Posted in Inspiration, Personal


WordPress has sent this post tickle today: Write about something you used to believe, but don’t anymore. What changed?

For a long time now I have lost my faith, my conviction that good will always prevail over bad.

Things have happened, big and small. Tsunamis that wipe hundreds, thousands of innocent people from the face of the earth. Earthquakes trapping victims underneath tons of debris. Good people who become incurably ill. Friends who lose their darling little angel of 2,5 years old to liver cancer. My sweet sister losing her unborn daughter years ago while she was eager to live. One day, ONE day earlier and she would have been a healthy child. A female student of our university who was killed in a car crash this weekend, hit by a drunk driver and dragged along for 60 meters. He took off without a scratch, parked his car a couple of streets further and tried to escape. One of our own students losing her dad two years ago, and this week her mother. A co-worker who fought bravely against cancer, was declared healthy and now is in grave danger again. Yes, you could say I lost my faith that good will prevail.

Why would God, if there is a God, let this happen? Of course people have to fight for the quality of their lives, to get somewhere. Nothings comes for free does it? But why the little ones? They haven’t even had the time to do something wrong, they never got the chance. Why did this young girl have to die in such a horrible way, concentrating on her study, finding her way in life, in love. Standing on her own. To be destroyed in the blink of an eye. Why are three children growing up without parents now, the care of her younger brother and sister weighing heavily on the shoulders of our student. Why is that? Are these children bad? Were their parents bad? It is all so very unfair. I would love and I hope that there is a God who is keeping watch over us. But I do not believe this to be true.

Still all of this did not destroy my strong belief that it is good to do good, to be positive whenever you can. To see every little ray of sun. To treasure the little things in life. To take the time to appreciate what you’ve got in stead of longing for things that are not yours. To admire courage and beauty. To greet each day with a smile, chin up and simply go for it. To be thankful for love, family and friends. And to share and spread joy. I believe in the goodness of many people. That there is more to this world than the eye can see. That there are guardian angels, souls of our beloved deceased who are keeping a close eye on us.

I am both unbeliever and believer.

This post is written with high strung emotions barely kept in check, so please forgive me if I have hurt someone with my words.


Posted in Personal

The Driessen Family

Since of yesterday there is only one teenager on the loose in our house. The other has not moved out no, he turned twenty. My eldest son is TWENTY years old. Not a child anymore, but an adult. And it does not feel like yesterday that he was born, but twenty years is kind of absurd. Here is a picture of him when he was just a toddler.

And this is the way he is now (on the right)

We celebrated his birthday on Sunday, sitting outside in lovely spring weather, and talking about new and old times. He will go out with his buddies on Friday.

Yesterday morning I received a text message from my sister-in-law, asking me to give Nick a huge hug. She wanted to do it herself but somehow she seemed to have lost his Facebook access. A couple of messages went back and forth. In the evening my other sister sent an sms too, with the message that my son had thrown her off Facebook, and she wanted me to hug my son to pieces. Which of course I did with enthusiasm. A kid is never too old for a cuddle! Though this doesn’t mean all kids will agree with this golden rule. I have told my sisters that Nick has blocked us a little while ago because he does not want his co-workers and friends to read the stuff we might write about him. And I understand that. But it also means I can safely post these pictures haha.

Then last night my mother called to congratulate her eldest grandson. I was having a catch up evening with my friend Suzan – lots of tea involved, and chocolate – and walked upstairs with the phone towards Nick’s room. Mom and me talked a bit about the day, so I sat down on the attic stairs. Then my Dad came on. He told me he was playing the saxophone again, a thing he had not done for forty years! When our late neighbors’ daughter visited him, she brought her sax along and encouraged Dad to give it a try. Which of course he did not.

But the idea had found fertile soil and he remembered that his niece had bought a saxophone eight years ago, and had not played on it for seven and a half. So now the sax is in his hands and he has been practicing whole week. He is not there yet, he said, but bit by bit things are coming back to him. My Dad is seventy seven years old! In reply to my teasing question if they needed money, he immediately said YES, he was going out to play in the streets and would place a hat in front of him to collect coins. LOL. Then he told me that he was playing a serenade for my Mom every night, on his knees. ROFL. These are the little things why I love my family. We will gather Easter Sunday! 😀

I then delivered the phone in Nick’s hands and returned to Suzan. It was a great day.

Posted in Personal, Photo, Poems

Red Velvet

red velvet
whirls round

into the heart of all

~ for Vman
Posted in Books, Personal, Stories, Writing

100 days of daily blogging

Today, after a period of a hundred daily posts, the time feels right to let go of the daily challenge and step over to Post-A-Week-2011 of WordPress.

In these past months of Post-A-Day-2011 I have learned to write when I had inspiration, pouring the wriggling words out. I wrote when my brain was empty, and out of nowhere – triggered by the tiniest spark – still a couple of words found their way to my screen. Tiredness, migraines, illness, nothing stopped my dear sweet muse from whispering words and visions in my ears – to send out to you. Thank you WordPress, for these valuable lessons.

But postaday2011 was becoming a goal in stead of a tool.

So the time has come to use everything I  learned to write my stories and books. They have been waiting patiently while I was blogging, but now they want to be born. And although it seems a simple thing to post every day, still it takes up a lot of precious, scarce time. Finding words, editing them, searching for pictures to illustrate meanings. To groom and shape them into the right form. And I need to spend this time in a different way now.

I will still share my thoughts with you here, at Figments of a Dutchess, whenever the need arises. Plus write a post once a week. Thank you all for staying with me daily. And though the frequency will be less, the intensity and joy will stay.


All it takes is a true friend’s nudge…

Posted in Personal

Thin Line Between Pampering And Being A Good Parent

Hi mom! Can you take me back to school by car in an hour?

It is 1.30 PM and my youngest son barges into the living room, returning from a morning at high school. He deposits his school bag at the floor and walks over to the fridge to see if there are edible objects to his liking.

What do you need to go back for?

An extra test for French, the one I missed when I was sick a couple of weeks ago.

Aha. Well, you can take your bike son.

First an indignant reaction. Followed by puppy eyes – to no avail. Then an attack of ‘reasonable arguments’, trying to lure me into an endless discussion. My firm response to all of this is NO. I am waiting for a fire alarm check-up. Need to clean the whole house on my only afternoon off. Write my English blogpost. Furthermore merry blue skies do not indicate any wetness to fall any time soon. He has just left the building, with loads of good-luck encouragements on my part.

Regularly I am trying to decide where the line between pampering and being a good mom is. This particular boundary wavers in all directions, depending on the occasion. In fact, it is not a line at all but a rapid assessment of facts, possibilities and plain old common sense. Plus the strong urge to take care of my children in the best way I can.

From time to time Vman says I am pampering my lads, who will soon be 20 and 17 years old. That I have to be stricter with them, to guide them on their way to adulthood. And this results in discussions in which I try to keep an open mind and heart. If I agree with him, I put my foot – not my food – down with the kids. If I disagree, I put my foot down with Vman and do it my own way. The female way.

The trap, or should I say challenge, that one-parent families have to face daily. A father is stern, strict, more inclined to reason and ‘commands’, while a mother relies on her feelings, uses her tact and instinct. The soft side. But soft is not always good. There has to be a healthy balance between the hard and soft way in raising children, young men in my case. My ex-husband jumps in in major issues when needed.

I catch myself doing chores that are supposed to be theirs. Just because I am downstairs and my sons are high and dry up in their rooms. For the sake of quickness and perhaps also of avoiding a never-ending discussion. And in those moments I realize I am acting stupid and call myself names, because this way things will never ever change. How will they behave when they live on their own?

Do I have to force them against their wishes to come downstairs in the evenings to watch TV ‘as a family’ of play a board game? In the evenings I finally have time to write, to reply to mail, and can often be found in my little study upstairs and I hardly ever watch TV. So there we are, three people in the same house, sitting behind our computers studying, gaming and writing. When I suggest to go somewhere in the weekend or evenings, visit someone, they hardly ever come along. Sometimes it keeps me awake at night.

But when I think back to when I was young, living at my parents’ house, I was also often in my room, reading and doing stuff. The most precious moment of the day was the hour I came home from school and my mother was waiting with fresh tea so we could chat. Alas I can’t give my sons this moment, because I’m working full-time. They are home earlier than me. But we always have supper together, where we talk about the day’s adventures. Is this enough for a family?

I am wondering how other parents cope with this. How YOU think about this. How do you find your way through these dilemmas?

Posted in Culture/History, Inspiration

Joint Responsibility

Just something to think about… what happens here is a daily occurance at the university where I work. What would you do?


Keeping our environment clean: a joint responsibility.

(Thanks for sharing this Patrick!)

Posted in Art, Poems

Art: The Dancing Jester

Last weekend in Arnhem I came upon this jolly fellow:

Artist: Hans Bayens

Tempting, mocking

yet so still
A dancing half bow
in brass will

Existence frozen
lives pass by
One day you’ll step down
catch their eye

Do not mind the laughs
the pester
For you will always be
my Jester


Posted in Music, Photo

Roger Waters – The Wall

Arnhem, that was the place where we needed to be yesterday. The trip was very nice, driving in Vman’s convertible with the top open and the sunglasses on. With a shawl around my head I felt a bit like a film star! 😉

We parked the car under Arnhem’s train station and walked into the center. Sun, comfortable temperature, shops and lots and lots of people. The Wall, Pink Floyd and Roger Waters t-shirts were a common sight. Vman bought new shoes and I got lost in a little shop with witch and fairy trinkets, wandering from little statues to wooden boxes, spell books to jewelry. I found beautiful earrings with tiger eye gem stones. The owner asked me if I had an attraction to fairy things, which I confirmed. She then told me she saw ‘fairy energy’ in me. I don’t know whether to believe in this or not – my mind is wide open – but visiting this shop was very nice; a huge difference to other shops. It was like diving into a deeper meaning of life, a hidden world. Am I still making sense here?

Of course shopping makes hungry and thirsty, so we descended on a terrace for a coke and double Trappist. To my dismay, the waitress didn’t know what a ‘double Trappist’ was! How can this be? The best beer in the world, dark, strong and a bit sweet! She did know the brand name though, so in the end I still got what I wanted. You can see the empty glass in front of me *grins*

At around 5pm it was time for dinner: Vman had fish, while I chose a schnitzel.

Somehow my partner always knows where he is. He just knows! He took me back to our car without hesitation, while I had no clue as to where we were in the city. It must be a male thing.

Onwards to the GelreDome. It was an hour before the concert and it took a while to find a parking space. The area around the arena was buzzing with fans. Many voices in Dutch, German, French and English. There were even Scotsmen in kilts! What a sight to see. We walked around the building to find the A-entrance and were soon seated. Here’s our view:

At precisely 8 pm the lights were dimmed and Roger Waters stepped onto stage. An enormous applause thundered through the hall. There was a partway built white wall on the left side, as you can see. During the concert, this wall was used as a gigantic projecting screen.

On the right side the huge teacher was being lowered and a choir of children was singing accusingly at it. Teacher, leave those kids alone! On the left side this green ‘adorable’ creature. The wall was built up further and further until there was only a wall, nothing else.

There was a miniature airplane flying over the heads of the public onto the stage and at some point a giant pig came floating by:

The stage looked like this during the break, projecting many casualties of war.

In the end the wall was broken down and this got us to the finale of the concert.

The quality of these photos isn’t great – made them with my iPhone – but I hope this way you are able to feel the mood a bit. The music, the sound and visual effects were awesome and made The Wall very special yesterday. Its message is still very strong, with parts of the world at war. And though Pink Floyd isn’t exactly ‘my thing’, I still enjoyed it all very much. Saturday, April 9th 2011, a day to remember.

Posted in Music

Psychedelic Prospects

Fast post today. In my haste I know no other solution than to depend on yesterday’s Dutch post. But it’s totally appropriate because … drum roll …

Today Vman and me are going to Arnhem. Because today Roger Waters will perform The Wall in the GelreDome in Arnhem. And we are going to be there! Jippie!!

First a bit of shopping and strolling around the city. In the late afternoon an early supper, and after that an evening of dreaming away with Pink Floyd.

Pink Floyd seems to have an extraordinary effect on me – apart from the allergic reaction to the first word ;). A while ago we went to a concert of Pink Project, a cover band of Pink Floyd. They were quite well I must say, but my memories are kind of hazy. The psychedelic music got into my brain and I fell half asleep! Not a bit tired, yawning, no, the real deal. Eyes rolling backwards and a feeling I was ten miles away from what was happening on stage! I have been pinching my arm really hard to stay upright in my chair. Embarrassing and very weird. Normally I’m jumping up and down during a concert, clapping and singing. But not this time. I don’t know Pink Floyd’s music very well yet. But Vman is a huge fan of this band and knows everything. Each sound, every intro.

Let’s hope the temperature in GelreDome is a bit more pleasant than during the performance of Peter Gabriel last year. There was an ice cube dangling on my nose that evening! But tonight things will be different, I mean

The Wall

I may not know much about Pink Floyd, but I do know The Wall! So there might even be some singing involved. And this will keep me awake! 😉