Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Memories of the old John Deeres

This photo is of the husband from my dear cousin Marcia, who has a similar love to mine. Old John Deeres.

When I was 11, I spent the whole summer on my uncle's farm in S.W. Minnesota. He had two John Deere tractors, one a 1939 B and the other a 1950 A. The A was awesome. That summer was arguably the happiest time of my life.

I recently did a little researching, not to my satisfaction yet, into these, now antique, tractors. Anyone remembering them will know whereof I speak.

But I did find two sound recordings of a ca. 1945 model B; one idling, the other working.

Music to my ears, almost 60 years later. You can hear them here:

I'm in heaven.....


Sunday, July 12, 2009


I've learned to be a skeptic. Not much of one by nature, but from some hard knocks and walking my own path, I've learned. But I have no wish to be a 'hard' skeptic, you know, the kind that doubts everything that cannot be scientifically proven. Oh, I believe in science alright. But also think that science cannot answer some things, and that not all 'science' is good science.

Long story short, my path has brought me these last years to an opinion, or belief if you will, that there is more to this life than just what we see. There is no meaning to life if there isn't a purpose. Birth, precreation, work&fun, death is not the purpose. I think that the purpose of life is to learn. Earlier, my view was a religious one; not anymore. Then came a long period of blankness, not knowing. The last years, I know there's something. I've seen it. Not often, and no, I'm not a seer. But I'm open, and have seen several things. Unmistakeable. Or I'm certifiably less than sane....

Derek Olgilvie -
In 2003, several things happened that got my attention. But since then, I know there is a life after this one. My view is that it is another dimension, perhaps parallel to this one, and only a few can cross this dimension with any regularity and clarity, to communicate from this side. For some time, the TV show "Char" was on here. While Char did have something, I was never at ease with her, nor convinced she was real. And my feelings of her were not good. A little talent, and a lot of fake and commercial promotion. And $$ of course.

Char has faded from the scene; no longer sustainable.

Enter Derek Olgilvie. (If you don't know of him, he's a Scot, and gay to boot. Wonderful person. Google him, including the skeptics.)

Totally different, yet a similar theme: Communicating with the dead, or with non verbal babies as well in his case.

Another (mostly) fake?

After watching his TV programs for over a year, I think not. But TV is TV; edited for commercial purposes etc. My wife and I decided to take a look at a live show here in Amsterdam, in a series of quickly sold out 'performances'. These shows were not meant to be taped for TV; at least, the one we saw wasn't.

Derek came across live exactly as he does on TV. Being there live does give a better and more total impression, however. And all of the 930 seats in the theatre were filled.

My opinion? Mixed, but much more positive than not. Skeptic yet, but there is no question Derek is highly gifted, and proves this repeatedly. There is no other explanation to much of what he tells about people, some of which they have forgotten. He does not choose the people; he tells the audience what the spirit to whom he is listening is telling him. And the members of the audience have to decide whether it's them or not, based on detailed and precise information. The info is precise enough to insure the right person, and Derek is insistant that everything he is saying is true in their case, if they are the one. He insists on this vigorously.

And yes, there were a couple of times where what he told was perhaps off base, or perhaps the audience member was not in a state to recall/respond immediately. Remember, he is a Scot with a Scottish dialect, and these are Dutch people. And I, whose mother-tongue is American English had some difficulty. In one case, a member was just in front of us stood up and again sat down repeatedly, but was very hesitant, and wasn't recognized. His fear was that he was hard of hearing and would blow it, we heard afterwards. I can understand his fear.

It happens.

But....a strong voice within me also says that someone with his gifts cannot always use them, at least effectively, on call and under showtime conditions. That does not seem logical to me. So Derek is under a lot of 'pressure', I feel, to perform. Doesn't (always) work that way, to my way of thinking. But, the show must go on.... And Derek is a very spontaneous performer. It is not a rehearsed type of thing.

His show was impressive, and he remained his unique self. I would give the show a 75% believability rating. Under the demanding circumstances, this is very good.

Once the show was over, however, came another revelation; one I've not seen mentioned anywhere else. He did autograph his books, as many do. More $$ of course. But not the end of the story. The $$ didn't seem to interest him, either. But perhaps the admiration did, and rightly so....

My wife wanted to buy his autobiography, which I also wanted. But buying it was a helter-skelter, unorganized, time consuming and confusing thing. Once finally done, then the wait to have it autographed. And wait. And wait.

And here is where Derek gave strong evidence he's not fake, in it for the fast $$.

He not only spoke with everyone (most of whom bought one of his books), he took the time to pose with them for photos. And talked with them, sometimes for minutes. Took a long time to get your book autographed. But when it was my wife's turn, something remarkable happened.

On the inside cover, to avoid mistakes/misunderstandings, you had to write your name on a stickie note. Good idea. Now, my wife's name is Joke, which comes over totally wrong in English. So she wrote it as Yoka, something English speaking can pronounce correctly. Derek picked up on this and remarked about it, whereupon my wife told him. But he did know the name Joke, and how to pronounce it. Whereupon I, standing behind him, told my wife, "See, I told you so." He asked her, "Is that your partner?" and turned to me. We locked eyes, and there was immediate 'contact'. We understood each other. Same wavelength..... He then asked if we wanted to take a photo, whereupon we told him that we left our camera home, thinking that photos (especially in the performance) were not allowed. He laughed and called over to a professional photographer, "Hey, Sue, come here". And the result was 4 photos, 3 of which are here.

Am I a believer, skeptic that I am? Yes, but with reservations for the pressure of performing for the shows. Derek is a very special, exceedingly bright, sensitive and energetic man with whom my wife and I felt an immediate bond. And we don't do that very quickly, our experience filters work well.

He felt like an old, deep friend whom we had known for a long time; really, a kindred spirit. And he was totally open, outgoing and responsive to all questions, including his tiredness after the 2 shows today. When we got home, we were also both very tired.

One very open, talented, and brave person. And real, in my opinion.

And there is something more to life than is visible in this dimension.

P.S. We have the photos, as you see here, sent on Sunday within hours after our email requesting them. There was no charge for them. Again, remarkable.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Make Haste Slowly

Sometimes I wonder about myself.

How long does it take to learn some of the simplest of lessons?

Last week a friend and I took a bike tour of 35 kilometers, about 22 miles. Having spent the first 48 years of my life in the U.S., a bike ride in itself is not too normal for most people. And, there is is some reason for that: Consider how the U.S. has been "planned" and built, and some of its geography. But here is another story. I thought little of spending hours in the car going somewhere earlier, but on a bike?

Yeah, the effort....

Well, with a good bike and choice of gears, it sure is easier. But....the simplest of lessons had still escaped me: Just take it easy.

Amazing how a bike ride of hours - with appropriate pauses - is not only not difficult, but really enjoyable. Just taking it easy, not hurrying to get somewhere as fast as possible, and smelling the flowers along the way.

And it's so much more enjoyable....providing the weather cooperates, of course.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Note: This has to do with my StumbleUpon blog, and the new SU music player recently developed. It's had some far-reaching effects for me.

Music player -

This represents, for me, a turn about. For many, many years, I only listened to music occasionally, and when it wouldn't distract me. Background music was ok (aka elevator music).

I'm musically inclined, although little real training outside of several years of piano lessons. But I've sung (almost always in choirs and choruses) much of my life, beginning at around age 10.

And here's the sad part: It was always religious music, my family being strict Calvinists. Never, ever, was any other music played or allowed in our house outside of a very occasional classical piece; the one exception was that my dad liked Mitch Miller, which was harmless in any sense of the word.

I knew no other reality. This included not only an aversion of all "worldly" music, but a negative judgment toward anything non-religious. All popular music was judged trivial or worse. You can imagine what was said in my home and social circles about Elvis when he first came on the scene. Yet I listed to it in my car radio, once outside of the house. But the religious repression was so great that I could never remember any words to the songs; only the music. But I did know the words to hundreds of religious songs. I still do.

With my wake-up call some 25 years ago (divorce, father's death, and my own alcohol abuse) came a gradual, but very distinct, breaking free of all this. Not that I rejected it all and did a sudden 180 degree turn around, but just slowly and very deliberately I began to think for myself. I've never stopped and continue to this day. While this journey hasn't been a quick one, I've covered a lot of ground.

It's been quite an adventure, as I see it now. But along the way, I felt quite alone and uncertain often times. There was no one to tell me or guide the way; it was only my own thoughts and feelings.

Things come together at certain times in our lives. While I've been an active blogger, mainly politics, for a while now, I never had any sense of community, outside a couple of other bloggers. That changed once I discovered SU. Not only is there a real sense of community here, I have the opportunity to observe their interests and thoughts.

When Jonas developed the SU music player recently, I noted it with mild interest. Checking out the SU player at Mamaa's (Aunolam) blog, I saw she had a Finnish folk song, which I find almost addictive. It's a light-hearted thing, but the melody is one that keeps repeating in my mind. At about the same time, I got the idea to maybe try to set up the player for myself, with some songs I like. Not the latest trendy stuff, but songs that have stayed with me over time. The content of this SU player is, of necessity, limited, and then only to what I can find on the internet in MP3 format.

But this is another step in my adventures in life. Step for step, I've been coming "home". And music is a part of that for me.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Faith, Reason, God and Other Imponderables

Normally in longer articles, I give a taste of the article and then link to it. But with newspapers and the like, few articles are archived for more than several days, and then are lost forever. Thus, the whole article is here. There is a link above that you may use for as long as it lasts.

This article deals in part with a subject I think is important, so I will reprint it here in my personal blog.

The question of science or (religious) beliefs are often stated as exclusive to the other. I find this very sad, and very stupid. While some/many religious beliefs cannot stand up to science, that doesn't mean that the science and religion are opposites of each other, or are each other's enemies. That is patently false.

Christianity has opposed much science from its beginnings, and continues to do so yet in many areas. Thus for many of the more fundamentally religious people, there is a dilemma, which many 'solve' by selectively denying, spinning or disdaining scientific knowledge, or even the definitions of various words (such as 'theory'). Yet, they would not want to do without the myriad of advances and knowledge as a result of science, adding to their dilemma. Others simply try to blend the two camps as best they can. And yet others give science more room at the cost of their earlier beliefs, or leave their beliefs. This article touches on some of this.

The New York Times

July 25, 2006
Books on Science
Faith, Reason, God and Other Imponderables

Nowadays, when legislation supporting promising scientific research falls to religious opposition, the forces of creationism press school districts to teach doctrine on a par with evolution and even the Big Bang is denounced as out-of-compliance with Bible-based calculations for the age of the earth, scientists have to be brave to talk about religion.

Not to denounce it, but to embrace it.

That is what Francis S. Collins, Owen Gingerich and Joan Roughgarden have done in new books, taking up one side of the stormy argument over whether faith in God can coexist with faith in the scientific method.

With no apology and hardly any arm-waving, they describe their beliefs, how they came to them and how they reconcile them with their work in science.

In “The Language of God,” Dr. Collins, the geneticist who led the American government’s effort to decipher the human genome, describes his own journey from atheism to committed Christianity, a faith he embraced as a young physician.

In “God’s Universe,” Dr. Gingerich, an emeritus professor of astronomy at Harvard, tells how he is “personally persuaded that a superintelligent Creator exists beyond and within the cosmos.”

And in “Evolution and Christian Faith,” Dr. Roughgarden, the child of Episcopal missionaries and now an evolutionary biologist at Stanford, tells of her struggles to fit the individual into the evolutionary picture — an effort complicated in her case by the fact that she is transgender, and therefore has views at odds with some conventional Darwinian thinking about sexual identity.

If his eminence in science were not so unassailable, a fourth author, the biologist E. O. Wilson of Harvard, might also be taking a chance by arguing that religion and science ought to take up arms together to encourage respect for and protection of nature or, as he calls it in his new book, “The Creation.”

Although he writes that he no longer embraces the faith of his childhood — he describes himself as “a secular humanist” — Dr. Wilson shapes his book as a “Letter to a Southern Baptist Pastor,” in hopes that if “religion and science could be united on the common ground of biological conservation, the problem would soon be solved.”

Coming as they do from a milieu in which religious belief of any kind is often dismissed as little more than magical thinking, this is bravery indeed.

But other new books, taking a different approach, also claim the mantle of bravery.

In “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon,” Daniel C. Dennett, a philosopher and theorist of cognition at Tufts, refers again and again to the “brave” researchers (including himself) who challenge religion. In “The God Delusion,” Richard Dawkins, a professor of the public understanding of science at Oxford, once again likens religious faith to a disease and sets as his goal convincing his readers that atheism is “a brave” aspiration.

Of course, just as the professors of faith cannot prove (except to themselves) that God exists, the advocates for atheism acknowledge that they cannot prove (not yet, anyway ) that God does not exist. Instead, Drs. Dawkins and Dennett sound two major themes: a) the theory of evolution is correct, and creationism and its cousin, intelligent design, are wrong; and b) a field of research called evolutionary psychology can explain why religious belief seems to be universal among Homo sapiens.

But these sermons, which the authors preach with what can fairly be described as religious fervor, are unsatisfying.

Of course there is no credible scientific challenge to Darwinian evolution as an explanation for the diversity and complexity of life on earth. So what? The theory of evolution says nothing about the existence or nonexistence of God. People might argue about what sort of supreme being would work her will through such a seemingly haphazard arrangement, but that is not the same as denying that she exists in the first place.

In any event, as Dr. Gingerich argues, in simultaneously defending evolution and insisting upon atheism, Dr. Dawkins probably “single-handedly makes more converts to intelligent design than any of the leading intelligent design theorists.”

And evolutionary psychology as a prism through which to view contemporary human behavior is open to many challenges. Some have come from critics who dismiss much of it as little more than “Just-So Stories” designed to explain or justify the status quo. So it seems strange to see its logic cited as a weapon against the story-telling aspects of religion.

All of which leads one to ask, who are these books for? The question is easy to answer when it comes to Drs. Collins, Roughgarden or Gingerich. First would be young people raised in religious families, who as they progress through school suddenly confront scientific reality that challenges Sunday morning dogma.

“I have been struck,” Dr. Roughgarden writes, “by how the ‘debate’ over teaching evolution is not about plants and animals but about God and whether science somehow threatens one’s belief in God.”

Or as Dr. Collins put it, when religions require belief in “fundamentally flawed claims” about the world, they force curious and intelligent congregants to reject science, “effectively committing intellectual suicide,” a choice he calls “terrible and unnecessary.”

But does science require the abandonment of faith? Not necessarily, and certainly not entirely, these authors argue.

Also, people who read these books will realize that it is impossible to tar all scientists with the brush of amorality. The books challenge those who fear that science and ethics may end up at war, a possibility raised by President Bush last week, when he vetoed legislation supporting stem cell research.

On the other hand, as the (atheist) physicist Steven Weinberg has famously put it, and as Drs. Dawkins and Dennett remind their readers, good people tend to do good, evil people tend to do evil, but for a good person to do evil — “that takes religion.”

But it is hard to believe that people who reject science on religious grounds will stick with the Dennett and Dawkins books, filled as they are with denunciation not just of their ideas but of themselves.

This is unfortunate because, as Dr. Roughgarden points out, it is crucial in our society for people of faith, the vast majority of our population, to understand the issues of contemporary science. “I’d love to discuss the moral issues of biotechnology within a community of faith,” she writes. “But most church congregations and their leaders are not prepared for those discussions.”

Perhaps another book, “Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast,” can help bridge that gap. It is by Lewis Wolpert, a biologist at University College London. It has been published in England, and it is to appear in the United States in January.

Dr. Wolpert writes about the way people think about cause and effect, citing among other work experiments on how we reason, how we assess risk, and the rules of thumb and biases that guide us when we make decisions. He is looking into what he calls “causal belief” — the idea that events or conditions we experience have a cause, possibly a supernatural cause.

Human reasoning is “beset with logical problems that include overdependence on authority, overemphasis on coincidence, distortion of the evidence, circular reasoning, use of anecdotes, ignorance of science and failures of logic,” he writes. And whatever these traits may say about acceptance of religion, they have a lot to do with public misunderstanding of science.

So, he concludes, “We have to both respect, if we can, the beliefs of others, and accept the responsibility to try and change them if the evidence for them is weak or scientifically improbable.”

This is where the scientific method comes in. If scientists are prepared to state their hypotheses, describe how they tested them, lay out their data, explain how they analyze their data and the conclusions they draw from their analyses — then it should not matter if they pray to Zeus, Jehovah, the Tooth Fairy, or nobody.

Their work will speak for itself.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Has AA morphed?

Finding open criticism of this magnitude of AA is unusual for me. A number of things don't add up for me, and my heavy experience with AA and Al-Anon (over 2000 meetings in ca. 5 years) point to something totally different than described here.

That said, there is a real danger in AA, as in any other system of 'belief' or philosophy, that it can be(come) contaminated. And AA is not the answer for some. And some groups/meetings are not good AA or Al-anon, that is certain fact. Perhaps I was fortunate, but I found good groups and meetings, and yes, I did come across a few groups/meetings that were not for me.

What was of great value for me was the total open-ness and honesty of the people there, and the sharing of life experiences. I found that I was not alone, nor a black sheep; many others had the same questions, problems and perspectives. It was nothing like a religion, quite the contrary. It was a freedom from fundy type religion.

For me, AA/Al Anon was a turning point, and I found that my thoughts were legitimate. From there on, I dared to look at things with more perspective and more openly, including myself. I depended far less on the religious background and community, and began thinking for myself. And that has made all the difference. Today, I consider myself an agnostic of sorts; I simply don't have enough valid evidence to hold to some dogmatic beliefs, political nor religious.

Once in Europe, I attended a number of Al-Anon meetings, and also some AA. But I stopped; it is not popular here, likely because of a very different social atmosphere; more social sobriety and more social support. And my need for this support and understanding was provided by the whole atmosphere here, whereas I could find that only in AA/Al-Anon in the U.S.. AA/Al-Anon and its subdivisions, is primarily an American phenomenon, taylored to American society. And perhaps it has morphed too much in the last years to be an honest program, including freedom from religion.

I don't know, since my experiences are not recent ones any more.

But this article is not written for nothing, so perhaps there is more going on than my experiences would indicate. After reading this, I really wonder if, just as with American society, that AA/Al Anon has morphed, influenced by fundamentalistic religion and politics.

I don't know. I moved to Europe 17 years ago, and found an atmosphere much more suitable for myself. Matter-of-factness, the atmosphere that allows me to be me with no pressure from others (within logical boundaries), that almost anything could be talked about normally, allowing me to be able to do that with others as well.

But I see that changing here as well, and the neocon influence gaining ground here, led from higher up. And, with that, increasing social and personal problems.

Here is the article to which I am referring.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Holocaust and other forms of hell and heaven

I've mentioned that I'm a recovering Calvinist. To those in the know, that says enough. But I've been on a 'mission' these last couple of decades: That of learning as much of the truth as I can.

I wish myself luck.

If I find it, I'll write a book and get filthy rich, and live an easy life ever after. Meanwhile, bear with me and the struggle.

I don't know whether I've renewed my 'mission' (being myself) since I dropped it as a kid of around 7 (up to that age, I was always asking "Why?") or took it up for the first time since around age 41, when I became sober through AA and shortly after, my father died and shortly after that, I went through a divorce from my wife of 21 years. All that within the space of 2+ years kinda got my attention. As frosting on the cake, I lost my business of 17 years not long after.

As much as the divorce was devastating for me, it is one of the best things that ever happened, painful though it was. A load was lifted from my shoulders, and I think this load was the false sense of duty I had. The marriage was part of that, perhaps the heaviest part. And I don't blame my ex, either. My decision; my responsibility. But done under the influence of others' thoughts and mandates.

Never again will I turn over the reponsibility of my life to another individual or group or institution, living or dead, nor live to their standards.

Anyway, back to the Holocaust. A very good friend and I have strong political interests. For me, my motivation is knowing the reality of things, the Truth so to speak. As any fool knows, politics is anything but transparent and honest, so I have my work cut out for me. Religious beliefs are another, quite similar and very much connected topic.

With internet, much information has become available to us, and I am an internet addict. Politics is but one area I search out, albeit perhaps the main one. In the last months and years, more and more has come to light about how things really happen(ed), such as how politics really works, the how and why of the wars, including WW1 and WW2. And 9/11. And the Holocaust is part of WW2, and still very much a part of today's politics via the Zionists, the state of Israel and their war on the Palestinians. Religion is also deeply involved.

I just got done with an email exchange/debate over the Holocaust and WW2 (again) with my very good friend Walt, in Spokane, Wa. We also run a political club together, one of my 4 political websites.

He has studied much of what there is to find in books etc. about the last century especially. Years of study. But....he gets his material from the 'official' sources. The last source to be really honest. History, after all, is written by the 'victors', and is full of half-truths and omissions. That's been true since the written word.

But the truth is quite different.

And that's what I (try to) search out. The Holocaust is one of the many topics among all that. While the 'Holocaust' DID happen, and many Jews died unfairly and needlessly and gruesomely, it wasn't quite the way we were told. The total number of dead, and how they died, and what the 'final solution' really was, is not truthfully told to us. And that has to do with what is still going on in the Middle East, and explains much of that. It is no mystery, but there is a lot of reading, pondering, and sorting out to do. The same as with religious beliefs, or other important areas. Such is life.

My good friend Walt cannot yet bring himself to renew all his years of reading and effort to gain a new insight into all of this. So he finds it very difficult with some of the information I bring up. And Walt is not closed minded.

It is very, very difficult to go back again and re-think so much. And that is true of all of us. But we must do just that, especially in the areas of politics, religious beliefs and other important areas. Our own cherished beliefs, arrived at after so many years of learning/experience, are quite often challenged. And often proven incomplete; sometimes wrong. Or we can choose to not see that.

And, damn! That is hard work, to go back and re-do so much of what we thought we knew.

So it is. Now, once again, it is "Onward Christian Soldiers, Marching as to War."

And there I go again. The message of peace and love - with a song with words like that. What a sham! Or the words of America's National Anthem; again it is war-like.
All in the name of peace and love.

Will it ever stop?

Yes. Either when I give up, or I leave this earth. But the fight never stops.

I choose for this fight to stop only when I leave this earth. And THEN begins my real learning.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year! Gelukkig Nieuw Jaar!

I wish you a health, contentment and peace in this New Year.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Christmas, New Years and cooking

Sorry, it's been a while. I'm not empty, just couldn't think of a good serious topic to post here, and then the holidays and associated mayhem. So I'll say something a bit mundane perhaps, but still a part of me.

Cooking. Me. Men.

My mother is a strange being. On one hand, she was ahead of her time, on the other hand, tightly following conservative religious dogma. But I fiercely love her. She's almost 88 now.

But she taught me the basics of cooking, bless her, and her father, from which she got that 'ahead of her time'. Her father is a hero to me. My "grandpa". My hero.

Cooking... yeah. The importance of reading recipes and following them, which is where ALL cooks begin. Only later, with experience and imagination/inspiration, can one blossem out into a real cook. Look at a recipe, add one's own ideas and tastes, modify/reject/and add or reduce amounts and ingredients, and go....or perhaps just an inspiration and go.... Whatever.

Willingly. Not out of duty and "must" as so many women/wives/mothers must do, alas.

When it comes to cooking, men do enjoy much more freedom, without the expectations. Unfair? Yep. Men get all the credit. Women do all the work....What's new?

The last 5 years I worked very changing hours. From early to late, and then back to early. Took everything I had to do that, even though the work was enjoyable for me, for the most part. It became a survival routine, with no room for many things, cooking among them.

Now I'm retired. And this means my whole life has changed, as well as what determines it. But slowly I'm coming 'round to my own rhythm. The demands of that in retirement are one of the surprises of life.

Some guys don't survive this. Without the external demands of an employer, their routine is lost and they don't find another, at least in time. I kid you not; it is not easy to switch motives and life routine after roughly 45 years of "must". All of a sudden, there is no external "must" from an employer/emperor; yet life goes on, and so do duties and expectations from others, including wives and kids. But I digress (again...I do that a lot. Have patience, I'm a recovering Calvinist).

Where was I? Oh I think. Jeez, do I get off on tangents!

Pea soup.

Yeah. Soul food to the Dutch and those with Dutch backgrounds perhaps. And other Europeans. Misunderstood, underestimated, just as the Dutch. Poor babies! (here I go again).

But real soul food. You know. You KNOW!

I've been thinking - more and more - of getting back into cooking and baking. Real soul food, hearty, delicious, maybe spicey (even though my wife can't take spicey). Dutch, American, Mexican, Italian, German....And baking. Mostly...BREAD! The real stuff. But not that far yet. But I'm getting there....

I'm still busy with finances, who does what around the house and "will we have enough money to make it on a retirement income with 2 kids at home?" And my wife is going nuts with her work as well as a husband in the way now 24 hours a day. Yeah she works; we'd never make it otherwise. 20 hours a week, soon to be 24. And I get up after she leaves for work....heheheheheh. Pure luxury after so many years of a night owl having to get up early. Digress again...pooh!

Anywho.....I finally got into action yesterday. Made a huge pot of pea soup with everything in it that belongs there...Dutch style. And some "griesmeel" pudding (semonela). Tastier and finer than tapioca, another favorite of mine. Hours of pleasure making and eating.

Dutch pea soup. Snert, they call it here in the vernacular. G-d! what soul food!

I tried to pass the (my) recipe on to a dear friend in Spokane, Washington. Good luck, Walt. You can't duplicate it exactly; no knolselderij in Washington, and your smoked meat is far too "factory" and salty. But you can modify, as all good cooks do, and come up with a reasonable resemblance. That's the art of cooking. Oh yeah, and making do with what ingredients you have on hand...and within your budget. And THERE is the art.

Tonight we eat pea soup par excellance! I can't wait. Nor my kids. My wife, bless her, cannot stomach it and will make chicken soup from a box with our own chicken added.

And then, later, shoot off a whole bunch of fireworks, and watch others doing the same. In our neighborhood, people go nuts with fireworks for New Years eve! What an experience. A glass or two of wine to toast 2006 in with fireworks, and "oliebollen en appelflappen"* (another two Dutch treats) to bring in the New Year!
*Olliebollen are deep fried pastries and appelflappen are apple filled pastries, deep fried or baked.

I wish you a healthy and satisfying New Year from the bottom of my heart.



Sunday, December 11, 2005

Am I dualist or what?

I sing in a men's chorus. I love it. And it's made up of guys from churches in our area.

Except......I've stopped going to church some time ago.

Black sheep perhaps, but most of them don't know I've stopped. At least, they don't act like it. Topic for another post, I suppose.

Even though I've stopped with church, I have NOT stopped being spiritual. The church gets in the way for me, and many members also do; but not all, certainly. Nor do I deny God, as I understand her/him. And since my roots are very churchy, I don't get off much on too many other forms of 'spirituality', the trendy or exotic kinds, you know. Except American Indian and perhaps a bit more, but then that's not trendy, at least from my side. Another topic for another post.

But my singing in our men's chorus has to do with touching base in a very, very meaningful and gut-level way for me. Not that I hang onto all the words, let alone theology, of the songs. I don't. But many of them I do. If they're not too Calvinistic or fundamentalistic or scare tactics about death etc...

There's just something about good music....

And our chorus doesn't sing just religious music; often it's classical or non religious. The right music can touch me in ways that no other things can.

Christmas. And Christmas performances. Last night we sang with another men's chorus from a few miles away; another city. They have 4 times the members as we. This made for some 150 male voices singing....

Almost always, singing with another chorus/choir, director, accompanyment etc. is - at best - mediocre, a bit awkward, uncertain. This performance went absolutely perfectly; we sang as one group that had been together for years. Perfectly. Flawlessly. Effortlessly.

And we - and the church full of people - were touched - no, more than touched - in our deepest being. Of course, the audience sang along in various numbers. Ere Zij God was the last such number. Devastating, it was. While our chorus is Dutch, we sing often in English and German, and sometimes other languages, depending on the original music, of course. Heck, we even sing Negro Spirituals from the US and Russian work songs, Jewish...but I digress.

I'm in a real spiritual struggle. I admit this readily, but not so easily to my mother. This is the fight of fights, for me. Separating the lies and B.S. from the true spirituality, separating what is real from what has been force-fed to us from the 4th century, when it was all politically decided.


And many think that this is the true stuff, word for word, from the time of Christ.

Yeah, I also get into politics rather heavily. My other blogs. Not this one.

This blog is personal; what has happened and what is on my mind.

And after last night, I couldn't sleep for hours, so "up" I was. Not bad for a "searcher".

There are more dimensions to life than we know of.