Posted in Inspiration, Poems

Monday Morning

Weekend thoughts
still linger in my mind
Hazy wisps of peace
Of timeless time

Now it is Monday
Work will be waiting
Half of my mind
is already on its way

The other half stares
Sees a world come to life
Stars fade and make way
For the light of a new dawn

Be welcome Monday
We jump to your call
Attentive and ready
Do not let us down!

Posted in D&D, Stories, Writing

Dungeons, Dragons and Bandits

After another hilarious and exciting weekend our Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) adventure The Old Empires finally has ended tonight. It took us almost three and a half years to reach the grande finale, with Gonadan as Dungeon Master (DM), Maeglin as Larryl (halfling Ninja), Aglanor as his brother Darryl (halfling Monk), Sihaya as the gorgeous Tonks (gnome Cleric) and myself as Magnys (human Paladin).

We ran around in armor and capes all weekend, waving wands and swinging swords and… naaaaaaaaaaaaaah just kidding! For those who don’t know what D&D is, please read Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 – perhaps that will clear things up. Or perhaps it won’t. You just would have to play along to feel the fun. 😉

We use lots of beautiful handbooks,

little figurines to clarify the situation,

but mostly D&D is about using your imagination, directed by dice, rules and common sense and depicted on paper.

Halfway through this campaign I started to make detailed reports of all sessions and will do the same with the last one. You can read these reports of The Old Empires at my blog Dungeon Dutchess. We are already planning the next campaign with Maeglin as DM in an Underdark Drow campaign, which will start in about two months.

This weekend we had an unexpected mystery player who was mewing in exactly the right spots, and immediately went to Aglanor’s side when he was wounded in battle and lay unconscious.

Dungeons, Dragons and Bandit.

Thanks Maeg, Ags, Sihaya and Gonadan, thanks for this fabulous friendship and the role playing fun!

Posted in Personal

Sleep Cycle App Without Sleep

A couple of years back, my sleep rhythm was out of control. It was a rhythm, but one without the sleep. Exhaustion would pull me into the arms of the Sandman, only to wake up again at 1 AM, wide awake. Staring at the ceiling, staring at the walls. Turning from one side to the other. Insomnia.

At first it was the divorce that kept me awake, worries over the children. Plus getting up occasionally for sending defense in an online game. Yes I know, totally cuckoo 😉 When things settled down, there was no cause to lie awake anymore. But still my inner clock would react to the tiniest sound, to a random thought, and adrenaline flushed away the sleepiness. Years of two or three hours sleep a night. I tried meditation exercises, natural homeopathic tranquilizers and in the end heavy sleeping pills. Even those could not keep me down.

Three years back things changed. Somehow I found my balance again and was able to sleep six hours in a row. It was the year I also found Vman. Was it coincidence or my restless subconscious finally settling down? No need to analyze, just enjoying the rest. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful partner, precious kids, sweet parents, amazing siblings and great friends. Blessed. I finally found my inner peace.

Until last week, when ‘insomnia’ hit again. But no need to panic, this was my own fault! You see, an iPhone entered my domain, with the most amazing ‘apps’. Yes folks, this Dutchess has apps now! One of the recommended ones is called ‘Sleep Cycle’. This app would register your sleep cycle and wake you in your lightest sleep, max thirty minutes before the specified alarm time. In this way you won’t wake from a deep sleep and feel muggy for the rest of the day. Sounds interesting huh?

The first night would be a night of testing. So I plugged in the phone, clicked on the ‘test’ button and placed the iPhone beside my pillow. Then I lay down, eyes wide open in anticipation. Every time I moved, the iPhone would beep. Hell, it worked alright! Right side – beep. Left side – beep. Onto back – beep. Now START damn you! Nothing happening. Again I checked the settings. Turned it off and back on. Again the test. In the end, I spent the whole night ‘testing’, meaning being beeped at every few minutes to show it was working. Don’t worry, I thought to myself, it is only one night to register my movements.

In the morning I found out that I should have used the timer button after the test. ROFL. But I can easily handle one night without sleep. The next night I chose a nice soothing alarm sound, activated the Sleep Cycle alarm and lay down. Half an hour later I was still awake. What was happening above my head on the mattress? An hour later I checked if it was still working. It was, and so was I. That night I slept twice for a short period of time. My mind was too busy analyzing what was happening. Would it really wake me up ahead of the alarm time? YES it did, even the whole night *grins and shakes her head*

Do I need to tell you that I removed the app in the morning? Now I know when the alarm clock will play its sound. No need to analyze anything. My sleep cycle doesn’t need an external Sleep Cycle. It will regulate itself! 😉

What keeps you up at night?

PS I do realize that far more important issues will keep most people up at night. But I wanted to bring a smile to your face. Have a wonderful weekend all of you.

Posted in Inspiration, Personal, Poems

Let it Be. Let it Go. Make it Glow!

What does aging do to us? In Does Age Matter you can read some random – not too serious – thoughts on our daily physical deterioration. For example:

Gravity will take a stronger hold on various body parts.
After a night out, two days of recuperation are necessary.

Today’s question is: What gets better with age? Ah, interesting. For me the main thing that gets better with age is

the ability to let go

Letting go of your free and independent life when the children are young.
Letting go of your children when they in turn step into their own free life.
Letting go of high expectations of others, and in stead searching and finding your own way.
Letting go of thousands of things you worry about, but can not change.

Of course I still fret over things, but I’m learning to ease up, to relax a bit more. To allow things to happen. To not be in control all the time. My mother tells me the same thing:

I don’t worry about everything and everyone anymore. Each person needs to live his/her own life and face the responsibilities and consequences of his/her actions.

When growing older, the path before us becomes ever clearer, distractions are more transparent and you can and want to focus on what really matters in life. And that is very important, because you have only one life and the years flash by with accelerating speed! Do not let the outer world rule your life, but take firm control and spend it wisely.

Go on a ghost hunt every now and then! It is not big deal if you fail, because you can always start anew. Stay young at heart and keep moving. Chase your dreams and make them come true, don’t let them fade away! Keep what is really important, what you cannot do without. As for the rest…
Let go.

People change and move on. Friends share the same path for a while – months, years, decades, even a lifetime. They will take a turn every now and then, to find the way ahead together or on their own. Maybe in the future their roads will cross again, hearts drawn together by deep friendship. Relationships and love may end, but it is not the end of the world. It is only change.
Let go.

Things you can not change
let them be

Things you do not want
let them go

But dreams you cherish

What gets better for you when you grow older? You are most welcome to share.

Posted in Photo

Photo: Craving for Freshly Baked Bread

If you could have anything to eat right now, what would it be?

This question had me craving for fresh crispy crusty crunchy delicious bread. And we can’t have a craving running loose in this house. 😉 Nor a hungry teenager!

So after almost three hours of waiting, finally this emerged:

Ten minutes later my son’s patience was rewarded with:

A fresh tuna sandwich with cucumber and dill.

Do I need to say the smell is tantalizing? Yummy!

What would YOU like to eat today? 🙂

Posted in Personal

Tea & Sleep – The Best Remedy

A sweet gentle

a cup of

and lots of

for my son, who landed on his neck at gymnastics this morning after a heroic backward jump over a rope. Nothing happened yet. But after an hour he got real weird symptoms, like losing the feeling in his hand, black spots in front of his eyes and not being able to read, so I got a call from school to pick him up. Luckily those symptoms are all gone now, but he still has a severe headache, a painful neck and is shivering. The doctor told me to rouse him every hour in daytime, and every two hours during the night, to make sure he doesn’t have a concussion.

He’s half asleep now 🙂 Feel better soon my son!

Posted in Inspiration, Stories

Shower Thinker

How long do you think you could go without a shower?

This one is easy: one day max. I could not function otherwise.

Of course you can take a bath, or simply wash up using a washcloth. Jump in a cold brook or stand outside in the pouring rain, trying to evade all the cats and dogs.

But the only place for me to come back to life, to get my brain working, is the shower. A rain shower. A heavy stream of reinvigorating hot water, splashing down on my face, massaging my skull and activating the gray cells underneath.

In the shower I find inspiration for many things: strategies for challenges at work, holiday plans, thoughts about all and nothing, inspiration for what to write about, and, last but not least, what to wear today! 😉

There’s even a @ShowerThinker Twitter account, solely dedicated to The Shower, with hilarious quotes and gadgets.

Did you take your shower today? 😉

Posted in Music

Music: Kamelot

A couple of years ago I was in desperate need of new music.  My friend Maeglin introduced me to Kamelot by sending an MP3 of ‘The March of Mephisto’. Within two minutes I was text messaging him to send me more, and more. I fell for this band like a thirsty brick in a crystal clear pool.

Kamelot is an American symphonic power metal band from Tampa, Florida, formed in 1991. Six years later Norwegian vocalist Roy Khan – who studied opera for three years – joined the band. Khan co-writes all of Kamelot’s songs with the band’s guitarist and founder Thomas Youngblood.

Current members:

  • Roy Khan: Lead vocals (1998−present)
  • Thomas Youngblood: Guitars, Backing vocals (1991−present)
  • Sean Tibbetts: Bass guitar (1991−92, 2009−present)
  • Casey Grillo: Drums (1997−present)
  • Oliver Palotai: Keyboards (2005−present)

Where BLØF was gentle last week, Kamelot is strong, intimidating, grunchy, ominous and haunting. But Kamelot also means superb melodies, a strong drive and fantastic rhythm changes.

Listen and watch with me if you dare…

The Haunting

Ghost Opera

You can find more information about Kamelot on this Wiki page and of course at the Official Kamelot Website.

Posted in Border hopping, Stories

Road Trip To Portugal

Describe the best road trip you’ve ever taken.

That must have been our trip to Portugal, a journey which took us 2.400 kilometer south of Holland. We drove through Belgium, cruised the roads of La Belle France, climbed the Pyrenees to cross over to Spain, and then finally made it safely to Portugal. It took us three days to reach the Algarve and this was the craziest trip I have ever made.

Back then there was this Hitchhike Center: you could enroll if you needed a ride and people who had a spare seat would also register. The Center would combine supply and demand and then exchange data. After a couple of weeks we got the message that someone was willing to drive us to Portugal. Several phone calls made clear that this was a serious offer, so we took it.

That is, after I finally managed to convince my parents that I was not going to be abducted by white slave traders. O the ignorance of a nineteen year old girl. I would go NUTS if my sons ever pulled this stunt. So guys, if you are reading this, SKIP THIS POST!

My friend Bert and me agreed to be picked up at the train station. That morning a small white van pulled up in front of us and a cheery fellow greeted us with a grin. Seems he made the same trip several times a year to transport agricultural machinery back and forth. And indeed, the van was filled with a huge machine. You could sit in the front and in the back – back-to-back with the driver – but there was no space to sit comfortably. Young as we were, that was NO problem at all. For the first day. The second and third day we found the weirdest ways to rest, upside down, feet sticking out of the windows, butt in the couch – legs straight upwards towards the van’s ceiling resting against the machinery. Anything to be able to stretch your legs.

Our host was the only driver in the travel party, so we adjusted all to his routine. We slept when he slept, stayed awake so we could keep our chauffeur awake too. He avoided the toll roads to save expenses and showed us magnificent sceneries. France was sweet, gentle, sunflowers, lavender fields, rolling hills. Spain was impressive, dry, rugged and wild. I loved inland Spain, especially when we spotted a black bull far away in the fields. And I prefer this sight over any of the bull fights that were still held there.

At one point we were almost out of gas and we held our collective breath each time we had to climb a hill. Would we make it? YES! On our way down our driver simply turned off the engine to save fuel. The silence, the whizzing wheels, the accelerating movement after the top, it all felt magnificent. Little did we know about down shifting, about the slowing powers of the engine, about overheated breaks. We were young, we were wild and we were on our way to the Algarve!

We were dropped off at Lisbon, where we wandered about with open mouths for two days. Breda was a small town compared to this megalopolis! We traveled onwards by train and bus and arrived at the Algarve. This area was not as touristic as it is now. Of course there were broad beaches where you could walk over bodies without ever having to touch sand or pebbles. But if you walked on and climbed over and through the rock formations, you found yourself in the middle of a Blue Lagoon scene.

What followed were three weeks of sun, camping, DELICIOUS fresh fish, campfires on deserted beaches, singing and dancing in the moonlight accompanied by live guitar music, talking English, German, French and Dutch, discovering the velvet taste of Portuguese Port wine. Freedom and friends, what a terrific combination.

Actually I have no idea how we got back – that part of this road trip seems to have vanished from my memory – but me sitting here and telling you this story is proof that we made it back home, with a treasure of experiences and a life-long love for the Mediterranean.