Tuesday, February 28, 2006


It's not as I intended it, but I still wanted to show you

how through some windows you always see the sky, no matter that you are inside or outside.

Surreal moments

- Isabelle, wil je met papa naar een museum?
Isabelle, do you want to go to a museum with Papa?
- Jaaaaaa!
- Welk museum?
Which museum?
- Mauve museum.
Purple museum.
- Oh, die!
Oh, that one!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Chased moments

Blogging, apart from being lots of fun, also has some serious drawbacks. One is the 'finding the blog moment' pressure it builds into my day. Some days there are clearly too many blog-moments, and I have to make impossible choices on which to post, and some days there are seemingly no blog-moments, so I have to make them up and hope 'reality' is not what you're after. And sometimes, the moment is there, and I am there, and it still goes all wrong...

... because 'someone' forgot to change the lens in Marc's camera, as in 'Isabelle is wearing the pretty hat her maman knitted for her'...

... or because 'someone' just won't stop moving, as in 'Isabelle found a penguin clip on the floor of the Reform shop (I figure they have only biological dirt on that floor so it's ok) and she is wearing her first head-ornament'...

... or, like today, because at the very moment I was going to click, Isabelle hit her nose on my forehead with such violence that we were both stunned for at least a minute before simultaneously starting to cry. Which must have been a hilarious moment for anyone standing in the room, but of course there was no such person (where are people when you need them?) as we were at the time sitting under the blankets on our big bed, playing 'hutje in het donker' (little house in the dark), so as we started wailing we must have looked like a flowered blue mountain in agony (aria in E minor for Soprano and Alto).

Anyway, the point of this winding pathlet is that instead of worrying about the pain, hers or mine, I was thinking 'this is a great photograph, why isn't anyone taking it?'

Am greatly worried now about seemingly inevitable callousness of artistic endeavour...

A few short hours later...

You will not believe it, but it is true! The machine has held its promise, and although it was not a smooth ride, and the list of mistakes to avoid next time would clog up this blog, yet it's here, humid as a new-born child and just as beautiful to its creatrix,

My first bag! My very first beautiful bag! Made with my own little hands! Imagined in my own little head!

(please not to mind the colours of the photograph, it's due to no flash and no natural light (very rare thing at twenty past midnight, natural light), the bag is in fact green, for those who know our new couch cushion covers, exactly that green :)))


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Maiden Voyage

It finally happened. Last night, after weeks of sewing by hand in the shadow of my 'brand-new second-hand-borrowed-well-oiled-ready-to-go-terribly-scary' sewing maching, I finally began working on the tote bag I've been planning for months.

It was Sam, as often, who managed to get me started, I think her exact words were 'I hope you are not planning to sew something perfect, ARE YOU?' (guilty, guilty, triple guilty as charged).

Well, Sammy, be proud, this one is going to be one mean crooked ass tote bag! Imperfection truly is exhilarating!Crafting_

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Isabelle has a new book, it arrived in the same box as mum's 'Septième Compagnie' trilogy and the poems of Valérie Rouzeau, it's called 'Suzanne' and it's got everything we love: spunky girl, funny/sad/real/poetic text and fantastic drawings. We have decided to let you have a glimpse.

This is Suzanne.

And this is her dog, Hélice.

And this is where Suzanne decides that there's no place like home.

Wide Sargasso Sea

... or how the books I read influence the pictures I take...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Breakfast Voyeurism

Marc caught us early this morning, as we were getting ready for orange juice and 'papski'.

Enough papa! That will do.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Valérie Rouzeau

Cécile told me I would like it; I have learnt to trust her judgment. I've been waiting for this book to arrive for eight weeks now, and it's finally here. A slim volume of poems that is already changing life. Funny how you sometimes know a book is going to have that effect before ever setting your hungry eyes on it. These are gems. The cover alone is a pleasure, with its autumn leaves look, but what's inside is oh so much better.

Je n'en peux plus
Je vais mourir ou faire quelque chose d'incongru
C'est une herbe qui dit ça
À moi

(Et je m'arrache du pré)

And some glosses for the non-francophones:

I can't stand it any more
I am going to die or to do something incongruous
It's a blade of grass that says this
To me

(And I tear myself away from the meadow)

If you like, you can find more here (without glosses though).

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I have been trying to pace myself here, and stop at one blog entry a day, but the urge is too strong, and besides, what's the point of pacing, it's not like inspiration will run longer if I chop it up. Right?

Ten minutes ago (that short???) I probably gave you the impression we had a difficult day. That was just the afternoon, though, the morning was lovely. See for yourselves:

'Kijk, Oma zit op mijn trui!' (Look, there's Oma on my sweater!) (in reference to bit of fluff from Oma's boa-sweater which she was wearing yesterday, and from which said bit escaped while Oma was cooking. It was found this morning by Isabelle under the kitchen table: 'Kijk, stukje Oma!' (Look, a piece of Oma!). The fluff was then religiously carried about in Isabelle's hand for a while, before being given pride of place on her brand-new second-hand dungarees)

Drawing circles around new-born walnut turtles...

This next one was a total mystery to me.

Returning from one of many runs to the kitchen, I found them like that. I asked Isabelle to explain.

I still don't get it.

Late February in Leiden

This was supposed to be yesterday's post. Since I'm always in Leiden on Tuesdays, and not teaching, i.e. not running around like a headless chicken all day long, I thought I'd make Tuesday the Leiden day on the blog too. However, by virtue of it being a Leiden day, it's also an Isabelle-less day, and so things being as they are, it's a day when I miss her real bad and get easily side-tracked into posting lovely pictures of her bench-sitting days.

Today, on the other hand. Our first bicycle ride to the biological farmers market in town was not quite as planned. For one thing, it was bloody cold, as in toe-splitting, cheek-cracking, butt-numbing cold. Being on a bike did not make it better. Isabelle started screaming after five minutes, and never stopped. Secondly, our brand-new bicycle bags which we bought just today, and whose job should have been to carry all the shopping, simply refused to be put onto the bike. So I had to carry it all on my back, with the added excitement of having Isabelle swinging the backpack from left to right (and back) in a desperate attempt at entertaining herself out of this eskimo weather. We almost fell a couple of times, but the funniest bit was when I got mad, and started shouting 'Isabelle' every time she did it, and there were at least fifteen women on the way home who turned their heads looking really worried. Apparently, it was a popular name 40 years ago too.

So today, I dream of Leiden, the quiet, the oldness, the brave white rose fighting her way into the spring.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Monday, February 20, 2006

Creativity au quotidien

Isabelle and I didn't have a very nice afternoon. We were both exhausted (she because she skipped her nap at the sitter's and I because I had a bout of insomnia last night that had me lying in the dark eyes wide open listening to the church clock chiming every half hour until 4) and impatient with each other. Not pretty.

Finally, out of sheer desperation, I left the cooking for what it was (somehow neither of us could get really excited about the 'Broccoli cake' by this time) and gave in to her request to 'uisje bouwen' (building a house).

Except this time, we actually had a great idea. We used the wooden blocks to make furniture for the farmer's family who usually live 'entassés pêle-mêle' in the red barn, together with all their animals. Of course, we didn't have a proper house to put all our furniture in (the animals refused to let us have said barn) so we used her stair-shelf. Here are some highlights:

This is the entire family at dinner, father in the kitchen (obviously :)) ...

grand-ma in the armchair with the cat.

A very tired father brushing his teeth before going to bed.

And finally, the bird view.

Not bad for two grumpy girls, he!

Brides, Lovers and Raisins

This particular rendition of Madame Bovary turned out to be not so memorable after all, even if the story is as disturbing as ever. Marc fell asleep twice already, so we're on our third day of watching a two-hour film. I have to agree with him though, the whole production is lacking something. Volume. It's flat as a pancake.

Besides, I believe we have both been saturated by De Poolse Bruid. We saw it three days ago, and were completely bowled over. Highly recommended!

In addition to the acting/atmosphere/setting, etc., the most amazing thing about the movie is a song about half-way through, sung in Groningen dialect by Ede Staal, but beautiful even if you don't understand a word. It's called 't Hoogeland and can be found here.

I love it despite (or perhaps because of) its suspicious resemblance to Le Plat Pays.

Marc had a 'release' at work today (a most mysterious name, incidentally) which involves work on a Sunday from 5 am to 1 pm, followed by many phonecalls intended to solve problems resulting from the release. Makes you wonder what (or who) they release. And where it/she/he goes after it's been released.

This meant Isabelle and I had a quiet morning sorting the wash and playing in the park. I was hoping to take her to the beach (the weather has been loverly springish these last two days) on our brand-new bike (wish I'd made a picture) (later, later) but she explained to me with much expressive body-language that she was going to freeze, her toes and her nose were going to fall off, and many other horrors of which she wished to spare me the details. In fact, the only way to go outside, IF I REALLY insisted, was to have her tucked up into her flannel sleeping bag in the buggy, together with a tupperware full of raisins and her cup of warm milk. Like so:

Then push on Mama-horse!

Marc says she gets it from me. What is 'it' I wonder? Her love of raisins?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Spring is on its way

At least in this house it is. Marc lent me his camera and so here they are, basking in the first ray of real sunshine, some of my favourite finds/creations of the past week:

Little cat hiding in the forest.

Casting, Scenario and Titles by Isabelle
Props by Maman.

Funny woodpecker doorknocker.

(Long live Kringloop!)

I am mad about this can. 1 euro.
Would you believe it?

For Valentine's day, Marc and I went to a fancy restaurant for lunch. Not just any fancy restaurant: Calla's. Thin slices of duck liver spread over perfect fillets of sole. Lobster cappuccino. Best of all: tartare de coquilles Saint Jacques dans sa mayonnaise à la fleur de courgette. Hmmmmm! Our love boat couldn't have stranded in a better place...

The Wee Wonderfuls: I

(from the Wee Wonderful Pattern of Hillary Lang, see www.weewonderfuls.com)

Her name is Aroum and she is the goddess of perseverance.

The Wee Wonderfuls: II

Her name is Ala and she is the Nigerian (Albino) goddess of hope.

More amazing finds. Sammy and I went to Utrecht, which is incidentally a dangerous place for penniless but easily inspired women. Many many pretty little junk shops. This one had my name on it. Isn't it lovely?

Of course no spring would be complete without some tulips. Voila, maman, tu peux profiter à distance!

Tulip reflection in glass table top.

Coming back to the beginning, you might have noticed a new addition to our family in the shape of a forest-hiding matou. Here is his compère, fishing away in an empty sea. Luckily he brought his catch with him.

And here are the two filous, enjoying some well-deserved rest in the sunshine.

(Both cats are from patterns that I found in an old 1970's Japanese Craftsbook, called 'Ondori's Cats'. I got it from the library, but had to take it back, so unfortunately no pictures).

Well, that's it for today I'm afraid, I am off to watch the BBC version of Madame Bovary with large supply of Kumquats on my lap (remind me to tell you).Crafting_