Lake Minnetonka, Minneapolis, Minnesota
to Maastricht, Limburg, the Netherlands
I actually wrote and self-illustrated The Adventures of Yin & Yang: Snoepje & the Pizza Box in 1999 in one night, as a father’s day gift for my beloved Dutch husband, Martijn Hermse. Using handmade paper and primitive illustrations, I awoke during the night with the story fully developed, and while Maratijn slept, I wrote and drew it for him. We were then living on Minnesota’s famed Lake Minnetonka in the western suburbs of Minneapolis.
Martijn considered this life in Minnesota’s undeniable natural beauty as near to heaven as possible. And he was so contemplative a soul; our cats were perfect companions for a true philosopher, they seemed to posses the wisdom of the ages, like most cats.
It was I who suggested that we take an extended sabbatical – a few years to live, study and relax in Martijn’s native Limburg Province, also noted for its astounding beauty and quality of life.
In 2004, the University of Maastricht accepted me for a mid-career Master’s Program in European Public Affairs; I graduated with honors in 2005 and began working in diverse capacities for various departments at the university.
Martijn had begun exploring options to complete his doctoral dissertation at Maastricht’s Jan van Eyck Academy. Soon we settled into the gentle flow of the “Burgundian lifestyle”. Enjoying our Maastricht experience, we decided to extend our stay.
Then tragedy struck. In early 2007 Martijn was diagnosed with cancer and within 18 months he had passed away. I was devastated, but I promised my soulmate that I would tell our love story – a story that included our much-adored cats. And so, with the essential contributions of my dear friend and collaborator, Michael, I have.