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I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN
Do you know the story of the little engine that could? When you're reading it out loud to a child, you have to do train sound effects. Steam whistles and huffing and puffing and the chug-chug-chug-chug sound that gets progressively faster as the little engine gets going. I'm doing that chug-chug-chug-chug sound in my head right now...2 weeks is a really long time to go without writing anything, and I feel like I need a push, a pull, a hand up this hill.

chug-chug-chug-chug

Talking to my brother today, confirming that yes, we had arrived safely home after leaving him 2 days ago, we both had a laugh at the relief engendered by the end of visiting someone. As much as we love going away to visit folks there is something so sublimely special about coming home, about sleeping in your own bed, about having your own space and stuff around you. It makes going away all the better when coming home can make you so happy. And on the other side, when you have company, visitors that you love, who invade your space and mess up your stuff and bring a little extra laughter and chatter and presence to your life, no matter how much fun it is to have them, it's also great when they leave and you get to come home again to your daily life. John commented on how QUIET it was around the place the day after we left, and how nice that was, even as he was missing us.

chug-chug-chug-chug

I remember now the things I hated about long car trips taken when I was a child. Of course, there were 3 of us sharing a back seat then, and even in a titanic Pontiac station wagon, things were cramped. Luckily, I had given some foresight to the endurance levels of 2 kids trapped together in a confined space for hours on end, with a mother who couldn't turn around and entertain them much.* The night before we left, I printed out a whole folder full of double-sided pages of mazes, word searches, and road bingo games. I could have done 3x as many and it wouldn't have been enough. Thankfully, I ALSO bought several sets of new comic and puzzle books to hand out at discreet intervals on the road. Smart! I am smart. It worked. Not all the time, but enough to keep us from all killing each other during some of the 10-hour driving days. But I had forgotten how incredibly BORING sitting in a car for so long is when you have nothing to do**, and if the kids ask for the Lena Philipsson CD or Sesame Street's Greatest Hits one more time you'll open the car door and hurl yourself out onto the autobahn to be mercifully crushed beneath the wheels of the tail-gating BMW behind you.

chug-chug-chug-chug

It rained nearly the entire 12 days we were in Holland and Germany. And I don't mean it rained a little rainy rain of rain-ness. It POURED. It poured relentlessly and endlessly. Guess what it was doing back home in Sweden? The hot hot sun in the blue blue sky with the high high temps was baking everything to a fine golden crust. sigh I actually bought a rain jacket, that's how much it rained. Because after being apartment-bound with a busted foot during our last sojourn in Bavaria, I was damned determined that nothing was going to stop me-we-us from expotitions and splorations. To that end, we did a lot of things despite and in spite of the weather. We chose a lot of activities that would appeal to the kids so, especially in Holland, we ended up doing things that weren't particularly DUTCH. We didn't go to Keukenhof or Kinderdyke or Edam's cheese market. Brief dreams of the white sand beaches on the North Sea sparkled and met a soggy end. We thought about Madurodam but it turned out to be a bit too far away, likewise Efteling, the intriguing-sounding amusement park recommended by the hospitable and personable bezigebij.

chug-chug-chug-chug

Netherlands: "When you're floating on a sea all dried out"***
We punted through the peacefully serene canals of Giethoorn in a whisper-boat and out onto the calm waters of the Bovenwiede and through the eerie reedland marshes, alone except for the slap of water against the lilypads and the drone of the dragonflies and the hooting calls of various long-legged waterbirds. We ate frikadelles and pomme frites with mayonnaise. We visited the Apenheul in Apeldoorn, an enormous and well-planned open-air monkey zoo where the primates have free reign and you must place your belongings in a monkey-proof bag before entering. We toured the Nieuw Land Poldermuseum with its kid-friendly Watertheater and fascinating historical account of how the country is slowly being claimed from the sea. We drove through an ocean of potato fields lined with towering and razor-straight, precisely spaced rows of trees to give the kids an afternoon of sweaty, screeching fun at the Kids Riviera playpark and indoor snow hill.

chug-chug-chug-chug

Bavaria: "My bosom, and my spirit leaps and sings"****
I could have sat on the balcony the entire time and just stared at the hills, filling my eyes with the heights, giving my soul a much-needed mountain fix. Clouds came down to meet the mountains, fogging the treeline, playing forest-fire with their curling smoke and veiling ways. We walked the cobblestoned streets of twisty, charming Füssen, and climbed mountains both by foot and by car. Anders, John and the kids climbed the mountain to the right of this one to see a church and followed Christ's procession backwards down the hill. Again, we climbed a mountain and then clambered round the quietly decaying ruins of Eisenberg and Hohenfreyburg, walking down around through cow pastures whose residents lowed after us inquiringly through a musicale of their own bells. We ate currywurst and spaetzle and tiroler gröstel, and one evening a stomach-stretching, tongue-tantalizing raclette feast. The rain held off enough one day to allow us a hilarious high-speed morning of rodelbahn racing under the swooping, soaring wings of the paragliders leaping from Tegelberg mountain and the white gleam of Neuschwanstein high on the hill. We toured Mad King Ludwig's mini-Versailles, the glowing golden rococo jewel of Linderhof, whose cheesy, crumbling Blue Grotto destroyed some fond childhood vacation memories for me. The best of all, however, was a day spent braving the rain at the Kaltenberg Castle Renaissance Fair, the largest medieval fair and knight's tournament in the world.

chug-chug-chug-wooooo-whooooooo!

Really Great Writing Out There Right Now: The Power of Pig

Cracking Me Up: The Devil Wears Prada

Big Beautiful Birthday Wishes to paradisecowgirl!

*motion sickness sucks...
**...giant green donkey dicks
***a line by Dutch poet Frank Koenegracht
****from the poem In a Pass of Bavaria by Richard Chenevix Trench
 relaxed
mood: relaxed
music: Ben E. King—Stand By Me


Comments
(Anonymous)

Holy Monkey, woman! (note the all important comma wedged in there... I most decidely DID NOT just call you a Monkeywoman) Maybe we ought to start shipping you out on 10-hour car trips and subjecting you to stomach-streching bavarian cusine more often if these are the kind of posts it produces from you!!!!

Bravo and posies! this was brillantly, beautifully written. This Little Engine CAN, could and did indeed! chug-chug-chug !

xo Wee

No more 10-hour car trips for me, thanks, at least not for awhile. There is so much to write about and plant in my journal for posterity, that this only barely grazed the surface. :) You are about the only person besides my children that COULD call me a Monkeywoman (oo oo ee ee!) and get away with it. ;P

I don't suppose you want to know that right now we have a hot sun in a blue sky over here? ;-)

LOL! The morning we left Füssen it was hot and blue and sunny and it stayed that way ALL DAY. Yesterday, in Lübeck it was overcast, but perfect otherwise, and today in Sweden, more of the same. Sadly, we're actually WISHING for some rain here as it's so incredibly dry.

I haven't really noticed it myself, since I've been stuck inside for over a week, but apparently it was quite hot outside and people are wishing for rain here by now.

Giethoorn is pretty isn't it? One of my favorite places. I hope that it was at least dry when you were there.

We had sun there as well as rain. The morning we went out on the boat was overcast but the sun peeped through a bit, and came out for lunch. Right afterwards, as we were driving away from Giethoorn a huge storm blew up out of nowhere, pounding rain, galeforce winds, pitchblack. Scary!

as we were driving away from Giethoorn a huge storm blew up out of nowhere, pounding rain, galeforce winds, pitchblack. Scary!

Waterspirits

Oh woman, it is soooo good to have you back and writing again. Ahhhhh, delicious Lizardness.

oh you :)

so what in god's name are you going to do with the 2 weeks you have left?? :-)

(and what does a monkey proof bag look like? i feel like i should want one.)

It was green with a monkey on it, of course. :P It had both a zipper and a locking thumb-operated clasp-hook. Apparently they know how to open zippers and regular buttons, turn-clasps. And 2 weeks? I've got lots of projects, baby! Plus the scheduled lazing around and web-surfing. :P Although recovery from Karin's birthday parties tomorrow ought to occupy me for at least a day.

glad you're back safe and sound :) we had dinner in füssen after visiting the castles! that place was just so beautiful, i was like a kid again seeing something spectacular for the first time!

It sounds like you had a great time despite the rainy weather. We went inside a large monkey cage in an animal park in Teneriffe. I was a lot jumpy and nervous but they all landed on Ken. They know who's more like them ;)

LOL! Well, since it was raining pretty hard the whole time we were there, there wasn't a lot of activity monkey-wise. They were all huddled up under their shelters and inside their dens, for the most part.

Sigh...it all sounds wonderful, rain or no rain. You'll have to do a completely different post on all the good food you ate...because I KNOW YOU DID.

The other day I found a shirt in a vintage t shirt shop - "Munchen, Bavaria' - and it's my new favorite!!

You get the super-mom award for being so prepared for car travel. You are smart and I'm glad the drive was largely bearable, at least for the kids.

Those trees in Flevoland are surreal, aren't they. Really, it shouldn't be possible to plant trees that straight.

I'm glad you enjoyed your trip and I am more than happy to be "hospitable" any time your adventures again bring you to the Netherlands.

The monkey zoo sounds (and looks, via their website) completely cool. Really, your whole trip sounds completely cool (weather notwithstanding), and I'm glad the Little Engine actually Could. ;-)

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