Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

self-portrait with orange scarf

the bottom

this february thing (and it really is a february thing, as a quick glimpse at last year's february entries confirmed), it does always end up ending. my yoga teacher (i mean the friendly man on the DVD) says that you can only remain in a state of depression for a few 'minutes' at a time. and although clearly that was an oral typo, and he must have meant 'weeks', i agree that the dip is a finite state. it's a pit with a bottom. i know, because i just hit it.

two days ago. i bought 2 kilos of mussels from the local supermarket. (and for those of you who wonder why i would do such a thing: because we love mussels, because they fall under my vegeterian level 1 diet, because they are very very easy to prepare, healthy, and fun to eat). i was standing in the kitchen in front of a sink full of cold water and mussels. shuffling the mussels around. Marc walked in and wanted to know how i could tell a good mussel from a not-so-good mussel. i held one up for his inspection, it was slightly open, i pressed on its shell and the mussel closed with a swishy snap (yes, that is possible). 'see,' i said, 'this one is alive, so it's good!'. there was a silence. a watery swishy mussely kind of silence. 'they are alive?????' asked my rather ignorant husband. 'yes'. 'and you put them in boiling water????'. more of that silence. and then my stomach turned. it was as if the floor had shifted under my feet. i felt dizzy. there was a buzzing sound in my ears. 'i am sorry, i can't do this', i said. shook my wet hands over the sink, and walked out of the kitchen.

well, he couldn't 'do it' either. so we decided to free them. and ate a veggie burger instead. the mussels spent the night in a bucket filled with water on the kitchen floor (actually, not any old bucket, but the special diaper bucket we bought for all those organic cotton diapers we were going to use for Antoine and which i still haven't had the time/courage to put up for sale on e-bay, pristine and unused as they are) (but that's another bottom altogether). they (the mussels, not the cotton diapers) were supposed to be freed on sunday morning, first thing. Marc was to cycle to the beach with the diaper bucket and do the happy deed. but sunday morning was busy, sunday afternoon busier, sunday night too dark, monday morning too sleepy.

now i have a diaper-bucket full of dead mussels in the middle of my kitchen floor. and every time i think about them, i feel like crying.

and that. is. a typical. february. bottom.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


truth is a slippery bar of soap in a warm lavender-oil-filled tub: you can try your best to hunt it down, or you can just lie back, relax and enjoy. and who knows, it might just drift straight into your hand.

there is this little big piece of truth that i have been diligently trying to catch for some time: what is it that i'm missing in life? all i want is to enjoy time with my children and to feed my soul (by giving the artist in me some time to work, some time to play, some time to move, some time to muse, some time to snooze). and the ingredients are right here: the children (two, loveliest of the loveliest, truly magnificent adorable, fantasmagorically delicious creatures), the time (boh with the children and without them), the tools of the trade (a pen, a notebook, a handful of wonderful friends, some yoga dvds, meditation cds, books and books and more books, a beach, a forest, a sewing machine, a stereo, a computer, two hands, two feet, one heart). and yet...

why is it that i spend most of my days with my children wondering how many hours there are before evening comes and i am free, and then spend most of my evenings missing my children like crazy and talking about what i will do with them the next day (or, alternatively, eating chocolate in front of the telly)? why do i spend entire child-filled weeks fantasizing about the miracles soon to come out of my busy sewing hands, only to spend my sewing day listlessly leafing through some magazines and wishing Marc and the children would come home soon? why am i constantly coveting other people's lives, bodies, homes, camera's, backyards, professions, creations, nationalities and blogs? why does it seem so often like the thing that i'm looking for is 'just around the corner'? like the truth, the final and absolute truth that will set me free is lurking in the very next book, the one i am just now, at this very moment, ordering from

when really, all this time, it's just been floating around in my bathtub.

it's that living-in-the-moment thing. AGAIN. and that acceptance thing. AGAIN. the walls this donkey loves to bang her head upon. here is a little experiment i'd like to try. just for a few days. it's called 'groundFog day'. in the days to come, whenever i find myself wishing i were someplace (or sometime) else, instead of counting the seconds/minutes/hours to freedom, i will imagine that in fact, i'm stuck in this moment, the one i don't seem to be liking that much, forever and ever and ever. this is it, this baby-with-the-massive-cold-who-just-won't-sleep-at-three-hours-past-his-bedtime-but-instead-is-destroying-what-is-left-of-my-left-breast-and-singing-happily-to-himself-while-clawing-at-me-with-nails-that-should-have-been-cut-a-week-ago. this is my life. this moment. forever and ever.

feel the despair. get past the despair. relax. breathe (AGAIN? yep). and then, weirdly enough, start enjoying. or at least, accepting. off we go, then. on to deal with the chirping next door. wish me luck.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

you only live once...

... and life is short. so should one:

a) enjoy it all as much as possible?
b) do as many great/useful/good things as possible?

the lapsed-catholic, azerbajdzhani/belgian-bon-vivant, gypsy-festival-dancing-queen, mango/mint/vanilla/cardammom/citrus/tomato/fig-obsessed, moon-gazing/star-struck/sunshine-absorbing, tree-hugging, nonsensical-poem-writing and utterly-enamoured-with-every-breath-my-children-take part of me votes for A.

the hard-working/dedicated/ecologically-aware/feminist/serious/idealistically-enclined/ever-self-improving and slightly deranged calvinist in me votes for B.

the jury is still out.

meet the other ballerina

my girl

she's still into The Jungle Book (every day begins with: "let's play that you are walking through the jungle when suddenly you see ...")(we still listen daily to the soundtrack, although now in English, rather than Dutch)(since English is another thing she's into)(due to a slight misunderstanding (ahem! who, me???? incredulous expression), her English rendition of Shanti's song is somewhat less offensive than the original ('mother's hunting in the forest, father's cooking in the home...'))(... and she does brilliant bum-wriggling imitations of Balloo, as well as fantastic yoga-inspired imitations of Colonel Hathi's walk).

she is also into ballet in general and Peter and the Wolf in particular, in which she performs all the characters, except the wolf (because bad), the wall (because boring) and the grand-father (don't dare to guess...)("mama, lie down here and put your feet up in the air so you can do the pond!").

finally, she's into high heels. which we as the powers that be fail to approve of. to her great disappointment ("mama, let's say i am seventeen now and my feet have stopped growing... so, you're walking through the jungle, when suddenly you see a beautiful dancing princess with high heels... and then you say...").


Monday, February 18, 2008

Miepie Papoen...

... en haar kalkoen.

not spring yet

sewing II

... the thing about the sewing machine is, once i start moving, i just have to keep moving, so i decided to make us all some placemats and matching napkins. two down. two to go. her set is all pink flowers (surprised?).

sewing I

in the end, i temporarily parked the hurdle/shyness/paralysis thing and went ahead and sewed something. a jumper/dress item. which i would have loved to show you, except the delighted, pink-hairband-(jane-fonda-style)-wearing recipient/model refused to stand still long enough...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

lunch on the beach


mon bouchon
mon bout
mon bruit
(un frisson)

(m'en dit bule)
mon bidule
mon bébé

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


my therapist sent me an idea for a 40-day sobriety spin for lent. between february 6 (today) and march 16 (far, far away), one is meant to:

1. Do something good for someone every day (financially or otherwise)
2. Meditate, chant or do mantra for at least 30 min. every day
3. Listen to (part of) the Mathheus Passion (Bach) or some other inspiring piece of music every day
4. Refrain from killing any living creature (including flies and mosquitoes) and therefore eat vegeterian
5. Refrain from speaking ill of others, lying and swearing
6. Refrain from consuming candy, alcohol, cigarettes and drugs
7. Refrain from stealing, in the widest sense of the word
8. No TV
9. Limited internet (only if necessary for work-related and other unavoidable reasons)
10. No purchases (except the strictly necessary)

i read it and thought: YES, i'm on!

... and then quickly became depressed.

the thing is, i'm already doing most of these things most of the time, and the other thing is, it has recently come to my attention that all these great wise principles, i haven't been applying them very greatly wisely.

i have not been gentle. i have not been kind. i have pulled the strings too tight for too long, and the beautiful ideas have turned to ash in my hands and ash in my mouth. in other words, i am oh so virtuous, but i've lost the joy.

and that is a terrible terrible thing.

so here is my adapted list, entitled "Joyful Guilt-Free Lent":

1) do something good for someone every day, in thought, word or deed.
2) meditate. every day.
3) listen to beautiful music every day.
4) limited TV (nourishing, not depleting)
5) limited internet (ditto)
6) limited purchasing (ditto)
7) eat what you want to eat, but eat it consciously. and be thankful for it.
8) dance. every day.
9) sing. every day.
10) be thankful. every day.

Aaaah! that's better. large stone removed from chest.

singing to his frog

lesson in unschooling 2

wednesday morning, 10 o'clock. three hours away from her second ballet lesson.

- so, you're going to ballet again this afternoon... that's nice!
- i don't want to go.
- why not?
- i want to learn to dance.
- ... well, that's why you're going to ballet...
- ... but when do we start learning to dance then?
- you already did, last week...
- no, we didn't, we just had to sit, and walk and stand. that's not dancing.

(i was about to point out that sitting and walking and standing are all necessary preliminary steps, that you first learn that, and then you learn to dance. but i stopped. and pondered. was this really true??? i knew exactly what she meant, and i also knew she was right: sitting and walking and standing because somebody tells you to has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with dancing...)

- well, why don't you try it one or two more times, and if you still don't like it, you can stop.
- ... ok... but then you speak to the juffie, and ask her when we will learn to dance!

(i swear to you, unschooling is going to help me get over many social hurdles... flying over them, as it were, face first, straight into the mud...)

want to help me hang up the wash?

sure, you do the wash, i'll make a drawing...



i have been shy of writing on my own blog: how crazy is that? granted, it was january, never the best time of year (too little light, too much wind, too much rain, too much flu, too much time before spring), and i had just happened to take this massive paradigm-shift decision, unschooling, the ripples of which will continue to follow us through many years to come... but still, what's there to be shy about?

too shy to write about the doubts, the fears, the panick attacks. too nervous to write answers to the questions those of you who know me 'live' have been asking (mostly 'WHY???????'), the concerns you have been expressing (mostly 'WHY????????). that bit of shy is understandable: taking such a funny, out-of-the-way turn, everything shaky and open, unsettled, that makes it hard to share the underside, the underbelly. it feels too vulnerable, too new. you might snatch it away from me.

but too shy to write about the victories, the YESSSS moments, the hours of complete and unshaking confidence in the truth and rightness of this particular path for us right now. too shy to share the amazing freedom sensation, the reclaiming of our own territory, of our own lives, snatched at the last moment from the jaws of the inexorable machine. free now, to explore, and have fun, and enjoy and learn, learn, learn, until we collapse in a pile, sated. the exhilaration, the happiness. the power of it all. too shy to write about that????

yes. too shy.