Hi There!

(For my Dutch-English translating and proofreading business, please go to D-E Translating. You can also go to my D-E Translating WordPress site. Thank you.)

Welcome to my blog.

I’m an energetic, slim, reasonably pretty thirty-year-old. However, I reside in a rather shocking, obese, aching, apathetic 53-year-old body. I love living in Austin but I’m chock-full of criticism of America in general. The Rockies bring me to tears, but so does the health care system. I’ve adopted Thanksgiving, but not the Pledge of Allegiance. If I seem elated and unbearably grouchy in sometimes schizophrenically quick succession, this is why.

I love the usual: my husband, my children, my friends and our pets. I hate heat; stupidity; bone spurs; spiders; and walking, cycling and stair-stepping in place.

I collect raft books and I’ve developed a weird obsession with the bottoms of bridges.

When I lived in the Netherlands, twenty years ago, I loved hot tea, wild camping in Great Britain, gardening, reading for days on end, and I walked and cycled everywhere. Now that I live in a pretty darn hot part of the US, with kids that have to be driven everywhere by car, I love reminiscing about hot tea, wild camping in Great Britain, gardening, reading for days on end and walking and cycling everywhere…

My blog is a crazy—some might say completely unhinged–collection of posts about any of the above-mentioned issues and then some. Nothing is sacred. I blatantly ignore all American no-nos. Which means I talk politics, religion, I don’t idolize  teachers and I swear (but not that much).

As you read my posts you might laugh, seethe, weep or shrug your shoulders. If you like a post, great. Let me know. If you hate a post, great, let me know. I’d like to think I’m always right, but don’t let that stop you from telling me if you disagree. We Dutch love a good argument.

If you want to know more about how I ended up in America and an overview of how that’s been, visit my About page.

Otherwise, have at it!

(In my posts, I refer to my husband as T, my 17-year-old son as B, and my 14-year-old daughter as R.)

Tiny Texas Tornado

tornado 1Well, here’s another thing you don’t have in the Netherlands. Tornadoes.

We have plenty of tornadoes in Texas, but usually further north, where the land is flatter. Once every few years we get a tornado warning, but I’ve only taken the kids into the closet twice. Once in the Rio Grande Valley, when R was still a baby and our cats were outside pets, which was fortunate, since our centrally located closet was tiny. And of course nothing happened.

This past Friday evening we knew a severe storm was coming, because these weird roasted marshmallow clouds were looming over us:

bubble clouds 3

T, who was on the road, called to tell me to turn on the weather channel, because his car radio mentioned a tornado some 100 miles to the north of us.

So we turned on the TV, and by then there was a tornado about 50 miles north of us. That’s the closest we had ever seen a tornado to Austin; I think the hills usually calm things down. However, there were also little orange circles only a few miles from us, but moving away, which indicated winds that could turn into a twister at any moment.

By now it was dark.

All residents of among others Hays County (ours) were advised to seek shelter in a closet or other central room in the house. Fortunately the master closet is surrounded by other rooms, and it’s got ab0ut the square footage of my bedroom in our childhood home, because then began the gathering of pets.

Two geckos which had to be handled with care, and B arguing with me about what kind of container to put them in and if they’d be warm enough. Two cats who aren’t stupid and recognize a travel crate roundup when they see one, and a labradoodle who was nervously in the way the whole time, and more than willing to join everyone wherever we were going.

The lights were flickering on and off now, and I wondered if I should waste time getting flashlights, but decided against it. This was beginning to feel to feel urgent.

At one time the wind screamed around the corner of the house like I’d never heard before, and I was ab0ut to let the cats do what they wanted, but we ended up getting them and running downstairs about 20 minutes after we started. We have to be better prepared next time.

Once in the closet, I was on the phone with T again, and the last thing I heard before we lost our connection was that there was now an orange circle over the subdivisi0n just north of ours.

We didn’t hear that much in the closet and I can tell you, the geckos were warm enough. After a while I got out–mostly because I couldn’t stand the heat any more–and turned on the TV again. It looked like the worst had passed, although lightning was still providing an impressive show beyond our trees.

The kids stayed downstairs for a while longer, and we kept the cats in their crates until the coast was really clear. T came home somewhere in the early hours, but I didn’t wake up. The next morning we woke up to the sound of chain saws in the distance, and this was the view from our back porch:

tornado 3

And the little park across the street, with its trees and grass–no bushes–looked like this:

tornado 4

There was no major house damage anywhere, that we know of. Some roof damage, plenty of fences down, though, and the tree damage is worrying, because I doubt the landscaping guys will put sealant on all the cuts they make when they clean up the branches around the subdivision, and with the temperatures we’re having, there’s a big chance of oak wilt, which can kill all the centuries-old trees.

Judging by the path of damage through the subdivision and the way branches from various trees around us fell in different directions, it must have been a smallish twister. Hopefully the biggest we’ll ever experience.

And today we have this experience–men in our trees, making clean cuts and sealing them, and afterward they will remove the fallen branches. Being a former librarian, I have my photos in organized files on my computer. The best file to place this one in was Backyard Views. That made me grin.

men in trees 2

Rated Hardly R At All

jellies 6I think it’s time for a sequel to my post Rated R, where I literally translated some Dutch swear words and phrases into English. So here are several words I used when I was a kid in the early seventies. They’re not as R-rated as the first post. I found these “retro swear words” on this site. Continue reading

Coleslaw: Improved

coleslawLate 1960s Australia. My mother adds a recipe to her limited repertoire–she discovers coleslaw. Continue reading

No Way–Okay–Every Day

cokesThis morning I read a BBC article about Coca Cola. This reminded me of conversations T and I had when we were living together in the Netherlands.

Being American, he drank Coke. Continue reading

The Rains of Castamere

Barbara Backer-Gray:

Good point. American motivation for going to war is often a series of one-liners.

Originally posted on Carrying the Gun:

"When I go home people'll ask me, 'Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? What, you some kinda war junkie?' You know what I'll say? I won't say a goddamn word. Why? They won't understand. They won't understand why we do it. They won't understand that it's about the men next to you, and that's it. That's all it is." -- Black Hawk Down (2001)

“When I go home people’ll ask me, ‘Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? What, you some kinda war junkie?’ You know what I’ll say? I won’t say a goddamn word. Why? They won’t understand. They won’t understand why we do it. They won’t understand that it’s about the men next to you, and that’s it. That’s all it is.” — Black Hawk Down (2001)

Doctrine Man posted the above photo and quote from Black Hawk Down yesterday as part of this weekend’s steady stream of Memorial Day related posts to counteract a supposed disinterested public while also helping us lose ourselves in a “twilight of sentimentality and nostalgia.”

The quote is a variation of the answer to “why we fight” that usually boils down to doing it “for your battle buddies on your left and right.” That is, today, the reason we go to war is simply to…

View original 629 more words

Agile Eyebrow Envy

agile eyebrowsOh, to be able to raise one eyebrow!

My best friend can do it. My daughter can do it. Steven Colbert can do it with both eyebrows in faster succession than even my daughter can. Continue reading

Eponymous Me

image: Franz Kafka

image: Franz Kafka

Kafka, Marx, Orwell, Sade–no reason why I shouldn’t end up on that list. Here’s what I imagine my contribution to Webster’s to be: Continue reading