Rechtboomssloot Amsterdam- Peti Buchel

Summer in the City

Mijn leven in Amsterdam

My life in Amsterdam 

Amsterdam lijn 10 halte Weesperplein

Amsterdam lijn 10 halte Weesperplein

Eind 1979 kwam ik na omzwervingen in Amsterdam.

Ik heb altijd een haat liefde verhouding met Amsterdam gehad. Aan de ene kant vind ik het te nat en zompig, aan de andere kant houd ik van de opgewonden republikeinse inborst.

Toen ik in Amsterdam kwam wonen zag de stad er uit als een onverzorgd gebit met gaten. Inmiddels is het omgebouwd tot een stralend witte Hollywood lach.

Mijn tijd in Amsterdam is te verdelen in drie duidelijke blokken. In de tachtiger jaren schilderde ik en tekende ik strips. De volgende twintig jaar deed ik werk in opdracht: voornamelijk voor Beeldleveranciers en Stichting September. Vanaf 2011 doe ik ook ‘Urban Sketching’. Urban Sketching is voor mij plompverloren ergens gaan zitten en tekenen wat ik zie.

After spending years abroad I settled in 1979 in Amsterdam.

OLVG uitgang parkeergarage

The underground parking exit of the hospital of Our Kind Lady

I just love to hate the city. I find it too damp to be comfortable and at the same time I love its radical republican character.

When I moved to Amsterdam the city looked like a bad set of dentures with holes in improbable places. Now it has the perfect whitened look of a Hollywood smile.

My working life in Amsterdam is divided in three distinct periods. In the uneasy eighties I made paintings, comics and graphic novels. The next twenty years I did cartoons for Beeldleveranciers and medical drawings for Stichting September. Since 2011 I’m specializing in Urban Sketching what means that I sit down anywhere and sketch what’s in front of me.


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Summer in de City

166 Money

Saturday September 14th, 2019 10:03 AM (Peti Buchel)
Now that I'm spending so much time in Holland I'm amazed at how rich people are. It seems that they get richer every year. There is a lot that I do not understand. Foremost is the fact that affluence is seen as something that is absolutely normal. People my age, the retired set, do a lot of things that involves spending money. They travel, go to museums and attend concerts. They eat in restaurants, book weekends in the country, exercise in fitness centers and take courses. If I have to do all that I have to take in four times as much as is put into my bank account every month. I don't think they know anybody who has to live on AOW (the state pension) and has no extra pension or has a very small pension. I heard the Prime Minister say on TV that the number of people who have to live on AOW alone 'is only a few thousand'. In other words a neglectable proportion of the retirement set not worth the trouble to take into account. At the same time it was said that the number of people who have to pay tax over savings at the bank (meaning who have more than Euro 20.000,- in saving accounts) is 6 million. Another strange thing is that most people give generously to charities dealing with sorry cases in sorry places, but begrudge refugees a place in this country. Of course I hardly have any first hand knowledge of what moves most of my countrymen as me and the greater part of my friends are struggling financially on a very low income. I met up with Joost Pollmann again in Café Scheltema and after a beer each, alcoholic for him and non-alcoholic for me, he cooked a delicious dinner for me again from cheap ingredients.

166 In the group

Thursday September 12th, 2019 07:38 AM (Peti Buchel)
The sketch is not of the 'creative writing course' of Connie van Gils in Amstelveen but of the Achill Writers Group. I drew four of my fellow members while we were listening to someone reading the homework aloud. The listening is always attentive and the listeners are wont to draw into themselves to better hear and process what's been said. For me the reading aloud done by the members is always the most important learning moment. What did the others do with the assignment we were given? What is their take on the subject? And I'm always amazed at the diversity in composition, view points and content. Also how the personalty of the writer is establishing itself. The writing is never comparable to that of anyone else. Subconsciously my attitude once I sat in the group in Amstelveen was the same as when in a meeting of the AWG. It was as if we did an exercise and Connie was chairman; except of course that she did not participate in the writing. There were some other important differences. The most shocking for me was that one did not have to read aloud every thing one had written during the long and final exercise. One could keep out anything you didn't want anybody to hear. But how can you be a good writer if you don't show your all? Now the stuff that was read came out disjointed and sometimes even without context. The excuse is of course that an exercise is spur of the moment and not edited and can be full of mistakes of all kinds. There was another big difference. Something we should introduce in the AWG: Connie told us in her introduction that putting in your own two pennies worth, when it isn't your turn, is frowned upon. It is about writing not talking!

165 Digging for treasures

Wednesday September 11th, 2019 02:05 PM (Peti Buchel)
A month ago Connie van Gils send me a invitation for the writing course she was going to give. The title of the course was: Digging for Treasures. The focus of the course would be autobiographical writing. Two courses would be given in September and two in October. The last one on 23 October. With the prognosis for the healing of the wounds set on at least 4 months that meant that the earliest I could leave for Polranny would be the end of October. A writing course would be perfect to fill potentially tedious months when I was already fit but still in need of daily home care. The first installment was on Wednesday 11 September from 10 to 12 AM. Kimberly would attend to me early in the morning. And I would leave at 9. The bus would take about 43 minutes all the way to Amstelveen. Bert came back from her travels on the Trans Siberia Express on Tuesday and was easy to convince to come too. The course was given in the local community center. Because it was held in the morning of a normal working day there were only women who were past the working age. We were with six, plus Connie. The first exercise was introductory, the second was making a drawing from memory of your own front door. You see the front door more than once a day, but do you remember what it looks like? It was an interesting exercise. We were given a colored piece of paper to draw on. I forgot the door bell, by the way.

164 What's left of the dinner group for Lunch

Sunday September 8th, 2019 08:52 AM (Peti Buchel)
I do have a social life. I had the dinner group over for lunch. Since I wrote about the death of Rita Veldhorst in posts in September 2015, Jenny Wesly has died too in December 2016. Now there are only three left: Anneke, Dies and me. All three of us are more or less ailing, but still going strong. For at least 6 months of the year Dies and I are gone from Amsterdam. Dies, who hates winters, leaves every year at the end of October to return only in May. She prefers to stay the winters in a primitive hut in Portugal over her comfortable and luxurious apartment on the Keizersgracht. Usually we have to do with seeing each other in May or September. This year makes a pleasant change. Except for the time I was in hospital and recovering in Soest we could see each other every month. In the past when everybody except Rita had still a working life the dinner group would meet in the evenings. But lately I noticed that 'dinnertime' was too late. Also I was tied to the home care. I decided to invite Dies and Anneke to the 1ste Passeerdersdwarsstraat for lunch instead. If the weather was peasant we would take the lunch to Anneke's allotment garden paradise. But temperatures were finally dropping and some rain was forecasted. Because we might be moving I had made a ready lunch. I had had a lot of fun thinking up what I would make to eat. We had a turkish salad and 'Irish sandwiches' end as dessert chocolate mouse that Dies wanted to bring. My 'Irish sandwiches' are the triangles you can get on the train in Ireland (and probably England too) but cut twice: Ham and cheese, egg sandwich and BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato). I didn't make a sketch now, but I made one in May 2018 of Dies and Pekka the dog in Anneke's garden.

163 Getting on

Friday September 6th, 2019 09:05 AM (Peti Buchel)
It was 10 weeks since I had major surgery and I still had an open wound that had to be taken care of twice daily. I had been to the hospital for check ups every other week. Thanks to the able administrations of Kimberly the infection had disappeared and healing had set in. In the hospital they were happy with the home care I was given. Now that the healing process was progressing satisfactory they introduced changes in the regime. I hoped that they would change to once daily but sadly that was not the case. Kimberly went on holidays with her small son. For 10 days I got replacements that were changing daily. Never in my life I got to know so many ladies from Suriname. They were all capable professionals but it makes a difference to have different hands at the bed than getting just one carer. Although I absolutely didn't grudge Kimberly her well earned break I was really happy when she was back. General health was returning too. I was getting better all the time and I was feeling a lot better too. Now the dependency on the home care was starting to weight heavily. My mornings and evenings were ruled by the erratic timetable of the caregivers. The only free time I had was from 12 noon to 7PM. Honesty forces me to admit that my energy level was not very high. In the mornings while waiting for Kimberly or one of her colleagues I bursted from energy, but was forced to stay home. I worked on the computer a lot. Halfway through the afternoon all energy had left. My social life became restricted to four hours in the afternoon. To ward off the dangers of boredom and desperation I decided to enroll in a writing course: starting September 11. It will be held twice in September and twice in October finishing on the 23 of that month. Secretly I hope that after that date I can go back to Polranny.

162 The view from the flat in the 1ste Passeerdersdwarsstraat

Friday September 6th, 2019 08:26 AM (Peti Buchel)
Soon after Aicha went back to Morocco, Bert left for her yearly trip to take a group of elderly travellers on the Trans Siberia Express from Moskou to Beijing. After a few days of relatively cooler weather we had another heatwave. I decided the time had come to try my hand at sketching again. It was still too early to start on the text of the Bab Teatro book and the graphic story about the Dutch connection with Iligh had to wait till Bert came back. To catch a bit of cooling breeze I sat in the open door to the back balcony of the flat in the 1ste Passeerdersdwarsstraat. The view is nothing special but I thought it would be a good beginning. The view is of a large garden completely surrounded by buildings. Not even a cat could escape from inside without a number of doors having to be unlocked. In the 17th century the garden used to be an amusement park. The main attraction wooden statues of David (with an inside mechanism to throw the stone) and Goliath are still to be seen in the Amsterdam Historical Museum. Nowadays the main feature is a 350 year old chestnut tree. The garden is roughly divided in half. One half belongs to the social housing block the other half to the privately owned buildings. The month of August was drawing to a close. People were coming back from summer holidays and foreign backpackers were going back to school. Sitting there sketching sounds came up from below. It was no longer the drunken and stoned caterwauling of Airbnb tourists. It were the well modulated voices of the rich housewives that live in the expensive apartments on the canal sides of the garden. They were talking to the gardener. Even thou temperatures belied the fact I knew that summer was really over.

161 Visitors

Thursday September 5th, 2019 08:59 AM (Peti Buchel)
Suddenly there came an end to my quiet life. Bert came back and there was a lot to talk about. We talked about the start of the Iligh travelogue I had started before she came back. Bert had time to write some texts and compose a structure. Then she got a visitor. Bert had invited Aicha Aboudmiaa to come for a visit to Amsterdam. Aicha needed a holiday and a break from her work on her phd, her life between Agadir, Tiznit and Iligh, and her work as an politician. She combined a visit to her sisters in Paris with a stay in Amsterdam. Bert picked her up from the Thalys. Aicha was in the fall of 2017 also in Amsterdam. She had then stayed with Coby and Tom. That visit had been dedicated to the Iligh project she and Bert had started and I was also deeply involved in. I'm only slightly involved in that project now as it has taken a different direction. Which, by the way, is fine with me. I don't want to be 'deeply involved' in anything anymore. I just want to amuse myself whatever that means. This time Aicha was here on holidays. That meant no work on the Iligh project. Bert took her every day to see something touristic. As the oldest of the Aboudmiaa siblings Aicha's life is ruled by worries about the welfare of her elderly parents and the problems and lives of her brothers and sisters. This visit Aicha just wanted to cook. Bert and her went to all the markets to buy fresh produce for all the delicious dinners Aicha concocted. The sketch is from her first visit when she cooked just one dinner.

160 Playing with sketches on the computer

Thursday September 5th, 2019 08:35 AM (Peti Buchel)
My hand was still too shaky to make sketches. On top of that I didn't have any inspiration either. It was too hot to go outside and inside there was nothing to sketch. My brain was too rattle to be able to do work on the text of the Bab Teatro book. I was on my own and dying to do something. Bert was away in the Orkney's for another week. We did have a project we still had to do: a short graphic story about Iligh in Morocco. Bert was editing a cahier about Iligh with articles written by experts and our graphic story was one of them. Bert would do the text. I thought: what the heck, I can at least play with the many sketches I have made about Iligh, its environs and its Dutch connection: Michiel Adriaansz. de Ruijter. I started of with four pages. That done I added another four pages. I discovered that by making a separate chapter of every page I could add endless pages. By the time Bert arrived back in Amsterdam I had done 28 pages. I didn't care much whether she agreed much with what I had done. It was a lot of fun and what was even more important I was gaining confidence. Here the first page highlighting the connection between The Netherlands and Iligh with the Salamander the ship of De Ruijter, Paolo de Mas and Herman van der Wüsten two Dutch researchers who were part of the equipe of Paul Pascon, who brought with them the necessary funds and Bert, friend of the Aboudmiaa family. (see also my Blog 'Travels to Iligh')

160 Kimberly

Thursday September 5th, 2019 07:54 AM (Peti Buchel)
After much ado 'Local care' the home care company in Soest had found me a sister company in Amsterdam to take care of me after I moved from Soest back to the 1ste Passeerdersdwarstraat. It was a home care company based in Amsterdam Zuidoost. Turned out the founder and president of the company was the preacher of one of the many black 'hallelujah' churches Amsterdam Zuidoost is famous for. His name is Hesdie, he is blind and had started the company 8 years ago 'for idealistic reasons', as Sophia the boss carer assured me. 'Home care companies,' she added, 'Are allowed to refuse patients but we don't'. Apparently I was refused by several companies because I lived in the center of Amsterdam. Everybody that works for Hesdie is black and has roots in the former Dutch South American colony Suriname. Contrary to the care I had had in Soest I got a personal carer: a young woman called Kimberly. Wounds of all kinds and shapes are her passion. In her care the infection was quickly over. Gone was the yellow discharge and the stench. One day she cried out: 'What is the wound beautiful! It looks like an artwork!' For me who thought the wound dirty, ugly and repulsive, her reaction was shockingly confrontational. I decided to try and make a sketch of her during the twice daily ritual of cleaning the wound. Even thou my hand was still shaking badly. Kimberly is a young ambitious woman who had a wild youth and gotten a son when still in her teens. One day she turned a new leaf in life and started a career as a care worker. She also had started an online company selling hair extensions. One day during the time she helped me, she broke up with her boyfriend of 6 years. 'I want to be free, be able to do my own thing and get rich.' she gave as a reason. Kimberly I heard from Sophia her boss, is highly thought of and capable. No doubt is will be going far.

159 Long distance involvement

Wednesday September 4th, 2019 10:03 AM (Peti Buchel)
I used the spend the summers in Amsterdam taking care of the cats Liesje and Rosie while Bertje and Annie were away in Polranny (see the Blog posts of 2015 and 2016). But since both little darlings passed away I have stayed the summer in Polranny. The summer is a very busy time in Polranny. Especially since we also can offer the Claggan Cottage to the artists. In 2017 and 2018 it was so busy that I had to move elsewhere. But I was never that far away that I couldn't supervise the comings and goings and the hick-ups and troubles. This year would be the same. I would do my job as care taker and solve whatever problem arose and meet the artists. But it wasn't to be. I landed in hospital and needed a long end extensive after care. Just before I had gone into hospital it was decided that Joost Bruins would be taken on as the new treasurer of the Polranny Pirates (see We have been very lucky that Joost wanted to join the Pirates. During the time I was in hospital Bert took on my duties as treasurer and Joost helped her where possible. Looking back I had been poorly for quite a while before and I did have the feeling that I couldn't do my tasks properly. I was starting to make mistakes. It was all in the nick of time. Joost Bruins was relatively young (50), he was unknown to any of us before he and his wife Connie visited Polranny for the first time in June 2018, and he loved Polranny and what the Pirates stood for. Even back in the 1ste Passeerdersdwarsstraat I wasn't up to the stress of dealing with smoking stoves and other problems in far away Polranny. Of course every now and then I had to. Like the time when word came that the sewage pipe of the toilet in the Folly seemed to be clogged. I had to make a map on the computer of the entire sewage system and the location of the manholes.

Link blog Summer in the City

© Peti Buchel