Here is a puzzle hike for you!

The Urban Hike: Where Were We??

Good morning you all, everywhere (but mostly in The USA - nice to see you checking in!), A friend suggested that it would be fun to let yo...

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Happy 2015 to You! May it be a Peaceful Year.

Hi there, all you dreamers, lovers, thinkers and other assorted well-wishers.
It is Dec. 30th over here, but as I am aware that 2015 will be starting sooner with lots of you  'over there' than me 'over here', I will post this one day 'too early'.


So...anyway :-)

Frankly I dislike fireworks, unless it's the show from the Erasmusbrug in Rotterdam, which is the best fireworks display in the entire Wetlands. But I, like my pets, abhor these loud bangs, usually when I least expect them.

New year's resolutions? Do you have them?

Let's make a list.
# world peace
# peace in Europe
# peace between Ukraine and Russia
# peace....

Okay. That was a tad unrealistic, I know. So let's make the list more personal.

# appreciate the people around me
# eat more (Hah! Got you!)
# eat more vegetables and fruit/nuts than protein
# re-start my long-distance walking routine
# play the guitar
# play the guitar
# play the guitar



Also, since I know that he has quite a few fans, I asked Viggo for a selfie. Here it is. He was a bit drowsy, due to his usual over-eating. So I asked him for another one.


Tssssssss. Not very interesting, is it?

So. Anyway.

I would like to wish you a marvelous 2015! May it bring you everything you desire; love, good health, wealth, fame, success, and...well, yes, let's...peace.



Monday, 29 December 2014

Want to stay in touch? You'll have to take action!

Good morning!
The immediate result of my decision to leave Facebook is that you will not see my notifications in your FB feed...obviously...
So...If you would like to continue reading my posts, you will have to take action yourself. Sorry. Or YAY! depending on your reaction.
You can click on the button showing up prominently on my blog and become a Follower. Or you can subscribe, again simply by clicking on the button.

See you!

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Facebook is going too far! Thanks, but no thanks.

Hi there! Good of you to drop in!
After much deliberation and soul-searching, and a few tears, I have posted the following post on my Facebook timeline just a few moments ago.

So. This is goodbye...
From January 1st 2015 FB is going places with my photos, tastes, thoughts and emotions that I, personally, even though I do post things publicly myself, do not want it to go!
No, I do not want my name connected, unasked, to products or reviews. I'll do my own reviewing, thank you very much, whenever I want to in my blog Rays of Light.
And I do not want to be confronted with 'personalized' advertisements for weight loss or booze, or trips to foreign lands that I cannot afford anyway.
It breaks my heart to have to say goodbye to my FB friends... Many of you, from all over the world, I have never met in the flesh. But I feel I have got to 'know' you, all the same. And I know I will miss you in my life. In fact, I am in tears right now.
But it is a matter of principle.
There still is a way to connect with me, might you want to. You can look me up at my Blogger address for Rays of Light. The address is: http://RaysofLight2.blogspot.com And I also have a public gmail address which I use for connecting to my blog: rkoopman58@gmail.com
I will leave this message up on my timeline until December 31st. And then will delete my FB account.
It has been marvelous to connect with you! Thank you for all the messages, the funny photos, the stories, the thoughts, the mottoes, the cats, the owls, the puppy films, and most of all the music you have sent me.
Have a good life!
  Renée

Frith! I will miss those people!
I will continue this blog though...For as long as I feel the need.
Speak to you soon!

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas to You All, Where-Ever You Are!

Good morning!
I am wishing you a very joyful, merry and peaceful Christmas.
Even if you do not believe in Christianity as such (like myself), the thought 'do not do unto others what you would not want to be done to yourself' is a good and sound one. Hold on to it!


Lots of love,
Renée



Friday, 19 December 2014

Holidays Are Coming! So remember the lonely folk?!

Hiya!
No snow over here; typical Dutch Christmas period weather, meaning temperatures around 8 degrees C, rain forecast and a lot of wind. Mind, the sun's actually out right this minute! Quick, catch it before it goes!



When I was a kid, long long ago, my parents firmly believed in giving us a moralizing talk beneath the Christmas tree (with real candles! Those were the days), loosely based on what they had both been taught in church when they were kids themselves. I don't remember the actual words, but the meaning was clear: noblesse oblige.
The funny thing was that I also clearly remember there NOT being any smelly homeless around our dinner table, nor did we invite our lonely Grannie in, and my adolescent candour was certainly frowned upon. 
So, what do you do, the only thing to do possibly, and that is you are determined to do this Christmas thing different yourself, especially when you have kids of your own!


Thankfully they make it easy on us to spread some Christmas joy these days. 
A couple of large supermarket chains (Jumbo, Dirk) give one the opportunity to buy a festive dish for someone, and the supermarket then will add a second dish themselves. The meals go to the needy through various organizations like the Salvation Army. 
The Food Bank is working flat out to get as much food in as they possibly can, again to distribute it around the needy.
This is in rich, glamorous triple A Holland, folks.

And radio station 3FM has put up the 'Glass House' for Serious Request ( a fully working radio studio made entirely out of glass) again, this time in the fair city of Haarlem. Three djs are in there without food for 6 days. Seriously! The idea is you ask them to play your song (the request) and you pay as much money for this as you can spare or beg for through doing something of your own. This year's theme is stopping sexual harassment of young women (I seriously believe this should be 'of all women'!).


As you can see, the glass house draws some serious crowds.

So it is easy to get into the festive generous spirit, easy as pie.
At the same time, I read in my newspaper that there is an estimation that more people are alone and feeling down around Christmas than ever before. 
So...at a conservatively easy guess...could it be more easy to get involved in raising money for Serious Request than asking smelly old auntie To around for drinks? Hmmmmmm?


Yes. Absolutely. I put my money where my mouth is, and I do ask people around who I suspect are alone. They can always decline the invitation. And I put off going off on a much coveted and deserved holiday because I happen to have this almost 87 year old Mum. 
It is a matter of principle.


So. With your equivalent of the moralizing talk beneath my Christmas tree, I'm asking you now. Remember the lonely folk?
Thanks.

Have a smashing holiday, enjoy your company, don't over-eat and will talk to you soon. XXX
















Thursday, 18 December 2014

Viggo on Kate Bush.

It had to happen...Impossible to skip...Kate Bush being the essence of cattiness ever since she posed as a lioness on the cover of her album Lionheart. And my big butch black tomcat has an opinion on everything anyway, as you well know by now.



V: First of all, what is that ridiculous photo doing here? That's not me!

Q: Sorry. I thought it was quite amusing...

V: Amusing? It is degrading! It makes us felines look like utter idiots. As if we...mublmublzzmublb...

Q: Excuse me?

V: Okay. I do like a good box myself. From time to time.


V: Good GRIEF, woman!

Q: Concentrate on the Kate Bush angle, Viggo.

V: Right. Kate Bush, Kate Bush...you know, my mind's a blank. 

Q: Viggo!

V: Pffffffft, keep your claws sheeted. Kate Bush. The uttermost catlike singer I have ever heard. The grace, the agility, the power, the glossiness, the balance, the control, the warbling, the range, the...

Q: That's just a summing up. Come on, you can do better than that!

V: I was just getting started.  

When I first heard her latest album, I was blown away. I remember it well. You had ordered it from Bol.com and it arrived just before Christmas last year in an intriguing cardboard envelope which smelled divine, and you put it on really loud and I felt these vibrations through the tips of my whiskers. And then this...voice...It took all my self-control not to howl along..."I....am...SKYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!" 
Wonderful!
And on Ariel she used those divine bird sounds, it makes me shiver all over, delicious!

Do you know, there is not a lot that I feel we have in common, you and I. You are my woman, and I appreciate you looking after me, but that's about it...Well, I like the occasional cuddle. But Kate Bush is our common ground, absolutely. 

As a black cat, I am in the know. Kate Bush is the quintessence of English wicca, but the good side. It's no surprise to me that she is referred to as such by folks on the Internet. That Kate even looks like a cat. Have you seen her eyes? And those pointy ears and teeth. I bet she smells good.

Q: She's supposed to be a vegetarian.

V: What? Impossible. No meat? No!

Q: Hmmm. That's what I read.

V: Oh! Oh! The disappointment! The heartbreak! 

Q: Now who is being ridiculous?

V: Shut up, you flexitarian you! It's bad enough that you hang your bird feeders out of my range. Us cats need blood! Fresh blood! With feathers on! Oh...go on, post another photo of 
some pampered neutered cat that never hunts, why don't you? I'm done!







Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Grey Days - Time for Kate Bush!

Women of Ireland

Hi there. A quick one today, as I am ill with flu and my energy level is at an all-time low.
Seriously, taking a trip to the loo is the equivalent of climbing Mount Doom at the moment. 

So what do I do, flat on my back or - alternatively - hanging crookedly into the pillows? I listen to Kate Bush, obviously. When I was little and ill my Gran used to cook me pudding; now that I am Gran material myself (don't mention this to my daughter though, I don't want her to get ideas) I have to provide my own comfort, so Kate it is. (Use the link at the top of this post)

Could be worse, eh?


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Christmas? Humbug! (Unless You Happen to Like It...)

Hiya!
Admit it...you cannot wait for December 24th to arrive...even if it's just because you are exhausted and desperately need some time off.



So...how do you keep on keeping on?
Stay positive.
Oh..SUCH an open door!
I know. But it actually works.


Did you know that when you smile, even if and when you have nothing to smile about really, but simply use your muscles to twist your mouth into a smile, your brain synapses fire off 'happy dust'? 
(If Viggo could hear me now...I can hear him scoff. "There is no such thing as happy dust, woman!")
It's amazing what you can learn (for free!) by watching TED talks.

So....I am actually looking forward to the holidays, and the whole Christmas experience. I am already planning the menus, and making plans, and thinking about what presents to buy for my loved ones, and having fun anticipating.

Only 2 weeks to go..Yay.


I'll link you to a Christmassy song by the lovely Lisa Hannigan, just to get you in the mood.
(By the way, it is in aid of the Irish homeless)

Ho-ho-ho!





Thursday, 4 December 2014

Trouble Sleeping? Try My 3 Easy Tips.

Hi there, Sleepless in...(where ever you are)
One of the recurring topics of my workdays is bad nights. People don't get the kind of sleep they would like, they don't get enough sleep, they wake up feeling almost as tired (if not more tired) as when they went to bed.



I am one of those people that has always had trouble falling asleep. I remember roaming my room as a child, and hearing my parents go to bed. It's not that I wasn't tired, I was. It was more that I couldn't seem to turn off the thoughts running through my head.
Now, as an adult fast approaching sixty (Frith! How did that happen?) and far too busy at work, my head is so chock-a-block-full of thoughts and worries that it is an effort to stop the merry-go-round in my brain.

Since I am against sleeping medication (I've seen too many people dependent on that stuff) I've had to experiment with natural remedies. 
Alcohol does not work for me. It simply wakes me up. Not a good idea when you want to go to sleep. Sleepy Time Tea: it tastes of grass (the green stuff cows eat) and does not make me sleepy.
Massages: nope. They wake me up. Hot showers - ditto. Sex: pffffffffft.



Right. I promised you three things that DO work though.
At least, they work for me, and perhaps they'll work for you too.

1. Make sure you unwind on time before you attempt to sleep, and try to go to bed at the same time every evening.

So turn off that TV or switch off your laptop, tablet, iPad, mobile at least 30 minutes before you close your eyes. No reading either!! You need to condition your brain; it's time to sleep!

2. When you actually go to bed, make it into a ritual (again, to help your brain to realize it is time to stop running around like a troupe of crazy apes).

Mine is: open the balcony door a crack to let the fresh air in, light some Japanese incense (I never said I am a logical person), set my alarm, prepare my docking station (more about this in #3)turn off the light.

Then: relax your body, starting with your toes. Visualize them getting heavy and sinking into your mattress as if you are lying on a warm sandy beach, and work you way up along your body until you've reached your head. Try to focus on your body and whenever some random thought pops into your head (like: how on earth do I pay this month's sewage bill?), push it away again and watch it float into outer space, or down into the muck, where ever, as long as it doesn't get your attention. This does take some practice, but I promise it becomes easier when you do it more often. On a good night I can actually feel my heart rate slowing down.

3. Put on a CD that is sure to put you to sleep. (AHA! I can see you getting either frustrated or exasperated, or downright angry now. But give me a chance to explain)

This, again, takes some time. But by careful deduction, and trial and error (No, Talking Heads do not work for me!), you will be able to find a track that calms you down. 
Now, concentrate on the music. No thinking!!! Just concentrate 100% and let the music take you away.
Have you ever heard of Ane Brun? She's from Norway, and weird and wonderful. Her song 'Worship' is sure to put me to sleep within minutes. I love that song, but I hardly ever get to hear it beyond the first couplet. 
Worship

It must be the heartbeat-like rhythm. Almost like being in the womb.



Anyway. It beats pills. And no side-effects!

Sleep well!


Monday, 1 December 2014

Counting Down Towards Christmas Are You? 4 Musical Suggestions.

Hiya! Nice of you to drop in again.
It is December 1st, and in my neck of the woods that means the final countdown towards the Christmas holidays for people like me who work in education, and also for most people who are looking forward to a couple of days off.



Now, I've never made it a secret that I am a humanist with Pagan and Buddhist tendencies. But that doesn't mean that we ignore Christmas in our house. On the contrary! We like the tree, and the trimmings, and some of the music, and the good company, and especially the spirit.
What could be better than joy to the world and peace to all mankind? Or the other way around?
To help you get into the mood as well (early), I'll link you to some of my favorite Christmas-time music.



I've loved Kate Bush from the first notes of Wuthering Heights, and like this wintry song a lot. The artwork is from the film 'The Snowman' - also one of my favourites.


Trust Loreena to make good use of this traditional Christmas carol. Even when as a child I didn't quite understand all the lyrics, I did understand the line 'let nothing you dismay' (because I looked it up), and it spoke to me.


Okay, okay, okay, so call me corny. I love this song!


This is a curious rendition alright! But give it a try, do. I've picked it because as a child I used to sing this with my step-father, and he would have had a fit if he could hear this Siouxie version. Which is precisely why I've chosen it for you today.


So, what is YOUR december music?










Sunday, 30 November 2014

Rotterdam Like You've Never Seen It Before! Beautiful!

Hi there!
Not a musical post as such (although the piano sounds fine), but one about the city where I was born and where I travel to to go to work.
I came across this by accident, idly surfing, and want to share it with you all, as it is
WONDERFUL
It was produced by Eric van Vuuren, and I hope he will not be cross with me for sharing it with you. But as he's posted it on FB originally I am fairly confident it will be okay.
Here it is.


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Duncan de Moor - Boy, Can That Boy Sing!

Hiya,
Due to extreme working hours fatigue (such fun to be a teacher in the Wetlands) I couldn't find the time for a new post before. But now here it is.
And today I am going to introduce you to a singer from my hometown, Hellevoetsluis.
His name is Duncan de Moor, he went to the same school as both my kids, left to go to the Rockacademie in Tilburg (yes, that does exist) and is now shining in The Voice of Holland. So far he has survived the Blind Auditions, the Battles and one live show (called The Clash)

Duncan de Moor - Stolen Dance

Duncan keeps saying he sees himself as a frontman for his band, more than as a solo artist. Which is commendable. The band is called The Slick and Suited and they are sort of famous in the small towns where they have so far performed.
Duncan singing his heart out on TV helps, of course. And so does the innocent on camera flirting going on between him and Voice of Holland coach Ilse de Lange (she of The Common Linnets' fame).

Duncan de Moor vs Rob de Nijs

Why am I writing him up? Two reasons.
1. I admire his pluck and talent. 
His voice is distinctive. You can like it or not (it is quite sharp), but you absolutely cannot say it is a 13 to the dozen voice.
2. He comes from Hellevoetsluis and he oozes fun and enthusiasm.

Secretly I would like him to win. 

So go, Duncan. Make us Wetlanders proud!




Update: Aaaaaahhhhh...he got voted out...semi-final...Well, proud of him anyway!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Happy One Year Anniversary to Rays of Light The Blog.

Hiya! By the time you read this, that means it has turned November 24th, and Rays of Light has been up in the air for exactly one year.
And what a year it has been!



Whether you have read just one post, or if you have been a regular reader, know this:
this has been an amazing journey!

I started out in November 2013 feeling not a little depressed, anxious, frazzled, morose, and-what-have-you. In short: not a happy little bunny!


Being an overzealous conscientious worker was finally catching up with me. In short: taking over and turning me upside down, inside out and generally pissing me about.
I started suffering (yes, really suffering!) from stress-related garbage, and traumatic events from my youth (long repressed) suddenly coming to the surface and costing me my peace of mind.

Still.

I do.
In the middle of all the shit, all the pain, all the heartache, there is good. I witness it every day.
It's in the little things. 
The smile in the street. The hand on my shoulder. The cup of coffee waiting for me when I get to work in the mornings. The warm greeting by a pupil. The palpable love given me. The wet nose of Viggo on my cheek in the night. The trusting look of Gina.

To get myself back into mental shape, I turned to three things: blogging, music and Ralph Waldo Emerson.


This is SUCH sound advice!

Hopefully you have enjoyed my blog. And you're welcome. I intend to keep on keeping on.
I'll post about music. About life in between the lines. And Viggo will join us from time to time.

I'll leave you with the soundtrack of my life. Just follow the link.David Bowie - Changes












Friday, 21 November 2014

So - Anyone Still Interested Out There?

Good (Saturday - Caturday) morning to you!
I've been extremely busy this last week (too much work, dramas at home, you name it I had it), so I didn't have time to do my usual post publishing. And what happened...attendance drops.
No, not just drops - it practically disappears.
Conclusion? I might as well quit.

Whoa! Stop. Rephrase!
My readers (you) like to drop in and read my stuff, but only when I take the trouble to upload it myself into various FB pages and groups.
Right? Right again.


I've asked someone I admire (actress and character both) to give you "the look".

And I've also asked myself, with my approaching upcoming anniversary on Nov. 24th, whether I want to continue with this blog.
Not because of you (I do like you, really, am simply stating the obvious here), but because of me.
Being the forever introspective type (call it self-obsessed, go on, I dare you), I am always investigating my motives. Life is hard, so in order to keep living it, I investigate and question. And, fast approaching sixty, I have earned the right to do so. I could have quit dozens of times already.

So. 
To blog on, or not to blog on. That's the question.





Sunday, 16 November 2014

Viggo On "Rotterdam City of 2015" Election.

Hiya. You have reached the blog of a very proud Rotterdammer. The city of my birth has been elected Best European City for 2015 by some London-based committee. YAY!
Now, obviously us born in Rotterdam have known for some time that Rotterdam is great, but it's nice to know that others recognise this as well.
So, to celebrate, I have asked Viggo for his opinion on this wonderful achievement.


Q: Viggo, so nice of you to grant us this interview, it being a Sunday and raining as well.

V: Always happy to oblige, for my fans.

Q: Can I ask you what your first thought was when you heard about this celebratory fact about Rotterdam?

V: My first thought? Hm... Couldn't care less.

Q:Aren't you the tiniest bit proud that the city that spawned your woman won?

V: 'Spawned'? Are you a tadpole?

Q: Viggo, don't be like that, please!

V: Oh, alright then. Well. I must admit that I do admire my predecessor, the  red cat Peter. The way he watched over your birthing... that was classy.  I don't now if I could face that scene; a red squealing smelly baby dropping out of a woman 1 foot away... I'm told he kept his cool admirably, didn't move a whisker. And I know he lived in Blijdorp for years, which is Rotterdam I suppose. It's a pity he has been dead for the last 53 years, it would have been nice to hunt together.

Q: I'm sure. Rotterdam?

V: Oh, yeah, certainly. Rotterdam... Rotterdam... You know, I'm totally blank.

Q: The Euromast, The Erasmusbrug, the Kop van Zuid, the Markthal, the...

V: Enough! You sound like a Tourism Board Advertisement. 

Q: Schmidt Zeevis, Andalus Vis...

V: Ah...that's more interesting. But I'm not really into eating the stuff, sorry.

Q: Anything to say about Rotterdam, anything at all?

V: To tell you the truth, nope. But you can post that selfie I took today.

Q: Already did, it's at the top of this page.

V: Right. Well, you can post the full length ones in the windowsill then, they came out quite well, I think. Pity about those ridiculous African birds.




Monday, 10 November 2014

Nobody Tells You Out Loud - So, People of Ukraine, Thank You!

Today we of The Netherlands remember the victims of MH17.
And amongst all the blah-blah, and the heartfelt proper words that actually mean something, I want to add my own.
Whilst we dither about a memorial people can actually touch, there has been one erected in Rozsypne ages ago.

Photo Algemeen Dagblad

And I would like to thank the people responsible.
Simply: from one human being to another.

Thank you!







A Leap Of Faith...My First Musical Intro.

Hiya, good to see you!
Do you know the feeling that sometimes Life gives you a nudge, and that when you do not react fast enough it gives you an almighty shove in the back?
This happened to me, today.
I saw an invitation by American singer Melody Gardot, to join her in a choir on her new CD. It immediately fired up my enthousiasm, for I so love to sing! 'All' I had to do was record my voice, upload it into a transmittable file and send it to her via email.



GarageBand is a feature of my Macbook Pro, but I hadn't used it for years, too busy with life, work, family, blogging, gardening and learning to play the guitar. So it took a while for me to suss out how to record, save, upload and then send in the sample of my voice.
Whilst I was struggling with this alien matter (well, to me...I am not a natural born computer nerd), I found a recording I had made years ago, out of boredom during the lunch breaks at my (then) work place.
I listened to it, and had wild idea, all of a sudden.
Here I am, a blogger, lately about music.
And I had produced some form of music.
And now I am taking an immense leap of faith.
And am inviting you to hear it. If you dare.

Here it is:

video

Do let me know if you like it.