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Showing posts from September, 2015

Waffles and Waterways

I'm afraid it might sound as though I planned our vacation to the Netherlands and England around my own agenda. We did plan together, listen to each other's wishes and try to fit them all in! 


We left the visual feast of the Van Gogh Museum for a feast of a different kind. A friend had told Katherine about a waffle shop across from the museum, which we "had" to visit. She'd spotted it on our walk to the museum and we headed for it afterwards with an appetite ready to experience the waffles. However we stood before such an array of waffles (or "wafels") such as we had never seen before. We can buy "stroop wafels" in Canadian grocery stores, but these were, just made. Agonizing over having to choose, we opted to experience these--fresh--and were not disappointed. The delectable crispy parts and gooey, warm, sweet parts melted into our mouths deliciously. Katherine texted her friend to report, "Mission accomplished," only to be told, &qu…

Life Force

Did you know that every year the Van Gogh Museum has 1.5 million visitors, who come to Amsterdam from all over the world? That is an average of over 4,000 visitors a day! 

On our third morning in Amsterdam, we walked from our little apartment, down pretty streets lined with tall, gabled houses; over flower lined bridges that spanned canals; all the while dodging the bikes which seemed to approach precariously from every direction. We arrived at the museum early, to find a line already well formed, of people waiting for the museum to open.  We joined and waited with them, with a sense of approaching something sacred. Well, that's my version. Paul waited impatiently because he hates to wait for anything.

As soon as we entered the doors, Paul announced wearily  that he was going to the cafe, mumbling with a pained expression, about not being able to take another museum! We have mostly figured out how to "be" quite happily, in spite of, and sometimes because of, our different …

Surprises!

If I had imagined any granddaughter in particular as an enthusiastic partner in my epic plan to visit the Rijksmuseum, it would have been Tippy. She who eats, sleeps and breathes art! 

But at some point in our journey to the Netherlands, she said to me, "I have to let you know that I'm more interested in doing art than looking at it; I hope that doesn't disappoint you." And her gentle brown eyes peered into mine searchingly. (That talk I gave the girls on "authentic self representation" seemed to have "taken" with Tippy too.) I just smiled into the honest face I love and said, "Of course it doesn't." 

I, on the other hand had enough excitement to cover the five of us if necessary. I even loved the name: "Rijks" museum. "Rijk" is a Dutch word that means "riches," and "abundance," and I could not wait to see this place of aesthetic beauty, filled with works of the Dutch Masters, displayed in a way …

H.Q. Amsterdam

Renting an urban apartment in Amsterdam was based on reading online reviews and economy. We would be able to cook some meals and our money would go further, and as well, we would really be "in" the city. The location was listed as very close to the Museum Quarter and since the idea that originally prompted this trip was to see the great Rijksmuseum, that seemed perfect. Other than that I really had no idea how it would work out for us. 


Having our base in Amsterdam on a street within walking distance of some of the places we wanted to see, restaurants, and a grocery store, turned out to be great. Our apartment on Gerard Dou Straat was equipped with a washing machine, convection oven, fridge and small appliances; everything we needed. On the street corner there was an artsy music store with a glittering glass mosaic in the style of Picasso on the wall.

On our first evening Tori and I tried to capture the beauty of the place in photographs--just an ordinary street in Amsterdam, …

Sentimental Journey

The happiest place in my English childhood was The Netherlands, where our perennially homesick Dutch mum took my brother Rob and me whenever she could scrimp together enough money for the journey, often helped financially by one of our large flock of Dutch relatives.

The journey there began with a "lift" to Birmingham from one of our neighbours who owned a car (Dad rode a motorbike.) At the station we waved goodbye to Dad and caught a train for the long journey to London. In the late afternoon we got a taxi to a different station in London and boarded the "boat train" to Harwich, the port on the east coast, from which we would travel overnight by boat to the Hook of Holland, (or Hoek van Holland,) a short car ride from Rotterdam, our final destination.

We would wake up at dawn and peer out at a land so different to England that our young senses absorbed the many different sights, sounds and smells and they were imprinted on our psyches forever. For me these became ev…

New Season, New Day

This Labour Day was as hot and sultry as high summer. But a row of yellow school buses, shiny and clean, with numbers prominently displayed on their front windows; stood on a nearby parking lot; their seats waiting to welcome a whole new season's batch of young students. They signaled the reality that no summer lasts forever.

In the shade of a magnolia tree, I sat on our small north easterly deck, listening to the chatter of leaves in the soft breeze, and smiling at the irony that Labour Day, being a holiday, gave me permission to do nothing at all. 

This morning I did it--nothing, that is. I simply leaned back into my bright blue resin Adirondack chair and thought for a while, as the cars on the nearby highway zoomed by as in another world.

For me, this Labour Day is the first in 41 years that doesn't precede a paid work day. I have the freedom to choose how I spend my time and haven't stopped thanking God for that privilege several times each day.

The past year has been inte…