Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Homesick at Home

Yeah, I've got a lot of catching up to do. We're back in the US! I'm running like mad with photography work! Megan isn't speaking Dutch to us anymore, and she's grown 4 inches in the last 16 months! I haven't left Houston to see anyone, I've been so busy. It's weird- I'm home, basically back in the swing of things, but I'm getting homesick for Holland.

Maybe it's the weather- this morning the temperature was flirting with the mid-40s, and you could almost see your breath. I busted out some scarves and hats that I made while in the Netherlands. I'm craving a giant Chai tea and a meandering conversation with Kaat. I want to hear the playground at the end of Soendastraat giggling and squealing with busy children.

Most of all, I want to walk in my woods. I want to see the mist hanging in the trees, hear a thousand unseen birds, smell the sweet decomposition of the fallen leaves. If I close my eyes just right, I can almost experience it, but it's fading more every day. I need a recharge, renewal, inspiration- that is what the woods did for me. I only wish I could have returned the favor somehow.

Oh, sure, there are woods here in Houston, but it's just not the same. The biggest difference is the mosquito population- I don't feel like being ex-sanguinated first and foremost. I am almost sure that there are 1,000 mosquitoes per human in Houston, and they tend to hang out in un-breezy places with loads of trees. No thanks. I'll pass, until I get really desperate, or until the first freeze (if that ever happens).

I'm confused and a little winded by this reverse-homesickness. It's not nearly as powerful as what crippled me my first 3 months in Holland, but it's presence is noticeable.

I think I'll go eat a half-bar of chocolate to see if that helps. Belgian chocolate, of course.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu And Other Excuses For Not Blogging

Hello to the two people who still read my blog! (Ok, one if you don't count me proof-reading after I post.) I just wanted to let you know I'm still alive, and I have not been in the hospital with an unconfirmed case of Swine Flu or anything. I'm just trying to cope with the disappointment I know you are all feeling when I post something lame like this, and not a cool and funny run-down of what we did in DECEMBER, because as far as you know we all fell in the ice and have been in suspended animation since then, not doing anything interesting at all.

Well, we haven't. For example, my parents are here currenly, and we celebrated all three of our birthdays this month. I had TWO- count them, TWO!!!! - paid photo gigs, and may have more in May since the weather is becoming much more not-freezing-and-unbearable. I met my Dutch Twin, and started a project where I take a picture of myself every day (which is just as exciting as it sounds), and my sister is doing the same, and we're gonna put them together in a book, we think. So, see? I've been doing stuff, just not blogging. Which is like a downward spiral of procrastination and guilt and stress.

So, this is basically a non-post, a nicety to let you know I am not dead from kissing pigs, and that I promise I will post at least one more time. But not this month. I mean, I'd only have about 2 hours, and lord knows this kind of comedy gold takes at least 2 and a half hours.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lunch Conversation

Megan: "Tell me, what CAN'T Santa do?"

Me: "I know, right?"

Megan: *silence, staring at me*

Me: "Oh, you really want me to tell you what Santa can't do."

Megan: "Well, yeah."

Me: "Ok. Ummm, this may be a pretty short list, 'cause he's a pretty impressive person."

Megan: "It's ok. Tell me."

Me: "Well, Santa can't make every day Christmas."

Megan: "Yeah, I know that."

Me: "Ok. Ummm... Santa can't bring presents to kids on the naughty list. It's one of his rules."

Megan: "Yeah, I know that."

Me: "Ok... umm.... Santa can't bring things like puppies or babies as Christmas presents."

Megan: "Yeah, 'cause puppies come from mommy dog tummies and babies come from mommies' tummies."

Me: "Right. Ummm... Santa.... uh.... Santa can't bring anyone back from the dead."

Megan: *totally unphased* "Right."

Me: *almost a minute of silence*

Megan: "That's it?"

Me: "No, uh, oh! Santa can't ride a bike. Well, maybe he can- I forget he's got that huge workshop."

Megan: "That and he's pretty fat."

Me: "Yeah, but we don't talk about that- I hear he's sensitive about it."

Megan: "Oh, and he can hear us, can't he?" *louder* "He's not fat, he's just... he's handsome!"

Me: "Well, he's what we call pleasantly plump."

Megan: "Right!" *then does the 'whew' wipe of her forehead*

Me: "Oh, it's a little known fact that Santa can vaccuum like nobody's business. He's a wizard with a vaccuum cleaner."

Megan: *finally impressed* "REALLY?"

Me: "Yep, it's true. I can't think of anything else he really can't do, he's quite an accomplished guy. I mean, he can take presents to all the good boys and girls all on one night. If you can do that, most other things must seem really easy."

Megan: "Yeah, I bet you're right."

Monday, March 9, 2009

In Limbo, AGAIN

Kip may kill me, but I just wanted to broadcast that a few weeks back we got word from his office that we may be moving back to the US this summer. MAYBE. It's been a few weeks of meetings and discussions and fact-gathering and case-making as to why they should bring us back early, and it appears that they are going to try and get this in the budget for this year, but I am just not holding my breath.

Why? Go back to the first 10 entries of this blog. That's why.

So, I'm diving back into my old bad habits because of the stress- eating tons of chocolate, not exercising, stress-sleeping (weird, I know, it's an avoidance tactic), generally being in a grumpy state... so, needless to say I'm a lot of fun to be around!

I'm trying to keep my mind off things with projects, and I've started a photo project that I have been on the fence about for a couple of years now: 365 self-portraits. That's one a day, no cheating. I have a pretty bad track-record with completing things like this, but I am channeling my stress energy into this project, and I really, really want to finish it- my sister started her own 365, which inspired me to go ahead and start, and I want to put our photos in a book together when we're finished. I just love the idea of having an entire year of our lives, side-by-side even though we're miles apart, something I can pick up and look through for the rest of my life. And if we do get sent back home, what a year of pictures it's going to be!

[ 3/365 ] Fear Of Being Wrong

[2/365] Midnight fairy tails

So, I hope this helps explain why I have been quite remiss in getting the last few stories from Kathryn's visit completed- I'm such a stress-scatterbrain, but I will get them done and up as quickly as possible. As soon as I finish alphabetizing the spices and windexing the DVDs. (That's windex, not index- it's glass cleaner, for those of you not in the know.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More Of The Rest Of The Story

Delft, Or How To Freeze Your Child

Monday the 29th we headed to the train station and went south to Delft, home of the famous Delft blue pottery. Monday is not the best day to go and do much in small villages here, businesses that are open on weekends are sometimes closed half the day or all day on Mondays, so we only saw a few things while we were there. It really was beautiful, though- the churches filled with Dutch royals and history, the wide open market square... I see quite a few more trips to Delft in my future.

New Church and Market Square

I love the bell tower of the New Church.

UNNNN-fortunately, Megan was not completely wowed with Delft at first. Sulky McGrumpypants had to be warmed and fed, and documented. In multiple mediums.


Fortunately, with food, she perked up. Poor kid.

After we ate, we trekked over to the Prinsenhof - Megan got all excited when we thought we were going to see where William of Orange was shot- complete with BULLET HOLES in the walls! But it was closed. We finally managed to get her to smile after telling her we'd see some cool windows and stuff in the Old and New Church.


In the garden of the Prinsenhof


Inside the New Church, William of Orange is entombed under an amazing monument, members of the Dutch Royal family are buried here as well.




It was soooo cold that day- I think it warmed UP to -1 (almost 30 for you Fahrenheit fans) and the cold really wore us out quickly. She was such a trooper- she kept up with us as we walked in wide zig-zags, reading the tombs on the floors of the churches. She covered her eyes at some of the skulls and other gothic representations of death in a few of the monuments. So many things were closed, so we saw what we could, then ran back to the train to get back home and warm our frozen toes and fingers.



I hardly did our trip justice- we saw some beautiful sites, so take a look here to see more!

Ok, The Rest Of The Story

With the Yoburns in Paris, Kathryn had us all to herself finally! In the day or two before Christmas we hung around town, seeing the farm and the woods again, and grabbed some last-minute gifts, and did a lot of wrapping.



Oh, yeah, and ate more oliebollen and pancakes. I mean, we had to- it was cold.




First Christmas In Holland

After some tree decorating...




... we were ready for Santa! It was really helpful to have Kathryn here for the holidays- I think we would have been very homesick had we been on our own. Plus, who can bring this kind of fun around except Kat?


On Christmas Eve evening we went down to the park/football field at the end of our street for a wonderful nativity a local group organized. There was something so peaceful and quaint about the production, from the candle-lit trail through the woods to the kids with cotton-ball sheep outfits... it was nothing like I'd ever seen before.







Christmas morning Megan awoke to some cute surprises from Santa, and a bounty from America- we can't thank our family and friends enough for sending gifts, and for Kathryn transporting it all!



After opening all our loot, we made a breakfast fit for royalty, and spent the rest of the morning in a food coma, soaking in the joy of Christmas and family.



I did a repeat of our Thanksgiving meal for Christmas dinner that night, with a few tweaks (I made the cranberry sauce a day in advance in hopes that it would mellow a little). Megan was in charge of setting the table, and she marked our places with charming name cards.



In my lack of blogging, the details of the day after Christmas and the weekend are blurry at best. There was some sleeping in, a few movies watched, and leftovers eaten. Pretty much everything was closed through Monday, so we hung around the house and plotted our next touristy move.


Next.... our touristy moves. Oh, we've got moves.

Friday, February 13, 2009

English Is Her FIRST Language

Megan: "I think we're going to have a lousy day today."

Me: *surprised* "What? Why?"

Megan: *points to her leg and mouths something totally indecipherable, raising her eyebrows several times for emphasis*

Me: "Huh?"

Megan: "You know, those days where you say, 'Oh, I'm just soooo LOUSY, I'm gonna stay in my pajamas and watch TV all day long!"

Me: "Ohhhh, you mean LAZY."

Megan: "Right. Isn't that what I said?"