Monday, December 29, 2008

Stretching Memories

Nita with Piet the pincher and Tilly the goat, Allardsoog 1964.

Today's fierce wind, responsible for sending the last leaves on our neighbor's weeping birch far beyond our yard, could dry the sheets I pull out of the washer in no time. Especially the fitted sheet would billow, a white sail going nowhere.
"Come help me stretch the sheets." That line rings in my ears as I take the laundry out of the machine.
After bringing the sheets in from drying on the lines outside our house in the Dutch countryside, Nita would hold up two corners of the foot end for me to take. I'd mark the page of the book I was engulfed in, or weave the hook or needles through my crochet or knit work.
We'd fold the sheet in half lengthwise and once again, and then the fun began. Grabbing hold of the folded ends of the fabric, standing the sheet's length apart, we'd brace our feet on the carpet and hang back like water skiers behind a boat.
Upon my mother's sign we'd regain our upright balance, and I'd hand her my end. Then I'd pick up the fold and hand that to her. She would place the material on the ironing board for a last special touch with the hot iron. Three sheets was all we had to stretch. Home economics dictated that the (still clean) top sheet would be moved to the bottom, only the bottom sheet was washed every fortnight. I always tried to make the moment of trust —putting all of my weight in the scale— last. Back then I could not know the feeling that goes with the memory would last a life time.
Today I put the fitted and flat sheets in the dryer, and remember my mother Nita († 12/29/2002), whose words of wisdom and folly continue to ring in my ears (or speak to me).

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Visit Animal Rescue Site Everyday

With only two servings of dog crunchies left in the manger we hope the pet store will be open tomorrow. Yesterday Gary put chains around the rear tires of our Ford Ranger and drove through the snow to the pet store; to find it closed. Down to one serving for tonight, we hope for OPEN sign tomorrow. If worse comes to worse, I'll cook some plain meals for our pooch.

As for the animals who are not so lucky to have owners who will fashion them something to eat no matter what, they and the Animal Rescue Site can use your help, always (I'm repeating myself), and especially now. Doesn't matter if you're snowed in, or can't get to the pet store for another reason, as long as you can get online, you can click on the purple button and bring in the crunchies for hungry animals.

Pass on the URL of the Animal Rescue Site for a wonderful belly filling chain reaction!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

FareStart is the Gift that keeps on Giving

Last night was our night on the town.
Thanks to Cindy, a colleague of Gary, we had tickets to the premiere of "You Can't Take It With You" at the Seattle Repertory Theatre and we got an invitation for the Holiday Party at FareStart headquarters. First we picked up our tickets and then we headed downtown where we found a parking place on 7th Avenue kitty corner from FareStart. Yes!

This was our first time to be inside the new building (unbelievable but true), but now that we've crossed the threshold we know we'll be back at the restaurant. The space is A-MA-ZING, tall ceilings, exposed age-old beams (from the beginning of Seattle), lofty lighting (flying saucers), and I was glad to see the uplifting collection of plates commemorating each of the fantastic guest chefs who give their time to work with FareStart students in an elevated position on a brick wall.

From the loft, where normally food is served as well (great location for spotting who ever else is dining inside, or who's walking by the building) the Fabulous Po'Boys serenaded the feasting crowd with their fab repertoire. Ed Johnson and Warren Payne sure no how to strum them strings!

The food at FareStart is always good. Whether you go for a first class Guest Chef's Night on Thursdays, or lunch, or are lucky enough to be handed a lunch bag prepared by FareStart Catering at an event, you're always in for a treat. So we thought we knew what to expect. Some tidbits to nosh on before going out for a more substantial bite, that's what we thought …

We couldn't have been more wrong. What we saw was a substantial spread of, yes, hors d'oeuvres such as spanoptika, mini burritos and spring rolls, yummy sesame fried drum sticks, but also vegetarian lasagna, a curry and to top it all off apple cake with a donut hole. After a very pleasant meal shared with other invitees, and many returns to the food counters, we left with our tummies filled and elevated spirit (and that after only non-alcoholic drinks).

Never underestimate the Powers that Be at FareStart, you're in for a pleasant surprise. Friendly people, and good food, what else did the doctor order?

Note to self: Return the favor and (as the red cards on the Christmas tree read:) Give the Gift of Community to FareStart Students!

Click on image to enlarge.

Oh, and by the way, the play was great (thank you Cindy!) ! You Can't Take it With You, the story about the 1936 New York family the Sycamores, is Just the thing to see in times like these.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Collaborative Publishing

In these days of print on demand, publish online, e-journals and e-books, the old fashioned letter press is all but extinct. Conceptional artist Ann Hamilton created 7200 square foot maple wood floor computer routed with a repetition of 556 first sentences in 11 languages from books in the world collection of the Seattle Central Public Library. The sentences are inverted, a reference to and reminder of the letter press.

While printing is not less of an art form than it ever was, it most definitely is more of that than ever.

Where quick, quick, or you're history, is the tune of the day, the interest for slow food, slow motion, slow this and that is on the rise.

Correspondences by Ben Greenman the postmaster is an intriguing collaborative project, a book created by the author and the creative folks at the Hotel St. George Press.

However, the fact that the people inside Hotel St. George make use of a time consuming laborious letter press does not mean they are not with the times. On the contrary. Enter their virtual home and an innovative system of unheard of collaborative writing projects will be unveiled in front of your eyes.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

R.I.P. Tuba Man

This month we've been living in the south end of town for two years. This is the neighborhood where someone was shot to death a week before we moved in. This is the neighborhood where James "Flowerman" Paroline tended his flowers, and lost his life after "a passer by" (called to teach him a lesson by some girls) hit him so hard he fell, and hit his head on the curb edge of the intersection's island flower bed. He died on the spot.

The son of another neighbor took the bus up Renton Avenue one or two stops beyond the one that's closest to his house. "Because he wanted to ride his skateboard back down the hill," his father said. Three kids got off the bus at the same time as he. The moment the bus drove off they jumped him. "His skateboard was worth over a hundred bucks, and his backpack was expensive too, and he'd just bought himself an expensive phone, he wasn't going to let them have that," his dad said. So his son fought. The thugs kept on telling him to "stay down!" But he wouldn't he fought them with all his might. Finally his attackers ran off.

Seattle is a green city, and I don't just mean ecologically minded when I write that (although it is), I mean green, as in garden, as in Park-like. When you arrive by plane, you can see it from the sky, the city is green, the way Austin TX is green. In other words there are lots of trees, (live oak in TX, evergreens in WA). The people of Seattle have long been opposed to vertical growth, they didn't want high rise buildings, for that would spoil the image they had of their city, or perhaps I should say town. So the town sprawled and over time became a city, whether the folks liked it or not. And still Seattle was able to maintain that imago of being a Green City, a place where people live in garden or park-like settings. Perhaps we don't associate crime as much with a supposedly 'natural' setting, as with asphalt, concrete, glass and steel. And yet bad things happen in idyllic settings as well as in what some consider more ideal settings for crime to occur.

But bad things can happen in any neighborhood, whether it's a nice garden-city setting, a neglected part of town, or in what we consider the bustling tourist area at the foot of the Space Needle. As was the case when Tuba Man Ed McMichael was attacked by young thugs last week. Besides being robbed, McMichael, like Paroline last July, was attacked, fell and hit his head and now he's dead.

It makes me wonder: Where was the Police?
Apparently other people were attacked and mugged by the same rotten scoundrels, and they notified the Police. Officers arrived on the scene as McMichael was lying on the ground in fetal position being kicked and beaten.

The very first time I visited New York City, I was astounded by the number of policemen, it seemed there was an officer on every corner of every street in Manhattan. At the time (1976) that in it self scared me a bit, it made the city appear to be like a police state. Over the years I've come to appreciate the presence of the Police. Downtown Seattle you can see the police officers patrolling the streets on their bicycles, but what about the surrounding neighborhoods?

In a city so sprawled out that it's practically impossible for the Police to "walk the beat" where police cyclists outside the city center may feel they're too vulnerable for their own good, people often call for the police after the fact, after the problem has occurred.

We're supposed to feel fortunate when the Police drive through our neighborhoods in patrol cars period. Do they drive on regular intervals, so that they can spot thugs jumping kids coming off the bus? I'm not sure.

Do they patrol the area surrounding the Seattle Center Grounds to protect visitors to the popular tourist and cultural attraction so regularly that they can protect people such as the Tuba Man from being attacked?
Apparently not.

In 1976 I could never have dreamed that I'd ask for a police officer on every street corner, but here I am, 2008 hoping for more Police presence. And that's beside my hope and wish, that young people will learn to respect and honor life. Self respect can get you a long way. Unless you cross the path of someone who doesn't have any, not for him or herself, and therefor not for you.

We used to live on Queen Anne Hill. During the summer, when my husband worked on the Ring Cycle of the Seattle Opera, I'd often walk him to work at the Opera House, later to Marion Oliver McCaw Hall or MOM as the people who work there say. After I'd drop him off at the stage entrance, I'd sit on the edge of a planter near the entrance to MOM for what I considered the best fashion show in town. I'd watch the parade of people arriving for the show, stepping in or out of tune with the Tuba Man's tunes.

Today at 11 a.m. musicians will play at a memorial for Edward McMichael in front of MOM, where he used to sit and play.

McMichael is missed by opera lovers and sports fans allike. He was not only a fixture before shows at MOM, he also played in front of sports venues all over town.
Coming Wednesday at 6 p.m. there will be another memorial at the QWest Field Event Center.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Nature Quote of the Day:
A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.
John James Audubon

Friday, September 26, 2008

Playing Chess

My mother at her weekly meeting with her gentlemen chess friends at De Hullen, a senior citizen center.
Neither Tic Douloureux nor four spontaneous fractures of the spine could keep Nita away from the board.

One of my earliest memories is of her, my father and a young couple they had encountered while vacationing in a Dutch forest, bent over a chess board in our woodsy cabin. She and my father often played a game together. They taught me all their moves, and yet I never became an avid player.

When I moved out of my mother's home, and visited her with my boy-friend, she and he got along famously. They would first discuss politics and the environment, and next pull out the chess board.

She would have loved How to Fool Fritz.


A Place d'Étoile aerial image from the 1940s or 50s showing the lack of lanes, and a small percentage of the traffic you'd encounter there now. Imagine how many cars you can fit into that circle, leading to or fro 12 avenues, and you get the idea.

In July of 2007, The Seattle Times reported that the neighborhood upper Rainier Beach would be getting 2 roundabouts at the intersection of 51st South, Renton- and Roxbury Avenues. The traffic was and still is controlled by stop signs. According to the article in The Times the City Council voted 7-1 despite Council member Richard McIver's view that they are "about the most ridiculous expenditure I've ever seen." This while the city counted 60 collisions in that triangle in 2000. And I'm sure it hasn't got any better. We pass by there every day and it is impressive that we've never encountered a pile-up at a spot where three busy streets meet, showing a total of 6 stop signs.
The projected time of completion of the double roundabout is 2010.

In order to educate citizens the City of Olympia and the City of Lacey have created an excellent film on how to approach and drive on a roundabout.

To my great surprise (experienced) cyclists are permitted to use the same roundabout as the cars and trucks. In the Netherlands, you'd find a bicycle path around the pavement for automated traffic. To allow cyclists inside the roundabout is asking for trouble.

Watching the film made me think of the first time that I had to navigate roundabout of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris in 1983 or so. At the Place d'Étoile roundabout, which circles the Arc de Triomphe, twelve avenues meet! I recall going around three times before I was prepared to take the correct exit. The second time I almost made it, but a "gendarme" a French police officer who braved the traffic and stood in the middle of (not existing) "lanes" blew his whistle at me. Knitting his eyebrows and waving his "batton" in the air, threatening to bang on the hood of my vehicle, he ordered me to go around once more! I remember this happened right before lunch time, and that my blood sugar dropped like a brick from the Eiffel Tower.

So the prospect of a double roundabout in upper Rainier Beach won't faze me, but I do worry about the cyclists in Lacey and Olympia.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Testing the Dike

Sluice in Veelerveen, Groningen

Today Stichting IJkdijk (the Dike Gauge Foundation) simulated a breaking of a test dike under duress near the small town of Bellingwedde in the northern province Groningen.

The Netherlands, famously situated under the water level, is protected from the sea by 3700 kilometers (2,299 miles) of sea walls or dikes. It's unknown whether these are able to keep out strong flood tides. The test should show how the dike of 100 meters length and 6 meters height will respond to the assault of strong force of water.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Swimming Cows

A friend from the Netherlands responded to my post Galveston, oh Galveston by email (why people don't leave comments on the blog itself remains a mystery). He'd been reluctant to respond at all, he wrote, because of the storm and what it meant to us, with relatives evacuated and all that.
A girlfriend, also from my motherland returned from her summer vacation to find my storm post. She dropped everything, her floor covered with the contents of her luggage, to write about her earliest memories of the Flood of 1953. A small child when the dikes in Zeeland, the most southwestern province of the Netherlands, broke, she still remembers the photographs showing devastation, people straddling the roof top, a single cow on a float. She remembers the tension, sorrow and stress in her family for farms lost to the water. She recalls the hundreds of people coming to the Noordoostpolder, where her parents were pioneer farmers on re-gained land, trying to find work. My blog post about Ike hitting Galveston brought all those memories to the surface.

And here we are, in the northwestern state of the U.S., going to a party —after a restless night worrying about the welfare of our loved ones— attending a celebration, eating tidbits, listening to music, cheering to the future of Libraries for All.

And here it's Monday and I'm writing about music, and dinner shows, food and entertainment, while my father-in-law and brother-in-law are hunting for a generator and my mother-in-law is worried sick about her business on the Seawall Boulevard, worried about her cats, still locked inside the house —on higher ground, yes, but still, in walking distance from the beach.

On Sunday morning we saw images of boulders, that were part of the Seawall, deposited by the sheer force of water onto the boulevard that runs along the Seawall. The road completely covered with boulders that looked like props from Universal Studios, only we know they're real, not light weight, easy to lift, painted styrofoam!

I heard on NPR that a herd of cows survived, "they swam around all night," the spokesperson said. Eventually they were "swam" (read corralled) by people to higher ground. Now that's an amazing story.

People have lost their homes, their boats, but feel fortunate enough to say: "I'm alive."
And then there's the train crash in Los Angeles, and The Crash in Wall Street and, and …

Here, on high ground in Seattle, I feel somewhat ashamed when I see my post about frivolous things such as music, food and drink. But then I think about the Obama-rama at The Pink Door and realize that the show goes on, that the show must go on …

The Pink Door in Seattle

Last Saturday, during a celebration at the Seattle Public Central Library we greatly enjoyed listening to the Hot Club Sandwich Band. We liked them so much, I ordered one of their CDs online. Today I received a personal acknowledgment from guitarist Greg Ruby, and discovered that this talented swing guitarist has a regular gig at The Pink Door. At first I mistook Pink for Triple, I'd never heard of the former, but really like both programming and food at the latter.

After having enjoyed a dinner show at Teatro Zinzanni last week (oh, what a show), our appetite for dining and entertainment has been whetted. And now that we've already heard Greg Ruby play, and know that he's Good, we'll have to go to The Pink Door on a Thursday to listen to the Rubymeister and his Musetto Trio, while trying the chef's Italian American cuisine.

The Pink Door has it's own web site of course, and what did I find under events?
Oh, it's too good to be true, a cocktail with —believe it or not, Oregon vodka— concocted especially for Obama!
We've got to go and try an OBAMA-RAMA at The Pink Door in Seattle One buck of each drink goes to Obama's campaign.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Galveston, oh Galveston

Aftermath 1900 storm, courtesy Rosenburg Library, Galveston, Texas.

Haven't slept a wink, well a wink, yes, but let's say I was up most of the night checking the news, reading the Dutch newspaper NRC online, checking back with Yahoo, watching slide shows and videos. A combination of being Dutch, with an innate fear of breaking dikes and flooding, and being married to a guy from Galveston (second generation BOI (born on island) didn't allow me to sleep soundly while the island was being tormented by IKE.

My in-laws were evacuated. My mother-in-law who already had a ticket, left by plane for Austin, early on Thursday, dropped off at the airport by my father-in-law, who drove timely to the home of my husband's sister and brother-in-law who live in the north end of Houston. My other sister-in-law left for Dallas with her son, but by 7 p.m., while FIL was already high and dry, watching the ball game with BIL, she and our nephew were stuck in traffic near Conroe, also in north Houston. But with Texas distances that doesn't mean much. And anyway It's not like you can say, oh, I'll go to my sister's when there's a deadlock on a freeway.

Last night a woman on camera on the Sea Wall in Galveston reporting about the waves, was clearly energized by the storm, her face radiant with excitement. Wondering what all those people caught on camera were still doing there, while they ought to have been looking for higher ground, if not leaving the island all together, I thought of the storm chasers, who live to be close to a storm.

Today it's unclear how many people, who decided to wait out the storm in their homes, may have perished.
JUAN A. LOZANO and CHRIS DUNCAN, Associated Press Writers report the response of Andrew Barlow, spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry:
"The unfortunate truth is we're going to have to go in ... and put our people in the tough situation to save people who did not choose wisely. We'll probably do the largest search-and-rescue operation that's ever been conducted in the state of Texas."

Having read Isaac's Storm by Gary Larson, it's inconceivable that anybody in their right mind, especially those who live "on the beach", would stay when a hurricane the size of IKE had been more than predicted.

and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team.

And as inconceivable to me as a Dutch person, is that the Government would choose to build a wall between Texas and Mexico, but won't invest in dikes that can protect residential areas from flooding. The knowledge is available, I know for a fact that Dutch specialists visited Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, to share their expertise. What is done with that information, I wonder, filed for future reference, until there's Peace, perhaps?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Libraries for All

Former Seattle Public Library City Librarian Deborah Jacobs speaks about the place of the library in society, and quotes Howard Schultz "Libraries are beacons of hope in every neighborhood."

As for me, the library is always my home away from home, no matter where I am.

Tomorrow, Saturday 13, 2008, SPL celebrates the successful conclusion of the 10-year building (and renovation) program Libraries for All.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Arnaud and Mia Beerends

A day or so after I learned that the artist Arnaud Beerends had died, I talked on the phone with his widow Mia. Two days after our conversation Mia as well had passed away. What a shock!

I remember the two of them from birthday parties at the home of one of their daughters, our friend Hagar. Arnaud the white plumed, fun-filled presence with his delightful and pretty Mia always on his side. Inseparable.

As an immigrant I feel the need to spend some time thinking about folks whose lives touched mine, ours.

Arnaud and Mia leave an indelible memory, Arnaud Beerends also a lovely body of art, including a memorial monument for Steve Biko, a World War II Plague and countless poetic mixed media pieces.
Thanks to the web site that his son-in-law Broes created we can pay our respect by viewing (hit "vervolg" at lower left corner home page) the images of his work.

We remember fondly the times we spent under one roof with Arnaud and Mia, celebrating their wonderful extended family.
Our hearts go out to those who remain.

Subsidized Art in the Netherlands

Starting January 1, 2009 a renewed art subsidy system will go in effect. Minister Plasterk (Culture Department of the Dutch Government) will directly subsidize the companies he considers of vital importance to a healthy Dutch cultural life.

61 Organizations listed to receive the Minister's Structural Long-Term financial support won't have to apply for funds every four years.
Among the lucky between whom 230 million Euro will be divided: De Nederlandse Opera, Het Nationaal Ballet, Het Nederlands Danstheater, symphony orchestras, museums and supporting organizations.

145 Companies and organizations will receive their subsidies from the Minister as well. As to how the 76 million Euro will be divided, and among whom, the Minister will be advised by the Raad voor Cultuur (Culture Council) every four years after the companies have submitted their applications for funding. In the years between 2009-2012 Toneelgroep Amsterdam, as well as certain large dance companies, but also theater workshops for young theater makers and youth theater will be subsidized.

All other (recognized) art institutions will receive financial support from other funding sources of the government, of which the Nederlands Fonds Podium Kunst (NFPK - Netherlands Foundation for Performance Arts) has 86 million to divy up. Foundations such as the NFPK only need to report back to the Minister, and have more independence to make decisions as they see fit.

59 Companies that were previously subsidized are losing their funding for the period 2009-2012.
In their place (newer) companies that showed greater cultural business sense have been rewarded with a four year subsidy.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Letter to Hisam, Father of Ahmed

Ahmed Musa

From One Bereaved Palestinian Father to Another

An open letter by Bassam Aramin, co-founder of Combatants for Peace
Translated from the Arabic by Miriam Asnes

Dear Hisam, father of Ahmed, may he rest in peace,

I learned of the death of your son, Ahmed Musa, through a one-sentence newsflash on the Palestinian news station Ma'an last Tuesday: "Ahmed Musa, a young boy, was killed by a bullet of the occupying forces in Nil'in." I was immediately overcome with shock and grief and bitter tears. And above all, that relentless feeling of powerlessness that I know too well. We Palestinians cannot protect our children from being killed. Not because they are soldiers on the battlefield, but because we cannot imprison them in our homes. They must live their lives, play outside the house, go to school. We tell ourselves that there must be in our land a safe place to protect our little ones. Should not our villages be safe? Should not the courtyards of our homes be safe? And the safest place of all—should this not be the schoolyard?

But our children are still murdered in cold blood in front of our homes, in the heart of our villages and in our schools. For on another black Tuesday a year and a half ago, soldiers of the occupation killed my own beloved ten-year-old daughter. Abir Aramin was shot in the head in front of her school in the village of Anata on January 16th, 2007. Ahmed and Abir passed on the same day of the week, at the same age; both were shot in the head by the same kind of killer: one of the Israeli border patrol guards.

The moment I heard the news of your son's death, I found myself speaking aloud to him. "Ya Ahmed, please give my regards and my love to Abir. Your two pure souls will meet in paradise. Go in peace, beloved, do not fear for you are not alone—there are others there waiting for you. Ready to greet you are more than a thousand Palestinian children who have been killed since the year 2000. And though I hope with all my heart, Ahmed, that you will be the last victim of these legitimized Israeli war crimes, I cannot help but wonder—who will be killed next?"

We Palestinian parents—are we not fully responsible for what happens to our children? For why do we allow our children to go out into the streets in the light of day? Why do we permit them play outside the house? Why do we not only let them, but actually encourage them to go to school and be educated? And even more importantly, I place the blame our martyred children—how dare you let your heads get in the way of the Israeli sharpshooters? Let's try to be reasonable: the soldiers of the occupation don't really want to kill our children, it can't be a deliberate policy of intimidation and violence—they are simply trying to help us keep our children in a safe place. And clearly they believe that the safest place for our children to be, where no one can harm them, is in their graves.

When I heard what happened to Ahmed, I was in the middle of reading a book about international human rights and the specific laws pertaining to children in times of war and armed struggle. Every Palestinian should read these laws until he knows his rights, and every Israeli should read these same laws until he understands the enormity of the criminal and fascist practices of the Israeli army against the Palestinian people.

Major General Gabi Ashkenazi, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Occupation Forces, has said that "My greatest fear is the loss of humanity [among Israeli troops] because of the ongoing warfare." I must inform the distinguished General that he lost his humanity a long time ago. He and his army should fear for their loss of humanity, for under his leadership the Israeli army killed Ahmed Musa. And if he doesn't care about Ahmed because he is a Palestinian, General Ashkenazi should at least be afraid that his army has lost its humanity in its treatment of Israelis as well. We have all seen how Israeli soldiers treat their own people who join us Palestinians in peaceful protest in Bil'in and Nil'in and Artash and in the Galilee and in Tulkarem. Did the General see when soldiers fired rubber bullets at Dr. Tsfiyah Shapira and her son Itamar, who were participating in a peaceful march in the village of Shufa near Tulkarem alongside many peace activists? I'm guessing that he did witness this, in fact I would guess that General Ashkenazi ordered this operation and the many others like it. Look closely, General, and you will find the source of your fear.

Hisam, Ahmed and Abir have gone to the hereafter, and I promise you that in eternity they will outlive their murderers. Our children are the epitome of innocent humanity, and their killers are the most despicable of criminals. But while such ruthless men exist as part of the occupying army, please know that there are thousands of Israelis who refuse to participate in these crimes, who are ashamed at the bloody stains that soak the uniform of the Israeli army and all those who would call its conduct moral or democratic. There are Israelis like Tsfiya and Itamar who feel it is their moral, and human, duty to stand with us.

They have killed our children, Hisam. What can we do but fight on? We will never lay down our arms. For despite the advanced military technology and deadly force that we face, it is we who posses the most dangerous weapons of all. These are the weapons of morality and justice. We will not surrender these in the face of brutality, and we will be steadfast in demanding justice for our children. Ahmed and Abir's murderers must be judged and sentenced as criminals. Let me be clear: we do not seek revenge. Justice for our beloved, dead children will not be served by the murder of a young Israeli girl in front of her school, or by the murder of a young Israeli boy by a bullet to the head. We will refuse to mirror the violent means of the occupation. You and I, and every Palestinian, must let our morals and our humanity and the teachings of our great faith be our guides.

Yours in bereavement and steadfastness,
Bassam Aramin

Alquds for Democracy and Dialogue chairman

New source Anja Meulenbelt

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Holland Acht Exceptional

Watching the news, staying in tune with what's happening in their own country and around the world, is a Dutch national pass time. Especially the baby boomers and older honor the nearly sacred minutes between 8-8:30 p.m. "when the news comes on".

Younger Dutch are no different, they need their fill on what's happening, and added to that, they want to keep their circle of friends and relatives posted on what's happening in their lives, no matter where they are. Not being able to do so causes great frustration.

Dutch rowers are once again represented by a team of Holland Acht ((in 1996 Holland Acht took the Gold Medal home from Atlanta). This week the top of Dutch rowers will cut the water again in the Olympic rowing finals. When Exception IT, the team's sponsor, discovered that the athletes weren't able to connect with the folks back home through Hyves (the Dutch social network site and variation of MySpace) the sponsor installed a web server just for that purpose. Exceptional sponsoring indeed.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Manifest Hope Contest - Shepard Fairey Poster

ObamaHope designed by Shepard Fairey (check out his page at artsy dot net as well). has partnered with Shepard Fairey to create the Manifest Hope Online Gallery Art Contest.
Are you an artist and do you want to participate, read the
rules and regulations
They're waiting for you to sign up

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas

After performing at Alan Lau's 60th birthday party composer, musician, performer and conceptual artist Byron Au Yong handed me a postcard with the image of a stout man in a shapeless overcoat, wearing a skull cap, on his back an emblem in the shape of a sunflower. Text bubbles in front of his open mouth read: … glug glug glug.

All this imagery proved to be figments of my imagination. A second look showed a blue bottle, cap still partially in place, the body decorated with a circle of white I-Ching hexagrams. Still, knowing Byron Au Yong, the audience may expect anything to transform from one thing into the next in Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas - a work about human and water migration.

Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas
August to October 2008 Production Schedule
Site-Specific Performances and New Media Installation are FREE to the public, except for Bumbershoot Festival of the Arts Performances on Aug 29, 30, 31

Sunday, July 13, 2008

James "flower man" Paroline (1948-2008)

The last time I saw James Paroline, he told me he had renovated his bathroom, "it's a little Taj Mahal," he said. "That's one lucky woman," I jested. He smiled. I believe he lived alone with his two old dogs, but a man who tended so lovingly to his own yard as well as the center garden of the round-about in the intersection, of 61st Avenue South and Cooper street, a man who had the silhouettes of two sets of lovebirds in one of his windows, a man who would take the time to talk and listen, he would surely not be without womenfolk in his life.

The first winter in this for me and my husband's new neighborhood I hoped our pooch Mocha, a foxy mutt, would aid in making contact with people in the area. If anything I'd meet other dog owners, or at least count on exchanging greetings, even with people without dogs. Mocha is the kind of creature that makes people wonder out loud what kind of a dog she is.

One cold day I talked to an old dog, who followed Mocha and me, then asked the man across the street whether the animal was his. The man equally bundled up as I, was working in his yard. Yes the dog was his, and demented, he sometimes wandered off, not knowing where he was going. He told me all about the car that had come flying through the intersection (before the round-about was there) into his garden, crashing into the south-east corner of his house, the fender ending up only inches from him and his dogs. The accident had triggered memories of his time in Vietnam… I guessed the damage done by the careless drivers was not restricted to the damage of his house, the damage went much deeper, he felt attacked.

As far as I could tell, Paroline was a caring person. Each time that I would run into him after that first encounter, we talked. About journalism and psychology, about PTSD and therapists. Sometimes, when I was in a rush, I'd take another route, just so I wouldn't be tempted to stop and chat. It's easy to lose track of time when you find an interesting conversationalist who takes more than a moment to share his point of view and listen to yours.

I'm so sorry I'll never again have the chance to chat with James Paroline our good neigbhor (I heard him introduce himself as Jay, but since have read on blogs he went by Jage). Jay died last Friday of trauma to his head after a passer-by knocked him out and he hit his head on the pavement.

On Friday evening his death brought folks in the neighborhood together for a candle light vigil. A good 100 neighbors of all ages gathered in front of Jay's house circling the round-about. My husband and I learned about what had happened from watching the evening news, and immediately walked over with flowers to pay our respect. We had missed the lighting of candles and speeches, but we sensed a feeling of urgency and connection among all who were present. While the expression on many faces was solemn, I noticed that some present were already engaged in conversations of a totally different nature.
So I was relieved to notice reminiscing did continue as I heard an elderly Japanese American man tell a police officer: "I'm painting my house, and Jay gave me the paint to do it."

Apparently a neighborhood community organizer spoke before our arrival of the importance of people to find each other and work together for the safety of all. There's nothing good about a person's life coming to an end like this. But if Jay's death has lead to people in our neighborhood working together for the greater good, there is a spark of hope.

May James Paroline rest in peace.

Visit the blog of Sable Verity, someone who has known the neighborhood better than we newcomers, for a more in depth coverage of the situation.

Friday, July 11, 2008

16th World Carillon Federation Congress

Starting this Sunday the 16th World Carillon Federation Congress organized by Stichting Martini Beiaard Groningen will take place in the city of Groningen and in surrounding smaller towns and villages.

Among the locations where the presentations take place are the Academy Building of the University of Groningen, and in Middelstum, Uithuizen, Winschoten, Heiligerlee and Appingedam.

On 6/18/2008 I wrote in this blog (in Dutch) how touched I was by the work of the artist Jan Ernst Douma and how his depiction of the Martini Tower brought back memories of my youth.
"I only have to imagine the sound of the carillon,' I mused.

If only I could be in Groningen on Sunday July 13 through Thursday July 17 for during those days the sound of bells will fill the air in the city and the province of Groningen, as carillon lovers from around the worlds join one another in the north of the Netherlands to share their passion.

From age 16-18 I lived in a house with a view of the Martini tower, as shown in the wintery scene created by Douma.

Wishing I could be there this coming week!

For English program follow the link and click on English flag.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Jan Willem van de Wetering 1931-2008

Jan Willem Lincoln van de Wetering, the creator of a series of mystery novels centered around detectives Grijpstra and De Gier died on the 4th of July at his home in Maine.

I've got all of the mystery titles, as well as at least one graphic novel about Grijpstra & De Gier.
The books Van de Wetering wrote about Zen (he was a Zen Buddhist since 1975) AfterZen and The Empty Mirror are on my wish list.

Our paths crossed in Amsterdam (at the apartment of my downstairs neighbor, his nephew), at the University of Texas at Austin, and at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop.

I remember Jan Willem as a kind, gregarious man with a typically Dutch sense of humor, and a thoughtful author.
Thank goodness he lives on in his writing.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

European Investigative Journalism Conference

The VVOJ (Vereniging Voor Onderzoek Journalisten) organizes the conference which takes place on November 21 and 22, 2008 at several venues in Brussels.
A guided tour of the Parliament is planned for Thursday the 20th.

Fee for early birds is €165, for later registration €195 and for students €99 (the latter does not include celebratory dinner).

The conference program is being finalized and will include:

-At least three keynotes
-Fifteen (or more) panel discussions
-Hands-on computer training
-Roundtable session
-Two receptions
-Celebratory dinner.

All sessions concentrate on the exchange of ideas, research methods, and techniques. A panel session will generally have two speakers and a moderator. In certain cases there may be three speakers, or a presentation by one speaker, with plenty of room for questions and debate.
During a demonstration session, a speaker will present a method or technique.
Round table sessions present opportunities for conference attendants interested in trans-national cooperation to discuss a particular topic in an informal atmosphere. Each round table will have a moderator.
Computer training sessions will cover various topics, from (advanced) online searching to data analysis. Capacity for training sessions will be limited, as everyone must have a place at computer. Advance sign up is necessary.

Around fifty speakers, trainers and moderators from the EU and the USA will be part of the panel sessions, demonstrations, CAR classes and round table sessions. Many, among whom Geert Mak(Netherlands), Loretta Napoleoni (Italy), Mark Thomas (UK) and Michael Schrenk (US) have pledged their participation. VVOJ is still working on the program.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gallerie het Atrium - Westerkwartier Noordenveld - Leek

Remembrance of Things Past.

Op zoek naar informatie over Scholengemeenschap Westerkwartier Noordenveld kwam ik de URL voor de web site van Jan Ernst Douma tegen, Zijn schilderijen van (met name) Groningen, maakten heel wat herinneringen los. Fantastisch zoals deze schilder het licht weet te vangen en vast te leggen.

In de olieverfschilderijen herken ik menig moment van vroege morgen tot later op de dag; zoals op de ochtenden wanneer ik me snelwandelend van station naar Heijmans Lyceum (dat een jaar later College werd genoemd), repte, en in de zwangere zomerlucht, of de verstilde wintersdag. Douma's werk is een lust voor het oog, en een ware traktatie voor een emigrante.

Vanaf mijn 16de woonde ik twee jaar met Albert "Appie" Alberts (mijn exgenoot) aan het Martinikerkhof, in een kraakpand naast de poort van het Prinsenhof. Ons uitzicht was dat wat Douma heeft vastgelegd in deze grote aquarel.

Kijkend naar de buurten die ik ken uit mijn jeugd 'voel' ik de zinderende warmte onder de pannen van onze zolderkamer, en de ijzige koelte van de beschaduwde kant van een zomerse straat, en in gedachten proef ik het ijs van Talamini op de Grote Markt. Het horen van het carillon fantaseer ik er maar bij (iets voor een sound bite op Doumas site misschien).

In de panorama's herken ik aan de horizon de scheve Olle Grieze, zo vanzelfsprekend, terwijl alleen een kunstenaar weet hoe moeilijk het is die juiste graad aan te geven; Jan Ernst Douma lijkt er zijn hand niet voor te hoeven omdraaien.

Jan Ernst Douma en zijn vrouw beeldendekunstpedagoge Nel Dekker bewonen het Centrum voor Beeldende Kunst en Vorming in Leek: Gallerie het Atrium.
En zoals de tekst luidt op de web site: Is er iemand thuis, dan is de gallerie geopend.

Galerie het Atrium
Ewesheim 2
9351 KW Leek NL
Tel. +31(0)594-515783

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Animal Rescue Site - click for free food

Hi, to all you animal lovers,
The Animal Rescue Site needs people to visit their site and click on the purple button daily.
They need you to meet their quota of visitors so they'll get free food donated every day for abused and neglected animals.
It takes less than a minute (how about 20 seconds) to go to their site and click on the purple box "fund food for animals".
This doesn't cost you a thing, no need to buy anything. Corporate sponsors and advertisers tally the number of daily visits to donate food to abandoned and/ or neglected animals in exchange for advertising on the site.

If you like the idea, you can also copy the URL and pass it on to your friends and relatives.

Go to The Animal Rescue Site and click on the purple button for free food for animals

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Nurit Peled-Elhanan

"The Other Israel Exists", lecture by Nurit Peled-Elhanan presented on May 7, 2008 at Theater Desmet in Amsterdam, organized by EAJG and SIVMO.

Toespraak Nurit Peled-Elhanan ‘Het andere Israël bestaat!’
De tekst van de lezing van mevr. Nurit Peled-Alhanan (Engels- en Nederlandstalig), zoals uitgesproken op 7 mei in theater Desmet, ter gelegenheid van de bijeenkomst "Het Andere Israël bestaat!", georganiseerd door EAJG en SIVMO.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Other Israel Exists!

EAJG (An Other Jewish Sound/Voice) and SIVMO (Support Committee Israeli Peace and Human Rights Organizations) present a panel discussion between:

Nurit Peled - International Committee on Education and Occupation (ICEO)
Esther Goldenberg - Zochrot
Suleiman Al Hamri - Combatants for Peace
Elik Elhanan - Combatants for Peace

Chair: Middle East expert Ruud Hoff

Doors: 8:00 p.m.
Program: 8:30 - 10:30 p.m.
Chat with light refreshments: 10:30 -11:00 p.m.

Music: Ot Azoj Klezmer Band

Tickets: €5

Where: Studio Desmet, Amsterdam
Plantage Middenlaan 4
Time: 8:30 p.m.

Another panel discussion (in Dutch) takes place on 5/15 in Utrecht.

RSVP (mention date 5/7/08 and location Amsterdam) at or 020- 679 58 50
For more information or

Peace and Human Rights Activists meet at Desmet

Click on image for enlargement.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Ungarnished Truth

Ellie Mathews has another book out. As a writer I delight in the success of my writer friends. Knowing Ellie as a witty storyteller with a sharp eye and ear for exquisite detailsThe Ungarnished Truth can only be a delicious read.

Listen to interview of Steve Inskeep with Ellie Mathews on NPR

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Money TheRapist

Curious to see what Seal Press has been doing of late, I Google their address. First thing I see with my sleepy head "Money the Rapist", makes all the sense in the world to me. How many lives aren't ruined by need and greed, not to speak of actual need.
Oops, it's The Money Therapist. That's a horse of a different color, my sweetheart would say (or quote some character from a series or play).

I seem to remember there was a problem once with an advertisement by SCRABBLE®, yes that's right the word "rape" was used in an advertisement for the board game, on purpose or inadvertently, it was not okay. And yes, the maker of SCRABBLE, Caldor Corporation apologized.

Seal Press of course can't be blamed for my early morning visual impairment, and I won't hold them responsible for what may be my own Freudian slip. And by the way, it's only at third glance that I see the $ sign!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

March 4 Amsterdam: EAJG

Een Ander Joods Geluid roept iedereen op om dinsdag 4 maart mee te doen aan een manifestatie op de Dam in Amsterdam tegen het bloedbad dat door Israël is aangericht in de Gazastrook. Geen woorden maar daden! Wij roepen de Nederlandse politiek op te stoppen met zwijgen en in actie te komen tegen het Israëlisch beleid dat weer de wapenen kiest boven diplomatie.

Een Ander Joods Geluid is woedend over het optreden van Israël, en is ook ontzet over de zoveelste Israëlische strafexpeditie en over de stuitende uitlatingen van de Israëlische onderminister van Defensie Matan Vilnai die de Palestijnen een slachting in het vooruitzicht stelde naar model van de Shoa. In de afgelopen dagen zijn er meer dan 100 Palestijnen gedood door het Israëlische leger.

Dinsdag 4 maart - Manifestatie tegen Israëlisch geweld in de Gazastrook
Locatie - De Dam in Amsterdam
Tijd - 19:00-20:00

Deze manifestatie wordt ondersteund door:

Een Ander Joods Geluid
Nederlands Palestina Komitee
Palestijnse Gemeenschap Nederland

Een Ander Joods Geluid
Postbus 59506
1040 LA Amsterdam

tel: 020 6795850

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Dutchess Abroad

Self portrait in oil pastel and grease pencil, ©Judith van Praag 1989

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Hortisculptures Ferdi - Museum het Valkhof Nijmegen - the Netherlands

Ferdi seated on her "Mother's Invention" at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Click on photo (Ad Petersen 1968) for larger image.

Ferdi was only 41 when she died in 1969. A prolific jewelry and soft sculpture artist, she left an extensive legacy.
Visitors to Ferdi's solo exhibition at Museum de Valkhof in Nijmegen will enter the artist's horticultural fantasy world.
A realm created during and reminiscent of the psychedelic pop era of the nineteen sixties.

Hortisculptures is a show for flower children of all ages, and an antidote for the doldrums of today.
Shinkichi Tajiri's 1955, b/w 16 mm, 10.40 min. documentary film about his wife will be on view during the exhibition.

A cassette containing two books: a reprint of an earlier publication created by Giotta and Ryu Tajiri, daughters of Ferdi and Shinkichi Tajiri, and an updated version with additional text and earlier unpublished photos, will be available for purchase at the museum.

February 16 through June 1, 2008
Museum Het Valkhof, Kelfkensbos 59, Nijmegen
Tuesday - Friday 10 a.m. -5 p.m.
Satuday, Sunday and holidays 12-5 p.m.

Information: (NL country code +) 024-3608805
Museum het Valkhof

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pan African Literary Forum - Ghana

Click on picture for larger image of conference flyer/

My friend, author and poet Jeffery Renard Allen is co-director of this exciting Writer's Conference July 3-18, 2008 in Accra and Kumasi.
Check out the Pan African Literary Forum website for contest guidelines, application and other information.