donderdag 18 december 2014

Christmas in Maastricht

It's not Germany, but still...

The market:

Inside the shopping mall:

Street decoration:

Everyone's favourite elf:

It's not London's Eye. but still:

From a different angle:

Getting dark:

Nostalgic merry-go-round:

People having fun:

dinsdag 16 december 2014

Men Of Harlech

Some nice music for Tuesday evening. For those interested, here is the version from Zulu.

zondag 14 december 2014

Make Him Number One, Part 2.

As promised, here comes the second post in the series:

Mrs Andelin devotes a whole sub-chapter to illustrate the ways how children are put first. She discusses the situation where the husband wants to move to further his business, but the wife refuses, because she fears it will disadvantage the children (I know from personal experience that it happens more often than we think. Usually, it goes along the line that the children will miss their school friends/have to learn a new language etc).

Mrs Andelin points out that there is a difference between endangering the welfare of one's children and pampering them so that they would never experience the slightest discomfort. The same holds true for choosing a house. Wives can press their husband to go beyond their means, motivating it as the necessity "for the sake of the children", but, as Helen states, the husband often isn't "inclined to place his children's wishes ahead of his own." (F.W., Bantam Books 1992, p.91).

Another problem situation is when the husband has to compete for attention with his own children. Mrs Andelin states that some wives actually enjoy their husband working long hours away from home, so that they can devote themselves to their kids without his interference. In this case, the poor guy is basically reduced to the paycheck he brings. Helen also warns the wives against buying things for the children the family can't afford and being more interested in one's children than one's husband.

However, children aren't the only thing which the wives tend to put first. Some women are so obsessed with their housekeeping that the husbands feel themselves strangers in their own households, afraid to drop a crumb. To quote the book, "create a home, not a showplace. (idem, p.93), or, in other words, the king is more important than his castle.

Some women ignore their husbands by spending countless hours on their appearance (though every self-respecting person should try and look his best at any occasion, like all other things, it can be overdone), can't cut the apron strings tying them to their parents, or are more interested in their husbands' money and status than in them as human beings. There are also ladies who prevent their husbands from expanding their businesses because they are afraid to lose financial security.

To quote Mrs Andelin: "...when you make a man number one you must also make his work, plans, and goals number one." (p.94).

Next time, we'll discuss among other things, what to do when a man comes home, and whether he should make you number one.

vrijdag 12 december 2014

Noblesse Oblige

Noblesse oblige was an idea that social superiors have duties to their social inferiors, such as showing a good example. Unfortunately, it's often not the case anymore, as our "elite" is busy enthusiastically encouraging lower classes to engage in socially destructive behaviours, while largely avoiding them themselves.

However, some members of the upper class can still serve as an inspiration to others, as this lady.  Yes, I'm aware it's practically the third Daily Mail article in a row, but I just had to write about her, not so much because of her passion for saving African wildlife (though these animals  do look cuddly), but because of how gracefully feminine she appears in the pictures.

There is not one photo featuring her wearing pants, though she is obviously busy tending to large animals. Somehow she managed to combine being practical and ladylike. May be, it was only for the purposes of publicity, but still, what an inspiration!

woensdag 10 december 2014

Can Poor People Cook?

The new liberal outrage of the day were the unfortunate remarks of one Baroness Jenkin who apparently cooks her own breakfast which costs only 4p. She stated that if poor people in Britain knew how to cook, they could save money by preparing their own meals, instead of buying fast food and wouldn't have to rely on charity in the form of food banks. Naturally, she was accused of committing crimes against humanity by refusing to blindly accept the dogma that all poor people are saints and their problems are never the consequences of their own stupid decisions.

She was duly chastised for her heresy and promptly apologised. It's noteworthy that if you look at her picture in Daily Mail, you'll see an older woman in good physical shape, in contrast to many lower class women who are often overweight and even obese. According to the statistical data, UK actually leads in obesity rates within the EU. We are experiencing the same problem in the Netherlands, with 4 out of 10 people being overweight. As someone pointed out on a Dutch website, lower class people often don't bother to cook, spend more money eating out and in general, rely on more expensive but less nutritious fast foods which may contribute to the problem.

Well, it appears that the Baroness actually spent some time researching the issue as she was a part to a parliamentary inquiry on hunger in UK, which among other things, stated that some parents would rather spend their money on alcohol, cigarettes and takeaways and lacked basic budgeting skills. In other words, some of those saintly "poor people" who are more often than not on welfare, couldn't be bothered to cook a decent meal for their children and preferred getting drunk to buying nutritious food.

Now, I'm not a saint myself and I do enjoy my glass of wine with dinner and we regularly eat out and order takeouts sometimes, when I had no time to cook a proper meal. However, it's still more an exception than a rule in our household, and what is more important, we can afford it! Now, I don't want to underestimate the plight of genuinely poor people like our elderly and sick who can't pay their medical bills any more, and poverty is a problem in Europe, however if some "poor people" are suffering from being overweight and obesity and would rather buy alcohol than food for their kids, we are obviously having a problem.

Which solution was offered by the British investigation committee? Well, as usual, more of the nanny statism. It's apparently the duty of schools to teach children to cook and the government should restore the welfare state in its fullest glory (who is going to pay for it wasn't mentioned). They did mention parental responsibility, though, so there are some signs of progress.

Since I don't live in UK, I can't state with any certainty that the Baroness is 100 % right on everything but I do know one thing: cooking from scratch IS cheaper and healthier. If you want to save money, learn how to cook!

maandag 8 december 2014

Make Him Number One

This is a piece of advice from Helen Andelin's famous book Fascinating Womanhood. We often forget how our husbands need our attention, especially when we are busy with children, friends and our own projects. We forget to make our husbands a priority in our life and it can lead to all sorts of marital problems.

As Mrs Andelin points out: "A man wants a woman who will place him at the top of her priority list, not second but first." (F.W., p.67, 1992 Bantam Books, emphasis mine). This desire may be subconscious, but if it's not met it "surfaces violently" and may cause a man "to form bitter resentments towards his wife and even his children." (idem)

This is something we as a society have totally forgotten. Being a devoted wife will more often than not bring ridicule upon one's head. It's still kinda OK for a woman to devote herself to children, but her husband? The stereotypical "Stepford wife" of the 1950s bringing slippers to the man coming home from work is still the object of relentless mockery by the usual suspects, even though she has all but disappeared out of the public view.

However, as Mrs Andelin rightly points out, a man is a human being and he doesn't like being reduced to a walking ATM, "a social asset" or "a ticket to security". He wants to be loved for being himself, not for serving as a means to an end (don't we all want it?).

There are many ways a woman can make her husband feel neglected. It's obviously quite common when the wife has a career of her own, but it happens with homemakers, too. In fact, according to Helen Andelin, all women have this tendency and should constantly be on guard against it.

One of the things most often placed in front of one's husband are children. Motherly devotion is undoubtedly a noble feeling, but as Mrs Andelin illustrates with her story of a certain Clara, a husband who is constantly forced to play second fiddle to his own kids will grow resentful and may even grow indifferent towards them.

Helen gives one rule to keep in mind:

Don't put the comforts and whims of your children ahead of your husband's basic needs, and further adds that a woman can "serve both husband and children without conflict" and that a happy husband makes for a happy marriage and a happy home (p.90).

In my next post I''ll write more about this topic. Stay tuned!

zondag 7 december 2014

Are You A Spontaneous Person?

I will admit, I'm anything except spontaneous:) I like things planned beforehand and have special days for cleaning the house and others for hanging out with friends. When I'm out shopping, I have a list Of Necessary Items in my hand and I seldom buy anything which isn't on it, even when it's on sale and I may use it in the future. In the past I have been known to write elaborate schedules and dinner menus.

There is one problem with this way of life, unfortunately. It's all very well when you are alone, but it becomes darn difficult when you have a family, as there are always some emergencies coming which interfere with your schedule tremendously. You simply can't take it for granted that you'll be able to vaccuum your whole house in peace on any given day any more. And then your husband comes earlier from work and suggests you two go out and drink a cup of coffee somewhere. What's a girl to do?

In my opinion, the lack of spontaneity is often connected to the control issue. Making schedules and elaborate shopping lists and planning every appointment two months before is the way to control one's surroundings. It's OK, to a degree, since a housewife is a family manager, but when it's taken to the extreme it will cause frustration both to the lady herself and to the unfortunate members of her household.

Being a control freak is never nice, especially in the relationship with your significant other. There should still be some fun, spontaneous interaction between the husband and wife, even (or should I probably say "especially") as they get older. If he asks you out, just go and let the laundry wait. Tomorrow is another day:)