27 October 2009

Impa and the beautiful things

Impa Googled "beautiful things are good for the soul" and got only seven hits. Which is simply not on. Beautiful things ARE good for the soul, and it would be nice if our fellow Googlers could be reminded of it more often.  

Tomorrow I'll be hanging precious photo frames and paintings on the walls of my new home with a borrowed drill that comes with two pairs of strong arms and good company, also to be put to good use in the garden. The photos get their own piece of wall back in my new living space after years of storage in a box. I'll be able to sit down between the walls and smile - for that's what I just keep doing in this house - and feel that beautiful things really are good for the soul.

It works the other way around, too. Things that are good for the soul are beautiful too. Take holding a tiny little boy for hours. Let's say it's a boy of about two weeks old, wearing a green hat, who sleeps, yawns, frowns, grabs my finger in his sleep and smells wonderful. (My sweetheart says that smell is especially designed to intoxicate women: well, it works.) Holding that little boy helps the whole energy system ground, straight into the earth with those roots until the whole thing is firmly back in place. If that isn't good for the soul, I don't know what is, and I'll be damned if that little boy today wasn't the most beautiful creature I've ever seen. 

PS. Cats that glance around whistling a tune, meanwhile pulling your cake from your plate with one little paw because you can't do anything what with two arms full of sleeping newborn, are not good for the soul.
PS. PS. Although I can see the beauty in that too, really. The whiskerfaced bastard.

25 October 2009

Sleep, Impa, sleep

Impa wants to write about the small, white room with the big, white bed. The room a white lamp has been picked out for and where a dark brown shelf will be put up over the white blanket chest. The room where the most treasured stones and the most beautiful flowers will be laid on the shelf and where pink branches will be painted on the walls that will stretch out at night, in the slumber that makes everything possible, waving quietly to the woman sleeping underneath and rustling to her in her dreams; ever on, safely, go on, go ahead, go. Dream. 

Where, outside the window, the branches of the vine come curling over the edge of the windowsill, high above the garden, opposite the butterfly tree, right where the birds first start singing in the morning. 

For there, in the little white room with the big white bed, someone wakes up every morning with a smile on her face. 

But maybe the little room can't be written about. Maybe it can only be captured in that smile.
So soft.
So bright.
So calm.

21 October 2009

19 October 2009

How Impa met Tobi

The first time Tobi gave someone a brilliant idea, he wasn't even a week old. He didn't think it had taken him a lot of effort, which was true. Giving people good ideas came naturally to him, slumbering in his little bed. But after all, that is often how it works with owners of a great talent: they themselves find it all rather obvious. They can see things changing in the lives of people around them who find new points of view, but they don't feel the sense of inner inspiration it plants in people's hearts. 

After meeting Tobi-who-wasn't-even-a-week-old, Impa went home and thought: Why, little Tobi. What a brilliant idea. What a solution, what a shining light on a lingering problem. And yet so simple.

A hot water bottle in bed.


14 October 2009

13 October 2009

Impa just asked a question

'When you walk into the Blokker shop in Groningen, they hold the door open for you. First, they give you a little tour so you know where to find everything, and then they ask you if you'd like a cup of tea or coffee and if you have any questions.'
'Seriously?' Friend M. and Friend A. asked, all surprised. 
'No', I said.  Ofcourse not. 'But I did ask a question in the Blokker store the other day.'
Friend M. and Friend A. looked up from their breakfast in shock.

I'd walked up to a member of the Blokker staff as you do, slightly huddled, arms shielding your face. I asked the lady where I could find rolls of shelf paper, but before I could apologise for coming to buy something, she suddenly put down what she was doing. She looked at me thoughtfully and then pointed her finger. I didn't dare look at what she pointed at and made sure I kept her face in full view. 'There,' she said. 'Turn right after the shelf with bathroom items and you'll walk straight up to them.' She looked at me expectingly. I didn't know what to do. What was going on here? Was this a diversionary tactic? Had she warned the manager by pushing an invisible button? Or had she just ruthlessly sent me the wrong way with a smile on her face? Why didn't she look tired, bored or indignant? After all, she worked in the Blokker store and I'd just asked her a question. 

Friend A. and Friend M. looked at me breathlessly. I had stepped into the Blokker store in my new city on my own.  I was even braver than they thought.

It turns out it's not the Blokker. In the end, there's also Blokker staff who don't think you're pulling a foul trick by asking then something. Who are prepared to talk to you and offer help. Who are friendly. Yes, that's right. Friendly.

But then... Could it have been Utrecht? The city I've loved living in for so long, where you only shop at Blokker when you have an extremely low sense of self esteem and a sickly urge to have it confirmed? To be snapped at or simply ignored?

After breakfast, Friend M. came tripping through the kitchen dressed in a big towel and jumped into the shower. Friend A. cleared the breakfast table. I did the dishes. In the shower, we heard Friend M. coo she was having such a good time (because that's what she does, when she's having a good time). All three of us sang along to Bishop Allen while thinking of the Blokker and how wonders will never cease. 

11 October 2009

Impa and the apple turnovers

Maz left Impa's new garden with her arms full of apples. She held up the hem of her tunic like an oldfashioned little housekeeper, put the large, green apples in there and  supported the heavy bulge in the fabric with one arm. Someone held the door open for her and as she walked away, I could hear her say something about apple sauce and apple turnovers.

And behold: Impapple turnovers!

7 October 2009

2 October 2009

Inside, though, you are

Impa heard a man on local radio. His voice croaked with old age. 'Lonely, lonely... I find that a very difficult word. I would never say that. I might say' - he continued in the Groningen dialect - 'It don't work so well. As a Groninger, you don't do that, you don't want that. But inside, though, you do. Inside you are. But you'll never say it out loud. And that's that.'

Ten years ago, a drug dealer used to live in Impa's new house. Neighbour P. told me people were coming to the door all night long and tramps slept in the garden shed. In the end, the house was vacated by the police and the drug dealer was evicted. All his possesions ended up on a heap in the garden. Among them were handwritten poems. 'After that, one of the sisters moved in,'  Neighbour P. said. 'One of the sisters?' I asked. We were in his garden, watching his chickens. 'Yes,' he said, 'the other sister moved in on my other side. They were calling to each other that the coffee was ready across my garden all day.' Neighbour P. had never spoken to the drug dealer when he still lived there until one night, when  he was playing cards with a friend, the doorbell rang at midnight. It was the drug dealer from nextdoor. He said: 'Today is my 50th birthday. Will you have a beer with me?'

There are no tramps in the garden house now. There are a lot of spiders there, but I'm not sure if they sleep there too. I wouln't get a second sleep with all those little legs. 

1 October 2009