Persephone Abbott

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Reviewing Amsterdam

Posted on November 28, 2014

It is a curious thing, this curse or blessing of national identity. How do you see the world? More importantly how does your national identity change? I recently read Mr. Russell Shorto’s latest book Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City. Until a year ago Mr. Shorto had the prominence to be in the position of the director of the John Adams Institute in Amsterdam. Reviews on goodreads (the every person’s site for opinions on books) were very favourable, and equally some were less favourable. From what I could gather, the supporters of the book were generally Americans who had limited experience abroad. In this manner the references made in the book to facilitate cross cultural understanding made sense to those particular…

Reflections from the Cheese Market: Curly Kale

Posted on November 13, 2014

Curly Kale Stamppot It is ironic that kale, the main ingredient to the national dish Curly Kale Stamppot, is ever beloved by the Dutch while America has rediscovered the forgotten delight and how pertinent it is to promoting health when it comes to pushing vegetables in glossy magazines. A colleague said to me, proudly, that he’d signed up to attend a cooking course on Forgotten Vegetables.  For him, being Dutch, that meant: turnips, parsnips, and quinces.   “I’m having some kale,” a kale non-affectionado wrote of his gin and tonic, “Cheers!” I thought that was the best portion of kale I’d ever seen. “What should I write about?” I asked one day at large for a subject. “Kale!” came the reply. I wrote about kale, for which I…

Love From Beyond the Pump – Reminiscing

Posted on August 24, 2014

Geraldine was outside in the courtyard.  In between the rain storms, taking advantage of the sun and wind, she’d strung up her mother’s rug on the communal clothes line. Standing in the shadows of the building, she raised the carpet beater and slapped the rug with decision. As the dust flew, Geraldine thought about her mother.  Perhaps it was time to go and clean the pines needles from the grave. She hadn’t been in a while, and she thought she’d try to persuade her sister to join her this time. Whack! She beat the top again, starting over from the beginning.  Bert stood in his window across the courtyard and watched Geraldine beat the rug on the clothes line. The dark rug was an…

Love from Beyond the Pump (Another Episode in a Short and Unfulfilled Story)

Posted on August 12, 2014

Bert signed up for Tai-Chi.  His fourth wife, Elise, was relieved to see him taking an interest in his health. She also thought it was about time he got out of the house more since he’d retired. Bert stood outside every morning in the courtyard practicing his moves after the neighbour’s kids got off to school. He didn’t fool Geraldine, who had nerve enough to wave to him nonchalantly as she set about her household chores. Bert was trying out the move called “Snake Creeps through the Grass” which he’d mastered, so far to his knowledge, fairly well. He was slowly moving past the pump on the far corner of the 16th century courtyard where he lived. He was hoping that Geraldine would offer…

Love from Beyond the Pump (A Short Story)

Posted on July 30, 2014

Bert liked to visit Geraldine who lived across the courtyard from him. He could see she was home, so he walked over, past the old pump and rang the bell. Geraldine had been cleaning the windows.  She stood there in her striped pastel colored t-shirt that made her upper body look more like a barrel than a woman, and he thought she was wonderful.  As wonderful as the day he first laid eyes on her, nearly 55 years ago when his  mother first took him to school. She offered him coffee as he knew she would. She asked him about Else, his fourth wife. Bert didn’t want to talk about Else. “Listen,” she said, he always liked to talk to her, “Why don’t you,”…

Talk About Cheesy

Posted on July 12, 2014

Once upon a time there lived a giant named Titus. In truth, Titus was an unemployed large person who lived at home with his mother. Carefully tucking a string bag into her coat pocket on market day, Titus’ mother went to the market square. There at a cheese stand she bought eight rounds of young cheese, the kind that comes held in a red wax seal. When she got home Titus could hardly contain himself at the sight of the string bag of cheese treats. He found it particularly exciting to slowly peel the wax away from the cheese and watch it emerge, tender and pale opalescent jelly just pleading with him to be gobbled up in two dainty bites, equally unresisting and impatient mood enhancers. (Story: P. Abbott)