Tag Archives: what’s not to like about the USA?



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Ready for floating

It’s raining, pouring, outside.

Last night as I lay in my bed, listening to my old man snoring the white noise of the rainstorm, I felt soothed and washed; swept away, even. When it rains here in MO, it rains in earnest. This is so different from the relentless rain of The Netherlands. There, it seems, rain is the constant, the norm, the backdrop for every day’s events. It’s not so much that it rains a lot in Holland as it is that it rains constantly through the seasons. The continual drizzle wears and tears at the psyche and pulls the corners of the mouth downward. Also, it wreaks havoc on a tan.

Missouri rain, on the other hand, feels like rain with a purpose. Rain that falls in an attempt to do its job and do it well. Rain that will be relentless, but only for a time, not forever.  As a point of contrast and comparison, the total rainfall each year in Missouri and The Netherlands is nearly the same, with MO besting NL by a few inches.  This is what I mean by purposeful rainfall. There is a quota to fill and the rain clouds of MO seem intent to do it in record time, dumping rain to the earth in measurable buckets, then they move on.  Cue sunshine and blue skies, the rain is gone. No chance for the rainy day blues to linger and become the actual blues, or extend to SAD.  This means very good things for me.

What the chattering puh-puh-puh-pupupupupu of the rain means for me is the accompaniment to my dreams at night and my waking steps in the early hours of day.  This morning, with the pitter-pat-a-pat-a-pat still at play on the windows of my bedroom, I couldn’t stop the rhythm from turning to melody,  chasing down lyric.  (Seriously, how can I keep from singing?)

“Well, if it rains, I don’t care
Don’t make no difference to me
Just take that street car
That’s going uptown

Yeah, I’d like to hear
Some funky Dixieland
And dance a honky tonk
and I’ll be buying everybody
Drinks all round”*

And so it rains, and I don’t care. In fact, I am captivated, inspired, and  ultimately charmed.  Missouri, for all its surprises, is doing just that: it charms me. From the summer fireflies, to the autumn colors, to the bright harvest moon in clear skies, I am charmed. 

“Keep on shining your light
Gonna make everything
Everything, gonna make
Everything all right”*

And now, for the rest of the music. But before you go (press play), I should also like to mention that the Mississippi River runs through my new state; near my home, actually.  Therefore, by rights, poetic or otherwise, this tune is mine in a way that I’ve not been able to claim before.  This is the rhythm of my day.  You can sing too, if you like.

“Pretty mama, come and
Take me by the hand
By the hand (hand) take me
By the hand, pretty mama”*

Funky harmony is a marvelous thing.

 “Come and dance with
Your daddy all night long”*

Come on, climb aboard the raft with me.

 “… [we] ain’t got no worries
Cause [we] ain’t in no hurry at all”*

*Doobie Brothers, Black Water, 1974

Hosted by SMID

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Village Pub


Belly full of food:
bangers, mash, and autumn beer
Digestion delight

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On youth and jubilance

giggles punctuate
each bounce of the yellow bus
as the wheels go round

 Hey, are we there yet?
I think I need the toilet.
5-year old madness!

 Addicted to joy
a Kindergarten field trip
is chaos I love.

Kindergarten trip

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What’s your druthers?

When I was very young, on the occasion that our family  of eight would go to a restaurant to eat, I would sit and stare at the menu, overwhelmed by the offerings. I declared on more than one occasion “there are too many choices”, my brain unable to take in and compute all the options and render a reasonable decision. It’s still that way to this day. Restaurants that offer a 10 page menu tend to make me want to throw up in my mouth a little and my general M.O. is to fold it over politely, set it down on the table and ask my mates “what are you going to get” and make my decision based on the 2 or 3 choices narrowed down by their interests and taste.  This self -limiting selection thing has spilled into my parenting. I am a big fan of the “choices” technique in offering autonomy to my children.  As in:

“You could choose this or that” 

“You may eat this or that”

“You can watch that or this”

Which has served us all well over the years.  Here, I must admit that six-year old Andrew’s recent boisterous declaration that “THERE SHOULD BE SIX CHOICES BECAUSE I AM SIX” has thrown me for a loop.  Honestly, who can cope with that many choices, man?

Which brings me to this point. One of the recurring questions people pose to me as a repatriating citizen of the USA is something along the lines of  “what do you find most difficult about returning to the states?” And while I cannot claim this next bit to be MOST difficult in a list of difficult things, I can boldly declare it to be my personal most OVERWHELMING adjustment to stateside living.

In a word: CHOICES.

There are just too damn many.

In the early days and weeks of our return I managed to avoid any stops at shops bigger than the convenience mart at a gas station. But ultimately, I knew that for the good of me and the good of everyone I am supposed to feed in this family, I would have to break down and enter a supermarket.  I started with the local Trader Joe’s which is actually a breeze in shopping for me. I love the sights, sounds, smells and SIZE of TJ’s. As Goldilocks quips, this store is “just right”.  But not too long into our stay here there was need (now I cannot even remember what) for me to venture to the neighboring SUPERMARKET to get supplies.   It was late at night, I was alone (seriously, I made Don come with me for the original adventures in US shopping) and I was armed with my list. My approach through the produce section was thwarted by the slightly prodigious selection of pre-cut fruits–do you like your watermelon in wedges, spears or cubes?–and as my heart rate rocketed upward I cast my eyes at the empty cart and pushed ahead. I really did okay, looking up occasionally to  slide something into the trolley, and it wasn’t until rounding the corner on the salad dressing aisle that I felt I might altogether lose it. Rapid pulse, shallow breath, clammy palms, I literally sat and stared at the WALL of bottled dressings for maybe 15 minutes trying to take it all in. Were it possible to broadcast inner thought, the sound over the muzak would have been “woah, woah, woah, woah, woah, wah, wah, wha, wha, wha, WAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!”  which couldn’t have possibly made me any more of a spectacle than I already was standing stock still, eyes wide open, in front of Paul Newman and his cohorts on the shelf. In a lifetime of sampling, I wonder, can you actually taste all the varieties on offer?

At this point, all I can offer is gratitude for oil and vinegar. And no, I still haven’t looked at the cereal selection.

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