Hi There!

(For my Dutch-English translating and proofreading business, please 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 55-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, willful ignorance, bone spurs, spiders, and walking or cycling 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-three 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 who 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 debate.

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 19-year-old son as B, and my 17-year-old daughter as R.)

Graceful I Am Not!

crocsToday’s writing prompt is Graceful.


If there’s ever a word that describes what I am not most completely, it’s graceful. I’m the epitome of the proverbial bull in a china shop. More like a stumbling drunk bull in the British Museum’s Asia section. Watch out folks, here she comes. Hide your valuables!

I’ve always been a bull in a china shop, but it was living here, or rather in the Rio Grande Valley, that made me fully realize it. We Dutch are known for our bluntness, for saying what we think, when we think it. No reading between the lines required. It’s all out there. And I’m a prime specimen, because, looking back, I always tended to barge right in, even to Dutch standards.

Then I emigrated to Texas. Oh boy! If ever there’s a culture where most information is conveyed between the lines, it’s here. When we were out for lunch at a country club buffet with friends of T not long after I arrived, I headed straight for the main course. T’s friend asked if I wanted some salad first. I said no thanks, but later I realized he was saying that I was supposed to have salad first. When someone asks me, “Would you like some more of that guacamole?” they might actually be offering me more guacamole, but chances are, it’s a comment on how much guacamole I’m heaping on my plate. Graceful ways to point out what I’m doing wrong. And me ungracefully not getting the hint immediately. Although I have to say: there was more than enough guacamole for everyone, and it’s not like you can keep the leftovers.

I’m also not a graceful dresser. If I wear high heels, I stumble like–well, like a drunken bull. I’m most comfortable in a Walmart T-shirt and my pink-and-purple crocs. When a relative of T’s gave me some tiny brushes for my first Texas Christmas, I thanked her–sincerely, because miniature versions of anything are always cute–and then I asked what they were for. Because I had no clue. They were eyebrow brushes. Oh. Okay. Apparently I was supposed to brush my eyebrows. And here I’d been, going through life with ungroomed brows! After twenty-three years, I’m still under-dressed at every occasion, even when I do my best. And my eyebrows are still a tangled mess.

One thing that is definitely worse here in America is the way things just come out sounding wrong. I know that’s a language thing, and I shouldn’t beat myself up about it, but I do. One of the earliest examples that comes to mind actually happened in England. I was sitting in front of my tent at a camp site, when two American college kids started to set up their tent nearby. It was clearly the first time they’d ever tried setting up any tent, and they didn’t get very far. When they looked in my direction, I offered to help. They gratefully accepted, so I showed them to first do this, then you do that, and then this thingy goes here and the rest you can probably figure out for yourself. One of them responded with Oh-kaaay… The reason I ended with that they could probably figure out the rest was that it was so self-evident that showing them how to do that as well would have seemed like I thought they were stupid, bu that’s what they ended up thinking anyway, because it didn’t come out right. This kind of thing still happens a lot.

And then there’s dealing with compliments.  When someone compliments me on an accomplishment, I am usually able to respond somewhat gracefully with Well, thank you! But if someone compliments me on how I look, I usually pull a face, like Yeah, right! A friend once pointed out that when I respond that way, I’m actually insulting the person who gave the compliment, as if he/she has terrible taste. So I try to remember that, but if I do, it’s usually the day after, at the earliest.

I have gotten better over the years, and I’ve definitely improved more than I would have if I’d stayed in the Netherlands, simply because the opposites are more extreme here. Meaning me being the opposite of graceful Texans, as opposed to me being the opposite of only slightly less barge-like Dutch people.

Nowadays I occasionally come home from parties or other gatherings where I managed all evening not to have something come out wrong, even when I’ve had a beer or two, and when I realize it, I give myself a mental pat on the back. Such are my little immigrant accomplishments. I’ve also  learned to not always say what I think, and that sharing my thoughts the moment they occur to me isn’t always useful or effective. It certainly helps with parenting–being even a smidgen wiser than a teenager can give you a big leg up!

I may still not comb my eyebrows, but I do wear lipstick when I have time and I remember, which is at least a few times a month. At fifty-five my face is sagging, and at first glance it’s not altogether clear where my mouth ends and the lines extending from the corners of my mouth down to beyond my chin begin, which gives me a look that could easily be misinterpreted as a permanently disapproving scowl. Lipstick helps to define where my mouth ends, so I look friendlier. At least, that’s my theory.

Well, even this post isn’t graceful. I’m trying to think of things that I do gracefully, but I seriously can’t think of a single thing. Maybe my next post will be about things Americans are not very graceful about, so I can feel better about myself, he-he.

What are you graceful about? Or not? When do/did you ever feel like a bull in a china shop? How come? Let me know in a comment.




From Gaming Faux Pas to Immigration Insights

Image: innogames.com

Image: innogames.com

Sometimes I go over my blog, to see if there is at least some semblance of balance between positive and negative posts. I don’t want to always sound angry and whiny, especially in my posts that are more directly related to being an immigrant in this crazy country. That wouldn’t be an accurate reflection of my state of mind outside of this blog. Nevertheless, anger and resentment do seem to crop up on a regular basis. How is it that I am still able to keep that up after twenty-three years? Continue reading

Dear NBC, About that Episode of The Blacklist…

Image: nbc.com

Image: nbc.com

Dear Blacklist producers,

I’ve been binge-watching season 3 on Netflix. Since you probably won’t actually be reading this and others will, allow me to set it up.

James Spader plays a larger than life, debonair master criminal who helps the FBI bag other master criminals, but really, the FBI is helping him in plans it has no knowledge of.

It’s an enjoyable enough series, but the end of episode 10 got my goat. Don’t worry, producers, I won’t spoil anything. Continue reading

Fun Facts About Facts, Truth, and Reality

Image: addictinginfo.org

Image: addictinginfo.org

Donald Trump is worried that the mediator in the first presidential debate on Monday will fact-check his statements. That right there should tell you everything you need to know about what he plans to say, but only if you still know what facts are. So let’s explore the language around the issue for a bit. Continue reading

My British Hiking Goal

A quick photo prompt post: This is an old slide, and not great quality, but pobody’s nerfect, am I right? I took this photo in the Lake District in England in 1989, and I believe H and I camped on that little flat spot by the tarn in between those two streams down below–which was already up there. As part of reclaiming my hiking identity, my quest is to get to this spot again some day and camp by that tarn.


Outfitting Then and Now: Hiking (Non)essentials 3

image: happyhousewife.com

image: happyhousewife.com

As I’ve mentioned before, I hadn’t had a good look at camping gear in decades, because it was too painful. Now that I’ve been surfing Pinterest for hiking and backpacking articles, I’ve found a lot of stuff a serious lightweight backpacker doesn’t need, but also several items and ideas I’m going to incorporate. Here they are: Continue reading

My Super-amazing Tent: Hiking (Non)essentials 2

img356Well, I might as well keep going and make this a series.

Of course, the most important item for backpacking is your tent. It has to be as light as possible, keep you absolutely dry in driving rains that last for days, be able to withstand pretty windy conditions without tearing or flying away, and preferably have enough space to be comfortable, even in driving rains that last for days.

I absolutely love my tent, for all the above-mentioned reasons and then some, so I’ve got to brag about it a little. Continue reading