Saturday, May 9, 2009

Second Sight

This entry has been bouncing around in my head since mid-March. I think it's time I finally posted it.

There are two things that have made me look at Middelburg in a different way this semester.

The first is simply that it's my last semester at RA, and therefore in Middelburg. I'm pretty broken up about it. A lot of my friends just laugh about how excited they are to get away. I'm excited too, and looking forward to living in a big city again, (whichever one it might be!) but I'm really going to miss Middelburg. So I've been noticing little things, buildings and streets and such, that I never noticed in the last two and a half years.

The second reason is, in the end of February, I went to have my eyes checked, thinking I might need glasses; the people at Pearle Opticiens freaked out and told me I need to see a doctor or I could go blind.

I think what they were trying to say is that it looked like I might have glaucoma. I went to the optometrist and he said I was fine (though I did need glasses).

So, if you ever have to get your eyes checked in the Netherlands... maybe don't go to Pearle.

Two or three weeks later, they told the same thing to another RA student, and her numbers weren't even as high as mine.

Anyway, a scare like that is enough to make you look at things in a different way. So I started taking more pictures of things that I love and things that I'll miss and things that I've never noticed before. Here are some of these photos.

These trees are so pretty in late February. They have a pretty greenish tint to them and look like something from Dr Seuss.

The Lange Jan tower peeking out above the buildings

The van de Perre House, the 16th-century home of some wealthy merchants, which I pass on my way to school (and just about anywhere else) every day.

Which, coincidentally, is on one of my favorite streets, right behind my house.
I only realized how much I love this street this semester.

Looking down the other direction, the way I walk to school. This street feels somehow "French" to me. I think the "CAESUUR" sign reminds me of the town of Caen in Normandy... dunno.

I walk this way every day and never noticed all the windows.

Look how incredibly ugly this building is! One day I was walking home from class and saw this for the first time. I stood there, astounded, wondering how I could have missed it for so many years. It's so ugly it's almost beautiful, especially among all of the truly beautiful old buildings of Middelburg. The crooked shades perfect the look.

Dutch light and windmills

Funky, funky buildings in Vlissingen - and the beach

And, a series of pictures of amazing Dutch light... sorry, they're a little blurry, I was so excited I couldn't keep still.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Classic Covers

Or perhaps I should title this, "Covers of Classics". Because their covers are anything but classic.

There are lots of classics of children's literature that I love, and re-read, over and over again. I know I've mentioned Betsy-Tacy multiple times already. (At the moment, I'm supposed to be preparing a presentation on the autobiographical nature of the series. Ranting about the cover designs, though, is even more fun.)

Other favorites include the Little House Series (which grow in my estimation every time a Dutch friend of mine acts bored at the slightest mention of the books - how can anybody hate them so?), Little Women, and the Lois Lenski books (although I haven't re-read many of those) among others.

When the new Betsy-Tacy editions came out in 2000, I was very disappointed with the covers. The Diane Goode ones were so cute and perfect, continuing the tradition that Lenski and Vera Neville began, with lovely, vague illustrations that allowed the reader to hold onto their unique mental image of the characters. The new covers were anything but vague, and the only possible improvement can be to the last two books, which were never done by Goode. They have that fake-photograph type of illustration that is rarely any good.

But I must admit, the fake-photograph is better than the actual photograph. I recently saw the newer Little House books and shuddered. On the cover of These Happy Golden Years, Almanzo looks like a gothic 15-year-old (he should be 27 or so), and Laura like his flirtatious girlfriend. Can you imagine her latching onto him like that on one of their evening buggy rides? I don't think so.

To whom are they marketing these editions? Is this the way the publishing houses try to catch the attention of a generation that was raised on television?

Does that mean illustrations are on the way out, too?

I'm looking forward to the new Betsy-Tacy editions, however. I don't love the idea of the last six books being released in paired bindings - Heaven to Betsy and Betsy in Spite of Herself in one volume, etc - but the covers are more old-fashioned and sweet again, and they're in affordable, long-lasting hardback, which makes it all so much nicer. And I need hardback - my copy of Betsy and Joe is about to fall to pieces.

I'm such a traditionalist. I sometimes wonder how I can ever be expected to fit in in this era...