Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I spent the day alone. P. having gone to Paris.
Alone, in a place that can be very lonely.
The first time I realized my loneliness was when we had moved to Washington, when we were still very young. P. had gone on ahead, to case the joint, so to speak, and I followed him a few months later. We lived in a hotel in Georgetown, aptly called The Georgetown Dutch Inn. A quaint little place, with mock antiques in the middle of this bustling fashionable part of the metropolis.
P. may well have been lonely, when he first arrived, but he had his job during the day. I had no job and loads of time to waste. A car at my disposal, but nowhere to go. I used it for visits of politesse, with the Ambassador’s wife and the wife of the second in command, who welcomed the announcement of my presence with a forceful “Goddamn!” and offered me whiskey, when I expected morning coffee.
At times I felt very alone in this strange country, that was not at all what I had anticipated from the movies and series I had watched on television. But I made a discovery: there was always one person with me, whom I could rely on. Who was always there, and who wouldn’t let me down: me. She was very reassuring; she wouldn’t change, whatever the circumstances. And she wouldn’t let me down.
She has been true to form, and she has never left me.
She is still here. While I wait for P. to come back on the train from Paris.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pain Perdu

What better way to combine a leisurely Sunday breakfast with using up old bread:

- Beat a few eggs. Stir milk into them. Or soy milk, for those allergic to dairy products. You won't taste the difference.
- Soak slices of stale bread into the egg mixture (but not too long) and fry in butter until crispy and brown. Keep warm in a dish with a lid on a low flame.
- Serve with salted butter and sugar and cinnamon and slices of fresh fruit.

Prepare to eat more than you should!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Outside and Inside

Outside is so much larger here than inside. Not just because of the size and the number of rooms in the house. Outside is wide, spacious. It is full of smells and sensations like wind and basking sun and small drops of rain. It invites and attracts.
That is why I take so much more pleasure in gardening here. Every possible moment may be spent pulling up a few weeds, planting and replanting. Contemplating and deciding. Looking and taking in.
It explains why the garden in the Hague gets neglected. It is like another room in the house that needs cleaning. It feels so much more like house work.
I have planted Rhudbekia, 2 varieties. Campanula, Verveine and Impatience. And all the weeding I had done in the springtime has paid off: there is much less work to do and much more to enjoy!!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Kibo at the Market


We took Kibo with us to the market. She followed us dutifully while we selected plants, peaches, fresh goat’s cheese. The smells of freshly grilled chicken, farmers’ sweat, and live geese and rabbits set her nostrils working overtime.
The way back, with its winding lanes, was less exciting. When we arrived at the house Kibo and I got out. I opened the gate as she jogged up the pathway.
She came running back, ecstatically licking my hand: “Look! Look! We’re back at that place where you can race through the garden!”
And dashed off again across the field.

Sunday, July 06, 2008


Before we go, I cannot imagine being there. It’s like the memory game we used to play at birthday parties, when Mother would lay 10 objects on a tray, covered by a tea towel. She would then reveal them to us for exactly one minute. Staring at their bulges under the cloth, we had to write down all ten of them: thimble, pencil, napkin ring. . . .
The recollection of that place, however familiar, is no more than a blotch that appears in a frame amongst the cares of tidying the house, the last meeting and phone call, the hairdresser, the packing.
As we travel, the house and its concerns recedes. The language changes, the landscape, the purpose. We eat in a restaurant. A full menu, leisurely and anxious to get on our way again.
And then we arrive in the middle of the night. The house looms in the headlights of the car. The cat welcomes us. We make the bed and settle as best we can.
We’ve set foot on yonder shore.