutch! I am Dutch… Meaning, from the Netherlands. NOT FROM GERMANY! NEIN! If I was from Germany, I would have typed “I am German” AND I DIDN’T, did I? DUTCH!
I love the Netherlands… reallyn I do…
But I am so glad I don’t live there. So many people on such a small piece of land… I did keep my Dutch citizenship though, just in case I need their social structures, when living my life here in South Africa becomes impossible. Time will tell…
And although insignificant in size, the country is massive in achievements!
Watch the video below and you will understand why even we as “Dutch” are impressed… and confused.
This year, 2023, I have reached the incredible young age of 46, for the tenth year in a row. My inner age just passed 18 and, if I say so myself, that one is rather mature for his age. And very, very stubborn!
Early 2001 I came to live in South Africa. That is already 22 years ago, and I am still in love with South Africa. Yeah…
South Africa has its challenges and brought many broken promises, but I would not like to trade it in for anything else in the world. South Africans are so pleasantly good of heart! Thank you all for making an effort in building a better South Africa. Thank you, South Africa.
I am taller than most people I meet, measuring a full 200 cm from top to toe. Not that I can impress anyone with my length, being wheelchair bound and such… That really had a negative impact on my aspirations of becoming a stand-up comedian.
But when I do stand up, I STAND PROUDLY… towering over most of you! Including my caregivers, who average around 1.65 meter… Funny… so short, yet so strong! Love them to bits.
I weigh just under 85 kgs. Definitely a lot less than most South Africans my age. At birth my mom looked at me and already knew I would not become a professional rugby player. Measuring 57 cm, long and slender, like a matchstick. My mom used Velcro to keep me on my blanket on windy days. Growing up I would jokingly say to my friends that I might drop by later… pending the wind…
Yeah, some called me thin… I preferred slim. These have been my proportions most of my life. Except early 2021 when I lost around 25 kgs due to two prolonged stays in the hospital. But that is for another tab.
I stopped my professional career mid 2010 due to severe progression of my chronic condition. I got medically boarded (work-disability) after just 17 years of working. I worked in several diverse, interesting, and exciting industries, starting as a production planner for a Japanese manufacturing company and ended directing a Governance and IT Services consulting arm for a South African IT firm.
I had the privilege of working in about three quarters of the world and met absolutely the most amazing people, tasted fascinating local food, and lost against Desmond Tutu on the walk/run/sprint to customs in Atlanta, USA. He cheated… God have his soul… but honestly… he cheated!
I also had the privilege of being married for almost 25 years with the most supportive and strong woman I know. She helped me grow my career, helped me to understand my chronic condition, travelled to and managed many new international homes and took care of raising and the schooling of our two most beautiful kids. Our paths split into different directions and continents, but thank you for being part of my life.
My love for English humor helped me to always find something to laugh about. Even in situations where crying would be ustified. Thank you to the Monty Python team and Rowan Atkinson’s Blackadder, for many hours of inspiration.
Monty Python’s Best Ever Sketch… Ever!
Early 2006 my kids and I wanted to make a special mother’s day present and we decided that we would create a more or less official sign for the land. We had plenty of humongous tree trunks laying on our land and decided to transform one of them into the sign.
The land, or plot, I live on is named after a small village in the Netherlands near where I was born and raised. A very popular tourist destination called Havelterberg.
Laying in between lots of natural forests, military fields and dolmen (hunnebed in Dutch, a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb where they buried dead people…) DEAD PEOPLE!
A perfect place for a bunch of young teenagers to do what the lord told us not to do. And to get there we had to cycle about 10 km through open fields and farm land, trying to out-cycle vicious farm-dogs and climb a hill called… Havelterberg.
And that is the name we used for our signpost, and after some days of chipping, designing, painting and varnishing, we finished the sign! And it still hangs proudly in the middle of my land, surviving the wind, rain and the sun.
Back in the 80s and 90s we had to ride our bicycles on the same roads as the motorized vehicles. Not on the highway of course, but on the provincial roads. That was not without risks, especially after nights out.
Only in 1997 did the Dutch government introduce a national traffic safety program called “Duurzaam Veilig (Verkeer)”, or “Sustainable (Road) Safety”.
We had to survive our way back home, be it coming from school, or on a Sunday morning after a night out. Maybe a few close calls, but I was never involved in major accidents.
And almost all provincial roads had these concrete signposts (muhsrooms), guiding bicyclists to any point of interest.
I was quite thrilled to have found the one we cycled passed on our Havelteberg tour, while surfing the WWW.
I don’t know if they still exist. In my time they were considered more dangerous than any oncoming motorized vehicle.
One didn’t have to be drunk to collide with one of those mushrooms and get all bruised up… although being drunk did help. And just for your reference… I was born in Meppel, grew up in Nijeveen and Havelterberg was about 1 km away from Havelte.
Sometimes they had a proper sign screwed on a pole or a tree, marking the route to where ever. I don’t know why or how, but one such sign decided to keep following me where ever in the world I lived…
I ended up giving it a place on the roadside at the entry of my plot here in South Africa, on the “Rooireier” (Rode Reiger) road.
…Ain’t that weird, though?
Thanks kids, we had fun, created a life-time of memories, both good and bad. Who knows, we might do it again!
What a memories to relive!
Initially I was trying to write a section about my health but ran into a problem that my health goes further than purely my physical state of being. And to say “I am in great health” sounds counter-intuitive when mirrored against my physical appearance.
Still, “I am in great health” is a fair assessment but requires me to dive deeper into a bit broader term to really assess… me… My wellbeing.
I found a University in Canada, called the WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY, who offers study material plus more on Wellness. Their material, definition, and focus is covering all my needs when telling me about… my wellbeing. And I can use it again in a couple of years and see the shifts…
You can visit their website for updates and new material here: WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY, located in Canada.
Anyway, they have defined 7 Dimensions of Wellness, which are listed below and I address each dimension as per my most objective 2023 assessment. You can argue on my objectivity and even air your opinion, but be careful what you share…
There is however one big obvious in the room that needs to be addressed prior any dimensional sidestep, and that is your disability. I mean, you have to understand where that comes from and what you went through in order to fully address the intertwined dimensions.
Allow me some time to address your disability by going through the main chronic condition, and two more recent happenings that brought you where you are now. A chronic condition with two life-altering complications… Enjoy… somehow… Love you…
In 2003 I got a diagnosis of probable Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, abbreviated in PPMS, and confirmed as Definitive PPMS in 2007.
MS, A neurological condition where the immune system randomly breaks down the nerve sheeting (myelin) within one’s brain. That myelin is like the insulation of any electrical wire.
Once compromised, it has an issue containing the electrical current, which might result into local shortcuts, sparks & burns, equipment breakdown and probably disruptions of normal operations, be it temporary or rather permanent of nature.
The multiple compromised spots or burns in one’s brain nerves, are called Sclerosis, explaining the name Multiple Sclerosis.
All that damage is happening within one’s neuromuscular system, which includes all the muscles in the body and the nerves connecting them. Every movement the body makes, needs communication between the brain and the muscles. The nervous system links thoughts and actions by sending messages (as electrical impulses) from the brain to other parts of the body.
Nerves and muscles work together in the neuromuscular system to make one’s body move as one wants it to and manage important functions such as breathing and beating of one’s heart. And any disruption in that process, results in loss of one or multiple senses.
My kind of MS, Primary Progressive, follows a downhill path and cant be reversed or stopped in its progressive path. Like a snowball going down a snowy mountain, it accumulates more mass, accelerates in speed and doesn’t stop, till it hits the end of the slope and…well, life ends there. That sucks!
And since you are reading this, can I ask you a favour please? Next time you talk to me or anyone else with a neurological condition, and you feel the need to share your caring nature, please just wish that person all the strength in dealing with the condition. Please do understand that I myself do understand what progressive means and, although hard to accept, I can’t change the ending. So I pretty much accepted my journey and will do my best in making it the best journey of my life. If you feel the urge to help me in that journey, than please don’t tell me that everything will be alright, or that it is a shame. Just give me a hug and wish me all the strength. God put me on this journey for a reason and I do not intend to turn down his gifts. Better enjoy the ride! Thank you!
Back in 2003 my ex and I took some time to grief, like ten minutes or so, and concluded already then that the news should not stop us from living and being a family. We did make a conscious decision to split responsibility between the both of us concerning the diagnosis. She would dive into the world of MS and how to live with it, and I would focus on getting us in a financial independent state as a family. And according to the neurologist we had about 10 years before my body would turn into a passive lump of nothingness.
O… how desperate we were to proof him wrong! And I did try his cortisone, but that went from THE PERFECT solution to VERY BAD, within 6 weeks after intake. And when the neurologist tried to reason why his suggested change of cortisone dosage might work, we both knew that the established medical world could not do much for me, other than symptomatic treatment and run tests. That nasty experience made me decide to stay away from any medication NOT proven to actually reverse the condition. I rather experience the pains and find natural remedies, than commit my body to a life-long prescription of pharmaceutical chemical probabilities.
My ex had a very challenging path ahead. Most published medical studies were primarily focused on the symptomatic treatment of MS and not much was known about the actual cause or how to influence the development of the condition. And as PPMS only occurs in less than 10% of all MS cases, minimum budget and info was, and still is, made available on effective research on positive treatment plans.
But don’t tell my ex to just accept an unwanted situation and in no-time she was busy selecting the best supplements for me to swallow. And I swallowed every vitamin available in pill form and followed her every dietary suggestion. No matter how alternative that approach might be.
In 2004 we decided to radically change our life and we sold our property in one of Pretoria’s oldest and sought- after areas, Groenkloof, to …HEYNEKE MEYER.
Yeah, THE Heyneke Meyer… professional Rugby coach, coaching Pretoria’s Blue Bulls and later the Springbokke’s World Cup Rugby head coach… Who doesn’t know him!
Heyneke Meyer celebrating the acquisition of 73 Wenning street, Groenkloof, Pretoria.
Well… we didn’t know him. My ex was seriously questioning why any parent would name their son after a Dutch beer… I remember shaking his hand and answering his introduction with my name. I thought he didn’t hear me as he firmed his grip and repeated his name… resulting in me doing the same thing. After his third repeat I, somewhat annoyingly, shook my hand loose and looked him in the eyes, and said “I heard you the first time… Let’s get on with it, shall we?”
Luckily, we had a great agent, and she brought the sale to a happy end. Thank you, Bambi.
We bought a 6.4-hectare of bare land on the outskirts of Pretoria East, a rural area without any official municipal address, no dwelling on the property, nor any electricity or running water. We bought some wooden structures to live and sleep in and we moved “in” around Christmas 2004, with the whole country on Christmas leave…
Still, we managed to get everything sorted out and, despite some major setbacks, were successful in building a new future. That period, in combination with my ex’s prescribed diet and supplements, forced me to really listen to my body and the effects of (mal-)nutrition and different lifestyles had on my MS and my quality of live. And things started to gradually change for the good.
Till 2010. That is the year that stress completely knocked out my mobility while being professionally engaged with the board of a large international company. That was scary and saw me reconsider my professional life. In short, I got medically incapacitated later that year and things started to stabilise and even improve physically thanks to eliminating the stress factor called “work”.
Then it was time for 2013…Something really hit me hard that year. My ex and I had to drastically refocus our approach towards improving my health. We did just that and were able to prevent a more rapid worsening of my health.
There were some amusing experiences though… Not all was negative. Like that time that I experienced renewed sensation in my right foot. It must have been somewhere in 2007/8, when I stepped on a thorn from the sweet-thorn tree. These needles are humongous! The old settlers, or voortrekkers, used them as a needle to sow their clothing with.
It went straight through the sol of my shoe, into my foot. And I could not get it out… every attempt gave me an unvoluntary spasm and worsened the pain. Luckily one of my kids got my ex and after seeing and hearing my desperate please for help, she started to laugh… “Jan… say that again please…”, “IT HURTS… PLEASE…??”. More laughter, even while she removed the thorn… “I’m so sorry… but listen to yourself… you FEEL! HOW BEAUTIFULL!” I understood what she was saying and together we laughed a bit more.
No pain no gain…
There are plenty more (funny) stories to remember and to document about my MS and me, but that will be for another time. All these stories do tell me how I deal with my MS and gives me a benchmark for future changes.
My ex once wrote me a short booklet about me and how I “lived” with my sickness, covering the period between the diagnosis and the first years on Plot Havelterberg.
That still is a treasured document and I read it often, reminding myself where I came from and what I have achieved in those years.
And how nice it would have been if it would have stayed with just MS to deal with. Oh no, early 2021 you got a freaky domestic accident at your home. While making the bed in the early mornings at sunrise, you slipped while getting up from your wheelchair and in stead of re-balancing on the grabrails on the wall next to the bed, your hand slipped of the rail and gravity pushed your arm through the narrow space between the wall and the rail.
Your right arm ended up stuck between the rail and the wall, with your knees just floating above the floor and with the rail firmly pressing into your armpit… for almost 12 hours you hung there… in your underwear… with all doors wide open.. and your phone in the living room… ringing… several times that day…
Never did you experience such an amount of pain and a deep feeling of despair and helplessness. You saw your arm getting thicker and darker, with the pain concentrated under your armpit.
On a certain moment you gave up on the attempts of freeing your arm. You asked God for help, to absorb the pain, to relieve yourself of your burdens and, if it wasn’t your time yet, to send help your way.
And what a relieve and blessing when you heard a voice. It was the person doing some farming on your land, who got worried when your phone kept on being unanswered and dropped by to check up on you… That was in the evening of the Sunday and you only expected him only to come the next day. What a blessing… Thank you God, for the relieve and thank you Kotie, for listening…
You were brought to the ER of a hospital, where they were able to save your arm. It took a few days in ER to manage the pain before you fully comprehended the verdict… A severe Brachial Plexus Injury.
All the nerves running through your armpit, the Brachial Plexus, which are controlling all the muscles in your right arm, were severely damaged. And as the doctor later explained to you, “a full recovery might be possible but is not to be expected. But on the bright side… you are going off the ER and into a ward! YAY” Eikel!
After spending some time on a very weird and rather temporary ward, where they mainly managed my pain with lots of pain -killers and were hyper on Covid, I was transferred to a different hospital, one mainly focused on rehabilitation.
I spent about 4 weeks in the hospital trying to cope with my arm… trying to feel my fingers… feel anything, other than the stabbing pain under my armpit whenever a nurse tried to move me by grabbing me by my arm… They mean well, but either nobody informed them how to handle me or they simply didn’t care.
Anyway, any attempt of rehabilitation was short lived. I decided I needed to go home, eat my own food, sleep in my own bed and get a live – in carer who understands how to take care of me and is willing to help me and learn with me. And so I did arrange just that.
For a whole three months I was at home, laying in my own bedroom, with a 24/7 carer and a daughter of a dear friend helping me out in the house.
I was useless in even helping myself, with a stiff and senseless limb and was very disappointed that my former road to recovery was stopped so abruptly.
Prior to the plexus injury I had a physio coming for house visits. Developing, and managing my program of getting me mobile, become independent of the wheelchair… again. And it was starting to work… The following video is my physio’s instruction video, showing the different steps of my road to recovery, Thanks Natalie… we did well. You did well… But you moved to the Cape… just like that… You b… better do well.
Thank you again for your help, the fun we had and the progress we made. And I can assure you, I will complete your program successfully… one day.
Natalie Kimble Physiotherapy
Unfortunately, within 3 months I was back in the hospital, with a very bad case of Covid, resulting in me losing everything I took in, plus more…
By the way, without arguing the facts or fiction of Covid, did your initial reaction to the name Corona was as mine?
The Knack – My Sharona
I don’t remember much of the first weeks, other than that everybody was out there to kill me. I was delirious and paranoid, and got seriously scared of the hospital management, planning to transfer me to a ward with ONLY Covid patients… At night I heard screams of agony and certain death! So I thought…
HELLOHOO… DON’T YOU GUYS KNOW THAT I WILL CERTAINLY DIE THERE? I HAVE A CHRONICLY COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEM AND MORE COVID WILL KILL ME… EVEN MORE! AND PLEASE STOP HURTING ME…!
I fully realise that I must have been a terrible patient, and I am so sorry for being such a dick to the nurses and the HODs at the Medforum Hospital in Pretoria CBD.
And also a well-meant sorry to my dear friend Lisa, for even entertaining such an impossible question in the midst of Covid… get me discharged and transferred… please? Thank you for helping me getting transferred to a different hospital.
I was transferred to the same rehab clinic who treated my plexus injury. There they did immediate blood tests and got seriously alarmed when analysis of my blood showed potassium levels of 2.1 mmol/L.
Normally, one’s blood potassium level is 3.6 to 5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). A low potassium level (less than 2.5 mmol/L) can be life-threatening and requires urgent medical attention.
Lower than 2.0 will certainly result into a cardiac arrest. They immediately put me on a potassium drip. And they actively treated the cause of my low potassium levels and the excessive loss of it in my digestive system due to constant diarrhoea. I was completely dehydrated, and the doctors were concerned about my possibilities of recovery, as the diarrhoea was very persistent.
So sorry to all the nurses at the Intercare Rehab Hospital, who had to clean me and the bedding over, and over again… for weeks…
But the biggest thank you goes out to Rebone Dirane, my caregiver, who ignored my constant smiles and blissfulness and insisted on getting me admitted.
Without you I would have surely died a shitty death. It reminds me of a scene in the movie, called Eric the Viking. Thank you Rebone. Love you to bits!
King Arnulf of Hy-Brasil, ignores the fact that Hy-Brasil is sinking.
Clip from the movie Erik the Viking, with Tim Robbins, Terry Jones, John Cleese and many more.
And Sherene, for making me the best and most nutritious meals ever! Every day you kept my internals at ease. Your kip-kerrie saved me from the salt-mines of the hospital kitchen…
And for Erik… you can watch the whole movie below.
Nice to know… John Cleese was actually never casted for the role, but started spreading the word that he was part of Terry Jone’s new movie and Terry could not do anything else than accept John’s self-invite.
The Seven Dimensions of Wellness
WHAT IS WELLNESS? … as per WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY’s Wellness Program.
“Wellness is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. It is not a passive or static state but rather a dynamic and conscious development of the whole self. Wellness is associated with intentions, choices, and actions leading toward an optimal state of well-being so that instead of surviving, you’re thriving. Wellness is commonly viewed as having seven dimensions: mental, physical, social, financial, spiritual, environmental, and vocational.
These dimensions are interdependent and influence each other. When one dimension of our well-being is out of balance, the other dimensions are affected. To strive for wellness is to take a proactive approach by learning how to be well in each dimension and taking action to build wellness-affirming habits, routines, and coping strategies.”
The following sections will address each dimension shortly and are assessed by me to give yourself a proper benchmark for later.
1. Physical Wellness
“Physical wellness includes a variety of healthy behaviours including exercise, proper nutrition, healthy sleeping, sexual health and substance use. Physical wellness involves learning about disease and harm prevention, and developing healthy habits that will enable to you to live a longer, happier life.”
Despite being wheelchair bound, you are a rather active guy. Maybe not in the gym, but you use your whole body in doing what you need to do to get through the day. You choose to do most of the activities yourself and only ask for help when you yourself can’t get it done.
And be fair to yourself… you got your own physio/exercise room and 2024 is the year to continue your recovery.
You have adjusted your car to 100% manual control and enjoy being out and about. You even have taught your caregivers to control the acceleration/brake stick, all the way up to “flying”!
Your nutritional intake is well balanced, and you choose to continue the research and program your ex successfully started. You are about to start a primarily plant-based diet and you are excited to test the results.
You enjoy a good sleep. And although you don’t share your sex-life with a partner, you did learn to enjoy yourself… and you never have a headache…
And in 2018 you even managed to quit smoking… cold turkey… thanks to the most beautiful set of eyes.
2. Mental Wellness
“Mental wellness includes all aspects of mental health, emotional state and well-being, as well as how they interact. In turn, your mental wellness influences how you think, feel, and behave in your daily life. Mental wellness affects each dimension in turn and includes coping with the normal difficulties of life.”
You are very sane person, who deals with the everyday challenges in a quite enjoyable and sensible manner.
You do get frustrated when things don’t go as planned, but you don’t sulk in it. You fix it or accept it… but most of the time you continue finding a solution to whatever is bothering you.
You are stubborn… very stubborn… Something bad will not stay bad for long, and I love you for that.
Your Mental state has a very motivating influence on all other aspects of your wellbeing. You just should stop using that third-person thing… Really…
You treat others in a similar fashion as you treat yourself. You love to spread joy and happiness all around you and you still succeed to make people smile.
3. Social Wellness
“Social wellness is how we interact with our community and those around us. It includes healthy relationships, consent, communication skills and support systems. It is also about building a support system of family, friends, peers, and professionals.”
Socially you are apt in both your inter- as intrapersonal communications. You do not shy away from active participation in verbal communications, within both small as large groups.
You call a spade a digger, when situation calls for it, but will keep on acknowledge the spade as a spade, nonetheless.
You are socially active and maintain an open-door policy for all.
You are very realistic about your dependency on the wheelchair, the catheter, and the nappies. All three bring with their specific social challenges. And sometimes you are not up to the task of convincing yourself to be social… and that is ok…
You are sensitive towards the wellbeing of people in your vicinity and that is beautiful.
You are blessed with beautiful siblings and have frequent contact with them… although you could put a bit more energy in the contact with your brother. Your oldest sister and her hubby, are frequent visitors and you enjoy that.
And what can I say about Christa? Your Lieblingsmensch has visited you when you most needed her. And that was fun! Always fun with Christa. Drück dich, du Bengel.
You live in a community where people look after you and each other. They will not leave you hanging… literarily!
You are blessed.
4. Financial Wellness
“Financial wellness is how our finances contribute to our overall wellness. It is the healthy relationship between your goals and your financial obligations. When someone is struggling financially, all aspects of their wellness are affected.”
Thanks to the mandatory Income Protection Policy your previous employer included in their employment package, your disability pays you well… till you reach the age of 65 and then you’re done. So, better plan your retirement well and live your life accordingly, till you stop to be…
That is so not you, is it? Nope, you will live your life in the here and now. You are valued in the here… and the now… and maybe in the then too… but how do you bank on that? You can’t predict the age on which the dear lord will take you up, neither can you plan the span of the financial bridge required to take you comfortably to that exit.
No Jan. Continue feeling well in your financial state. Stay sensitive towards your spending habits and live your life in the here and now.
5. Spiritual Wellness
“Spiritual wellness involves our set of beliefs, principles, and values that help give direction to our lives. It is seeking meaning and purpose in our every day lives, which ultimately encourages wellness.”
Your renewed belief system in God, Jesus and Love is young and still in its infancy. Yet your conviction stands strong and is ready to absorb more of the good.
You don’t preach to, nor do you exclude others from, God’s greatness.
You don’t believe in hell, other than the numerous ones created on earth by humans.
You do see Love all around you and sometimes wonder why it is being ignored by so many.
You are grateful for how life treats you and you have always treated life with dignity and the love it deserves.
You are at peace with yourself.
Big hug to all!
6. Vocational Wellness
“Vocational wellness involves preparing and using our skills and talents in order to gain purpose, happiness and a fulfilled life. Vocational wellness is about expanding knowledge and focuses on self-development and self-discovery. It is also about seeking opportunities that are personally meaningful and rewarding for you, based on your values, interests, and beliefs.”
You have always possessed the ability to gain new ideas, to learn new tricks and to explore baren grounds to create valuable propositions for all to benefit from.
You have lived, and still live, a rewarding life and selflessly contribute towards the growth of others around you.
You are blessed in your vocational wellbeing. You truly are…
7. Environmental Wellness
“Environmental wellness is how your environment positively affects your wellness. It includes incorporating nature in your life to feel a sense of peace and wellness.”
You are blessed by your environment. It provides you what you need most… a constant therapy of natural peace and tranquillity.
A constant stream of wildlife visits you on your land… as if they own it… well, they do… but sill… Thank you for having me here.
There is nothing negative about your environmental state of wellness.
You will grow old here… but not too old please? We just went through that whole financial stuff and I don’t think I can afford you too old… What about 81? OK! 83… but now you are pushing it…
I was brought up as a Christian in a Christian family, going to church every Sunday. As a kid I went from Sunday school to attending the grown-up Church (siting on those hard benches, with one mint and some small change for the offertory), did my weekly catechism with the pastor and did my mandatory Psalm presentation at school. But I had so many questions and nobody was willing to address, to answer or tried to understood what I even meant.
The Dutch Reformed church in Nijeveen, was a magnificent church. Not big… but big enough for the 1300+ villagers. Build in the 15th century. With a roof structure consisting fully out of wooden beams, an ancient organ and a massive tower with a proper bell, it was nothing less than a monument..
I really loved that church. Some church-goers were as old as the bell and I was a bit scared of them. Especially when one of my siblings had their birthday around church time. They would also include me in their celebrations. Normally by pinching my cheek, followed by an uncontrollable shake of it, while they mumbled “How nice… you will be next soon….”. How big was the temptation to do exactly the same to them when they attended their neighbour’s funeral service.
In 1976 my dad was the project manager for the restauration of the church’s pulpit area. I was so proud of my dad when he and the team unearthed two tombstones, one from the 16th century and the other from the 19th century. They both were incorporated into the church floor. How exciting!
That memory came back to me early 2020, with the funeral of my father. His coffin was standing in between the two tombstones, right in front of the renovated pulpit.
My mom passed away not even 11 months later and her coffin must have been standing at the same place. I unfortunately, was not allowed to attend my mom’s funeral due to the Covid travel restrictions. But somehow I am ok with that, knowing that they lay side by side on the cemetery field of the Dutch Reformed church in Nijeveen, with God at their sides and for ever in my heart.
I consider myself a reborn Christian, who re- discovered his peace and comfort in Christ during a rough period between 2016 and 2020.
Just a few months before my dad passed away, I wrote my Christian re -birth experience down and I want to share it with myself… and with you.
PLEASE!! Come into my life… by Jan van Ommen, Jan 01 2020.
I must have been 13 years old when my parents agreed that it would indeed be better for me NOT to attend any further church services. I had too many questions, disagreements, arguments and brought too many unchristian confusions with me, that the reply of “just try to believe son” simply would not do it anymore.
But what if Hell was a realistic option? Would I be able to handle that? As a thirteen-year-old boy? What was it again that the referent said? I was not ready to throw the towel into the ring and move God and Christ out of my life for good. I was rebellious enough to demand certain freedoms in exercising my religious convictions, but way to insecure to permanently exclude God and Christ from my heart. So, I moved them to the cellars of my heart.
I did continue consulting them when scared or habitually but refused to acknowledge their residence down in the cellars. They continued to provide me with unsolicited advice and guidance throughout my adult years, but I declined to acknowledge their existence.
They shouted loud and clear and most of the time I listened to my “gutfeel” but many times I demoted their voices further down the cellar.
Now at an age of 53 I hear them shout so loud that I must listen to what they really try to tell me…
“Look at your life Jan! You are physically lesser abled, divorced and still in a continuing annoyance, medically boarded (work-disability), accused of the worst atrocities any father and husband can face, far away from your children and your mother is dealing with a terminal brain tumor. Where do you think you get the strength from? And your positive stance on life? Who truly keeps you accelerating instead of making you quit the journey? STOP BEING SO STUBBORN!”
And after spending some valuable long-distance time with a dear friend and seeing the joy and peace in her eyes when she speaks about her relation with God, Christ and the Bible, it was time for me to descend the steps down the cellar and find God and Christ.
I need to find them… I need to ask them for forgiveness… I need to ask them for direction… I need to feel their advice… I need to hear their approval… I need them and all they bring.
WAIT… where did I put the keys…? And how deep and with what darkness will I have to descend? I hear God and Christ singing the song to guide me the way…
I do not seek healing from my sickness. I am content with what I have and have not. What I seek is an understanding of who you both are and what I am supposed to do to fulfil my life’s journey the best I can. I seek a better understanding of how my role requires me to be how I am. And how I can utilize all my strength to come closest to the purpose you have foreseen for me.
Thank you! I am on my way… Just keep the lights on while I am descending and keep singing… Please?
Joyce Sims – Come Into My Life
(Joyce Sims, 1987, as the lyrics sounded in my head)
I hear them singing… music always brightens up my ways… the lyrics are so inviting…
Come into my life, I’ll open the door if you
Come into my life, boy I adore you
And I will treat you right
And I’ll show you sweet mellow days that you want and need
For you hold the keys to my life
Good times will flow if you make our love strong and tight
Together as one not two, we’ll shine like diamond ice, uh
And I’ll show you sweet mellow days that you want and need
Because I can brighten up your days
And when you’re feeling bad I’ll put a smile on your face
Can you tell me what price must I pay
To make you see things my way
Don’t wait, don’t wait, ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh
Come into my life, I got so much love to show you
Come into my life, boy I adore you
Come into my life, I got so much love to show you
Come into my life, boy I adore you
My Favourite Source
Reading the Bible is… difficult. I tried it many, many times, but to no avail. Let me correct that…
Reading the Bible is not that difficult on itself. If you are literate you can do it. The difficulty comes with the interpretation of what you just read. Understanding the context of a verse or a book seems pretty crucial to me. Not only in what context it has been written, but also how applicable the message is to me now. But picking up any version or translation of the Bible and start reading it, turned out to be too difficult.
And then there is that very confusing element called OLD and NEW. Some tell me to skip OLD and dive into the NEW immediately. But why? I tried to start at the OLD and yes, very confusing indeed, and very… non-Christian…? I don’t believe God wants us to believe that He is a cruel HE. But what happens in the OLD, is pretty cruel… or not? It is… confusing me, isn’t He? Or at least the writers do.
Anyway, I searched for a good resource to explain to me what the Bible actually is. A simple question, I thought. NOT! How wrong was I… But I did find a very complete and entertaining source, covering almost every angle of the Bible, predominantly through the use of visual storytelling.
It is called the Bible Project. Their mission statement addresses my needs perfectly… “Our mission is to help people experience the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus.”
I am not here to convince you about what God is, but you are free to enjoy their explanation on what the bible is.
God bless you all.
Bible Project – The Story of the Bible
More available on https://bibleproject.com/
1967, Birth in Meppel
Yoh Mama... Johny's here!
I always have been a good swimmer.
I remember being on a long, long swim together with millions of others, ending up all by myself in a nice, cosey and warm cave with a constant supply of food, fluids and entertainment, 24/7… all for myself!
I initially I felt sorry for all those millions missing in action but after a while I noticed that the comfort of the cave started to cave in… And it didn’t take long before the final wall squeezed and pushed me in the arms of… my farther…? Nope…
Man, that was a very confusing and rather rude awakening… for every centimeter of my slim yet long 57 cm body. I was being slapped on my butt, twisted and turned around by so many unfamiliar hands, looked at through weird apparatus in every hole I had… As if I took something not mine! But what did they want from me? They already snipped me off my food supply, for crying out loud! I AM DYING HERE… STOP HITTING ME…
I admit… I cried for my mom for almost a minute before they finally rested me in her warm and trustworthy arms, with a fresh supply of comforting lukewarm nurture less than a cry away.
In this picture you can see me on my mom’s lap, keeping a suspicious EYE on those she calls my siblings. They are up to something… I’m telling yah!
My mom and dad, may God have their souls, did a very good job raising me into… me. My siblings also turned out to be fantastic, as they still are. Well done mom! “Och… dat doe je gewoon jongen…”, is what my mom would say…
I was born in a place called Meppel. The only one in the broader van Ommen-de Groot family born up North of the Netherlands, in the province called Drenthe. Where the people speak in a heavy dialect and regularly are referred to as “farmers” by the rest of the Dutch. Just because most people spoke, and still speak, in quite a heavy dialect and are somehow busy with… farming… Anyway, I remember being the subject of jokes and remarks within the family for being born in Drenthe. Jealous people.
My whole family came from a province called, Gelderland. Mid 60s my parents moved to Drenthe for my dad’s new job at the Scania-Vabis truck-cabine production plant. There they started to build truck cabins for Scania-Vabis and in the beginning for Volvo trucks. My dad worked there for the rest of his career. And what a career he had.
I must admit that I learned so much from my dad on how he run that manufacturing plant. From logistics, to building a paint/climate simulation box, to the full ISO-9000 (re)certification, my dad did it properly and he was my hero! Even my mom was involved in the beginning years of Scania-Vabis Meppel, by knitting curtains for in the cabins… Can you imagine?
When my dad retired, they got one of the first build trucks from some private museum/collector and Scania gave my dad and mom a well-earned Jubilee-ride through the city. With my mom’s knitted curtains… My dad was knighted by the queen for his contribution to the city of Meppel (Ridder in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau)… Yeah, all that because I was born in 1967. What a man I am…
Our neighbour’s son was called Roedi. He was almost a year older than I was and my first memories of Meppel definitely involved him. Apparently I used to escape the backyard of our house and climbed into theirs, ending up at their glass-backdoor, pressing my face against the window and with a snotty nose shouted “OEDI OOK? OEDI OOK?”…
I still have some speech issue with the pronunciation of the letter “R”. Even had special classes to learn how to say wolds with the lettel “L”, together with my long-lost fliend with whom I did the naughtiest stuff thloughout oul fliendship.
For hours we had to repeat sentences with predominantly words containing R’s in it, like “Rode Rozen gRoeien RappeR.” We gave that speech therapist more grey hairs than smiles and both knew we would not be bothered by our mis-fortunes but rather enjoy them.
A second memory popping up in my head, was me being dressed up as Flipje Tiel for some yearly parade in the city. Flipje is a commercial character, representing the city of Tiel’s Jam business. My mom made the whole outfit by herself and everybody seemed quite impressed with her work. I hated it! I HATED IT! I was so upset on anyone even coming near me… DON’T PULL MY BERRIES!!!! Everybody did that and I HATED THAT SUIT!!!! I AM SO NOT A BERRY!!!!!
AND TAKE THAT STUPID GRIN OF YOUR FACE!
1971, Move to Nijeveen
My parents decided for a move to Nijeveen, a village 5 km away from Meppel with (then) about 1300 inhabitants, most of whom were related to either farming, peat cutting, cheese or their neighbour.
During the 70s Nijeveen started to expand and grow beyond their then available means.
They brought in many people from outside the province, referred to as “imports”. Many bought their new land in a development area called Griftestuk. A small suburb referred to as the “Spekkenbuurt”, or the “Bacon area” where the rich lived… so they said.
The native Nijeveners didn’t particularly needed the imports. Anyway, they had an advantage as most of the imports had no clue what those Nijeveners were saying… What a linguistical barrier they were faced with and the Nijeveners were not particularly eager to breach that gap. And coming from Gelderland, where the dialect is closer to ABN (Algemeen Beschaafd Nederlands, or Generally Civilized Dutch), my mom had her own challenges in understanding the local shop owners when she was out shopping. But she managed well! Well done mom!
I loved growing up in Nijeveen and could strol for hours through the fields, filled with cows and hidden age-old artifacts, like old clay pipes and faulty condoms.
Destination was always a small stretch of swamp, where only the brave would dare to play. But not many dared to go there on their own. Minimum two… that was the unwritten rule. One would face certain death when adventuring to the swamp by oneself. Drowning, shot by a lost German WW2 soldier, the tigerrrr, or the police trying to catch you and lock you up for life for trespassing.
I can recall three occasions where the farmer and its accomplishes had alerted the cops on us trespassing his land. They would stand at the gate, waiting for us to pass, arrest us and teach us a lesson. We already saw them the moment we decided to go home. The swamp was about 750 meter inland and in stead of them teaching us a lesson, we would try to lure them into the swamp, teaching them a lesson on how to be young & fearless. We would approach the fence up to maybe 200 meters, all the time wildly gesturing, “WE’RE COMING… WAIT… WHAT? CAN’T HEAR YOU!” Of course we heard them quite clearly. “WE KNOW YOUR NAMES! COME IMMEDATELY HERE… OR WE WILL GO TO YOUR PARENTS!” “WHAHAAT?”
And we would continue playing deaf and dumb till they were so frustrated that they started to jump the fence and chase us… WOW, how red their faces were and how clumsy they tried their best to stay on their feet, cursing their courage to the highest levels. But the coppers were no match for us. We knew where to safely jump the water channels but they were persistent, and by that time, incredibly frustrated. Fuming! Anyway, we always made sure NOT to get caught and ultimately lure them into the swamp. There we could run freely… there they were doomed to wet shoes, sock, pants and badly damaged egos.
My mom never forbid me to go there. She understood the pains and pleasures of growing up very well. Thanks mom. You are my rebel!
I found a 15 minute video with some historic footage on Nijeveen and its surroundings from long ago. It is in Dutch… but the footage will give you a great idea on how Nijeveen was founded and how the people looked like. It is titled, “Nijeveen, uit moeras ontstaan”, “Nijeveen, raised from swamp”.
1971/79, Primary in Nijeveen
I went to the Christian primary school, called “School met de Bijbel” (School with the Bible). I always wondered if somehow there was only one bible in the whole of Nijeveen and THAT school had it. Only later I found out that every class had some bibles laying around for reference.
One teacher used his copy to “teach” anyone naughty or disrespectful, a lesson. And he found me to be extraordinarily and rather frequently naughty. Which, of course, is not true. I just learned quickly in life that people have lots of buttons and what else to do with buttons… then to press them? And he had so many… sometimes Occasionally I did drive him horreDol… I have to admit.
I was a good student. Excelling in most areas… except in my writing skills and somewhat in my pronunciation of the Dutch language. All because some smartass found it necessary to use the letter R in so many words. Way too many! I mean, there are 26 letters in the alphabet, and with any average word using only 6 of them… why did he or she found it necessary to use the R that liberally? The Dutch language has 50.000 words starting with the letter R… first letter of the word! Serious? WHAT IS WRONG WITH USING ANY OF THE OTHER 25, I ASK YOU?
Anyway, in Dutch one pronounces every letter used in a word, just like in the French language… so I had to follow speech therapy, IF I wanted to achieve anything in life. Anyways, it didn’t work out… And my writing skills never improved… in Korea they thought I could write Korean…. Really? Now I am teaching myself to write with my left hand, having a rather useless right one, but that really is quite difficult…
Down the drain my ambition went in becoming a well-spoken comedian. I wanted to become the next Andre van Duin! He was a Dutch comedian and in 1977 my parents bought his 10 – year jubilee album for me and I could recite the whole album within minutes. I already acted out Andre’s radio sketches (De Dik Voormekaar Show) prior the album’s release, but that album delivered me my first portfolio…
I loooooved his smart simplicity, his faciall expressions and his straightforward in-your-face, flat humour. Better than Benny Hill’s.
And what would would a memory be without some old school pictures to show me to me. Let’s start with me in grade zero…
I was way taller than most others and always had to stand at the back…
In the higher classes the rule of tallest at the back, was dropped. Here I am in group 6… de 4de klas… Teacher was the bible one… can’t mention his name, but I apparently drove him horreDol.
And the next one is rather a special one. It was taken in the year 1977, the year Nijeveen became 500 years old. Big festivities in the village of Nijeveen and everybody wore traditional clothing. Cute… the village even got a new windmill that year.
And the last one is of group 8, or de zesde klas. Final year… all serious from here on…
1979/87, Secondary in Meppel
I followed my secondary education in Meppel, on Dingstede, where they provided Christian Secondary education. Every day, no matter the weather, you had to cycle to school. 7 kms back and forth, through traffic, in colons of 10+ boys and girls, 3 or 4 wide, no hands on steer, rolling cigarettes, while ignoring other traffic, its written rules, and eager to go back home… alive.
Somehow that was fun! And the first two to three years going back home I always broke existing speed records, for my mom and I would play backgammon till it was supper time! We must have played almost every day and dear Lord, was she fanatic! We shared some of our best time together playing that game. Love you mom!
For the first 6 years I followed the HAVO (higher general continued education). One year longer than scheduled, but I flunked the 4th year quite badly. Struggling with growing up, I guess.
I was a last -minute learner and never spent much time studying. I did pass my HAVO and enrolled into the Athenaeum. There my dissent character got in the way of passing the final exams.
I wrote an apparently controversial Dutch essay on religion and warfare, and the examiner didn’t appreciate the “tone” it was written in. Who is the grown-up here? Anyway, he didn’t even give me a sufficient bad marking, which would allow me to pass my overall exam… so much for being a good Christian.
The time to decide about my future was fast approaching… what kind of higher education will open the doors towards the future I’ve never even dreamt of? I had no clue… I never thought about being a responsible individual… and now I must decide about the rest of my life? Nope… not ready yet…
So I decided to first tackle my military service, while contemplating the higher educational options… my future… and securing my final Dutch Athenaeum exam in the mean time.
Gone was my innocent youth.
REMINISCING ON 20 YEARS OF INNOCENCE
1. First there is Meppel.
Meppel was your place of birth. You lived there for 4 years. I already told you about Roedi, but did you know that you once used his dad’s back as a drum-kit? Yeah, his dad was so kind to bring Roedi and you to group 00 (I guess), toddler care. You were placed on the back of the bicycle, called the pakjesdrager (package carier), together with Roedi… safely placed in-between Roedi and his dad.
And your mom thought that was cool. NOT COOL MOM! You cried to get down, smashed your little fists against his back and didn’t stop till he dropped you off in the safe care of the toddler care’s teacher. MOM… WHY?
My mom told me I did other memorable stuff during my toddler years. One time your mom got a call from your sister’s school, inquiring if she missed a son. She indeed missed one and was already searching for you in the neighbourhood… fearing the worst. “Your son is here… asking for his sister… yes… he is safe… yes… we will wait for you…”. You apparently memorised the route your mom took while cycling or walking your sister to kindergarten in the mornings and you just missed your sister and decided to visit her at her school. Your mom was angry with you but also very proud of you at the same time. To get to your sister’s kindergarten one had to pass quite a busy road and you did it without being run over… Sorry Mom… but next time use stronger Velcro please?
Nah, my mom never used Velcro on me. She did however used to put me outside in the sunny backyard, on a blanket or in a stroller. Safe from strong winds and strangers. I was so tanned as a baby that who ever saw me would always ask my mom if I was adopted.
Meppel played an important role during my adolescence years. During my secondary education, I discovered a whole new world of fun and expanded my social life exponentially. Not necessarily in numbers of friends, but through bar visits, swinging at the local disco, and struggling with financing the options available.
I also picked up a nasty gambling addiction. Luckily I got that under control even before marriage. Well done!
At 15 I had my first weekend job in Meppel, working as a stock clerk at the grocery chain, called Albert Heyn. That was fun! Within two years I got a position as a cashier, manning the registry together with 10 ladies, and… Oedi! My toddler neighbour, also got a job as a cashier at the AH. O, WOW! What a fun we had! We always had long queues of desperate housewives queuing up at our counters for an exciting time of grocery-shopping and a laugh… or two… And those were the times prior a scanner… for real!
Every item had to be manually registered. Every price of every item typed into the registrar, for final totalling. “Isn’t that item cheaper?”, “Doesn’t that come with a free cup?”, “Aren’t the Brussel sprouts on special?” Oedi and I were masters in our creative ways of addressing those doubting questions. But we always stayed very professional, overly friendly and customer centric. Still, in the end we were not allowed to sit next to each other anymore… Not even for moral and emotional support. BUT… we had fun! Then I moved on to my second weekend job at an age of 17 years.
The second weekend job was in the same city at a record shop, called Spans, selling Long Players and small musical instruments.
A mecca for someone loving music so much. I worked there for about 1.5 years but experienced 10 years of musical development during that time. I witnessed the introduction of the CD and was always allowed to play whatever store – music I, or my clients, wanted to hear. I also had my first girlfriend during that period. Man! School… a job… a girlfriend… and a future to think about… what a stressful life I had…
Luckily Meppel had a great disco & bar scene and, after being introduced to it by my youngest sister, I spent many weekends strolling the popular bars and the coolest disco.
My youngest sister shared with me all the tricks in the book of “how to deal with overly strict parents, while still having a blast of a time…” and I was a quick learner… I had many blasts! And many friends sharing in each blast. I could write a book, covering all the fun and nonsense we had in Meppel and in Nijeveen.
But let continue my reminiscence.
Nijeveen was a fun place to grow up in. A very secure place to come home to after a day of adventuring in the surroundings, like cycling to Giethoorn or Havelte.
Everything was done on the bicycle and normally one was taught to always take off with friends… never alone! Too many dirty old men roaming the woods.
I always wanted to have my own bicycle, but my parents didn’t want to spend any money on a new bicycle when there were still options of re-using an older one of one of the siblings. I always ended up with the old bicycle of my sister, who most probably got hers from our oldest sister. Now, my sister is a girl and back then you had two types of bicycles. One for girls, without a top cross-bar, and one for boys, with a top cross-bar.
AND I WAS SO READY TO BE A REAL BOYYYYY!!!!
I begged my parents to get me a boy’s bicycle… WITH A CROSS BAR!
I wanted to mount my bicycle like ALL OTHER BOYS DID! By swinging one leg over the middle bar… like mounting one’s horse! Yeah, I know… you can do that on a girl’s bike too… BUT THAT JUST LOOKS SO SILLY AND NOT REALLY NECESSARY…!
After a full year of pestering my parents about them inflicting guaranteed future emotional damage, they decided that on my next birthday (8?) I would get a new bicycle… WITH A CROSS BAR! YIPPIE! Welcome manhood! On that day my dad said I will find my new bicycle in the garage and before he could finish his sentence, I was already there.
WTF? There, in the middle of the garage, stood my sister’s old bike… with a broomstick taped between the steering bar and the saddle bar…
THAT IS SO NOT RIGHT! WHAT ABOUT MY BOYHOOD…? I HATE ALL OF YOU! I must have cried, for sure. I know my parents and my siblings had a good laugh about my sadness…
Yep… Thank you all… for the damage inflicted…
My parents did give me my actual present the same day. The coolest present ever. They got me a truly amazing, coolest ever, boys -only cross cycle, with a humongous yellow banana-shaped saddle! I loved it sooo much… LOOK AT ME… NO HANDS! FREEDOM!
Thanks Mom and Dad.
Getting to Havelte was one of the biggest adventures on the bicycle. It was far, dangerous, exhausting, and yet so rewarding. I loved going there in my early teens and cycle through the forest, on dedicated dirt paths or performing some speed racing straight through the forests with my friends. That would normally result in bruises, torn pants, bloody knees and elbows, flat tires, or missing spokes. Yeah, not the bet environment to test a new bike.
I never cycled to Havelte during primary school, as traffic was too risky and my banana bicycle too precious. Especially the constant stream of impatient farmers on their tractors, with wildly swirling implements, were enough reason to be vigilant.
Giethoorn is also known as the Dutch Venice. With lakes, canals, narrow bridges, tourists, boats, kilometres of sidewalks next and across the canals… a Walhalla for teenagers on bikes.
We spent lots of hours cruising the canals in a rented boat or escaping the police who tried to enforce the newly introduced “no-cycle” zones. Fun we had there. And fun we had while cycling to Giethoorn, passing fields with lots of agricultural activity.
I loved the area where they farmed reed for commercial purposes, like for thatching roofs and such.
The best time to roam the canals would be around the time they started to burn the unharvested reed.
Normally late winter or early spring they would burn for weeks, covering the fields and the lakes with a blanket of thick, black smoke.
When I did my secondary school in Meppel, I had a friend whose family lived in Giethoorn. He was a cool guy! The whole family was rather cool. They lived in a beautiful big farm, just outside the busy stretch of Giethoorn, and were blessed with an enormous amount of peace and tranquillity. A musical family and he helped me a lot enjoying life in its most simplest yet luxuries form. We would roam the canals and the connecting lakes, in search of adventure or just to play some guitar.
One of Giethoorn’s best known residents was Rijk de Gooijer. He was a famous Dutch actor (and comic), who played in over … movies, both national as international. During the early 70’s the Dutch cinematic focus was very… broad, with a big focus on exploring soft pornographic scenes, in a meaningful way… Nudity and bare breasts were the new Dutch Emmy’s… way before Hollywood would dare to show any meaningful skin.
My parents forbid me to even watch new Dutch movies at any random place and, as we had no mobiles with internet, youtube, or Netflix, I had to wait ages before I saw movies like, Turks Fruit, Keetje Tippel and Grijpstra en de Gier…
Rijk de Gooijer was one of those acting pioneers and even these celebrities do shopping. And I had him twice at my registrar when working at the AH in Meppel. I liked his witty humour and down to the ground character. He would just join the cue and wait for his turn. No attitude… just like any regular Joe… but then Rijk. I remembered the second time he was cueing my line at the registrar. Many shoppers would, as inauspiciously as possible, look over their shoulder, and mumble “IT IS HIM… RIJK…!”. As did the lady I was registering just then.
I hesitantly stopped working, looked her straight in the eyes, and said “no he’s not…”. That triggered the next in line to look at me in utter disbelieve, while loudly exclaiming “YES… IT IS RIJK!!”. I looked at him with a questionable expression, and said “no… no.. he isn’t… ASK HIM…”, while nodding in the direction of Rijk, keeping my eyes daringly pierced on that guy. Surely, he immediately turned around to face Rijk, and asked, “U bent toch Rijk? Rijk de Gooijer?” I looked at Rijk with a doubting expression on my face, like questioning the audacity and sanity of that man… asking such a stupid question.
Rijk looked rather stoic at the man and replied… “No, sorry… I am not”.
I would tally Rijk’s shopping, give him his change and wished him a good weekend… “Thanks. You too…”.
We both kept a straight face during our exchanges and acted as if nothing out of the ordinary just happened. Loved it… “NEXT”.
Rijk never played in Turks Fruit. And I never read the book the movie was based on and only saw the movie almost 15 years after the release, but Monique van der Ven was always allowed to wake me up… any time!
Turks Fruit, directed by Paul Verhoeven, 1973, not featuring Rijk.
Before I enrolled into the higher education system in the Netherlands, I fulfilled my obligatory military service at the Dutch Airforce. I served on the Wing-Ops, at the military airfield Twente in the Netherlands. Got promoted to Sergeant Major prior a second reserve stint, involving the conception of the 11th Air Mobile Brigade (Lucht Mobiele Brigade).
A truly amazing time and I learned a lot, being involved in the actual flight planning, Air Defense & Flight Operations. I even worked with the future Chief of Defence for the Netherlands! WHAT? Yeah, truly true. We spent many nights on duty in the Wing-Ops bunker, eating pizza, dealing with peace- time calamities, ensuring national safety, and watching many movies. From horror to porn… Lots of porn… those F16 fighter pilots did love their porn! And Top Gun… For Heaven’s sake!
Believe me, I was a mere innocent victim, who suffered many, many hours of useless rewinding of VHS video tapes, with despicable titles, like “Barbie and the Seven Henchman”, and many other more explicit ones…
Yeah, I knew by then that my life would not be a boring one. How right I was…
1988, higher education
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