29 December 2008

Impa and the silent night, holy night

On Christmas Day I decided to visit my downstairs neighbour at about fifteen minutes past midnight. It may have been a minute earlier or later, but that's just a detail at that time of night. I hadn't gone to see him before. It had occurred to me several times, but the door to his gallery is usually closed, so dropping by isn't easily done. And now, in the dead of a dark and cold Christmas night, I took the plunge and went. I fumbled for the switch of my bedside lamp and stumbled out of bed. I put on a pair of tracksuit trousers, found a jumper lying around somewhere, tied my hair into a ponytail and unlocked my front door. When I got downstairs I was surprised to find the door to the gallery open. I wanted to speak to Downstairs Neighbour so badly now I hadn't even thought about what I would've done if it had been closed.

I rang his door bell. Inside, I heard someone say: "Get that, will you." The door opened and the smell of strong roll-ups came wafting out. I saw Downstairs Neighbour standing in his flat holding a wardrobe door. On the floor next to the wardrobe was a man on his knees with a roll-up in the corner of his mouth and a screw auger in his hand. He had opened the front door behind him and now dived back into the wardrobe without even glancing at me. He was getting ready to start screwing.

"Hello, I'm your upstairs neighbour."
Downstairs Neighbour raised an eyebrow. "Hi."
I was wondering if I missed something. I wasn't sure what his half smile was supposed to mean.
"It's the middle of the night and I'm trying to get some sleep. Do you think you could be quiet?"
Downstairs Neighbour raised his other eyebrow too. "So what's bothering you?"

My jaw tried to drop. I stopped the dropping with all my might, because the last thing you need when you have bare feet and a sleepy face is an open mouth. Inside my skull I could feel my brain folders being scanned for socially accepted behaviour, but I got no relevant hits. Either he had no clue what was going on, or he did have a clue but just didn't give a toss. In both cases I needed Tactics. My mind was racing. Should I go for anger or patient reasonableness? I was probably too baffled to choose anger. Besides, anger somehow feels different when you go barefoot. And I'm not sure if anger really gets you anywhere with people who think it's perfectly normal to do a bit of drilling in the middle of the night.

"Drilling", I said. "And screwing. And banging things."
From the bottom of the wardrobe came an impatient: "All right, we're bearing it in mind."
Which I totally disagreed with.
I said: "I can hear just about everything anyway, because these flats are really noisy. I can even hear you talk and cough. During the day I don't mind, but this isn't very nice, in the middle of the night."
Downstairs Neighbour looked from the roll-up smoker at the bottom of the wardrobe to me and said: "We'll be finished soon."
"Good", I said. "What shall we say? Another ten minutes? And after that quiet again?"
Something was muttered on the bottom of the wardrobe and my neighbour looked at me with a grin on his face. "Sure." 

I walked along the gallery and up the stairs, back to my own flat. I locked the door and got back into bed, trembling. With anger. I wondered what would happen. 
15 minutes later, all was quiet.

22 December 2008

Impa saw a cool animation

By Evelien Lohbeck. More here.

19 December 2008

(Impa burn and champers bubble)

One of the chicest things that ever happened to me was when the doorbel rang and a bicycle courier brought two bottles of champagne for breakfast. I'll just write that whole sentence again, it feels that good. One of the chicest things that ever happened to me was when the doorbel rang and a bicycle courier brought two bottles of champagne for breakfast. He was all steamy but unfortunately he had to leave straight away.

Impa was on Vlieland (2)

18 December 2008

Fire burn and cauldron bubble

In October the sun was shining on the Zandvoort beach. It makes for extra good staring at the waves, digging your bare feet into the sand. Now the October autumn has wintered. Not quite as much as it did in the old days when everything was much better, but still: I've been out on my bicycle with icy dew in my hair this week. And because Dutch autumns usually last until a few rare, cold wintery days in February I now shut out the grey, turn up the heat under my cauldron, grab my apron and my wooden spoon and bubble myself a nice little autumn soup. Beautifully orange and wonderfully hearty.

Pumpkin soup! Dice a couple of garlic cloves, an onion and a small, round pumpkin (including the nice pieces of orange skin). Take organic ingredients for more taste. Gently fry the onions and the garlic in olive oil or ghee. Then fry the pumpkin along for a while. Add a couple of bay leaves, freshly ground black pepper, a stock cube (mushroom stock is nice in autumn) and a glass of white wine (Make it good wine, beacause you shouldn't cook with wine you wouldn't drink). Add water until the pumpkin is almost covered (Better to add extra water later than to boil thin soup). Simmer for 20 minutes or untill the pumpkin has gone soft. Take out the bay leaves, puree briefly and serve with a spoonful of sour cream, fresh parsly, a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds and extra salt and pepper if desired. Great with crusty bread with melted cheese or bruschetta from the oven.

Eat. Enjoy. Love.

15 December 2008

Impa was on Vlieland

Impa and the ball

I'm a drooling and panting puppy, bouncing along behind a big orange skippy ball, ears flapping. For running feels so great and everything smells so good.
I get off track every now and then. When the ball bounces off course unexpectedly and I stumble over my paws - way too large, allowing for growth- looking around frantically to see where it went. Or when I run right underneath it and get it on the nose. Or when it suddenly comes to a halt. I'll look at it, bark at it furiously and lick it with all my might. And then, when I nudge it along until it starts rolling again and gains speed, I'll suddenly be exhausted. I'll lie down on the spot and sleep. Deeply. Trustingly. Then my wet nose and soft ears won't have to do a thing.

I've been back from Vlieland for weeks. It was great. But that's nothing new: it always is. A lot has happened since, but that's nothing new either. It always does. Forget about rolling along calmly and evenly. It's all or nothing. Skipping along and gathering speed untill it all just has to come to a complete standstill.
And there, in that stillness, I dream of rolling along quietly. Calmly and softly. You can see my paws twitching rhythmically in my sleep.

Impa is on Vlieland

Impa is taking a break. On my beloved island Vlieland, where the tall grass waves in the wind outside my cabin, the beach is endlessly light and I wake up with a smile every quiet morning. I pick up a dear friend from the ferry every now and then and every evening in the shower I wash the salt off my skin and the drifting sand from my hair. And the good thing about it all is that I'm only halfway. The city, the internet and you, my readers, will have to do without me for just another week. Mmmmmmm...