Thursday, December 30, 2004

there but for fortune

i suppose - new year's eve being my least favourite holiday of the entire year - that this is easy for me to say, and do, but i'll say and do it anyway:
if everyone were to halve their party spending - wine instead of champagne, sparklers instead of fireworks, whatever - and donate the difference, however small, to the red cross (or here in holland to giro 555), millions of uprooted people in south-east asia might find some kind of hope in 2005.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

this little earth

the terrible devastation in south-east asia has cast dark clouds across the holiday skies, and my thoughts keep lurching toward the people there, and the people here who know people there, and who are filled with concern, and fear.
i hope they can find the strength, and are given the support, that they cannot now manage without.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

th'unbroken song

"christmas gift suggestions: to your enemy, forgiveness. to an opponent, tolerance. to a friend, your heart. to a customer, service. to all, charity. to every child, a good example. to yourself, respect."
- oren arnold

please: have a happy christmas, all.
feast and frolic...
and share the merriness where you can!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

where there is light

someone kind said to me, at the start of this very un-festive uncertainty: "when one
door closes, another one opens."
i mention this, speeding along the highway towards alkmaar, to an old friend - er, acquaintance - and he raises a dubious eyebrow. he is a realistic soul, and he is not, has never been, given to platitudes.
my smile is indulgent, but i know this much: if i hadn't consistently jammed my foot between one particular door and the slam of inevitability, i wouldn't be here, now, comfortable in this company, catching up, comparing presents and futures, and watching the lights of north-holland slide brightly by.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

and change, and fade away

i am grateful, these days, for my multitude of images, sorted and saved: suddenly the blue sky of two weeks ago is back, if only here, and the branches not quite as bare as they are today. it's weather on automatic rewind, a minor - but imaginary - meteorological miracle, memories of fall brightening the winter-too-close-for-comfort.
we have a modest and unassuming autumn here, but i wish it would last a little

Sunday, December 12, 2004

at break of day

breakfast, elsewhere, anywhere, is one of the true delights of travelling.

in france, i wake up anticipating my grand café crème and my croissant; in england, the very prospect of bacon and eggs and sausages and baked beans can make even an abominably early wake-up-call worthwhile. when i lived in israel, i relished the massive tomato-and-cucumber salads - tossed with eggs and cream cheese - that started my day.

why is it then, i wonder, that here in holland, after all these years, i still skip the
bread and ham and cheese that comprise the dutch ontbijt, and can barely manage
a cup of milky tea?

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

analyze this

the enormous owl, in my true dream, turns his enigmatic white face toward me as he swoops past, and then, as if reconsidering my worth, circles behind me and settles delicately but solidly on my head. he is surprisingly substantial for a feathered creature, but i shrug him solemnly about my shoulders, a soft and whimsical wrap, like the ones back then, in my aunt-elsa-the-actress's costume coffer, under the velvets and the veils.
his talons are firm, but gentle; his huge wings, occasionally crossing my breast, are fearsome, but wondrous in their tenderness.
we travel an unfamiliar pathway, my mystifying burden and i, and he is such
effortless cargo that i wonder if perhaps he is bearing my weight instead of me his.
and i can tell, from the unconcern of those we pass, that i alone am aware of his
when morning comes, i feel blessed, and bereft to be awake.
"death", say the sources that profess an understanding of dreams.
"imminent disaster", they caution.
owls are, apparently, portents of doom.
"oh, dear", i frown, and then sigh.
i can't do much else: he was beautiful, that owl on my head, and he seemed to know where i was going.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

and the clock struck twelve

midnight nears; it is almost tomorrow. enchantment ends.
one glass slipper dissolved into darkness on the palace steps, and the second - she can feel it splinter as she stumbles - has mere moments to linger.
she was barefoot, though, before the ball began, so it's back to the freedom of
shoelessness until the wand waves once more.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

looks like rain

i am an emotional person; i cry at the drop of a hat. my eyes fill - and spill over - in sadness, in frustration, in anger, in sympathy, and at the slightest of slights. and my tears, not always well-timed, can overwhelm all attempts at self-control. i clench my fists, bite my lip, and think of better moments, but still they fall.
i have a meeting on monday with the co-director of the organisation i work for.
exception has been taken to my inference that reading about ones planned
redundancy on the company intranet might not be the most courteous way to become informed about one's future.
and yesterday evening, out for drinks and dinner with colleagues and former
colleagues, my ex-manager - who knows me very well indeed - suggested that i spend tomorrow ranting and raving and sobbing and screaming so that i will be drained, and calm, for this minor confrontation.
my husband - poor dear - is already bracing himself.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

second helpings

"mine" totally passed me by, here in this country that has never lived the traditions of horns-of-plenty and pumpkin pie.
may "yours" - for you south of the 49th parallel - be fine and festive.
happy thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

the yellow jersey

"just remember, once you're over the hill you begin to pick up speed."
-arthur schopenhauer (german philosopher, 1788-1860)

this is the thing: come april, i will be out of work. i believe it's called redundancy.
the minutes of the most recent meeting of the short-sighted-powers-that-be have made this inevitability perfectly clear. it doesn't matter, these days, you see, how efficient and flexible one is, or how loyal, or enthusiastic; all that really counts is how much one costs.
i saw this coming, of course i did; i wear glasses, but i am not blind. i started watching the want-ads a few months back, and have responded more than once, to no avail. my birthdate, black-on-white in my resumé will blow it every time. should i shout "age discrimination"? would it make any difference? all i want is to be evaluated - face to face - on my real merits. assumptions are such unfortunate oversights.
i have no choice but to surrender to the race, and to fix my eyes on the road ahead. i am realistic enough to expect pitfalls, and positive enough to expect - somehow, somewhere - recognition.
this search for a new job is going to be the mont ventoux of my personal tour, i fear, and i hope i can find the stamina i need.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

under the falling sky

sunday was, indeed, sunny, and serene, so my patient partner and i headed towards the beemster and the schermer for a wondrous windless afternoon out and about.

the sky and the scenery were mirrored in every stripe and stretch of still water,

and i found myself, for a change, gazing earthward as much as heavenward,

and only the ripples wrinkling the reflections - and the upside-down-ness of
everything -

disclosed the direction of my eyes, and the direction of my camera.

*for you, btezra: because you are, as you once mentioned here, a "sucker for reflex shots~".

Sunday, November 14, 2004

shoulder to shoulder

"a friend is someone who sees through you and still enjoys the view."
-wilma askinas

i am thankful, today and every day: for friends close and friends far, friends i can link arms with and friends i've never met, friends lost and friends found. they complete me.
happy birthday, rachel!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

lo and behold

his eye - only one is open - looks through her and beyond her.
his ears - they are covered tightly - spurn her sweet, sad, treacherous tales.
disdain and distance, though, will never stop the stories, for they spiral, stubborn,
from the dimness, and they are still for him.

Monday, November 8, 2004

the wild blue yonder

i would dye my hair bright red on arrival. i would drink my coffee black - de rigueur - and develop, with possible difficulty, a taste for brown rice and abstract jazz. i might even smoke, if only for effect. i would wear sandals and silver and pierce my ears: once, twice, maybe more. i would use my first name instead of my second. i would seize each day. i would dare.
i had plans.
i was nineteen, and ready for a new me, and i had three days and three nights on the cross-canada train to deliberate my re-creation.
when i stepped onto the platform in vancouver, though, to my dismay, a distant
western aunt - hastily deputised by my worried father - strode forward to greet me, and bustled me off to coquitlam, to a pink chenille bedspread turned neatly down, to old family photographs and anecdotes; i escaped to independence as quickly as i politely could, but the liberation of true anonymity evaporated like the steam in her constant kettle.
my hair remained blonde. i only learned to smoke a decade later in a town in southern holland. the delights of abstract jazz still totally elude me. but three earrings and a tiny tattoo later, i still try to seize every day, and i will always dare, because i can't not.
and i'm still called what i've been called my entire life.
it's who i am, after all.

Thursday, November 4, 2004

taken to the cleaners

i really did believe that they were going to wash that man right out of their hair.
i am disturbed - and totally mystified - that they didn't.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

finding nemo

this golden view greeted me at half past eight this morning when i arrived at work. if i'm lucky, i'll be treated to a similar glory tomorrow, but then at half past seven, since the clocks FALL backward* during tonight.
if tomorrow morning does dawn dramatic, i will see it from the early boat to harwich, as we're off to london for a couple of days.
this sunrise is for the meantime: i won't be home till thursday.
please have a happy hallowe'en, and an excellent week:
i will, too.

*daylight savings always used to confuse me, until i nestled the "FALL backward, SPRING forward" into my illogical mind.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

as dance it can

she is not captive; nor is she crippled.
this lonely pirouette is a feat of determination and nimbleness - she insists - and this gossamer a sanctuary that suspends her, in a gentle spin, somewhere between flourishing and falling.
she will surrender, because she has been surrendered, but she will take her stubborn time in tumbling, and spite her brittle fate.

Monday, October 25, 2004

a moveable feast

"well", said rachel, as the train trundled homeward (it only topspeeds while it's in france), "any idea what you'll be posting?"
i considered the images i'd gathered over the splendid weekend, and shook my head ruefully.
just as 48 hours is much too short to do justice to a city like paris, a pageful of pictures and words is too confined to communicate the beauty and the brightness that blessed the two brim-full days we spent there.
however would i choose...

between the minor miracle of warm blue skies and cottonball clouds, which allowed us to roam coatless and sun-spectacled...

and something perennially parisian...

and one of the peculiarities that had us stretching and stooping and attracting bemused attention from passers-by?

maybe the innovative soaring structures at la défense...

or the unique delights of the metro system?

but then there's my acknowledged weakness for café tables and chairs...
i couldn't decide.
so i didn't: these are a random few, with sincere apologies for the length of the entry.
i suppose i should look into a gallery option...n'est-ce pas?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

unfettered and alive

this time tomorrow, rachel and i will be railing our way toward paris, toward a balmy (we hope) and beautiful (likewise) weekend away, filled with good food, good conversation, and hopefully some good photos too.
fingers crossed for fineness...
vive la france.
vive l'amitié.

Monday, October 18, 2004

curtain call

perhaps it was the dull and white-skied october day itself that pushed these reticent patches of colour onto center stage, where they bowed gracefully, blushed, and accepted the applause, the accolades, and the appreciative click of cameras.

*for i-gizmo: red.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

like string and brown paper

days dim, and leaves let reluctantly go, but little says "autumn" to me as clearly as the unmistakable conclusion of sidewalk-café season.

i'll be meeting an old friend - er, acquaintance - saturday evening for dinner and my gloved fingers will be firmly crossed for a table at the back of the restaurant, as far away from the fall draughts and the chill as possible.

Monday, October 11, 2004

half a step away

it's not that i'm not adventurous, mind, but vacations like my husband's - backpacking alone through china for six long weeks last may, for example - are not my idea of rest and relaxation.
i see myself, i guess, as a bits-and-pieces traveler.
there was that wedding in madrid in june, and antwerp (these golden gables!)
was a september delight. in a dozen days - i'm counting them impatiently - rachel and i will hop onto the thalys for an autumn weekend in paris; november will see me in wimbledon, and london, for a few days visiting my wonderful friends ceri and richard.
"i suppose i'm more of a city-hopper", i mused at the dinner table tonight.
my daughter nearly choked on her garlicky potato.
"yeah. well. okay. maybe not yet", i admitted.
"but i'm getting there."

Thursday, October 7, 2004

that rainbow again

"every cloud has its silver lining but it is sometimes a little difficult to get it to the mint."
- donald r. perry marquis (american writer and columnist, 1878-1937)

if this little country weren't so utterly flat, the view wouldn't go on for miles and miles, and the sky wouldn't seem so endless.
and if this endless sky weren't so utterly grey and damp, the fields would not be this glorious day-glo green.
sometimes i fear i will never adapt. mostly, i know i did long ago.

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

i had some dreams

he clasps his cup in ungainly hands, and watches her stir. sugar dissolves; creamy clouds disperse, like fragile affection, like fantasy.
suddenly, it seems, he sees only obligation, and his heart hardens, and his shoulders stiffen, and his pale blue eyes concede that their imperfect affinity has faded, simply, into the august air.

Friday, October 1, 2004

if these walls could speak

this has the elements of an amsterdam still life - a bicycle, a red brick wall, a tall window, a scrawl of graffiti - but is clearly, undefinably (at least to me) not dutch. i suppose it has something to do with use of colour and state of repair; the romantic in me, however, prefers to ponder the intrinsic spirit of age-old stone and shingle.
i spent the last couple of days in antwerp, you see, and wondered - as i did a few months back - at how faraway a city just a few hours from home can feel.

Monday, September 27, 2004

the sunny side

"it's practically impossible to look at a penguin and feel angry."
-joe moore

everyone has a disgruntled day now and then.
if today is one of yours, then this is for you.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

a soul's age

under his intuitive hands she flourished, and under his earthly attentions she thrived, aware, even as she tended heavenward, that her grace was fleeting and her loveliness ephemeral.
unfolding, flowering, wilting, waning: this is nature's way, and, sometimes, it seems - sadly but simply - the way of the world.

Monday, September 20, 2004

the heart of the country

my husband is very dear to me, and i assume that i am just as dear to him.
if i weren't, he probably wouldn't sacrifice half a clear crisp sunday - like yesterday - to drive poor license-less me somewhere photogenic , and then precede me patiently while i wander, distracted and delighted by all manner of reflections..

and still lives...

and gables.....

little miracles of nature...

and endless and glorious views.
i count my blessings constantly.

Friday, September 17, 2004

some days are diamonds

at the bus stop, my early-morning conversation with myself sends wisps of whiteness into the dawn. the air is cardigan-cold the whole day through, and the sun is distant but determined.
i am content.
i love the fall.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

places that i hide

she lifts her spectacles slightly.
"it's the sun," she says, feeling foolish: "it's the sun, y'know, and the wind. this always happens."
she stumbles a smile, and fumbles for some softness to smoothe the unbidden bits of sadness out of sight.
her companion, aware of her true story, nods, and they sip, under the espaliered
lindens, in the brightness, and the breeze.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

open to the day

"art is the window to man's soul. without it, he would never be able to see beyond his immediate world; nor could the world see the man within."
- claudia johnson

sometimes a birthday party's musical chairs can lead to somewhere unexpected: the one we attended on saturday ended up in the tiny town of biezemortel, savouring a sneak preview of "de kunst van het onvolmaakte" ("the art of the imperfect"), an event which begins tomorrow and will hopefully delight many many visitors between then and the 19th of september.
even in rehearsal mode, it was alive with colour and character and a quirky kind of humour; the festival itself - visual and performing arts, nature, food, drink, and please-don't- forget-the-dahlias - should be even better.
i love eccentricity. returning might be hard to resist.