Volunteering for the Local Animal Shelter – Foster Mommy for a Day

To everyone who knows me this is no news: I love dogs! Always did and always will. They are amazing companions, and nothing can replace their friendship and the well known happy wagging tail.

I think we all have some extra love to spare, so why not share it?

A few days ago I found out about a local shelter, so I emailed them asking if I can volunteer and help out with the dogs. I couldn’t be happier when they said yes, so today I went there to meet my first furry baby.


Sharky going for a walk

My adoptive baby for today was Sharky, a 9 years old, very shy but sweet Sharpei.

Sitting in a small space all day isn’t fun, so a long walk through the woods definitely improved his mood, and mine. It’s nice to have the love and trust of a dog, even if only for a short while.

I must say I impressed most of all with the number of people volunteering on a daily basis to walk the dogs. Either students or retired people, they go see the dogs and improve their life for a few hours. They are quite lucky pups to get some daily exercise and love, from so many locals!

doefes found a home

Doefes goes to a new loving home

At first you believe it’s all about giving, but I got back more today than I wished for. Besides making Sharky’s life a little better, I made a new friend, who adopted one of the dogs from the shelter, named Doefes. I’m very happy for them, and I hope more dogs will share a similar wonderful experience of finding a good loving home.

Now that the holidays season is fast approaching, if you consider adding a new furry member to your family, please consider adoption from the local shelter. So many loving dogs are in need of a good home, that it’s worth trying that first, before going to a breeder. The dogs will very much appreciate it, and I’m sure there’s a dog out there waiting for you!

Also, please remember that a dog is not only for Christmas, but forever. It’s a 15 years or longer commitment, so please do not adopt if you believe that’s too long for you. Seeing so many pets in shelters, is a very depressing view…

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Rudolph Gets A New Nose

rudolph's nose

Contact me to buy an original painting or a very high quality reproduction on canvas 

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Who am I?

You are confronted with this question no matter where you go, who you meet or which website you visit. You are asked to describe yourself, say who you are in order for people to get to know you better.

For most of us, this is the most difficult question anyone can ever ask. The answer is never easy so we need time to think, and the answer we come up with, is almost always a reply to the question: ‘What we do’, not ‘Who we are’. The more you look at the answers of others to this question, the more variety you see, and the more you realize the problems we have, trying to find an answer to what seems as a very easy question.

youre-a-ghost-driving-a-meat-coated-skeleton-made-from-stardustWe identify ourselves with our religion, educational history, marital status, career, passions, birthplace, nationality, relation with our family members, looks and many others similar to this. You will hear answers similar to: ‘I am a Christian’ or ‘I am a writer’ or ‘I am a mother of … many children’. But are these a reflection of who we really are as individuals or a reflection of what do we do in life and how we interact with others?

Who really are you, at the deepest of your existence, without relating to anything and anyone else? Who are you, as identity, without association? Is our brain even capable of coming up with an answer, which doesn’t use other elements to describe ourselves or without replying instead, with ‘what do we do’?

Whenever we talk about an object, animal, person or nature, we use other elements common to us, to relate to, and describe it. We need to compare it with someone/something else, in order to find a spot for it, in the natural order. If something isn’t easy to add to a specific category, it’s a misfit, and we’re not sure how to deal with it. Describing it becomes much harder, and accepting its existence even harder.

When we describe something or someone, in order to make it stick better in our memory, we’ll think: ‘ it looks similar to… it’s bigger or smaller / taller or shorter thank I am, the hair is darker or lighter’.  Most of the times, remembering only the color or shape isn’t enough. When we try to remember the location of something, we first have to remember the location of something close by, in order to give a precise reply about the  location of the object we’re interested in. Our brains can’t help it but to make connections with other familiar elements.

“The human body is 90% water. We are basically cucumbers with anxiety.” 

cucumbers with aniety

We apply the same principles when it comes to telling someone about ourselves. When we think about who we are, we can’t help it but think about our passions, job, likes and dislikes, environment. Because we can’t really describe something so complex without turning to familiarity, we have troubles not telling someone what do we do, when we’re actually trying to tell them who we really are.

It seems like our minds are limited when it comes to giving such a complex answer, especially when we put a daily effort into guiding who we are, towards an idealistic self, which we want to reach. We try to change who we are through clothes, possessions, media, without realizing we can’t really change the core of our being.

In this huge Universe, the right chemical components came together during just the right chemical reaction, forming life, which eventually evolved into you. Our true identity is much more than our minds can conceive.

Our first contact with ourselves, happens when we’re born, and we learn how to work with our bodies. For the first time, we identify ourselves with a body. Even from a very young age, when we know nothing about DNA, we know that every person is unique, and we start to recognize our family members by the way they look or sound.

Even if, from a molecular point of view, we’re all built in the same way, those few small differences makes every single one of us unique. From a molecular point of view, we’re all a small individual Universe!

More exposure, experiences and more contact takes us from ‘I am a body’ to  ‘I am a multitude of bodies’, into one. We become more individuals under the same self, all from a different stage of our lives, each and every single ones of them, with their own passions and needs. We are a variety of ideas and elements, united under the same person. And still, all we can think of when we’re being asked ‘who we are’ is … what we do.

So, who are you, if you remove religion, race, nationality, marital status,  passions, career and any similar elements from your thoughts?

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Kasteel de Haar – Christmas Market in Medieval Atmosphere

The largest castle in the Netherlands , situated close to Utrecht, is one of the most luxurious castles in Europe, home of many art objects and fascinating towers, suspension bridges and amazing gardens.


Short History

The first records of the castle date back to 1391, when it was owned by De Haar family. Later on, the castle was passed to the Van Zuylen family, in 1440.

The castle had a rough life, and was burned down and destroyed almost completely, only to be rebuilt in the 1500’s. The last major work done to this fascinating construction was done in 1887 though, restoration which lasted for 20 years, in which the interior and last ruins were brought back to life, by Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt and his wife.

With  200 rooms and 30 bathrooms, the castle is quite an impressive construction. However, a very small part of it is open to the public. Even so, the beauty of the few rooms available to tourists, makes it all worth it!

The Inside

kitchenThe tour starts with the beautiful kitchen, still in very good condition, with all he original kitchen gear on display. To my surprise, all the pots were made out of copper, as a symbol of status and power, regardless of how difficult this would make the cooking and cleaning process.

In a room with an enormous cooking surface, the temperature would be around 40 degrees, all year around, and the stove would always be on, because of the difficult process of restarting the fire. Passion for cooking at a whole new level!

The rooms are decorated with ornamented woodcarvings and finished with old porcelain from Asia, and very old tapestries and paintings. The atmosphere takes you right back to the beautiful times, in which the castle was at its moment of glory.


Gardens – The Christmas Market Central

You can’t have a castle without beautiful gardens. Kasteel de Haar is no exception from the rule, so the building is situated inside a miniature park, inspired by the French gardens of Versailles.

During the World War II, many of the gardens were lost as the trees were cut and the wood was use for fires, while the grounds were used to grow vegetables upon. At this time, the gardens are restored in their original design.

Even if the Netherlands is not big on Christmas Markets, one of the most beautiful markets are found right in the heart of De Haar gardens. From carolers, to Santa, to beautiful Christmas lights and traditional products, the market sure knows how to get you in the spirit of the winter holidays.

kasteel-de-haar-garden christmas market

The castle and its gardens are definitely worth seeing. If you add a Christmas market on top of this, Kasteel de Haar is a place you don’t want to miss!

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