maandag 23 juni 2008

In which my parents-in-law move house...

It's been a hectic couple of weeks as my parents-in-law moved from the house they've lived in for the past 50 years into what the Dutch call an "aanleun woning". An aanleun woning is a flat or a house that's connected to a medical care center and is an ideal place for elderly folks who want to keep their independence and still have medical care at hand. We're all pretty happy about them getting this place as my father-in-law had been in the hospital for more than two months and it took quite a lot of energy and time added to which it was getting quite depressing for him.

Mom-in-law hasn't been well either. But she's really quite stubborn and refuses to admit that she can't do everything on her own any longer. So, this is an ideal place for both of them as they get regular visits from medical personnel.

The move to the new house meant getting rid of a lot of stuff from the old house, and looking for a place to store things that used to be in the old house. Happily, we'd managed to empty our attic of a lot of extra stuff, so there was room for the things that did need to be stored. I do question the wisdom of storing a cradle that's almost 50 years old and is quite ricketty, but I think I'll let hubby have his turn at sentimentalism. After all, it was his cradle.

In the meantime, we salvaged a number of doors that would do very well for our storage area in the attic. Finally, the dream of having the stored stuff neatly kept out of sight will come to pass.

Moving house does bring to light how we tend to hoard and keep things that we really end up not using at all. Mom-in-law is from the world war II generation where hoarding became quite a habit during a time of scarcity. If there was ever the epitome of the thrifty soul, it's my mom-in-law. In all the years that I've lived here, I've never once seen her wear clothes newly bought from the shops. She barely ever spends money on clothing and shoes, and if she does need them, she'll head for the nearest thrift or charity shop where she always manages to get shoes that have never been worn for almost nothing. Every winter, she unravels her old sweaters, washes the wool, and knits it back into either a new sweater or the same one it was before she unravelled it. If the wool gets too thin, she visits the thrift shop, yet again, purchases a good-as-new sweater, unravels it, washes the wool and knits a new sweater.

She's often told me how she hasn't bought herself new clothes for years because her closets are stuffed full with clothing.

All these conversations have often made me feel guilty in the past, and I finally decided to try and not let the kids wear anything obviously new when they went to visit Grandma. Whenever I bought new shoes for the boys or bought a new dress or a new blouse and she noticed it, I'd feel obliged to explain my purchases away. She became the standard of thriftiness that I had to live up to. Not easy if you'll consider that I used to buy myself a new dress every week, and once blew 2000 bucks on new shoes. All that non-thriftiness would come back to bite me each time mom-in-law noticed something new.

"Oh, you have a new dress." or "Do you have a new coat?" or "Are those new shoes?"

It's been quite a long time though since she's made observations like that, but on Sunday, we went off to visit the in-laws. Samuel was wearing sturdy leather shoes. Shoes she'd forgotten were first worn by Joel Jan, because she started making a comment that went like this:

"Oh, what beautiful shoes. My, my, my, your Daddy must work so hard for you to have such beautiful new shoes."

Before she got to the part where she says how expensive baby shoes are I said:

"Oh, but those were Joel's shoes."

To which, she said:

"oh,, well. They look good as new."

Picture the bling smile on my face.

I got one up on mom-in-law and she had to say:

"Well, that's the nice thing about having two kids. You can always pass on stuff like shoes to the next one."

Aren't I lucky I've got two boys? Just think of all the commentating I'd have gotten if I had a girl with all the frillies and doodies. I would have made a great girl little girl would have been doffed out everytime.

Grandma would have been one huge trembling blob of worry about the way daughter-in-law spends money like water. If she was tech savvy enough to read this blog, I'm sure she'd heave a sigh of relief....

dinsdag 17 juni 2008

updating the blogs...

I've been offline for a couple of days. Our server had some transition problems, but it looks like we're back online again. So, I've posted the second chapter of Alternate Girl to the chiepublication blog.

I tried writing Alternate Girl as a traditional short story. Strangely, the story in hay(na)ku and the story in trad form differ from each other.


It's been really lovely weather here in NL. I just realized it's Wednesday, the 18th of June and I have got a bunch of things to get done before the end of the month.

We've been clearing out the attic, and I managed to put out our junk in time for the quarterly big junk pick-up. Which was a real blessing as we had quite a good chunk of stuff that needed to go away. I tried offering an old tv for free on Marktplaats, but had no takers. Yup, everyone wants the new-fangled, flatscreen tv models. I want one too...

I had given up on watching tv, as it's a great time waster, but with the European Championships on, I decided to raise my own tv ban and go cheer for the men in orange.

Quite a good team they've got this year. The Dutch win against France was an amazing 4-1. This team is quite a pleasure to watch, and I think Head Coach Marco van Basten has done a really good job with these guys. I love the go for it and win it all attitude. None of the wishy-washy, we're in the next round so why do your best stuff, and none of the I'm a superstar so why are you critting me mindset.

Last night's game against Romania: Neither of the teams scored during the first half, and the game play seemed a bit lackadaisical (yay, finally a chance to use that word). In the second half, things perked up a bit. Romania was eager for the ball as they really needed this game to go through to the next round. But Orange wouldn't let them through, and Jan Klaas Huntelaar gave Orange the first goal of the evening.

It looked like the heat was back in the game, and after Robin Van Perzie made that second goal, everyone knew the cat was in the bag. It was time for Romania to pack up and go home.

Football is a huge thing over here, and the street behind us is dressed all in orange. Folks in the block behind us have apparently set it up so they all watch together during the games. Even with the windows closed we could hear them cheering and talking and chatting and making their own voice overs during the game.

I could imagine folks all over The Netherlands crowded together in front of their tvs watching the play by play, eyes literally stuck to the screen. I suppose there weren't as many clustered by the tube last night, but I bet by next week's game Orange Fever will be in full swing once more. Kids will be staying up till late with orange paint in their hair and red, white and blue war paint on their cheeks. Horns and whistles and all that orange in the street and every child asking their Moms to please find that orange shirt because how can a child wear any other color when Orange is playing? Well, that's Football season for you.

donderdag 5 juni 2008

Aardappels and Alternate Girl

In which I talk about aardappels (earth apples more commonly known as potatoes). Once every three weeks, a farmer comes along with a car full of potatoes. I started buying potatoes from the farmer when I was pregnant and could barely climb on the bike to go get a sack of them from the supermarket. Somehow, I can never find the courage to tell the farmer that I really don't need his potatoes now.

So, once every three weeks, he comes along with a sack of potatoes that I don't really want anymore because now that it's summertime, we are not eating as much potatoes as we used to. Because I'm too cowardly to tell the potato man that I don't want his potatoes anymore, we are eating more potatoes than we normally eat.

I have even experimented with slicing the potatoes into very tiny chips and deep frying them, just so we eat all those potatoes before they start to grow appendages.

Ha, ha. Just imagine the news: Potatoes Come Alive...

Of course, that would make good publicity and it would be great if that meant more of my weird stories would sell .

I've written the first chapter to Alternate Girl and it's all up over at the chiepublication blog. I shall probably write a chapter where the earth apples come into the picture, but the next episode features what we would call, the appearance of the love we'll see.

woensdag 4 juni 2008

Alternate Girl (a serialized hay(na)ku story)

I was in the middle of writing one of those weird little stories that seem to visit me every now and then, when I thought of Alternate Girl. The funny thing is, her story doesn't seem to want to be told in the conventional way. I honestly tried. I wrote a sentence, a paragraph, a couple of lines. It just didn't sound right.

So, I was out biking this afternoon and thinking about Alternate Girl when the first few lines popped up inside my head. I hang onto the words as hard as I could and raced for home where I plopped down in front of my computer and typed out the first lines for Alternate Girl.

It's a story in Hay(na)ku and I'm quite curious how long it will be and how far it will take me. I'm posting it in installments over at

Feel free to drop by and give it a read. Comments are welcome. I highly doubt it'll ever get within the pages of a print pub, but I think writing it will be great fun.