Monthly Archives: February 2014

SHALL WE DANCE?

My mother turns 80 on February 28 and I have a story to share. Here is a photo of her and me, just a few years ago (ha!). Her name is Daphne and she is a remarkable woman.

jane en daphne

I could tell you many stories about her kindness, her brightness and her humor. Her generosity towards friends and strangers is simply amazing, but this is not  that story. My mother has always loved to sing, not in performance, but as she drove, did the grocery shopping or just doing anything around the house. I don’t think she is able to go into the store and buy anything unless she is singing along to the radio or singing her own song.

Years ago, when she was visiting me in Massachusetts, we went shopping. It was an indoor shopping center that was made to look like the old days. Each store opened up into a space that look like a market place. We wandered into a store that sold items from Poland. I remember this very clearly, because there was Polish oompa music being played over the speakers. I was in one corner and she was in the other, and I heard her humming along. There were no Polish words to sing and she did not know any Polish words, but if there was music, she was at least going to hum.  As we looked at the items, we started to slowly move towards each other. My mother tapped me on the shoulder, and as I turned to her, she put out her arms and I, in a complete loss of sanity, stepped right into her arms. We then did the polka right there in the store. In fact, we danced our way right out the door and then we realized what we had done. I was so embarrassed and she was laughing so hard, she had to hold on to me. Let me stress that we are NOT Polish, do not know Polish music or dances, but at the moment, we were as Polish as could be. We then kept walking away from the store, in case they were going to kick us out of the whole plaza.

That is my mother in a nutshell. Finding the little seconds of joy in unexpected ways and not being afraid of what others think. I wish I was as brave as she is. She has given me many things in my life and I am forever grateful for that sense of fun. We could all use a Daphne in our lives. Happy Birthday, Mom!

Recommended reading: WISE MEN Stuart Nadler. A great story of a father and son. I loved this book.   

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JANE’S BOEKENTIPS

It is so nice to read great books back to back. It is also nice and a relief to read good books that have been wildly praised by critics. Just because a book gets great reviews, does not mean that I will like the book. But when you have eagerly been waiting to read a book, because of the hype, it is a good thing to actually enjoy it. I was lucky with these two books. I am just going to give brief notes on each book and I hope it makes you curious enough to read them.

THE LOWLAND by Jhumpa Lahiri

THE LOWLAND is about two brothers living in Calcutta in the 1960’s. One brother was politically active and was passionate for equal rights. The other brother was a scientist who went to America to further his education. Their lives could not have been more different and that is what made this story so intriguing.

One brother survives and lives his life in Rhode Island. He is a great father and it feels like he has left India behind him. But really, the past is always with him. Ultimately, this is a great family saga.

I have long been a fan of Lahiri and she produces another novel with depth and feeling.

THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt

THE GOLDFINCH was not anything like what I thought it was going to be. Theo is a 13 year old boy being raised by his mother in NYC. On a museum visit, there is an explosion and his mother is killed. The only thing that Theo has from that horrible day is the actual Dutch painting The Goldfinch. He has no one in his life, but he is taken in by the family of a class mate. His long lost father shows up and takes him to Las Vegas. Theo’s life is full of unusual characters and he continues to have his big secret—the painting.

This big novel has a big story to tell. I was never bored and I never stopped caring about Theo and wonder what in the world was going to happen with The Goldfinch. Towards the end, the pages were flying and I was so captivated by the action. This is one of my favorite reads in the last year, purely entertaining and just so much fun to read. Enjoy!

Recommended viewing: I recently saw two fabulous films, NEBRASKA and PHILOMENA. Obviously, they are both very different, but both were very entertaining. You will see two excellent casts and fantastic writing. Both are worthy of the attention they have been receiving.    

12 ANGRY MEN

I just got a summons to serve on a jury. I have lived in The Netherlands for three years and I got a summons from my home town in Massachusetts to show up in April for jury duty. I guess word of my exit had not reached the courthouse.

Here in The Netherlands, there are no juries. There is no trial by jury in the courts. All court cases are decided by judges. It is a hard thing to get used to, as an American…to not have a jury system. But at least I will know that for many reasons, I will not be getting a Dutch summons.

In high school, my acting teacher showed us a film that is still one of my old favorites. He showed us 12 ANGRY MEN starring Henry Fonda. He said “if you want to know about acting, this is the film to see.” And he was so right. The entire film takes place in a jury room as they struggle to come to a verdict. After I got my summons, I remembered this fantastic film and it made me want to see it all over again.