Posted in CBW, Photo challenge

CB&W: People at work



“Better the butcher than the meat.”

~ George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons


Check out the other entries at Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge


Posted in Animals, Border hopping, Photo, Six Word Saturday


My Saturday in six words:



for a larger image, please click the photo

… and dream a bit longer, for Monday it’s back to work after five weeks of glorious freedom. Have an infinite weekend!

< Click the button for more Six Word Saturdays.

Posted in Inspiration, Stories, Writing

The Way to Happiness

Kellie Elmore has challenged us with a new Free Write Friday Time & Place Scenario

You find yourself in an elevator. The door closes and you see only five buttons. A sign hangs above them that reads: “Find Happiness.” Each button is a different color. Red, blue, green, orange and yellow. There are no other instructions and you must push one to get the elevator to move. Which color do you choose and why? Where does it take you?

Here’s my story:

She stood dead still, hardly breathing. The entrance was right in front of her and all she had to do was step forward. But her feet would not move. Tendrils of doubt were pulling her back. Back towards her old life. Back towards certainty. No! The steel doors hissed with impatience. She looked at the desk, where the clerk was watching her. His eyes tried to burn their way through her spine, but she ignored the pressure.

The hallway was huge. A cold draft twirled through the many layers of her consciousness. Loneliness struck hard. There was nothing for her here. Upstairs would be people. And coffee! Squaring her shoulders, she stepped forward, straight into the gaping maw of the elevator. With an impatient snap, the doors closed and absorbed her. Like a birth canal.

Eighth floor, the instruction said. The intricate carvings on the elevator wall entangled her thoughts with Celtic patterns. She traced the lines with her index finger until she came upon the control panel. Five buttons. The bright colors clashed with the wooden interior in the diffused light. Only five? Impossible! When she looked closer, she discovered an inscription that said ‘Find happiness’.

Find happiness? Was this some kind of joke? She thought of her parents, who had been so worried when she told them about her plans to find work in the city. Moving out. She could still feel the tears in her father’s farewell hug.

Happiness, she could use a bit of that. She would give anything for a moment of wellness. The gray of the past weeks was too overwhelming, was shutting her emotions down until only despair remained. Her bank account was almost empty; there was only enough left for one month’s rent. Now focus, you need this job! Five colors for happiness.

The warm red glowed under her fingers, pulsing to the beat of the blood in her veins. Cool blue, calming her troubled mind. Nature’s green, reminding her of the woods where she used to walk with her dad. The fruity orange of the orchard. A sunny glow of bright yellow. Her heart responded. She had missed the colors in her life so much of late. But which button should she choose? Why couldn’t there be a simple 8?

Suddenly a myriad of lights melted together into one flame, that burned the darkness away. It was as if a shroud of doubts was lifted. One color was missing in these rainbow buttons! The one hue that colored her mother’s eyes. The one color that created her own name. She turned her back on the bright panel and blindly grabbed for the button that would release her from this prison. The one she simply knew would be there. It was the purple button that opened the only door back to happiness. To herself.

Violet went home.


Posted in Haiku, Personal, Photo, Poems

Job Interview

There are times when you just have to follow your own, new road, no matter what happens to the comfortable bus you’re on. I got out and tried to take a different path, but it didn’t work out. So now I have to wait for the next ride. And you know what? It feels good to have tried. Some day I WILL get there! 😀


thorns will never block

my path towards potent bud

which will bloom next time!



~ click the photo for a larger image ~

Posted in Nature, Stories

Crocodile Dutchee

Day 33 of the ‘Post A Day 2011′ challenge: If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

Once I  had a dream job. A combination of people, wild animals and nature. A mix of education and recreation. Facing challenges and simply having fun. Exploring boundaries and breaking them. And I would LOVE to get it back.

I already lifted a tip of the veil in my post Nature Versus Coding,

“… a Dutch safari park called Beekse Bergen, where I spent a magical time.”

Back then I was a student at the University for Tourism and Recreation in Breda, and I had to write my thesis. My sub conscience whispered ‘Forget the people, survey animals!’, but recreation was what I had been studying. So I searched for ways to combine the two. Old fashioned normal zoos were out of the question: not enough space, not enough comfort, not even remotely resembling real animal life. So I applied for internship at the Safari park Beekse Bergen, the biggest wildlife park in Holland. And was accepted.

For months and months I traveled there: on bike to the station, by train to Tilburg, and then taking the bus to Hilvarenbeek- I would LOVE to hear you pronounce these cities hahaha – a one way trip of almost two hours.  I interviewed over 350 tourists, defying rain, wind, sun, wasps meandering through my fingers – with me acting cool and only becoming hysterical on the inside. And I fell in love with the place.

My thesis was about improving the safari park by exploring ways to get the people out of their cars and safari bus. In my final analysis I advised them to develop more walk- and waterways, so  visitors could lazily stroll around the park in fresh air – all with the highest security of course. We can’t have tigers padding alongside kids, can we. After my survey was finished, they asked me if I could stay on for the season, and of course I yelled YES!!!

Jeeps and Landrovers were used as means of transportation and the manager Frans – ‘Safari 1′- took me with him on his daily rounds. Soon he was tired of stopping the car, getting out to open the sluice gate, getting back behind the wheel and drive to another section of the park, only to get out again to close the gate. And I was NOT allowed to do it, wild animals and such. So he did the only thing possible: he taught me how to drive – sort of! Lazy bum 😉

One day we got an alarm call: a beautiful crowned crane had flown into the lions’ section! So we set out, racing over little hills, through bushes, with me hanging on for dear life. Frans assessed the situation, hastily coordinated his team of men over the radio… and stepped out of the car. About twenty Jeeps were holding the lions at bay, while Frans and others were chasing the not-so-bright crane.

There I was, sitting in a huge Landrover, a bunch of wild lions in the neighborhood, eying me with a too healthy appetite. I forced my heart back down my throat, crawled over to the driver’s seat and started the huge car. Hoping and praying I wouldn’t bump into animals, that the car didn’t give up on me, that I found my way back to safety. Remember, I only had driven for a couple of weeks, and then only for a few minutes each time. I never had real driving lessons. But I made it back to the sluice in one piece, wiping my sweaty palms dry on my pants. Frans petted my back and told me I had done well. The crane was also doing well, silly bird, thinking he could win from those felines!

My job was to manage an educational center with a marvelous hand painted bird exhibition. I also set up a map of information about our animals. And presented a bird of prey show! Boy o boy, was I nervous that first time, standing in front of an audience with a microphone. One day I even got attacked by a caracara. His name was ‘Gerrit’, I’ll never forget that name. In the evening, on the bus home, I sat next to a girl who asked if I was ‘the lady of the birds of prey’? Yes I was. She thought it had been totally cool, playing with the caracara. When I showed her my bloody and scratched legs, she soon hushed. Yeah, Gerrit was a playful dude.

One evening I took a walk with two African elephants and their caretaker. Broer was way ahead of me, leading the animals to their night shelter. But then the second elephant decided to check me out at close range. People, let me tell you these elephants are HUGE. I just stood there, nailed to the ground, staring in horror and awe at the approaching tank and squeaked HELPPPP in a shaky voice. Broer came running back to grab the elephant by her ear and my heart started beating again. Pfew.

On another day, I was asked to help gather the Siberian tiger cubs who were still outside in the wide tiger area, while the adults were inside. At least I hoped so! And I found one, a little one, and carried him back to the night shelter. Its total cuteness, the little mewing sounds it made, the rough feeling of the fur, the trust in his black eyes. I was melting on the spot. Unfortunately a few weeks later the tigress had loosened metal plates in the shelter, and ‘my’ cub was crushed underneath. Those things happen.

Apart from the tigers, Scottish highlanders were one of my favorite animals. They look like Beatles cows! I saw the rare mating of two rhinos. The male was called Oscar. Why on earth would my brain store this information? Beats me, but his name was Oscar. We had alarm calls to save little kids, who’s parents let them pee outside the car! In the middle of the lion section! These cats can change from sleepiness into action within seconds. Monkeys loved to strip Volvo cars. The walks we took with Giles, the tame cheetah. Ah the stories, the stories. I’m glowing from the inside, remembering all the things that happened back then.

Can you now imagine that my absolute dream job is to be Crocodile Dundee? Uhm Crocodile Dutchee? 😉 But nowadays I try to tame wild Avans students. Also a great job and big challenge.

Posted in Stories

Nature Versus Coding

Day 7 of the ‘Post A Day 2011′ challenge:

Share a story about a memorable job interview.

Back in 1984 my friend Suzan and me, both freshly graduated, went on holiday together to the Indonesian island Java. Six weeks of freedom, very friendly people, breathtaking nature, impressive buildings, mysticism, delicious food, back-to-basic transportation (did you know fleas also travel by train?), rides on the back of a motor bike, trips in a pick-up truck. And heat. Six weeks filled with laughter, adventures, challenges, respect and awe, plus loads of the best friendship one can ever have. Needless to say I didn’t want to return to the cold and bleak flat Netherlands. But by then the money was gone and our plane was waiting.

Back home, I was ready to participate in the mysterious working society. Still in love with the magnificent archipelago, I decided to apply for a job with the Word Wildlife Fund in Indonesia. Anything to get back there. To my dismay they didn’t need my ‘awesome’ bachelor knowledge of Tourism and Recreation. Letters went back and forth, but it was no use. This dutchess would not get the chance to help developing nature-friendly tourism in Indonesia. I was devastated.

So there I was: study finished and no job. I was renting a small room in a student house – twelve square meters – and soon was climbing the walls. Several letters of application were sent out to recreational companies, but with no positive results. After three weeks I was fed up with it all and walked into an agency for temporary jobs on a dark Thursday afternoon.

So tell us, what university did you go to? Aha, interesting, tourism and recreation, hmmm. Can you type? Splendid! We are looking for a coder, you think you can manage that? Ah you coded your own thesis? Good good. Alright, we’ll stay in touch, good day.

Before I knew it, I was standing outside again, wondering what would come of it. The day after I got a message that I was to start working for a social insurance company on Monday.


Then doubts bloomed into existence. Coding, did I say I could code? Of course I had messed around with Pascal programming, but never really knew exactly what I was doing. Fellow students had helped me out with the coding aspects of my thesis – a thesis devoted to a Dutch safari park called Beekse Bergen, where I spent a magical time. But that’s another story. So what if the coding would be too complicated? That weekend was hell, I was so nervous I could neither eat nor sleep. Then finally the clock ticked its way towards Monday morning.

A fifteen minute bike trip took me to the office, which was situated in the center of town. I was escorted to my desk and got my ‘coding instructions’. Within seconds I was biting my cheek hard, trying to stem my bubbles of laughter. CODING? This wasn’t coding, this was child’s play! They gave me piles of forms and I had to write down the first two letters of the applicant’s last name plus the six digits of his/her date of birth. That was the coding I had to do! O yes, I also had to alphabetize them. By the end of the week nightmares about coding were trying to eliminate my dreams of nature.

Since then I’ve come a long way in working land. Currently I have a job at a university as information manager and elearning coach. So much better than coding! But my dreams of nature will stay forever. As will my friendship with Suzan.