Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lemonade


Last Saturday, Carol from Northwestladybug gave me a lemonade award which recognizes bloggers who "show a positive attitude and/or gratitude in their posting." She considers me a "blogger who I believe turn lemons into lemonade on a regular basis".

I felt so honored that she had thought of me and that she considered my blog showing some positive attitude. I really touched me.

The irony is that the last couple of days I am struggling hard to feel any bit of positive attitude at all. Remember that I was home in January after some minor surgery to remove a cyst at my tailbone that seemed to be prone to a recurring under-skin infection? That it had not been the first time that a doctor needed to do some cutting there? That I really thought in January to be biting through the sour apple to get rid of that type of problem for good.

Can you feel my distress and panic when I started to have the o so familiar pain again right there? When I started wobbling through the house again like a duck with a big ass? When sitting down become something to be avoided again? Gosh when I realised I was truly dealing with the same thing for the 3rd time in 1,5 year, I could only panic. I didn't sleep on Sunday night and when the doctor confirmed the verdict on Monday morning I could only cry. I can't believe I have to go through this pain and healing process again for the 3rd time....2 months before my wedding in the middle of all plans. I'm afraid. I struggle to find anything to make these lemons taste a bit sweeter.

After a couple of days I'm calmer now, but I can tell you I really do fear whatever decision the doctor will have to make this afternoon. I know this isn't the worst health problem at all, but it's sure pretty annoying and painful. Yikes.

So despite the award, my lemonade is a bit sour this week. But fortunatly there's many more bloggers that show off their great positive attitude which makes a visit to their blogs so rewarding and refreshing:


Of course, all awards have rules:

1) Put the logo on your blog or post.
2) Nominate some blogs that show great attitude or gratitude, (i.e. turn lemons into lemonade) 3) Link to your nominees within your post.
4) Let the nominees know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5) Share the love and link to the person from who you received your award.



Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hup Kim Hup

The rumours and evidence became already more and more clear over the last weeks, but now it is official: Kim Clijsters starts tennissing again this summer. Yipeeee yippeeee, so cool to have our most sympathetic player back on the courts.

For those of you who have been following my blog in 2005-2006 already know that I was a big fan of Kim and Justine and I was very disappointed when Kim quit in May 2007, followed by Justine's stop in 2008.

but now I can start cheering again. Hup Kim Hup!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ashamed

This article is so sad and shocking.....simply because it's true and that's a shame. I'm glad the Englishspeaking readers of this blog can't read how the Flemish (politicians) are becoming more and more narrow-minded and intolerant. Argh! :(

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stunts going up in the air

I don't like radio that only plays the same 20 records in between the many many jingles announcing annoying stunts & games. It's one of the reasons I can't listen to Q-music very long.

so I can't help but finding this very amusing. Hihi. It'd be funny if they succeed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fireworks in Mechelen

Wedding planning, work, a dinner with colleagues on Thursday, a birthday party in The Hague on Friday, a lazy morning with friends in The Hague, dive training on Saturday afternoon, ...
Yes I have a lot on my plate so when my friend sent me a text message asking if we wanted to join her in Mechelen at a city festival my first response was "oh gosh no, I just wanna be home for an evening".
But it was such a lovely date on the first day of spring and city festivals are so fun and the program made me think of 'Leuven in scène' last year which was really good. So I hesitated. And we went and it was great.

The big concert on the Vismarkt didn't have much atmosphere when we arrived. The stage was placed across the river and the sound didn't come across well so people on the square were talking and chatting and making it even harder to listen to the music. But there were bands marching through other streets which was fun.
By 9.30 PM we joined the crowd on the big market square to watch the music/light/fireworks show. Oh man that was good.

More than half an hour we watched "Les commandos percus" : a team of musicians-pyrotechnists looking like a bunch of welders in a STOMP show, delivered a music show perfectly synchronised with their original and spectacular fireworks. To see such a show in front of the ancient historical buildings....wow.
Aparently they were the closing act of Leuven in Scène last year.




After that next to us some colorful hoses were blown up in the air. We had seen the installations and had figured it'd be some of those hoses or men that you sometimes see at sportsevents. Only these were huge. Very huge, ...10 to 15 stories high and the technicians kept waiving them over the crowd into a fascinating abstract ballet on top of our heads.




source: by verbisthans


The entire show ended with some more fireworks lit from the cathedral tower as if it was set ablaze.

source: by Jawel!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

He's such a comedian

Since Thursday my voice is hoarse and I have to restrict myself to only whisper the most urgent things as concise as possible in order not to force my voice any more.

Jan doesn't need much more to joke around and to chuckle constantly:
  • "oh did you just come in, I didn't hear you"
  • (when I am clearly not saying anything) "what did you just say?"
  • "maybe we should go to the karaoke tonight"
  • "shout if you need anything"
  • "so why don't you tell me about ...."
  • "everything ok, you are so quiet?"
  • ....

It's quite a different experience to go to a birthday party when you are almost totally

voiceless



Do you want to congratulate the fabulous birthday girl as well? Go then and leave a comment at Jenn in Holland ! Go on then...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lists

Maybe I'm a bit more quiet here lately because I'm quite busy at work and then in the evenings, I'm busy with this type of lists in my head

  • location: booked more than a year ago
  • caterer: booked
  • townhall: booked
  • church: booked
  • dress + shoes + jewels: bought/ordered
  • men's clothes: ordered
  • rings: bought/ordered
  • DJ: booked & appointment made
  • photographer: booked
  • guestlist: finalising, gathering addresses
  • invitations: finalising design, checking print offers
    choose envelops: to do
  • children's clothes: shopping day planned
  • choir: booked
  • flowers: to do
  • Taxi: booked
  • Honeymoon vacation: booked
    (and new passport ordered....getting international driving license and check vaccinations to do however)
  • Hairdresser: booked (test time to plan)
  • Make-up (and dermatologist check-up): to do
  • Menu's: to do (waiting for info from caterer)
  • Wedding service : to do
  • Notary: to do
  • Table settings: to do
  • Hen party: apparently getting planned
  • ....(all the things at this moment not in my mind)


No wonder there is less room for blogging huh ;)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A bit of Australian sunshine

A couple of weeks before we had received the file of our Austrialian Rotary exchange student who was going to live with us for a couple of months while my sister was on her exchange in Canada. The badly copied files showed a curly girl with an exotic name smiling to us. I didn't know enough English to read any of her hobbies or stories.

The evening of her arrival I rushed more quickly than usual out of my classroom and I wished my parents were accerlerating a bit more to get home in time. The moment a local rotarian pulled up our drive-way at home, I was in my bedroom trying to peak unnoticedly out of my window to get a first glimpse of our houseguest while trying to remember the few lines of English I had learned with a Berlitz cassette tape borrowed from the library. Would we be able to communicate? Would we get along? Would this foreign teenager be interested in a child in elementary school?

My worries evaporated immediately when I got caught in a big enthousiastic hug when I entered the living room. This unknown girl was shivering uncontrollably in her skirt, blouse and blue cotton Rotary blaser in the middle of January and didn't move a step away from the burning fireplace but her smile was sure warm enough.

Later on that evening I helped her unpack. Her suitcase look like it had survived a whirlwind inside and when I was done sorting & folding clothes and assigning the piles to different shelves in my sister's closet, I lacked some space. She had noticed my pondering face and took a pile, threw them from some distance in the closet and closed the door. Voila problem solved. From that moment I knew there was a new wind in the house :). And I learned an important lesson: don't worry about trivial things (and most things are trivial).

The next weeks and months were an adventure where I learned my first bits of English and she learned more and more Dutch, where missed train stops and "alternative" itineraries were a regular feature, where the search for misplaced items was eternal and where ribbons could lead a second life as hair decoration or could hide the safety pins in a last-minute self-made gala dress. Her smile and spontaneity had the magical power to make everybody happy and my well-structured parents didn't seem bothered by her "unstructured" room in the least bit which was a miracle on its own. Everyone whome had met her and her famous unseperatable piglet backpack seemed to remember her forever: years later my Latin teacher in high school referred out of the blue to that Australian exchange student that once studied here, my music academy teacher did so and my sister once spent a full train ride trying to figure out with a stranger why she looked familiar to him. Finally he remembered: my sister had once sat in the train next to a curly girl with a big smile who had been laughing so incredibly loud. True facts!


My sister's letter full of unknown exciting adventures & events in Canada such as eg Halloween, ... and this outgoing teenager in our house triggered my dream to be an exchange student too and it learned me the importance of being as open-minded & outgoing as possible on that journey. 8 years later it would be my turn but I don't think I've been able to live up her legacy at all.

The chocolate paste industry in Belgium has never fully recovered from her departure back home and my Australian sister was even more greatly missed in our family. Paper letters, then e-mails, then blogposts kept us up to date from her studies, travels, wedding, international moves, artistic talents and growing family and kept us assured that she's still our crazy Australian girl.


Last Friday we got an e-mail: she's coming to our wedding. It's been 20 years since we've last seen each other.


MAVIS DAVIS IT'S UNREAL.....I'm so excited.

Friday the 13th

  • I found an e-mail in my mailbox this morning with very very good news (more about that in a later post)
  • My hair brushed just the way I wanted
  • I had a meeting in the "chalet" (the most impopular meeting rooms in some side building) that thanks to the nice spring weather for once had a enjoyable temperature and I really enjoyed the view on the horses again and the view on a chasing cat outside....those are moments I truly enjoy not working in the city centre of Brussels anymore.


  • I was quite amused when I noticed paper flyers that had landed on the lights....(hmm when would that have happened I kept wondering)

  • My software tests were going ok
  • We made progress in the wedding planning

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Diego

Since I haven't had much time this week to blog, I figured I'd post a song which we practise in our choir at the moment. We sing it in 4 voices with some echo's in it etc...It sounds really nice.

This is the version brought by France Gall.

Monday, March 9, 2009

How ironic



So here I was posting about our lovely spring walk thinking how much I enjoyed walking outside with a coat unbuttoned, ...

and then you walk up and you see a tiny layer of snow everywhere. Tiny and negligable but it does seem those weather gods were mocking me. pooooh.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A lovely spring walk

For more weekly winner participants, click on the banner or go to Sarcastic Mom!!

Last week we could already enjoy some tentatively nice spring days in London and we saw nature waking up after winter. See the crocusses from London here. But despite some cooler days last week and a freezing night, spring is truly starting in Belgium too and the crocusses in the park around the corner proof it!



After a rainy morning the sun broke through the sky this afternoon inviting us for a great walk outdoors.
One of Flanders biggest forests (still dating after the ice ages!) : Meerdaalwoud with Heverleebos starts at about 2 kms from our house and that's where we headed.


the sun shining through the trees and the majestic long lanes

Light at the end of the tunnel , under the E40 highway which splits the forest.


We noticed some animals woken up from their winter sleep...

and other strange creatures such as Asian university students with a pink hat and reindeer antlers sticking out. WTF?

University buildings at the edge of the city in Heverlee

Kajaks on the Dijle


The castle park of Arenbergh in Heverlee

Friday, March 6, 2009

Le vent nous portera (Noir Desir)

simply because I like this song :)


I'm not scared of the road
We should see, must taste
From meander in the hollow of your breast
And there everything will be ok
The wind will carry us

Your message to Ursa Major
And the trajectory of your race
An instant of velvet
Even if it's not useful though
The wind will take it away
Everything will disappear but
The wind will carry us

The caress and the grapeshot
And that wound that tears us appart
The palace of everyday
From yesterday and tomorow
The wind will carry them

The genetic in shoulder-belt
Chromosom in the atmosphere
Taxis for galaxies
And my flying carpet says ?
The wind will take it away
Everything will disappear but
The wind will carry us


This perfume of our dead years
What can knock at your door
Infinity of destinies
We lay some but what do we retain?
The wind will take it away

During the tide rises
And everyone is doing its accounts
I take in the hollow of your shadow
Dusts of you
The wind will carry them
Everything will disappear but
The wind will carry us

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Eat, love, pray



At the start of February I started ready the hyped book "Eat, Love, Pray" written by Elisabeth Gilbert after I had heard so many positive reactions to the book from so many different people.

So I started in the beginning of February with a lot of anticpation and excitement and I've finished the book last Wednesday Feb 25th.
For comparison: in January I've finished 5 books (which was unusually high since I was home on sickleave for a while) and since Feb 25th I've already finished another book as well with more than 400 pages (also a big quicker than usual as I had a lot of time on the Eurostar to read last weekend). Still : it took me 25 days to read it and that basically says it all: the book gave me no urge at all to pick it up the next day for further reading. I've finished it because of determination to finish it.

Elisabeth and I just didn't hit off on the right track from the beginning. I started reading her story about crashing in the bathroom floor wanting to step out her wedding for no reason she can define in the book but she fills multiple pages about it anyway. She describes finding communication with God via prayer, via a scratch book in which she writes answers to herself form God, via a ashram in New York,... Hmm if any of those methods is satisfactory, why continue looking for new methods? I can only think "gosh can you stop whining, get some grip, find one method to help yourself and stick to it and be content with what you have". The entire start is one big bundle of complaints and self-pity and I don't feel like reading such stuff in my free time.

I'm not saying that I can't understand how unhappy one can feel in a marriage, how confusing and irrational relationships and all the linked emotions can be (it truly can make you a wreck), how things need time to heal and settle, ....And writing it off can be very very therapeutic. But it's hard enough to deal with your own confusions and frustrations and fears, it's hard enough to be there when friends need you and listen to their story. So I do not wish to read this type of stuff from someone unknown unless I learn from it, unless it's entertaining, unless it's insightfull. I found it neither.

So our protagonist decides she needs to take some distance from it all but she cannot decide whether she wants to go to Italy (to enjoy the language and the food), to India (to visit her guru's ashram) or to Bali (to visit a traditional medicineman she met before)....so she decides to do all of that.

Her Italy trip proofs to be as superficial as food and language promised to be: she talks about newly met friends but her friends stay unidimensial in the story and I hardly learn anything new about the Italian culture. Language courses are given up as they would keep her from enjoying food and conversations too much, .... All of this is mixed with endless thoughts whether she can live without a relationship or not and whether she can give up her last American affaire for good. Hmm weird I thought she had broken up a hundred times already but a final letter seems to set the deal. Pheww.

Her India trip is the total opposite from Italy: sober diners and hours of meditation. At first I totally recognise her struggles to concentrate during meditation and all the (funny?) mind tricks we struggle with when our thoughts jump around like grasshoppers in our head . But one chapter about physical problems to sit still in meditation, one about concentration problems, one about some mantra which she first hates and then loves.......Zzzzzzzzzz, sorry too much of the same. And I am way to rational to deal with her nice little story where she reunites with the spirit of her ex-husband to reconcile with her spirit on the roof of the building. Personally I love yoga to become calm and relax and to clear my thoughts but I do not feel a need to reach some higher extasis united with the rest of the universe. Since she doesn't leave the ashram in those 4 months we learn nothing about India and the Indian culture.

Her Bali trip was the part of the book I enjoyed most. She finally seems to focus a little less on herself and all her struggles and pains and starts to show interest in the local habits, culture & rituals, describes more encounters with new friends, landscapes, etc...Since we will go on vacation to Bali over a couple of months that was rather cool. But I wasn't interested to read all her dilemma's whether she'd give up her goal to abstain from sex for a year or not when she meets a hot new lover. And she gives up her promises to keep the medicine man company and to teach him English as soon as she finds some new friends that are clearly more interesting to her.

I found this book very tiring with a very egocentric undecisive whimsical protagonist who seems to want everything at the same time (no lover or multiple lovers, one destination or many destinations, many meditation techniques, food indulgance versus sober life, ....) and who seems to struggle forever to be at peace with her life and to stay satisfied. By the end of the book she seems to have evolved into someone who has after all found that peace....but somehow I doubt seriously that it'll last. Isn't she going to fall back in all the same traps when she goes back to her old life in NY. It's fun to escape from your problems by travelling the world but we don't learn how she'll tackle her return to reality.

In all honesty I must admit that I would have been much less frustrated with the book if I had not first read all the positive comments and had set my hopes up so high. I guess I struggled with the fact that my expectations weren't met. If I would have never heard of the book before, I probably would have read it and put it aside with the thought "oh well, glad that it's finished, it was ok but nothing more". I kept wondering where the humor was that people referred to, I kept wondering how this book could have changed people's lives. It didn't change mine.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Spring is coming!


...already a tiny bit sooner in London than in Belgium but it's here around the corner too.


My last weekends favourite pictures


Following Lilacspec's example, I'll post some of my favourite pictures of my last weekend in London. For more Weekly Winners just click on the banner.



The Serpentine in Hyde Park


Temple Church
Inner Temple courts
Sheep at the Paternoster Square


Near St. Pauls cathedral


Lloyds

Sunday, March 1, 2009

How I picture the city of London

  • Busy roads full of grey monumental big boring buildings


  • Posh neighbourhoods with gorgeous houses







  • Different neighbourhoods full of little stores, coffeeshops, snackbars, bars, ....to browse and to enjoy


  • Stretched out beautiful parks



  • Playful but arrogant squirrels



  • Just around the corner of some of the most busy roads, you find back alleys, mews and quiet little squares.





  • Pubs with excellent traditional pub food

  • The best museums with free admission! (and with very tempting expensive expositions ;) )

  • Fashionable people that is usually one or 2 years ahead of Belgium. (although this time they seemed to have been stuck in the ultra skinny jeans and leggings with long baggy sweaters/T-shirts & big belt whereas Belgium is already giving up the skinny jeans? Or don't we?....The long shirts do merge into a trend of ultra mini skirts though which is probably coming across the channel soon. )


  • The tube with escalators full of musical publicity
  • Porridge as breakfast, a exquis quick Thai lunch, an extensive Libanese dinner, the best Indian food, a pub food lunch, a big Chinatown, ...... The world's cuisine all within reach.


Yep those things mean London for me.

I go on vacation and I take back home....

...from London....

  • Ordered books for friend A that are soooo much cheaper in the UK than in Belgium
  • Some more top paperbacks for myself while we were bookshopping
  • Multiple Indian spice mixes from Tesco to fill our herb drawer again
  • Hedex headache painkillers and some similar things for a friend B
  • 240 Tetley tea pads for a friend C
  • A sport drink delivery for friend D

I guess some people were disappointed that their UK supplier will no longer be available ;).