Friday, October 27, 2006

Quick and fun

Thanks, Cltgrace!
This makes me want to travel again. And I just got back from Denmark..

Your Travel Profile:

You Are Very Well Traveled in Western Europe (79%)
You Are Very Well Traveled in the Midwestern United States (75%)
You Are Well Traveled in Southern Europe (53%)
You Are Well Traveled in the Western United States (47%)
You Are Somewhat Well Traveled in Canada (40%)
You Are Mostly Untraveled in Scandinavia (20%)
You Are Mostly Untraveled in the Northeastern United States (14%)
You Are Mostly Untraveled in the United Kingdom (13%)
You Are Mostly Untraveled in the Southern United States (8%)
You Are Untraveled in Africa (0%)
You Are Untraveled in Asia (0%)
You Are Untraveled in Australia (0%)
You Are Untraveled in Eastern Europe (0%)
You Are Untraveled in Latin America (0%)
You Are Untraveled in New Zealand (0%)
You Are Untraveled in the Middle East (0%)

Monday, October 23, 2006


We're back from three days in Copenhagen. I won't bore you with all the details of the trip (don't really feel like typing about three days now, and I haven't uploaded any pictures yet either), but here are some of the highlights:
- the Rosenborg castle and beautiful park behind it
- the Amalienborg castles (Copenhagen has a lot of castles and they're beautiful!)
- hot chocolate at Luna's in Christianshavn
- the "Women in Impressionism" exhibition at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (museum)
In this exhibition I saw a few paintings and this statue by Degas that I had just studied in my cultural history class. How cool is that!
- Lunch at Europa (ok, not cheap, but REALLY good and with a nice view)
- Dinner at Klimt's
- Dinner at Marius
- Hotel Ibsen's: friendly staff, clean rooms, great breakfast buffet

Interesting facts:
- all the public bathrooms I saw are clean and have warm and cold water to wash your hands with, and soap, and paper towels (which in Holland is not always the case)
- most of the people speak English (and pretty good, too!)
- the streets are clean
- lots of people drink beer in the morning (we had a 9 o'clock flight and people were already ordering beer)

So much for today!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Cultural history

Even though this week is supposed to be my fall break from school, I spent the biggest part of the past few days working on an assignment for my cultural history class. It was pretty cool: we had to choose 4 artists from different art forms, and describe their work from the following points of view:
- the artist and religion
- the artist and political and economical power
- the artist and science and technical developments
- the artist and entertainment
- the artist and different cultures
- the artist and aesthetics

The teacher told us he preferred us to write about controversial people. That's why I chose Michael Moore for film, Madonna for music and Mel Gibson for drama. Less controversial, but interesting nonetheless was Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for architecture.We had to quote at least four different sources per artist, which was pretty easy because once you get started there's lots to find.
So if you were wondering where I've been the past few days... I've watched Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11 (both Michael Moore) and I'm going to tell you a secret (about Madonna). I also read numerous books and internet articles. I thought it was really interesting to see the Michael Moore movies (which doesn't automatically mean that I agree with everything he says!) and to read the different articles written on him (which there are quite a few of, from lots of different points of view!). I also read lots of stuff on Madonna, who isn't any less controversial.
In case you're worried I won't get any relaxation: don't. We're heading off for three days in Copenhagen, Denmark tomorrow. So I'll definitely have my vacation!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


12 March, 2007 I'll have my practical music exam. That day I'll have to fill 45 minutes with music of my own choice. I have to play, sing, arrange, organise and produce. In preparation of that I just played the piano for over half an hour. This is what I played:

- Waltz in Am - Chopin (love that, absolutely love that!)
- Gymnopédie - Satie (again: wow)
From "In Southern Seas" by Walter Carroll:
- Spraymist
And from "Sea Idylls" by the same:
- From the Cliffs (had never played that before, but it is beautiful)
- Ebb-tide
- A Passing Storm
- Alone at Sunset
Before I went to conservatory I never used to know Walter Carroll's music, but I love to play it now. It's within my reach (so not very difficult) but amazing. It's so romantic and totally fitting for the titles. He's not a very famous composer, but he wrote some pretty music.
Because I don't have weekly lessons at the moment I sometimes forget how much I do love to play the piano. I just reminded myself!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Multiple choices

Thanks to this blogging thing I've been back in touch with some long lost friends since a few months. Two of them are sisters, they're my American "host cousins" (cousins the family I lived with for a while when I was 17). They're so different.
They were raised in a really religious household (compared to Dutch standards, anyway). They were home schooled because their parents didn't believe in the public school system of their state. They did go to a private Christian school for a while.

Sister A (the elder) was always a little different than the rest of the family. She had a pretty steady boyfriend when she was fairly young. What happened after that, I'm not sure, but I know that she lost touch with the family. They didn't agree with the way she lived her life, and the choices she made. She went to college but only for two years and then she quit (not good). She married a guy her parents did sort of approve of (but couldn't live with him first). Now, two years later (when the contact had recently been restored) they're separated and heading towards a divorce. Of course her family doesn't approve of that either, because "no-one shall break what God has brought together".
I feel sorry for her. She told me, literally, that if they had been able to live together before getting married they would've split anyway and not have had to go through a divorce and the inevitable legal hassle.
She found someone else though, and is engaged again, and pregnant. I hope she's happy.

Sister B (the younger) was happy to follow in the family's footsteps. She married a Christian guy (good) who is even a teacher at a Christian school (very good). She also very consciously chose her life style. She loves her church and the people in it. She loves to teach people about Christ and hopes they'll follow Him.
I feel sorry for her, too. Because she recently thought she was pregnant, and had all the signs of a pregnancy. Yet she wasn't able to see a doctor because her health insurance didn't work yet (this would not happen in Holland). When she did go, they couldn't find a baby in her belly. So either it was a fallopian pregnancy (buitenbaarmoederlijk for the Dutchies) or she wasn't pregnant at all. Poor sister B. I hope she's happy too.

My point? I think the big difference in the way their family treats them is not fair. Both have been through a really hard time. Yet Sister A gets criticized and Sister B is comforted.
I've been e-mailing them both, and am trying to support them both. I think they both deserve all the support they can get.

Another thing for the Dutchies: comments like: "see, I knew those Americans were narrow minded" will not be appreciated. I respect this family a lot, even though I don't agree with all their opinions and all of their choices. And I really don't like to generalize....

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Happy harvest

We've been so lucky with the weather the past few weeks! A few rain showers aside, the weather has been really nice. It's still 20 degrees and sunny. And not only do I like that, the plants in my garden do as well. The tomato plants still give tomatoes, although I do pick them when they're not ripe and let them ripen on my kitchen table, because they'll rot if I don't. I also still have 2 or 3 zucchinis a week. And the bell pepper plant seems to have only just gotten started! The peppers don't get very big but there are a lot, so that's still pretty good. I hadn't even expected bell peppers to work out in this climate so I was suprised when I planted them for the first time last year. This year I have 4 plants instead of 2 and I'm even more surprised. They pollinate better so there's a lot more fruit per plant now. I guess next year I'll go for 6 plants... there's plenty of room anyway. And if I get too many peppers I can always give them away, freeze them or give them to the chickens.

I already wrote an entry about my dahlias. They are still beautifully in bloom. Last time I showed you pictures from Google, so today I thought it was time for some pictures made by myself.

And amazingly, my chicken still gives me an egg almost every day. One of the teachers at my school (he used to teach care of farm animals) told me chickens need 14 hours of daylight to lay eggs. And we now only have a little over 11 hours of daylight per day, so I expect her to start her winter stop soon.

Summarizing today's harvest: 2 vases of dahlias, 10 yellow and red tomatoes, 1 zucchini and an egg!

Saturday, October 07, 2006


For a while now, I've been watching my health. I cook better (using more vegetables and less cream and other fatty things), I eat more fruit and I try to get my recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day. It's going ok so far, and it makes me feel better and healthier. I can also notice it in my clothes and my general condition, for example when I have to walk lots of stairs.

Since I've always liked to dance, and my friend M (don't think this is boyfriend M) and I wanted to meet more often, she invited me to join her Bodyjam class. I tried it and liked it so much that I signed up right away. It's a high impact modern dance class with all kinds of influences: hip hop, salsa, bubbling, street dance. I've done modern dance things before but nothing compared to this. Apparently it's a world-wide thing. Three times a year a new Bodyjam routine is released and the class builds up a new dance. So much fun! And it's all arranged really professionally with good music mixes and well trained instructors.
It's close to where I live (less than 15 minutes away). And it's on Friday nights, which is really convenient for me because I can't use the following excuses, which usually start popping up a few months after I've started a new work-out:
- sorry, too much homework / school preperations for tomorrow.
- I'm really tired and I have to get up early in the morning.
- etc.
And since Friday nights I usually hang out on the couch (preferably with potato chips or other salty snacks) and don't do anything useful, this makes me feel really good. I'm home at 21:00 so that leaves plenty of time for couch potatoeing. And after moving my butt I usually don't feel like eating so much anymore, because it makes me feel guilty. And if I do eat chips, I think: oh well, I've already worked off those calories anyway!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Heart warming II

One of the new teachers at my branch of the school has been away for 4 weeks. We don't know if she's sick, over-worked or if something else is going on. Of course the principal knows and it's none of our business, but fact is that the kids haven't had any Dutch classes for the past month. And that's a long time, because Dutch is a class they have three times a week.

Last week I offered to fill in for her temporarily. I'm not very busy with the college now anyway, so I told the principal I'd like to teach some Dutch classes until November 1. They were happy with the offer and after a little deliberation they put me to work. So this week has been my first week as a music/Dutch teacher.

I already know all the classes I teach. Most of them I also teach music to, one of them I taught last year and only one group is new to me. One of the girls from the class I taught last year gave me a heart warming response.

Last Sunday my parents, M and I went out for a pizza in the town I teach. I hadn't set two footsteps in the restaurant yet, when a girl came up to me and asked me: "Miss, is it true? Is it really true?" So I said "What? I don't know what you mean."
"Will you be our new Dutch teacher?"
"Yes I will."
At which point she hugged me and said "Oh Miss I love you!".

I was super surprised. At the beginning of each school year we get confidential information about each student we teach. In hers it said (last year): "avoid all physical contact at all times. This girl has been through some nasty stuff and doesn't trust adults beside her mom."
The girl's mother stood behind her and just smiled at me. And I smiled back, and kept smiling all night.

Monday, October 02, 2006


M and I were gone this weekend. We went to visit my grandfather, who lives on the other side of our country (about a 4 hour drive). He's 93 so it's always really special to be with him. I have so much respect for him! Even though he's ninety-three he still lives independently. (He's lived in this senior house ever since he was 55, that's pretty cool. How many people get to pay off their senior home?) He eats from Meals on Wheels, has a weekly maid and a nurse who visits him three times a week. His neighbors are really attentive. Grandpa gives them the paper when he's done with it and they check on him and bring him French Fries every Friday.
My aunt is there one day a week and my mom goes over at least one weekend a month. She can't visit any more because of the distance.

I am always amazed by the amount of knowledge my grandpa has. He used to be an elementary school teacher and principal (yes I'm third generation!) and therefore knows a lot, but he's also really up to date on news and other current events. He has four grandchildren and knows exactly what they're up to. For instance, he'll ask me about my chickens and if the cat is ok again after his accident. I can't believe he remembers all that! Considering his age I wouldn't be surprised if his short term memory was failing a little every once in a while, but I never notice that with him. He always tells us stories about his youth and life after that, and even though the same stories pop up every once in a while there's always something new he adds to them.

He plays cards like crazy, too. Beats us all the time, I don't know how he does it. Of course he's in weekly training playing cards at the senior center, maybe that explains it. And if he hadn't voluntarily turned in his driver's license because he thinks he's too old to drive, he'd still be cruising around town too I'm sure.
I respect him so much, and of course I love him. We have a lot in common. Hopefully (not statistically) he'll be with us for a long time!