Photos generating happiness

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The freckles I passed on myself… nothing to add

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A ‘see-through shrimp”, according to my youngest son, a happy little biologist never scared to pick anything up.

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Waiting patiently to see which creature inhabits the shell, in Croatia.

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I passed this view on a run through my neighborhood, There is a patch of rough grounds close to where I live, even though this is officially the ‘City Centre’. I love these weird, lost places with odd vehicles parked in them. Too bad this state of no-mans-landishness never lasts too long – they have started construction there now. I guess it will be luxuruous apartments showing up.

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A monstrous machine, eating away at the [now ex-] building next to the one I used to work in. We heard and felt it – and outside there were always people taking pictures & gazing at this Thing gnawing at the concrete. Mesmerizing!

Gathering ideas & staying afloat

This week’s mantra could be:

“Gather ideas, ride their waves – well, at least don’t drown and learn to stay afloat.”

On monday afternoon, I ended up in our Central Library, It’s next to Central Station and a wonderful place. On the top floor, you can have coffee and there’s a roof terrace with a great view of the city:

View from the Amsterdam Public Library

Actually, this part is my favorite part of Amsterdam: coming from home, I cross the bridge coming from the green-ish building – which is a fantastic scientific & play-inducing museum for children aged 1-99 – it’s called Nemo.

What I also like about the route, is that although this is The Major Place In The Netherlands – touristically seen: next to Central Station, zillions of tourists hoovering around it… still, it has a feeling of desolation and emptiness. My theory about crowded places is: turn 2 corners and you’ll find an oasis of peace.

Also, I once drove through LA, now THAT’s a big city right there. Amsterdam is pretty tiny, actually. But – I am drifting from the subject.

Here’s what I took home with me: 

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“Miracles in Bricks Wonders of Nature & the World in Lego”

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This is the book I found in the hobby section. It shows famous buildings and statues you can build with your own lego. I like that they use the tiniest of lego bricks, so it’s really gratifying to finish it. My youngest son aged 6 started a project in bed – he was supposed to go to sleep, but he is as hardheaded as.. well, in the Netherlands we say: hardheaded as a donkey. I am sure that is poretty clear. So, loooking at the pictures in the book, he got a heavy case if Inspiration and built 3 figures. When finished, these MUST be showcased in front of the living room window, presenting:

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A high-rise building (he made that one up), a mini-colossus and the Sfinx.

He really tried his best – by nature, he’s very critical of everything he produces. I was glad he was satisfied this time, so he went to sleep. He’s inherited his perfectionism from his dad, and I still don’t know how to deal with either of       them once they get fanatic (read: when   they can’t enjoy what they’re making or doing, just because it isn’t perfect.)

** Lego: plastic magic **

** Lego: plastic magic **

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SEWING

I chose this one beacuse it looks catchy inspiring. I have no idea if I’ll ever actually make something from it – it looks complicated and precise,

Then again: trying is always ok, and who knows what inspiration I will draw from it. It’s worthwhile mentioning at any rate, and I am not surprised it’s a Japanese artist who came up with these ideas:

Tomoko Nakamichi.

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Great to have lying standby on our piano. I’m no pianist, but I can play some chords and sing along and have fun doing that. Sometimes my husband will play the piano (he is the pianist) and we’ll sing together, a favorite song we do now and then is A Song for You by The Carpenters. It’s too bad his perfectionism and my laissez-faire-attitude often get in the way of enjoying making music together. We were in a band together for 5 years though, quite an achievement. We had 3 other band members, keeping us civilized.

This monday, I picked good old Lenny from the library shelves (never mind these weird jeans, although they match the sewing project above). Fleetwood Mac is always fun to try and play, and of course John Mayer’s chords are way too complicated, let alone the lyrics and tone. But I enjoy just sitting down for a bit and put my hands and ears to work this way.

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From Queen to King

… well, that could be a rather long and dull story. In short: two years ago, our Dutch Queen Beatrix stepped down literally and handed the crown over to her son, Willem-Alexander of Orange. About whom many a joke has been made since he was young, but let’s skip that part for now, just like the story of Argentinan Máxima Zorreguieta who became his better half in 2002, causing quite an uproar because of her father‘s dubious past.

Orange trams for the crowning of the King

Orange trams for the crowning of the King

In 2013, the trams in Amsterdam turned the same color as the Golden Coach the Oranges use for official events, and to be honest, I actually enjoyed watching them from our window – I had just returned to my home country after over 2 years in exile, maybe this was the reason for my admiration of anything explicitly Dutch, let alone the crowing of a King for the first time in 123 years! During the wedding ceremony which father Zorreguieta wasn’t allowed to attend because of his dubious past, hence the Argentinan musical intermezzo causing Máxima to shed her nationally-famous tear.

Where was I? From 2013 on, we have a King and like his mother, he has a national day of festivities devoted to him, whether he wants to or not. Before, he was sort fo obliged to come alomg with his mother, visiting sleepy towns in the Netherlands who had prepared for their arrival for months and months in their “Orange Committees”. The maximum and also horrifying outcome of that: our Crown Prince, throwing a toilet bowl during “Queen’s Day”, 2012. A year after that, he was crowned our King and made himself, or/and his wife, the promise to never engage in such ridiculous activites again.

This year, no traditional or regional bullshit activities. The date of “KIng’s Day” has shifted to April 27th [instead of the 30th] and apart from a boat tour and royal waving, there was’s too much he rather wouldn’t do.

For us, normal creatures, not much has changed though, Some people start drinking and partying night before and sleep in on King’s Day. Some just keep on going ’til; the end – it is a national holiday, after all! Others try to dig a holer and crawl into it, not to emerge until everuthing is back to normal. Others have kids and they spend the day outside, hoping the weather will be ok, and stroll one of the many many flea markets – many sell their own old stuff, children’s toys and clothing and knick-knacks.

I did a little bit of everything, which was fun. At 7, I dragged my husband to a posh neigborhood where the fleas are loaded, so to say. Slightly disappointed there, we continued on to our own neighborhood: the Eastside. We found some tnice things – not too much, because we try to de-clutter/1 In the meantime, my mother was at home woth our children and helped them prepare the rest of the price tags for their own ‘flea stall’ – well, we sat on the grass with all the items on blankets. The children were playing with their frineds from school and spending their hard-earned wages on candy and ugly crap. School of Life, right? We had a beer and cleaned up in the end, leaving us wioth a big bag full of leftover fleas. That bag is in the trunk of the car now, ready to be taken to the 2nd store, which will probably be bursting with other people’s unsold.. items.

And so, King’s Day isn’t much different from Queen’s Day at all, to me, so far. Maybe when I get older ~I will follow the tv registrations and mutter something about traditions being neglected and thrown out the window. Until that time, I will enjoy and appreciate this day, which is so different from other weekdays, maybe that is the best part: undertaking something with your partner / family that you usually don’t do.

Buying second hand brand clothing for 1 or 2 euros per item… that’s great, We Dutch love bargains!

Spring in the city

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The magnolia tree in our garden has performed its magic trick for us for the third time since we moved here. Even with our children climbing and ” decorating” it, it still looks perfectly beautiful with its unfolding leaves. By now, the blossom had started to fall down. Upon being asked why the tree would bother to make all these beautiful flowers, mu oldest son said: “Maybe it is for the people to enjoy them!” Sweet answer.

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DSC00565This was two weeks ago at our caravan. The one in the picture is our neigbor’s. Actually, our spot is quite small, but we don’t mind. It’s a 15 minute bike ride to the beach, the children bike across the campground and can join in all sorts of actviities during holidays.

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These are the feet of two of my men, both reading: the paper and a comic.

Pretty much all we do there is make tea and coffee and keeping warm or sun-bathing and do some reading. Do the dishes now and then and cook on the camping stove next to the caravan. Back to basics, but luxuriously: with electricity: a small heater and a lamp to read and play games by.

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Picknick at the beach, beginners’ fault: nice and sunny at the campsite; too windy and cold for sitting down let alone eating anything without being sandwashed. Alweays good to see the sea though.

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An extra: some urban knitting across the “IJ” – the water that separates the North of Amsterdam from the rest. Behind it is Amsterdam Central Station. A ferry takes you to and from several locations on the North side – and back – for free.


Liverpool

L i v e r p o o l

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Liverpool, winter/spring 2003.

I wanted to study abroad like my college friends, but eventually I was so late in applying there was only one place left: a small university in Liverpool. So I went there, followed some courses and learnt life lessons aplenty – such as: you’ll never get as homesick as the 19-year-old girl whose mom sent her pics of their house every morning; you will never bring your own salad dressing like the girls training to be teachers; you will never be popular but people will tolerate your presence. Oh, and some boyfriends will cheat on you two weeks after you left. Taraaa. Looking back, I don’t regret going I  – spent lots of time by myself and practiced being my own best friend. I went to a wonderful Paul McCartney concert and strolled through the Beatles’ neighborhood for 5 months. That was really nice, and during the weekends my best friends and family came to visit. Last but not least: Liverpool is a wonderfully gloomy place. I can’t imagine it ever being warm and sunny there, but even that should be possible. To conclude with; a song by Suzanne Vega that takes me back to Liverpool.

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