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An afternoon in Amsterdam

Trust me not to do my homework...It was pouring down with rain this morning, which gave me the idea that it was a perfect day for a visit to the museum. What museum? The Rijksmuseum! Obviously, I'd been there before, for conferences and seminars, but I couldn't remember ever having been there as a tourist, and thought today would give me the perfect opportunity to wander around its winding corridors and see what, apart from the Nightwatch, it had to offer. However, when I got there, I found that it was under renovation, and only a part of the collection was on view. So instead of whiling away a pleasant afternoon looking at Teh Art, I barely managed an hour, and came away feeling quite cheated and annoyed.

Why was I annoyed? Because some arse trod on the hem of my skirt, tearing it, and walked off without a word! I was speechless. There is a tear in my lovely new witchy skirt! So it's hardly noticeable (except to me, but I know it's there) and I'm sure I can stitch it up again if only I can find some black sewing thread somewhere, but to tread on a woman's skirt when she's done nothing to you, and to walk off without so much as a by your leave or a sorry -- what's a Philistine like that doing in a museum, anyway?

I treated myself to a nice lunch after that, though. I came thisclose to ordering a lobster, but came to my senses just in time and had a goat's cheese salad instead -- I may have been in need of comfort food and lots of it, but there was no need to add insult to injury and beggar myself in the process of acquiring it.

On my way home though, I couldn't say no to a set of matching bra and knickers in a lovely cream and brown colour, at half price in the sales.

Now, a meme to get my mind off the fiasco that was my trip to Amsterdam. Gacked off the lovely grapefruitzzz, here's the premise:

The problem with LJ: We all think we are so close, but really we know nothing about each other. So I want you to ask me something you think you should know about me. Something that should be obvious, but you have no idea about. Ask away.



Jan. 12th, 2006 01:08 pm (UTC)
Oh no, don't feel embarrassed about having shown an interest in my family history! Truth be told, I'm quite proud of it, in fact -- it was the way I was raised. My mother and her sisters (and cousins and great-aunts) have always relished telling us about our provenance, and as children, I must admit, we loved to hear it. Very few of the 100% Dutch children that we were at school with could tell much about their families -- some didn't even know the names of their grandparents, which struck me as extremely odd at the time.

I know the story of Jefferson and his housekeeper -- wasn't there a film starring Sam Neill a few years back?

Though the family have always wondered about what the baron ever saw in his <>nja</i>, as by all accounts she was a cold-hearted bitch whose children and grandchildren feared as a witch...(I think I may have told you about her before).

Interesting to see you use the word Indian. I thought all Americans were scrupulous to refer to these people as Native Americans...;-)

And I must admit to having a certain romantic notion of Indians, having grown up with endless re-runs of 1950s westerns on TV. 'Injuns' were noble savages who rode palomino horses and weren't afraid to take on men with firearms while they only had bows and arrows, and beautiful feather headgear...when we were playing at cowboys & indians, no one wanted to be the cowboys. Of course that image changed in 1973, when the news was all about Wounded Knee, and we started to understand that a gross injustice had been done to these people in the past, and that we were even perpetuating that with our silly games. I don't think we ever played cowbys & indians after that anymore, and the sale of teepees took a beating in the toy shops.
Jan. 13th, 2006 03:02 am (UTC)
I think you should be proud of it! I did know my grandparents, all but one (there's a skeleton in the closet there) but it stopped there. My sister-in-law did some digging round the family tree and found out about the Civil War great-grandpa and his widow's difficulty getting her widow's pension from the gov't. I posted about it once.

Yes, there was a film with Sam Neill about Jefferson and his housekeeper -- but I did not see it. I remembered reading about DNA and the Jefferson descendants, legitimate and illegitimate, all getting together in a huge reunion. Some of the white ones don't like the black ones, and vice versa, I suppose, but it's fascinating to have the old family legend validated. Must feel very vindicating to the black side of the family.

No, you did not tell me about the great-grandma (the baron's wife) -- a cold-hearted bitch, eh? Scary! You mostly told me about your mum and the war. We Americans are so sheltered not having had war on our soil (not counting the Civil War) since the revolution. Well, in WWII the Japanese were in the western Aleutians, and Pearl Harbor of course, but it was a territory, not a state yet. And the Indian Wars. A couple of good-sized ones in my grandmother's day. She was six when Wounded Knee occurred.

Which brings me to the use of the word Indian. Yes, most right-thinking PC Americans say Native Americans, and I usually do myself, except with Indian people, who refer to themselves as Indians. It's parochial. You caught me with my hair down! (Frank refers to me as an "honorary Indian.") But you are totally right -- it's more polite to use Native Americans. I guess I was using my "in," as it were.

I had romantic notions of Indians myself, but now have first-hand experience with what a fine man he is, and seeing how lovely he is to my relatives, especially the elders. Reverence for the elderly is very traditional. Well, I won't go on and on but you know...!
Jan. 13th, 2006 12:56 pm (UTC)
What? I never mentioned my scary great-grandma who was a real life witch before?

Unfortunately, I don't know all that much about her, as most of the people who knew her late in life, who were children at the time, have died -- and their memories of her must certainly have been tinged with the legends about her. My mum told me that she was terrified of her, and was once sent to stay with her for two weeks as a punishment for having thrown a tantrum at home. She says she can't remember a single thing other than being made to fill a water basin outside, and her grandmother bringing that water to a boil just by glancing at it, and telling her she'd go in if she ever misbehaved again.

Other family members have told me that she was known as a practising witch far and wide, and people came to see her if they wanted people to get well -- or sicken and die; and that both these things lay in her power. She lived alone in a little house in the country were she held chickens and grew her own vegetables. I got the impression from the stories that she was quite self-sufficient, and a bit of a recluse, who even her own relatives thought was unpleasant, malicious and cruel, but who no one liked to mess with because of her alleged proficiency in guna-guna.

BTW, it's doubtful that she was ever legally married. But her employer (who I never even thought of as my great-grandfather before, but I suppose he must be) did acknowledge the children he had with her, and made sure they were clothed, fed and educated; so that's something at least. I'm not sure when he died, exactly, but it was well before my grandmother ever met my grandfather.

Which brings me to the use of the word Indian. Yes, most right-thinking PC Americans say Native Americans, and I usually do myself, except with Indian people, who refer to themselves as Indians. It's parochial.

Aha -- same as when you hear black people call each other that word that we are all taught from a very early age to avoid at all cost, and which I can't even bring myself to write down here. I'm glad you cleared that up for me: I'll make sure I'll say Native American if I'm ever in American company and the subject comes up. Although over here in Europe, the word 'Indian' is still prevalent.

Respect for the elders and elderly is an integral part of Asian culture, too; and I've certainly inherited that through my mum's side of the family -- although to be fair, I'm sure my dad must have put the same emphasis on the need to be polite to older people for it to have become such an integral part of my early conditioning. ;-)