Friday, September 28, 2007

autumn evenings

knitting on the couch, with a sleeping infant in the sling, a purring cat under one (woolen-sock-shod-) foot, Marc reading up on art history under the other. autumn music on the stereo. howling wind outside. hot yogi tea and white grapes within reach. more of these evenings to come. life at its very sweetest.

Monday, September 24, 2007

birthday gift for Isabelle's friend

finished just on time for the party, using Hillary's birdie pattern. i personally think it's very cute, but it did remind me of why it is exactly that i am not setting myself any goals involving deadlines for the time being (the stress, the stress, the stress!).

la mer du nord

my son's eyes are like the north sea: bright blue, murky green, sandy brown, dark dark grey, and many shades in between. it just depends on the day. on the mood. on the weather.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sammy's recipe against depression


for the filling:
- 3 morning pages
- 1 inner dialogue on paper between shrill unhappy voice and wise still voice
- 1 five-minute cuddle with Marc (or other loving sane person in the household)
- 1 conversation with loving sane person from outside the household
- 1 prayer to the universe, spoken out loud

for the topping:
- 1 cold shower
- 1 walk outside
- 1 'facing the challenge of tomorrow' meditation
- 1 nourishing food (optional)
- 1 nourishing piece of music (optional)

Consume all ingredients, one by one, sequentially, in any order you like. Repeat every day.


i bought this beautiful book as a gift for myself (and for one other special person) and it is even better than expected, amazing appositions of word and image, and would you believe it, on the very day it got here, i found it on the coffee table (which should really be renamed: it hasn't seen any coffee in years and has long been requisitioned as a drawing table by you-know-whom), defiled. thoroughly scratched through with blue ball-point pen (i.e. impossible to remove). she said she was just colouring it in. i threw a fit (obviously), all the while beating myself over the head for being so materialistic, and assigning such value to such unimportant things as books, while a wide-eyed child was needing my attention (this did not help the fit, or the child (obviously)). and even once the fit was over, and the wide eyes back to their still-rather-too-wide-for-comfort self, i could be heard muttering under my breath what sounded remarkably like "my pretty book, my pretty book is ruined, whaaaahhhhhh".

then a wise woman dropped by. said twenty years from now, it's the scratching on the cover that will bring tears of joy and regret to my eyes, it's the blue ball-point markings that will make it my very favourite, my very prettiest book. so i decided not to wait twenty years.

Monday, September 17, 2007


never stop reminding me
to put on my shoes
and start walking
to smell the rain
and draw a deep breath

to rest a hand on
the gap
in the chest
where the sore heart

to letdown compassion
for feelings i have
(rage, grief, pain, loss, confusion, frustration, fear)
and feelings i lack
(love, love, love, love, love, love, love)

never stop reminding me
that as long as my feet
are walking
as long as my hands
are holding
it is not evening yet


the rundown wooden shack, the swamp, the old apple tree, the greenhouse, the work, the fun, the headaches, and the amazing hollyhocks that will hopefully come out of these seeds.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


tomorrow Marc is going back to school. he will leave the house at 15:30 to return around 22:00. or never. but i'm trying to ignore that possibility. that means i'm on MY OWN. WITH TWO CHILDREN. FOR ALMOST 7 HOURS. no, i'm not panicking or anything, and i know it's all about expectations management (thanks Pauline) and that means also no hidden expectations such as having them in bed before 23:00, or them being fed and clean, or me still having all my hair (thanks Sam), but i still need some rather urgent advice from anyone listening on the following point:

Isabelle goes to bed between 19:00 and 20:00 and Antoine is always awake and rather unhappy with the world between 18:30 and 21:30. now taking Isabelle to bed before 18:30 is silly, she just won't sleep. leaving her up until after 21:30 is an option which does not have my preference.

so my question is: how do I manage the 30 minutes of Isabelle's bedtime ritual (washing, story, boob) while at the same time tending to my son's daily dusk depression? any tips, suggestions, ideas, thoughts, however relevant, are a godsend. i'm all ears.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Ik droomde eens en zie ik liep aan het strand bij lage tij.
Ik liep daar niet alleen. De heer liep aan mijn zij.

We liepen samen het leven door en lieten in het zand
een spoor van stappen twee aan twee de heer liep aan mijn hand.

Ik stopte en keek achter mij en zag mijn levensloop.
In tijden van verdriet en vreugd, van diepe smart en hoop.

Maar toen ik goed het spoor bekeek zag ik langs heel de baan,
daar waar ik het moeilijk had maar één paar stappen staan.

Ik zei dan heer waarom dan toch, juist toen ik het moeilijk had,
juist toen ik zelf geen uitkomst zag op het zwaarste deel van het pad.

De heer keek toen vol liefde mij aan en antwoordde op mijn vragen:
mijn lieve kind toen het moeilijk was toen heb ik jou gedragen.

(thanks Marjo for the anonymous poem)

in the margin

i sort of stopped using capital letters in my posts, a fact which has not gone completely unnoticed ('it reminds me of my ex-boss's notes, and that's not a good thing' said Marc, 'total exhaustion? a renewed flirtation with e.e.cummings?' said Sam). and so i had to think of what had prompted me to abandon this particular form of punctuation, and the first answer that came to mind was: because it makes writing so much easier; but i wasn't sure what i meant by that until i noticed that i also started commenting on my own posts, or rather commenting on the comments to my own posts (and doing so in Dutch), and that i find that makes writing easier too, and then suddenly i knew.

i am hiding from the editor. for some reason, this blog is not 'internal-editor free' (actually i can think of a few reasons why it wouldn't be, such as the fact that there are actual people reading it, or the fact that one of them is the real editor... (hi there mum!)). in fact, come to think of it, i can never write a post without hearing that well-known whiney little voice: "this is so bad, why do you bother? who's going to read it anyway? your vocabulary is pathetic, you only know ten words, don't you? where did you learn to spell? why can't you write real stuff, like her, or her, or her? if you don't have anything interesting to say, just shut up, you are embarrasing! i can't believe you're putting this stuff out there". and more of the same. it's distracting. it doesn't help. it's what you might call an irritant.

but it turns out there are ways of dodging the voice. there are places the voice doesn't visit, such as the scribbling in the margins, the comments (and the comments on the comments). there are texts the voice doesn't recognize as texts (those with as little punctuation as possible). there are languages which i am supposed to speak so badly that anything i write in them is not worthy of even the most cursory critical glance (Dutch being notoriously one). and then there is speed. i have found out you can outrun (out-type to be more precise) the voice. and what better incentive for speed-typing than a baby who is slowly (but not so slowly) becoming aware of the fact that the pink has been removed from his mouth and the warm motherly arms have been replaced by a carpet, a computer threatening to crash any second now and the desperate need to pee.

Yep, I can see how children might enhance one's creative process.

Friday, September 14, 2007

meditating together

and now for some mild raving

"And then of course you shouldn't forget that your hormones are all messed up at the moment" "But isn't this perfectly normal, what with your hormones being out of balance and all that?"

my friends, i know your intentions were pure when uttering these words, but... i still wish to say something about these 'hormones'. for one thing, have you noticed the term is only ever used when talking about women? as if men didn't have them hormones. now a term used almost exclusively to describe women and originating in a medical body which is notoriously, historically, traditionally and by definition woman-unfriendly, that already makes me very suspicious.

then there is the added fact that 'hormones' usually appear when talking about the most important, fundamental, creative, life-enhancing, spiritually transformative phases/cycles/moments in women's lives: puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, postpartum, menopause. what an ugly flat humiliating little word to speak of such wonders. what a reduction to absurdity of that which makes the world go round.

now i'm not trying to say that there is no such thing as 'hormones'. nor am i suggesting that the studies (which our tax payments finance) seeking to prove the relation between life-changing events and changes in the fluctuating levels of hormones are a pack of lies. i'm just saying 'who cares?'. you don't tell a man who has just lost his wife (assuming the man was fond of his wife and actually mourns his loss) 'but then of course, there is the change in your hearbeat rate and blood pressure, it's no wonder you feel like shit'. not that it ain't true, but it is only one, not particularly relevant physiological detail of the major life-changing crisis that this man's system in its entirety is going through.

now you might say: oh well, we knew them big guys weren't particularly interested in women, but really, it's terminology, innocent terminology, a bit degrading perhaps, but still just terminology. well, in this case, terminology is anything but inconsequential, because hiding behind the label 'hormones', there is always a pill. some kind of pill, any kind of pill. if it's hormones there is a pill out there for it, which will give you more of this, less of that. let us fix this for you m'am, you'll be back to normal in no time. that well-known non-existent, white male of 35 normality that we are clearly all aspiring to (did i mention this was going to be a raving post?).

so, no, this thing i have, it's not hormones. it's not pill-fixable and i don't want it fixed. it's Big. it's Change. it's Growth. it's Life.

guess where we took him for his first outing

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

my friends

are amazing women. they have shoulders broad enough to carry the weight of the world. their feet are firmly planted on the ground. their love is endless and unconditional. they see everything as it is because they judge nothing. they are funny, they are beautiful, they are pure manifestations of the goddess.

and I am so very very blessed to be loved by them.

i tried to pick up a spot off the floor

thinking it was a coin. and spent fifteen minutes pondering the deeper meaning of that sentence only to conclude that it didn't have one. and that pretty much summarizes life these days.

what i don't really get is how this very small person can so completely disarrange us even though he is hardly ever there. he spends no more than 2 hours a day downstairs, and most of the rest of his life sleeping, and yet, he has us all, two adults, one child and two cats, upside down, inside out, and diagonally disoriented. all has changed utterly (... "a terrible beauty is born"... who wrote that?) and he did it, but how? is it his sword of Damocles effect? so that even asleep, he claims our time through his sheer potential to wake up? it feels like lack of control, but surely, since a compromise has been struck with Ms. Blom that we can all live with, there is a more than reasonable amount of predictability in his schedule. so what is it then?

you veterans out there, tell me: what is it? and is it even vaguely related to trying to pick up a spot off the floor?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

with his eyes open...

... for a change. I know i am utterly insane to even think of complaining and in fact i am not complaining, simply inquiring, and if the gods of broken nights are listening, i wish to emphasize that i am NOT complaining in the least, it's just that i miss him a little sometimes, i mean you have a baby, you like to see him from time to time, right? anyway, this is just an inquiry, like i said, and maybe he's just running for the golden medal of Ria Blom, but still please please to reassure me: is it normal for a ten-day old person to be asleep an average of 20 hours a day?

Saturday, September 08, 2007


Now that I am forever with child
Audre Lorde

How the days went
while you were blooming within me
I remember each upon each--
the swelling changed planes of my body
and how you first fluttered, then jumped
and I thought it was my heart.

How the days wound down
and the turning of winter
I recall, with you growing heavy
against the wind. I thought
now her hands
are formed, and her hair
has started to curl
now her teeth are done
now she sneezes.
Then the seed opened
I bore you one morning just before spring
My head rang like a fiery piston
my legs were towers between which
A new world was passing.

Since then
I can only distinguish
one thread within running hours
You, flowing through selves
toward You.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

and in between the tears...

... I find myself roaring with laughter (not so nice for the stitches...).

Every evening, Isabelle gets to watch one story from her new Fabeltjeskrant DVD. Then she replays the story (at least twice) with her puppets and the help of either Mama or Papa. Today, she got lucky, we were both available. She sits on the couch and directs us: 'You, you do the beaver and the wolf, and you can do the raven and the stork'. The story also involved an ant.

Marc: Nou Isabelle, dan kan jij Juffrouw Mier doen.
So, Isabelle, then you can do Miss Ant.

Isabelle: Ik doe geen mier, ik ga rustig mijn Danoontje eten.
I am not doing any ants. I am going to quietly eat my Little Danone.

There. That's us told.


The post brought this gorgeous softie from Elianne. Thank you thank you thank you. It's Antoine's first toy ever. Isabelle was thinking of confiscating it, but she then changed her mind, and returned it to the rightful owner. She wanted to know whether Antoine had already thought of a name for it. Mmmhhh... I told her he's still thinking about it.


What I heard myself say:

"Don't walk on the bed! How many times did I ask you? Stop jumping! No feet near his head! Stop it! Now! Last warning! Ok, get out! GET OUT! If you don't stop it right now... If you want to cry, do it outside! NOT near the baby!"

What I really wanted to say:

"Help me, I'm lost too... I don't know how to do this... I know how you feel... Look, I'm crying too... I love you. Come here. Let me hold you. We'll figure something out. Together. I miss you. I miss you so much it hurts. Come here. Come here..."

Breathe. In. Out. Unclench teeth. Try again.

Read this post this morning, it made me cry. How many more tries will I really get? Nobody knows.

Breathe. In. Out. Unlock tears. Try harder this time.

Monday, September 03, 2007

the view from my bedroom

the nick of time

Early on in the pregnancy I had the idea of making a Waldorf doll for Isabelle, thinking it would take a few weeks at most. Then procrastination hit in, and ten days before Antoine arrived, it was still not done. Still, I managed. Just on time. Her name was first Isabelli, but then, following a visit to Sam's house, she became Zaza. Judging by the reception she got, she was a goooood idea.

Sunday, September 02, 2007