two very special friends of mine and of the entire Love family.
Mike and Monica Flaim live in The Netherlands, near The Hague. I think they've been there for three or four years. My, time flies! It seems like just yesterday that I was writing a letter of recommendation for Mike to obtain a teaching job in Europe. He's been there, done that.
But Mike is not the kind of person who simply goes there, does that. When Mike Flaim is in one's midst, look out! His incredible zest for life, energy, intelligence, cosmopolitan experiences and impish irreverence made him an instant friend the day I met him at Jeralyn Lewis Mire's wedding.
I don't know how long Monica had known him by that time or if that was the occasion that brought them together, but the "Flaim" ignited, and they've had a happy, fascinating marriage which has taken them on a steady stream of inspiring adventures.
In this most recent sojourn, Mike is continuing to do what he was born to do: teaching the children, smart ones too. Meanwhile, Monica is enjoying the Dutch culture, helping out at Mike's school and doing what she was born to do: riding horses, Arabians, and, yes, they're as smart as those students of Mike's.
I could tell countless stories about Mike and Monica as our paths have crossed in numerous wonderful ways. In fact, I mentioned this couple in a posting a while back while telling about Chase Mikkelsen's giveaway party where he received his Gros Ventre Indian name and invited a small group of folks who'd provided special guidance to him along his 18-year journey. Keep Chase's name in mind; he may just make the roster for the Seattle Sounders Soccer team.
Monica told me that they lit their gift of sweet grass, given to them by Chase, when they christened their home in The Netherlands. She also concurred with my thoughts that the gathering was a momentous lifetime experience for each of us, who were fortunate to be invited.
I could tell stories about Monica, one of my students in the late '80s, who never forgot when our English class recited Edgar Allen Poe's "The Bells."
We performed that poem a lot during my teaching tenure, and I can't think of a single time when it wasn't one of the most fun times of the school year. It always started out slowly, since the kids weren't quite sure they wanted to partake, but once they got hooked by the mesmerizing sounds of the poem, they engaged themselves full speed ahead.
Hear the sledges with the bells - Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.
If you want to inspire a fun Thanksgiving Dinner-table performance with family, you can find the rest of the poem at http://www.online-literature.com/poe/575/ In our case, the class who taking first place in the annual "The Bells" competition won donuts from Safeway.
Mike endeared himself to me in various ways. We often discussed church matters. He understood my frustrations but we chose different routes---in my case a slight detour to a different church. Mike was much stronger than I in that category.
We were, however, on an equal plane during faculty meetings. Faculty meetings were never favorites for either of us, so we entertained ourselves while other staff members discussed, at length, the newest tardy policy or while the principal issued the perennial warning about using too much copy paper.
While this was occurring, facial gestures were subtly shooting across the library. Somehow Mike always positioned himself for a straight shot toward my eyes. Once our attitudes deteriorated toward the "compelling reasons for having to sit through this one more time," the facial Olympics began.
Primitive behavior would be the best description: how many of you can reach the tip of your nose with your tongue?
Mike and I could-----without detection from the powers that be. Mike was also pretty adept with his remote-controlled fart machine. One of our English colleagues was not adept at figuring out "who was doing that?" We never told her, but we sure giggled a lot.
Mike and his sister Geraldine sang at our son and daughter-in-law's wedding at St. Joseph's Catholic Church seven years ago. The combination was lovely, to say the least. Mike and Willie also played basketball together at our local hoopfest on none other than the Flaims.
I miss the fun times we had when Mike and Monica lived here, but I'm excited to be back in touch with them, especially touched that they've decided to chronicle their fascinating lives in The Netherlands through their own blog. So, if you want to read some fun stuff, check out their blog site.
Then, go into the bathroom, face the mirror and see how far you can extend your tongue up toward your nose.