Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A visitor

Every day she appears on the roof outside our kitchen window at 6 o'clock. Every day she sits quietly for half an hour, watching me, undisturbed by the commotion in the kitchen (see previous post), and then she disappears again. Six days in a row now. Ever since we came back from Russia. The only explanation I can come up with is that Marc's brother got confused and thought we had asked him to feed the heron for a week, rather than the cats (incidentally that would explain why a) the cats were so happy to see us and b) they seem to have lost weight).

So, if anybody knows anything about the habits of herons that might elucidate this mystery, please tell me.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Stuffed Tuna and other delights of E-dieting

photos courtesy of Marc

I used to cook all the time. Extensively. You remember, don't you? And if you don't, my substantial collection of well-thumbed greasy and stained cookery bookeries offers vivid proof. Of course, that was before Isabelle and the era of 'It's five o'clock and there are two starving grumpy women in the kitchen, one small one large'. So 'extensively' was reduced to 'fast and easy'. Just like that.

Recently I figured out (with some help, thanks Matthijs!) that one way to return to enjoyable sloooow cooking, and to take my daughter along for the ride, would be to cook earlier in the day. Sort of just after our nap. If we wake up a bit earlier than the usual 5 pm (I know, it's shocking to sleep one's life away so) that is, otherwise it's back to square one with 'It's five o'clock and ...'.

And/Or, I could cook in the evenings. In all those hours I no longer spend at the computer. Quietly, by myself, in a kitchen empty of child, with the moon smiling down on my sauces, and the smell of herbs filling the night. Bringing cooking back to its witchcrafty roots.

On the menu tomorrow: Greek Casserole with a dash of Moon Powder.

Shoebox Sunday

A Series within the Series: Reasons why I love my husband

Den Haag, May 2006Shoebox Sunday_

Saturday, May 27, 2006


The week in Moscow, www-free as it was, made me realize that I need to pace myself a little. Set some limits on my internet consumption. Life really is a lot more relaxing without the blog-stress, e-mail stress and so-called 'inspiration sessions' that turn out to be disguised 'beat yourself over the head' sessions starring blogs by infinitely funnier, smarter, more talented people who also happen to combine daily blogging with incredible productivity in a multitude of arts and crafts, full-time employment outside the home and families which sometimes include more than five children. Unsurprisingly, this type of bingeing leaves me as sick as the more regular kind would. Yuck.

Hence, the diet. Here is what I've figured out:
- Two days of the week (the Isabelle days) completely computer-free, including the evening (this is going to be so hard);
- The computer never gets turned on before Isabelle is asleep;
- Computer evenings may not exceed the two-hour limit (I have a question m'am: how about if the computer keeps crashing every two minutes as it is wont to do, or if the wireless connection goes AWOL once again? Is time spent swearing at a black or frozen screen considered to be computer-time?) (Hmmm... will have to think about that...) (I have another question, m'am: what about Skype? Telephone or computer?) (Grrr... what's with all this grey zoning...)

Now the trick is not to replace computer-time with television-time.

Friday, May 26, 2006

At the Museum (courtesy of Marc)

Fantastic Flea-market Finds

Believe it or not, this is a retro pencil-sharpener. On our very first afternoon home (the morning was spent reestablishing our territory, each in our own way: Isabelle was running after the cat, Marc was tackling one of his ghosts, the tool-cupboard at the top of the stairs, and I was changing sheets, washing clothes, emptying suitcases and trying to ignore this computer's seductive whisperings), anyway, we decided to use some of our left-over holiday energy to 'go and do something', which brought us to the Ascension Day flea-market in the centre of town. With the usual results.

I ask (you and myself) in all honesty: how many Bambies can one own before one becomes over-Bambied? Arguably this one is great, and Japanese. Still...

Moscow 2006: Novodevicij Monastery

Moscow 2006: Independence

Moscow 2006: Jump!

Moscow 2006: The Russian Soul

Moscow 2006: At the Pushkin Museum

Isabelle: Kijk, Mama, hij heeft geen seins...
Me: Non, il n'a pas de seins cet homme...
Isabelle: Maar wel tenen!

(Look, Mum, he has no breasts...
No, this man has no breasts...
But he does have toes!)

What poor consolation!

Moscow 2006: Visiting Grand-Father

"Mama, mama, ik gaat jouw Opa kusje geven!"
(Mama, I'm going to kiss your grand-father)

The more observant among you might have noticed that the backdrop to this touching scene is strongly reminiscent of this one here. 25 years down the line, and I'm still holding a baby...

PS: Incidentally, all Moscow pictures are courtesy of Marc. He was having such a fantastic photography week that he wouldn't let go of his camera, not even for a second... which explains the 'courtesy' business.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

On the beach

That's me down there (courtesy of Marc) doing Yoga while my daughter, man and mother attempt to scramble up on the terrace of the beach restaurant with their ten bags of clothing, camera equipment, sand-playing equipment, food equipment, diaper-changing equipment, and other important stuff. Amazing, the calm I manage to exude. But then again, it's not me that's scrambling...

Even more amazing though, is that I managed to sneak off for a few minutes during the lovely (but expectedly busy) meal (Isabelle spent most of her time running around inside the restaurant, with either Marc or me running behind her (to avoid her getting into the kitchen you understand) (why would that be bad? said my mother) (clearly Marc and I share an otherwise unheard of obsession with the incredible number of knives and other weapons contained in restaurant kitchens) (and other kitchens too, in fact), but that was before she made friends with the Husky dog who sat by while she stuck straws into the sand, commenting on all her activities for his entertainment ('Kijk, ondje, ik gaat nu ietjes hier in doen!'), anyway I managed to take a break from running, worrying and checking whether my mother was still enjoying her food to take pictures of these sea poems, written on the glass wall that kept the wind from stealing our hats.

Altogether a deceptively Zen depiction of a family meal in the open air. What the lens can hide, I tell you, is more than you can know.

Shoebox Sunday

A Series within the Series: Reasons why I love my husband (IV)

Hooikade 26, Den Haag (1999-2003)
Because he understands the intimate connection between philosophy and dish-washing soap bubbles...Shoebox Sunday_

Thursday, May 11, 2006

8:00 in the morning in the Galileo Street


For many years now, I have been deeply in love with this statue, straining towards its unresolution in the shade of a wise old tree in the centre of town.

As I was walking around it today, I noticed that it's for sale. A calamity. Any time now, it might disappear forever, whisked away into somebody's garden or shed... Luckily I had Marc's Nikon with me, so I could record here, for the pleasure of your feasting eyes, my passion in stone.


This time it was a little wallet, based on this tutorial, and with an addition inspired by what Sarah had done. And yet again, despite or because of the disastrous fabric choice, it turned out so good, I just have to use it... it seems I am doomed.

PS: please to disregard the floating hair.Crafting_

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Shoebox Sunday

A Series within the Series: Reasons why I love my husband (III)

Barcelona, Summer 2001?
Because he gives such yummy smooches.
Shoebox Sunday_

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Isabelle's first photographs

We are in awe. Words fail.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Would you believe that these are tulips?

Japanese Garden

Isabelle and I are highly complementary; between the two of us, we cover the heavens and the earth...

And then, just like that...

... Summer arrived.

In less than 24 hours, the temperature went from a 'perfectly-normal-for-this-season-yeah-right-who-ever-believed-that' 11 degrees Celsius to a 'now-that-feels-more-like-it-almost-too-warm-wouldn't-you-say-well-some-people-simply-manage-to-complain-no-matter-what-if-you-ask-me' 25 degrees Celsius.

From one day to the next, we traded warm winter coats, woolen scarves, frozen noses, early spring flus and long stripey socks (that would be just me actually...) for the peeling noise of sweaty sandy sunburnt thighs as they come loose from the fake plastic leather of train seats.

The mosquito net is up, we've thrown open the windows, and the house, like its owners, is absorbing heat through all its pores. It feels good...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

They are here at last...

... my Kitty Craft fabrics. Oh joy! Oh inspiration! Oh great reluctance to remove the plastic cover for fear of damaging them (this does not bode well for the actual sewing part)!

(Incidentally, there are many more, it was a bit of a splurge... in fact so many that they wouldn't all fit on the picture, so I had to make a selection...(apologetic grin))

A light breeze...

... that's how the wind of change feels so far. The first chapter of the drawing book is all about ego-boosting by imitation. I've been having a great time copying various beautiful illustrations, such as this one, from Jan Ormerod's Moonlight.

Clearly not quite the original, but still close enough to make me want to keep going. The trick now is not to get mired in chapter one for too long (the other chapters are a lot scarier...).

Promenade en forêt (by Marc)