Monday, June 30, 2003

spilt milk

the streetcar is running late.
a trickle of memories steers her eyes cornerward.
across the street, over the tracks, beyond the expanse of wicker chairs and faux-marble tables, etched doors swing inward onto a familiarity almost forgotten.
it won’t have changed much. the armchairs will still be deep, tufted leather. the beams will still be glaringly fake. the tables will still be too high to slouch onto.
retrospect softens them, but her recollections feel true, and generous, and remarkable, and fine.
too many glasses were filled. too many opinions collided. a generation, and a resounding clash in convictions separated them. discussions were animated, and bound to backfire.
it was extremely satisfying, as encounters go.
she sidesteps the man in the polyester suit, teeth dingy, gold gleaming, sweat stains under his armpits. a vagrant easily whines a reluctant euro into his proffered hand: her thoughts are elsewhere.
just four more minutes, the sign soothes.
four short minutes.
time flew then, too.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

the anticipation of it

the mayday project was a treat, and the international photographic scavenger hunt promises to be just as inspiring:
just a few dozen hours to go until tracey reveals which 26 things - themes and objects - are to be sought and shared.
i can't wait. i do love a challenge.
but, as one comment beseeched: please, no mountains.
we lowlanders might find ourselves SERIOUSLY hard-put to produce.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

slaap zacht

there is no-one like emese for capturing moments - of all kinds -at their most beautiful. especially breathtaking are her candid studies of people in the street: they are lively, enchanting, and totally natural. i, on the other hand, can never get mine to work, unless my subjects are fast asleep...or blinded by the sun.
i do try. i rest my camera in my lap and pretend to fiddle and peek later to see if anything worthwhile has resulted from my deception. some people would call this "shooting from the hip"; i call it "creative cowardice".

a swallow, a summer

amsterdam's amazing skyline is all about curves and angles*, and sometimes it's impossible to resist being mistaken for an awed tourist and sweeping an eager camera upward.
*photo friday


and they recline on the summer terrace, in obedient rows, feet* unfolded and forthright, filling the damp afternoon with a fiesta of irrepressible colour.
*theme thursday

Thursday, June 26, 2003


people STARE so, she whispers.
i look around the platform. she is right.
but the rest of the world doesn't know, as i do, that time has merely sighed since the night that a careless driver sent her, and her bicycle, flying through the air to a future unimaginable.
it doesn't matter, she consoles.
she has come to understand that it happened for a reason. she has found solace in religion, and resignation. god has plans, and she is an intrinsic part of them. her heart has been opened.
that is her truth.
she plucks at her sleeve, smiling a smile so radiant it hurts. she quotes romans chapter 14, and reassures me that she has forgiven all neglect.
she asks, for the third time, where i work these days.
i'm not beautiful anymore, she murmurs.
oh, i say, but you ARE.
and that is my truth.

Monday, June 23, 2003

fact or fiction?

corner prinsengracht/leidsestraat: an upward glance, and a double-take.
elegant, well-dressed.
expensive haircut, excellent deportment, flair for drama...
was this gentleman REAL?
he wasn't.

lalaland: play it safe, please!

Saturday, June 21, 2003

up up and away

the old has not been forgotten: it is merely in serious need of repair.
that which is planned will, hopefully, live up to the memories of that which was. but in the meantime, the blank slate of development limbo is scrawled with the creative - and commercial - fantasies of a careless, but (thankfully) colourful nature.

Friday, June 20, 2003

come tomorrow

when this tiny creature*, immobile on the morning platform, allowed me to softly approach, i was honoured...and gratified. but then i saw the helpless look in her eye, and her shivering feathers, and my delight turned to dismay.i sought the telephone number of the animal-ambulance; before i could write it down, she hopped lamely into the neverending shrubbery.
and then my train arrived.
and life went on.
*photo friday

Thursday, June 19, 2003

waiting out the downpour

it's raining again. it's cold. poor wee grapes, so neglected by warmth and light: they may never meet their lush destiny.

shaken, not stirred

in the shadow of the westerkerk: not only the statue of anne frank, and the homo-monument, but also the rickety ruins of what used to be a well-known caribbean restaurant. cockatoos used to crow here, and colourful cocktails used to be shaken, but there is nothing exotic about it now. it has been let go*, and it was a quick and easy undoing; unlike the soaring tower of the church, which was built to last centuries, this precarious structure flourished no longer than its popularity and its positive reviews.
*theme thursday

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

feathered friends

rubber ducks are not a unique weakness. i've capitulated twice, but christine and jeanine share the same frivolous inclination.
and these particular water-fowl are definite kindred spirits: they have a LITERARY bent.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

life in the slow lane

and these are the things that made ME smile this weekend*:
(click to enlarge!)

hotel americain, bacon and eggs

kiosk, korte prinsengracht
emily thumbs up!
staying power

rubber duck #2

a complimentary breakfast (my work, don't you know..) at one of the most beautiful hotels in amsterdam, even if it did mean a 4:30 a.m. wake-up-call
the always-inspiring combination of the old and the experienced- and the settled and the brash
suddenly, an unexpected glance upwards, an emily dickinson poem unfolding above the busy marnixstraat
around the corner: happy cobblestones! everyone can use a bit of positivity in their life
a lovely bouquet. it was our anniversary: many many MANY years
a rubber ducky, unforeseen . i have, and always HAVE had, a weakness for rubber duckies...a perfect end to a perfect weekend..

*i work most REAL weekends; this week i had thursday and friday off, so i rearranged a bit...

Saturday, June 14, 2003

of tender years

she hoists the tiny bundle high onto her hip.
angling her body carefully to protect him from the scratching wind, she gently introduces him to the seashore.
"there!" her voice is soft. "can you see that sailboat, way in the distance, bucking the waves?"
"and look!" she continues, gesturing, "how the seagulls soar and dive.."
he listens intently. his infant head swivels briefly from the house on the dunes toward the endless dancing foam, but his eyes focus only on her, her already-familiar face: she is the centre of his universe, and the source of an unconditional love and understanding that he may never know again.

Friday, June 13, 2003

reds and whites and blues

the leidseplein always bustles. trams screech, waiters balance, bicycles whirl, street-performers dance and juggle and mimic. and in the last week, a new flurry of colour and movement has appeared above the square: dozens of flags flutter over the facade of the city playhouse in honour of the holland festival.
photo friday: multiple


"...we become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams."
- jimmy carter (1924 - ) 39th u.s. president

for this week's theme thursday: a sidewalk that used to be a complete set of colourful china..

how sweet to be

"up there!" he gestured.
"that looks like YOUR kind of cloud!"
and it was. it splayed its obstinate way above the amstel, and i, agreeable and easy from the deliciousness and the confidences and the perfect hospitality, clicked and attempted to capture.

Monday, June 9, 2003

out of reach, out of cry

pentacost sunday, bergen aan zee. it was perfect "beach weather": the afternoon storm had subsided, but the damp and the drizzle kept the crowds to a minimum, and most of the adventurous were walkers instead of sun-worshippers. the usual
seashore paraphernalia was present and accounted for, albeit glistening in the rain, and largely ignored. stretched along a mile of coast were poems-on-poles, each singing an ode to the expanse of water washing coldly onto the sand at our feet.
by the time the sun broke through, we were sipping chilled wine on a beach pavilion, and, before threading our way back through the verses, we watched hundreds of holidaymakers swarm hopefully over the dunes to the waiting waves.

some other day

they have been together for a long time: they have even begun to look alike.
and although they pride themselves on a resolute independence, they constantly, unconsciously, seek each other's familiar touch, just as they respond, unaware, in unison to life's whims and wonders.
they stand now, toes curled, at the water's edge, feeling slightly superfluous in the aftermath of the june downpour. but the clouds still reel darkly overhead; and appreciation is a mere deluge away.

Sunday, June 8, 2003

in a teacup

i have this little story, aching to be shared: a story of long ago, of strangers in the night, of thunder, of lightning. and i have not a single image to accompany it. usually, usually, there's a picture in my collection that pleases me, and inspires me, and i compose a story that tallies. in this case, i cross my fingers constantly for a photogenic storm, a tempest of stature, so that i can couple the words and the illustration.
THIS isn't it. it's too clearly amsterdam. but i am patient.
the tale, as tiny as it is, will be told one day.

Saturday, June 7, 2003

with baited breath

spring has been lengthy and dubious; the optimistic patience of the gardener has been sorely tried. and, although the packaging* promises exuberant colour, reality - like all dreams and schemes - can become an entirely different barrel of blooms.
*photo friday

Thursday, June 5, 2003


there are undoubtedly people who see nothing wrong* at all with the decision of the city of amsterdam to dig up the whole city for a new metro line.
there are undoubtedly people who find it so important to get from point a to point b in a minimum of minutes that the maximum of litter and antisocial behavior typical of the underground becomes acceptable - not to mention a stuffy journey with no view at all.
whatever. i'm not one of them.
my heart breaks at what the endless construction work is doing to the stately heart of amsterdam : at the sight of endless bulldozers along the rokin, for instance, where trees used to flourish and the canal used to entice, or along the vijzelstraat, which has become a veritable obstacle course.
i'll opt for the tram anyday. at least this most beautiful of cities can be admired enroute.
the signs announce: "will be completed in 2011".
EIGHT years.
i'll be completely grey.
*theme thursday

Monday, June 2, 2003

chance encounter

summer holidays are just around the least for some people.
lucky sue and her family are off to italy soon, but i will have to discover mediterranean charm in unexpected corners of amsterdam for the time being.
i do have "the international photographic scavenger hunt" to look forward to, though: a distraction can be as good as a break.

tossing and turning

he is etched in indigo.
dragons breathe fire over his collarbones. scaly serpents encircle his arms and legs. fantastic landscapes unfold along the ridges of his abdomen. the names of paramours and ports-of-call suggest a tale that would take weeks to tell.
the little girl behind him in the check-out line clutches her carton of milk, and her coins, mesmerised.
he catches her eye.
"amazing, isn't it?" he smiles, "it was a total surprise."
"when i woke up this morning," he continues pleasantly, "poof! - imagine! - i had been transformed!"
her eyes widen. she doesn't respond.
but how well will she sleep tonight?

Sunday, June 1, 2003

hop skip jump

and we sat in the square, with our rosé and our secrets, and watched the clouds perform olympian feats: hurdling all obstacles and racing the sun.