Tag Archives: Whatever Comes My Way: Travels in the Netherlands

Have A Great Memorial Day Weekend!

If you live Stateside, that is!

If not, then, well, just have a great weekend.

Here, today should be even more beautiful than yesterday was — and yesterday was kind of unbelievable, gang. Hence, I never managed to get onto the blog and post anything.  I did get a good bunch of edits done on The Guitar Hero Goes Home yesterday, but other than that, I just didn’t want to be at my desk.

My breathing is FINALLY back to 100% and I just wanted to be out in the sunshine.

This is the weekend that I usually plant my flowers. But I’m not 100% sure I want to go get the flowers today, since this whole area has come out of lockdown and, even though we still need to wear masks and only a certain number of people are allowed in the stores at one time, there will likely still be a crowd at the store since the weather will be ideal for gardening and yard work, etc. And that means waiting in a long line to get inside.

So I might just wait until Tuesday, when the holiday weekend is over. But I’m feeling that having my flowers out and about will make it feel like life is finally back to (the new) normal around here.

Nick Cave sent out a very brief Red Hand Files reply-thingy yesterday — it was quite cute, and heavily implied that we should not kowtow to the cat… (You can read it at the link there, it should take you about 4.6 seconds.)

And speaking of cats — every one of them was just so happy around here, yesterday. It was just so sunny and warm, they were having the best time at all the open windows. (And so was I — I love the way this house feels when all the windows are open again.)

Well, for some reason, I’ve been in a real poetry-reading mood around here lately. Even though I still have two books I’m in the middle of reading (Whatever Comes My Way: Travels in the Netherlands by my friend & colleague, Roger Gaess; and The Judas Brief: A Critical Investigation into the Arrest and Trials of Jesus and the Role of the Jews by Gary Greenberg), I’ve just been wanting to read poetry.

Currently, I’m reading Anne Sexton’s Live or Die (1966 — winner of the Pulitzer Prize); Sharon Olds (The Father: Poems (1992) and Strike Sparks: Selected Poems 1980-2002); and The Poems of Octavio Paz (English translation -2018).

And, since I long ago ran out of Mr. Moto movies to stream, I switched over to the Charlie Chan movies. I have seen all of the Charlie Chan movies that star either Warner Oland or Sidney Toler a bazillion times. I love these movies. (Racial stereotypes galore, notwithstanding.)

Out of the couple of dozens of Charlie Chan movies made, my favorites are the ones from the mid-1930s, that starred Warner Oland, and often Keye Luke as his son.  Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935) is great — if you can come to terms with Stepin Fetchit (the actor, Lincoln Perry’s, stage name). It helps to not try to lay contemporary cultural standards over top of these movies from 90 years ago.  If you’re not able to do that, than just don’t even try to watch these films. Otherwise, Charlie Chan in Paris (also 1935) is also really good, followed closely by Charlie Chan on Broadway (1937).

All of these movies were only an hour long and low budget and relied heavily on stock footage, which is one of my favorite things about these films. Actual footage of Luxor and the Valley of the Kings; of Paris, and of Broadway from the mid-1930s. Pre-WWII and moving out of the Great Depression. I especially love the footage of Paris.

Which reminds me — I decided to continue studying French, now that I have the Mondly app for another year. It seemed to me that it would actually be useful to me, instead of undertaking an entirely new language just to do it, without any reason to think I would actually ever use the language anywhere. At least my new friends in Switzerland speak French, so I will have reason to use it all the time.

The Mondly app also lets you have conversations with it and can correct your accent. So far, my accent has been reasonably good! You can hear yourself have the conversation with the app, which is a native-speaker of the language you’re studying. So you can actually hear your own accent immediately. It is a really fun app. However, if you’re trying to seriously learn a language from scratch and are only using the app, I’m not sure how effective it actually is.

Well, anyway! I’m yet again “studying” French — which means 52 years now of “studying” it. Perhaps I should have the epitaph on my tombstone be en francais!! That way, when I stand in front of my own tombstone, in Spirit, I can look at it and cry out: “What does it say??!! I don’t speak French! I’m still studying it!!”

Perhaps I should have the epitaph read:

Qu’est-ce que ça dit? Je ne parle pas français. (“What does that say? I don’t speak French.”)

And then when some non-French-speaking person happens upon my grave here in Crazeysburg, looks at my tombstone and says: “What does that say? I don’t speak French.” I can stand next to them (in Spirit), chuckle softly and say to them: “Au contraire — apparently you do!”

All righty!! Let’s get this day happening here, okay? Thanks for visiting, gang. Have a terrific Saturday, wherever you are in the world!! I love you guys. See ya!

A Most Perfect Morning!

Man, it felt great.

As always, I awoke several times during the night, but this time I kept waking up, knowing there was something I was excited about, and then I’d remember: Oh yeah! I get an extra hour in the dark!!

It just felt so wonderful — like it was an hour that belonged to me and to no one else in the world. And my bed was so snuggly. And it’s not as if I did a single other thing differently this morning then I ever do: I got out of bed at 5am, fed the cats, ate my breakfast while listening to music. Then watched as Huckleberry promptly threw up her entire breakfast all over the kitchen floor…

Huckleberry sitting outside my bedroom door, earlier in the summer. She throws up a lot. But when a cat is as sweet as she is, you just deal with it…

So my morning is pretty much just like any other morning,  but that extra hour we got still felt like it belonged just to me.

And now I’m at my desk and life resumes!!

Before I forget, a friend of mine, Roger Gaess, a long-time  journalist and photographer who lives in Brussels, Belgium now, just wrote a new book. Whatever Comes My Way: Travels in the Netherlands. It’s on his own imprint — Aurora Editions. It’s about, oddly enough, his travels in the Netherlands.

Roger Gaess, Whatever Comes My Way: Travels in the Netherlands

I have not had time to read past the preface yet, but part of his opening paragraph, where he explains why he left New York, I couldn’t have agreed with more:

Gentrification had hit New York like a cancer, eating relentlessly away at its diversity and culture, leaving large parts of the city habitable for only the moneyed and dull…

Roger and I were colleagues back in New York, and like so many of us from those days, we wound up leaving it after the true backlash of 9/11 sank in — meaning the rapidly downward-spiraling economy there, and then the only thing people felt safe in investing in anymore after the devastation of 9/11 was real estate and so the cost of everything in NYC just skyrocketed and everything that had any character was torn down to make room for Disney-esque type monoliths, making New York safe for stupefyingly wealthy families everywhere.

Anyway, Roger got married and moved to Europe. I got divorced and moved to Easton, Pennsylvania and rented some rooms in an old Victorian house on the Delaware River (where I wrote Freak Parade and three other novels, some memoirs and probably about 20 short stories, before moving back to Ohio because my adoptive mother got very sick, and for some ill-informed reason I thought she needed me but I was terrifically misinformed about that and then my whole entire life unraveled into a great big bunch of awful Hell that I am only now recovering from…) But Roger and I have kept in touch! For one thing, he travels constantly and even dropped in to visit me a few times, even once at the house I had before this one. However, Roger is primarily a photo-journalist and travels into war zones and equally threatening, non touristy places, so his travels in the Netherlands is not a basic “tourist guide.” I am very eager to read it.

My Inner Being journaling this morning was very interesting. I’ll quote it in part in case it also resonates for any of you. (And yes, my Inner Being uses italics a lot! Just like me!):

“Allow for freedom. Allow choices. You are entitled to choices. You are not a prisoner of a rigid reality. It flows. Allow BEING-NESS to answer your call, you request, your perceived need. Allow the energy of BEING-NESS to be there for you. Do not pinpoint how, where, or why. Simply request and allow it to flow. It will flow regardless. Allowing it to flow unhindered brings rapidly to you experiences you prefer. There is nothing to fear in simple allowing.”

I just thought that was so cool.

Okay! I leave you with this wonderful old gem I was listening to this morning. If you’re too young to know this album, it was a monster hit for Art Garfunkel back in the mid-1970s: Angel Clare. The production on this album was just exquisite. I was always more of a Paul Simon kind of gal, because  big bunches of words and constant anxiety are usually more my thing. However, Art Garfunkel does indeed have a really lush voice. (They were Simon & Garfunkel, in case you’re too young to even know that!)

(For a very brief time, when I was a singer-songwriter in NYC, I was managed by Art Garfunkel’s manager– through a VP at Columbia Records, who was trying very hard to get me signed at that label. But the manager would often say to me that I was “not Art Garfunkel” — meaning that I was indescribably unknown and therefore not entitled to anything!!)

Okay, anyway! I leave you with my breakfast-listening music from this morning, “Traveling Boy.” If you’ve never heard it, listen to it!! It is so beautiful. The whole album is like this.

All righty! Thanks for visiting, gang. Enjoy your beautiful Sunday, wherever you are in the world. I love you guys! See ya!

“Traveling Boy”

Wake up, my love, beneath the midday sun, alone, once more alone.
This traveling boy was only passing through, but he will always think of you.

One night of love beside a strange young smile, as warm as I have known.
A traveling boy and only passing through, but one who’ll always think of you.

Take my place out on the road again, I must do what I must do.
Yes, I know we were lovers but a drifter discovers…

A traveling boy and only passing through, but one who’ll always think of you.

Take my place out on the road again, I must do what I must do.
Yes, I know we were lovers but a drifter discovers
That a perfect love won’t always last forever.

I won’t say that I’ll be back again because time alone will tell,
so no goodbyes for one just passing through, but one who’ll always think of you.

No goodbyes…

c- 1973 Paul Williams, Roger Nichols