Monday, December 31, 2007

Instant Bread Mix

Leah and I used instant bread mix to make pizza dough for our own pizza. Chorizo sausage, homemade pizza sauce and mushrooms for William. I made faux ranch dressing for Leah and we had some leftover sauce for dipping also. Then I used the rest of the mix to make cinnamon rolls--we have already hit on them--very good--the rule is to leave some for breakfast. We are getting very good at making what we want from what there is.

Events of Yesterday

Bill and I took Leah out yesterday to the Chocolate Museum. And then to Moscow on Ice--ballet, magic, clowns and acrobatics on an ice rink. Today Jon and Cyndi are off to Amsterdam for the new year celebration. Pic of chocolate making demo at the museum. Pic of ballet on ice number at Moscow on Ice in the big Concert Hall on the edge of T' Zant square just around the corner.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Guido Gezelle etc.

Outdoor sculpture exhibit at the Guido Gezelle Museum--a famous poet who was born and died in Brugge--did not notice anything in print in English. Still an interesting small museum.
The guy with the coat over his head is trying to light a lighter. He was also barefoot and his golden shoes were on another pedestal.
I did not know that windmills could be rotated to catch the wind.

This device shows up in some paintings with people inside to turn it. Human hamster wheel.
It had something to do with the movement of boats or the movement of water in the canals.The academic Brugge Bear at the corner of Academiestraat.
The procession of the Eastern Star is a small parade through Brugge that raises money for charity. Note the wise man in black face.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Gruthouse Museum

In the Gruthouse Museum we saw a bust of Charles the 5th that was said to include all of his specific Hapsburg features, narrow face, long jaw and under bite. William was always told by his mom that they were descended from the Hapsburgs. I think there is a definite resemblance between Charles the 5th and Jon.
Now if Jon had a Prince Valiant haircut and a flat hat---- Except Jon is definitely cuter.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Other Times around Brugge

Me in the Lace Museum. We watched the lace demonstration where older women and some younger ones, who are just learning, whip bobbins of fine thread around in patterns held by pins.This was the alter piece in the Jerusalem Church. The piece features a vast array of instruments of torture. I am not sure if the message was pro or con.
Out in the close park with all the younger Baker's
This is a remnant of the old city wall, the first bit I had seen, with houses reflected in a partly frozen canal.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Bells

The church bells are ringing around town to call the people to church on Christmas morning and many are walking past our door.
Bill and I went to 4PM service yesterday at the Church of the Blind on Kripplestraat just around the corner. It was packed with 250 people. We arrived just as the service was starting and had to stand for about half of the special music and service.
Jon and Cyndi went to midnight service at St Salvador Cathedral. Twice as many people were here and it was not full.

This morning Axel was able to open his Muis book and his keyboard.He really likes his keyboard. Note the slight forehead wound. All a part of being a pre two baby.

A Happy Merry Christmas was had by all.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

La Coupole

Today we went to La Coupole outside of St Omer, France. This was an amazing construction built by the Germans in ~1943. They were desperate to have a new weapon to terrorize the British with. It was here they developed and built the V1 plane and V2 rocket. Because of retaliation bombing of the site the planes and rockets were not launched from here but from mobile sites. How cold does -7 degrees Centigrade sound to you?The unmanned plane bomb (V1) in the foreground and the V2 rocket in the background. Both caused horrible death and destruction in London.
William reading a panel in the catacombs of La Coupole. Werner Von Braum was the scientist in charge here. Remember him from the US space program?
This huge concrete construction was quite bomb proof. A very thick concrete shell was poured over a chalk hill and then the chalk was excavated from underneath to make the huge work areas.


Yesterday Wm and I went to Damme which is really just down the road/canal. This large church is abandoned. We had not seen much in the way of abandoned buildings since we had been in Belgium.We spent most of our stay in the Eulenspeigel Museum. This mythological jester was said to have been born in Damme. Many funny stories about his life were first written down in 1500.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Brugge City Hall

This is pretty fancy for a meeting chamber for the city council.

Chapel of the Holy Blood

In the middle ages a crusader brought a vial of Christ's Blood back to Brugge where it is housed in the Chapel of the Holy Blood. It is frequently taken out of it's reliquary to be visualized and you can touch the cover and pray.
A priest with the vial of holy blood in front of him.

The main sanctuary

Santa on a Rope

A custom in Brugge is that Santa climbs in the house via an upstairs window. So Jon and Cyndi created a stuffed Santa out of a chair cover and a pair of Axel's pants and hung it outside.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Axel, what big feet you have.

Ieper is a cat city

It is a well known fact that during the middle ages many cats were sacrificed in Europe.The cats were burnt, beaten to death or simply thrown to their death. Cats were seen as harbingers of evil spirits and familiars of witches.

During the middle ages the Grote Markt in Ieper became overcrowded on Cat Wednesday (the last day of the annual fair). The city jester would throw live cats to their death from the belfry tower. Ieper has observed this cat throwing custom for centuries. The last time live cats were thrown was in 1817. In 1938 the tradition was revived by throwing velvet cats from the tower. From 1946 onwards the cat throwing (stuffed cats only) was introduced by a small parade resulting in the condemnation of the cat on the Grote Markt. The Cat Parade is now a large affair held every 3 years in May. The next parade will be in May of 2009.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Road trip to Ieper

We drove to Ieper to see the Flander's Fields Museum. We realized that although WWII looms larger in the American consciousness, the reason that WWI looms larger for Belgium is that the war was for four years a static war fought on Belgian soil. The town of Ieper (Ypres) was leveled. Americans did not come into the conflict until 1918 and the war was over in November. The static war was a gruesome trench war.
Here is a figure of a horse trying to bring shells through the mud.
Some of the trenches were like underground villages, very difficult to maintain in the wet. Winston Churchill said he would like to have Ieper remain as a memorial to all the British troops who died there, but the people of Ieper rebuilt their city. The museum is in the old Cloth Hall.
The Cloth Hall at night.
The Ieper Cathedral was also leveled and rebuilt. This is a bust of St. Nicholas in the cathedral.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Road trip to Diksmuide

After lunching in the Market Place at Diksmuide, Bill and I walked the 5/15 minutes to the Ijzer Tower. This place is an odd combination of antiwar/peace museum and rabid Flemish Nationalism. Here you see Bill at the entry which is a replica WWI trench.Uber alles is the logo of Flemish nationalism "Alles Vor Vlamish, Vlamish vor Krest" (All for Flemish, Flemish for Christ.)
Twenty two plus stories up you get a great panorama of Diksmunde and the surrounding countryside. The historical parts of the museum about WWI were very well done with interior replicas of the trenches, underground living/dying and static warfare that marked the war until the Americans got involved.

Most of the Americans who volunteered for WWI were farm boys as most of America then was agricultural. Great Uncle "Ed" was one. The story Albert (Bill's dad) told was that he had gone to a field hospital with a minor wound and was to go back to the fighting. He did not want to go back and although he did not speak the same language as the nurses they were willing to smuggle him out. The women were missing a lot of marriageable age men and a big strong farm boy from Nebraska looked good. So no one ever heard of this uncle again. Tens of thousands of soldiers were MIA and AWOL after WWI and never heard from.

Memling Museum

Old St John's Hospital opened in the 13th century and was administered by the city of Brugge as a city hospital. In 1459 the hospital, despite numerous sources of revenue, was running major red tape because of a few too many wars and plagues. So the city accepted the bailout of the catholic church. Hospital workers were now required to wear habits and to take vows of poverty and chastity and to live in the upstairs. A great boon to the bottom line. The large open ward looked a lot like modern cubes with boxes for each patient. Patients were segregated by male, female, and dying. You went from your cube in the dying section to a section outside. This painting was a depiction of the wards.
Transportation in and around the hospital (at least while you were alive) was by sedan chair.
In the chapel William was quite fascinated by the reliquary of Saint Ursula which pictured her martyrdom. She was a Breton princess who was scheduled to marry the King of England (around the 5th century). She asked for three years off prior to the wedding to visit the Pope with 11,000 virgins, who were recent converts to Christianity. The visit was such a great success that the Pope traveled with them on the return voyage. They got as far as Cologne. The dreaded Huns had just conquered Cologne. They killed the Pope and the maidens and when Ursula would not marry the chief Hun, they killed her too. Drat that Attila.
The now closed hospital houses many of the great works of Hans Memling. The audioguide is indispensable.

Ice Fantasy

Every year as a part of Christmas season tourist attractions, Brugge has a huge ice box built at the train station and artists fill it with ice and snow sculptures according to a theme. This year the theme was taken from a Belgian fantasy story/video game about dwarfs, a wicked wizard and an evil woman who steals penguins. At the end the children are to save the penguins by commandeering the evil woman's ship. Sort of a cross between "100 and 1 Dalmations", "Snow White", and a Greenpeace adventure. Here Grandpa Bill and Leah save the penguins.Then you have hot chocolate plain or spiked.

Monday, December 10, 2007

No Axel/Axle Dragging

The Borden's are off. Although they requested a large taxi, they got a small one and it was a struggle to fit all the luggage in. I think some was on top of Frank. Apparently the taxi had good springs as it was not dragging. I am glad Robbin comes prepared for all as she left some antibiotics to treat my sinus/lung infection. Just after the taxi pulled out I spotted Frank's glasses on top of the heater. I think they are just cheaters rather than prescription glasses, so either he can get by with Robbin's or Desi will have to read menus to him. We really enjoyed their visit.

Jon is flying out of Boston today and Cyndi will pick him up in Brussels tomorrow morning. We are looking forward to nursing him back to health.

Walk with William

William and I went for a walk to see more of the old buildings around Brugge. We found some old almshouses built in the 1400's. These small houses were built for the poor, but now have been remodeled inside as single family homes(attached of course). We also saw the former Abbey of Sint Godelieve. I think she must be the saint for abused women as her husband abused her then had her strangled and thrown down a well. She was canonized in 1084. I looked her up and her patronage is for difficult marriages, healthy throats, in-law problems, throat diseases, victims of abuse, and victims of verbal spouse abuse.
This is a bust of the saint over the doorway of the former abbey.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

What is going on?

Jon went back to the states to race in Rhode Island and then to do Nationals. He had a mechanical on Saturday and got a 5th. Not as well as he should have done. But now the hammer has hit. Troy Wells was riding odd tires and crashed in front of Jon and took Jon out. He has a broken collar bone and his season is over. Cyndi will pack up to go back to Boulder asap. Jon had a flight to KC for Nationals and may fly there to stay with Uncle Bob or maybe just go back to Boulder? All is up in the air. What will we do? What will we do?
Update: Jon is flying home on Tuesday and will arrive on Wednesday morning. He has been staying in the home of the race promoter. He wanted to come back to Belgium to convalesce. He is having his bikes sent back to Boulder as he will not be using them here. So we are staying also. I wanted to stay, but Bill was unsure.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The girls go to The Netherlands

Axel is ready to Rock and Roll.Wow is it windy at the North Sea in the winter.
The baby made cute footprints in the sand.
We lunched, snacked, and shopped in Sluis on the border, then just pointed the GPS to the sea. It was windy enough that I had a sand snack. Gritty Gritty.

Sint Nicklaas Day

We had Sint Nicklaas Day Eve as our Christmas celebration, since Bill and Frank were leaving for a few days to Amsterdam and Jon was leaving for the states to race. Axel is learning to stack his new blocks.
Frank models his new T-shirt from the Bier Temple.
The girls helped Robbin eat her chocolate house.
Bill says "Now Axel don't touch the flame like you see me doing." Axel says "Grandpa, I know that is HOT."