Monday, July 16, 2007

Now divisible by both three AND eleven...

The invincible, unstoppable, unwavering glow of a human being...Mrs. Jolie Loeb...just welcomed her 33rd year of blessing the world with her dynamo. We, the staff at The Amsterdam Files, want to wish you all the very best, Jolie!

Jolie and I met in LA when I was working for Suzie, as Jolie was the event coordinator for one of Suzie's favorite charities. As it turns out, we found in each other kindred spirits - united by an increasing distaste for our then current job situations. But of course, there was much more to it than that!

In Jolie, I have a great friend. A trusty blog companion (hers, by the way, was the inspiration for mine). A fellow lover of all things of the Urth. And she's the best dang cheerleader I have ever met.

So much love to you, Jolie. Happy birthday.

Lynn of the Tulips

p.s. - Check out Jolie's blog. She is amazingly gifted at poetic speech. Especially when it comes to describing her life with soon-to-be one-year-old daughter Sydnie. Trust me...your heart will be a warmer place after reading.

Click here to get there.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Norm and Brenda...

In the midst of travel, school ending, and puppies, I have completely neglected to spotlight our fabulous visitors of a few weeks ago...Norm and Brenda. They came out on Dave's birthday and left five days later. And we had a great time together!

We started their visit by having dinner at Zuid Zeeland (where we also ate for our anniversary), shared meals together at our house, watched tv, went to the Saturday morning market, sang songs around the piano, Dave took them to the flower auction...

But best of all...on this, their fourth trip out to Amsterdam, they decided to give biking a try! I was so proud of their willingness to give it a go. For two people who haven't been on bikes for many years, they showed lots of courage in joining the ranks on the streets of Amsterdam.

Thank you so much for coming out for a visit, N&B! What a fun week! We, the staff at Helen van Herengracht, look forward to seeing you here again sometime.


Monday, July 9, 2007

The dog days of summer, Part Two...

Piraat had her pups last week. Dave offered his photographic acumen to Daan and Rodrigo and spent Saturday morning in a session with mama Piraat and her seven little ones. He took some really beautiful photos.

These sweet little pups are looking for homes. They are pure bred Jack Russell Terriers with papers to prove it, and they come from two parents of outstanding character. Not yippy and hyper, but intelligent and calm and loyal (not to mention they are both beautiful looking animals).

If you or anyone you know would make good parents for one of these pups, please let me know. Also to those back in the States...I'd be willing to bring one home with me in July or August if you're interested.


The dog days of summer...

Forget Bed and Breakfast. This is the summer of Kennel and Kibbles. Dave and I hosted not one, but TWO lovely canines this week at Helen van Herengracht. Senna the yellow lab - dog son of Jen and Asif - came over for a night, and Billy - cockapoo puppy son of Karen and John - spent (count 'em!) four whole days with us.

It was so much fun! We love these little guys.

With a woof and a kiss,

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A single flower...

History captivates me. Different people from different landscapes..all of us trying to figure things out. Successes and failures alike slowly carve out what becomes the uniqueness of various global histories. And no lifetime is large enough to even scratch the surface of comprehending the vastness of it all.

And the comparisons...Certain places have. Others have not. Zoom in a decade or two, and the situation changes. Zoom out and the tables turn. One nation survives destruction. Another causes it. And seemingly everyone takes a turn playing every kind of role.

Visiting countries formerly under communist rule fascinates me. Understanding the weighty longevity of these nations being watched and molded and forced seems, in reality, to be a chapter from history that I never read. Not really.

This past week, I was introduced to Budapest.

A beautiful city, gracefully divided by the Danube River which bends and twists in the city, leaving a one-of-a-kind shoreline. Large monumental buildings.

And history. Peaceful demonstrations turned into bloodshed. Commerce and trade nearly halted. And in the end, when the tanks finally scurried away, there were numerous symbolic cries of painful victories...Hammers and sicles cut out of a flag. Memorials raised in honor of those lost in the Uprising of 1956. Soviet statues forcefully removed from their foundations, to be exiled to a dumping ground.

For 44 years, Hungarians had access to only one kind of flower...the carnation.

The father of our Hungarian tour guide survived the communist occupation as one of the sole remaining florists in his area. And what did he get to sell for 44 years? Carnations. No more, no less. Imports from Holland and other floral capitals had been halted and locals weren't allowed to plant other flowers.

No orchids perfectly matched to the throw pillows on the couch. No fragrant lilies freshening up the living room. No roses to be given from one lover to another. Until the tanks rolled away, there were only carnations.

And from her telling, there has hardly been a carnation seen in Hungary since.

I don't exactly know how to behave in these situations. My inner dialogue goes a mile-a-minute with ponderings about how certain massive historical events impact the spirit and identity of a nation. I don't want our tourguide to feel like her life in Hungary is a spectacle for me to see, but I'm so curious. It seems important to understand...or at least to try...what goes on in the world. To gain perspective, especially as the 4th of July hovers by, on our (American) great fortune. Our freedom. Our strength. Our fractured as it seems of late. We have so much.

I am so overcome by how blessed my 33 years on earth have been that I can hardly breathe. And a blink back my tears.

A single flower...for over four decades. Living in an occupied country is beyond my understanding. Imagining that the only flower you could buy was a carnation is not.

My mental image of Budapest and all of its beautiful buildings and monuments and bridges are draped around this...the ruffled form of a single fragrant carnation.