The source unveiled

The sketchOne good thing of being a portrait is that I become 37 every year.
The date to celebrate my birthday (November 30) is always a battle with our Dutch Sinterklaas on December 5. He and I both want the closest Saturday evening to see our family and friends. Usually HE is the winner. I presume because he is supposed to hand out gifts and I grab gifts …
Sometimes I don’t even try to make arrangements and wait what will happen.
And as usual; if you don’t expect anything, everybody is popping up. So I had a wonderful evening last Saturday with a lot of thoughtful gifts.

One of the gifts I want to write about here, is a book called ‘the Drawing Lab’. It’s a guide to dig up your creativity. For some reason I never could find the time, reason or inspiration to draw. I always got inspiration at the wrong moments. For example; like in the stationery store if I see the covers of all those crazy cool notebooks. Once at home my inspiration is gone, because of the laundry, the cooking or the drumming neighbour.

The drawing Lab has 52 weird and funny exercises. The first exercise was to spend 10 minutes drawing as many cats in as many positions as you can think of, while laying in bed! Then pick a favorite and redraw it again using several other materials. There were some more steps, but this is the tone setting.
It worked. How easy was that?! Soon I didn’t follow the directions anymore and I was playing with white acrylic and ink on some decorated paper. And I was quite proud on my humble results. I even found some old frames to properly display them.

I’m not sure if I will write a blog about it every week, but I certainly keep you up to date.

Fixed gap

The sketchIt’s a sour fact that me and my parents don’t have a firm bond. As long as I remember I’m secretly convinced that I’m not their biological child, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who is thinking so.
Of course when I was younger I made some insinuations, wrapped in a joke or shouted out in an argument, but I never got a clue in return.
Just because of that vague distance between me and my parents I have never seriously tried to find out if my thoughts were true. For some reason it feels a bit ridiculous to do, if you are 37 years old already. What can you do more than what you did as a kid? Force your parents down and stick a cotton bud in their mouth, to swab some dna???

Another suspicious fact is that there are no baby photos of me. The story is that during the messy period after my parent’s divorce, some photo albums were lost. So, I don’t know what I looked like as a baby.
Those days my mother had stored up her stuff on the attic of grandmother’s. Several times I have asked them to get the albums off for me, but there was always a reason to postpone.

Granny died when I was 18 and my mother and me had to clean out the house. That was my chance! But after thoroughly inspecting mum’s stuff, no albums were found! I was totally upset and mad at my mum at that time.
But to my surprise it turns out that it is possible to live your life without baby photo’s. It would have been nice, but it’s no drama.
I didn’t think about it anymore.

Until yesterday.
On the internet I bumped on a picture that made me stare at it for a 5 full minutes. I gasped … and I knew THAT’S ME!!!
Well, of course in reality it is not me. I mean … duh, Afghanistan?!
I could not find a source, so I don’t know the name of the photographer, but I guess this snapshot was taken not so long ago. At least not 37 years ago.

Anyhow, I printed this beautiful photo, framed it, put it on my shelf and embraced the baby as being me.
Click on it to compare!

Somewhere in Afghanistan ...

How’s that?

The first sketchAfter reading your letter I have been speechless and confused for a couple of days. I’m still not ready to reply, but I won’t let you wait any longer.

Oddly, I never have imagined that things could fall back to how they were. It felt like a dead person has risen (and you still look good, haha).
Well, in reality of course things cannot fall back into how it was before. Not exactly. It has been 3 years. We both have changed. Yes, you won’t believe; even I -who still lives the same life, same job, same house- have changed.
After you left us, I picked up my old life from the hook. And strangely enough, that old life was nòt changed. It was waiting there in the same shabby cast as I left it 15 years earlier. And now I have added 3 new years to it.
So, you left me at 52. I went back to 37. And now I’m 40, instead of 55. You are so lucky!

You are lucky, if I would let you (evil grin).

If I start thinking about a possible reunion, my brain stops working. It’s not that I don’t wànt you back. You may know I have missed you terribly and the first months were horrible. It’s more that it scares me to gain again what I can lose again. Can you understand?

So, that’s where I stand now. I don’t know what to answer …
Maybe we better not start where we ended, but start if we are two strangers with coincidentally some mutual acquaintances, known as Errol and Tamara.

Dear Errol


Although I haven’t written any comments these last weeks, be I surely followed your trip around the IJsselmeer with great interest.
After reading your first blog I was in shock. Don’t worry, it’s not my intention to rub in your weight, I just want to explain what happened in my mind after this info was sunken in.

Of course the last few years I noticed a slight change. You have always been a more or less 240 pounder and in the pictures Donna showed me I noticed you had gained even a bit more. But, your poses in the pictures were always taken partly in the dark, or you acted funny behind curtains, wore covering coats or you were blocked by other people … I wasn’t blind, but the gravity (sorry pun) of the transformation was excellently hidden.
Especially the load of the shock, made me comprehend I had to admit something to myself. It accelerated my suppressed thoughts. The worries about your health made me realise how much you are still a part of me.

We both know that I’ve always missed my sudden interrupted life in Virginia. It was my own decision to move to the Netherlands for the birth of Donna, and I was expecting our bond would grow. It did. But it didn’t replace my homesickness. Somewhere in the back of my mind I never got rid of the feeling that I was on the wrong place. Although I loved you and our baby to bits, a little voice told me this was not the plan for my own life.

After almost 16 years Donna started to need us less. She was such an independent kid and we knew soon she would leave the nest. She had advanced plans for studying at the other end of the country.
The job offer I got from my former boss in Virginia, came a bit too early, but it was a big chance for me to go back to the USA on a comfortable base. I went. To find out if my nagging feeling was right.
I have enormously enjoyed the company of my old friends and family and Donna visited me twice a year for a longer and intense period.
But for the second time, I felt I was on the wrong spot.

“Did I do the right thing to leave you and Donna? Was it my departure that caused so much unbalance? And after these 3 years, could I be able to reunite our parting ways?”
In other words; Do you allow me to cook for you again?
For, let’s say … another 16 years?

Last two days

The first sketchI thought I had booked just nothing more than a luxury hotel room with swimming pool after my voyage through hell. But when checking in, the lady at the desk asked me if I wanted to book some of the arrangements.
The building looked awesome with all those interesting lighted areas, but I hadn’t any notion what kind of arrangements were done there. For a second I thought I had made an embarrassing mistake, until she started telling about their fabulous buffet, their sauna, the massages, the hammam, the pedicure, the solarium, etcetera, etcetera.
For some reason I got stuck at the word ‘buffet’ and didn’t understand the rest of her velvet words. Without knowing it I apparently start hypnotized nodding.

I ended up with a sauna/spa session, where thank God nobody saw me. Don’t blame me; I’m a virgin in the world of naked appearance in public, you know. Then there was a lunch that I anxiously tried to lengthen with a bottle of burgundy, but in spite of the fact I wore the same white bathrobe as everybody else in that area, they found me and 4 bodybuilders came to take me away. They brought me to the pedicure to carve my hoofs into human feet. I have to say they created two impressive pieces of art.
The next arrangement was an introduction to yoga, some fresh wine to bring me back in my comfort zone, followed by a deep black out.

The chilly next morning, back in the saddle, it was like I had woken up from an uneasy dream.
A few kilometers before my house I knew a bench located hidden off the road. I put my bike against the back, sat down and pulled of my shoes and socks … the carving was still there, with shiny red nails.

At Mum’s & Muiden

The first sketchAfter arriving last Sunday night at Mum’s, it would be too cruel to left immediately on Monday. So I had a break. Not mentioning that I wanted my laundry got done.
I repaired the light in the toilet (pooping in complete darkness needs some practise) and I tidied up the garden a little bit.
While Mum confessed me that I am an adopted Chinese boy, I cooked her favourite dinner (Brussels sprouts with apple, onion, garlic, ginger and chilli with fried potatoes on the side).

I have been fed, boosted, refreshed and pampered, but I still had some things on my list. So Tuesday I headed to Muiden, because there were a couple of inviting tours to do at the ‘Muiderslot’.
The most animating part of the show was the falconer. I’m not sure if the whopping falcon liked me.
After visiting the impressing rooms of castle (700 years old) I have slept on this sailing ship.
And thàt … was OUTSTANDING!!!

If I’ve finished my coffee, right here, right now, I’m heading to the last part of my holiday. I’m very looking forward and curious to my new target and I have an inkling I will be the only male …..

Urk & Lelystad

The first sketchDonna warned me that grandma was angry because I left Donna home alone …
Donna is 18!
My aunties always have said that my Mum is peeved off since the day she has given birth to me.

I have to do a confession; I seriously considered to use the train for this part of my trip … The long way to Lelystad & the reunion with Mum is a lot to bear for 1 day, ha. But the railway makes a huge loop to the wrong side of the country. It didn’t make sense to sit in the train for the same amount of hours as sitting on my bicycle seat.
There is one propitious point … this home-hotel allows me to ‘check in’ late.

My stop-over was in Urk. The weather was not too bad. My drive was not too bad. Lunch was not too bad. And the location was hunky dory. But at the end of the day I was more tired than I ever have been this week.
Tired, fully cracked and stinking, but … Mum let me in 😉

Makkum & Lemmer

The first sketchAfter I had left Zurich on Friday, I trudged my way to my first stop. I’ve never realized Makkum has a beach!!! I was surprised. And a beautiful little centre too. It was tempting to stay for another day (my butt is starting to crack), but I didn’t pedal enough kilometres yet.

It was a good decision to travel further to Lemmer, because there was a kind of ‘after-summer-party’ going on. Classic cars were shown, music was played on the streets, old sailing boats are bobbing, and the aroma of fresh smoked gurnard was tantalizing my nose.
Lemmer has a quite large and busy harbour. There was a big fair and people were showing different old crafts and traditional costumes.
All done to please ME 🙂
At night all the boats in the harbour were illuminated. It was a beautiful evening to hang around and doing nothing bad.

Today I have to bike a nasty distance to Lelystad. Almost 4 hours! I want to visit my 90 years old Mum. Hope she wants to do my laundry 😉

I did it!

The first sketchThe Afsluitdijk is 32 kilometers long and there is water on both sides until the very far horizon. However, on the cycle track you have a view on only 1 horizon, because the other side is the dike and the highway.
Anyway, it was drizzling and I felt alternating pitiful & tough.

At some point I saw a promising sign along the road; I reached a new region now: Friesland, but I was still not halfway … (rain stopped & breeze in the back).
But I made it. I am a GORILLAH!
So, at night I played billiards and slept in de Steenen Man in Zurich.

Glad the sun is shining this morning!

Just before the Big Crossing

The first sketchI was told there was a market in Wieringerwerf, so yesterday I pinned this as my next fuel stop. What turns out as a bummer, because despite of my fast forward, I was too late.
Sitting on a bench I enjoyed the treats I bought in the bakery museum shop that morning, and watched the dismantling of the stalls. Hm!

I cycled further to Hippolytushoef where I bought something for somebody in the fairtrade shop, put it in the mailbox to somewhere and then arrived at Den Oever at 5:30 PM.
That has been quite a nasty work out, because in the meantime the weather was changed in chilly & wet and the rest of the world seems to be totally desolated.
I found my companion in restaurant De Dikke Bries. Wine, wine … I need some expensive red wine. Because I’m worth it!!!

After a comfort drink and a comfort talk with another big guy, I booked for 1 night in B&B ‘de Waddenzee’. Nothing extraordinary, just a bed and a morning coffee. But before I fell on the sheets at midnight, I first -how surprising- ended up in café ‘de Houtzolder.
When I stepped into the accustomed atmosphere, I vaguely had the same feeling as last Friday and last Sunday. “Better not do this. Better not being here. Better do some reading and some uhhh, pfff … meditation!”

Now it is the next morning and after I finished this blog, I have to go back to the café, hoping they have found my sunglasses.
Not that I need them at this moment, but hope keeps me going.

Kind of happy

The first sketchThe day I sadly left Oriana in Alkmaar, the weather was beautiful and I felt my paunch was melting off.

Halfway my planned route to Medemblik, I made some pictures in Broek op Langedijk. I learned that in the earlier days the auction for the farmers could be literally entered by boat!

A short time later I passed an awesome building what is called the Kremlin. It’s a kind of castle, all built by one guy and done just for fun. I found a vid on YT, because the weirdness was too much for a simple photo.

I was quite worn out at the end of that day and I was over the moon by founding a terrific little house to fall asleep at child’s bedtime.

The next morning I woke up way too early. At 7:15 AM already (I seldom experiencing that time in consciousness) I saw a dramatic sunrise scene with ‘gemaal Lely’ as main character. A nice 1930 building.

The peacefulness of the scene made me deciding of staying another night and planning to do some shopping in Medemblik. A book store and museum, yeahhh.

In the morning I started with a visit to the steam engine museum. If you are a lady, don’t click. It’s just boring male stuff.

After I made it to escape from the guy who couldn’t stop talking about his passion of steamy things, I hid in a book store for hours 😉 For me a book store is like being on an other planet for a little while. I’m always a bit disoriented after stepping back into the streets. Like waking up and uneasily wondering: “What was the bad thing again today?”
Unfortunately I was limited in my purchases (desperately trying to keep the comfort with me), because I have to carry it with me for at least another week.
At the end of the day I wasn’t in the mood for a restaurant, so I picked up some Chinese food and read my new magazines in my little house.

This shiny morning, I bought some delicious treats in the ‘bakery museum’. I couldn’t resist to take a little look. I have to earn the treats with heavy exercise, so … heading to Wieringerwerf.

Left in Alkmaar

The sketch

The visit of Errol was an absolutely joy. I don’t know any other person with the same mix of humour, innate refinement and such a wide interest.
Oh, wait … Yes.
I know another one; Me!
If we hadn’t our weird personal issues, we would be a perfect couple. For now we decided we are a perfect couple -let’s say- twice a year, for a perfect couple of days.

The first idea was that Errol left the next morning, but I didn’t look forward to a lonely Sunday. So I asked him to stay another day. If you can get a finger, why not grab the whole hand? Luckily he can’t say no.

Because initially his visit was intended to taste my pepper tea, he surprised me with a gorgeous teapot. I was stunned. And now I’m greedy for more of this awesome brand of crockery.

Leaving Alkmaar

The first sketchAfter Oriana created a delicious meal last Saturday, we went to a farewell party of her neighbours because of their move to New Zealand. They were surprised to see me, because 10 years ago I was the owner of Oriana’s house and of course they still knew me from those days.

Sunday the weather was beautiful and Oriana decided that I should stay another day in Alkmaar. Because of my holiday and the sunshine we felt like tourists in our own city and so we did an old-fashioned canal tour.
Then we had dinner at ‘the Vestibule’ and hung around there too long. That was my third LATE night!
It’s high time for me to leave this devilish area. My target for today is Medemblik.
CU later …

Test drive The Hague

The first sketchAfter my three-part monologue I can’t withhold the result of the paint job. And we lived happily ever after.
Now I’m back in the presence.
Yesterday I was still dizzy of the gig Errol and I did the night before; from the hip and off-the-cuff! But I decided to go to the ‘Saturday Night Cruise‘ anyway. It was the last time before the winter stop, so no chance to postpone any more.

I think hope the fuel tank is finally free of leaks, but maybe my optimism will be destroyed after visiting the gas station; Friday night I parked the Lincoln 50 metres before my drive because the fuel gauge said no.

First 2 days cycling

The first sketchFriday late morning, time of departure! I decided my first stop had to be IJmuiden. On the map I saw this was attainable in 1,5 hours cycling. Just in time for lunch. You need to know; the prospects of eating moments are keeping me going. I couldn’t remember I ever have cycled 1,5 hours in my life.

I arrived at 2 PM.
I confess … I took me 2,5 hours. Included 2 mini stops to stare at the grazing cows. But, it wasn’t bad. I still felt good and the weather was not too windy.
I ordered a lunch in Hotel Augusta. Just 1, haha. Read some magazines, and after 2 hours I left again, heading Castricum.

And Castricum … became quite a wild thing soon.

I got the dunes in sight before 6 PM. I put my bike at the beach access and was hoping that nobody was interested in the bags fully packed with underwear and socks. I squeezed out a last bit of energy for a little stroll along the sea. I preferred to lay down (I can perfectly imitate a whale on the beach), but first I felt the need to reset some body parts. After a total of 4 hours cycling, my bottom felt like a dead-end.

At dusk I picked up my bags from my bike and entered one of the large wooden decks of the restaurants on the beach. Finally, feeding time! The crowd inside fell silent when my appearance in the doorway locked out the last daylight. Or maybe it were the enormous bikers bags I was dragging with me.
There was only a large shared table available, so I drew up beside another stag.

While I was studying the menu, the whisky drinking stag ordered another glass and shove it to me. And that’s where it all started going wrong. … More out of habit than politeness I ordered a seafood dish for two (all for me) and the guy beside me joined in the bite. I smiled.
He asked me what was in the bikers bags and I asked him what was in his guitar-shaped box … (a magazine and battery cables).

After emptying three-quarters of a bottle, we sung ‘Black Betty’ in karaoke, to the great enjoyment of the other guests.
By the way of thanks for the fish, Edgar provided me illegal access to an empty beach cabin. So I didn’t need to search for a hotel at 2 AM.

After an early wake up in the beach cabin, I had to wait ’till 9 before I could buy a morning coffee to wash down the taste of dead mouse … 40 kilometres and 40% alcohol doesn’t go well together.
I did a chilly beach walk and even found a kind of public shower, made of tin watering cans and a garden hose on a pole. I didn’t dare to use it.

This Saturday I only need to do the distance to Oriana in Alkmaar. That is less than 1 hour cycling for today. More than enough.
Before I knocked on her door (and taking a real shower and writing this blog), I did some shopping in the centre.

Black sunday

The first sketchToday I’ve hit the 150 kilo.
That is not the best news to start a blog.
Hmm, at least it’s a milestone. A point of no return.
But, there is some good news too. I will bike it off! I need to reduce myself to 66% from what I am now.
My holidays are starting next Friday and I’m planning a bike trip around the IJsselmeer. Yes. Me. Fat and untrained. But no worries … it is 300 kilometres and I will do it in 2 weeks.

To encourage myself I bought a brand new bikers bag and put it on my dinner table, in front of my plate.

My first bad trip

The first sketchSo, they saved her. The gold metallic one. Born in 1969.
The next friday Alvaro drove me to the far north, to pick her up.

The way back was the first time in my life I drove an automatic transmission car. And the trip home was a 2,5 hours drive. So, yes, it was a bad trip. I bumped, rattled and jumped through the streets. Mechanically the car was ok, but I needed to get used to the 2 pedals, in stead of 3. I constantly kicked the wrong ones. And every mistake made me more nervous. The general opinion of real men was that automatic transmissions were for grannies. That were the little painful reactions on my ravings, I thoroughly tried to deny the last couple of months. But my driving style at that evening looked very granny.
Beside that, the springs in the seat had broken. I am tall, but I almost sat on the floor. Alvaro, who was driving behind me, said: “It looked like nobody was in the car. And then it moved like a jerking duck.” I was glad I hadn’t seen his constantly diabollical laugh in my rear mirror.
It was dark already, and cold and foggy, so while I was stretching my back as long as possible, at the same time I maniacally turned every exotic button on the dashboard trying to find the one to heat the windshield.

Sandpapered and nakedSeven months after that night, I slowly and carefully undressed her from all her shiny parts. I stripped the window trims, bumpers, light trims, door handles and hub caps and drove her to the sprayer. The metallic paint was so aged and faded, it was more a kind of matt beige powder. She needed to be sandpapered down to the naked metal and redone in new primer and fresh metallic. Also some dents should be beated and filled.
This job would take weeks. Actually, almost 3 months! Another summer without an ego-matching car!!! I’ve cried my eyes out.

The purchase

The first sketchMy hunt had started. In first place the hunt for money. In the worst scenario I had to steal it, but in any case I had to have it. Soon.
Slowly I became ruthless. I could not think & talk about anything else. So, in the summer of 1997 I lost all my friends.

Every month I spelled the ads in the car magazines. In September I had checked at least 6 Lincolns in real, all over the country. Most of them looked too neglected. Dusty, rusty, dented, torn interiors, flat tyres … one car even had no engine inside!
After every review I cried louder on my way back. And no friends to comfort me.

For some reason I stuck to private sellers and skipped the specialised shops, thinking the last ones were too expensive. But at the end of October there was not much choice left. The specialised guys imported the cars from the USA and at least their cars were running and fixed up to an acceptable level for sale.

The shop I visited in the far north-east, was a crossing between a large hall and a workshop. There were around 40 American classics available. One third was parked outside in the cold rain. Mind they came from steamy hot California!
Our marriage certificateThere were 4 Lincolns eligible and I spent at least 3 hours to sit in them, to sit ON them, to open every hood, trunk, booth, bonnet and lid of them, to talk to them, to squeeze them, to kick them and even … oh joy … turn on the ignition.
The specialised guys were patient with me. Almost like friends.

On my way back home I made my choice. I should buy the ‘gold’ one.
I would call the guys on Monday. To save her for me.

My first love

The first sketchThe car I drove ...This blog is antedated to 1997. I wanted to try if it is possible to step into a digital time machine, to tell you about my fist love.

On my 21st birthday, a few months after I got my driver’s license, I drove my lousy old Fiat onto a busy intersection in Alkmaar and I was waiting for the traffic lights. I hated my job and was glad the weekend has just started.
Staring to nothing specific, my eyes suddenly got caught by a shiny, long, black beauty, cruising by from the right. It looked tremendously vicious and dignified at the same time and I was paralysed. By pure love.
In retrospect I think it was me who invented the phrase OMG in the year of 1997! For one eternal moment I felt every single fiber of my body being alive.

There was nothing else I wanted more than to follow that car, to find out what brand it was. But I was locked in, in the traffic and I wasn’t able to chase the phenomenon close enough to read the characters on the trunk, what was shaped like there was a too large wheel inside.
At home I excitedly told my Dad I had seen God’s car and I described it as far as I could. He attentively listened to my rant and later that night he came to me with The Car Bible. Thumbing through the book I found her. The Lincoln Continental Mark III.
It felt like I discovered a new body part.