May I ask you something? What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Do you sleep on one pillow or on several? Do you install your software yourself, or have someone else do it for you? What would you rather get: a bunch of flowers or a bottle of wine? How much is one plus one? Always? How many hammers do you own? Do you prefer to wear gold or silver? Have you ever lost something valuable?
Hurray, I am one of the 20 winners of the writing competition ‘The Bench’!
‘With ‘The Bench’ Creatief Schrijven vzw, OPENDOEK and Kunstwerkt were looking for original dialogues that took place between two people on a bench. We received no fewer than 242 entries. After careful consideration, jury members Pascale Platel and Daan Pleumeekers selected 20 laureates. Their texts will be played by actors and canned as podcasts. Visual artists will make an ‘image’ to accompany it. In the summer they can be heard via a QR code on benches in more than 100 towns [in Belgium].’
On Fridays Marc usually fetches food for them from a Chinese restaurant. On Sundays they eat the leftovers. Because it is only a short time ago on Wednesdays, and is not going to take long either, it sometimes seems like they eat chinese all week long. That is of course not the case. Marc cooks often and delicious!
As a child, building her own tree house seemed like the pinnacle of bliss to her.
It never happened. In the garden of her parental terraced house there was no room for a tree house. And in the trees in ‘The Woods’, a piece of nature with walking paths, a deer camp and a duck pond, around an old country house that they optimistically called ‘the Castle’, she was not allowed to indulge herself with hammer, nails and saw.
But in her mind, she built the most beautiful tree houses, with secret defenses against intruders. Her dream cabin would, even then, be a creative studio with a wonderful view of the ‘wild’ nature, in which she would experience many exciting adventures. She grew up in a time when as a child you could wander around on foot or on your bike wherever you wanted, as long as you were back home in time for dinner.
Today she and her husband live in a house with many rooms, including her study, her crafting materials warehouse and her creative studio. The ideal tree house! Too bad it doesn’t fit in a tree.
Our gray-striped cats, we have two of them, are of course sweet, but they can also be quite annoying, especially when the weather is bad.
They then meow dozens of times a day: ‘hey, will you open the back door for me?’, which makes it difficult for me to concentrate on anything. If I try to ignore their meowing, it gets louder and more compelling: ‘hey human, will you finally open that door for me?’.
When they are indoors, I can temporarily distract them by playing with them. It usually goes like this: I play with a cat toy and they look bored at it. Sometimes they give it a slow tap to end the hassle.
They do this meowing, that starts friendly, but gets more and more demanding, alternately indoors and outdoors. When they are indoors, they want to go out, and when they are outdoors, they want to go in.
When it rains, or the ground is covered in snow, they scream bloody murder to be let indoors. They are only allowed to when I have cleaned their paws with an old towel.
Five minutes later they have already forgotten that it was wet and cold outside and the hassle starts all over again: ‘Will you open the door? Meow? Meeoow? Meeeeeeeoooow!’
Did I mention we have two of them? They take turns.
Fortunately, the footsteps behind her in the dark had stopped. She exhaled with relief. Two more blocks before she was home. Suddenly strong hands closed around her neck. She saw a stockinged foot.
During her daily walk through Quiet Belgian Village, the residents today seem to fall spontaneously as soon as they see The Maakster. That could of course be coincidental. It hasn’t frozen, on the contrary, it is actually quite warm for this time of year, but last night’s rain has made the remaining rotting leaves on the street slippery.
Halfway through her route, between the sports fields on one side and the mountain bike terrain on the other, The Maakster sees an elderly man with his dog in the distance. The man suddenly swings both his arms through the air and then falls slap on his behind. The dog, a blond labrador, looks at him in surprise. When she passes him a moment later and asks how he is doing – the man, not his dog –
She’s got a math dent. In fact, she’s got a dent for all science subjects. This is why. She has a brother who is a year and a half older and who has a math bump, or rather a bump for all science subjects. He studied physics with a specialization in astronomy. So, when she was born, there was nothing left, just that dent.
(A math bump, or wiskundeknobbel, is an actual word in Dutch. I made up the math dent.)
May I ask you something? What was the year 2020 like for you (the year with the Covid19 pandemic)? What was the worst moment for you? And what the best? What did you find less important in the past year? And what has become more important to you? Do you think you will do things differently in the future? If yes, what? What are your wishes for 2021? And what are your plans?
At the end of the year, you often sit together with the people that are dear to you (in the same room, or via an online connection).
Make your get-together this year and the coming years special by starting a new tradition: the end-of-year Turning Point Tradition.
How does that work?
Everyone takes three turns to speak.
1. In the first round, you share those things that were the most negative for you personally in the past year.
2. In the second round, you leave the negative behind and share those things that have been the most positive for you personally in the past year.
3. Finally, in the third round, you share your wishes and plans for the coming year.
Of course you don’t have to share everything if you prefer not to.
The Turning Point Tradition is not an obligation, but a loving invitation.
Internet Shop here. Thank you for having placed an order with us a minute ago.
If you suffer from forgetfulness: this is what you just ordered.
Thank you for your order. We will deliver it as soon as possible (even though you have said that you are not in a hurry and that, from an environmental point of view, you would prefer us to take a little longer).
If you suffer from forgetfulness: this is what you just ordered.
Our life is very different from that of our ancestors.
Long live progress!
But since the introduction of automation, we have been exaggerating.
We confuse progress with consuming ever more and ever faster, and have lost sight of the limits of our physical and mental health, of the resilience of our environment and the exhaustion of our natural resources.
We are living faster than ever before
‘Hi, how are you? Where are you from?’
‘Do you have a boyfriend? No? A girlfriend?’
‘How old are you?’
‘Where do you live? Oh yes, that’s nice. I’d love to live there too.’
‘So, how much rent do you pay?’
‘Are you here on holiday? How long will you stay?’
‘Why are you friends with him?’
‘You look great! Better than when I met you last week.’
‘Have you put on weight?’
May I ask you something? Do you like pop music? Do you play a musical instrument? Do you have children? If not, do you want children? Can you jump high? Do you know the Pythagorean theorem? Do you ever use more than one question mark? Do you think that adds something? Are you a chilly person?
Sometimes she wished she had considered other career options earlier, such as deep-sea explorer or archaeologist or ice sculptor, even though she could hold her breath for less than a minute underwater, she had to sneeze from dust and the blood would withdraw from her fingertips as soon as she took a tub of butter from the fridge.
I love books.
For as long as I can read, I have loved all kinds of books: fiction and non-fiction, novels, short stories, poetry, books in every genre, on every subject.
The public library in the town hall was one of my favorite places in my youth, with its hollow silence, disrupted by hesitant piano notes from the music school above it, and its typical dusty smell of books.
We all want to have things that we don’t have yet
and do things that we haven’t done yet.
Sometimes we become dissatisfied if we cannot fulfill those wishes immediately.
Now imagine that you are simply satisfied instead.
Satisfied with what you have and satisfied with what you have done.
Perhaps not just satisfied, but even proud and happy.
Imagine: the Upside-Down Bucket List.
Forget that ambitious Bucket List,Read More »BG 25 – Upside-Down Bucket List
May I ask you something? Do you like fish? Have you ever fished? Would you rather live by the sea or in the mountains? Are you currently wearing socks? Do you have long or short hair? Do you have curls? Do you like black and white photos better than colors? Are you color blind? Have you ever baked pancakes?
Her daily walk through Quiet Belgian Village takes The Maakster over the Noensewegel, a narrow, asphalted path for cyclists and walkers. With on the left, purposely hidden from view by greenery, a quiet cemetery and a slightly less quiet institution for the mentally handicapped, and on the right, behind a ditch with scattered pollard willows, pastures that in summer are grazed in turn by a group of cows.
This morning, preceded by loud yapping, a pretty young womanRead More »BG 22 – The Dog Dance
Dry your hands, your feet, your face, your body, your hair, your cat, your dog, your favorite chicken, your cow, your horse, your window frames, your gutter, your fence, your door handle, your bike, your scooter , your car or your garden furniture with it; clean your shoes, your pans, your windows, your brushes, your blackboard, your nose, your armpits or your buttocks with it; wipe away dust, chalk, mud, spilled drinks, makeup, paint, suds or lubricating oil with it; use it as a rug, picnic blanket, basket lining, doormat, beach towel,Read More »BG 18 – Creative thinking: What can you do with a towel?
A house across the street is currently an open house. Not an open house in the normal sense of the word, but more of an unintended sunny home.
The former residents, an old-fashioned unmarried sister and brother, who still pumped water in their kitchen, did their laundry by hand, cooked on bottled gas and did not trust any bank with their money, have long gone. The brother to the afterlife and the sister, who never left their yard, – adrift in the fog without her brother – to a nursing home.
The people next door bought the house,Read More »BG 16 – Sunny house
People often say ‘I can’t draw’ or ‘I can’t write.’
But is that really true?
Unless you have a physical disability that prevents you from moving the tip of a pen or pencil over a piece of paper, or from using the keyboard or mouse of a computer, you can draw and write!
Maybe the standards you set for yourselfRead More »BG 14 – Yes you can
We write black. We also write all kinds of other colors, but they look black just the same.
At night I wait in the dark on her desk. When it is quiet and cold. Behind me the computer and printer rest in silence. I remember the last word we wrote last night: call. The kitchen is next to her office and the connecting door is always open, so that it doesn’t get stuffy here during the daytime. As a result, I can hear the hollow plastic kitchen clock ticking away the seconds, louder than during the day. A lonely car rubbers through the puddles on the cobblestones in front of the house. And like every night I lie here waiting patiently.
When the new day has started,Read More »BG 12 – Ballpoint pen
May I ask you something? How old are you? How old would you rather be? Do you live in a big house or a small house? Do you like to eat bread? Would you rather put chocolate sprinkles or cheese on it? And butter first? Do you like to read? Do you own more or less than a hundred books? Have you ever changed a car wheel?
Of the four chairs that usually stood around the kitchen table, one was missing this morning. That was strange. While looking around for the chair with her brother, she found a note from their mother on the kitchen table. That was even stranger. Mother had written that she would be out all day and not be home until late, that they should not be worried.
On social media a video appeared that was made in the early light of the rising sun using a drone. A curious circle of empty chairs was lined up around the large roundabout just outside the capital.Read More »BG 8 – The Roundabout