Tuesday, June 26, 2007

As the wind blows...

The voice of wind today was loud and clear. Not stuttering or stammering for a second. Frankly, no other natural forces were about to get a word in edgewise. Moving and changing things around a bit, the wind spoke.

And maybe my notion that rain is the signifier of change needs adjustment.

I just said good-bye to our house cleaner-come-friend Maricel. On Saturday, she is boarding a plane headed for home - the Philipines - for what may very likely be a one-way trip.

We've known Maricel for a year now. She has been a gracious and thorough house manager, always leaving things on Tuesday afternoons 500% better than my best efforts could have ever ascertained. But it wasn't just her expertise in keeping house that lifted our lives.

Maricel is a light. Do you know what I mean? She's one of those rare finds in the world who sees the best in everything and everyone, maintains a steady course - even if it's not a comfortable one, shows genuine gratitude for all happy things in her day, and who has the softness to let people in.

Admittedly, there have been times where I have taken her presence for granted. Much like I take a sunny clear day for granted after weeks without rain. But I'm hoping her legacy of tenderness and care will still waft through our rooms.

Wishing you all the best, Maricel...you always have a home away from home in Amsterdam...

Lynn and Dave

p.s. - Maricel and Remmie had an extra-special bond. She took care of him while we were away and Remmie would always run to the door when she would come in. A second mommy to him for sure!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

30 Going on 13...

In the midst of all the excitement, I neglected to get the message out on the actual day, but now I can officially give Dave a blog-style b-day shout out! HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEETIE!!!

We wanted to usher in the new decade with style, and what better way to than to invite our friends over to do it. It was such a fun day. A few highlights...

Jenn, Asif and Jenn's mom Gail came over early to drop off a handmake DELICIOUS cake they had made, and to help get the BBQ rolling. NOTE: The shirt Dave is wearing was one of his b-day gifts...it is one of the t-shirts Adam Sandler wore in 50 First Dates.

Of course, games were played. First, the balloon relay (classic)...Dave, Susie, Jan (our landlord), Vanessa, and Brenda. And then, the good ol' suck-the-hot-tamales-with-the-straw-and-transfer-them-into-another-bowl game. John and son Alex, Asif, Carly and Daan were the players. Carly had a glorious victory on that one.

This was the first party we threw where there were more Dutch present than American and English combined. How about that! It was such a fun time. It's amazing how, after two and a half years in a foreign country, we have collected friends from so many different pockets of life. And so fun to bring them all together to celebrate D's birthday.

Oh yes! And the dogs!

We had three dogs running around the house...a VERY pregnant Piraat from down the street, Senna the yellow lab, and Lotje - the dog from the chocolate shop (see her in the picture with Norm and Brenda).

Thank you to everyone who joined us! And thank you to all of you who sent emails and cards and responses on the evite. Wish we could've magically zapped you all over the ocean.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Gratuitous cute dog picture...

Friends Jenn and Asif just sent us this photo which they discovered in their collection recently. The cute blond on the left is their labrador named Senna.

You probably recognize the other one.

According to my memory, this pose came un-assisted by any of us. Just two good pals hanging out on a Saturday night.

The unbearable lightness of being small...

Some things are typically prefered smaller than bigger.

Dress sizes.
Cell phones.
The distance between loved ones.

And at times, the sense that WE are small can feel seemingly unbearable.

In a career.
In a relationship.
In the physical world.

I've had many friends who have gone to great lengths to go to a place where they can be made to feel miniscule.

Mount Everest. The Pacific. Hong Kong.

And I have just as many friends (many of whom, interestingly, are also in the above category) who have worked very hard to become as big as they can be in whichever portion of the world surrounds them.

Knowledge. Craft. Accomplishment. Physical strength.

I tend to stay rather neutral on matters as obtuse as these. The question of whether one should strive to see themselves as A) the master of the universe, or B) a lesser-known cousin of Stuart Little. Not that I'm without plenty of theories and observations. Those, I am full of. And - even if just for sport - I can play both sides of just about any argument. (After all, it can taste great AND be less filling, if you want it to be. Just ask the Swiss.)

But today, I'm standing up for the little guy. Due in great part because today is a day where I feel like I spent the last four days with a fifty pound pack climbing to a peak that, once viewed at last, made me realize I'm just a speck on a speck. And I think it's good.

Growing up, I learned about the Beatitudes...part of a sermon purportedly given by Jesus, commonly referred to as the Sermon on the Mount (a geographical place where perhaps he himself felt small). In this, he describes characteristics of those who will reside in heaven. Or rather, he suggests how these good citizens will be blessed.

Blessed are the weak, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

According to my preliminary understanding, it may as well have read:

Blessed are the left-handed, for they shall write with their right.
Blessed are the short, for they shall become tall.
Blessed are those lacking a sense of humor, for they shall become entertaining.

But maybe he was on to something...

Blessed are those who feel small, because for some strange reason, recognizing your relatively diminuitive stature in the world will yield you some kind of greatness...or at the very least, some useful insight.

All of the comparisons in the Beatitudes have something to do with enlarging the inheritance of those who seem to have but a tiny slice of the Good Fortune Pie. Not only that, but it is BECAUSE they are small that they will become large.

How jolting the discovery that some part (or all) of your seemingly attainable world is really so hugely complex and un-attainable that an entire lifetime of investment is merely a down-payment. How shocking the discovery that the reward for digging deeper is learning that what you have already dug up is a much smaller percentage of what you thought was needed to get to the bottom of the hole. In fact, there might not even BE a bottom to the hole you're trying to unearth.

But the reward for being small in this sense means that you are engaged enough to have latched onto a CORNER of the notion that an unfathomably enormous world exists. Not just the world that is visitable by airplane (and with the advances in technology, I sometimes wonder if the Atlantic is any bigger than Lake Michigan).

The world of continuining history, of ongoing discovery and greatness, of cultural subtleties that have carved themselves out of generations of habits that should never leave us feeling large. Quests for understanding. Explorations of what we ourselves are capable of accomplishing. Could we ever sit atop a tower tall enough to view the entire galaxy of religion, art, science and politics and its infinite connectivities?

There are days I wish I could curl up inside my 1984 perceptions of the world: That Lincoln made all the bad report between white and black people good. That everything about Japan and its history could be summed up in a two-page report written on a Wednesday night. That my brother could successfully complete Impossible Mission and stop evil Professor Atombender, once and for all (okay...he did actually do that).

Well, Billy Jean was just a girl and today I was just an ant who walked unexpectedly into a mental mega mall. I've come to a point where my role in the world is asking new depths of me. Exciting in concept, but also overwhelming. In my mind, going deeper requires all confidence in the size I am and full recognition of the size I am not.

Day in. Day out. Challenges of all shapes and sizes. Taking all of it with the unbearable lightness of being small.

Monday, June 11, 2007


My fabulous sister-in-law had a birthday on Saturday.

What is it this year, Beth...? 26? 27?


LOVE YOU! Hope you had a great birthday weekend!

The fun and unexpected...

Unanticipated gems always sparkle the brightest.

Fifteen years ago, a younger version of me walked hallowed halls on the Hill, bumping into new knowledge, insight, and - thankfully - wonderful friends. The kind of friends who you can miss seeing for the better part of a decade, but a simple four-hour long cup of coffee on the Prinsenstraat can make you feel like you never missed a beat.

Long-lost girlfriend (and occasional mistaken "twin") Terra Widdifield and I re-connected about a year ago via email when I discovered she was working for a company that organizes European tours for musical ensembles. And within a year, an opportunity arose for us to connect here in Amsterdam. And what a blast!

Beyond re-telling long-forgotten anecdotes (that were probably much more hilarious to us then Dave, who was a good sport to take it all in), Terra and I found new connections that has us both wondering if somehow we've been signed up on similar Life Plan packages.

Seven short hours - but about a thousand conversational seeds later - and she was back on her way to the airport.

Terra, it was such a gift to see you again. And here's to much shorter distances between future dates!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

A gal ahead of her time...

Okay...I don't know how I get the sense that TODAY is Father's Day...apparently I'm two weeks ahead of myself! How funny!

Anyway, my Father's Day love still stands. Just re-read the last blog in two weeks. :)


Saturday, June 2, 2007

Happy Dad's Day!...

Hey dad!

Just wanted to wish you a Happy Father's Day! You're probably busy flying, skating, or making lasagne...as you so frequently do...but just wanted to send a quick hello to wish you a great day and thank you for being a great dad.

Love you and miss you,

p.s. - And a shout out to Norm, Dave, Dan, Craig and all the other dads in our circle of friends! So proud of all of you.
p.p.s. - Hey mom, look how stylish your ca. 1974 shades are! You've been fashion-forward from Day 1!

Friday, June 1, 2007

A Piraat's life for me...

Yes, our slew of doggie visitors continues. It's great! Last night, Daan stopped by with his Jack Russell Terrier named Piraat ("Pirate" - because of the black fur patch around one of her eyes). She is pregnant, due in the next month or so. What a sweetheart! She made herself at home, sniffing around the whole house, lapping up water from the doggie dish we've decided to leave sitting out for all of our canine friends who stop by.

If Remmie were here, I know he'd be happy that his buddies have started to come around to hang out with us. I can picture him welcoming each of them in the door with a tail wag and a set of perky ears..."Hi Piraat! This is my house. C'mere and I'll show you where my water dish is. Oh yeah...my mom and dad love giving out treats. Just sit at their feet and they'll totally get you some beef jerky!"

Yeah, these little pooches have us wrapped around the tips of each little paw...


Our dining table sits about five feet away from where the wandering public passes by, giving us a wonderful window into what's moving on our street. We're in a little boat and the universe outside floats and bobs by, making me wonder sometimes if it's me who's moving or them. Tour boats swim past in the canal and the occupants are so close, I can read their expressions. Deeply interested. Deeply bored. In a trance. Wide-eyed curious. I sit still inside and spectate everything happening outside our window and it goes down like a calming elixir.

From the outside in, I can take guesses what strangers see. They see a lot, actually. From the moment we open the curtains, the theater is on, especially for tourists. They peer in without hesitation, sometimes pointing at something, and I can read their lips murmuring something about "they must be eating dinner" (seemingly too obvious for mention, but travel seems to bring out a desire to re-discover even the simplest things) or "look in this house, honey". Often I have wondered if, upon striking the last note, I'll turn around on my piano bench to see an uninvited but welcome audience peering in the window.

There are times when participants on either side of the glass are prone to a dumb stare. What else do you do? I suppose, in some ways, we look a bit like caged animals, sitting at our table and living our life in a shadowbox. But all the same, sitting and eating near a window is a feature of our host town, and I like it. We aren't locked away somewhere, impervious to what might be happening outside of our walls. Heck, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before we invite one of our outside visitors in for dessert.

Yes, I like it. Come join us at the table sometime, to watch or be watched. Be a part of our living reality tv show. We'll pour the wine and do the dishes. The rest is up to you and whoever happens to pass by.