The photo challenge this week is Transitions. These are more photos from the same place near the Laura Plantation in Louisiana where I took last week’s photo. I love how nature is taking over this car.
I regularly come across the writing prompt “If you were king…” I usually don’t know where to begin. Or I think of the painfully boring and restrictive life Queen Elizabeth of Britain leads, and then I lose my appetite for being queen. And in any case, America doesn’t have kings or queens.
There are more bicycles than residents in The Netherlands and in cities like Amsterdam and The Hague up to 70% of all journeys are made by bike. The BBC’s Hague correspondent, Anna Holligan, who rides an omafiets – or “granny style” – bike complete with wicker basket and pedal-back brakes, examines what made everyone get back in the saddle.
The Evolution of X recently wrote a post about maps versus smartphones. Unlike E of X, I do like using the narration on my smartphone. It saves time, money and gas.
When I look at a map to get somewhere in a city, I have to look several times because I have a memory like a sieve. Now, looking at a map while driving is never a good idea, not to mention Continue reading →
I’m not big on collections. I used to be. I had all sorts of collections. If I saw something I liked, I would start a collection. Until I felt that I was surrounding myself with things just for the sake of surrounding myself with things, and I got rid of most of them. Continue reading →
Time for another bridge post. And no, this one isn’t about the Mopac bridge. For the first time ever, I present to you the bottom of a different bridge. The Lamar Boulevard Bridge, the one east of the Mopac Bridge across Town Lake in Austin, Texas, the United States of America. Continue reading →
For many years now, there has been a huge rift within our family, caused by traffic lights. T and I are in permanent disagreement and our son B is pretty firmly on my side. R is undecided, but I’m convinced she will see the light (I couldn’t resist) in due time. Continue reading →
Every now and then I make myself unpopular with many of my neighbors. We have a Yahoo group, which is great, because with lightning speed we can get the word out about a lost dog or a scam artist in the neighborhood. But sometimes it can get contentious, and when it does, it seems that I’m often right in the middle of it. I have no idea why, because I’m just mild, non-confrontational, li’l ole me, right readers? Continue reading →
Literally one of the hardest things was the first time I dived off a diving board. This was in a swimming pool in Switzerland. I was twelve, and on vacation with my then best friend Dees. We went to that pool several times, and she dove in like a pro. Toward the end I finally took what was meant to be the plunge. But it was a belly flop instead. Although the term belly flop doesn’t really cover it. A flop sounds soft. This was not soft. In fact, I can still remember just how hard it was, slapping flat onto that water. Very hard indeed. Continue reading →
I don’t have inspiration for anything right now, at least not for anything upbeat, which it is time for after a few rants. But here’s an amazing woman in Portland who cycles around six kids in a bakfiets. (Yep, apparently they’ve adopted the Dutch word. So much better than apartheid!)
Most of those kiddos would be cycling on their own by now in Holland, but I wouldn’t let my kid cycle in American traffic either. But to then get a bakfiets instead of a minivan? Wow! That takes guts, and a hell of a lot of muscle!
There’s nothing quite as aggravating as buying a bike in this country when you’re Dutch. The kids needed new bikes and I kind of wanted a bike, too. I had bought one at Goodwill a few years ago, but it didn’t feel right. Continue reading →
There’s something strangely soothing about cleaning clouds. I suppose it also has to do with being a perfectionist. I can (and do) spend hours cleaning clouds, removing every little speck of dust, every tiny hair, every little irregularity. I just enlarge a piece of cloud as much as I want, hover over it with a circle, and click–gone, like it was never even there. Continue reading →
One of the many enjoyable things about translating is that I’m always learning something new, no matter how short the text. I just finished translating a sample from a Belgian novel for middle-school-aged girls, in which the characters communicate face-to-face, on the phone, via email and via texting. Continue reading →
The first time I visited America, at age 18, I visited my great aunt and her husband in Bakersfield, California.
The evening I arrived, we went out to dinner at an Elk Lodge and after we had finished our meal, my great aunt asked me if I wanted to join her in the restroom. I replied that I wasn’t really tired, but she insisted.
Okay, this is neither here nor there. Or it’s both. It has nothing to do with being an immigrant, though. Just with being a 51-year-old user of modern technology. Every now and then there’s this technology moment that blows my mind. The younger you are, the less you will understand this, but my contemporaries will. Continue reading →
A Flamingo in Utrecht is a great blog because Alison, an American in Utrecht, the Netherlands, takes pictures all around Utrecht and it’s wonderful that I can see the familiar places and streets. Most of the time it’s also nice to see what’s new. The Nijntje (Miffy) statue is new, for instance. But then I see this picture Continue reading →
I’ve posted before on my frustration about above-ground power lines and how dangerous they are in a storm. And in certain footage of the tornado that ripped through Joplin, Missouri, two days ago, the first thing you see when the tornado touches down is a power line being snapped. Continue reading →
This is an almost 20-minute video, but the information Robyn O’Brien gives is important to know. Coming from Holland seventeen years ago, I felt like almost everybody here is allergic to something. My husband would jokingly say, “Oh sure, the Dutch are never allergic,” thinking it was just another of my everything’s-better-in-Holland observations, but seriously, there didn’t seem half as many people allergic to stuff in Holland as there are in America. Now it turns out this might be true. So there, hubby! Continue reading →
In this economy, businesses have to be extra creative. And are they ever! For example, if you go to the RadioShack in Hamilton, Montana, to sign up for Dish Network right now, you get a free gun or pizza. Isn’t choice wonderful?
Having hit fifty a few months ago, I find myself increasingly looking to the past, at the people, places, books, music, and movies that helped shape me.
It used to be, I’m sure, a time for musing, wondering what happened to those elementary school friends, trying to conjure up faces on favorite television series watched as a child in a different country, remembering only the feelings provoked by movies that impressed at age fifteen.
The past moved further and further back, getting smaller as—inevitably–less of it was remembered.
One of my pet peeves is above-ground power lines. Electricity still gets to many houses in this country via wires that run along roads on tall wooden or metal poles. Every single time there’s a bit of wind or a cold snap, people lose power.
One thing that comes with America being The Greatest Country in the World is that everything has to be an American invention. Even when it’s not. Even when it was invented decades ago, half a century ago, a century ago, in another country.
In the late 60s Richard Proenneke built his own cabin in the Alaskan wilderness with only a few simple tools. He spent most of the rest of his life there. Sam Keith fleshed out Proenneke's diary of his first 16 months, when he was making his home by a lake. I love these kinds of books!
An old Oji-Cree healer and her nephew canoe down a river in Canada, away from the world of white people. They both have to come to terms with their past. The woman has lost most of her tribe and the young man is traumatized from his recent experience in the Belgian trenches of World War One. My second book by Boyden. Can't say enough about him.
An incredibly comprehensive history of everything related to slavery in the Southern United States, from the beginning of the colonies to the end of the Civil War. Over 700 pages and I took over 30 pages of notes. I will be sharing over many posts to come!
Hamid's debut novel. I love this author. A young man in Lahore, Pakistan, is the victim of love, drugs, obsession, the class system and his complete lack of self-awareness.
A golem, created in Poland and brought to life on a ship to America, and a jinni who was trapped in a flask a thousand years ago and released in New York -- the most unusual immigrants you'll ever meet.
The only part of her life a Korean woman can control is her body, so she withdraws into it. Harrowing.
Autobiography lightly disguised as a novel about the son of Southern migrants growing up on the streets of Harlem, New York City, in the 1940s and 50s. Written like you're hearing the whole story in a bar. Quite a feat.
The story of a man struggling to make a living in Morocco. No plot, no clearly defined characters, but fascinating in its authenticity.
Pakistani man tells an American about his experience as a college student and employee of an assessment firm in America years ago. Smart, nuanced and pretty darn honest considering the unreliable narrator.
Wow! The answer to the inane platitudes about how all parents love their children and how children should always respect their parents. The protagonist must come to terms with his deeply flawed immigrant parents in order to change himself.
Seven short stories about life during the Kim Il-sung regime, by a writer who still lives and works in North Korea, were smuggled out of the country and translated. Mind-boggling stuff.
A 15-year-old autistic narrator wants to know who killed a neighbor's dog, and ends up much further out of his comfort zone than he planned. Wonderful read!
In politics, education, religion, agriculture, business--it turns out that dumbing down has been here from the start.
Fifty years of Istanbul seen through the eyes of a street vendor who migrates to the city as a young boy. It's also a window into the complicated dance between men and women in Turkey.
Hey, don't laugh, at least I'm trying.
A Norwegian immigrant is cooped up with six other people on a tiny island off the coast of Maine all winter in 1873. A woman in the present researching the Norwegian immigrant is cooped up with three other people on a tiny sailboat. What could possibly go wrong?
A man stuck between two worlds in more ways than one. Fascinating!
Historical novel about early contacts between first nations and the French in Canada. Beautifully written story that doesn't pull any punches. I bought his other two novels right away.
Beautifully written. By my children's favorite English and Creative Writing teacher! It's got rave reviews and we're all very proud of her.
Suki Kim is a Korean-American journalist. She poses as an evangelical Christian posing as an English teacher at a school for the sons of North Korea's elite. Her experience and the information she manages to get via writing assignments are incredible. Definitely a lot more eye-opening that any CNN special.
This. Explains. Everything!!!
Why has Islam not undergone a reformation like Christianity? Why is it so easy for Islamic extremist groups like IS to recruit young muslims? What would it take for Islam in fundamentalist Islamic countries to enter modernity? Does the West have a role to play?
Amazing! A man wanders endlessly through a dreamscape, becoming other people, himself in the past, everything is fluid. Kafkaesque disconnect between people and their different needs.
A multi-layered novel about the history of Libya. A fast read, but one you can repeat and find something new each time.
Twelve Americans go missing in Burma/Myanmar during a tour. Touching and hilarious, but mostly hilarious.
The most unusual murder mystery I've ever read. Incredible writing. It haunted me for days.
The quote on the front mentions that these stories are exhilerating. I couldn't disagree more. They are almost unbearably painful to read, and yet I couldn't put them down. Very well done, apart from the third story, which is written in the second tense. Please let me know if you know of ONE story that works in second tense.