Saturday, August 28, 2004
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
this stretch of sidewalk - at the foot of the reina sofia museum in madrid - grew sunnier and sultrier as the day progressed; prospective customers, spying the swathe of shadow where we were lucky to be sitting, scraped tables and chairs toward the comparative coolness.
at the first sign of this shameless impertinence, the ferocious little waiter lurking in the doorway leapt into action: wagging his finger, waving his yellow cloth and muttering "no! no! no!", he dragged the same tables and chairs right back to where they had been in the first place, and where they stayed, empty, hot to the touch, until the next group strolled by.
the whole pantomime was repeated several times in the course of our rosés and our patatas bravas, and had us whispering, "uh-oh" - and then, "no! no! no!" the moment we saw passers-by debating a bit of furniture-rearranging - and giggling helplessly into our glasses .
we were, of course, touched by the plight of those thwarted and thirsty - they settled under the parasols two doors down - but it was slapstick, and it was summer, and laughter is a splendid thing.
Monday, August 23, 2004
Thursday, August 19, 2004
carnivals are not usually my cup of tea (or perhaps i should say "my cloud of cotton candy"), but the tiny old-fashioned fair on dam square last week waylaid me - at noontime on a rainy day - for a while. there was just enough noise and action to make it lively, and more than enough colour to keep me busy and content until the crowds came.
Saturday, August 14, 2004
his gift to her was luminous and memorable: the realization that fineness - silk and sequins, delibes and debussy, champagne, the scent of distant blossoms, and more, and less - is hers for the conjuring, for she can see, and she can dream, and she can tell a tale.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
the "negen straatjes" neighbourhood in amsterdam (actually rather misleadingly named, since it is not nine little streets at all, but three slightly-less-little streets that capriciously change their names each time they cross a canal)
is a few square blocks of paradise for people who like to shop,
people who like to eat, people who like to linger at waterside cafés,
people who like to take pictures, people who like people, and people who like all of the above.
Saturday, August 7, 2004
amsterdam is a city of bicycles.
it is also - alas - a city of bicycle parts: frames, wheels and chains decorate bridges and festoon bannisters. locks - like this one over at onno's - hang about doing nothing of consequence, having proved unequal to their (admittedly) difficult task.
these rusting, or merely relinquished bits and pieces are immensely picturesque, but the sight of them, and the awareness of some poor person's immobility, is just as immensely sad.
Wednesday, August 4, 2004
i was seven, maybe eight years old, when my parents nudged me toward cultural enlightenment, allowing me to choose between piano lessons and ballet. a romantic soul even at that tender age, and harbouring a huge and hopeless crush on rudolf nureyev, i chose the latter.
for three years i did my absolute emotive best: as a dewdrop, a daisy, a dwarf. i pliéd and pirouetted my way faithfully through saturday mornings, enthusiastic but lamentably inadequate. i was not a natural talent.
i firmly believe that regrets are a waste of time, but i do wonder sometimes if i might have benefited more from the "chopsticks" and "für elise" route. probably not. i certainly can't carry a tune vocally.
as it is, looking back, what i recall most vividly about those weekends isn't the locale and the lessons, but the wait afterwards: gloriously alone and trusted in lattimer's drug store, perched on a rotating stool at the counter, socks slipping, sipping soda through a straw.
that memory alone is worth the choice i made.