Monday, May 22, 2017

Scandinavian thrillers and fresh tasty Ciabatta

The sun is out and the forecast for this week sounds good. I deliberately say 'sounds' and not 'is'.
I don't know about where you live, but here in Holland they can't even properly predict for the next 24 hours....

The sun was out yesterday too but the wind was still too cold and when the wind blows in the direction of my back door, I can not sit in the garden.
Fortunately it turned for the better: two hours of pure joy in the sunshine with the book 'Hofnarren in Murmansk' of the Danish thriller writer Jens Henrik Jenssen 
Somewhere in March I received an invitation on Facebook to like his FB page which I did of course but felt a bit ashamed that I never read one of his books. Although I love Scandinavian thrillers!! As wel on TV as reading.
The first Scandinavian thriller I read (back in the 80's) was of the couple Sjöwall and Wahlöö, known from the Martin Beck adventures, still on TV.
And of course Stieg Larsson (Millennium), Henning Mankell (Kurt Wallander), Emilie Schepp and many others, more or less well known.

But we also have excellent thriller writers in Holland and my most favourite is Isa Maron (Isa Maron's FB page) with 'De Noordzeemoorden': 4 books you need to read (only available in Dutch and German). When I read them I could not put them away.....

Are you a thriller / krimi addict? I am afraid I am!

Not much reading today as I need to write my own book. Usually I start just after lunch, the mornings I use for domestic purposes. I still don't have a Butler and Housekeeper.
But some unexpected administration spoilt most of my afternoon. Well, tomorrow is an other day and I will start writing early; so many ideas in my head!

The smell in my kitchen which is also a living area and my 'office',  is lovely. My Ciabatta bread with black olives and sundried tomatoes is spreading its wonderful scent, it is almost ready and I can not wait to see the light golden colour and to taste a warm slice with olive oil.
I love baking cakes, bread and quiches. I am not an excellent Chef but since I own a Slow Cooker I enjoy tasty meals.
By the way, my slow cooker is some sort of a Butler. I can work all day and the food is ready to eat by the end of the day. And healthy too. Excellent invention.

Mmmmm... please advice.... will I spend the last 90 minutes before dinner in the sun or will I work on my book?

Hugs,

Helen


Friday, May 19, 2017

Not about Skype but about writing

It has been a long time ago since I posted on my Blog Skype Lifestyle.

So much changed since 2009.... only 8 years but it feels like a life time.
First of all I stopped working for Skype. My own free will.
I married the love of my life in 2009, my husband was 15 years older and a pensioner who wanted more in life than offering me cups of tea, lunches and dinners (which was of course ever so sweet of him!) and conversations like "What time do you like lunch, dinner etc?"

I remember one occasion when I was in a webcam meeting when my husband climbed the stairs to my office with a cup of tea. In Tallinn were 8 people gathered around the table, I was on my own, projected more than large on a screen in Tallinn's meeting room. And so was my husband with his cup of tea which caused complete silence at the other end of the Skype connection. Until someone asked: "And who is he?"

We discussed half a sebatical to see if I could live without a Skype life and surprisingly this was the case.
I am not going to say it was an easy decision, my few years at Skype were educative, entertaining, hectic and above all wonderful. I still feel privalidged that I worked for Skype, an experience I will never forget and with colleagues I will never forget. Needless to say I am still in touch with a few.

A new lifestyle with my husband and our motorhome started.
We travelled everywhere in Europe, I took numerous photo's, wrote numerous log books and wrote stories about peole we watched from a distance and who behaved a little different than one would expect. I made up names and back grounds so all fiction but with a little truth in it. The beautiful thing of writing is that you can combine a gentleman in France with a lady from Norway in an odd situation in Germany (believe me, there are far more combinations possible).

I once read the following advices for writeres: "Write what you know and add lots of  fantasy" and "It is not just about writing, it is about making it visuable!".

In 2014 my husband was diagnosed with a heart problem, more specific; two problems and we stayed at home for at least a year. Than we continued our travels. Motorhoming was a wonderful way to travel for him: I did most of the driving, no luguage to carry (no flights, delayes etc.), our own bed (no noisy hotels), his afternoon naps where ever we were at that very moment, staying put on his bad days and driving to the next locations on his good days.

But in November 2016, one week after we arrived home from our last holiday, my husband's heart stopped working, just after lunch. Altough his heart diseases, no one expected the cardiac arrest.
For him it was a wonderful way to go; no pain, no stress, no hospital. Isn't that what we all want?
For me... I don't think I have to explain that it was very difficut to say goodbye. To addopt a diferent way of life without him.

The past six months I discovered that the wordt 'time' is just a word, there are no time frames anymore.
So much happened, the changes were so massive that often it feels like much longer that 6 months since he passed away.
But there are often moments when I sit down and all of a sudden see him in front of me, at the other side of the table, leaning forward. The moment I realized that his heart had stopped ticking. During these moments it only feels like yesterday. Not only the memory but above all the pain.

But life goes on, I do know that and there is no other choice which I am (as in the past 18 years in my life) well aware off.
One of the major concerns is an income. According the Dutch law I don't get a pension of any kind.

The choice wasn't difficult. Of course I still look for a part time job but my main 'job' now is writing, something I have always liked, often did, but never published.
Writing is a huge part of me. I still think it is a miracle to write letters, collumns, short stories, books with only the 26 letters of the alphabet!!

Against all odds I pubished my first little book 'Observaties' in March 2017.
It contains 12 short stories based on unexpected behaviours of people during our travels. But again, they are all fiction!!! And I never write stories about people I talk to! So don't be afraid you will recognize yourself in the book. You will most likely say: "Oh John, this storie reminds me off...."
I think most motorhomers, caranvaners, backpackers etc. will recognize the stories. And I hope that it will encourage others to travel as well.
Unfortunately the book is (still) only available in Dutch and as an e-book. You will find more information of where to buy it (right upper corner) in my Blog www.helenvarras.blogspot.com
Helen Varras is my pseudonym.

But there is not only a Blog, there is also Helen Varras' Facebook and Helen Varras on Twitter.
And Helen offers freelance writing, proof reading and translations. Feel free to e-mail.

I keep my Helen Varras Blog updated and I will try to post on here in English. After all Skype changed my Lifestyle and Skype is still my tool to connect with family and friends!

From now on signed,

Helen