Sunday, February 8, 2009

regarding the castle with a frozen moat.

As I write, we are about to leave my auntie Marion's house and catch the train with Dad's brother Wim to stay at his place. We've just had Uncle Leo's birthday party with Wim and two of Leo's sisters; Wim is still here, and Dad is packing. We'll be back here for a couple of days later on, so although the last few days have certainly gone fast it's nice not to have to say goodbye to anyone quite yet. It's good that way. Even as I meet people, it feels sad and strange to know how soon now we'll be leaving them.

Anyway. A piece of good news is that Suikerspin is found: this morning I went to say hello to him in his cage and he was missing! We put the cage outside and later on found him sleeping quite happily in his home--though he seemed much happier when we brought him in out of the cold. (I really want a hamster.)

I'm starting to pick up some Dutch, though only really a tiny bit. I can sometimes follow conversation, helped also by the etymological links to English and such, but will have to do a lot of work to even start to know it just a bit. I want to though. One thing I've noticed is the element of things that used to be in old, middle or early modern forms of English as well, but now aren't. Some of the inflection forms are like that; and I don't know a lot of Old English, but lots of words I've seen here and there are also turning up in Dutch words. For example I noticed that the word for king, koning, is a lot like cyning, and the word believer, geloof, is like geliefen, so I could work them out. Anyhow, it's a nice language to start speaking in bits and pieces. As I said elsewhere, pronouncing the spelling feels similar to reading Chaucer in the accepted way (like in those good Year Eleven days...).

The day I last wrote was a nice one: we went to Helmond, a nearby town, to buy a present for Leo (as I said, it was his birthday that day). On the way we stopped in at the local castle, which has been turned into a beautiful little museum of local history and of Dutch art.

When we got home Mlein and Leo were back, so we gave him presents, had a pear and caramel pie, and spent some time talking; then Marjolein and I got to properly hang out, which I really enjoyed. She's the loveliest girl, and she's been through some very hard times especially with her family splitting (her three older sisters live with their dad); her being unwell has also made her move to a school that is socially more difficult and where academically there is pressure not to do well. She doesn't fit in and is teased because she wants to be a friend to people who are really struggling, and she enjoys gothic style fashion, though she says she actually has a variety of tastes. She's really interesting. In a way she's very fourteen-year-old, of course, but she's also insightful and also really compassionate and accepting. We got on straight away: she's vibrant and friendly and fun, and a great conversationalist even in English. She showed me some of her drawings and poems and her favourite music (she's also obsessed with a German band called Tokyo Hotel), and I showed her lots of photos and convinced her to come to Australia with me :) So I rather enjoyed that, and I just so wish I were around more often here.

[Having written most of this on Saturday night, I finish and post it on Monday; I was going to tag it on with today's thinkings, but I find they are long enough alone.]

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