I Am A Reader ...

There's not much that gives me more pleasure than finding a really good book.

I have two 'suppliers' here in the Flemish city of Antwerp.  The first is De Slegte aan de Wapper, just a couple of doors away from Rubens House.  The second is more of a secret.  It's the place where I find quietly superb books for .25 cents to 1euro.

We hired a city car for a few hours today.  Jess had an appointment with the dental surgeon and we delivered her to the hospital.  Then the Belgian bloke who is on holiday, and I, slipped away to the secret book supply shop and voila, treasure was found.

We found 4 beautiful hardcover Roald Dahl books for Miss 10, printed in Nederlands.  Then I discovered Dinner with Persephone by Patricia Storage (.50 cents), Alentejo Blue by Monica Ali (.75 cents), and The Colour of the Moon by Alkyoni Papadaki (1euro).

I love the randomness of secondhand bookshops.  I find so much treasure in them.  I just finished Tim Parks novel, Dreams of Rivers and Seas tonight.  I had loved his 'ethnographical' book titled A Season with Verona.  This fiction was something else.  Someone else's treasure, now my secondhand treasure.

But really, the reading is done on the trams mostly.  I was back on that early morning school run this morning.  Jess had her dental surgeon appointment today but turns out she can't have her wisdom teeth out until Thursday as there is an abscess which, combined with the pain of her teeth, is knocking her around something fierce. 

We were quite traumatised by our 5am ER visit and by the time she had been treated we didn't even dare ask which painkiller they'd IVed in to her, much less insist they might be wrong and that there was an abscess involved. 

We actually laughed as we walked out into Saturday morning afterwards ... that stunned ohmygoddidthatreallyhappen kind of laughter.  But today was an experience so opposite as to be surreal.  It was very healing and I confess, we were very very relieved.

So there is work to do and family to work around ... Gert has his appointment with a shoulder specialist on Thursday.  We're hoping he doesn't need surgery but it's not looking good.  He's been in much pain for 2 months now. 

My football team played a brilliant game in Italy last night.  I was glad not to be here.  The tension ... missed chances and the fact that they lost in the final minutes.  All this against one of the top teams. It might be an exciting season this season based on the exciting squad they've put together.

I was wandering out on Flanders Fields one frosty morning, with a small group that included then New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark.  I noticed these trees and stopped for a few moments, wanting to capture something of the light. 

The quote.  Justine Musk ... I enjoy her writing.


On Returning to Belgium ...

People keep asking me how the return to Belgium is going ... what can I say?

We have been pleasantly surprised by the 9 celsius temperatures we've had since returning but the grey grey days are testing me.  It's winter, I know, but Belgium does grey in a way that is unlike any other place I have known.  My tan will surely be leached out of me ... perhaps within days.

I miss New Zealand food.  I went to a Delhaize supermarket yesterday and came away sad over not finding anything nice, then realised I was searching for New Zealand food.  Just that.  Nothing else would do.

We are still tired after 60 hours mostly awake as we crossed the world, and in crazy-making ways.  Yesterday we set up my work station here at the desk and later, as we failed in so many ways at the supermarket, we realised that we had potentially used up our daily quota of intelligence on the work station.  The intricacies of supermarket shopping were all but beyond us.

Last night, coming home from a new year party, Gert kept nodding off on the tram.  He had to be quicker in recovering than me, as he has already had two days back at work ... but there was a price it seems.

I miss the freedom of driving long distances through beautiful scenery on almost empty roads.  I miss the little red car.  I miss mountains and rivers, endless coastlines, and the variations of forest and bush.  The smell of the air.  I miss sunshine, family and friends.  I miss a lot of things but I'm almost sure it will be okay fitting back into life here. 

I'm not going to ruin my life with all that I miss.  After all, it's as Justine Musk recently wrote, it is time for you to go on an adventure

Here's to some good adventures in 2013 ... for all of us.


Maya Angelou, Life

Because of the routines we follow, we often forget that life is an ongoing adventure....Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art: to bring all our energies to each encounter, to remain flexible enough to notice and admit when what we expected to happen did not happen. We need to remember that we are created creative, and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed.”

Maya Angelou