Monday, September 29, 2003
Sunday, September 28, 2003
two changes of clothes, all black for convenience. check. pyjamas. check. undergarments. check. warm cardigan, just in case. check. two books. check. toiletries, and half a dozen lovely little samples i've been hoarding (this way, if it turns out i'm allergic, there will be no witnesses). check. battery chargers. check. notebook and mini-thesaurus. check. earplugs? will i need them? i certainly hope not. well. maybe just to be sure. check. and several pairs of earrings in a tiny drawstring bag, because i can never decide which ones i'll feel like. check.
cameras. check. cf cards. check. public-transport schedules, small map of noordwijk, tourist info on den haag and leiden. check. wallet and gsm. check. spare spectacles. check. umbrella, which will hopefully remain folded, though judging by today...check.
i do believe i'm all set.
Saturday, September 27, 2003
Friday, September 26, 2003
i have a very sedentary job.
it is stimulating, and challenging, and sociable, and i love it...but i face a keyboard and a monitor the livelong day. spending my lunch-half-hour sitting inside, despite the admirable salad bar, is totally out of the question.
so i walk. come rain, come snow, come sleet, come hail (we're talking the postman-pledge here): i get out and about.
i either head off to the douaneloodsen, because that particular environment inspires me immeasurably, or i stroll the haarlemmerstraat - usually starting at the korte prinsengracht.
i pass the posthoorn church, tucked quietly off the street, and café restaurant "dulac"; i buy bread at "crusts and crumbs"; i check out the shop window at "mas".
this neighbourhood is absolutely unique.
if you follow thomas schlijper's daily wanderings - and you SHOULD - you will already be aquainted with this - HIS - stomping ground..
so: between noon and half-past-twelve, i get my exercise.
and i refuel my spirit in the process.
Thursday, September 25, 2003
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
the double, even triple, rainbows that arched through yesterday afternoons
dreariness promised a superlative tomorrow.
and - sure enough - superstitions were sustained:
today - ALL day - the sky reigned a tender and transparent hydrangea-blue.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
a bicycle fallen prey to vandals, to the dubious purveyors of spare parts, or simply to the elements: it is always a sad sight.
this one - so tiny, so futilely secured, so optimistically and brokenly bright - made me feel especially sorrowful.
(i may be a bit over-sensitive on this subject: my daughters bike was stolen a few days ago. the three of us presently at home are sharing one steed. it's an organisational nightmare..)
Monday, September 22, 2003
she cycles through the silent darkness, her legs bare; her left hand reprimands the flimsy fabric of her skirt, modestly, though the road is empty.
the neon of the shops and snack bars and amusement halls glows through the street and onto the nightwater, curving toward midnight, washing her face in brilliance: red, becoming blue, shimmering into brilliant violet. try as it might, it cannot reach the other side.
the season is nearly at an end.
it has been a summer of light and shadow, blackness and irrepressible colour: much, she reflects, like this long and familiar path homeward.
*the title was borrowed from jenny bruce's amazing debut cd. her second - "heart on fire" - was equally beautiful, and her third is on it's way. it's worth watching out for.
Sunday, September 21, 2003
that which she sees chooses to be seen.
somber sways to spectacle, and swings back soulward.
brilliance bows to monochrome, and then, as obstinate as optimism, reasserts itself.
it sounds suspiciously like balance.
it doesn't feel that way.
Friday, September 19, 2003
the douaneloodsen (customs-sheds) along the westerdoksdijk form an enclave of colour and creativity.
they are also just five minutes walk from my office, and, because a potential masterpiece awaits discovery in each and every square centimeter, my selective lunchtime saunters have produced photos like this and this and two of my twenty-six things. (i even replaced a previous image today - couldn't resist - but that's a few days back..)
yesterday, wandering, i was informed by an itinerant cameraman that the complex's days are regrettably numbered. the city of amsterdam has issued eviction notices. the artists must vacate in october and this glorious building will be razed to make way for luxury homes.
i was astounded.
if there is one thing that amsterdam does not need at present, it is expensive housing. what amsterdam needs is - and we won't mention crime-free streets and a clean environment here - is affordable accommodation for students. what it also needs is havens like this:
where inspired souls can share sparks and provide the world around with a wild and bright and eccentric vision of urban life, where the edge is enough foundation for fulfillment...
and where they invite you to share home-made french-fries on a friday night.
Thursday, September 18, 2003
she has almost recovered her balance after the push into uncertainty; she has almost retrieved a precarious peace after the treachery of broken promises.
rising and meeting, accepting and overcoming: these are artistries born of necessity.
she slides the locket from the chain, and the picture from the frame.
she tucks her perfect memories deep into an unconvinced - but imperative - oblivion, and lets the beloved slip away.
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
the ibc conference ended yesterday, and thousands of media people have headed off homeward.
the out-of-land visitors strolling the streets are once again here for the usual amsterdam attractions (obviously in totally random order): sex, beer, rembrandt and van gogh, canals and gables, scarcely-clad beckoning blue-lit beauties, and, of course, tolerance's gift to the city - and more frequented by tourists than by locals - the smart & coffee shops.
i have a hunch, though, that the media people weren't entirely immune to some of these dubious claims-to-fame either.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
this wonderful tale - at this equally wonderful site - describes one of the most common misconceptions suffered by a "select" (ahem) section of the male population.
it is a smiling story, as always: engagingly written, and lamentably true-to-life.
i forwarded the link to my son, one floor up: forewarned is forearmed, as i saw it; and - just so he'd realise - insight and sensitivity will always win hands-down from bravado. he told me knew this LONG ago. thank heavens.
and also, via marie: a photographic interview that may just keep me occupied one day soon..
Monday, September 15, 2003
this is now: soaring above a desolate stretch of streetworks along the spuistraat in amsterdam.
and this is then: gracing the edge of stanley park in vancouver, decades, entire existences ago.
a façade as canvas, urban art on a grand and able scale, has always stopped me in my tracks.
Sunday, September 14, 2003
Saturday, September 13, 2003
Friday, September 12, 2003
when we fixed up our garden a few years ago - me longing for a refuge of greenness - i searched high and low for a nursery which could provide this climber - ampelopsis brevipedunculata - to wander the wooden walls. it was worth the effort. it grows, as we say in holland, like cabbage; and, although it doesn't really flower, these amazing berries - green to turquoise to lavender to purple, and so MANY of them- fill me with pleasure.
Thursday, September 11, 2003
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Tuesday, September 9, 2003
Monday, September 8, 2003
"it's a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. it gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet, and what is sand."
madeleine l'engle (1918 - ) u.s. novelist
speaking of beaches (and carpets tugged, for that matter): although my plans for a much-anticipated weekend out and about - groningen? domburg? - at the end of the month suddenly disintegrated, i have decided to lose myself to a couple of days of much-needed r&r. i've booked a room in a charming little hotel in noordwijk, on the coast, with breakfast and dinner included; i will pack a very good book (any suggestions?) and my camera, and not a lot else. den haag is a stone's throw away. i've never spent more than three consecutive hours there (picking up my passport at the canadian embassy!) and i understand it's lovely.
all in all: things are looking, finally, a bit forward. i am, as one says, getting my act together.
Sunday, September 7, 2003
i love dogs. i love cats too (and everyone KNOWS that i love rabbits), but they don't generally become two-muses subject-matter.
this particular canine, however, is saar, and saar is unique.
saar belongs to guus and geertje, and saar not only lives the life of riley, but she has her own website as well. (you need to be able to read dutch to wind yourselves around the delightful stories, but the photos will make you smile.)
most importantly, she is the happiest bassett i know, taken underwing when her previous owners couldn't cope any longer, and totally and absolutely adored.
she is also lazily familiar with the best café in amsterdam, but that is another story.
Saturday, September 6, 2003
she danced this particular pas-de-deux a hundred, a thousand times.
she could have flown, sleepwalking, through its enchanting familiarity. the joy it instilled in her was boundless.
she doesn't quite understand why or how she stumbled: only that she did, and that her misstep relegated her mercilessly to the wings, to the mystifying humiliation of a descending - and final - velvet curtain.
Friday, September 5, 2003
amsterdam's zeedijk is slowly but surely clambering above a decade's seedy infamy. there are still sections where a steady tread and a self-assured attitude is advisable, but its stretch is nonetheless studded with little - and not so little - treasures: the casablanca vaudeville theatre, for instance, and the fo guang shan buddhist temple.
a true jewel, though, is "latei": a tiny coffee bar just off the nieuwmarkt, a bright haven piled to the eaves with fifties nostalgia. everything - EVERYTHING - on the premises can be bought, the espresso and the chocolate cake are to die for, and the colours and the textures and the friendly welcome are food for the weary soul.
*an aside: via lala*land's most recent urban texture, this: one of the most beautiful photo sites i've seen in a while. take a look...
emptiness can be deceptively heavy.
she wishes that she could simply shrug, sending all the futile hopes and dreams, all the impossible memories flying into the everlasting sky.
she suspects, though, that her foolish aching shoulders have a purpose.
Wednesday, September 3, 2003
they manoeuvre through the flotsam and the jetsam.
one fights the currents; the other surrenders.
their proximity scrapes, screeches, beseeches.
when they finally throw anchor they will not know whether they are face to face or back to back, only that they are caught between love and a hard place, that their difference lies in the fickle numerical, that they cannot move onward without mutual assent.
life is now about steerage and space; side by side has become a thing of the past.
Tuesday, September 2, 2003
(though most are excellent:)
"all men are not slimy warthogs. some men are silly giraffes, some woebegone puppies, some insecure frogs. but if one is not careful, those slimy warthogs can ruin it for all the others."
cynthia heimel, u.s. writer and humorist.
i couldn't resist...