Gambrels of the Sky

Mine, His November 5, 2016

Even more than before, the shower is a refuge. The bathroom is a break room. I stood there tonight, and I could hear Julian’s cries in the living room turning to screams. And so, confident that Dave was with him, I started humming—to block out the sound and concentrate on the privacy of the moment and the pleasure of the water reddening my back. It was my time, my space, my body. When I finally came out, I found Dave sitting on the floor in his bathrobe, bouncing the baby face down in the crook of his arm. It’s the favorite hold, one that almost always quiets him, but not tonight. “Nothing working?” More a statement than a question. Dave gave me his best dead-eye look. “Nothing I can do works. I can’t comfort him. He’s like… an insane person.”

Continue reading...

The Birds and the Birds March 30, 2016

Most mornings, I watch from our living room as a man across the street leans out his window and throws handfuls of food to the pigeons that congregate on the eaves. Bread crumbs or seeds, I’m not sure. Like us, the man lives on the top floor of his building, and something about being at the same height as him gives me a sense of intimacy about our relationship. Not that he’s ever seen me. I always watch from a concealed spot behind the curtains. But, knowing him as I do, I’m pretty sure if he did see me, he would shake his fist and yell an obscenity, or, worse, start varying the feeding times so I couldn’t catch him in the act.

Continue reading...

Raindrops on Rooftops and Whiskers on Turkeys November 29, 2015

I had to remind Dave during our dinner of leftover quiche and soup on Thursday that it was Thanksgiving. It’s a bit sad to be away from family this weekend, but we celebrated belatedly with some nice fellow expats on Saturday, so we still ate the traditional fare. It has been a busy and happy November here in this dark, rainy place we now call home. The last few mornings, the sky had just started turning from black to dark gray when we rolled out of bed around 8:00. And by 4:00 all the lights are blazing. The towels never dry. The electricity is too expensive. We have a leaky bathroom celling/roof. Etc. But these annoyances are, of course, so, so small. We have our health, relative prosperity, wonderful families, and great friends.

Continue reading...

A Frighteningly Long Post on Candy October 31, 2015

Halloween crept up on me again this year. Once again, I missed the deadline for costume readiness. Or I would have, anyway, except Halloween is not really a Dutch thing, except a little bit in Amsterdam, where expat traditions have bled into the social conventions.

Continue reading...

Observational Paraphernalia October 4, 2015

We’ve been in the Netherlands now for about two and a half months, and, while things are far from settled, some of the practicalities of life are finally falling into place. This move has apparently brought out some of my latent superstitious tendencies, though, so I’ll hold off on details until we’ve signed more official documents and received enough bureaucratic reassurances that I can stop knocking on wood.

Continue reading...

Paris Syndrome September 25, 2015

Sometimes things turn out exactly how you predict. I knew Dave would hate Paris the same way I know, from time to time, he’ll hate a bit of tasteless gossip I’m about to share. Then I’ll carry on anyway, telling him about so-and-so’s break-up, or chin hair, or brother’s prison sentence, and he’ll grimace and pretend not to hear.

Continue reading...

In the Clouds and Back to Earth September 11, 2015

I started school last week, but not as a teacher. I’m currently enrolled in an intensive Dutch language course for “Absolute Beginners” at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. It is rather intensive, with sixteen hours of class time and unlimited homework every week. And I am certainly an absolute beginner. If we were to have a conversation today in Dutch, it would go like this:

Continue reading...

Katten and the City: Some Thoughts on Risk September 5, 2015

These are cat days. For one thing, it’s the start of the academic year, but I’m not teaching, so I have more time than usual to laze about during the day.

Continue reading...

Quilt Parade: Part Three September 3, 2015

Okay, one more round of quilts to finish off this series. If you want to start from the beginning, go back to Quilt Parade: Parts One and Two.

Continue reading...

Quilt Parade: Part Two September 1, 2015

Onward with some more quilts! If you want to start at the beginning of the catalogue of the quilts I’ve made, go back to Quilt Parade Part One.

Continue reading...

Quilt Parade: Part One August 29, 2015

With all the packing and moving, I haven’t found time for much quilting this summer. My Pfaff is still in the States, awaiting its voyage across the sea. I did bring my one and only hand-quilting project, which I’ve been poking away at (get it? needles? poking?) for over a year, but that’s all I could fit in my suitcase. Each of these English-paper-pieced stars is about 10” across and takes about 2-3 hours to complete, which also happens to be about the duration of my hand stamina. You can see the basic English paper piecing technique in the second picture, which shows the back of a star and its paper templates.

Continue reading...

Whose Home August 13, 2015

This is where we’re staying for the time being, and here is the friendly cat who greets us in the foyer. (More on him in a future post.)

Continue reading...

Rotterdam August 11, 2015

I’m working on a few longer posts, but I thought I’d write a couple of quick ones in the meantime. I did add some pictures to my first two posts, so if you want to check them out, please do.

Continue reading...

Rider on the Storm August 6, 2015

I’m learning to ride a bike: a big old black clattery one-speeder, with foot brakes and a seat set so high I can barely touch on tiptoe. It’s a “Ranger,” which is a brand Dave said he didn’t trust for some reason when we saw it at the bike store. But the price was right, and what do we know anyway. Everybody here rides ugly used bikes, supposedly because they’re less attractive to thieves. I can get behind this line of reasoning. My requirements for bikes and cars are the same: to blend in with their surroundings, to never break down, and certainly never to be stolen. Dave’s bike—a grey-green “Gazelle” from the 80”s—has a fancy three speeds. But the biggest hills in Amsterdam are the canal bridges, and I’ve never fully mastered shifting gears anyway, so the Ranger suits me fine. I quite like my new bike.

Continue reading...

In Which I Pack Up All Our Worldly Possessions and Think of Everything as Potentially Suitcase Size July 23, 2015

I know it’s over represented in her body of work, but I really love Emily Dickinson’s “I heard a Fly buzz.” It also seems fitting to include one of her poems in the very first entry of this blog. In case the poem is not top of mind, here’s how it goes:

Continue reading...