Thursday, December 04, 2008

Home Again.

I've just returned from a 10 day trip to Southern California. The past 6 months have left me drained...feeling worn out and frayed at the edges. It was hard to leave my husband...since June the only time we've spent apart were his hospital stays during chemo. But even then I was visiting him every day.

So back to homestead I went. It was...comforting to be taken care of instead of doing the caring. And there is something to be said about spending time with people who know you, who have known you since before you were you. I had the opportunity to visit with a lot of people when I was there, people I hadn't seen in a really long time. And people who probably know and understand me better then most.

I was hoping that visiting California would give me some of my energy and enthusiasm back...and I have to say that while I was there I found both. I'm not so sure I brought much of either back with me (though I sure did bring a lot of other stuff).

It might just be the jetlag talking (or the weather). I was very happy to see my husband when I got back. And the kitties, fatty and bratty. Who wouldn't miss their furry faces?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm currently in California visiting friends and family and generally trying to recover my strength. I haven't had much rest since I've been back- constantly on the go, but it's been wonderful to see old friends and generally be taken care of.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and I was responsible for the turkey. I think it turned out ok! My dad did an admirable job with the carving.

Back to Amsterdam on Sunday...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Cancer Summer is Almost over...

It has been admittedly a very difficult summer. My husband's diagnosis of a Mediastinal Germ Cell tumor in his chest (a rare form of Testicular Cancer) being the main cause. But it hasn't been all bad (says she who didn't go through 4 rounds of BEP chemotherapy). We been inundated with so much love, support and attention that it's hard to feel alone. And we got a new kitten.

On September 11th (a memorable date, I know) we celebrated 9 years of marriage. Lord knows we've had our trials and tribulation (Cancer being a major one, admittedly) but we've made it this far.
But we made it. We also got another on Friday we proudly welcome Pebbels to our house. She took to us like wildfire...although she's taking longer to get used to Freddy our other, slightly larger, fatty katty. It's nice to have something positive to focus on while we wait for the next steps in Maartens cancer treatment.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Man with the Golden Grin

This morning my husband, Maarten, noticed that his hair was starting to come out, one of the unfortunate side effects of Chemotherapy. So he asked our Neighbor, Wim, to shave his head. Of course Maarten also filmed the event, shortly to be seen on, and I walked around taking photos of it, to be found on

It's been a few years since I've seen his hair this short, but I have to say it suits him. Even if I do have to fight the urge to tell him to 'Drop and give me twenty'.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lost and Found Again

When I was a second grader at Eader Elementary school in Huntington Beach, California, I had two best friends: Ena (pictured right, with afro) and Liz (on left in white, with wave bangs). We were in school together, girl scouts, we played barbies would ride to the beach after school and go boogie boarding. In the summers we kept ourselves occupied by riding around, going to the Edison community pool (to see who was brave enough to jump from the high dive) and scrounge around for change so we could get a Big Del burrito at Del Taco.

When we were in 8th grade, my parents had nerve to buy a house in Fountain Valley. It was only 5 miles from Huntington Beach (next town over), but for a 13 year old girl, it might as well have been siberia. Add to the fact that Liz and Ena would be attending Edison High School and I would be attending Fountain Valley High School (fierce football rivals), I'm sure only added to the drama. But we still kept in touch.

As we got older our paths took us in different directions. I went to to the University of the Pacific to play Field Hockey and get a Bachelors Degree from the School of International Studies. While visiting a friend in Amsterdam on my way to a study abroad semester in Spain, I met the love of my life, Maarten Lens( He added the FitzGerald when we married in 1999. After I graduated from UOP in 1994, I moved to Amsterdam to be with Maarten and get a Master's degree in International Business and Marketing, and never left.

Ena moved to New York to attend Pratt Institute and study Architecture. There she met and eventually married Shawn, a set designer. Coincidentally while I was in Madrid, Ena was studying in Rome and came to visit me. She is currently moving from New Jersey back to Huntington Beach with Shawn and their two beautiful children. Ena and I have stayed in close touch through the years. I never laugh more then when I am on the phone with Ena and we do the 'Remember when's'. Almost no one else can tell me to get a grip on myself better than her. She knows me better then most people (perhaps since we've been friends for 28 years).

Liz and I maintained sporadic contact after high school and after I moved to Amsterdam. The last time I saw her was about 6 years ago. In 2000 she spent a lot of time soul seached and decided to convert to Islam. At her mosque she met and married her husband, who is from Tunesia. When we last met she was pregnant with her first child (her daughter, who is now 6). She has since had another child (a son, who is 2). I have heard bits of her life here and there from Ena and Ena's mom, but I think almost every conversation I have with Ena always included Liz in one way or another because she is such an integral part of our childhood.

Last night I was checking my e-mail when I saw that Elizabeth wanted to become my friend on Facebook. Elizabeth who? The message was from Liz, my old friend! I contacted her immediately and as soon as I heard her voice it was like coming home. I think we just picked up where we left off. Incredible.

Both of the girls will be in Huntington Beach this summer visiting their families. I am hoping to go for a visit, but it all depends, of course, on how it goes with my husband's chemo. He finishes on September 8th with his last round.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Maarten's Journey Begins

It's strange to think that my husband is on this new path, separate from me. For the past 15 years we have done almost everything together. But this is a new path for him to take. I will follow him on it, carry him if I need to, but it's his path, not mine.

I also find it strange to be in the house without him. I know it's only for a few days but I find myself listening for the sound of him arriving home and locking up his bike, or outside chatting with the neighbors. That will happen again soon enough. As long as Theo is gone.

This morning I went to the hospital at 9.30 and brought him a ham and cheese Croissant, then sat with him until lunch time. Tonight Fran and OA are picking me up so we can go for a visit. I've made him some food. He's starting to feel a little naseous, but it makes me feel better to know he has some decent food.

Off to the hospital...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Theo the Tumor vs BEP the destroyer

Round 1

My husbands tumor is treatable. What a relief! I was able to expel a breathe this afternoon I didn't even realize I was holding in (although I'm sure my friends were aware of it, just nice enough to let me live in my favorite country of Egypt...floating down de nile...). God bless my friends (Fran and Iris have been particularly lovely), my family (my sister and mom are ready to jump on an 11 hour flight if I say the word) and my neighbors (ever present, always making sure we are well).
We will get a confirmation on the diagnoisis on Monday, and he will most likely go into the hospital at the end of next week for his first round of Chemo (BEP), which will mean a 6 day stay.

To keep his mood up while In there I've ordered an enlarged version of this photo for his hospital room.

Freddy always makes him smile.

Although his first question about the hospital visit was, 'Will I have internet access?'

Love my husband's ability to get down into it.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It will be a long tunnel, but at least I can see the light.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting...

NOT anticipating.

Just waiting.

Slightly Hesitating

More waiting

Both tired and slightly fading,

From all the waiting

Love from friends is certaining aiding

Then we will all be (hopefully) CELEBRATING

Tomorrow we will hear if there is more waiting...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Biopsy over, Now the Waiting begins

Biopsy on Monday went well (as can be expected) Now we are waiting until this evening for the results and next steps.

We have had such an outpouring of love and positivity from family and friends that it is at time overwhelming, yet comforting to be wrapped in it.

Last night we had a few friends and family members over for a BBQ. It was a lovely evening and Maarten relaxed and enjoyed himself.
Tonight around 20.00 cet we should know which way the wind will be blowing.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Blowing Bubbles in Italy

Just got back from a weekend in italy to attend a friend (one of the best)'s wedding. Jeanine and Luca married at a beautiful location in Mombaruzzo Italy. The sun was shinning, the prosecco was plentiful and we blew bubbles

The wedding was lovely and the trip accoplished what we needed most at the time; distraction. Honestly if we had written a description of our ideal weekend PT (pre-tumor) it would have been this past weekend: Beautiful location (Italy) Lovely Hotel (La Villa Hotel), Great Food and wine (Italy!) Wonderful Friends and...wait for Outlet Mall! Yes! We had everything. Lens was happy to buy his Prada sandals and I was happy with my Onstuka Tigers.

The bride was gorgeous as was the groom equally so. What a lovely couple.

Anyway, we are off to get a biopsy

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Everything changes in a second

My beloved husband went to the doctor yesterday morning because he had a cough that wouldn't go away and was having trouble breathing. After being sent to the hospital for an X-Ray, CT Scan and bloodwork, turns out he has a tumor the size of two fists sitting between his lungs on top of his heart.

Monday he will get a biopsy to see if this is a bad tumor or a good tumor. As good as a tumor can be, lets hope for the latter.

Yesterday morning we woke up looking forward to our trip to Italy this weekend for a close friends wedding. This morning (didn't really sleep much) all we can think about is 'The Thing'(as my husband has baptised it) in his chest.

We don't know anything yet, just that it's there.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

An Orange Sunset in Amsterdam

The sunset was quite beautiful here in Amsterdam a few weeks ago. My husband called and said I should get outside and take pictures of it. So I grabbed my camera and rang my neighbors bell. While I have the luxury of a large garden in the middle of the city, my neighbors, Wim and Carolien, and their two sons Mischa and Benjamin, have a roof terrace on the 3rd floor (4th American floor, as here the first floor is the ground floor, where I live). So I went up to their roof terrace and took a few photos of the sunset:

Kind of eerie, but beautiful view from the rooftop..

While I was up on the roof, I heard my cat go through the cat door. I leaned over the railing and said hello to him. He looked up and started meowing quite urgently (my kitty is quite the whiner..fits right into our family!). I laughed and said goodbye to him, then went downstairs and chatted with my neighbor for a few minutes. When I got back downstairs I went outside to see if Freddy the cat was still in the garden. I couldn't find him until I looked up and saw him sitting on the railing of my neighbors balcony. I think he was trying to get to the roof terrace!

Crazy cat. He was quite chill later that evening, hanging out with my husband Maarten on the couch:

He's crazy but we love him!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Finding My Muse

In my life there are two things that inspire me to take pictures: My bubbelah and my garden.

I like to say that 'the Furball is my muse'...Freddy (my cat) is a special cat to me and my husband. He is a crazy cat; neurotic, whiny, sweet and loveable and I try to capture images that express that.

The other thing that also inspires me is plants. I love gardening and when the weather starts to get better I get an itch to go out and be in my garden and take pictures of my favorite plants (Japanese Maples, Peonies and roses, currently). It is February, so my garden is a bit bare right now, but I have big plans...and this year a wide angle lens to capture it all!

And, the garden in winter is such a great place to store your beer!

Still, looks pretty good for February!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Saying Goodbye to my (second) favorite lens

I had a heart-stopping moment during our Christmas trip through California. Well, maybe it didn't stop but it did break a little. Let me splain. Photography has been an on again off again love affair for several years, but in the past 2 years it's started to get serious. in 2005 I got a Canon EOS digital Rebel XT (350D) and the affair took a step towards a serious commitment. After a few years of taking photos of EVERYTHING, I decided I was ready to actually get some equipment. For my birthday last year my husband and friends bought me a Tamron 18-200mm wide-angle zoom lens. It was my first (non-kit) lens. And we always remember our first, don't we? We had a good year together before it all fell apart (literally..).

I was at my cousin's house in Genoa, Nevada. It's a beautiful little town nestled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, just down the mountain from Lake Tahoe.

I was up early (mountain air and jet lag) taking photos of the rural landscape. I had put my new camera (Canon Digital Rebel XTi -EOS 400D) with my 18-200mm Lens on a tripod. I was just putting the dogs away when a big gust of wind came and blew the tripod over. I watched in horror as the camera landed, Lens first, on the frozen ground and broke in two. I ran over, picked up the pieces and held them above my head, shouting 'Why? God! Why?'...... well, ok, not quite so dramatic. I did pick up the pieces of my broken heart, uh, Lens and walked inside to show my actual favorite husband (who's called Lens).

I carried my grief around with me on the rest of my trip. Sighing dramatically when photographing a blue sky- as the polarizing lens filter I had didn't fit on my kit lens... or because the 18-55mm kit lens didn't zoom to 200mm like my, sigh, Tameron did. Well, you get the picture.

But life goes on, and, like most things that happen, we learn things about ourselves in retrospect. As in some commited relationships, I realized that I was outgrowing my lens (not my husband, thank god!). After taking a photography class I realized that the lens I had was a good one, but I was ready to move one, to develop myself, and that my Tameron 18-200mm was a bit slow on the aperature side (F3.5). It just wasn't enough for me anymore (thank goodness that due to it's early demise, we never had to have THAT conversation).
When I look at the photos I took on my trip, I began to realize that some of the best photos I took were with the kit Lens. I started to understand that maybe it was ME taking those amazing pictures and not just my Lens.
Everything happens for a reason. I learned a lot from my Tameron Lens and it was there for me at a crucial stage in my photographic development. But I've moved on. I am waiting for a Canon EFF 50mm 1.8 and I've already purchased a Tameron 11-18mm wide angle lens with the insurance money I received for my broken Lens. But I won't forget it. We always remember our first (uh...Lens, that is...I mean to say, first zoom lens that wasn't in the kit)

In the meantime I still take photos of my muse...the furball in action. I can't wait for spring!


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I have just returned from a 3 week whirlwind trip through California. During that time, I think I visited almost every person I am related to in California and Nevada! Fortunately I had the change to take a few photos on the way.

Before flying back to the US, I took a 10 week photography course (here in Amsterdam) and an important lesson I learned was...If you don't stop to take pictures, you will never get better. Now, I don't mean snapshots of your family alone, I mean seeing something beautiful and trying to transpose that image on to a digital chip.

Did my photography course help? Absolutely. But then so did the location and the practice. Knowing how my camera works helps me technically, but California provided the rest. The buildings, the beaches, the sunsets, the mountains, it was all so....majestic. And I think a few of my photos turned out ok...

Huntington Beach Pier at Sunset

The Disney Concert Hall

Tess and Rosie in Genoa, Nevada

Taking beautiful photos in California isn't much of a challenge. There is so much to work with, you just have to point and click. Literally.

This photo was taken from inside a car

Holland does have beautiful nature, but it's not as gracefully present as it is in California. Now my challenge is to see the Netherlands in all of it's natural beauty and capture that on camera. Will I find what I am looking for?