Saturday, January 31



my own game
click here for the rules.

Seeing midnight from both sides too? Leave me a note.
Links up later.

Sleepless players this week:

Friday, January 30

Chasing Cheerful

Attempting to find
the ideal five syllables
to end a haiku

Wondering whether
Making the point with one word
counts as poetry

Here's what I'm thinking
I truly do like people
but they disappoint

Selfishness seeps in
overrides altruism
Some take without give

As a big giver
I must admit exhaustion
regarding assholes takers

Sincerely I wish
a world full of giving hearts
as the way of life

You'll join me, won't you?
A loving utopia--
Idealistic dream

Goodbye to grumpy!
Farewell to selfish! No more

Haiku Friday

Thursday, January 29

Deliver Me

"Ack. What time is it?"

"looks like almost six."

"Bah. I suppose I should start thinking about dinner."

"yah, okay."

"What do you think I should make?"

"ummmm... a phone call?"

There are other reasons I love him. But this kinda thing?
Totally makes the list.

Tuesday, January 27

Something in the Way

Thinking about things on Tuesday
Photograph by 1 Picture a Day

Monday, January 26

Sing That Song for Me

Rock-a-bye your baby...

When I was first in college (even WAY back before I met Don) I enrolled in a popular class on campus called Program Bureau. It was run by a campus icon at the time, a woman by the name of Roene DiFiore, whose very presence in the room meant a song was coming on. For everyone. The class was designed to be a sing-out group, meant to entertain at conventions, parties and other gatherings. It was a class for the misfits, the shy, the wannabes and the starlets. A perfect gathering point, a community in and of itself. (That it was also an easy "A" meant it was a class filled to the brim each semester).

With a Dixie melody...

Students would gather in the music room, giggling, gabbing and posturing for sitting position on the room's risers. A grand piano stood in the center of the floor awaiting the entrance of Madame DiFiore. Decades older than our nearly-twenty-something selves her triumphant daily entrance was never a disappointment. Her usual garb of free flowing frocks in magnificent color, her hair in an untidy up 'do on the top of her head, her eyeglasses held round her neck with a black cord, and her lips painted in shocking orange or red all made her a wonder to behold. She was an eccentric delight. An unforgettable oddity. A personality never to forget.
She would sit at the piano and lead us in song. Sometimes with her glasses perched at the end of her nose, most often with them swinging freely at her ample bosom, she swayed with her eyes closed as she carried herself away in the music. She wrote the lyrics we were to memorize on the chalkboard and systematically removed words and phrases until we had learned every word. On so many occasions she would stop herself mid-sentence and pat around her hips, her belly, and her breasts with her hands until, ultimately triumphant, she would reach under her shirt, into her bra and withdraw the article she was seeking: pencil, tissue, lipstick. You name it, she seemed to have it stored there.

And when you croon, croon a tune...

Under the tutelage of Mrs. D. we learned the oldies, we learned the goodies. We belted out Broadway tunes. We held hands over hearts and sang of our country. There were silly songs. There were hymns. There were lullabies. There were blues.
It was music. Pure and clear, loud as our voices could sing it.

From the heart of Dixie...

It was under Roene's care that my own voice blossomed. And to say that isn't to say that I didn't sing before, I spent my whole life singing, but what she gave me was this uninhibited PASSION to SING from my guts. From my soul. From the very heart of me.

Just hang that cradle mammy mine...

In private lessons in her office studio she mentored me on some of the greater tunes of HER time. Classic Broadway music (which she taught me to belt like nobodys business!), 40's torch songs, and campy radio tunes. My memories of standing at that upright piano while she plunked away at the keys and called for me to stand up straight and let it all pour out are very precious memories indeed.

Right on the Mason-Dixon line...

My first meet with Madame DiFiore was not in her class but on the audition stage for one of the first musical try-outs of my college career. I sang, she played. She then invited me to join her class. After that I was her dedicated, devoted student spending semester after semester in her music room, traveling the circuit of conventions as one of her ambassadors of music to entertain the college visitors.

And swing it from Virginia to Tennessee with all the love that's in ya...

She called me the "little dynamo" because counter to my size (diminutive at 19) my voice was big. Really big. The first tune she taught me by rote (I don't read music) was the showstopping song from 42nd Street. Lullaby of Broadway kind of became my calling card performance piece in those years of Program Bureau shows. She would call me forward from the group and set the stage with her introduction. "Folks, you may want to back up here... this one packs a punch." Then, opening chord and first notes, ending in a growl, a roll and the ultimate deep breath long note belted ending.

Weep no more my lady...

I can't be certain I was any good at all, but darn it, it was a fun, fascinating and ultimately soul fulfilling time for me.

Sing that song again for me...

Now, of course, my concert giving is limited in scope to the audience of my family. Generally accepted as one of the mama's strange, eccentric behaviors as she stirs the soup or folds the towels, it is mostly tolerated. Even though they've heard the repertoire (repeatedly) before.

So soft and low just as though you had me on your knee...

When Don took me to London for the weekend, a weekend or two ago, we sat on the 17th row to see the adorable, amazing Mandy Patinkin in concert. Starstruck, but behaving myself, I found myself wrapped up in his voice, his music, HIS repertoire. And when he broke into ROCK-A-BYE YOUR BABY I thought I might just be swept away in my own emotional memory.

A million baby kisses I'd deliver...

Roene DiFiore passed away nearly 20 years ago, not too many years past the time I stood at her side and learned the old songs she loved. The songs that I love too. The very songs I sang to my babies in their infant days. And yeah, the same tunes I sing in the shower.

If you would only sing that "Swanee River"...

That her influence on my life is deep seems obvious. It's in every song that I sing. It's in the way I appreciate the artists she loved. It is marked by the magic of hearing any of those tunes again.

Also, it might just be in the way I store my lip gloss in my bra.

Rock-a-bye your rock-a-bye baby with a Dixie melody!

SMID's Music Monday

Saturday, January 24

Conquering Mountains


my own game
click here for the rules.

Have you seen my black sweater? Is there a mate to this sock?
Are you playing? Leave a note and I will link you back... just as soon as I finish folding these towels. :)

The players: (alas, not the maids)
Flower Child

Friday, January 23



Hands pressed together
Voices lift in earnest prayer
Hope for the future

Haiku Friday

Tuesday, January 20

Our Common Humanity Revealing Itself

An American celebrates an historic day with her International colleagues.


"...we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace."

Barack Obama, Inauguration Speech, 20 January

So many words on a Tuesday

ushering in a Wordless Wednesday

Monday, January 19

Phoenix Rising

...or Celebrating Good Times
American Football is not my sport. Not really. I find it far too full of itself, its special teams and its rules. (So many rules!) But to be honest, unless you are belting out a tune at maximum decibles whilst simultaneously kick-turn-turn-kick spinning on stage, you are not really my kind of athlete at all.

Nope, not a sport fanatic. Not at all.

Sunday evening, Don and I found ourselves in company of some of his colleagues with the playoff game (conference championship) of the NFC as the impetus for the gathering. That's right. I attended a football viewing party.

But, you are not a fan of football, you say.
That is correct, I reply.
So, why this one? You ask.

I shall tell you.

Phoenix was playing.

Yup, Phoenix, my hometown. Or rather, my town of 8 years before we moved to The Netherlands. The fact that the team had risen through the ranks this season, winning game after game had certainly eluded me, but The Cardinals arrival at this championship game, precursor to THE SUPERBOWL couldn't be missed. Well, I suppose it could have, but with the plethora of email and facebook messages arriving from LOYAL FANS (aka my friends) back in Phoenix lauding the accomplishments of the hometown team, I didn't miss it.

I presented myself honestly and openly at this viewing party outing myself immediately as the person in the room who easily knew the least about the sport and likely couldn't care less about the game.

And then, there was the National Anthem and the kickoff.

And somehow, I was completely swept in.

Suddenly, I was the person in the room jumping up and shouting louder than anyone on the good plays. I was also the person in the room holding head in hands and biting her nails on the bad ones.

In a word I was looking: Fanatic.

Midway through the game I publicly declared my enthusiasm for all things PHOENIX CARDINALS announcing to all within earshot: "If the Cards win tonight I am getting cornrows in my hair tomorrow!" (Follow my logic here, this in honor of the ever-amazing Larry Fitzgerald, Number 11, Wide Receiver, who I admittedly developed a bit of a crush on through the course of the game--but honestly, what's not to love, admire and emulate when watching the powerhouse of grace, speed and finesse?)

(Oh, and he's super good looking too)

I know Don was secretly (he even may have said it out loud) hoping that my enthusiasm for white girl dreds would leave me or I would retract the statement by the end of the game. I did neither but offered the compromise that I would merely throw a few plaits into my coiff as talisman token gesture of fanaticism support until the Superbowl.

So,that's that then. The Phoenix Cardinals won the game and are on their way for the first time to the mother of all bowl games. And me? I am braiding my hair in devotion. Upon consensus there will be one into the 'do for me. One for Elway, the stuffed bear who was watching along with us (that's a whole 'nother story), and one in for Don's boss. Raise your hands in the air in support of The Cards and I just may add a braid for you too.

Don't worry, I will complete the look with red and white beads hanging from the braids. It's going to be grand. I am celebrating the way only a fair weather fan can.

American Football is so my sport.

SMID's Music Monday

Sunday, January 18

The Things You Do for Love

I should be working. Really, I should. There is lots to be done and the hours to do it are drifting away. Instead, though, I am wandering the house, the internet, and my own imagination.
Blame it on the random spotted sleep I have had the last 2 nights. Poor Andrew has been sick and between bouts of vomiting we've been doing a lot of cuddling. And in the end, at his recovery, I am feeling the shell-shock of not sleeping. Mostly that is manifesting in this can't-focus-on-nothin'-state of mind which I confessed to when I started this paragraph.

Reader warning: If you are looking for coherency and succinct point in your blog reading today, move along. I just don't think that will be happening here.

I've been thinking. About lots of things really, but mostly about fear. The way it manifests, the way it underscores, overrides and dictates action. Perhaps I should insert CAN into that sentence. The way fear CAN manifest, underscore, override and dicate actions. My actions for sure. I am assuming here this is a universal experience and others have the same feeling. (You'll have to report in the comments section and tell me if it's so.)

Franklin D. Roosevelt (First inaugural address):The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

What is on my list?
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of what people think.
Fear of trying something new.
Fear of leaving something behind.

Hoshang N. Akhtar: An intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex,and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.

Depending on the moment I am considering some or all of those generalized categories where fear can grip, my response is typical:

And I will admit here to being more of a fighter than a runner. Or I have learned to be in recent years. Truth be told, I am a talker and I can talk the fear into nothingness, by simply talking it to death. I am good at that.

Thomas Jefferson: There is not a truth existing which I fear or would wish unknown to the whole world.

What I am considering though is less about conquering fear as it is learning to just live with it. It's ever present isn't it? At least in the generalized sense. There is always something to fear, whether it is rational or otherwise. So, the question I am (not entirely lucidly) focusing on is: Why fear fear, anyway?
Myriad others have thought about this too I am sure, and have quipped famous lines denoting their rather profound and poetic thoughts regarding fear. I don't have any of those to offer here.

I am just thinking.

Living with fear without feeling the need to avoid it nor conquer it. It seems doable, doesn't it?

Japanese proverb: Fear is only as deep as the mind allows

Alternatively, one could just eat ice cream. To hell with the examined life.

Saturday, January 17

The River I've Been Up Lately


my own game
click here for the rules.

So lazy indeed I haven't managed to renew the Mr. Linky add-on. Please tell me you've played and I shall post the linky-love by hand. It might be a struggle, but for you I will do it.

Bud-de-dum everyone's in love...



Soccer Mom in Denial


Sunday, January 4

Book Bonding

Some (long) time ago, not too (very) long after I opened this blog, I posted a piece about the things (15 of them) that we might like to see in a care package from home. It was a write-on-a-whim moment. One of those I seemed to be better at when I first kept this blog verses what it's been like around here lately. The ultimate result of posting such a list was an overwhelming outpouring from these "strangers" in my life who took it upon themselves to cross the blog barrier and become real life friends by reaching out and sending out care packages of various sizes and contents.

Stunning, amazing, incredible really.
And awful damn cool.
(I hope you all know how very thankful I am for all of it--all this time)

Among the generosity by post was a box of books from a new friend whose own childhood roots were in Holland, and whose love of reading rivals the readers in this house. By email I was able to peruse her bookshelf titles and shortly after we were treated to a delightful package of reading material straight from her home to ours. So happy was Emma with the offering she gathered all the titles I had "ordered" for her and promptly planted herself on the couch to read.

Of course, I caught the moment on film, pixels.


And now, this year, as part of the campaign launched by Soccer Mom in Denial to take a DAY TO READ, that photo is the proud poster for the event.


So, here am I again, offering thanks to Anno, to Allison and to my darling Emma for the the supplies, the inspiration, and the shared love of reading.

It is, after all, about the love of the book.

Friday, January 2


I am standing at the customer service counter of The American Book Center here in The Hague. I have ordered a copy of The Princess Bride by William Goldman for Ian as a Christmas present (it's here after Christmas but really, what's a few days between friends?). While I wait, Andrew approaches me with a book in hand. It's a Sandra Boynton board book (Ms. Boynton being a favorite author of ours) and he looks earnestly interested in this new title.

Fact is, he is on this shopping trip to pick a prize for being the stunningly patient recipient of a haircut earlier in the day, so I ask him if this is what he is picking as his prize. He looks at me quizically as he considers his options (book as a prize or a new Lightning Mcqueen car?) and then shakes his head to say, nah, he'll hold out for something at the toy shop. So I encourage him to go and put the book away where he found it.

After several more minutes checking out titles, purchasing books, and generally breathing in the literacy we leave the ABC and make our way to the mecca of Andrew destinations: Intertoys. It doesn't take too long before his choices are made and once again I am standing at a customer service counter making a purchase. I unzip my bag to get my bankcard and am shocked to find...

the book.

Ack. Pure dread hits my stomach with a board book thunk.

That's right. My son has just shoplifted Boynton from the store.

I am dumbfounded, confused, embarrassed, flabbergasted! I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I do neither but quickly, I pay for the toy purchase and usher Andrew into a private space outside the shop. We talk. I am searching for the words that will help him understand. I am trying to understand it myself since I know this little guy hasn't a malicious bone in his body... but what he does have is a keen interest in stashing stuff. Surely, I reason to myself as I lecture, he didn't MEAN to take the book, he just didn't want to walk all the way back to the shelf to leave it behind.


We walk back to the bookshop. We talk to the clerk. Andrew says sorry. Andrew says he won't do it again. The clerk takes one look at his earnest face and his wide blue eyes and forgives all immediately. (Forgives to the point that I almost think she is ready to GIVE him the book as a reward for being honest and returning it!)

I sigh deeply. Andrew looks relieved. We continue our shopping adventure.

I keep my bag zipped tight.

Books are on my mind this week as we work toward the second annual DAY TO READ designed by Allison of Soccer Mom in Denial. It is the designated day to knock off the blogging for a day (yes, a whole day!) and read. Read anything. A book, a magazine, a newspaper.
about the event can be found by clicking the link above.
Join us.


Thursday, January 1


The beginning of a new year.

Whether you are one who uses its dawning to clear the slate and set resolutions for the coming days and weeks or not, there is something kind of enticing about this first day of January. Something a bit precious. And special. And, yeah, new.

Like if you don't wiggle, you may just get the shot.

I am one of those who sets goals and contemplates the way this year can be better than the last.
I am also one of those who sees the forward momentum of life and understands (albeit intermittently) that life happens in spite of the plans you make... but I do like to spend the time around the new year contemplating my navel the things I can do to affect positive changes toward better ends as a person, a mother, a wife and a friend.

So far my list includes:
Drink coffee in bed first thing in the morning.
Lounge in jammies.
Read an excellent novel.
Take a new year's day nap.

I am thrilled to report that I am off to an excellent start this year. Your suggestions for furthering the betterment of my person are welcomed in the comments section.

Happy New Year everyone.


New Year changes at the photo site.

Whether you've noticed or not (you do visit, right?) Allison and I share a photoblog and post in a rhythm of her turn, my turn throughout the year. This year, (yes, the NEW year) I will be posting on the ODD numbered days. What that means for you is that TODAY, being the FIRST, is the FIRST day of the new arrangement. Yup, me = ODD. Seems fitting, no?