Monday, March 31

Enjoying the Journey

While we were in Ireland last week (did I mention I was in Ireland?) we took the kids to a mall to do some shopping for souvenirs and the like. They each had money burning a hole in their respective pockets and a deep desire to bring something home to remember the trip by.

So, a mall.

Dividing to conquer, the big kids took off to search and spend while Andrew, Don and I wandered the mall together. Okay, really, we manhandled this ridiculously awkward car-cart which we rented to make the transportation of he-with-little-legs more manageable as we navigated the shops, but certainly meandered all the same.

As part of the bribery inspired motivational learning parenting we do, Andrew was in search of a "prize" which was being rewarded for having tried scrambled eggs for breakfast (trust me, this is a VERY big deal). His search led him to the video shop, which in turn led him to finding not one, but two DVD's of his latest children's show obsession: FIREMAN SAM. (don't ask, I won't tell)

Upon approach to the counter, Don and I were distracted by not one but two impulse purchases. The first being a CD of Irish ballads (Emma queried later: "So, are they all about beer?") and the second being, wait for it, a discovery of throw-back memories-- of the make you feel 17 years old again, arms wrapped around your deep crush at the prom, memorizing lyrics by heart kind-- in a JOURNEY'S GREATEST HITS CD. Because, really, what's not to bring back some sweet, sweet memories if not a vision of this:

And being able to belt out (without mistake) every word to the quintessential love-me-as-I-am-my-heart-bleeds-for-you ballad of the 80's while driving the roads of Ireland?

Lying beside you, here in the dark
Feeling your heart beat with mine
Softly you whisper, you're so sincere
How could our live be so blind?
We sailed on together
We drifted apart
And here you are by my side

So now I come to you, with open arms
Nothing to hide, believe what I say
So here I am with open arms
Hoping you'll see what your love means to me
Open arms.

That, friends? Is an impulse worth following.


SMID's Music Monday

Belt it out with us. Come on, you know you want to.

Saturday, March 29

At the Heart of it All


my own game
click here for the rules.

Write your name in my heart below. er... I mean in the link box.

Please leave a comment too. It does my heart good.

1. G
2. Goofball
3. Jen of a2eatwrite
4. Flower Child
5. citizen jane
6. Anneke
7. Kate Forsey
8. Mariposa

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Thursday, March 27

From My Vantage Point

I work in an office.
I have a desk and a chair, a computer and a phone.
It's possible that sounds like the makings of the world's-most-boring-job-on-the-planet but trust me when I tell you that the moments in a day wherein I actually get to light in that chair and stay for any extended period of time are few and far between.

Everyday is a whole new adventure in chaos at the office.

Just the way I like it.

When I do get to sit and *ahem* work at the tedious tasks which are indeed included on my list, this list following is part of what surrounds me to make my desk space my own, and dare I say, meaningful to me.

1. My psychedelic sock monkey, hand made with love and stellar skill by Leslie of My Mommy's Place. He is the talk of all who spot him tucked perfectly underneath the computer monitor sitting cross legged and still, smiling at me constantly. He's been named by the children: "twilight" and I dare say he's coveted daily, but that doesn't worry me. I know he's all mine.

2. On the wall near the monthly calendar (hand-highlighted for all holidays!) hangs the tag from a set of flowers delivered to my co-worker and I early in the year. We had been effective in assisting someone through a nerve-wracking crisis, and after all had settled the family sent us thanks by way of a bouquet. The tag reads: Cartier & Taylo. We have long thought these variations on our last names were most fitting to our super-power prowess, and if we ever reveal our cape-clad-world-saving-inner-selves, this just may be the name of our famous duo.

3. Two water bottles sit sentry at the edge of my desk. I wish I could tell you they were empty because I fill and drain them multiple times each day, to keep the waterworks clear and all, but in spite of my recent descent to bladder infection hell (Level 9) I sometimes mostly forget to drink the water. Somebody shoot me.

4. Next to the photos of my husband and my children hangs a postcard. It's an Edward Hopper print sent to me spontaneously from a friend in Boston (have I mentioned her before?) and I love it. I carried it around for months in my bag so the edges are soft and frayed. It now hangs with pride in my office and every time I see it, I grin.

5. Underneath that postcard hangs another, freshly arrived, from Texas. Meaningful on several levels to me, this new card from a dear friend reminds me that friendship, once discovered, is a forever thing.

6. Tucked away inside a tin which once held delicious shortbread cookies (thanks Kate!) personally delivered from the Isle of Wight, is my secret stash of chocolate and other treats. Okay, it's not so secret really, since most of the staff is on to me and more than once in any given day someone will stand at the office counter with puppy dog eyes full of longing, and ask 'if isn't there please somewhere something a body could eat?' and I drag the tin out from it's hiding place and share the goodness within with any and all who ask.

7. No list would be complete without mention, real mention, of the woman who works opposite me in this shared place. She has been not only mentor and teacher to me this year as I have learned the ropes of the job and all it entails, but she is ultimately and at the heart of it all, my friend and an incredible support in my personal life. I feel lucky, nay, blessed, everyday to sit across from her and share the frustrations and the triumphs of the little and the big moments in our day. She is a friendship treasure.

So, there you have mine. Show me yours?

Newly on display: A photo blog
and the redundant rules state:
1. post 1 picture
2. everyday
3. for one year
Please take a minute to visit, bookmark and return to watch her complete the challenge.
Help me welcome her to the neighborhood.
Say something about her photos.
Go. Click here. Click-click-click.

Tuesday, March 25

Considering As

We sat together on the train headed to the Amsterdam airport. The rain was pouring in earnest (when has it stopped recently?) as the engine hustled along the tracks.

"Look" I said to him and pointed toward the way the rain was streaking along the windows of the train.

Rather than meandering paths of water dripping and curving over the pane, the streaks ran parallel to the train itself. Rainstreams sliding in quick rhythm across the glass, the car propelled straight into the rain and bore down against the wind. I could feel the urgency of both the rain and the movement of the train, strong forces both, and sensed the forward motion of the train which seemed to dominate with its push against the onslaught of the storm.

We watched together in silence for a moment and then he asked "Do you see a photograph?"

"No," I replied, "I see a metaphor".

Monday, March 24

too ra loo ra loo ra

When I was a wee child Wait, no, sorry, I am not Irish--I only want to be.

When I was a young child I spent the better part of my life singing. From a very early age I was involved with a children's SING OUT group (could it be called anything else with 50 kids ages 2-12 sing/shouting classic songs while wiggling through the accompanying actions?) called SMALL WORLD ENTERTAINERS. We performed in a million venues throughout the Salt Lake City area; for nursing homes, at business conventions, in shopping malls, you name it, we sang there. Much of my musical training, or at least my song vocabulary comes out of the years of singing with that group. How else really would I know such classics as "I'm an Old Cowhand from the Rio Grande", "That's Amore" or "Winchester Cathedral"? (which I must admit, I can still belt to perfection)

Between the lyric training within that performing group and the standing around our own piano at home learning and singing songs, my repertoire is replete with songs from around the world and through the ages.

Standing out among the crowd of them, there are one or two which seem to have stuck in my very psyche. I can't name the time and place that I learned them, but I can triumphantly proclaim them as soundtrack to my very life.

Soundtrack which came through loud and clear yesterday as we drove The Ring of Kerry here in Ireland. Sight upon stunning sight unfolded as we made our way through storm and cloud break along the road circling some of the most magnificent scenery on this planet. I kid you not.

And all along the way, I kept humming to myself this anthem of Ireland:

When Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, 'tis like the morn in Spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy,
All the world seems bright and gay.
And when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they steal your heart away.

Ireland has stolen my heart. There is no doubt that this place speaks to my very soul. Given the rocky road I have recently traveled in my personal life (not necessarily shared here) to travel the rocky roads of Ireland has been poetic and meaningful on the deepest level for me. Somewhere on that roundabout road yesterday, the magic in these hillsides worked into my heart and understanding reached my mind.

There's a tear in your eye,
And I'm wondering why,
For it never should be there at all.
With such pow'r in your smile,
Sure a stone you'd beguile,
So there's never a teardrop should fall.
When your sweet lilting laughter's
Like some fairy song,
And your eyes twinkle bright as can be;
You should laugh all the while
And all other times smile,
And now, smile a smile for me.

Indeed, these eyes are smiling. This has been an exquisitely beautiful weekend full of Irish blessing.

Here's wishing you the same magic.

Join all of us in celebrating the magic of music.

Sunday, March 23

Shooting Ireland

All photos will enlarge with a click (of the heels).
Top o' the mornin' to ya.

Thursday, March 20

They Say It's Your Birthday*

It's my birthday too, yeah.


* sung by The Beatles

Wednesday, March 19

Light Sight

Spring is making its definitive move for season debut here in The Netherlands. In between fits of rain, wind and hail the blue sky is making appearances, along with the occasional light, fluffy, white cloud.

That's a sight for sore eyes.

I spotted the first (for my eyes) cluster of tulips last week, sprung up in the meridian between roads, standing in all glory and full color.

I allowed for a tear to slide down my cheek upon that sight of first light.

Just a few days ago the first of my garden tulips opened its red head and welcomed the spotty sunshine into its petals.

That sight caused my heart to soar as I recognized in that moment the magic of a return to light. It's always astounding to me, after the onslaught of darkness, dreariness, and heaviness to witness the opening of the earth's soul and the welcome warmth of spring.

I can see clearly now.


Monday, March 17

Long Lead, Full Punch

The setting:
3 friends plan a drive to Delft to shop at Ikea on a Saturday afternoon.

The plan:
All friends will meet at mine.

The conflict:
One friend is stuck on the tram while it "waits" for the City-Pier-City half marathon runners to clear the path.

The new plan:
She will get off the tram still sitting in its tracks and will begin walking through the city toward my place. Other friend and I will climb in the car and drive toward her, using our super location powers to pick her out of the crowd of thousands and pick her up so all can get down to the adventure of the Ikea shopping day.

The players:
Me, aka Mom.
Kate, aka Miss Forsey, aka Andrew's teacher at school.
Sue, aka my colleague at work, better known as my friend.
and Andrew, of course.

The conversation:
"Mom, mom, mom are you going to go now?"

"Yeah, buddy, Sue and I need to go rescue Miss Forsey from the tram."

"You're gonna get Miss Forsey from the tram?"

"Yup. We will drive down the road and go get her."

"Uh, yeah. You're gonna be superheros and get Miss Forsey!"

"Hahaha! Yeah, superheros. Okay."

"Yeah, you gotta rescue Miss Forsey Mom. You gotta be superheroes! You gotta go! You gotta rescue Miss Forsey Mom! You're superheroes!"

The conclusion:
We should all have such faith in our humanity.

It's Music Monday!

Sing along with SMID and all the other players!

Saturday, March 15

Friday, March 14

Coming Apart at the Seams

Two days ago as I was working through the morning preparations to get myself ready for my workday, I stepped into my favorite pair of black slacks. These trousers are evocative of so many things for me: They were an accidental eBay find when I was "shopping" for something else entirely. I bid on a whim and celebrated when the email arrived that I had won the auction. I have loved them deeply ever since they arrived in the post from the UK. Purchased just months after our arrival in The Netherlands, they have been (up to this year) the one piece of dress up clothing in my closet. Generally relying on the mommy uniform of jeans and oversize t-shirts in my life at home with my youngest son, the trousers haven't seen too much action outside of the wardrobe. That's all right. Some things are meant to be kept precious. And untouched. My attire of choice worn to the important events and moments of the past two and a half years, these are the trousers which have a story, or several stories to tell. If I were to assign further meaning to this article of clothing, they remind me that sometimes, when you are not really looking for it you can find something perfect.

After pulling the zipper to the waistband top, I realized that I had a problem. Upon close inspection I saw that there was a slight gap between zipper and fabric; otherwise known as a hole. I cringed and then sighed as it came full view to my attention that there was a crisis on my hands.

Something was broken.

And it needed mending.

Normally, my response in crisis--and I mean real crisis--is swift and effective. Without a moment's hesitation I dive in to sort any mess or handle any conflict. But this crisis, this moment of a broken zipper in my favorite pair of pants made me pause, then gasp, then nearly fall apart. And in that split second of sagging shoulders, stomping feet and quiet utterance of several inappropriate grown up words I figured something out.

If it's worth it, I can fix it.

Moments later I sat cross-legged on the edge of the bed with needle and thread in hand. I ignored the crunch of time and examined the problem from every angle possible. Then I took it to task and closed the gap. It's not perfection in sewing. None of my skills really merit a title like that. But it is workable. And like many things once repaired, that spot which stood bare and open is strong and stable now.

I love these pants. I think it's safe to say they are going to stay with me for a long, long time.

We're good together.

Thursday, March 6

Embracing it at Every Step

If you ever find yourself traveling in The Hague, The Netherlands, say, by tram or bus or train, follow these tips from a seasoned rider.

1. After you've stamped your ticket at the machine, state loudly "I can hold it myself" and then clutch it tightly in your fist, or better yet fold it multiple times and push it deep into the pocket of your jeans for safe keeping.

2. When you see the tram approaching the platform, thrust your arm out straight and strong from the shoulder, fingers extended and cry out "STOP TRAM STOOOOOOOOP" at the top of your lungs.

3. When the tram comes to a halt near you declare "He heard me Mom! He heard me!"

4. Push the button for the doors (by yourself) and board the tram.

5. Select your seat inside based on the simple criterion of which bench will get you the best view of the driver's station so you can see all the pedals, buttons, lights and dials she uses to drive the tram.

6. Chatter about everything you see along the way.

7. Wonder aloud what the name of the driver is.

8. As you approach your stop, scoot your bottom forward on the seat until your feet dangle only centimeters from the tram floor and then continue to slither off the seat like a slinky winds itself down a set of stairs.

9. Gallop with thunderous enthusiasm toward the exit doors.

10. Shout "Yes!" when the tram pulls to a stop and the doors open wide. You can thrust your fist into the air for dramatic effect if you like.

11. Exit the tram.

For your return trip, you can follow the steps above or mix and match the bits that work best for you. But for good measure, before you step back onto the public transport, be sure to step into the automatic photo booth you've spotted inside the train station.

That's what we in the business call making a memory.

Wednesday, March 5

Tuesday, March 4

Watch the Language, Please

Nothing says living on the continent more than the way a body speaks English. I have mentioned before that the definitive influence on the English spoken here is that of the Brits. The English. The Mighty UKs. (Okay, that last I just made up, but I am hoping that if enough of us start using the term it will really catch on.)

In our own house we've become quite Englished in our speech as well. In spite of the fact that none among us spent our formative language years under influence of our cousins 'cross the channel, you can hear it in the lilt and flow of our sentences. And in our vocabulary of course.

It sneaks up on you a little. Before you are even aware you are using posh phrases like 'one off' and signing off on correspondence with Kind Regards.

Yeah, I know. Kinda freaky.

Not long ago I shocked myself just a little when I was responding to a text message from our babysitter who had sent a note telling me she was sick and wouldn't be able to pick Andrew up from school the next day.

Without thinking I opened the phone and quickly typed in the reply:

No worries. We'll sort it.

I sent it.

Then blinked.

Then snorted aloud at my absolute britspeak.

I had just written "no worries, we'll sort it". Huh? Wha? Next thing you know I will be wearing large hats at weddings and singing God Save the Queen.

Dude! Who am I and where did my American go?

If ever you find yourself on this side of the pond, perhaps you could pop round to mine and you know...


Monday, March 3

Doubled Up

I have been remiss in telling tales of the legendary weekend when Allison came. You heard about that right? My blogging friend and co-creator at the photo site flew across the ocean to meet me.

Yeah, it was so cool.

Or more to the point it was downright hot; at least it was for a weekend in February. An absolute subjective phenomenon. One of the first conversations we shared as we hit the streets, cameras in hand on that weekend, was about our desperate need for sunglasses to shield our tender winterized eyes.

When you get up in the morning and the light is hurt your head
The first thing you do when you get up out of bed
Is hit that street a-runnin' and try to beat the masses
And go get yourself some cheap sunglasses

First stop then when our shoes hit the sand at Scheveningen beach in The Hague was to stop off at the first shop on the board walk and do just that.

Get ourselves some cheap sunglasses, that is.

Spied a little thing and I followed her all night (well, it was day actually)
In a funky fine levis and her sweater's kind of tight (
not so tight, no)
She had a west coast strut that was as sweet as molasses
she's from New England, but yeah, I'll have to go with her strut being sweet)
But what really knocked me out was her cheap sunglasses

In truth what really knocked me out was the absolute natural rhythm we fell into, both with our conversation and our photography. I kinda thought we might, but was rather pleased that we did. It's nice to walk alongside someone who moves at the same pace as me. Meaning, someone who gets equally distracted, camera in hand, by the moments awaiting a photograph.
That's how I see it, when I am looking through the lens--the objects and spaces around me are animate and beckoning. So I investigate as I walk and I pause a lot to see what I can capture. Generally, I am the hold up to any crowd I try to tour with but even with her long legs, her steps (and crouches) matched mine.

Told you she was cool.

Now go out and get yourself some big black frames
With the glass so dark they won't even know your name
And the choice is up to you cause they come in two classes:
Rhinestone shades or cheap sunglasses
Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah *

We perused the rack and modeled them boldy for one another, then bought two pairs the same. She has them in brown, and I the same pair in black. Two peas-in-a-cheap-sunglasses-pod you might say. But alas since that first weekend, the investment hasn't had much payoff and the glasses haven't seen much action in use. As predicted might happen, the fluke of a spring weather weekend didn't last for long.

But, oh, baby, when that sun returns?

I am ready.

*ZZ Top Cheap Sunglasses

SMID's Music Monday

It's Music Monday! Visit Soccer Mom in Denial.

Saturday, March 1

Well, do ya wanna?


my own game

If you're singularly minded today, please leave your link below.

And a comment.
Ready? On 5-6-7-8!

Wonder how to join the show? The steps are here. Let's dance!

1. Mariposa
2. IT Guy
3. Anneke
4. Flower Child
5. Soccer Mom in Denial
6. jenn
7. Jen of a2eatwrite
8. Kate Forsey

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