Multiversal Musing — Deborah Harmes, Ph.D.

Social Commentary, Random Snippets of Consciousness Studies, and Bits of Personal Reflection

Downtime In Amsterdam

Posted on | January 3, 2011 | No Comments

Cold and icy and beautiful with slivers of blue sky in streaks overhead. It’s a simply glorious winter day here in Amsterdam. Mark has already made a short run to the grocery store and then a brisk walk to Central Station to purchase an OV-Chipkaart for each of us that will cover our tram, bus, and metro travel for the upcoming week. But I am staying tucked up inside and unexpectedly quiet. It’s time for a break this Sunday.

Cafe Vennington menu

We had intended to go to one of the museums today, but in spite of stopping for a nice hot lunch yesterday, I think I walked for a few hours too many and I got quite chilled. So in an effort to not have a return episode of the pneumonia that knocked the stuffings out of me 3 weeks ago and sent me to the hospital back in Australia, I made the decision to just be quiet in our temporary home here in Amsterdam. And I certainly do feel at home in our charming neighbourhood!

Amsterdam cat named Ginny

To add a nice touch of just-like-home, the apartment that we have rented even came with a very cuddly cat for the first few days whilst the owner’s cat sitter was away. A purring cat is a nice ‘wellness’ strategy, eh?

Yesterday, New Year’s Day, was quite busy for the few tourist attractions that were open and in the photo to the left you can see a portion of the number of people who were lined up to be admitted to the Anne Frank house which faces Prinsengracht Canal. The line extended around the block and down into the next block. I remember going there on a summer morning in the late 1980s and yes, there were always lines back then. But it has now become such a ‘must see’ place that people are apparently willing to stand for hours in the icy cold — something I am no longer interested in doing.

So today I am editing photos, sipping hot tea, conserving the small amount of energy that this jet-lagged little body has, and quite frankly enjoying being in my pajamas all day! Here are a few photos from yesterday. Enjoy!

Rypenhofje entry facade

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Cheek By Jowl Living

Posted on | December 22, 2010 | No Comments

Intensively close living — something I haven’t experienced for about 16 years since I left London in early 1995. And yes, I had forgotten about the constant background noise. But after two or three days here, I no longer noticed it and my brain ignored it all.

That surprised me rather a lot since we have been living in the rural countryside for quite a few years and an extra-noisy bird or the grunting of a wombat could bring me to a state of full wakefulness. Now I find that I am sleeping through buses roaring by on the street outside, screeching parrots and kookaburras in the trees, and low flying jets as those winged-whales scoop up or disperse their passengers at Sydney’s waterside airport.

What I do still notice is the volume of people on the pavement as you try to get from point A to point B, the sheer numbers jostling you in the grocery store, the purposeful faces as you cross at a corner and are smooshed by your fellow pedestrians whilst trying to get back onto the pavement before the light changes to red, the length of the lines snaking outward at the take-away coffee windows at each cafe.

And the smells! We are currently staying in the 8th floor apartment of a dear friend who is out of town for the holidays. Every time one of the neighbours sautes some garlic, grills a steak on the balcony, or simmers pasta sauce, the smell wafts upward and in through the open balcony doors and those smells mix and mingle with whatever we happen to be cooking. It does tend to scramble your brain a bit.

What is completely joyous (aside from the up-the-hills and down-the-hills huffing and puffing that I am still experiencing in my body!) is the availability of change. Whether it be scenery as you move from single-story federation cottages on one street to looming high-rise commercial buildings on the next block or the seamless transition from a residential neighbourhood to a shopping cluster, it’s all here.

We walked up a series of hills yesterday that were so steep that they required steps to be cut into the hillside at several points to allow you to transition through the neighbourhood. I found it a bit startling to emerge from quiet of the dense trees onto a pavement alongside a roaringly loud and busy highway that leads into the Sydney Harbour tunnel. Serious brain spin!

But a few more minutes of walking across that highway’s overpass and we entered an inner city area that was filled with lovely shops, block after block of cafes, and we accidentally discovered a wonderful full-sized mall beneath the busy streets when Mark noticed people descending from the street via an escalator. We were simply curious about where they were all going and we followed them. Less than a minute later, we emerged into a very busy mall complete with upscale shops on multiple levels, lots of cafes, multiple food courts, a full-sized grocery store, a post-office, and quite a few butchers, health food stores, bakeries, and fishmongers. Fascinating to see all of that activity efficiently humming away right beneath the feet of the office workers above.

Now — time for the former city-dweller turned country-mouse turned city-dweller to get out and about for today’s adventures and explorations.

It’s Relative

Posted on | December 20, 2010 | 2 Comments

It’s relative — right? Relative as it relates to the topography? Or was I simply deluding myself?

I have been feeling fitter and healthier this year — able to walk quite vigorously on our flat terrain in Central Victoria for 45 minutes at a time, several days a week, for nine months now. Pneumonia knocked me on my backside for the last few weeks, but I felt like the worst had passed and I was ready to go out there and tackle the world again.

DELUSIONAL!!! I was seriously deluding myself about my real levels of fitness and resilience when I began going up and down the hills in Sydney during the last week and found myself with burning muscles and wheezing like an old steam engine.

How conveniently I had managed to forget that I am no longer a sprightly-springy 20 or 30-something. But the thudding heartbeat and sweaty brow after over an hour of non-stop upsy-downsy movement left me glancing enviously at the twiggy ultra-fit Sydneysiders who live like this all of the time and who strode past me without looking the slightest bit stressed or worn out.

But I didn’t stop today and I didn’t sit down anywhere and I didn’t take a break. Now that we are about to be living a more active life in Europe, it’s time to regain the ability to walk somewhere non-stop for over an hour at a time even if there are hills or steep stairs involved!!!

Oh well — a little bit here and there every day or so and I’ll get there eventually — right??? (sigh!)

Time and Timing

Posted on | December 15, 2010 | No Comments

We’re off — we’re out — we’re on our way!

In my entire life, I have never seen such a perfect set of examples of manifestation at completely the last minute — but the way things unfolded during our last week at our former home in country Victoria in Australia was fairly magical. There are far too many episodes to cite, but a handful include…

1. Every single item of furniture that we had for sale actually sold. (hooray!)
2. Almost every small item sold at the garage sale and the rest went out the door to the local junk shop fellow.
3. Some dear friends in the village allowed us to store a set of chairs and tables until January at their place when the frazzled buyer of those items had a flakey courier company who wanted to tack on a $900 ‘Christmas surcharge’ to do what they had already been contracted to do.
4. Car #1 and tractor sold easily.
5. Car #2 did not sell, but we learned from people that we trust that a very reputable mechanic in the village could take care of getting the roadworthy certificate for us, would sell it for us, and would just deposit the funds electronically into our account. And apparently he has done this for a number of people who were moving overseas in the last few years. Whew!!!

The ‘odd and awful’ aspects of our TIMING with a capital T were that (1) we completely ran out of time and didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to quite a few people, (2) we just about killed ourselves with the packing, moving, cleaning, and (3) I ended up in the hospital with pneumonia.

I am very blessed right NOW though in spite of the amount of medication I’m taking. We are staying with friends in Sydney, the sun is shining brightly, the sea outside the window is sparkling, and I can just relax and get healthy again before we fly to Amsterdam in 2 weeks.

I’ll discuss a few of our plans and where we will be country-wise in the next post.

Life feels better and better. Big old world — here we come!

The Hardest Goodbye

Posted on | November 28, 2010 | No Comments

The days are dwindling down — correction — the days are zooming by. It’s Monday (wee hours of it, anyway!) here in Australia and we have 11 days left until we leave this house.

I’ve set the engine in motion and there is no turning back, thankfully. But the hardest decision that I have made regarding this move was a goodbye that I had to make on Saturday. It was time to find a new home for our gorgeous boy — Baby Ginger — the big, beautiful, 4 and 1/2 year old sweetie that we’ve had since he was a kitten.

Baby Sitting On Front Deck

A bit of serendipity had me visiting the hairdresser after voting in the local elections so that I could make that final appointment for one last cut-and-colour on the day we leave this lovely village.

Sitting there in the chairs was a mother and daughter duo and when I showed them a picture of Baby in the flyer I was getting ready to post around, they looked at one another and then said in unison, “We’ll take him!” And I began to tremble inside as they told me that he was a clone of their own cat who had died. I had asked the universe to send me the right person or persons for our lovely boy, and this was the undeniable reply.

A mere hour later, they were at the door, the bowls and bags of food and litter were gathered, and with a thudding heart and tears streaming down my face, I handed my big-fluffy-sweetie to these two women who each had the dearest, kindest energy. And Baby — whose usual response to people he didn’t know had been known to bolt away from those strangers and hide beneath furniture — sat serenely as they drove away and the teenage daughter scratched his head and spoke quietly to him.

Just writing that was hard. More progress reports in a few days once I am in a better place about it all — promise.

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