Sunday, August 31, 2008

Last weekend of summer

We finally got the long awaited good weather with a week delay and we tried to enjoy it as much as we possibly could! For once in weeeeeeeks we had no fixed appointments and it felt like a great relief.




While I still wasn't convinced during our breakfast outside that it would truly become so warm that I'd be able to take my sweater off, it didn't take much time after lunch to hop in a small short and top and jump on our bikes for a nice long bikeride.






Sceneries along the "Rock Werchter" bike tour






It was hot! And we couldn't reach the beach along a surfing lake and we couldn't enter in private gardens that seemed to have a pool here and there. After 3/4 of the distance we finally discovered a big blackboard on what seemed a private driveway. It announced a lot of organic treats. We seemed to enter a private garden with some wooden benches in the grass where 2 ladies were chatting. I tried "elderflower lemonade" which turned out to be very refreshing. It was imported from the UK where there's a much greater offer of commericial but organic food and drinks than in Belgium. Something to look for next time I go to the UK!
All of a sudden a kid raced into the garden "Oh my God, there's actually people" and disappeared behind the corner to return a little later with his bike.
"And are you enjoying it?"
"Yes yes we do"
"Ok then you should come back another time"
...and off he went.

After a refreshing drink I had a tough last part of our biketour in order to get home and jump into the shower.

In the evening we changed our plans to go to a movie theatre with a friend into an outside dinner in Ghent, another drink in the city center and then we ended our evening at the Jazzfestival "Jazz in 't park" in the South park of Ghent. How appropriate to close the summer off with another touch of festival!!!! Woohoo.


And this afternoon we went underwater to cool off a bit...in an underwater temperature of 10C at -17m , that was no problem.

And now I am ready for the "New Year" . My agenda for September is already quite full!

Gustav

I keep thinking at all those people currently trying to get out in New Orleans....again....with the fear of what might happen and what they will find when they come back. I wonder what's on their mind. I hope all their rebuilding efforts turning New Orleans into New Orleans again will not get washed away.

I really really hope this isn't going to be a new Katrina catastrophe. At least I hope everyone takes warnings seriously now. In Cuba the security measures seem to have prevented casualties. Thank goodness for that!

Friday, August 29, 2008

You know you're in the Netherlands...



when you are standing on the top of a dike and the houses on your left hand side are lower than the beach on your right hand side.

The morning after

I slept very well in our new bed...my mattrass is so comfortable. Ouch , getting up in the morning will now be even harder than before!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our new bed has arrived

Hurraay hurray our new boxspring bed has finally arrived with personalised new pocket spring matrasses for both Jan and me: wider, larger and quite higher than our previous old self-fabricated bed dating from some forgotten time. We go from "double bed" size to king size. Our room feels a little smaller now, but I'll be used to it in no time!

And Jan already did some shopping for new sheets today. Doesn't he have style? I love it! Woohoo, can't wait to go to sleep!






oh yes and our oiled wooden floor looks really good :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stef is 3 years

and as he was spending a vacation with his parents in Zeeland, we went to visit him/them for 2 days (nice get-away for ourselves, no? :p).


Time for family,
beach,
Dutch dikes ,
lots of wind,
a dive,
story books about little icebears,
mussel dinners, ....

Splendid!




The birthday boy




Time to build castles




Dutch scenery

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Eneco tour

Belgium is a very small country.
Belgium has a lot of cycling races, small local ones to international classics.

So it is possible that you arrive at a family party and you wonder why you can't park in the street that afternoon. And then some of the arriving guests have heard that the 4th stage of the Eneco Tour of Benelux would come by the front door with Tom Boonen as favourite.

And then it is as simple as to walk outside in between the main dish and the cake with coffee to watch some of the more important tours in Belgium come by.



The fun (and irritating) part of a cycling race is that you don't know when they'll come by. Newspapers make predictions according to slowest, average and top speed when the race will come by at which point....but in the end you have to wait and see. More and more people start coming out, start talking, watch the police man on guard, and wait together.

Then more and more official (publicity) cars start racing by, motorised police, more official road signallers come to block of the side roads, .... and we all wait. No Tour the France circus to entertain us.

And you start getting impatient and someone goes inside to check on the tv where the race is about. And then more cars come by and one of them carries the red flag on the roof "Wedstrijd!' (Race) and you can see the helicopters hanging in the air nearby.

Before you realise a head group of a few cyclers races by....zoof....gone
Seriously I didn't recognise any of them.

After a couple of more minutes (and many dangerously racing motorists and cycling team cars coming by with dozens of spare bikes on their roof) the peleton races by.
15 seconds later it is over.

hahaha...Actually no, the car with the green flag (end of race) didn't come even after 15 minutes. We heard rumors about a big fall somewhere and didn't have a clue if there were more cyclists behind or not. Being on the road for a cycling race makes you so ignorant! You really have no clue what happens. So we went inside and checked it out for a minute on tv and then we went to have desert :D


Tonight I heard that it all regrouped later on and that Tom Boonen has won the sprint.

Renée is 3 years

Reason enough for a fun (but tiring) family party




The birthday girl


The youngest in the family preferred something else than BBQ and slept through the party noise


All the other children enjoyed the inflated jumping castle

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Keeping the best for last

Belgians are always in for a good joke. During 2 weeks we pretended we could not win any medals. And then when nobody feared us anymore....our last athlete coming into action won gold.

I said yesterday already that we had hopes for Tia Hellebaut, but she's one of the 6 girls currently jumping over 2 meters so no guarentee for a medal. But she made it as the only one in one try over 2m05 (new Belgian record) and that gave her gold. Woohoo.

Source: De Morgen

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sprinting fever

The Olympics 2008 were about to turn out the "almost, but not quite" edition for Belgium.

  • Soccer: 4th place
  • Cycling track men's couples: 4th place
  • Rowing skiff: 4th place
  • Judo -52kg women: 4th place
  • Kano 1000m: 4th place
  • Hockey: 9th place as the only amateur team participating (they all have other jobs)
  • All round gymnastics girls: in finals
  • Jumping: in finals
  • ....

When Kim Gevaert had messed up her start for the 100m in the semi-finals, our medal hope got reduced again. But she'd still participate in the 4x100m in the finals.

And yes we finally got our first medal. The 4 girls came in second! woooohooo . We are going to miss Kim when she'll end her career next year!


source: Belga source: PhotoNews

And now we hope Tia is going to jump her way up to Olympics heaven tomorrow. And the mountainbikers need to start and have won medals in the past. There's still a tiny little chance to get 3 medals for Belgium as we did in Athens.

How I spent my free afternoon on my knees

"How are the renovations"
"How's the house"
"Still renovating"


We often get these questions when we meet friends or family that we haven't seen in a while. Every time I answer them that all major works have been finished and I remember my mental long list of finishing up chores that we still need to perform: painting in final colors, adding some electrical plugs, changing some light fictures, ...

So what if you have taken a day off without specific plans and it turns out to be raining and the next week the delivery of your new ordered bed has been confirmed? Then you realise the time has come for some more action. Time to get on my knees this afternoon!



Deadline: next Thursday
To do: wash and scrub wooden floor, slightly sand it and then oil it
Progress status: floor cleaned





Picture before...still some glue spots left to clean before we can oil the floor

Intermediate 1: Scrubbing the floor with a "parket" cleaner product, cleansing it afterwards








Intermediate 2: floor ready to slightly sand, then oil

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bear hug

I've heard once the claim "Everybody needs a hug a day". Oh boy, that doesn't look good for Europeans because we are not regular huggers. We greet each other with one or more kisses and the natural cultural confusion that brings each time in an international setting : 1, 2, 3 or more? Quite fun, don't get me wrong, but not quite the same as feeling a pair of welcoming arms around you.

Hugs...one of the many reasons I like to hang out with my Canadian and American friends. They hug me and I love that :). So guess how thrilled I was to get this award from Jen of A2eatwrite




It's not a hug, it's a GIANT BEAR HUG. Sweeeet.

According to the award rules I can only pass it on 5 times to writers and their blogs.

  1. My first bear hug goes to a friend I met at RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) in Idaho in '99. At RYLA we hug a lot...because Rylarians are the best huggers ever.Hahaha. So I really think Allie from A day in the Life of the Whittinghams deserves this big virtual hug from me!

  2. I really want to give a big virtual hug to my Canadian host families. I miss them all very much. Maybe this can stimulate some of them to pick up blogging again, right Julia? right DMD?

  3. In '88 my life changed when a widely-smiling open spontaneous Aussie girl walked into our door as an exchange student and managed to bridge language barriers right away. In the mean time she went back home, found herself a wonderful man, raises a beautiful family and runs among others a succesful blog about style, interiors and colors at "All things bright and beautiful". Hey Zot Ding, I really wish I could hug your for real after all those years, but we'll have to do with a virtual hug now.
  4. One of the very first blogs I started to follow must have been Betsy's Blog Ness Monster. Since then I've been hooked to all the funny situations she seems to attract all the time, but have been sharing her worrysome moments as well. She deserves a big bear hug for all the moments she needed it and as a thank for many giggles.
  5. My last hug goes to Jenn from My Life In A Nutshell. She sounds like a great genuine mom and friend and I bet she's a great hugger!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Green cake


I am a very spoilt girl. I rarely have to cook myself as Jan loves to cook and Jan knows how to cook very well. I do like cooking myself but hardly even get to that anymore as my dishes always look pale to what Jan prepares.

Yesterday he was in a true cooking mood apparently. Beside rabbit and a meatloaf he was also making a cake.
A GREEN cake. Yep seriously it's quite green. And it is good! It's a lime-basil cake. Quite interesting smell, taste and look, but good. Since I am not into sweet deserts, I like this cake version much more than regular cake!

Interested? Check it out here (hihi the ingredients don't seem to match the dish though :p).

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hawaiian pictures

At the request of Anno and Jenn, this is how we looked yesterday. We had a lot of people looking around when walking to the car...sitting next to other cars at the traffic lights and arriving :p. Fortunately at the party itself we didn't stick out anymore!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Writer's block

No inspiration
When the deadline is near
I am getting stress’d

The time difference
Does give me an advantage
With some extra hours

My sheet remains white
The words don’t flow as they should
Stupid writer’s block

I guess I won’t win
The honourable award
For a haiku queen

I can live with that
Others are more talented
But it’s fun to try
Curious what this is about? Go and check out the Haiku Buckaroo contest hosted by My Mommy's Place.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Procastrination

Too tired to blog
When a fun contest takes place
How can I take part?

I have one more day
To use my brain cells up there
Into stunning art

One more night to sleep
Without counting syllables
Before stress will rise

Curious what this is about? Go and check out the Haiku Buckaroo contest hosted by My Mommy's Place.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sleepy conversations

Jan comes on an online messenger this morning

"Hey, did you fix that lamp?"
"huh, which lamp?"
"the broken lamp, could you fix it this morning?"
"no I did not fix a lamp, which light is broken?
"Well, the TL " (a fluorescent tube )
"aaaah........DUGH"
"hehehe"


-------[this took place at 6 AM previously] ----------

Both are asleep. Jan's alarm goes off on his mobile phone.
Goofball wakes up and notices half conciously the screen's flashing.

"oh, there's a TL broken...ah , it's your alarm. Pfff too bright"

Goofball turns around again and dozes back to sleep as she does not need to get up yet.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My sister's keeper

Last fall I read a book that I had heard a lot about and after some initial confusion and adaptation time I was truly mesmerized by it. Towards the end, for the first time in years , I cried while reading a book. Then I was reading "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger.
This morning I finished "My sister's keeper" by Jodi Picoult and I was crying once more. It was Jenn from My life in a nutshell who had brought the books from Jodi Picoult into my attention.

This winter I had already read "Plain truth" which I really enjoyed but which didn't leave me in awe either. I found it quite fun as the setting of a "who done it" novel (a baby was found dead in the barn) was in the Amish community.


'My sister's keeper' deals with a family struggling with the consequences of one daughter suffering a life threatening leucemia, the medical choices to make and their ethics, personal rights, the love of a family, ... The characters are very real with their confusions, fears, pains, ... This is not an upbeat book that tries to keep you happy for the sake of it. Even the unnecessary love story as a subtheme struggles with the same level of confusion.
And yet, you get dragged into this family's story from the start because they are so real. The book makes you think and wonder. And then the end smacks into your face.
I book I recommend!!!!

My first Marktrock

When I grew up, the kids of the neighbours, cousins or my sister's friends went to Marktrock in Leuven. Some groups claim to have grown at Marktrock. Whereas I had never heard of Beleuvenissen, Leuven-in-Scène, Hapje-Tapje, ...I seem to remember Marktrock since ages. When I just met Jan he was actually volunteering at the festival and he was phoning me late in the evening from a backstage location. When we were actually a couple he stopped working at Marktrock and we always had other plans or we found the tickets too expensive for the given program or ... So although I spent more and more time in Leuven, I had never been to Marktrock yet.

1,5 - 2 years ago the news got published that the organisation went broke, but a new group took over. Last year a new edition started on a new location: rather than the famous Oude Markt, the Ladeuzeplein was the place to be. No other squares were used for free concerts as in the old times. There was a lot of criticism on the lack of atmosphere, the Ladeuze which was too big, the lack of free concerts, ...

This year Marktrock was turned around once again: the organisation was outsourced to The Entertainment Group (also known from events such as VTM live)...and the main stage was back on the Oude Markt whereas the Vismarkt was ready for free concerts again and there is now a "Ball populaire".

Friday night was finally my first night at Marktrock. The Oude Markt was only half full for the Clement Peerens Explosition. Very strange feeling after being at the crowded square a couple of times before. Obviously this time the festival was paying and the entire day it had been pouring rain and the Sugababes had cancelled last minute. But the empty back side of the square was nevertheless strange.
Clement Peerens Explosition (A parodie group grown out of legendary satirical radio program Het Leugenpaleis ) was very good. Great funny band , hilarious lyrics (songs about cream cheese, ...), good actors, fun music, good mocking jokes about the artists that were about to perform.

On the Vismarkt was much more people but we didn't really stay there. I really liked the atmosphere at Zaki's DJ set though. His sons might be rocking the rest of the world with Soulwax and 2 Many DJ's, Zaki was doing a really good job in downtown Leuven.

All in all I had a good evening although I like the more family and busier atmosphere from Beleuvenissen more, mainly because I am more in those type of music styles. But I think this version of Marktrock is ready to start growing again! I heard that yesterday had 45000 people so the Oude Markt surely wasn't as empty anymore as on Friday evening.

Wisdom with hindsight

My energy levels are below zero and I'm fighting the urge to take a nap.
Our day started with a lunch and has been slow ever since: some reading, some tv, some telephone calls, a long hot bath, some papers to clean-up, some laundry, ...
My muscles are still very sore, especially my neck is killing me.

.........
The wedding party was very fun yesterday but maybe I should have done a little less headbanging on the dancefloor.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

How do you know that summer (vacation) is half over?

  • "Building vacation" is over
  • Even more road works starting up...blocking now my workaround road to work which I had to take in order to avoid traffic works. Now I make an even bigger detour. There goes the advantage of 'no traffic jams' up in smoke.
  • More cars on the parking lot at work
  • Some trees are turning already!!
  • I'm getting used to the summer tv programs and I stopped being irritated by the endless yearly reruns of everything.
  • I don't come home anymore thinking "oh I don't have to go to choir/yoga/.."
  • The most interesting festivals are over
  • Days are getting shorter again
  • Promotion folders in the mail talk about "back to school"
  • There are for once no politics in the news...those guys are all taking a break. Fantastic.
  • Dutch caravans don't only drive south on our highways but also drive north (with very tanned people in them)
  • The supermarkets don't sell strawberries anymore

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hapje Tapje

Sunday was Hapje Tapje in Leuven: a food/drinks festival where all restaurants put boots outside and sell food samples at small prices. As with all events, it draws a big crowd downtown and with reasonable weather all the terraces get full. In between all, there's a barman race going on across several squares. Funny to see them run by and try to make their way across the crowd (they don't have a seperate road to take and some squares were very very crowded!).


A fun day to guide Jason around. And since he won't make it next year, he got a sneak preview of the wedding locations :).



Monday, August 4, 2008

The Ypres Salient


The plan was to visit Flanders Fields and then continue to the Dranouter FolkFestival. But we underestimated a bit the amount of sites that are to visit in and around Ypres witnesses from the Ypres Salient. They've really well developed the "peace and war" tourism there. How sickening is that in a way? But it's so important!

Since we've never visited the museum "In Flanders Fields" in the Cloth Hall, we started there. It tells the story of WW I in and around Ypres from the standpoint of people who experienced the war themselves, the victims. The museum is especially based on interactive audiovisual evocations about the life at the front, the battles, trenches, no-man's land, weapons, medical care, fatigue, rest and entertainment behind the front.
We could also visit the special exposition on the multicultural aspects of the first wold war and showed the impact of the more than 50 cultures present at the front and how they experienced the war they were dragged into from far away (and vice-versa). Quite interesting.

For the rest of the day we walked on the city's ramparts, we visited "renovated" trenches; the Menin gate memorial which contains the names of 54,896 Commonwealth soldiers who died without graves; the bunker at the site where John Mc Crae has written his poem "In Flanders Fields" ; many monuments and too many cimetaries. The absurdness of a war.................So pointless.







We didn't make it to Dranouter anymore, but I found it a very interesting day. Solemn and grey but good.