May 27, 2011

a mooving tale

Once upon a beautiful Tuesday evening I was feeling a little antsy. I just spent 5 days cooped up in the house with 4 children and basically no one else, and I needed to get out. Alone.
Sunset was nearing and I figured I'd get in the car, go for a drive, listen to music and maybe park somewhere nice and go for a little walk. Anybody who has ever been in the car with me knows what a scatterbrain I am and how easily I get lost. Thus, true to form, as I was driving through Scheveningen, admiring how the sunlight was hitting the buildings, I suddenly found myself on the road to Wassenaar. Whoops. I figured i had better get off soon before I find myself on the road to London or something, and I turned around at the first available exit. As it turned out, this was a stroke of luck.
The road that then led back into The Hague had city life (busy streets, appartment buildings, noise) to the left of it and farmland (pastures, cows, peace and quiet) to the right. I was enchanted. As soon as I saw a parking spot I grabbed my iPod and camera, ditched the car, and started walking along the field, marvelling at how much more beautiful the same sunlight was when it was hitting trees and grass and flowers instead of buildings.
As I walked along, feeling all zen and at one with nature, one of the cows trotted up to the ditch that separated the meadow she was in, from the foot path I was on, and JUMPED. Have you ever seen a cow jump? It is quite a sight and I was a little taken aback. Also, cows are rather large, and for a city girl to suddenly have one licking her sleeve was a little intimidating for about 5 seconds. Then I realised how gentle she was with me and that she was obviously just curious, and I began to worry for her. Her curiosity was driving her through the grassy bumper between the foot path and the busy road that I had driven up on. Beyond the road was nothing but concrete and noise, not a good place for a cow to go and have a little twilight stroll.
A passing jogger stopped and recognised that this was a predicament, and something needed to be done. We called the police who were able to contact the farmer, who then hurried over. All the while the jogger and I did all we could to keep the cow from escaping into the city (I may have spanked the poor animal once or twice). The police arrived first and took over from us, the farmer followed soon after. The most amazing thing about all of it was seeing the farmer jump the gate into the meadow and call out to the cows. The cows instantly recognised him and ran towards him, and when he started walking, they all followed meekly. It was really something to see, and I realised that somewhere in there was a lesson I maybe needed to experience that evening. As soon as the police arrived a crowd started to form and within a few minutes I wasn't able to see a thing through the throng of people. I left without seeing the cow returned to the safety of the meadow (well, relative safety until they widen those ditches). While I drove myself home in silence I pondered how amazing things can come on your path when you don't know where you're going, but you're going, open to new experience. Here are some of the pictures I was able to take, starting with the escapee.

May 22, 2011

picture heavy beach

Gorgeous day yesterday, we took full advantage. We are truly a family of beach bums. Today is the very last day of Sander's work marathon, we greatly look forward to having our dad/husband/best friend back!

Let me leave you with this quote that impressed me yesterday:

“Many films diminish us. They cheapen us, masturbate our senses, hammer us with shabby thrills, diminish the value of life. Some few films evoke the wonderment of life’s experience, and those I consider a form of prayer. Not prayer “to” anyone or anything, but prayer “about” everyone and everything. I believe prayer that makes requests is pointless. What will be, will be. But I value the kind of prayer when you stand at the edge of the sea, or beneath a tree, or smell a flower, or love someone, or do a good thing. Those prayers validate existence and snatch it away from meaningless routine.” 
- Roger Ebert

May 20, 2011

here's a little random for you

Just some good old goings on and musings today.

1. I am basically a single mother this week because Sander has some sort of huge overhaul at work that's causing him to make 28-hour days. Ergo I am tired, and in such dire need of adult conversation that I kept the telesales person on the line for 40 minutes last night. Without buying anything. Poor girl.
2. "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read" -- Groucho Marx
3. I am starting to get seriously impatient with the seeds I planted last week. Nothing is coming up and I have no idea how long it's supposed to take but in my head I had this vision of lush flowers and fragrant herbs all over the roof terrace in about 2 weeks time. 
4. Interesting films watched recently: The Adjustment Bureau (an different take on fate), Never Let Me Go (a depressing take on the future of mankind and its longevity), Adam (adorable movie about a 29 yo man-boy with Asperger's Syndrome) and finally, I saw Annie Hall for the first time in my life. Loved it, luurrved it, loaved it, luffed it. 

5. Lara has a serious stinky feet problem, I wonder where she gets it from... definitely not me.
6. You should read this beautiful poem by Frank O'Hara called For Grace, After A Party:

  You do not always know what I am feeling.
Last night in the warm spring air while I was
blazing my tirade against someone who doesn't 
            me, it was love for you that set me
            and isn't it odd? for in rooms full of
strangers my most tender feelings
                                                     writhe and
bear the fruit of screaming. Put out your hand,
isn't there
                     an ashtray, suddenly, there? beside
the bed? And someone you love enters the room
ans says wouldn't 
                               you like the eggs a little
different today?
                          And when they arrive they are
just plain scrambled eggs and the warm weather
is holding.

7. I would have way too much fun going to bed if I owned these sheets:
All images in this post via WeHeartIt

May 15, 2011

Music Monday V2.7

1. Bobby McFerrin - I've Got A Feeling
This performance has just got it all: It's pure musical talent and near impossible perfect pitch, it swings, it's cool and it'll put a smile on your face that will grow bigger and bigger as you continue to watch it to the end.

2. Kevin Olusola - Julie-O
It's cello, and it's beatbox. I should also mention that in addition to having mastered the afore mentioned arts, the handsome mr. Olusola has a degree from Yale, and is a master saxophonist. Form an orderly line to my left, ladies.

3. Betty Hutton - Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing In A Hurry
The great Johnny Mercer, who is one of my all-time favourite songwriters in history, wrote this hilarious tune. Betty's performance makes it that much better to watch. Ah, they just don't make em like that anymore!

4. Beastie Boys - Make Some Noise
I remember it well. I was 14 years old and at my very first concert: the Beastie Boys played the Ahoy in Rotterdam on an amazing rotating stage located smack in the middle of the huge hall. My friend Madeleine and I were clear at the front of the crowd and witnessed the most amazing thing I had ever seen or heard in my life. Now, 16 years later, I still love the Beasties on so many different levels and their new album, Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2, proves that they have still got it! (Though I must say, I'm not too sure about the reggae song ...) Anyway. This video is great. Watch it several times to find all the cameo's. No, watch it several times to KEEP ROCKING!!

May 14, 2011

no seriously, I'm OK.

I seem to have worried a few people with my previous post. Things aren't as bad as they sound people, it's just a little weird thing I do every month for a couple of days, and then I'm fine again, almost like a normal person and everything!
To prove that I am quite all right I did some gardening yesterday after getting 9 whole hours of sleep the night before. Of course I don't actually have a garden and my fingers are about as green as this guy's:
But Lara and I got us some earth, emptied all of last years failed horticultural experiments in the trash, and got to it. I say we, but really Lara did most of the work. She filled the pots with fresh earth, dug little seed-nests with her fingers, and planted Lavender, Sweet Pea, and some other stuff I don't remember the name of but it was pink and purple (hey I let her choose).
We were in fact so inspired (read: Julia was so mad we did it without her) that today we're getting a bit more earth and seeds to fill up the last pots with herbs. After that the waiting game begins. Luckily the Farmer's Almanac tells us that yesterday and today are perfect days for planting and sowing. I like to think I was inspired.

May 10, 2011

on shame and fickle companions

A few days ago I experienced what is a recurring situation in my life. I went through a few days where my mind seems to be on crack and the very last thing I want to do is go to bed. After going through this every single month for the last couple of decades, I am starting to learn that giving in to this hyperactive mind, and allowing it to keep me up late at night, results in several things.
Some of those things are really good. A creativity sets in that I otherwise don't usually experience quite so overwhelmingly, and I sometimes end up creating things that I can later look back on with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It is also during these late hours that I find exciting new bands to listen to, read stimulating and inspiring stories, play my guitar/sing and feel like I'm really finally in that 'zone' of musicality, have serious and meaningful communication with my husband, draw or take photographs, talk to some new and interesting people in various online communities, or talk to the people I already know but love and miss because they live in opposite time zones to me. 

Sometimes I become so inspired that I just want to run outside at 3am and start knocking on doors to spread the excitement. Which I never do, of course. That would be a good way to ensure a future inside a mental facility at best, and public stoning at worst.
Then there is the other, shadier side of the medallion. The side that usually hits me hard the next day with its headaches, weariness, impatience, low brain power, and feelings of general inadequacy. The side that sometimes can't even wait until the next day and so chooses to rear its ugly head right smack in the middle of my wonderful wakeful night, with sudden feelings of disconnection and isolation. Because the condition that makes the night such a great time to give in to impulses and creativity and work out ideas, is the same condition that is a cause of much loneliness: the night is quiet. The night is dark. The night is a temptress and a planter of bad idea seeds, and I don't know about you, but at 2am I don't have the best fuel resources to withstand its pull. Hence, bad decisions are sometimes made and those are the times I feel most alone. Because my solitude is then accompanied by shame. And the less you talk about shame, the more you feel it, the more isolated you become. Enter vicious circle.
Aha, so that's why I'm babbling on like this. I'm hoping that if I communicate my stupidity, my shame, my humanity, I'll be able to break the vicious circle that can actually start in a good place where my mind is active and I'm taking advantage of that by sacrificing a couple of hours of sleep, but spins progressively out of control from there on to the point where I spend a full 24 hours in a zombie-esque state of shameful withdrawal and apathy.

The night is a fickle companion to me and I am not sure I'll ever figure out a way to achieve a pleasant, balanced, friendly relationship with it. And should I even want it because doesn't getting rid of deep, dark lows inherently also mean excluding exhuberant highs?

May 9, 2011

splish splash

May 5, 2011

Fair Family Fun

It's that time of the year again when the kids have 2 weeks off school (I heard that this is the last year it'll be two weeks, only one from now on?) and the string of events/national holidays is endless. There's Queen's Day on April 30th, Rememberance Day on May 4th, Liberation Day on May 5th, Mother's Day on May 8th, Ascension Day on June 2nd, Pentacost on June 12th&13th, and finally Father's Day on June 19th. Traditionally each year Den Haag hosts a big Fun Fair called the Koninginnedag Kermis which lasts the entire school vacation (April 25th - May 8th). It's also a special time for Sander and I since the first time we met was April 28th, 2000. To celebrate, Sander found us a babysitter and we had a lovely evening strolling down the fair.
The next day, when Sander was back at work, I loaded the kids in The Beast and met up with Liz&Jim, Jolanda&Devon and Terry&George (who were visiting from the UK) at the Kermis. Main reason: Liz and I have a yearly tradition to go on the scariest ride in the fair. This year was the same as last so we knew what to expect. It's basically this huge robotic arm with 4 seats at either end of it that are able to do a full 360 flip, and the arm then spins and spins and spins at ludicrous speeds. 
Doesnt look too bad you say? Did I mention the thing is sky-scraper tall? And that we were left dangling at the very top for a good 2-3 minutes waiting for other people to get on, while tilted to face the ground far, far below us? Check us out:
We screamed so much our throats were sore, it was the best. Leave it to me to somehow sustain some sort of leg injury while sitting in a machine that spins me around. It gave me leg cramps and I had trouble walking for days...  (insert your age-related joke here). More fun is yet to come as we prepare for dinner with Lauren Sharp and her parents tonight (she was a missionary in our ward for a loooong time), a sleepover for Julia at Oma Marianne's from Friday thru Sunday, Laura Prosman coming to spend the night with us tomorrow, Graciella's Birthday Barbecue in the park, and a day at the Efteling for Mother's Day with Sander's entire family. We just never stop here at the Koot residence!
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