Saturday, May 26, 2007

Missing Remmie today...

The hourly tears stopped flowing this week. But I sure miss my sweet little boy.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Wie is Rintje?...

Rintje is een beroemde Nederlander...een hondje uit een series van boeken voor kinderen. Onze buurman, Sieb Posthuma, is schrijver en illustrator van deze boeken.

Remember our friend Rintje who came for a visit last weekend? As it turns out, we had one of Holland's biggest and brightest stars right in our VERY HOME!

Sieb Posthuma - one of his owners - is an extremely talented man who has written and illustrated a popular series of children's books about (you guessed it!)...RINTJE! Our famous house guest. Check out the unauthorized photo of Rintje below to catch a glimpse.

(NOTE: Rintje's publicist wanted to make clear that Rintje has no long-term intentions to continue public displays of affection for Dave. It was merely a gesture of kindness and good cheer. No further comment.)

For those of you across the Pond, there is an American version of the original book ("Rintje") called "Benny."

Great books! SO sweet!

Kids from (especially between the ages of 4 to 8) would LOVE these books.

Getting to know Sieb, Toon, and Rintje has been a wonderful unexpected treat.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

That's amore...

Well, Dave completely outdid himself in planning our one-year fete. What a night. Beginning with massages for each of us, followed by an unsuspecting pick up (but of course, entirely pre-planned by my hubby) by a gondola and driver who paddled us around the canals, dropped us off at our dinner (and an extremely tasty dinner it was!), and picked us up again post-dessert, all to be delivered to our front door before midnight.

It was a beautiful, unforgettable evening.

Thank you, sweetie. It was a perfect night. I love you SOOOO much!


365 short days ago...

Dave and I signed the deal. Vows exchanged. Cupcakes eaten. Toasts made.

What a way to start our married life together. A weekend that will live on in infamy.

As the months have passed, I have thought often about how many of you drove and flew to be with us that day. Amazing. And for all of the cards and gifts sent by those of you who couldn't make it. Dave and I are so absolutely blessed to have friends and family like you all.

Lynn and Dave

p.s. - Hey sweetie, I love you so much. One down...sixty or so to go... Happy Anniversary.

A little canine therapy...

Today we had a wonderful surprise visit from Rintje, the Fox Terrier from across the canal who belongs to our friends Toon and Sieb. Toon stopped by this morning and offered to leave Rintje with us for a few hours, just for some good cheering the way only a dog can do it.

Toon, you knew exactly what would make us smile today. Thank you for lending your dog son to us. He is such a sweet little guy! And he loves basketballs, by the way. :)


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Friday night lights...

Dave and I took in a familiar yet utterly alien cultural experience last night. American football - the NFL Europa, to be exact - right here in Amsterdam. Dave, being the football fan that he is, was uber-excited to check it out. And me, being the football neophyte that I am, I was interested in observing the social aspect of what an American-based sport would look like here.

From what Dave told me, the action was pretty slow in the game. But running, catching and kicking aside, we both were perplexed by this strange American-gone-Dutch import. The sounds - thumping music and gregarious announcers (speaking Dutch of course), the cheerleaders (not a Dutch tradition at all - no other sport here has them), and the general sense that you weren't watching a football game, but rather some kind of Machiavelian battle of unprecedented importance. Like two armies coming together to determine their destinies. Very dramatic. Also, not Dutch.

Don't get me wrong...there were a couple thousand people enjoying themselves thoroughly, donning Amsterdam Admirals colors and clothing. The stadium was probably 25% full and those who were there were engaged in it all. But there was still something strange about it. Kind of like wearing white pumps in November.

The NFL Europa league has six teams in it. One in Amsterdam, and five in Germany. The final Super-Bowl-esque match is called the World Bowl (perhaps more appropriately named the North European Bowl?), and that takes place in June. Most of the players are American, recruited from major clubs or scooped up if rejected by one.

In every sense, this is an American product on foreign soil.

All so fascinating. Great to be there, experiencing another facet of Dutch life. However, from the looks of it last night, there might be other American traditions that translate better here...hmmm...maybe Monster Truck rallies or the daily observation of Paris Hilton...(Ha ha.) (Kidding).

There is something so American about what happens at football games. It was funny to see our Dutch comrades putting on the hat (or large foam hand, if you will) of a football fan. But if they enjoy it, then so be it! I say, GO ADMIRALS, GO!!!!

Touching down from Amdam,

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Well, friends, this morning I did the bravest thing I've done in a while.

I took myself for a walk.

First morning without Rem, and 7:30 passed without any fanfare. Seemed wrong to me. By 8:30, I had convinced myself to continue the habit Remmie and I had developed and go for a walk. In a melancholic but hopeful attempt at bravery, I thought it might be good to take the first official steps without my canine companion. And to do it sooner than later.

I made a double-pack cup of coffee, poured it in a travel mug and hit the streets.

I traveled the same way Rem and I had for the last two and a half months, stopping - out of habit - at the bushes and lamp posts that seemed to draw him in day after day after day. (Of course, I skipped the territory-marking part that he was so fond of. Even in the deepest of grief, one has to draw the line somewhere.)

It's amazing how much I wanted to do things on my walk that would still connect me to him. Walking at the same pace. Stepping carefully over the same curb. Stopping every once and a while and sniffing the air. Peeking into the window at Piraat's house. It seemed like, if I could do these things the same way, he'd be with me somehow.

I'm going to do my best to keep you all from staying inside the sadness Dave and I are feeling. There will be happier things to report soon. That's the way of life. But for now, you've read my mind and heart.

Continued thanks to all for the blog comments, emails, phone calls, and good thoughts sent our direction. It helps.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

It may be raining...

But there's a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you
You better let somebody love you
Before it's too late...

And he did. He gave us a huge green light to love him.

And as it turns out, it was just in time.

Oh friends...

Our dear sweet Rembrandt...purveyor of many once shy and also desperately curious to know everyone...our Little Love Machine who gave and received love in constant stream...the talk of the gone.

Any of you out there who have had to go through this gut-wrentching process of losing a pet, I'm sure, can resonate with the fact that it's absolutely awful. To watch an unsuspecting sweet face not know what is going on. To say good bye to, perhaps, the most devoted friend you've ever had.

Remmie really was a special animal. His sensitivities were amazing. He had insecurities in getting to know other dogs, and yet, at the first sound of a collar tinkle, his ears would perk up and his tail would wag. He did his best to make friends, even if it scared him a little. He had a way of calming people. No one was afraid of Remmie. Ever. He never growled. He never grabbed. He was polite and devoted to us. Always. Always up for cuddling. Always up for a visit - even if it ment stirring from a deep sleep. And always up for a backrub! Especially if it involved being brushed.

Dave and I both saw in him the first day we met a tenderness and wisdom unmatched by any other. In a shelter full of 20 barking dogs, Rem said nothing. He kept his cool and slowly walked to the bars of his cage to greet us. Ears back. Tail wagging. Classic Rembrandt. Rem could look you in the eye and it was like he direct-connected into your soul. He knew so many things.

The hour after his big surgery in December, Rem was coming out of his drugged state. His limbs weren't quite agreeing with him yet and he was being fed intravenously. Understandably shocked and dazed, his first asserted effort after having a 9 pound tumor removed from his belly had nothing to do with escaping from his caged-in bed, or pulling out all the wires stuck in him. No, his first post-op effeort was to try to wake up his tongue enough to give me a kiss. Above all, Remmie was a giver.

The weeks and first months following his surgery were like a re-birth. All of a sudden, our calm and passive adult animal of 2006 turned into a puppy who ate, ran, and even sprang! He began a new ritual in the mornings which could warm the cockles of even the coldest hearts. He would wake up around 6, and wait for one of us to just roll over and slightly open an eye. As soon as one of us did ("Good morning, Remmie Roo!"), he was up in bed, tail wagging, giving full-face baths to us and looking for a perfect place to curl up for another hour or so. 7:30 would roll around and it would be time for his morning walk.

Although I was the official Morning Walker, both Dave and I loved getting Remmie to "talk" with us about his excitement to go outside. After 3-4 "Wanna go for a walks?!?!"...excited pacing. 6-8...he'd start sneezing (a sure sign he's winding up). And by the time #15 was uttered, he was in a full-on dialogue with us...Cooing. Howling. And his signature bark, which sounded something like "MMMER!"

Considering we hadn't heard so much as an arf for the first two months after adopting him (even prompting us to wonder if his previous owners had his vocal chords removed.) (I'm a little ashamed to admit some of the judgments I concocted in the early weeks about Rem's first family, but we had a hard time understanding why anyone would let this amazing dog out of their sight), this newfound voice of his delighted all three of us. We loved these mornings together.

A few months ago, Dave was away on a business trip and Remmie and I were in the kitchen. I was, undoubtedly, cutting chicken (besides loving, chicken was his OTHER passion). And the song "Desperado" came on the radio. It was a perfect moment waiting to happen. He was still light-ish in weight from his surgery, so I scooped him up in my arms, turned the volume up and we danced as I sang. His chin rested over my shoulder and a paw lazily draped over my forearm. I was there, in the kitchen, swaying with certainly the second love of my life.

As it turns out, this is similar to the pose in which he died. Chin on my arm with a paw resting over my leg. Perfect peace. Lying in his bed in our living room.

I'll never know who his first family was or what happened that left him alone and unidentified on a street in Eindhoven. And the age-old cry over why bad things happen to good people and dogs will never be answered. But I feel so absolutely lucky to have had a chance to love him and be loved by him.

There must be a least a thousand modern-day proverbs about living life more like our pets, and I wouldn't dare to try saying something original on the topic. But in the months and years to come, I have no doubt that watching Remmie love, adjust, fight, give, and give some more - all while staying calm doing it - will have its impact on me. His was the most tender and humble spirit I've ever known.

Thank you to everyone for the outpouring of love and well-wishes, for the visits, the cards, the flowers...Dave and I are so grateful for our network of caring friends and family. I know we're not the only ones who will miss him.

Here's to Remmie...

Sunday, May 13, 2007


A few of you have asked me about posting comments to my blog entries. I changed the settings to allow anyone to post comments. Sorry I hadn't noticed this before! All you have to do is click on "comments," click the bubble next to "other," add your comments and you can choose whether or not you add your name. When finished, click "publish your comment." You shouldn't have to create an account or anything now.

I love reading your comments, whether on the blogsite or by email. It's been really great sharing life with you this shrinks the miles between us.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

One generation plants the trees, another gets the shade...

In only five hours, it will be Mothers' Day here. Although I wish I could personally hand flowers, chocolate and ice tea (mom's personal favorite) directly to my mom, a virtual greeting will have to do.

Happy Mothers' Day, mom. Certainly there was no better match for me than you for being the best mother I could have imagined. The lessons you taught me pop up throughout every day. I love you and miss you and hope you have a fabulous day.

And Happy Mothers' Day to my mother-in-law, Brenda, too! I get the benefit everyday of living with a man who was well-loved by his mom. Thanks for being such a great one.

Ah, motherhood...I am surrounded by lots and lots of maternal units. In fact, I'm one of the few remaining femalians in my circle who doesn't have intimate knowledge of Bugaboos, diaper bags and sippy cups.

I would like to take a moment to toast the girlfriends and family members in my life who are a decade or less into this seemingly fabulous journey of motherhood. I'm so proud of you all for being such amazing women...juggling so many different balls in the air, it would probably be impossible to count. It's been a joy and honor to walk along side you and learn so much from your experiences.

By name...
Beth - daughters Alaina and Maddy
Zanny - daughters Eliana, Hadley, and Nettie
The Jennifer Quadrant:
Jenn Alexander - son Cy
Jenn Jilani - son Aleisander
Jen Mills - son Ethan and one on the way!
Jennifer Bays - son Theo and baby GIRL on the way!
Sara - sons Sam, Ben and Matthew
Deepikaa - son Christopher
Bridget - sons Joey and Joshua, daughter Rachel
Sister-in-laws Audrey - sons Ben and Jonah...and Cady - son Jack and daughter Lily
Cousin-in-law Elizabeth - daughter Samantha and one on the way!
Fiona - daughter Anja
Jolie - daughter Sydney
Anne - son Benjamin
The Kari Duo:
Kari Fabyanske - TWIN sons Ethan and Wyatt
Kari McCrady - daughter Linnea
Emily - daughters Georgia and Jill
Karen - son Alex
Bianca - sons Lucas and Leon
Cousin Cindy - son Ethan with one on the way!

A HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY TO EVERYONE! Wishing you the very best with your beautiful sons and daughters this year.

Lynn (a.k.a. Real or Surrogate Auntie Lynn)

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head...

There is something about me that, until this very moment, I think only Dave has known:

I detest carrying an umbrella.

Seriously. The threat of rain is not threat enough to warrant schlepping one around. This is coming from a woman who bought a full-body rain suit, just in the effort of being able to keep my hands parapluie-free when the storm rolls. Besides, I can let a song be my umbrella as I go along my way, right? Of course right!

Okay, okay...maybe detest is too strong of a word. But I really don't like carrying umbrellas.

But maybe this is going to change.

This morning, I took Rem for his morning walk. Half-way through, out of no where, it started to pour. We both got soaked. Cold and wet, twenty soggy minutes later, I came through the door to my loving husband.

"You didn't have an umbrella, did you, Lynn?"

No. Of course not. Because I don't like carrying umbrellas.

You see, there's something real about facing the weather. Facing what's there. The rain falls on my face and it's a choice to feel. (I get wet, therefore I am...? Something like that.) And have you ever noticed that throughout literature and tv shows and movies that rain usually accompanies some part of the drama that signals change? Either physical or emotional, the main protagonist is always about to come up against something when raindrops hit the pavement.

And certainly, I would like to think that I'm the leading lady in my own movie who faces the unknown head on. Faces it - naturally - sans umbrella.

But this morning, before getting dumped on, Rem and I ran into my good friend Fiona, who was on her way to the gym. She told me right away that she had just read the blog entry about Rem's health the night before, and that she had cried for him. She and her husband had grieved for our little Love Machine. He is near and dear to them as well.

Amazing. In less than twenty seconds, she spoke right into a part of my heart that wanted consolation.

And just as quickly as the upcoming rain was about to hit, it was only a matter of seconds before I was in tears. And I instantaneously received a dumpload of love and comfort from my friend.

Deep sigh...Yes, these last few days have been sad ones for the occupants of Helen van Herengracht. Our cherised companion and friend Rembrandt is dying. Soon, there's going to be a Remmie-sized hole that can't be filled. We know this.

A few wet hugs later, Fiona and I parted ways. Rem and I kept walking. T-minus five minutes until the rains would come.

As we were walking, I was thinking about how relieving it was to share grief with a friend. To know and be known. To feel - even momentarily - protected from hurt by a friend's understanding. What a gift. I was so grateful to have been able to share just how much love I and Dave have for our little fella. To feel safe enough to express it fully.

An hour later, I was at home, getting ready to make the weekly pilgrimage to Noordemarkt, the Saturday morning organic market. True to form in Amsterdam, the rain had turned sunny on a dime just moments after I got home with Remmie. (Classic.) I was grabbing my keys and my purse and thought...oddly enough...maybe I should bring that umbrella this time.

Out I went again. This time, with umbrella in tow. And sure enough, ten minutes into my journey, a massive bucket dump.

I opened the thing up.

And as everything around me was chaos, I walked untouched in my bubble of protection. And it was nice staying dry.

Maybe umbrellas aren't so bad after all.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Hey Alaina...


A happy happy TENTH birthday to my wonderful niece Alaina today.

I can't believe you're ten years old now, Alaina. It seems like just yesterday when you were born. I love you so much and I miss you. I hope you have a super duper birthday.


p.s. - Unfortunately, Alaina, I couldn't get you that motorcycle you wanted. But I did put some fun b-day things for you in the mail today. You should be getting it sometime in the next week or two.

p.p.s. - Uncle Dave had a dream last night that you were the inspiration for an animated surfing video game. In his dream, you were surfing on a big wave in Hawaii. Cool, eh?

Monday, May 7, 2007

Our sweet and loving little fighter...

Well, friends...Remmie seems to have turned a corner this week.

After a visit to Barbara, our now beloved and cherised vet, we confirmed today the observations we had already made. Rem's slowed eating and diminishing physical strength is a sign that we're at the beginning of the end. He will start taking Prednazone this week in an attempt to boost his ability to take food.

From what we understand, the best thing we can do in the weeks to come is to make him happy and comfortable ('s role reversal...that's what he has done for us since the day we met).

I'm still not quite sure what we did to deserve such a magnificent guest in our house and hearts for the last year, but whatever it was, I couldn't be more grateful.

With love to everyone,

p.s. - To our dear friends in A'dam, please come over for a visit to see little Remsicle Sandwich. I'm sure he'd love to give you a lick or two. Dog friends welcome! Frolics provided.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Quatuor pour la fin de temp...

In Holland, May 4th and 5th are days of remembering World War II. May 4th, also known as Dodenherdenkingdag (day to think of the dead), honors those lost in or because of the War. There is a two minute period of silence on this day at 8:00 pm. May 5th celebrates the liberaton of Holland from German occupation.

Interestingly, from what I understand, German dignitaries and politicians have only in the last five years been allowed to be present at remembrance services here. Furthermore, cars with German license plates have been targeted for vandalism and in general, there seems to be a little unrest on these days for Germans living here.

This long ago history isn't really that long ago at all.

Last night, Dave and I attended a brief remembrance ceremony held in the Noordemarkt (a town square near our house...where the weekly market is held). A military brass band played a few pieces, including the Dutch national anthem and what I assumed was the Dutch version of Taps. They processed out of the square, and the crowd - numbering at least 1,000 - went silent for two minutes.

After that, we attended a performance of Olivier Messiaen's Quator pour la fin de temp (Quartet for the End of Time) in the Noordekerk. Messiaen was a French pianist and composer who wrote this piece while a prisoner in Gorlitz, a concentration camp in Germay, during the War. He wrote the piece for himself and three other musicians he met there to play. Amazingly, they were allowed to premiere the piece in the camp. As the story goes, Messiaen played on a battered old piano on an outdoor stage along with his colleagues - a clarinetist, a violinist, a cellist - to a crowd of 5,000 in the middle of January. The temperature was even zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Today, I am honoring those the world over who served the fight for freedom and peace, those who lost their lives unfairly, those who helped others at the risk of their own lives, and those who carreed on after the War to pick up the broken pieces...


Every April 30, Hollanders celebrate the birthday of Queen Juliana, the immediate predecessor and mother to the current Queen Beatrix. And they do it in a big orange kind of way. The holiday is Koninginnedag...Queen's Day. People come out of every flat, donning orange attire, drinking beer, and selling whatever unwanted items they can find (basically, it's a nation-wide yard sale).

Amazingly, this is already our third Queen's Day here. This year, we decided to stop out for an hour or so, see our neighbors, and make our way over to Fiona and Damian's house, which is about three blocks away. Two beers, one tosti, one piece of carrot cake, and the purchase of an Olibollen bowl for friend Jenn later, we were at their door. They have a top-floor flat on the block we used to live on on the Keizersgracht. Perfect viewing of all the oranjegekte.

Oh yes...that slightly unflattering photo of me and Dave? My mom wanted to make sure White Bear had good representation at this year's celebration. White Bear's school colors? Black and ORANGE! Thanks for the hats, mom! We felt a little too much like thugs wearing them - didn't want to scare the neighborhood children - but they will come in handy in December! :) So glad you joined in on the spirit of Queen's Day! Maybe next year you could come out for an up-close and personal view of it!

Friday, May 4, 2007

A Tin Man in Amdam...

Using his signature propensity toward assigning nicknames, Dave long ago deemed one of his nearest and dearest friends, Clint Woesner, the "Tin Man" (as in...ClinTON...ton...tin...thus, the tin man). I've also known Clint as Omar, stemming from Old Man River, a name which Dave created from the fact that Clint is a few years older than he. But Tin Man seemed to be the moniker of choice, so I'll call him that from here on.

We were so very fortunate to have Tin Man as a guest here for a week in April.

We spent a little time in Maastricht, staying at a really neat hotel (a medieval monastery-turned modernized hotel a la Phillip Starck), and of course, lots of great fun in Amsterdam. Carly and Bas hosted us for a super tasty meal consisting of all sorts of tasty meats that led up to a classic Dutch meal of white asparagus with Hollandaise sauce and ham. Mmm...lekker!

As an added bonus, we had a visit from another of Dave's friends, Lance Lowrey, at the tail end of Tin Man's stay. One big meal at Nomad's later, all four of us were happy as fat cats.

It was great having you here, Clint and Lance! Come back any time.