Friday, December 30, 2005

Happy 2006/ Gelukkig Nieuwjaar

Year of the Dog, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

Happy 2006 Year of the Dog

The Chinese Year of the Dog doesn't start until January 29, so we're kind of running ahead of ourselves (and everybody else). What to expect from a dog?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Nita van Praag I.M.

She was a visionary. Possibly aided by her round the clock listening to interesting radio programs, she could always tell me what the future would bring. Two decades ago she predicted that, some time in the future, you would be able to bring the library into your home, that all libraries in the world would be connected.

Thanks to Nita, I got my first laptop, an IBM compatible Commodore, in 1990. Mind you, this was pre Windows, meaning I had to learn MS DOS, which I did, no small feat.

If in the Netherlands of the 80's having an answering machine and pager was judged as, "self important bull" (I would sneak out of a meeting to check my messages, clicking the pager's button near the mouth piece of a pay phone), showing ownership of a lap top in the early 90's was out of the question. I carried my Commodore in an inconspicuous music bag, a gift from the supervisor of the costume department of U.T. at Austin, and I never, ever, worked on my laptop in public. The idea!

In 1997 I purchased a table top Mac clone (thereby honoring the advice of a programmer: "buy what your friends have, if your friends have a PC, buy a PC, if your friends have a Mac, buy a Mac, if you don't have friends, buy a Mac). I transferred all of my documents, but continued taking my Commodore on the road, using the li'le ole thing for my studio blog. I had become a bi-lingual computer user: MS DOS/ Mac.

By 1999 our household counted a table top Mac clone, an IBM compatible laptop and a Mac Powerbook. While I could no longer close the Commodore, I remained faithful to the old thing, only reluctantly willing to use the small iBook my sweetheart presented me with in 2001.

Not long after Nita died, on December 29, 2002, the Commodore expired.
I write this on a smart G-number with Tiger abilities, smooth, fast, and yes, able to bring the libraries of the world into my living room. Just like my mama predicted.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Duck a l'orange en Llama voor de Kerst

Terwijl mensen in Afrika honger lijden, in Pakistan omkomen van de kou, en overal ter wereld narigheid om de hoek kijkt, trakteerden wij onzelf op eerste Kerstdag op eend. Heerlijk, met sinaasappelsausje, aardappel- en yampuree, en gebruinde spruitjes en wortelen uit de oven. Het geeft te denken.

Het enige andere Kerstcadeau dat we kochten was een llama, die middels Heifer een vruchtbare rol kan gaan spelen in het leven van een familie in nood.

Magret canard niks nie ingewikkeld. Het meest
eenvoudige dat je je maar kunt voorstellen. Maar wel
luxe, en een cadeautje voor onszelf met de Kerst.
Eendenborst, in dit geval van de Muscovy eend. Die
komen van oorsprong uit warm Zuid Amerika en hebben
daarom minder vet vlees.

Het meest eenvoudige recept dat je in een kookboek, of
online tegenkomt is prima. Je zout en pepert (dat
laatste doe ik niet, want ik ben voedsel intolerant
t.o.v. o.a. peper) de eendenborst, en legt die met de vette
velkant in de goed hete pan. Gebruik een pan met dikke
bodem, ik neem daarvoor een gietijzeren geval, die kun
je goed voorverwarmen en houdt de warmte ook goed
Met een spatter deksel erop bak je de borst tot het
vel mooi bruin is, dan keer je het hele geval om (pas
op voor gemene spatters) en bak de vleeskant ook
bruin. Het vlees moet van binnen rose blijven. Alle
recepten geven een andere tijd aan, 3 minuten aan de
velkant, 6 aan de vleeskant, varierend tot 10 aan
ieder kant, of 6 aan de velkant, en dan nog 10 minuten
in de oven. Ik heb voor 6 minuten aan de velkant, en 10
aan de vleeskant gekozen.

Ziet het vlees er ook mooi bruin uit, dan uit de pan
halen, en op voorverwarmde schotel onder ander bord of
deksel 10 minuten laten rusten.

Vet uit de pan gieten, bruinsel losroeren met warme kippen
of groentebouillon (had ik niet, heb snel bouillon getrokken
van champignons en tijm) en stukjes sinaasappel zonder vel,
eventueel sinaasappelsap. Is het te zuur, wat honing toevoegen
Het geheel in laten koken, en afmaken met vlokjes boter.

Tot onze verrassing zat in het pakje een 2-dubbele
borst, dus we eten het met Oud en Nieuw weer. Maar dan
goed, want de eerste keer had ik sinaasappelsap i.p.v.
stukjes sinaasappel gebruikt en dat was me een beetje
te zuur. Maar de honing maakte het weer interessant.
Overigens had ik het bruinsel willen afblussen met
cognac, maar dat hebben we niet in huis.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Ghost writer's Kuticle Kiss ABC

Hopkins' Alphabet ...

A is for almond oil, ancient times, anti fungal, antiseptic, antioxidant.
B is for bottle, burns, (anti) bacterial, and beautiful nails.
C is for cuts and clogged, cosmetic purposes, and cuticle repair.
D is for a drop of Kuticle Kiss.
E is for eczema and ester.
F is for free radicals.
G is for glycosides.
H is for ho ho ba, when you read jojoba, hypo allergenic, and hair.
I is for infection and India where we find neem.
J is for jojoba, a liquid wax ester which equals skin therapy.
K is for Kuticle Kiss.
L is for lime oil, fresh & clean.
M is for meadow foam, minerals, and moisturize.
N is for nail fungus and for neem, a natural preservation agent.
O is for organic olive oil, oleic acid - the ingredients in Kuticle Kiss are 80% organic.
P is for penetrating powers, psoriasis, plant, pores, pure, and promote healing.
Q is for quick absorbing and quality ingredients.
R is for rosemary, reduce scars, restorative, refresh.
S is for sweet almond, superior, scars, sebum, skin, sealing sores, and sensory stimulation.
T is for tea tree, therapy, treatments, and tonic.
U is for 'U' will love it!
V is for vitamin E.
W is for WOW! What a difference.
X is for everyone.
Y is for yellow and Why not try Kuticle Kiss.
Z is zats it.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Seattle - Groningen / Stadler - Rawie

In his 1993 novel "The Dissolution of Nicholas Dee", author Matthew Stadler has his readers travel with the narrator from Seattle, WA to Groningen, a city in the north of the Netherlands. While the landscape spoke to me (I arrived in Seattle in 1994, and attended highschool in Groningen while living in Drenthe), I couldn't get the drift of the story.I did however led myself be carried away by the author's writing. His ability to take me along for the ride was cunning. But it wasn't until I read reviews that I understood what the story was about. Bruce Bawer does a great job in the Hudson Review of 1999.

I met Stadler in person before I knew about his writing. We both participated in a Gertrude Stein marathon at Richard Hugo House (organized by Rebecca Brown). Mart learned I was from the Netherlands and mentioned having done research in Groningen for his novel The Dissolution of Nicholas Dee. Now that I know what the book is about (thanks to Bawer) I'm going back, read it again.

On the new readers blog for lovers of literature in Groningen (city and province), I discovered a photo of Jean Pierre Rawie, whom I as a teenager recognized as a romantic and flamboyant poet, as he strode into our favorite hang-out the Vlaamsche Reus (Vlamish white rabbit) dressed in cape, a flambard on his Baudelaire hairdo.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Book-It, Louise May Alcott, Kit Bakke

"Who has read 'Little Women?"
Nearly all of the approximately 100 people (of all ages and both genders) at the Microsoft Auditorium of the Seattle Central Public Library (designed by Rem Koolhaas/ OMA raised a hand.

We were gathered for an evening hosted by SPL about Louise May Alcott presented by Jane Jones, founder and co-director, and Alison Narver, artistic director of Book-It, and Kit Bakke, author of Ms. Alcott's E-mail.

Book-It is a Seattle based organization which —in her 16th season— brings world literature to the stage. At the library event, Rhonda J. Soikowski, as Jo March, and Colin Byrne as Laurie Laurence, gave us a taste of what's to be expected at Seattle Center Stage in December.

Alison Narver spoke passionately about the making of the stage modification, remembering her mother Betty Jane Narver reading from the book.

My mind drifted for a moment when I realized how, as as child, I had identified most with Amy the artist, who by American readers was considered the least sympathetic of the four March sisters. Relieved I heard Allison say that Book-It shows Amy as a morlikeablele creature.

Rhonda J. Soikowski as Jo March, and Colin Byrne as Laurie Laurence, gave us a little taste of what we may expect at the Seattle Center Stage Theatre in December.

Kit Bakke [bakkie], spoke about the life of Ms. Alcott, and not about her own book, "Miss Alcott's E-mail which is being published by David Godine and will come out in June 2006. She showed some of her research material on the projection screen, among which a map of the estate where Alcott grew up, pictures of and anecdotes about her father, grandmother and the neighbors, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and H.D.Thoreaux. I was quite surprised to learn that Ms. Alcott had published a lot of material about touchy subjects under the pseudonym of A.M. Barnard. Of her publishers she said the were terrible for wanting her to make Little Women Good Wives.

Onder Moeders Vleugels

Wie van jullie heeft Little Women (oftwel 'Onder moeders vleugels' gelezen)? Die vraag werd gisteravond gesteld aan het publiek in het Microsoft Auditorium van de Seattle Central Public Library (ontworpen door Rem Koolhaas/ OMA). Zo'n honderd aanwezigen (van alle leeftijden, en niet alleen vrouwen) staken hun hand op.

Jane Jones, oprichtster en co-artistiek leidster en Allison Narver, artistiek leidster en regisseuse van 'Book-It' een organisatie die wereld literatuur ten tonele voert, en Kit Bakke, schrijfster van 'Ms.Alcott's E-mail' presenteerden een avondje over schrijfster Louisa May Alcott.

Ik raakte even de draad van de voordracht kwijt toen ik me realiseerde, dat ik me als kind vereenzelvigd had met de personage die door de Amerikaane lezers als de minst aantrekkelijke werd gezien, Amy, de kunstenares. Pas toen ik de spreekster hoorde zeggen dat in de adaptie van 'Little Women' door Book It Amy veel aantrekkelijker uit de verf zal komen was ik weer bij de les.

Na inleiding door Jane, werd een fragment uit het te brengen boek weergegeven door twee acteurs. Allison vertelde vervolgens hoe haar moeder wijlen Betty Jane Narver, altijd begon te huilen tijdens het voorlezen van Little Women, en dat het een 17-uur durende voorstelling had kunnen worden. Dit om aan te geven hoe moeilijk het was om materiaal te schrappen uit een favoriet boek.

Daarna sprak een kennis van me, Kit Bakke [bakkie], over het leven van Ms. Alcott, en nadrukkelijk niet over het boek dat zij zelf heeft geschreven: Miss Alcott's E-mail, dat in Juni uitkomt bij David Godine.
Mooi, om wat van het onderzoekmateriaal van een schrijver op projectiedoek te zien. Een kaart van het landgoed waar Alcott opgroeide, foto's van en anecdotes over de buren: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, H.D.Thoreaux. En, heel interessant meer over het volledig oeuvre van Alcott. Ze schreef N.B. onder een pseudoniem A.M. Barnard over zeer pikante en ook verboden onderwerpen.

De Arbeiderspers gaf Fatale Liefdesjacht uit. Wie had dat ooit kunnen denken van de creatrice van 'Onder moeders vleugels'? Overigens vond de recensent van de Leeuwarder Courant het boek verre van pikant.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Front Page News

"Seahawks slam Rams, claim control in West".
One third of The Seattle Times front page shows Seahawks Bobby Engram (#84), and D.J.Hackett (#18) in what looks like a tribal dance of celebration after the latter's 31-yard touchdown catch against St.Louis. Seattle rusher Shaun Alexander scored three times in the 31-16 win against their rival NFC West.

Next to the picture of the athletes smaller headlines read:
"Retailers use extra-early sales to put shoppers in holiday spirit."
Underneath the football players: "Bush to talk religion, trade issues on Asia trip."

In a small box at the bottom of the page: "Female would-be bomber confesses to failed attack." To be continued on page 9, where we find a small black and white picture and about a quarter of a page article.

In the Netherlands the story on the failed bomber had top of the front page, color photograph importance.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Back Seat to Dinner

Mike Brown wanting to finish his dinner, while people were starving and dying in New Orleans, hit painfully close to home.

I remember 6 PM one fateful day in January of 1993. The co-assistant who had been on my side all day at the OLVG Hospital in Amsterdam, called the OB-GYN, who'd be on duty that evening. He wanted her permission to get me ready for the O.R. The doctor who did the intake 12 hours earlier, promised me a C-section if I hadn't dilated enough by 6 PM.
"A breech delivery has to run like a train, each station reached at a certain time," he told my husband and me. "We'll monitor you and your baby all day." And then he went home, off for the day.

At 6 PM I was dilated 1 cm, and yet the female doctor, who was having dinner, told the co-assistant, "Let her continue a while longer".
By 7 PM I was dilated the full 10 cm (imagine the tormenting storms that raged through my body), but the doctor was no where in sight. I had to wait pushing until she arrived at 7:30 PM, dressed in a knit outfit the color of dead liver. A nurse helped her in her white coat. At 7:55 PM our baby's body was born. But not her head. She suffocated during the last 5 minutes of the breech delivery.

Nationally the hospital policy concerning breech deliveries was changed ten years later.
Reluctantly. There are always those who think they can have their cake and eat it too.

That's what I think of, when I read about Mike Brown's business.
Some policy needs to be changed.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Earthquake in South Asia

What I hear on NPR:
Mr. Bush says, "We'll send cash money."
I can't help but wonder, who will lend us cash money, China?
Or should I just wonder who "we" are?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

E.R. Breech Delivery

I can write in all honesty that I hadn't watched a hospital t.v. series since 1992. Before my husband and I got together, I was hooked on St. Elsewhere, but my sweetheart didn't care to watch the illness and accident related misery, and wasn't intrigued by the dramatic relationships between doctors, nurses and patients.

The other night, while zapping, I happened upon a show that caught my interest. I had missed the beginning and didn't know the scene was part of an episode of E.R. What I saw were two fashionably dressed young women on the subway, who dissed a couple of plain looking women. The way they ridiculed their footwear somehow foreshadowed trouble. And trouble spelled interest.

The moment the fashion babes hit the platform, the meanest of the two tripped over her own high heels and crumbled into a heap of limbs. The plain girls assessed the trouble, "broken ankle", but the hip chick didn't believe that they were doctors. Later, in the E.R. she would face them both again; suffering from a black and blue ankle, with nobody to take care of her, because: "there are lives to save".

One of the young doctors was trying to get a surrogate mother to sign her consent to undergo a C-section. She was brought in after a minor traffic accident and while in the E.R., labor starts. She said she delivered her first baby at home, and she would prefer to go home for the delivery of the new baby as well. The doctors insisted she should stay. There was no crowning of a head, the baby was in breech.

The couple whose embryo was implanted in the young woman's uterus arrived. The man demanded a C-section. The rights of the woman who carried the baby were respected. If she didn't want to consent, she wouldn't be given a Caesarian. The young male doctor explained the dangers of delivering a breech baby vaginally. The mother was almost ready to sign, when the ob-gyn started telling her the dangers involved with C-section. Result: no signature.

With aching heart, I knew I needed the writers of the series to let the baby die.
Not that I would wish such tragedy upon anybody, on the contrary, my heart goes out to parents whose children die, no, I needed the message to come across. C-section IS saver for breech babies. The chance that brain damage occurs due to lack of oxygen, is too great. The effect damaging, if not fatale. Babies do die during breech deliveries. I know. Ours did. During the last 5 minutes of her birth.

In this E.R. episode, the baby suffered severe brain damage. The natural father refused to stay, "we didn't pay to have a brain dead child". The natural mother, who knew her last embryo lost, followed him, looking over her shoulder with regret.

The last scene showed the young doctor holdin vigil next to the incubator with the baby.
"He had a tough day, he shouldn't be alone tonight," he said to the ob-gyn who came to tell him he had done all he could.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Segal Enterprises, ahead of their time.

The Seattle Times writes that a Seattle firm is planning an office building that features a "passive cooling" blueprint --no air conditioning and windows that open.

If if can be done in L.A., why not in Seattle?

In 1985, Robert Segal, engineer, one time president of Holistic Health Association, psychologist and owner of Segal Enterprises, broke ground for his firm's smart building in Santa Monica, CA. All offices had windows, either on the periphery or onto the court yard. Innovative, healthful work environment, and that in Los Angeles, 20 years before Weber+Thompson come with their plans for south Lake Union office building.

99 dollar cents on the gallon sold

"Cut car trips, Bush says."
And I think, oh, yeah, all those people on the road, with empty gas tanks during 100°F, the gas stations have to refill.
In the news the other day: the oil companies make $0.99 on the gallon sold.
I asked Gary: Who makes that money, who, and what do they do with it?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

David Harnden-Warwick Chimpanzees and Politics

Today in Northwest Voices of The Seattle Times:
"Tempest vs. Teapot Dome"
George, Warren Harding called. He's embarrassed for you.
-David Harnden-Warwick, Bellingham.

Below you see the abstract of Harnden-Warwick's paper: Psychological Realism, Morality, and Chimpanzees

"The parsimonious consideration of research into food sharing among chimpanzees suggests that the type of social regulation found among our closest genetic relatives can best be understood as a form of morality. Morality is here defined from a naturalistic perspective as a system in which self-aware individuals interact through socially prescribed, psychologically realistic rules of conduct which provide these individuals with an awareness of how one ought to behave. The empirical markers of morality within chimpanzee communities and the traditional moral traits to which they correspond are (1) self-awareness/agency; (2) calculated reciprocity/obligation; (3) moralistic aggression/blame; and (4) consolation/empathy."

Document Type: Research article.
Affiliations: Emory University

Saturday, September 17, 2005


A woman goes to a car rental business. She needs a car for a week, just for herself. The clerk tells her they're all out of sedans. All she can offer the customer is an SUV. She can't get the huge gasoline guzzler for the price of the smaller car that isn't available.

What does the customer do?
A. She laughs out loud, saying: You're kidding me right?
B. She asks the clerk for the Yellow Pages, to look up another car rental business.
C. She takes a cab to another car rental business
D She walks out.
E. She drives off in a 9-seater.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Oprah in New Orleans

With her hair smoothed back in a ponytail —a suitable demure style for a visit to the devastated city of New Orleans— Ms. Winfrey showed once again that at heart she's a reporter, a journalist, and a good one. But more than that. true to her calling, she held hands, looked people in the eye as they related their stories of misery.

Any idea what it takes to do that? What it means to listen to people, to have physical contact while they lay their pain on you?

In front of Oprah Winfrey, Mayor C.Ray Nagin spilled his heart, turning away when what he had to say became too much, even for a man who had stood his ground, refusing to be evacuated while so many inhabitants of his city were forced to remain.

During the evening news a reporter, whose name I don't even know yet, made me miss the grand old men of journalism, who for the past decades reported on the calamities in the world, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings.
Oprah stepped forward to report on the reality of the situation in New Orleans and in Houston; people, worrying about their lost loved ones. And through her celebrity friends, Harpo's cameras permitted us images of whole families roaming the desolate streets, people not wanting to abandon their pets, people lying dead by the side of the road.
Dr. Mehmet Oz permitted us a view of the make-shift hospital in the airport, and returned after having disappeared behind a curtain —the morgue— to share his distress over people who were brought in there, to have a peaceful place to die.

Without name calling, Oprah stated America owes an apology to the people of New Orleans, and isn't she right on the dollar?

Friday, September 02, 2005

National Disgrace


On June 5, 2005 Deon Roberts wrote for CityBusiness about the budgetary cuts New Orleans would be facing in fiscal year 2006. And that the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would be bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding. The largest single-year funding loss ever for the New Orleans district, according to Corps officials.

Now if that alone doesn't make you cringe, Roberts wrote what that would mean:

...major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now.
Congress is setting the Corps budget.

As far as bucks that went somewhere else:
The House of Representatives wanted to cut the New Orleans district budget 21 percent to $272.4 million in 2006, down from $343.5 million in 2005. The House figure was about $20 million lower than the president's suggested $290.7 million budget.

Roberts wrote:
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-New Orleans said that the Bush administration was not making Corps of Engineers funding a priority. Extremely shortsighted, Landrieu said. When the Corps of Engineers' budget is cut, Louisiana bleeds. These projects are literally life-and-death projects to the people of south Louisiana and they are (of) vital economic interest to the entire nation.

Roberts went on:
One of the hardest-hit areas of the New Orleans district's budget is the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, which was created after the May 1995 flood to improve drainage in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany parishes. SELA's budget is being drained from $36.5 million awarded in 2005 to $10.4 million suggested for 2006 by the House of Representatives and the president.

Construction generally has been on the decline for several years and focus has been on other projects in the Corps.

The district had identified $35 million in projects to build and improve levees, floodwalls and pumping stations in St. Bernard, Orleans, Jefferson and St. Charles parishes. Those projects were included in a Corps line item called Lake Pontchartrain, where funding was scheduled to be cut from $5.7 million this year to $2.9 million in 2006. Enough to pay salaries but little else.

Ouch, ouch, ouch!
And who are hurting now?

Today's Seattle Times' Headline:
Stricken coast asks: Where is the help? New Orleans officials call U.S. response "A National Disgrace".

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Author Donates to Red Cross Hurricane Katrina Fund


I've authored a book on grief. It may be focussed on infant death, many people have told me that what I wrote addressed their own personal grief, no matter the difference in age of the subject of their affection.

There's no time like the present.
So, while Paseo Press has a "special" offering Creative Acts of Healing: after a baby dies (list price $14.95) for $11.95 incl. postage and handling, I will donate $6 of each sold book to the Red Cross Hurricane Fund.

Same counts for Europe. For each book sold at publisher's special €12 (incl. porto) I will donate $6 to the Red Cross Hurricane Fund.

And if neither you, nor anybody in your circle needs a book on grief, check out the site, where many musicians and spoken word artists are donating their profit to the Red Cross Hurricane Katrina Fund.

Artists make Donations to Red Cross Hurricane Fund

Artists make Donations to Red Cross Hurricane Fund
Volunteers are outfitting trucks and drive to the Gulf to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Professionals are flocking to the area, putting in 36 hour days. And here I sit, in relative luxury, feeling powerless. There's got to be something I can do.

In 1953, after the great flood in Zeeland, the Netherlands, my father Jaap van Praag was one of hundreds of artists who donated their work for a lottery that would help the survivors. He and two colleagues entered work they made in response to the devastating flood.

This morning I received an email from vocalist Elizabeth Carpenter, it read:

Hi Music Friends ~
I'm donating all my CD sales on to the American Red Cross for their disaster relief fund to help New Orleans. So, if you were thinking of stocking up on or giving as gifts either Emergency Love or The Blueweed Songs, all my profits will go towards this great organization. Many other CDBaby artists are doing the same - so check the home page for more music that can help The Big Easy.
Best Wishes~
Elizabeth Carpenter

I've been thinking for a while about making reproductions of some of my art work, in order to generate sales, but I haven't got that far yet. So what else can I do? Donate a painting when an umbrella organization places a call…

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Three Plays by Gertrude Stein

In 1988 I designed costumes for "Three Plays" by Gertrude Stein. I never saw the finished video. How fun to discover a few images on the site of Jaap Drupsteen.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Trader Joe's

I ask the stocker at T.J's Burien store, "Can you tell me where I can find the boxed fig bars?"
"We don't carry those," she says, shelving powerbars in their display boxes.
"Yes, you do."
"If you mean Fig Newtons, no……"
"No, let me see, how can I help you with this," I answer, and recite T.J.'s own line, "A fig walks into a bar…"
"Oh," she says, "those, let me show you," she points a the bottom shelf across the aisle.
"Ah, not at eye site," I say, "that's why I missed them."

I'm working on anger management.
Turning irritation into something to smile at, has been my aim for the past six months.
As long as I can feel my temper rise, the joke's still on me.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


From age seven to ten I lived with my parents in a farmhouse, in the middle of the meadows, a quarter mile from "Volks Hogeschool Allardsoog". The white building with the red tiled roof housed the center for continued education, as well as a library. I visited the center twice a week. The library was my home away from home. I made friends with the librarian, and one time she invited my mother and me over for tea at her father's farmhouse. I always went home with a pile of books. After finishing all items in the children's collection, I moved on, supposedly borrowing books for my father. One time I slipped, and reported on a novel to the librarian. She called my mother, told her that I was too young to read adult books, and forbade me to move beyond the children's section.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Washington State Quarter

In April of 2004 I got involved as a volunteer with the Seattle Public Library. My aim was to become a docent/ tour guide, and to present architectural tours of the new Central library, designed by the brother of my old friend Thomas, Rem Koolhaas. During the first year of operation, I donated 114 hours. In June 2005, two fellow docents (they gave 122 and 112 hours of their time) and I were awarded a notebook with a photo of the Norcliff Foundation Living Room on the cover, as a "thank you" for our dedication. Simply said: We love the building and we know it inside and out.

When Governor Gregoire invited the citizens to submit a design for the new State Quarter in 100 words, I did my part.

The government counts in a different way than the People. The first time I entered my 100 words, I got the message: under 100 words please. I tried three times, editing, editing, editing. Finally bingo. 69 words according to my computer. Does make you think about other cuts, doesn't it?

This is what I entered (quoted words are for text on quarter):

"Washington 1889"
Outline state. Border Canada = mountain range horizon, Mount St. Helens
Smith Tower, landmark past, evergreen trees.
Airplane. Flying salmon.
SCPL (Seattle Central Public Library), landmark present and future in foreground.
"Washington Evergreen State".

Justification: Diamond shaped steel and glass grid lends itself well for graphic design. Building's inside/ outside effect honors surrounding city scape, and views of Evergreen State. Library harbors tools of wisdom and IS teaching took in itself.
Computer chips.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Not So Fun Park

Earlier I remarked I don't believe in translations. Well, let's put it this way, you can't always trust, that what you read in a translation is exactly what is meant in the original language. Take some of the entries on the otherwise excellent site Aussies in Holland.
Be informed that a theme park is called "pret park" in Dutch. Since Linnaeushof -Europe's biggest playground- is merely that, a giant playground, the author states it's "Not a fun park". Variations on that theme are: "more old fashioned fun parks", and "slow fun parks". The latter probably means there are no scary rides. I won't nag about a canoe ride by the moon, or hiring a boat or ship.
Took me years to discover that XING was short for Crossing. Wouldn't go as far as to claim I thought Xing was American for Zebra, but I came close. At some point the monkey came out of the sleeve. Any idea what that means?
I read English versions of Dutch books with an eye for literal translation. Laughter is healthy, you won't come to.
Go figure.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Home Body and Globetrotter (suit) Case of Art

Suitcase Sightings in Tacoma, brain child of project designer Lynn DiNino, starts in September. Great way to get to know the town, map in hand. See all of the -over a 100- suitcases on August 17, at the downtown Marriott's ballroom before they are installed around the city.

How many old city centers in the U.S. have died, lost their business to the -along the Interstate- shopping malls?
Crossing the U.S. in different directions I've seen countless downtown areas turned into ghost towns. For I always veer off the highway, I want to be downtown, I want to breathe the history of the city. I don't care for the recognizable chain restaurants with their blazing signs, their cookie cutter menus, the atmosphere more chilling than the air conditioning.

Tacoma has a wonderfully active art council. If the train to and from Seattle would run more frequently, we would move to Tacoma at the drop of a hat. Monumental buildings reveal the city's past economic importance. Their height reflects the promise of bygone days.

Today you'll find coffee shops, galleries, restaurants, shops, (old) theatres, and the cozy campus of U.W.'s Tacoma branch in what used to be a dead centre of town.
The city's Museums alone make a trip to Tacoma worth your while. The Museum of Glass, Union Station and Tacoma Art Museum cohabit in a convenient triangular "menage a trois". The first two connected by Chihuly's Bridge of Glass which crosses highway and railroad track.

Roman Polanski wins Vanity Fair Libel Suit

Der Liebling. What can I say other than that he moves me to tears. I don't care what anybody says or writes about him, his private life. As a film director he's a genius.

Elaine Kaufman (of Elaine's Restaurant) in an interview with Campbell Robertson published in The New York Times today 7/23, 2005): "It's not that anyone is lying; they all think they remember something. But these are creative types, artists, writers, intellectuals (she continued); everyone loves a good anecdote, and not all anecdotes are double-checked for accuracy.
"These guys are very funny," she said, referring to the crowd that frequented her restaurant in the 60's. "Writers when they're not writing."

Words pulled out of context, everyone's personal interpretation, all those different truths…
In Lou Reed's words: "Just a New York conversation, gossip all of the time. 'Did you hear who did what to whom ?', happens all the time."

In the end, what remains is Art.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Discovered in Translation

A gift reaches me by mail. A book of poetry. Landscape with Rowers, poetry from the Netherlands. Translated and introduced by J.M. Coetzee. Low lands is what I think.

Earlier I wrote to the generous person who presented me with this gift, that I don't believe in translation.
And yet, in this case Coetzee's poetic license makes my countryman, Gerrit Achterberg's poetry more accessible than it ever was when I attempted to read his sonnets in Dutch.

Achterberg suffered from mental illness and oft his work was critiqued with that knowledge in mind.
And that while most of the poets of the Fifties were creating incredibly free, odd verse, about things only they could see…

Monday, July 11, 2005


I'm a ghostwriter. I'm under cover. I've been reading. And now this: Born. Honestly, I have to spend less time online.
Gotta go.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy!

Front page news The Seattle Times:

Super Jolt! Blazers Snag McMillan……Summer heats up: Weekend events, Pirates' arrival…Housing market sizzles……Dinner at 8, table for 2 - 1,000 times. Once 2 for $70, now the set back is $130, twice or trice per week. Not to count the gasoline or ferry prices……Why state chose not to commit violent molester……Rapper Lil' Kim and journalist Judith Miller to jail……5 Americans held in Iraq……
Bombs in London……

Friday, July 01, 2005

What's in a Cake?

Another version of egg on your face, the luscious cream will soften your skin, depending on the fruit chosen, natural peeling agents will leave you with a startling glow. Just rinse off with tepid water and dab skin with fluffy towel. You'll feel like new!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Cruise Control is not Tom's Speed

Usually when someone gets riled about something or other, you can bet your boots, the something has something to do with him/herself.
I watched a snippet of NBC's "Today" show, where Tom Cruise offered a piece of his mind about psychiatry and medication.

Boyish, his hair a mess, buff, showing off his muscle tone, taking up as much space as a man possibly can (legs wide spread), he made his point, "Chemical imbalance doesn't exist!"

showing off
muscle tone
legs spread

My point, we don't pay the man to tell us how it is.
Least of all what's up with medicine or psychiatry.
If he wants to talk about himself, how he fights his demons, fine.
Everybody their own medicine.

Which doesn't mean that I don't believe "the news" that pharmaceutical companies and doctors are out to make us sick.

Once upon a time I had a doctor who did just that.
He told me that with my high cholesterol I could die 10 years sooner than necessary.
From the moment I heard him say that, I thought I was dying already (I forgot that we start the decent after 35 anyway).
He prescribed Lipitor® knowing I was still trying to get pregnant, while offering me infertility treatment (another surprise).
I did some research of my own and found out this is Not recommended. Pharmaceutical companies don't know yet what the cholesterol lowering medication does to a fetus.

After giving me a pelvic exam —he had already tossed out the speculum— he realized he had forgotten to take a sample and he fished the thing out of the trash!
Mixing up my file with that of the patient in the next cubicle, he told me at that same sitting that I was Diabetic. Something I knew wasn't true. At home I had the results of my bloodwork. I called him to tell him. He hung up on me.

Needless to say I left his practice.
I'm very happy with my present internist, who told me "You're not sick, you're healthy, you only have high cholesterol."

Anyway, to get back to Cruise, I would like to suggest to him, "Man, get your act together, get in the right gear, Cruise control is not your speed!"

Sunday, June 26, 2005


Even if you're not proficient in German, you may get a kick out of Der Digitale Lumpensamler after all, a picture speaks how many languages? This Bavarian Trash Collector makes me crack up!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Coffee Monopoly II

My friend, coffee connoisseur and word smith Joost Elffers points out that "koffie verkeerd" has no negative connotation in the Netherlands. And he's correct, how could it be in the land of "boter, melk en eieren" (butter, milk and eggs).

Still, I prefer the mouth puckering effect of pure coffee. And growing up in the Netherlands I had enough milk to last me a life time. At least that's what I hope, for osteosporosis runs in the family, and drinking coffee breaks down the calcium in yer bones. In that respect adding extra milk to coffee is a good idea.

"Verkeerd" in "koffie verkeerd" means that there's more milk than coffee.
More than usual, that is. And what is usual? Somewhere along the line, someone in the Netherlands must have decided that the proper way to have coffee is with a small cloud of cream or milk. And when someone else decided to use an inverse ratio, it was called "verkeerd", or turned around. Which in a way says something about the Dutch, doesn't it? There's one right way, and then there's another right way, which we'll call the other way, which after a while becomes the wrong way.
"Omgekeerd" (turned around) became "verkeerd". And which ever way you explain that, it remains wrong.

Meanwhile, don't get Me wrong, every person should have his/her coffee exactly the way he/she likes it, as long as I don't have to drink a latte. Or even an Americano with too much water, for that matter.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Seattle Public Library

The Seattle Public Library, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

Bamboo, a touch of Asia, so much at home in the Pacific Northwest.


If New York City has SOHO (neighborhood SOuth of HOuston) Seattle could have SOJA (SOuth of JAckson).
If that was the case, the first Public Library in the International District/ Chinatown could become known as SOJA Public Library.

For someone who speaks and thinks Dutch not so far fetched, soy after all is "soja" in my mother tongue. And where do I go for soy sauce and all other Asian groceries (not to mention excellent produce and even imported Dutch food)?
Exactly, South of Jackson!

Adopting SOJA, could put an end to the dispute about the proper name for a public library serving the Asian American community.

Or perhaps this would start another dispute: "Why does a Dutch immigrant come up with a name like that.
After all, the I.D. doesn't even have any European businesses!"

all rights © Judith van Praag 6/2005

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Visual Thesaurus

You thought the Meme Tree was fun? The Visual Thesaurus delivers the square root of fun.
A Meme Tree of Words, Visual Thesaurus is IT. Fun, fascinating and fast. Granted, IT doesn't know everything, but the online addition shows Dutch, German, French, Italian and Spanish beside English. Fun, fun, fun.

Ballad of Yoshiyo

Ballad of Yoshiyo, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

The Ballad of Yoshiyo was performed at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. Romantic love between master ceramist and apprentice.
Broken hearts ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
river~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ the end.

Birth of the Butterfly.
Recovery after Loss

Journal Shepherd

Journal Shepherd, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

Chopping Center

Chopping Center, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

Recipe for Compost
Russian Kale chopped in 2 inch pieces, add coffee grinds (from your home brew or barista). grass clippings, dried leaves, weeds (without seed heads) and water. Turn weekly.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


On this day in 1999 people from all walks of life, all ages, backgrounds and color gathered in the basement of a building in the Seattle, Central neighborhood. I can't remember where it was exactly that teacher and poet Judy Lightfoot invited us to come to participate in a marathon reading of Ralph Ellison's Juneteenth, but that doesn't matter.

What I do remember is the circle of chairs, people coming and going; voices, young, old, dramatic, haltering, jazzy, melodic and operatic reading the lines of characters passing through Ellison's story.
I believe, that we, as an ever changing group, enacted Juneteenth, in our own way, with much of Ellison's musical rhythms of jazz, gospel and ordinary speech.

All of us bound by one author's writing.

Ralph Ellison chose as epigraph these lines by T.S.Elliot:

This is the use of memory:
For liberations -not less of love but expanding
Of love beyond desire, and so liberation
From the future as well as the past.

Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison (author of The Invisible Man), ISBN 0-375-70754-9 published by Vintage Books

Friday, June 17, 2005


Yesterday all volunteer architectural and general tour docents of the Seattle Central Public Library were invited to an appreciation party in the #1 space on the Meeting Room Level. An e-vite promised drinks and nosh, Which Floor Project funny movie and a presentation by former LMN architect Bob Zimmer.

With time on my side, I visited the FriendShop to look for Library specific gift articles, I can tell our patrons about.

First thought:
Pragnesh Parikh (LMN Architects, Seattle) has a keen and dramatic eye, and a limber body, I would like to add.
He must have got on all fours, perhaps flat on his belly, chin on the floor, to take the shot of Petra Blaise's botanical carpet on the Living Room Level.

Linear diamond grid above, lush floral design below, book cases to remind you where you are.

I ogled the photo, used as cover for a spiral note book in the FriendShop.
Good idea, perhaps I would make one myself.
Wanting to make things I see and like myself, is an irritating personality trait.

Within half an hour, Anne Vedella, the volunteer coordinator saved me, at least this time, from this compulsive habit.

As the volunteer with the second most donated hours in the past year (114 against the 122 my colleaguege architectural tour docent Hollis put in) I received the ogled notebook.

First Notes:
Easily 1000 individuals sign up to take a tour each month.
August 2004 a peak of 2000.
Between 200-600 people take organized group tours each month.
Half of those who take tour are from Seattle Metropolitan area.
About 100 of the monthly total are foreigners.
In April of 2005, 178.500 people went through the doors.
The Central Library has had a positive effect on local businesses.

The Mariënhof Garden

Tuin van de Mariënhof, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

If you happen to be in the Netherlands, check out the beautifully landscaped garden De Mariënhof in Midwoud, Noord-Holland.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

What is in a Name.

My Friend from Amsterdam (MFA) stresses that coffee shops in the Netherlands aren't known for espresso, but for the herb, or rather weed.
One drinks coffee at a cafe or "koffiehuis", the latter known for dark brew that leaves a film in the standard white earthenware cup.
You'll often find a koffiehuis in streets where vendors set up their stalls for the outdoors markets. Customers and market personnel alike frequent those cafeteria style shops for strong brew and Dutch apple pie, or "broodjes", white or whole wheat roles stuffed with cold cuts, cheese, or egg and tomato.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Torrefazione, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

David Diamond I.M.

On May 14 I reported meeting David Diamond at a Beneroya Hall reception.
The legendary composer died yesterday, one month before his 90th birthday.
He lives on in his music and in the memory of all those people whose hearts he touched.

David Diamond may have told me that it's a shame Dutch composers don't write more in their own language, I take his remark as a personal suggestion or advice: "write in your mother tongue".

Something to consider.

May he rest in peace and find joy in the eternal orchestras where all great musicians jam.

Playing Coffee Monopoly

There used to be two places in Seattle where I could get my coffee exactly the way I like it.
Hailing from Europe, I wanted a "lungo", made by pressing more water through the ground espresso.
In Paris the waiters and coffee jerks say: "Americain" or "cafe creme", in Italy they sigh: "troppo aqua". The latter ironically often the case with the "Americano" in the States. No wonder, with water added.

The only barristas who were willing to make a lungo without giving me a superior look and explaining that they wouldn't do that because it makes the drink too bitter, were the woman who operated a coffee cart on Lower Queen Anne and a gal at the Torrefazione coffee shop on Occidental Street in Pioneer Square.

Starbucks' employees —who are trained to make lattes —just so— would give me either a pityful or superior look while explaining that such treatment makes the drink too bitter. Which only told me that
1.-Starbucks doesn't have the espresso coffee European coffee makers use, and
2.- that all employees believe Starbucks knows best.
The latter breaks down a bit of the customer service aura they've otherwise created so well.

I got tired of explaining how I wanted barristas to make my Joe. So, what do you do, you stick to the folks who make you happy.

A decade ago, a lively barista would drive up on Mercer Street every morning to set up her business in front of the Tower Books Store windows. She had a few stackable plastic chairs for people such as me, who like to sit (and chat) while they savor their java.

Italians take their espresso in one gulp and are on their way. The Dutch drink coffee in a more social setting, so they want theirs a little longer. Americans, having been raised on "have a refill honey?" dish wash water brew, need a little more help.

Coming to Seattle I called those who had discovered lattes "Melkmuilen" (Dutch idiom for baby face, compare the advertisements "Have Milk?"). In the Netherlands a drink comparable to a latte is called "koffie verkeerd", which only translates to coffee the wrong way. Do I need to say more?

One day, the barista on Lower Queen Anne announced that she was quitting. Something about a lacking terrace permit, Tower Books couldn't provide and wouldn't apply for, since coffee wasn't part of their business. Now they're gone as well. If only they had made coffee their business…

Luckily, the Uruguan barista at Torrefazione, way across town, also knew how to make me a lungo.
One of a small chain (17 coffee shops/ stores in the Northwest, California, Chicago and Boston), the place breathed elegance. Coffee was served in ceramic cups adorned with colorful painted floral motives. From French style cafe tables on the terrace you could watch patrons of the arts go in and out of Pioneer Square's top notch galleries.

I wrote "breathed" and "was served", and using past tense right now may be a bit too soon, but the end of the Torrefazione coffee shops is near. In 2003 Starbucks bought the chain. And to make a long story short, Torrefazione just doesn't cut it. At least that's what I read in The Seattle Times today.

Monica Soto Ouchi reported that Starbucks spokesman Alan Hilowitz said (is this considered "hear say"?) that the company had two years to survey the health of its subsidiary and decided the brand had a stronger future through grocery and food-service channels. "Operationally, the stores were not performing where they needed to perform," he said.
Torrefazione coffee lovers will still be able to buy their favorite coffee beans in grocery stores.

Shame should be a four letter word.

Thank goodness there are some other independent coffee houses left in Pioneer Square, such as Zeitgeist (a coffee shop a block away) and All City Coffee (in the Tashiro Kaplan Building), and of course the basement cafe at Elliot Bay Books, but I'll be darned if I'll try to give the barista instructions on how to draw me a lungo. Oh, well, perhaps I will.

Still, it's a darn shame.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Bestseller Multiple Choice

What's a bestseller?
-The book in the rack at the airport.
-The book in the rack at your drugstore.
-The book on the N.Y.Times bestsellers list.

What's a bestseller?
-The book the giant distributor ships the highest numbers of to booksellers.
-The book that may be returned to the distributor when it doesn't sell.
-The book that's most read.

-Which book gets front row exposure?
-The book that lends the bookseller a relationship with the author
-The book that will be most read.
-The book that earns its stay at the table with a fat check from the publisher.

Wanna read a book that's been chosen by only personally biased readers?
Go to The Lit Blog Coop for a fresh title.
The mere number of titles can wear you out.
But it beats the beaten path any day.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Looking North along I-5

Looking North along I-5, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

Good muscle tone, small waist, happy disposition. Prerequisites? Have a good run at the off-leash area. Bite some butts, chase or be chased, have a ball, fetch a ball, get rid of that pent up energy.

Seattle Dandelion

Seattle Dandelion, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

Seattle has about 200 parks. Nine of those have official Off-Leash areas where you can let your dog run to its heart content. The noise from I-5 is deafening, but the view of downtown splendificus from Dr. Jose Rizal Park, a natural surprise on the western slope of Beacon Hill.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Book Meme 2

On June 6, I was at a loss when I reached Question # 5: Tag five people and have them do it on their blogs (it meaning answer the Book Meme questions, I hardly ever use –it– myself).

I couldn't tag worth a bit.

Arjan to the rescue.

Thus Jeremy's tag reads: Rain Dog

Arjan How would you like them cooked? my hero for today.

Have no fear, the text on his site is in English.
Check out his sunny side up.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Mistaken Identity

On page 42 of Buddha's Money, author Martin Limon shocks me with detailed molestation of nine-year old girl. I'm not sure I want to read more. The problem is, and this may sound weird, this is fiction. I can't accept that the author made this up. In "Special Victims", an offspin of "Law & Order" the t.v. series, we learn about hideous crimes. Although fictionalized, I accept that the writers of the script get their ideas and information from Real Life situations. I may not condone what's happening in Real Life, I appreciate what the makers of these series bring to our attention.

It's been said that readers would rather read about terrible things happening in a fictional than in a non-fictional account. The reason for that would be that what's made up isn't really as bad as what actually happens. Or rather, what's made up can't happen to the reader.

If only that was really true.

Fiction after life may show situations that actually took place. That makes such stories believable. Sometimes it is as though the author takes on the role of a creative non-fiction writer. The reader knows the stories are based on facts, only the writer creates an environment that makes for more interesting reading.

One can question the existence of True Fiction, after all, all writers use material from their memory bank, from the media, from history, from Real Life.

Sometimes readers confuse an author with his characters. They will blame the author for the things his characters say or do. Often that's a mistake. After all, the author uses his characters to say something. But that doesn't necessarily mean he agrees with the character. An author has the power to bring controversial situations to the foreground, to the attention of the reader.

So, in the end, I gave Martin Limon the benefit of the doubt, after all, while reading the previous novel, Slicky Boys, I had learned some things about an environment I had known nothing about. Perhaps I would learn the reason for the scene with the child in the next chapter.

I'm on page 76 now, and yes, I did find out why the child is molested. The reasoning doesn't make the act any less horrid, but at least I trust the author.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Posted Secrets

Anonymous notes sent by snail mail, are posted on the postsecretblog.
The equivalent of mail art. A place to go back to, over and over again.

Where do you write your secret, where do you cut, glue and paste?
So much creativity has got lost thanks to email.
Boxes filled with letters and post cards, stamped envelopes.
Handwriting, slanted to the right, straight up, falling backward.
Ball point pens, fountain pens, pencils, cut out letters.
Stickers and drawings, love letters on bank notes.
Songlines on cardboard coasters, haikus on napkins.
Business cards with private phone numbers.
Folded notes between credit cards in a wallet.
Snapshots with DNA, wet ones stuck forever.


I got tagged by Jeremy (
No, I Don't know how to properly tag.
Jeremy had been tagged by someone who created an alternative list of questions to the original Book Meme 123.5

Book Meme: 123.5
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Do not search around and look for the “coolest” book you can find. Grab what is actually next to you.

I'm reading Buddha's Money by Martin Limon preparation for an interview with the author for the International Examiner or Pacific Reader. Usually I save detective or mystery novels for the summer, real vacation fare. Odd to be doing this as part of my job.…
Page 123, fifth sentence from the top. Well, the first word is "and" so I'll take that as the beginning of the first sentence.
5th sentence: "As the other policemen started to close in, I picked up more of the short benches, and then I was backing out the door."
Now what?
Okay I cheated. "and" is not the first word of the first whole sentence. Try again.
"Through a curtain of rain, I saw Ernied Fif Kang and Lady Ahn disappearing down an alley."
Curtain of rain. Okay, that'll do.

Jeremy's connection's alternative Book Meme:

1. Total number of books I own:
About 1300. That includes give or take 200 Dutch novels, 100 plays, translated and in original languages, 250 books on art, 100 literary magazines and poetry books, 25 issues of Granta, about 55 cook books and 35 children's books.

2. The last book I bought:
The Dressmaker by Beryl Bainbridge. I started collecting her books back in Amsterdam. Every Friday I would go to the second hand book market at the Spui and peruse the stalls. This last one I found last Saturday at a garage sale on Fox Island in WA, for 50 cents.

3. The last book I read:
Oh dear. I read many books at the same time.
"Sightseeing", by Rattawut Lapcharoensap. Great collection of short stories from p.o.v. of Thai American writer.
"Ho'olulu Park and the Pepsodent Smile" and "Tsunami Years" by Juliet Kono. Collection of short stories and a book of poetry by award winning Hawai'ian (Japanese American) writer.

3 a. The last book I finished reading:
Slicky Boys by Martin Limon in preparation for an interview with the author.
I had never read anything fictional about Korea. Slicky Boys (and others in the series) are written from p.o.v. Mexican American G.I. stationed in Seoul, a lot of swiveling going on.

3 b. The before-last book I finished reading:
"When the Emperor was Divine" by Julie Otsuka, which was the 2005 "Seattle Reads" selection. Seven years ago, Seattle Public Library initiated "What if all of Seattle read the same book?" SPL organizes all kinds of events during the month of May, the author's brought to town, to give readings and lectures, documentaries are shown etc.
Can't believe I wasted time counting!

4. Five books that mean a lot to me:
"TimeBends: a life", by Arthur Miller, my hero, playwright, social commentary, novelist.
"My name is Asher Lev", by Chaim Potok.
"Mercy of a Rude Stream", and any other book by Henry Roth. Whenever I'm in NYC he's with me.
"Sabbath's Theater", and (with exception of The Breast) any book by Philip Roth. The master knows how to make an unlikeable character likable.
"The Family Moskat", by Isac Bashevis Singer.

5. Tag five people and have them do it on their blogs:

Before I do that, I've got to learn how to tag.
Hoka Hey!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Barefoot to Garfield

Native Seattleite and New Elderly Friend (86) remembers that the total number of different languages spoken at home by Garfield High school students was 90 in her days. Children straight from Ethiopia came to school barefoot. "There were no organizations that gave away things for free in those days," NEF says.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Past Creative Acts and Present

In 1999, five years after our loss, my book Creative Acts of Healing: after a baby dies was published by Paseo Press.
Dr. Michael Berman OB/GYN wrote the foreword. In those days I often posted messages on the story board of Dr. Berman's informative site

A friend in the Netherlands sent me the address of a Dutch support group for parents whose babies had died. Writing in Dutch about our loss was a new experience for me. I was astonished by the impact, telling the story in my mother tongue had on me. Before long I corresponded on a daily basis with other bereaved parents.
Since our loss had occurred five years earlier, I was able to offer others some perspective.

PHD called me the Ann Landers of Grief.

Around the same time I discovered Ouders Online, a Dutch internet magazine for parents. Women as well as men participated in daily forum discussions, some of which dealt with loss, grief and recovery. Inspired by the discussions I started writing a column for the magazine.

In the 2000 archive of Hope Filled Jars I'll be posting some of the Dutch entries I wrote back then.

I'll —now and then— write in retrospective about that time, five years back, in English in the present day blog.

Hope in 2000

Look at the date and look again.
The following entry could have been written on Januari 1, 2000.

Imagine it was. There may be more in the future. Posted today, written or imagined five years ago.
A memoire of hope, and life after hope.

Pleasant Street, Willimantic, CT, Januari 1st, 2000

You can argue that today is not the first day of the new millennium, you can say that the last century ends with 2000. Even so, this is the first day that we no longer write that we live in the nineteen hundreds.

Today I cut my neighbor's hair and after that, she accompanied Pleasant Husband Dearest (from here on revered to as PHD) and me to New York City. We celebrated the beginning of the new year with a meal in Little Italy. The three of us shared our New York stories. PHD told us how ages ago, he had rented an apartment above the very restaurant we were breaking our bread, and toasting to the new year. All three of us talked about the things that happened the past year, our hopes and wishes for the future.

My book Creative Acts of Healing: after a baby dies was published by Paseo Press in July of 1999. Shortly after that, PHD and I moved from the Pacific northwest to the East coast. We combined our trip across the US with a book tour. Between Seattle, WA and Storrs, CT, we made stops at bookstores and a church. I read, sold and signed books. Most of the people in my audience were bereaved parents, some were care givers, some were people who mourned the death of a loved one, more mature than an infant.

Not long after our infant daughter was born and had died, I learned that the language of grief speaks to people of all walks of life, to every single person who has lost a loved one. And that sharing our stories is one of the most healing and helpful things we can do.

I hope people who need to read my book, will find a copy. In their library, in the mail, in their support group. How I searched for reading material I could recognize my own situation, our ordeal in. I hope reading my story will help others.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Mother Tongue

Writing for the International Examiner has opened a new world for me in Seattle. A new world, which at the same time is more familiar than other neighborhoods where PHD and I lived the past eleven years.

Since the IExaminer caters to the Asian Pacific communities, people of color and immigrants, I finally wound up in society more reminiscent of the colorful mixture of people I was used to in Amsterdam. On top of that, the International District, with its 3-5 story tall red and dark brown brick buildings, reminds me of certain parts of Haarlem, or The Hague, or even the Nieuwmarkt, Amsterdam's Chinatown. I feel at home in the ID. Yes. How about that.

Major perks for a freelance reporter are the complimentary tickets. Combined with volunteer opportunities during events at the Seattle Central Public Library, the IExaminer's assignments got me to attend more functions in one year than in the previous ten.

The other night PHD and I attended a pre-concert reception at Beneroya Hall for David Diamond. The nearly 90-year-old composer, who in 1995 was named Seattle Symphony's Honorary Composer in Residence, received his guests on the Promenade in the Grand Lobby.

He gracefully agreed with me when I suggested that the acoustics in Amsterdam's Concert Gebouw (Concert Hall) might be among the best in the world.
"I wish Dutch composers would write more in their own language," he said, "I mean they always have to write in English or German."

Try as I did, I couldn't come up with the names of any other Dutch composers beside Andriessen. And that while I vividly remembered several faces. In particular that of a composer who lived in the Nieuwmarkt neighborhood.

This memory problem may be the effect of integration. Before, I was a reluctant immigrant (after all, there was no Need to leave the Netherlands), now my ties with my home country are involuntarily loosened. This must be part of establishing a new life in a new world. Part of my memories hide in the deeper vaults of my memory bank, while new information is filed closer to the front…

There are times when I worry that when I'm old and truly forgetful, my second language will disappear in vaults of which I will have lost the key and that only my first language will remain. I fear that I will only be able to speak in my mother tongue. I fear that if or when that happens, I will have to return to the Netherlands.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Googled Speechless

Today some bad news arrived from Amsterdam, NL.
Can't believe what I read in the newsletter of
Wanting to know more, I Googled, typing “Israel Medical experiments”, in the subject bar.

The first page of web site addresses included a URL for a site with info about Israeli restriction on animal experiments.

Then there was a URL for a site with news on the 2nd payment to Nazi victims, survivors of Dr. Josef “Angel of Death” Mengele’s gruesome experiments during the Holocaust.
No payment can make good the harm these people suffered, but I'm glad they'll receive some.

URLs at the top of the Google page lead to publications about present day medical experiments performed on demented elderly, infants and child patients.

What can I say?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Fools and I II (2)

Fools and I II makes three, a whole family.
Born in the Netherlands I'm a Calvinist, not by faith, not by conviction, but by default.
Confusion is my part (see Fools and I (1))
And I'm not the only one.

A Dutch writers' association I'm a member of states clearly about participation in an e-mail forum:
"Maak geen reclame," don't advertise yourself, don't, oh please, don't share your success.

"Doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg," "Act normal, that's crazy enough," is the curse and motto the proud Dutch have to fight all their life.

Anybody who sticks out his neck runs the risk to be decapitated or admired. Yes, admired. For the same person who's despised by his peers for taking center stage, will be hailed by the people. He who, in the eyes of his colleagues appears to be suffering from histrionic personality disorders, will be lauded by his audience. Loud and clear.

The effect?
Affected Entertainers (with a capital E, singing Mi, mi, mi, mi, mi), are invited to author columns and books.
The result?
Pleasant reading material, "lectuur", which sells better any way, and any day, than literature, wrought painstakingly by lettered (wo)men.

How different is the American environment. Advertising being part and parcel of society, sharing successes starts in Pre-School.
"My infant is potty trained, my tod's vocabulary matches that of our 12 year-old golden retriever, my kindergartner has published her first novel."
Peer groups form before elementary school is started. And everybody is a winner, everybody can exceed his parents wildest dreams. Those who don't wind up by the way side. Such is the flip side of course.

There's always a flip side.

Don't let the flip side discourage you, even on Skid Road, some logs slid faster to the water front.
I'm not kidding. In the days when early Seattleites clear-cut the hills around Puget Sound, the street, now known as Yesler was nothing but a log run.

Today every town has it's own Skid Row, a place you don't want to go to, or wind up. Nothing to advertise there. Unless you have a good story to tell. And who doesn't.

Good stories often are the bad ones.
The ones that make you think, "I'm glad I'm not in his position."

And yet, there's a market for the truly good stories as well. Magazines that print the good stuff, the encouraging stuff, the stuff that keeps you going, such as "Hope", "Ode" and "Yes". Then there's "The Sun" which gives readers a chance to share both good and bad experiences. There are places where people find inspiration in positive experiences of others.

Thank goodness for our places in the sun, for a spot in the footlight, for rays that bounce off the next person. Sometimes there's light in a dark spot. A place where even Calvinists can shine. All that's needed for that to occur, is reflection. A matter of sharing.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Only at Home

As long as I can remember April 30 has been "Konininginnedag", the day the Dutch celebrate the birthday of the queen. Queen Mother Juliana's birthday was on April 30th. Her daughter Beatrix, the present queen, was born in January. Since that month hardly calls for outdoors festivities (unless there's enough ice on the waterways for the "Elf Stedentocht" the famous ice skating event, that takes skaters by eleven towns in Friesland), the queen let the people keep April 30th as Koninginnedag. Everybody is off, and all of Amsterdam turns into one huge yard sale, bringing people from all over the country to town.

Today Beatrix van Oranje celebrates her 25th anniversary as Queen of the Netherlands. The NRC, one of the leading daily newspapers placed a call for its readers' personal memories, anecdotes involving the queen. Do I have one? You bet I do.

In December 1986, six years into her reign, the queen honored everyone involved by attending a performance of "The Blacks" by Jean Genet in the Soeterijn Theater in Amsterdam.
During the summer, co-director Henk Tjon, actor Maarten van Hinte and I had worked on a contemporary translation and adaptation of the original French play. I also met regularly with the late Rufus Collins to discuss my set and costume designs for the same play.

I was so involved, that it was hard to understand why Otto Romeijn, the co-producer of the play didn't allow me to be part of the royal moment, when Queen Beatrix came on stage at the Soeterijn theater, to congratulate the ensemble with a job well done. I have to admit, I sat sulking in a chair in the front row. The queen complimented Rufus with stage direction, set and costumes. Without any ado Rufus called out my name and pulling me onto the stage said, "this is our designer."
Ah, the satisfaction!
Queen Beatrix told me my designs were inventive.
I wondered whether calling her "Ma'am" was the correct address to thank her, when I heard actor Arnie Breeveld's bass, "I hear Your Majesty likes to act as well?"
"Only at home," the queen said with a big smile. And then we all laughed.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Alfa Bitch

The owner of "Pawsabilities" called Little Dog a dominant bitch. "She sucks up to your man doesn't she? Has she given you that look yet, that you're old and that she'll take your place?" he asked.
The nerve! How dare he call my dog a dominant bitch! I felt a growl rise in my chest, when I realized that dominant bitch is a qualification, not an insult, at least not for a dog.
Last night, on our walk around the block, LD and I ran into another woman with her dog. Talking loudly on her cell phone, she dragged a black labrador/ pit bull mix across the street, and out of our sight. LD started an aria I know to mean, "Want to meet, want to meet." We rounded the corner and found the duo waiting for us. With a nasty sneer on his face, the dog lashed out at LD.
"Wait a moment," the woman said to the person she was talking to, tossing the phone on the grass. In one swift movement she landed on her knees, pulling one of the dog's front legs back and over. As he landed on his chin, she straddled the beast. "Submit!" she said, reaching out for the phone. "Sorry about that, I've got to show my alfa male dog to submit to a little dog that wants to say hi."
LD carefully smelled the woman's pant legs, the dog's butt and his face. Then she took on her "I want to play", butt in the air position. The male, in submission, released his muscles.
The woman, resuming her telephone conversation, got up as sudden as she had got down, walked off without having granted me one word. The dominant bitch.

All Rights Reserverd © Judith van Praag

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Transportatino in Las Vegas II

A few hours, a swim, and a nap after our arrival at Palace Station Hotel and Casino, we boarded the Palace Station Shuttle Bus with FIL, PHD's sisters and their spouses and our athletic nephew. Dropped off at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino we could have walked, but instead we took two separate cabs to the Bellagio, where Cirque du Soleil performed "O", their modern water ballet. Hurricane strength desert winds nearly knocked me off my feet as I struggled to the entrance of the hotel. Dazzling interior, plunging necklines, bra-less miracles and couples with generational gaps larger than the number of years I've been out of kindergarten, made for a satisfying opening performance to "O", the show.

I'm not going to write about the show now (or ever), but afterwards we met with PHD's Clever Aunt and Cool Uncle, who live in Las Vegas part of the year and are avid poker players.

CA and CU took us out for breakfast at the cafeteria of the Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino. At the next table over "O's" four Malaysian contortionists showed a good appetite. On our way to Palace Station CU attempted a short-cut which got us to see more of the city than the city planners like tourists such as us to see. PHD and I love getting lost, it's got us to get to know places much better.

On Saturday WA and her daughter Amazone Couz returned in AC's car to show us around town. PHD and I wanted to ride the Monorail. Surprised CA and AC said they had been wanting to do that forever, so this was their chance. AC parked her vehicle at the Sahara Hotel & Casino parking lot, which was near our Palace Station Hotel and Casino, and from there we got on the elevated. A ticket good for one entree only cost $3, PHD and I each bought a day pass for ten bucks.

The concierge of our hotel told us a cab ride to downtown's Fremont Arcade would cost $10. The (our second) Russian cabby told us not to mind his meter, he charged a flat rate. "Ten bucks," he said when we got out at Fremont. PHD fingered the change in his pocket for a tip. The look on the cabby's face that of a dog who hopes you have a treat in your pocket, while knowing he already had one.

The African cab driver who took us back to the hotel that night, did have his meter running, which showed $8.40 upon arrival, we rounded it off to ten. The first guy's flat rate had included a tip! From the hotel we walked to the 7 Eleven to buy a few things. Our African cabby greeted us as if we were old acquaintances.
"I guess we could have asked you to take us here," PHD said.
We all laughed.

Sunday morning we discovered the Monorail's daypass was good for 24 hours! Of course. New York may be the city that never sleeps, neither does Sin City.

All Rights Reserved © Judith van Praag

Fremont Arcade

Fremont Arcade, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

Dr. John

Saturday, April 16, 2005

SPANAKOPITA (Greek Spinach Pie)

INGREDIENTS (1-9"x9" pie pan):

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds spinach, rinsed and chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
8 sheets phyllo dough
1/4 cup olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly oil a 9x9 inch square baking pan.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion, green onions and garlic, until soft and lightly browned. Stir in spinach and parsley, and continue to sauté until spinach is limp, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

3. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, ricotta, and feta. Stir in spinach mixture. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough in prepared baking pan, and brush lightly with olive oil. Lay another sheet of phyllo dough on top, brush with olive oil, and repeat process with two more sheets of phyllo. The sheets will overlap the pan. Spread spinach and cheese mixture into pan and fold overhanging dough over filling. Brush with oil, then layer remaining 4 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each with oil. Tuck overhanging dough into pan to seal filling.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Cut into squares and serve while hot.


Talk to Strangers

I visited the One Day Show of "HOME" at the Henry Art Gallery. Before the presentation and lecture started in the auditorium, there was a reception with FareStart hors d'oeuvres, white wine and water in the Gallery Cafe.
Picking a spanakopita triangle from the server's tray, I commented on her voice, she sounded hoarse.
"That's how I was born," she said.
No, her vocal cords weren't too short, she was born a premie and the oxygen tube they fed through her tiny throat was too big, so it hurt her larynx.
"These days they make tubes that are small enough," she said.
"Thanks to you, your example," I said.
"Yes, perhaps," she smiled, "have another hors d'oeuvre."

I didn't know anybody at the reception. I matched names on the program with those on name tags. Others did the same. I saw people glance at my name tag in passing. Not recognizing my name, they decided they didn't need to know me. Eyes would jump from my tag to my face, they'd smile and walk on. Did I do the same? Do we only talk to people we know or need to know at a charitable event?

I chatted with all the servers.

All Rights Reserved © Judith van Praag


Where the heart is. Nicholas Prior's heart is clearly in the photographs he took of homeless people and their shelters during a four-day photo shoot in Seattle in 2004. An artist since birth (his words), he had not been in the habit of photographing homeless.

In his lecture at Henry Art Gallery Prior pointed out how we take pictures to create myths of ourselves. In our pictures we perpetuate a positive thought of ourselves. In our albums we don't cry. But when our camera is pointed at the disadvantaged, we don't want them to fix their hair, we don't want to disrupt the scene. The result a colonialist point of view.

Getty Images and FareStart combine forces.

CEOs and employees of Getty Images have been giving financial aid to FareStart (see links in side bar). Wanting to give more than money, Getty Images sent art photographer Nicholas Prior on assignment to Seattle. Prior's objective was to meet as many homeless people as possible and to show that homelessness is not a matter of class, that the line that separates the homed from the homeless is much thinner than we generally like to believe.

Prior thanked his two collaborators and partners, FareStart graduate Derrick DeJesus and FareStart employee Patricia Gray. Derrick showed Nicholas the places he had been on his homeless journey and Patricia opened the dialogue with the people Nicholas wanted to photograph. They presented people with FareStart sandwiches and explained how FareStart empowers homeless and disadvantaged people by giving them training, a place to stay and help them get a job after graduation. Often people would consent having their picture taken.

HOME. Yesterday I posted the when and where the photo series will be shown in greater Seattle.

All Rights Reserved © Judith van Praag

Friday, April 15, 2005

Prior Happening HOME

HOME: April 14 at Henry Art Gallery; April 15-30, 2005 St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral; May 2005 Seattle City Hall; June 2005 2100 Building in Rainier Valley; July & August 2005 Washington State Trade & Convention Center; September 2005 Bellevue City Hall; October 2005 Kirkland Performance Center.
Questions: What is HOME? Or, where is HOME? Who is HOME?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Las Vegas Transportation I

FIL e-mailed PHD that a hotel shuttle would take us from Las Vegas airport to Palace Station Hotel and Casino. If only traveling was that easy. You land, you exit the terminal, someone opens the door of a car and you're whisked off to your destination.

In Vegas they're not in the business to show you a free ride. A heavy set female guard, called me Sweetie and pressed her body into mine while pointing at the far end of the hall. "That's where you take the escalator down."

After we crossed the spacious hall and descended one level, a limo driver holding up a sign with a foreign family name, told us to go upstairs. We took the first escalator in sight, which delivered us one floor higher than where we wanted to be. Another one took us down one floor. A helpful shuttle bus driver pointed at bus stop #22. "But we're looking for the Palace Station Shuttle," we said. The man shrugged, pointing at #22.

At the bus stop, a man with an airport badge informed us that bus #22 departed only once an hour. Next question, had the bus just left, or would it be there in a minute? If we just missed it, we could be waiting 59 minutes. He nodded, understood our predicament, but didn't have the answer. We were joined at the stop by another couple. The man discovered only quarters were accepted for the bus fare. Leaving his wife to guard their bags, he galloped back to the building. Looking at each other PHD and I decided to take a cab.

The cue at the taxi stop folded back on itself three times on the wide side walk. The result a six person wide line moving about in a steady fashion. Vegas entertainment starts right there. People from all over the globe come to Sin City to spend money, gamble away their family home, or their kids' college fund, or win it all back and more, or in our case, see a couple of shows and help celebrated PHD's dad's 70th birthday.

Traffic was heavy and our Russian cabby took advantage of the long stops at the traffic lights to practice his riffs. He kept his small size guitar on the floor board of the passenger seat beside him. Each time we stopped, he opened the window on his side, so he could stick the neck of the instrument outside. Without any aplomb, he played some delicate Jazz rifss, then inched into a Bossa Nova, while our gazes were fixed on the nearly live size photo of chorus girls' bare buttocks on the rear of the car in front of ours.

All Rights Reserved © 2005 Judith van Praag

Las Vegas Monorail

Las Vegas Monorail, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Fools and I

"Ik zei de gek," or "Me, said the Fool," was my mother's favorite way to point out that one (I) shouldn't start a sentence with I, one (I) shouldn't be too quick to respond (except for in class), to volunteer (with the exception of offering help doing dishes, digging dandelion roots for the rabbits, picking up my horse's droppings), to get a cookie, to put oneself (me) in the spotlight.

Btw I could have written, "'I' said the Fool," above, but hey, I learned from Bobby Mcgee and Me. Thank you Janis Joplin.

Around the time that I started listening to Janis, and Jimmy, and Les Flute Indien (the first record albums in my collection), my mother expressed the hope I would find my place in the limelight.

Question was, how do you acquire that spot without actively promoting yourself. In other words, how do you get attention without saying me, myself, I?

For one, a writer takes his pen (thank you Stevie) and writes the words again (Yes!), can write about himself, without ever saying, "Hey Y'all, it's me," while he writes in 3rd person.

Leaving it up to the others to say, it's all about, who again?

All rights reserved © Judith van Praag

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Best Foot Forward

Kathryn True went on architect Paul Crowther's tour at the Central Public Libary in Seattle. A week later the Seattle Times photographer Dean Rutz followed me around while I presented my tour. He took pictures of my shoes and black pant legs, on conceptual artist Ann Hamilton's 7200 square feet of computer routed maple wooden floor.

Question: Who's got the copy right on my feet when they appear in the newspaper?

I look at my feet in the newspaper's photograph, and think, "Here we have 556 first sentences, in 11 languages, from books in the library's world collection. They're inverted in reference to the letter press." I tell visitors that the artist took great care not to use sentences which contain words that we don't want to put our feet on. No blasphemy underfoot, so to speak.

This makes me think of something I was told in the summer of 1993, back in Amsterdam. Something about saving snippets of paper. I even remembered the location where I heard the information (an alley off the Nieuwe Zijdsvoorburgwal), but what the exact gist of the story was, I couldn't recall.

Author Jan-Willem van de Wetering said to me, "If you haven't written it down, it didn't happen." But that was in 1994, when I went to say "Hé, hoe gaat het met je?" at Seattle's Mystery Bookstore. So, I looked through my datebook of 1993, and low and behold, there was a note about "Jineze" and "Islamic Institute".

After some Google-ing I found what I was looking for at Wikipedia: "It is against Jewish law to destroy anything that contains God's name. All deteriorating or no-longer-usable ritual documents, therefore, had to be either buried or stored in a special room called a geniza. There were time periods when it was also a tradition to bury religious texts with scholars."

Put your message in a bottle, put your hope in a jar, make a wish upon a star.

All rights reserved © Judith van Praag