Friday, February 29

Generally, You'll Find Me Barefoot


As both a child and a teenager I traveled a lot with the dance company I trained and performed with. Most of that performing was what I would deem local, as in traveling within the state where we were based. Occasionally, that traveling took us to world wide venues, you know, like all the way to Canada. When I was sixteen the horizons expanded to this side of the pond as the company ventured forth to a Dance and the Child conference in Stockholm, Sweden. It was my first trip to the cultured and refined continent of Europe and I was smitten in every sense of the word. To me, it felt like every day I was waking and walking in storybook land, and I was utterly, helplessly in love with every moment of the experience.

We stayed (as only a company of 75 dancers under age 18 and their chaperones can likely afford) in youth hostels and the like throughout our trip. In Stockholm, the hostel was a decent distance from the Balletschool where we were in class and rehearsals each day which required a lengthy walk to and from the location morning and evening.

In between rehearsals and workshops and performances there was sightseeing for the group as a whole. In between the sightseeing there was sometimes some down time for all of us to explore or rest or play gin rummy and roll each other's hair in curlers. Whatever.

One particular afternoon with some down time on my hands I went for a walk. It was a lovely day and I was particularly longing to spend some time exploring by myself. I donned my shoes and began my adventure. I hadn't wandered very far from the hostel, when I encountered two (or was it three?) harmless looking young guys hanging out behind the hostel.

"Hallo." They said to me.
"Uh, hi." I said.
"You want to buy some shoes?"
"Huh? Some what? Did you say shoes?"
"Yes. You know... some shuuuus." One boy pantomimed inhaling a cigarette, you know of the funny kind, and then added:
"Make you feel good."

So, picture me, attempting to take this in, and while picturing thusly remember who I am, where I am from, and under which strict religiously conservative culture I was raised, and then try to stop laughing as you imagine me very ungraciously declaring that "NO! I DON'T WANT ANY SHOES! NO SHOES! NEVER!! NOOOOO SHUUUUUUUSSSS!"

And ran.



With my shoes on.


Flashback Friday is hosted by 42.
Go, look, reminisce. Participate.

Thursday, February 28


The shower in my house shares space with the laundry room. It's not luxury digs but it will do. Recently remodeled it is a simple, yet classy, separate structure consisting of a basin and clear curved plexiglass doors which stand probably about six feet tall.

While showering I like to pitch the empty shampoo bottles* over the top of the walls to see if I can land one squarely in the garbage bin in the opposite corner. I want desperately to make it in with a single bounce or less.

It's never happened.

*Two things which seem to be in endless supply at our house:
Empty shampoo bottles still sitting on the edge of tub or shower,
empty toilet paper rolls still sitting on the dispenser,
and nearly empty cereal boxes still occupying space in a space deficient kitchen.
Oh, wait, that was three things. Maths is not my strength.

Nor, apparently, is a free throw.

Wednesday, February 27

Tuesday, February 26

Magic Words

I try not to take myself too seriously.
I am not often successful in this endeavor.
I tend to read too much into things. I lean toward the over-thinking regarding any given situation; I over analyze most everything I do or say. Or write.

So, after weeks long agony over whether I should/shouldn't would/wouldn't share the news about four-year-old Andrew's recent autism diagnosis here at the blog, I settled (in a moment of zen) on doing so in a most unconventional way. I wrote it, I published it, and then I fretted over it.

I didn't need to.

The response to that post was in a word: incredible. I have been moved beyond words by the outpouring of support and understanding, both in the comments section and via email which many friends and readers reached out with. It was the safety net I was looking for to catch me as I struggled with what it all might mean, for him, for us, for life.

And then, in only the way the blogging world can, I received accolades for the post.

First, Kelly of Kellyology awarded the post with this:

The Original Perfect Post Awards – Jan 08

Which was followed up by a reader's vote choosing it as the winner of Most Evocative Haiku at Leslie's Haiku Buckaroo contest.


Beyond that, it was also awarded an Honorable Mention overall in the same contest, being selected by Jami of Not That Different, the contest judge (and original reigning queen). She had this to say of the poem:

"In terms of evoking the emotion of a moment, this haiku is almost perfect.
It’s a 17-syllable short story that rocked my world, too."

Now I ask you, with that kind of heady praise and acknowlegement, how can I not take it seriously?

The thing--the absolute thing--is that in the beginning steps of this journey I am buoyed up by the support around me. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for that. As we move along this road, I am quite certain I will be using this moment in time as a touchstone for steadying myself and moving with a more sure step. With everything I have and everything I am, I want to give my son everything I am able.

After all, he gives me so much.

Monday, February 25

Oh, my!

It's possible this is the final evidence that I am not in Kansas anymore*. Obviously, once I mastered the bicycle as transportation idea, and learned to love coffee, it was clear that the assimilation to life in The Netherlands was nearly complete. But this? This I find a little disturbing and must admit to being more than slightly uncomfortable about.

The confession:
I have the skin color of a northern European.

I stepped into the shower innocently this morning, and took care of all the necessary grooming steps, not particularly aware of anything out of place or odd or strange in any way. It wasn't until I was toweling off and inspecting the shave job on my legs (I am still not very good at that, even after 30 years of practice) when I noticed there was very little difference in color, or lack of color as the case may be, between my winter-white towel and my shockingly pasty-white skin.

This is not to say that I have ever, ever sported a very deep tan. I am after all, a white--very white--girl born and white bread bred in Utah. I admit, when I was young I was enamored of getting a tan and did my fair share of laying out under the sky attempting to darken my skin, which only ever worked to a point. Now, knowing what I know about my skin, and more to the point, knowing what I know about sun damage I am a cautious sun worshiper and spend time under the cover of hats, glasses and sunblock. Though I have never been dark, I can say freely that I nurtured a healthy glow of sun kissed skin. Or at least I did under the Arizona sun.

And then I moved to Holland.

I don't know why it's bothering me so much this morning, but seriously if you could catch the glare off my epidermis, it would likely bother you too.

It is a matter of simple observation here that many, many, many of the Dutch attempt to stave off the white skin glare by lotioning up with the over the counter chemicals which promise to give you a summer skin. In reality, what those do (with over application?) is make the skin glow with an orangey-tone not unlike the color of newborn baby poo. Not to put too fine a point on it.

And really, that's not what I am after.

Poo-skin, white skin, or summer in Italy--

Which way do you lean?
*Dorothy to Toto in The Wizard of Oz

Friday, February 22

Window Peeping

flashback friday link

I am flashing back today and cheating maybe just a little to do it. This post that follows is one which sits in the archives of my blog. Initially this little bit of writing was shared via email with friends and family back in those long ago days which preceded the obsession opening of this blog. Originally dated 10 October 2005, these are the musings and observations of a newbie to the land of Holland. So much of it still holds true, though I do have to say I wish there was still that feeling of "newness" in everything. I like that feeling.
For more walks down memory lane, click on the button above to visit Cablegirl's blog and check out the links.

If the eyes are indeed a window to the soul, then it follows that the windows of a home are a direct line to the psyche and the personality of its residents.

To stroll down a street here in Leiden is to take part in my newly discovered preferable pastime, that is by name, window gazing.

Most homes here are built simply and for efficiency in design rather than style. In fact, from the structure of the outside it’s difficult to tell one home from another without the house number in front delineating that it belongs to you. So to make up for lack of design and form in the building structure, it seems that the Dutch take window design very seriously, using it as a means to give a home personality and distinction. From the window treatments to the decorated panes and ledges, each one seems to me a telling of the inhabitants within. I like to make up my own stories about the people inside based upon the window displays.

I suppose you could call it people-watching one-step-removed.

Topping the list of my favorite things is the lace curtains which grace many windows here. I remember when I was very small and I learned to draw a house, I would always add windows, and to the windows I would draw an exaggerated swoop of a curtain hanging down from the top and then cinched tightly in the center and pulled to the side where the bottom part of the drape would billow out toward the floor. (Pretty fancy digs for a simple line drawing, huh?) At any rate, these windows with white lace curtains are something out of my childhood fantasy. They are picture perfect. I absolutely adore them.

As a general rule, the Dutch keep their curtains open. My ex-pat books tell me that as a culture perhaps the Dutch feel they have nothing to hide, and therefore do not feel the need to close the drapes and/or blinds in their homes. Whatever the reason behind the tradition, you can generally count on window treatments, whether traditional lace curtains or modern mini blinds, to be cinched back or set in open position.

Window ledges are a terrific place to display collections, plants, decorative items, etc. and this is where the personality telling begins. Take for instance, the home just down the street from mine, where the kitchen window is lined with silver teapots of all shapes and sizes. At my cursory count there are 15 pots standing at attention on the windowsill. Or, there is the home crammed with plants of all varieties lined up on the ledge, pressing their leaves against the glass, vying for sunlight. Every day on the way to Emma’s school, I ride my bike past a home where the front window boasts a single row of sticky package bows in a rainbow of colors.

There are windows with candle arrangements, windows with flower arrangements, windows with candle and flower arrangements, and windows with candles, flowers and live cat arrangements. (It seems that a window ledge is an optimum spot for cat napping.) There are displays of Virgin Mary gracing windows and I have spied Buddha in multiple forms on others. There is the laughing Buddha, the praying Buddha, and Buddha in repose. Your choice.

My favorite Buddha themed window consists of an elegant statuette of a Buddha in prayer pose on one side and on the other a hand-built ship model constructed from Heineken beer cans. I shall let you jump to your own conclusions about the residents of that house.

Also on the route to Emma’s school is the rooster house, with a collection of ceramic roosters lined up on the ledge and then soon following, there is the swan house which boasts several elegant blown glass swans, their long necks reaching up nearly the full height of the window. Not to be outdone by anyone however is the gnome house, where a minimum of 50 clay gnomes decorate the front window and the front yard of a home I spotted only once while out on a bike ride. I have had more than one good giggle over that one! There must be a personality class for “gnome collectors” right? Something akin to “cat person” or “Trekkie” I would think.

In our own home, on the ground floor it is our kitchen which faces the street. The far wall of the kitchen holds five large windows. Running the length of the windows is a six inch ledge. At this moment, on that ledge sits a single desert plant, a watering can, a row of matchbox cars, and a partly eaten stroopwafel.

Now what, I wonder does that tell you about us?


And now, for some shameless self-promotion:

vote for me
My haiku about Andrew made the finalist list in the second edition Haiku Buckaroo contest at My Mommy's Place. You can go vote for my poem (or one you like better) by clicking on the button above. Or you can click here if it's easier for you. The voting is easy and guess what? You don't have to be a blogger to cast your vote. What this means, of course, is that even my beloved lurkers (you know who you are) can click here and go vote. It's a snap to do and it would build my esteem immensely if you'd take a minute to do it.

So, go. Do it. Okay?

Monday, February 18

Name That Tune

Lyrics in the form of a photo essay, with the bonus of an exceptional talent in the video at the end. More music today at SMID's place.

See you in my dreams...


Friday, February 15

Beneath the Wings


The first performance I have much cognitive memory of I was six years old.

Surely, there were others which preceded it. The in house shows at the end of each semester in the dance studio. Each class of budding young artists had paraded in front of adoring parents their polaroids and their generous applause. But this would be my first moment on the professional stage. I had been chosen to perform in a suite of choreography and I, along with the others in the cast, had spent weeks, possibly months, in rehearsal every Saturday morning in the army barracks building turned dance studio. I remember so much about the sights, sounds and smells of the place; the very way that the dust looked in the forgotten corners, how the sunshine came in at a slight angle through the partitioned windows and the way the records on the player scratched and skipped.

That experience is a moment frozen in time in my memory. The whole of each individual gesture and exercise, the sound of the choreographer's voice, the sight of watching the grown-up dancers work through the movement while we few young ones played in the corner of the room, is wrapped up in one eclectic and extravagant memory package.

But what I remember most--after the rehearsals, the costume fittings, applying the makeup and waiting an arduously long time backstage--is the moment I sprang out from the wings and entered that magical world of lights. It was the first time I felt that incredible connection between expression and reception. I couldn't have named it then and am not certain I can explain it at all well now, but there is this something deeply connective between an artist and her audience; an energy which, could it be contained just might power peace on the planet. Or if not that, at least could increase the happiness level of an individual exponentially.

I gave it my everything that night, pouring my heart into every movement. Whatever nervous butterflies had been flitting in my belly up to that minute, they were instantaneously gone when my bare feet touched the marley flooring; and the energy of the thousand flapping wings was pushing me forward to share my best; my all.

You well may wonder how I can recall it all so clearly. That's easy. In the 25 years of performing which was to follow for me, it happened every time.

I haven't been on a stage as a performer in a good many years and instead have found the magic occurs for me now by watching my young students find that moment themselves. The mystical connection and energy exchange between s/he who is on the stage and they who are in the audience rarely disappoints and I love to watch as a child experiences and processes such an incredible moment.

Part of what I personally left behind when our family moved to The Netherlands was the performing arts program I had built and nurtured in our Arizona community. It wasn't the easiest thing to let go and truth be told, I miss teaching very, very much. I have snuck in a class or two here and there in the past couple of years and have enjoyed those moments very, very much.

And this week, I got to get in on it all over again.

The music teacher at our school is organizing and directing a musical for the children. Someone, somewhere whispered something to her and she approached and asked if I could help with the choreography for the show.

I answered.

And in a few weeks time I will be watching a whole new crop of budding performers enter the stage (some for the first time ever) and touch that moment where they pour their hearts into the song and the movement and are received by an adoring audience--replete with camcorders--who will signal approval with the thunderous sound of applause.

Indeed, several stars will be born.

And I will be there to see it all happen.


See what else is happening at 42 where you'll find the links to more memories.

Once a performer
Now a teacher for children
I watch from the wings

Thursday, February 14

That's All Folks

Typing aimlessly
A blogger without a post
Resorts to haiku

and photos.

Do you haiku-ka-choo too? Be sure to enter the contest at My Mommy's Place. Hey, you could win chocolate!

Monday, February 11

I Say It's All Right

SMID's Music Monday

There are precious few things in life which I can get all that excited about. Ownership of material items has never been altogether important to me. That's not to say that I don't appreciate having things, or even relish the accoutrement of my life. Nor would it be true to insinuate that I don't get a little giddy over, say, buying a new pair of boots. I like things; truly I do, but I know I can live without things. That's all I am trying to say.

What I can't live without is friendship.

If you've been reading this blog for long you may have picked up on that notion before this bold announcement. But I am all about pointing out the obvious things. Additionally, if you've been reading this blog for any length of time at all, you may well have picked up on a friendship I have been nurturing with a fellow blogger.

She's been coming by to comment almost from the first day I opened this blog.
We email often.
We run a little photo site together.

We met for the first time last Friday.

While it was not my first blogger meeting, it was certainly my first blogger-who-flew-across-the-ocean-to-spend-time-with-me meeting.

Strange, perhaps, inviting someone you've never met to come stay with you for a few days, and yet, the most natural thing in the world. In honesty it was a face to face meeting which seemed long overdue. We kept it a little quiet in the weeks leading up to her trip to my side of the pond, for one thing, because it was a touch and go departure for her as she battled illness both in herself and her children. We also kept it quiet because, well, we didn't want it to look like we were bragging, or lording it over anyone.

But I can't help just to gloat over it just the tiniest bit.

Bear with me.

As Allison donned her red boots and packed her red suitcase for the trip, she loaded it chock-full of all kinds of sought after goods for this expat family. Peanut butter, chocolate chips, cake mix, goldfish, NEW YORKER MAGAZINES, etc. made the journey across the water and were delivered to exuberantly grateful recipients. (That would be us) She also brought a plethora of little surprises and very thoughtful gifts; each a treasure in its own right.

But the best thing she brought with her? The thing all of Holland is really in awe over?

She brought the sun.

No kidding.

I have been whining for weeks about the grey skies and the wicked winds of the lowlands. I warned her that it would likely be a cold, rainy weekend we would spend together. It would still be fun, but we would certainly be hunkered down inside somewhere listening to the wind whistle and watching the rain pelt the windowpane.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Instead of a typical winter weekend, this one with Allison was perfection. Blue skies, warm temperatures, and no wind. It was absolutely incredible on every level. We had a blast.

And, as you may have guessed, we have the photos to prove it.

So, to my darling friend, a dedicated Music Monday post with a tribute to the light she brought along.

Sing it with me now.

Here comes the sun,
here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right

Little darling,
it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here

Here comes the sun,
here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here

Here comes the sun,
here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear

Here comes the sun,
here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right
It's all right *

*Here Comes The Sun, The Beatles
Please join me in welcoming another new friend to the blogosphere!
C'mon, bring a little sunshine to a newbie in the neighborhood.

Friday, February 8

While You Were Sleeping

Part of the downtime I have been forced to take because of this illness, has been spent sleeping. Part of that sleeping time has been drug induced napping, but no matter, I have literally spent a lot of time in bed the past few days. Not altogether a bad thing, generally, but still...
I woke from a mid-morning nap yesterday with a heavy dream still lingering, and it has taken me awhile for it to distill and come into focus in my mind. I don't know if my interpretation of the images and experiences in my subconcious are correct or thorough, but I am intrigued by the way this dream is hanging on in my psyche. Like it came to teach me something.

I remember having a dream with this kind of impact a few years ago as well. It was just after receiving an email from my second sister, an email which arrived in my inbox just before we moved to Holland, in which she basically announced that she was cutting her ties with me. She didn't want to see me/us as we made our visiting rounds to family and friends before our departure, and she wished me a nice life.

It was an email equivalent of a dagger to the heart.

I spent days wrestling with the why's and the what's of such a communication and cried buckets of tears over its message.

Then one night, at my parent's house in Texas, I had a dream. I was driving down the road, when my car received a crushing blow from a huge, swinging apparatus. Immediately, I stopped the car and climbed out from under the crushed aluminum and began banging at the crumpled metal. I tried with all of my might to pull or push the pieces straight again, to flatten them out, and to make the car whole. The whole time in the dream I was sobbing and banging and wishing with every thing I had that I could make it better. That I could fix it. But I couldn't. Not by myself. There was no way I could fix the car without help from someone else.

I woke from that dream so sad and confused. I mulled over it for hours, days even, before a meaning presented itself clearly to me. It was a message about my sister. My relationship had survived (albeit barely) a crash, and no matter how much banging, or pulling, or weeping I did over the wreck, I wasn't going to be able to fix it myself. I had to wait until someone else could help me. Specifically, I believed I must wait for my sister's help.

I am still waiting.

But yesterday's dream still has me guessing a little.
I was exploring a theater building wherein I was supposed to be performing, or running a show for others, and I was confused and slightly overwhelmed because I wasn't really sure where I was or what I was supposed to be doing there. Then, as a dream is wont to do, suddenly I found a staircase which seemed familiar. So I descended the steps and instantly I knew exactly where I was. I was standing in the basement corridor of the Capitol Theater in Salt Lake City. It was the performance venue of my youth, and I was there in the dream, surrounded by familiar sights, sounds and smells. I knew this place and felt completely at home there.

But the message which seems obvious on one level is still eluding me on others. Or perhaps it isn't and I am not quite ready to embrace it fully yet. But it has me wondering.

And thinking.

And that can never be a bad thing.

Tell me your dreams.

On a less contemplative note: I have just had a dream fullfilled.
More on that later, but only because I love keeping secrets
and I really love surprises.

Thursday, February 7

Pinky Toe Promise

This little girl neglected to drink enough water,

This little girl got quite ill,

This little girl went to the doctor,

This little girl got a pill,

And this little girl cried "it hurts to wee, wee, wee" all the way home.

(This little girl has also vowed to take better care of herself in the future, and as this little girl is only drinking water in copious amounts the next several days, she thought it might be fun to share this recipe with any and all who have a little variety available. Go ahead, drink to my health!)

The Recipe For Jenn

3 parts Cleverness
2 parts Uniqueness
1 part Silliness

Splash of Giddiness

Serve over ice

Monday, February 4

Put Me To the Test

SMID's Music Monday

In the earliest years of our marriage, Don and I lived in Las Vegas. Yes, you read that right. Smack in the middle of the dusty desert of Nevada, we established ourselves in a tiny one bedroom apartment on Rochelle Lane, in the heart of town, only a stone's throw from the Strip.

He was a full time student, I was a full time bread winner. It wasn't much bread, mind you, as I worked for barely above minimum wage at a family owned jewelry store not far from our home. Our apartment was furnished minimally with our begged, borrowed and snatched from the thrift store cast-away furniture. The couch was a fold out bed, the bed was a 20 year old hand-me-over from his parents. The television (all 13 inches of it) was a gift of sorts from my uncle. The coffee table a gift from our landlords. We spent $25.00 on groceries each week. We were still making payments on my $200 engagement ring.

Poor? Maybe just a little.

This afternoon here in our spacious (by Dutch standards) home, Don and I were snuggled on our living room couch (purchased full price from Ikea) catching up briefly with the world news via CNN. At mention of Superbowl Sunday and an upcoming story to be presented on the creative betting going on in Vegas this weekend, he and I burst into simultaneous giggles.

I shall tell you why.

One day, while working on dinner in our Rochelle Lane apartment the phone rang. It was my aunt. We exchanged catch-me-up-on-your-life pleasantries and then she told me the reason for her call. She had a colleague who had recently taken a trip to Vegas and had found himself bit by the gambling bug. He'd had some real luck at the tables, and on the sports boards and once he found out she had a niece in Vegas, was curious if I would work for him as a courier and place a bet for him on the upcoming Super Bowl. He was willing to pay me fifty bucks for the service ($50 friends! Just think of the luxury!) I told her I thought it would be fine, but to be certain, I just wanted to run the idea past Don and make sure I wasn't not thinking of something which I should be thinking of before I agreed. (Let's be honest, $50!! was all I was thinking.) We discussed the particulars and I told her I would let her know.

The discussion with Don was no biggie, other than he mentioned that he wasn't sure if the IRS tracked bets etc, and whether or not I would have to show ID and sign something when placing a large bet at a casino. I thought it a fair point, and not wanting to be liable and taxable for money which clearly we didn't have, I told him I would make a call to the casino to check out the particulars.

This is how that whole conversation went down.

"Hi, yeah, I am just inquiring about the process for making a bet at the sports bar."

"Yah, sure, okay."

"Um. Well, what I am wondering is, if I am making a bet, say, on the Super Bowl if I have to like, sign something or show ID or something. I mean, do you guys keep track of that kind of stuff and report it to the IRS?"

"Well, yah, we do. We have to if it's a large bet... you know, a significant amount of money."

"Oh, well, this is a SIGNIFICANT amount of money. I'll be placing a THOUSAND DOLLAR bet."

Dead silence on the other end.

Then stifled guffaws.

"No, no, miss, I mean a large bet. Like over $10,000.00"

"Oh, right. Okay, then. Well, thanks...."

(echoing giggles as I hung up the receiver)

Easiest money I ever made for sure. Unfortunately he bet on the wrong team and my work as courier-of-significant-money-bets dried up fast.

But still, if you're looking for someone, you could take a chance on me.

Lots more music at SMID's

Saturday, February 2

Secret Keepers


my own game

List your link if you are playing. And please,link back to me. It's what we call sharing the love... and should be no secret that love is all I need.

1. anno
2. Anneke
3. CableGirl
4. Flower Child
5. Jen of a2eatwrite
6. yummy
7. Res
8. gardenweasel

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