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Feb. 20th, 2009

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Putting things into perspective

I admire parents who are able to homeschool their children. I really do. But there is no way in the world I could be one of those parents.

First of all, my children are way too strong for me. I have nightmares of being found locked in a closet -- drooling and mumbling to myself in tongues -- while my children run around the house wearing torn clothing and sporting odd face paint. A pig's head on a large stick would be optional.

I mention this, because my kids are home from school all next week (starting today). Before 9:00 this morning, I was ready to crawl into any available closet (of course, this being Europe, there are no closets, and the wardrobes just aren't big enough).


Why, you may ask, are my lovely darlings not going to school? Well, that would be because of Carnivale. This weekend and until Tuesday, the Catholic portion of the Netherlands (that would be here), celebrates Carnivale -- a joyous time of frivality and silliness. Yesterday, the children's school had an all-day party involving costumes, candy and lemonade, dancing in the yard while HUGE speakers blasted out music for the entire neighborhood to enjoy.

Last night, that party spilled out onto the streets of Etten-Leur. Mainly our street, which seems to be Carnivale central. Of course, the candy and lemonade had been replaced with beer and liquor, and the cutely dressed children replaced with strangely dressed adults. Tonight the party continues.

Saturday and Sunday will be crazy. A parade will start on the other end of town and end up -- yes, you guessed it -- going down our street, where all those involved in the parade will stay and "celebrate" well into the night. Monday and Tuesday will be one big party.

Of course, we could just use my husband's description of the entire event:

It's like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but without boobs.

Nice perspective, don't you think?

Jan. 8th, 2009

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I've been thinking about the people who have inspired me in my life as a writer. There have been a lot of influences, yes, but the inspiration-ers (it's a word!) are different.

In my life, there have been two of these miracle people (so far). The first was my high school English teacher -- Mrs. Dyer. She recognized something in me that I didn't even know was there. I mean, my best friend, Susan, was going to be the writer. Not me. But Mrs. Dyer told me I already was a writer, and the fact that I'd never written anything other than a school assignment (and not even a creative assignment at that) did not change her opinion.

In fact, Mrs. Dyer announced to the entire senior class that I was the class poet.

Poet? Wait a minute . . . had I missed something? I didn't even read poetry! And who could blame me after all that crap they shove down kids' throats in 9th grade. Sheesh!

For some reason, though, I started to believe her. I wrote some poetry. Well, not poetry, but I wrote some stuff broken up into lines and verses. Some really bad stuff broken up into totally haphazard lines and makeshift verses.

Then we started reading T.S. Eliot. Eliot! Now this was poetry! It was amazing! It didn't rhyme. The stanzas weren't standardized. His words were . . . well his words were amazing! I couldn't get enough.

My own poetry started getting . . . well, different. I want to say "Eliot-esque," but I'm afraid poor old T.S. would be terribly offended to have my early . . . um, poetry . . . compared to his. It was irreversible, though. I was in love with words.

Anyway, fast forward to junior year in college (you know, the one where they insist you actually declare a major), and I realized all I'd really taken were literature and creative writing classes. I declared English as my major with a Creative Writing slant (we were allowed to choose from 4 different English majors -- amazing, huh?). I took more lit classes and all of the creative writing classes.

And Philip Levine had become my new hero by then. That man could take the most ordinary of experiences and make it magical (well, he still can). He takes blue-collar experiences and lifts them up . . .

In the meantime, I wrote. And wrote. I managed to have a chapbook put out by my school, as well as some poems published online and in print. A few have won contests.

The main thing, though, is that Mrs. Dyer gave me a gift. She told me I would love words. And she was right.

Next time, I'll tell you about the other major inspiration in my writing life.

Dec. 30th, 2008

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Five things on . . . (what day is it again?)

1. My husband normally cooks Christmas dinner (the only meal during the year that he does cook, by the way). Because he was sick, though, I got stuck with it.

We managed to eat turkey (without stuffing), mashed potatoes, green bean casserole (with mushroom soup and croutons) and corn bread (thanks, mom, for the mix!).

I mentioned my husband was sick, right? Well, daughter number two was also pretty ill and didn't eat for about a week. Daughter number one and I ate the Christmas dinner.

We have a LOT of leftovers. (Did I mention that the refrigerator in this place doesn't work all that well?)

2. Since daughter number two was sick, we were all a bit short in the sleep department. I spent two nights sitting up in bed holding her, so she could breathe. I'm still recovering.

3. Christmas went pretty well for the most part -- daughters one and two were happy with everything Santa brought them.

4. Spoke with son-one-and-only a few times, but this time of year is hard -- really hard -- to be separated from him. I've been trying to come up with ways to bring him back here for good (or take us back there for good -- either one would work at this point).

5. Tomorrow is the last day of the year. I'm looking forward to 2009. This year was fine, but next year . . . ah, the possibilities!

Dec. 18th, 2008

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The 16 meme

I was tagged and didn't even know it! (Maybe I should make that random thing number one -- I'm always the last to know . . . everything/anything.)

Okay, my version of the rules: Post 16 random things about yourself (goals, quirks, habits, etc.), then tag 16 people and say why you've tagged them.

So here goes:

1. I'm married to a chiropractor, though before meeting him, I wasn't even quite sure what a chiropractor did.
2. When I get writer's block or I'm between projects, I make beaded jewelry. Let's just say that just about every woman I know is getting a necklace-bracelet-earrings combination for Christmas this year.
3. I lived in the Detroit Metro area for the first 37 years of my life, though even then, I managed to move at least 20 times.
4. Since leaving the Detroit Metro area, I've made 3 international moves that included having all our stuff moved over large bodies of water.
5. Despite having lived in the Netherlands for a total of 5+ years, I still can't speak Dutch (at least not good Dutch).
6. My older daughter had a lead role in her school play, and the parents who knew she was American were amazed that she speaks such wonderful Dutch (and with a Brabant's accent, too!). The parents who didn't know she was American, still don't (because she speaks such wonderful Dutch).
7. I went to see the play and didn't understand a word that was said, but I still managed to applaud at the right times and believe my daughter was absolutely brilliant!
8. My youngest daughter is Irish (has the birth certificate and passport to prove it, too).
9. My son, my oldest child, saved my life. What a great kid!
10. Wow. Am I only on 10? Hmm. It took me 10 years to get my BA, because I only went to school part time while working full time (at one point, I had 3 jobs!).
11. If ever given the chance, I'd love to go back for my MFA (preferably at either Hamline University or Vermont College).
12. I could live on Diet Pepsi and chocolate (my husband thinks that all I eat, anyway).
13. Pomegranates (granate apples here) are my favorite fruit. (See Mark, I do eat something other than chocolate . . . occassionally.)
14. What I miss most about living in the US: Labatts beer and a good steak (not much left but chocolate, right?)
15. What I love most about living abroad: the chance to stay at home with my kids and to write while they're in school.
16. Yay! I've made it to 16! Okay. Right then. Most memorable phrase I've read in a Dutch (picture)book: Je mag niet op the grond plassen. (You may not pee on the ground -- yup, that's a useful thing to remember now, isn't it?)

Now, as for tagging people, I'm not sure I can! As mentioned above, I'm always last to the party, and everyone else has already listed their 16 things.

If you're reading this, and no one has tagged you (or you've been procrastinating posting your 16), consider yourself tagged and get moving!

Dec. 5th, 2008

listen to me

This is fun . . .

you are mediumslateblue

Your dominant hue is blue, making you a good friend who people love and trust. You're good in social situations and want to fit in. Just be careful not to compromise who you are to make them happy.

Your saturation level is medium - You're not the most decisive go-getter, but you can get a job done when it's required of you. You probably don't think the world can change for you and don't want to spend too much effort trying to force it.

Your outlook on life is bright. You see good things in situations where others may not be able to, and it frustrates you to see them get down on everything.
the spacefem.com html color quiz

Dec. 1st, 2008

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No, I haven't disappeared. I've been doing revisions!

I rewrote more than half of Summoning (from third person to first), added a new character, deepened two other character relationships . . .

and managed to add just under 6000 words! Whooo Hooo!

It feels good. Really good. Now it's out with a couple of wonderful people for some feedback . . . tear it apart!

In other news, son-one-and-only (as you know) lives in the states with my parents (yes, I HATE the situation). His birthday is coming up -- he'll be 13! A real, honest to goodness teenager! And boy, does it show. Here's my little bundle before:

And here's one he sent to me yesterday via his cell phone:

Can you tell I'm a little freaked out? At least the lip ring isn't "real."

Still, I love him!

You'll always be my baby! (He hates when I do that, you know)

Nov. 16th, 2008

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What? My beautiful little poesje?

Is your cat plotting to kill you?

Certainly not this face:

Nov. 10th, 2008

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Revising the revisions

Is anyone else guilty of not being able to move forward, because you keep going back to "fix" the last page?

Or is it just me?
Tags: ,

Nov. 5th, 2008

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The Day after . . .

and there is much rejoicing!

That's all.

Oct. 23rd, 2008

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Getting just a taste

Today, daughter-number-two is at school. It's a "trial day." And it's just for the morning. Next week she starts for realsies.

It's so quiet. The only noise is my husband rumbling around the house saying silly things like "I don't like her being in school" and "It's too quiet around here now."

I think it's heaven. And next Wednesday, she starts going to school FULL TIME! (Well, 3-1/2 days a week, anyway.)

This is soooo good!

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