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From the high country to the Low Countries

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“Coach” Don Miller is a Glenwood fixture, a staple. His son, however, is another matter. J.D. Miller has been more of a Glenwood emissary, traveling the world and experimenting with life as though it were an open page upon which he could write whatever he wished.After a stint in the military and a wide variety of jobs ranging from horseshoer to insurance agent, J.D. Miller wound up moving to the Netherlands (also commonly known as Holland) with his wife and family in 2003, where he’s lived ever since.Which his family, by his own admission, thinks is a bit nutty.”They think I’m a bit crazy, and to be honest, I agree,” said the younger Miller. “I initially couldn’t think of a good reason to come here other than to make my wife happy. But in the end, my wanderlust and desire for adventure won out.”It’s the same reason I joined the Navy, really. Because it’s new, exciting and different,” Miller said.Miller met his wife, Florie, in Glenwood in 1997, right after he’d returned from serving in the Navy. Miller landed a job as a horse wrangler, leading tourists up into the mountains on “fake cattle drives,” and Florie was a co-worker. They wound up getting married, had a son, and lived in Carbondale for five years before moving to the Netherlands, where the couple had a second son.”I am endlessly amazed watching my two boys grow up in a culture that is the opposite of what I knew as a child,” said Miller. “It is the dichotomy that keeps me fascinated. Every day there is something new and weird happening here. It’s indescribable.

“Everything is different. Nothing is the same,” Miller continued.For one thing, Miller said, Amsterdam is the “gentlest” city he’s ever been in.”I’ve been hanging out in dark alleys in Amsterdam, drinking at 2 in the morning with an Irishman I just met, and we’re totally safe,” said Miller.Another difference, one Miller thinks is both funny and irritating, is small social differences. Just recently, Miller went to the doctor’s office and discovered the hard way that the Dutch consider it rude if you don’t say hello to every single person in the waiting room.

“If you don’t, they will say rude things abou you as if you weren’t even sitting there,” Miller said.But in the same breath, he’s quick to contradict any romantic notion about living in Europe.”It’s not like the travel shows that we have all seen in America. I am not on vacation here with an unlimited budget, but just another working stiff trying to keep it together,” said Miller.In fact, he had an incredibly difficult time finding a job when he first arrived. Previously, Miller said he’d never spent more than a week at a time looking for a job, but when he got to the Netherlands, it was eight months before he found employment at an optician’s office north of Amsterdam.”These people expect experience for everything,” Miller explained. “In this country, once you have some kind of training, the idea of switching jobs and doing something else is a complete antithesis to them.”All Miller wanted was a simple manual labor position, but it was impossible for him to even get a job trimming roses or loading trucks. In the end, he said he got lucky because his boss “took a chance on me.”Looking back now, Miller admits, “It was stupid and crazy for us to move here, because I didn’t speak the language. If I had known how difficult it would be, I would never have agreed to come.”But during his time in Europe, Miller has finally accomplished one of his lifelong goals – he’s published his first novel, a fantasy/sci-fi work called “Imago, the Red Castle.”



“Imago” is a modern-day fantasy à la “Lord of the Rings,” about a small kingdom surrounded by a boundary of trees. The realm is located in the modern world but within a kind of timewarp of its own so that it leaps back and forth between centuries. The tale is full of magic, mythical creatures and adventure.”The idea for this book came from a million different sources,” Miller said. But one of the biggest inspirations, he said, was Glenwood itself.”The story itself takes place somewhere above a small mountain town, guess where, and when our hero looks out from his domain and down the mountain into the valley, well, let us just say it is Glenwood I always have in my mind’s eye,” said Miller.Currently, Miller is waiting for the results of a book contest he’s entered his novel in. He’s also holding an art contest for both the cover of his novel and also a map that he wants of the world he’s created. Though the novel has already published with cover art and a map Miller drew himself, he said he’s simply not satisfied with the work, and is in the market for an artist. Anyone interested should contact Miller at artforimago@yahoo.com.The novel itself is available via http://www.lulu.com/imago, and will soon be for sale on amazon.com.Contact John Schroyer: 945-8515, ext. 529 jschroyer@postindependent.com


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