Sunday, August 31, 2003

the light fandango

"tell me," she says,"do you love me?"
her hand brushes his bent elbow. the lights on the bridge illuminate his adept and beautiful face.
it's a question she regularly asks. his response is usually immediate and glib.
this time, he hesitates.
her hand drops to her side. and, flinching at the split-second pause before his affirmative answer, she realizes that honest doubt is immensely, immeasurably superior to routine affection.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Friday, August 29, 2003

under the same sky

martin bril writes, in his unmissable daily column in the volkskrant (and i translate loosely here):
"would the summer perhaps have lingered a little longer if we hadn't all grumbled so much about the heat and the dryness?"
it's worth a wonder.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

mind the gap

this is the curiousness of hinged things:
some, closing, cause anguish and annoyance.
others, opening, do the same.
and this is the curiousness of the days i set aside to get out and about with my camera:
they are always grey.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003


she has decided to stop leaping and flailing in this pointless silence sated with rebuff and regret.
she has gathered the remembered smiles and the exquisite warmth and threaded them into a veil of colour, to let the light, finally and transformed, through.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

pull up a seat

the interview game - here, then, are my questions-sent-onward:

for julie:
1. you have a clear affinity for holland and things dutch; how did this come about?
2. what scary thing lurked under your bed when you were a child?
3. pasta or risotto?
4. is there a colour you absolutely refuse to wear?
5. you are waiting for a train. where is it headed and what will you do when you arrive there?

for lana:
1. you are a traveller-cum-laude; which three souvenirs of recent journeys are most precious to you and why?
2. do you live to eat, or do you eat to live?
3. if you could be instantly qualified for any profession, which would it be?
4. who gave the best concert you've ever been to?
5. when you're on the road, what typical canadian things do you miss most?

for gimmy:
1. what do you consider to be your greatest virtue, and what your greatest vice?
2. if you could spend tomorrow anywhere in the world, where would it be?
3. you've landed in a restaurant where the chef cooks just what he wants to; what do you hope the surprise four-course meal will include?
4. which golden rule did you grow up with, and has it served you in good stead?
5. you are a writer; which award would please you more: an oscar for best screenplay, or a pulitzer for best novel?

for bran:
1. you're celebrating something; what's in your glass?
2. did you always want to be a mother, and did you discover that it came naturally?
3. is the love of your life also your best friend?
4. which song would be the theme of the movie made of your life story, and why?
5. roller coaster or ferris wheel?

have fun, and thank you all four! (the rules are re-readable a few entries back..)
oh! and i read, to my delight, over at jennifer's that tracey has once again organised an inspirational project: "connect 8", a photographic search for common factors through a series of eight images: whoever can resist a creative challenge?

Monday, August 25, 2003

curds and whey

spiderdom would not be my first choice in an afterlife, but imagine the satisfaction of being a master weaver, imagine the joy of floating free of all but the finest of earthly bounds, imagine the challenge of an endless sky awaiting a gossamer web, possibly into eternity.

second time round

the rules of the interview game:
1. leave a comment, saying you want to be interviewed (or send me an e-mail; i also have a few special people i will approach myself)
2. i will respond; i'll ask you five questions.
3. you'll update your website with my five questions, and your five answers.
4. you'll include this explanation.
5. you'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

a week ago, i received five questions from laura sina: excellent questions, but my emotional turmoil at that moment was so great that i wrote her and asked if i could please, alas, pass.
a few days ago, the lovely renee (her words&pictures are here just for now) sent me HER set of questions. i asked for a wee bit of time for my spirit to settle, and it has.
1. if you could be a man for a day, what would you do?
well. i deliberated and cogitated (á la masterchef) and decided that there are no truly male things that i have always wanted to do or have resented being incapable of. my colleagues cried: "oh! you could pee standing up!" but that is not something that's always been on my wish-list. i like being what i am.
2. what words do you use for god?
i don't talk about him, or to him, out loud, to be honest. this kind of heavenly communication is generally a silent and intense one.
3. do you believe that time travel will ever be possible for humans?
i hope not. we can't even learn from our very real past. maybe we should work on that first.
4. how many languages do you speak & which do you think/dream in?
i speak three: english (canadian, eh!), dutch and french. my french is imperfect, but gets me by. i think and dream in both english and dutch. i had an operation once upon a time, about 15 years ago, and the surgeon informed me that i had - under anesthetic - rambled on in dutch. he was astounded. i talk to myself in both as well, to the disconcertion of many.
5. walk, bike, or drive?
walk, always. walk, walk, walk. i can't drive, no license. i do cycle - this is holland, after all - but city traffic panics me. i can stroll for hours, eyes and ears open, at any time of day and in any weather.

for posterity. we'll see.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

of wit and windowboxes

jen has been married six* years and one day today.
for her and hers, because she loves flowers: this billow of brilliant lobelia..
*tsk, in retrospect.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

you win some, you lose some

somehow, the sun - MY sun- has sunk into sad obscurity in the week gone by.
on the other hand, my next nine days dawn free and irresponsible...
and my lovely daughter returns home from canada on monday.
hopefully that will raise the dark cloud, at least - and at last - above eye-level.

tumbling down

broken* can be mended.
lost can be found.
pain can be - sometimes - soothed.
but, she wonders: can the repaired, the rediscovered, the relieved (or the rehabilitated) ever again be what it was before its encounter with adversity?
*photo friday


some things, relegated unthinkingly to the shadows, thrive despite.

Friday, August 22, 2003

through the looking glass

he holds a mirror to her eyes, and tells her that what she sees is not worth seeing.
she, trusting, believes him: at least for now.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

passion fruit

her dress gleams green in the dusk, lime hugging mahogany.
it sheds a sumptuous, almost otherwordly glow on the two of us, sitting below - smoking, confiding, concurring.
and between and beyond their colourful banter and our hushed dialogue, a thousand people stroll and wheel through the retiring light.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

fallen from grace

i am in need of spiritual sustenance.
tomorrow i am off to the little white house on the water, to its two cherished residents, to its venerable cat, to its colourful calm, to its incense and its flowers.
i will sit on the roof. maybe i will weep.
it will do me good.

Monday, August 18, 2003

down the waterfall

vigilant, achtergracht

this, then, is the inherent disadvantage of pedestals:
even angels - in an inattentive moment, or longing, perhaps, for a distant cloud - can take a tumble.
thank heaven for wings.

Friday, August 15, 2003

nothing, no, nothing

she sees the warning, but, puzzled by the irony, she does not see the danger.
she steps.
the brick wall hurts intensely, her heart even more.
and her pride may never recover.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

prescience, portrayed

looking back on years of doubt, she sees the blindfold that others saw, but were too polite to indicate. looking back on a lifetime of self-effacement, she sees the innocent foolishness of the veil before her eyes; and, looking back on an eternity of mischosen roads, she finally understands where the indecision, once upon a time, began, and where it ultimately ceased.
choices are an uncommon luxury for some, but, their consequences are, for all, almost impossible to foresee.

meandering upward

the strings, however firmly wielded, cannot confine her dance, nor, however neglected, can they subdue her momentum.
she spirals* heedlessly among the stones and the flowers, revolving, reaching, resolved.
the puppeteer is of little consequence: these are private pirouettes, and he has always underestimated her agility and her worth.
*theme thursday

Wednesday, August 13, 2003


just a pile of old planks, teetering in the shadows between the lovely café heffer and the majestic beurs (berlage's), nothing more than that:
but this vibrant blue makes my heart sing.

Monday, August 11, 2003


i'm a good-humoured sort, really, truly, sincerely.
but this relentlessly humid (and very un-dutch) heat is making me the-tiniest-of-trifles irritable.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

rip torn

in deterioration, in wear and tear, in the fraying of vulnerable edges, a story is revealed.
and in these layers of protest, seduction, and celebration lies the tale - colourful, and, above all, chronological: a collage of time's whims and beckonings, and a minor epic, spanning time and the irresistible temptations of city life.

Saturday, August 9, 2003

the three r's

there's nothing like the train for a fine day out with the little ones.
one can sink back into plastic, air-conditioned comfort, arrange one's newspapers, snacks, bits and pieces, and launch one's offspring into the wide world of the railway carriage. surely five dozen fellow passengers comprise the perfect childminder?
while one relaxes (and pretends that one is childless), one's smallfry can play tag - or hide&seek: even better - in the aisles; they can wipe their hands and their noses on any available textile; they can listen wide-eyed to any and every conversation, and then repeat it, verbatim and alta voce, to the amusement of few. they can exercise their vocal talents, send laptops flying, and watch longingly and greedily every mouthful enjoyed. it's a perfect start to a memorable family day out.
and when one's destination is announced, one can whistle or snap, gather the tots - exhausted from this grand release of early-morning energy - and get on with the excursion.
i am SO happy that school's back in on monday.

Thursday, August 7, 2003

the house of tomorrow

my daughter, far away, is dealing with dilemmas; but she has reached the age of majority and there is little i can do except reassure her that she can make the decisions, and that a lot of decisions are of little import in the long run anyway. priorities shift and slide. new vistas beckon. it's how i ended up where i am, and how i am, so i encourage from modest experience.
because i am a product of the 70's, kahlil gibran's bow&arrow poem inspired my approach to parenthood; because i am a mother, my overwhelming instinct was, and is, to simply enclose her in my arms and carry her wherever she wants to go. THAT is the dilemma that i deal with.
if only life were cut-and-dried. if only what you saw was what you got. if only.
but no: i risk the soapbox-syndrome, and assure her that challenges enrich, and that disappointments bestow insight. i tell her - because i totally believe it - that life is what you make it.
mothers become philosophers, and cheerleaders, out of necessity.
will i share the moment of enlightenment, or the winning goal?
i can only hope.

behind the glow

from her habitual subdued seat on the edge of the chaos, she perceives the brightness sharply through the dark, and sees the earthbound side of paradise: the miracle of neon would flicker and dim without solid support and a simple everyday socket and plug.

Wednesday, August 6, 2003


tell me: can life not be, sometimes, a delight?
the sun shines. the world smiles. around each corner lies an unexpected surprise.
colour and movement complement the mundane.
and on a day like today, even the mundane is enough to inspire selective satisfaction.
ah. but it's summer.
and it's amsterdam.

Sunday, August 3, 2003

thirteen times two

this was considered, very momentarily, for the "construction" part of the 26 things project, but when i got it into digital view, i realized that "destruction" was probably a better word.
no matter. we got there. you can see our month of july here.
or you can simply click on the link to the right.

Saturday, August 2, 2003


i probably recited the following information at least two hundred times during the past week:
"the gay parade departs from the westerdok at 1400 hours, and proceeds via the korte prinsengracht along the entire length of the prinsengracht to the amstel river where it continues along the zwanenburgwal and the oudeschans to the oosterdok."
although i wasn't among the spectators today, i breathed a sigh of relieved solidarity at two o'clock when the sun shone strong and the rain stayed away. because many participants had professed a preference, this year, for loincloths and rainbow minimalism over extravagant feathers and weighty sequins, success hinged on agreeable weather.
but the boats glided under clear and appreciative skies - according to the reports - and the happening is still...happening.

paths: diverged

sometimes, during our innocent hike through life, we lose track of the people we love. years ago, in paris, my pocket was picked, and the perpetrator made off with nothing more than a plump address book: worthless to him/her, but the greatest of losses to me. recently i wondered if maybe the internet might not be just the vehicle for finding misplaced friends.
so, once in a while, instead of pictures of canals and clogs, visitors to this site may encounter the scanned images of kindred spirits long-lost.
here is the first.
this is judith. judith ellis. she's the one on the right. i am - it follows - the one on the left. we are doused in the magic of the acropolis, years and years ago: 1977, to be exact.
we met in the post office in kifissia; we struck up a conversation; we became friends. she was an au-pair too, but she had a special passion: greek cooking. she spent all her free time hanging about the hearths in the local tavernas, taking notes, absorbing inspiration. (i still use the hand-written recipes she shared with me). she had an american-boyfriend-left-behind, and a greek-gardener-paramour called giorgios.
she was delightful, and unforgettable.
she came from santa cruz. she was one of the best people i've ever encountered. does anyone know her?
i would give the world to know how she is.