A Note from a Winter Day in Belgium ...

And the burn-out has continued here in my world but I'm running up the stairs again, finally.  I'm not taking that forgranted ever again.  Now to commit to taking the vitamin D I guess.  Apparently 80% of Belgians end up  deficient in vitamin D ... this New Zealander too.

As for the burn-out, I'm not sure that it's still that.  Now it seems more like I'm looking around and thinking 'what next?'  But instead of attempting to follow multiple paths, I'm thinking of just one or two.  We'll see how that plays out.  I have remained slow ... very very.  And I'm letting it be like that.  I have had a few times of intensity, quickly followed by that descent back into slow.

I know it's a luxury.  More time without income but still, the Belgian bloke seems happy enough with the housewife who has stepped up as me.

Lucy, Ruth and Fiona, lovely friends from near-by, birthday-gifted me 50euro in book vouchers for my favourite secondhand bookshop here in the city.  I stretched it out over 3 visits and I'm rapt with my books.  I finished it on Tuesday, with two books about artist and wise woman - Georgia O'Keeffe, with a third by New Zealand writer, Barbara Anderson.  Oddly enough, I didn't see the similarities in the titles until later but Anderson's book was a slice of home that I couldn't resist.

I had my hair cut too.  'Cut' might be too big a description.  I have finally found a hairdresser who listens to me ... a hairdresser that doesn't immediately start cutting while attempting to make me stylish.  She also found a way of unifying the damage I had done with my boxes of hair colour bought at the supermarket.  I can only adore her for this.

The Belgian boke's frozen shoulders are almost completely recovered.  His flu is gone, and the relapse he had seems to have left the building too ... as of last night.  Fingers crossed.

We're slowly making our way towards Christmas.  We have a tree, some presents, and plans are being made with regard to the food.  Since returning from that Christmas we spent at home, back in 2012, I have flashbacks to how good it was there ... in summer.  And the food.  And the way that my sister made sure I was spoiled.  It was like a journey back to my childhood ... almost.

The haircut and colour ... it's below.  I think I take the worst photographs of myself.  I'd like to claim that the light in the bathroom is bad, that I use a telefoto lens and end up jammed against the wall but really, there are no excuses.  It's more about the fact I quite like the difficult light and employ a little ineptitude when it comes to self-portraits.  I like the blur and shake of it all, the strange lighting and I remain defiant in my use of the tele-foto.  Not something I would teach but I might say, know the rules and then break them.  Don't be afraid to play a little.

The Price of Water in Finistère by Bodil Malmsten.

I'm in my garden in Finistère filling out change-of-address cards.  It's an afternoon at the beginning of September 2000, a  soft haze over the countryside.  The Atlantic is breathing tides and seaweed, the reassuring sound of the warning buoy like an owl.

I live in Finistère because I've moved here.  It wasn't by chance; for a woman of experience there's no such thing as chance.

Sleep with open eyes and you shall find.

... In the same way that there's a partner for every person, there's a place.  All you have to do is find your own among the billions that belong to other people, you have to be awake, you have to choose.

Extract from The Price of Water in Finistère by Bodil Malmsten.

Who could resist a book with an opening like that ...

I'm a reader who loves to fall in love with the opening paragraph.  I found this book today, by chance, in my favourite secondhand bookshop here in Belgium.  And fell in love.

I began reading it while waiting for the metro, read it as we slid through the underground on Tram 5, and will read it whenever I have a moment spare. 

It's beautiful so far.


Trains, Friends and the tiniest mention of my Nespresso Machine.

I’ve been busy and I have had no idea how to write of it all. 

Perhaps I should blog a story of each day because I know I have missed telling some beautiful stories along the way. I saw it begin to happen back in the Genova.  I dropped the ball when it came to some of the every day beauty of people and place.  There was the time I wanted to save the story of eating at Chichibio with Stefano until I could tell it beautifully ... but it slipped away in the cascade of the life I lived there.

It’s not too late though, and if you are ever in Genova and want someplace where you can enjoy exquisite food in elegant surroundings, I would suggest you hunt down Chichibio at via David Chiossone 20R.  You can phone for a reservation on 010 247 6191.  Not to be missed.  And, as always, I followed Stefano’s advice when ordering and had not one single regret. 

Grazie, Stefano ...a long overdue grazie.

Then, on Thursday, I was up and out the door with Gert.  Well, that was the intention however, he did ask me if I had my 10-ride train ticket for the big trip to Leopoldsburg and perhaps I didn’t ...

So I set out again, scarf and train-ticket packed, arriving in plenty of time to board my departing-hourly train and blogged my fabulous Wednesday from the train.  Destination reached, my lovely lovely friend, Judy, met me there with her car and over coffee we agreed, Maastricht was the destination.  I had heard rumours of book stores ... rumours whispered to me by Judy, who just happens to love books as much as me, if not more.

We started out in Selexyz Dominicanen, which has to be seen to be believed.  It is housed in a most unexpected space, a cathedral full of books, with a coffee-selling cafe up the back ... seemed like heaven to me.  I was disappointed with their selection of English books but then again, I’m not the easiest reader to please and have been spoilt by De Slegte, my favourite secondhand bookshop in Antwerpen.  It seems the English-reading Antwerpenaars and I are compatible.

After exploring Selexyz Dominicanen, Judy and I wandered off into the streets of Maastricht, making our way to the secondhand bookshop, De Slegte, Maastricht ... hooray.  And it was there that the wheels fell off Di’s Intention to be a Good and Frugal Wife.  No really huge crimes were committed.  There was a beautiful book titled Venice is a Fish, a sensual guide by Tiziano Scarpa - a Venetian poet, novelist, playwright, and essayist.  And a couple of others.  Under 20 euro altogether ...

If books are my heroin, then I think we could view this visit to my ‘supplier’ as hopeful in terms of managing my addiction.

It would have been more positive were I not currently intent on roaming the ‘Roads to Santiago with Cees Nooteboom.  A beautiful book ... exquisite.  I think you might really enjoy this one Shashikiran

But back to Thursday ... so Judy took me over to the river Maas, after book-shopping, to a beautiful little cafe on the edge of the water.  She wanted to show me that Maastricht really wasn’t in Luxemburg, Germany or Austria (silly kiwi girl), and it takes its name from the River Maas.  This river Okay
Okay ... I get it now.  Mostly.

Happy, we drove back across the border and into Belgium for dinner, where we devoured the most excellent pizza I’ve had in a while.  Dank u wel to Judy ... it was a lovely day in a lovely place with a lovely person.  And the pizza, a thank you to Willy too. 

Back in Antwerpen, and waiting for a very tardy tram 10, on the very day that Belgium was having its coldest 14 July since records began back in the 1860s.  It was an unexpected 12-14 celsius, with rain.  No one else there at the city tramstop was prepared for the summer plunge.  We were all very sad and grouchy.

Friday came along and was a slow day, where I caught up on housework and photo-processing.  There was a wee Nana-nap in the afternoon, some lovely Chianti in my evening ...

4.30am Saturday morning. 
I should have been sleeping.  I wasn’t.
I tried but no, that was me, still awake when the alarm went off at 6.30am. 
A mad dash, my bag packed (more or less), running from the house at 7.15am.  I was on my way to Brussels to visit with a lovely family ... or two.

I’ve been enjoying my recent adventures to parts of Brussels I’ve never been in.  Yes, it’s less compact than Antwerpen, difficult to navigate in some ways but those little villages within the city, like Ixelles and Stockel are so very worth visiting.

I was at Paola’s by midday and off on whole other adventure.  An international group of sculptors, a presentation of their work to the city ... champagne, red wine, lovely nibbles, excellent company and enough space in the big open-sided tent when the heavens opened and the rain poured down.

Evening came and it was a girls night in ... a multi-national private event with excellent conversations.  Oh, and the most delicious selection of food, accompanied by yet more champagne and red wine. 
Bliss ... just the 4 of us.

I arrived home today, using that first class train ticket that only costs 4euro more return on the weekend. I love first class.

Now I’m just waiting for tomorrow morning ... for breakfast and a Nespresso. 
I love my Nespreso machine.
Tomorrow ... the story of the machine.  You might want to find someone else to read, just in case I lose myself in Gollum-like mutterings ... my precious, my precious, drool, and etc.

Oh ... and I had the pleasure of spending quite some hours hanging out with this sweet little man this weekend.