Friday, November 30, 2007

Quiet House

It is early AM. The Borden's plus Leah have left for Paris for a few days. Jon is in Spain to race. Support is being provided by some of Jonathan Page's entourage. The remaining Bakers, Bill , Cyndi, Axel and I plan to take a train to Ghent this AM to sightsee there. Bill is looking forward to the torture museum in the castle. He was so disappointed the last time we were in Europe as the torture museum in Prague was closed. According to the guidebook this one has all sorts of lovely items such as a working guillotine, a rack and thumbscrews. I wonder if they have a bench where water torture was administered, as that is a very old torture method also. The date of this woodcut is 1556.

A Brugge Walkabout

William and I went Christmas shopping today. We have to get our shopping done because Saint Nicholas has landed from his steamship from Spain with Swartze Pieter and will be in Brugge for the great celebration on the evening of the 5th of December.
We also just walked about and took pictures. This is De Golden Spin (Spider).A really scary housefrau
Bill was climbing up the windmill
Another windmill
Our Lady of Peace pray for us
William in the oldest bar in Brugge established in 1515
Monument to nursing mothers
Santas climbing up the wall (also traditional)
St. George slaying the dragon
Me with the birdman
This is one grim guy
The Lion of Flanders is thinking about eating the Brugge Bear
The Canon White Bear and photographic entourage.
They take pictures and direct you to the canon website. You can have the picture for free, but it will have a Canon ad banner on it like the pic of Leah and I from Lotto.

The Borden's are here

The Borden's, Frank, Robbin, and Desi, arrived on Wednesday and Thursday night we are getting dressed up to go out. Grandpa Bill is holding up a very dressed up Axel.Cyndi and Frank chose the same understated color scheme. Understated is the fashion in Brugge.
Desi has already been to the hairstylist. Her hair has been had subtly highlighted with red in addition to the partial blond highlights she had. Her hair now smells like candy and feels like soft kitten fur. She is very, very happy with it. The consensus is that European hairdressers are much better than at least Redding hairdressers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Harry and Dudley

Dad and I were drinking gluhwine (mulled wine) and Hasselt Coffee (espresso with gin and whipped cream) while we watched the skaters on the ice rink in Markt Square. And there were Harry Potter and his cousin Dudley skating together, best of friends. Dudley was the better skater.

Monday, November 26, 2007

World Cup at Koksijde

Saturday we all went to the World Cup, since it was so close in a sand dune at the coast. Leah and the baby and I had our pictures taken at the Lotto van and got free Lotto hats. Then they cut off the baby with the Lotto advertisement. Jon had a stomach ache and only went a few laps. From now on he is going to take some stomach medicine prior to the race.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Soigneur for the first time

If you see a rainbow on the way to Gieten you might find mud on the race course.
Today I went along into the Netherlands to the Super Prestige race at Gieten. Gieten-in-the-mud might be a more descriptive name. After one time around the course with Wm, I elected to stay near the start and finish line. When we were walking the course Wm was looking for a frietes stand, but this was the Netherlands so we found a fish stand. We passed up the cold salt herring sandwich with raw chopped onions in favor of a fried fish fillet sandwich. It was a huge fillet seasoned and laid out athwart a bun with a fork stuck in the top. Quite tasty.

My spot near the start finish line had a small snacks stand that had coffee and cake, nice in the cold intermittent rain. I was mostly on grass or pavement with little mud. As Cyndi had suggested I watched the prior race start and finish, so I could see where the soigneur's got onto the course and where they would stand. Jon said I did fine as the soigneur. I was definitely helped by the fact that we were not in Belgium and the weather was bad, because the crowds were smaller at the finish line. At the finish I heard them call out Jon's name and I was looking for him, then he loomed up right in front of me. I had not recognized him in his coating of mud.
Read all about his race on CyclingNews. He really did quite well.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Axel The Shoe Stacker

Axel was working hard on a project up in the Living Room. Then he called to Leah and me to look. He had carefully stacked up his shoes.
He was so proud of his stacking. He said Stack!

This was right after we had gotten excited about seeing Jon in an advertisement. Channel 4 was doing an advertisement for the televising of the race tomorrow and they showed some footage of a prior race and there was Jon!!

Remember Phone Booth Stuffing

Should have taken the camera today when I went out for a meander. Just after I left the Train Station after getting a brochure for the ice sculpture show, I saw a giant rainbow over Brugge. So I started digging out my umbrella. Never leave home in Brugge without that essential piece of equipment. Icy rain and hail and a strong wind buffeted people on the street and 4 people had crammed themselves into a Belgacom Phone booth to seek shelter from the storm ( a rare section of street without a pub or tearoom).


We managed to have a lovely Thanksgiving dinner. William found a roasting pan so I roasted some turkey thighs and a breast fillet, Belgian style with plenty of butter and a bit of nutmeg. The rest of the meal was a Belgian style stuffing, rough mashed potatoes with garlic, turkey gravy, sweet potatoes, Cyndi's Brussels sprouts, bread and butter, and homemade apple crisp. We had to set up the dinner Smorgy Style as the table is small.Why not some champagne?

A Night Out

Bill and Leah went out for a look at the Free Concert behind the Our Lady Church that he and I had gone to on Monday. Leah played on the Silverpand play equipment on the way.

A different group of musicians played on Wednesday night.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another Weekend in Brugge

Jon, Cyndi and Bill were off to the races. Read more on CyclingNews here and here. The TV coverage of Jon was best in the second race. They showed him as usual at the start and since there was a crash at the start that kept most of the pack together longer, there were a couple of good shots of him. Then they highlighted his big crash and when he was lapped by Sven near the end and stayed behind him till he was waved off at the finishing straight away. Jon was not as thrilled by that coverage as he showed us the long livid scrape on his leg from the crash. He said if he had not stopped when he heard the roar of the crowd building up, as riders are to get out of the way of a faster bunch coming through, and kept racing hard, he could have been through the finish before Sven turned the corner and would have avoided getting lapped. He also did not like it that the results looked like he was second to last at 27th when there were 40 starters. This picture from CyclingNews shows Jon looking strong behind a guy who did not finish. The children and I did the Saturday Market in T'Zant Square. Leah and I just read that this square was used for jousts and tournaments in Medieval times. We just bought candy (Leah's allowance), and cheese. We then went off the the T'Zant Cookie Cafe. It was packed as usual, but the front table (best for us) was newly vacant. Leah had her usual waffle and Axel had pancakes. He fell asleep in the stroller from over-engorgement almost as soon as we were out the door. We then shopped heavily in the stores along Smedenstraat, as we are paranoid now about running out of some crucial food item on Sunday when everything is closed.

Sunday we took a picnic to the Speelplein in Astrid Park, but it was so cold we only stayed about an hour. No other children were there.

Posters are out everywhere for all the Christmas activities this place is gearing up for starting on November 23rd. There was even a band headed for an event in the Berg today, but we were too cold so we went on home.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Up from the depths

Are your eyes blinded by the glow from the glistening faucet and trash can?

We have been living a horrid last 24 hours. After Cyndi sent her very nice note to Christophe saying that we would be no longer be requiring the services of the maids, he sent her a return email saying that we would have to leave the house at the end of the month as he did not want people in here who were destroying the property that he had spent millions and millions on (possibly old Belgian Francs).
After a good cry by all, Cyndi put her best diplomat skills to work and got Christophe to agree to come to inspect the property. I have been channeling my inner Aunt Petunia (Harry Potter's Aunt) and polishing everything.
We also spent a lot of time looking for where we could move. 3rd floor walk-ups in Brussels? A delightful and expensive country house in Hoeke? Nothing was left in Brugge that was even available for short term rental that was not already rented for at least part of the Christmas holiday.
So today Christophe and Mom showed up. They were impressed by the glow and decided we could stay. Christophe said he was sorry about the email and Mom was remorseful for her part also. So all is OK, except for our having aged a few extra years physically and emotionally.
Jon and Bill have gone bike riding. The baby passed out asleep in his high chair and I think Cyndi is napping also. I am sipping Val's cure-all TheraFlu.
We are looking forward to hugs from our guests, the Bordens, who will arrive in 12 days.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Another Family Blogger

Leah has been using my Dell to blog and answer her emails. Axel wants to blog also.

The Farmer's Market

The quality and variety of the fruits and vegetables in the Farmer's Market is phenomenal.You can get a delicious roast kippen here, too. I got some beef steaks from the butcher lady and she threw in a gift of a blutwurst. Jon was thrilled and plans to cook it and give all a taste. Legal use of blood products by the cross-rider.
I want flowers for the window ledge like everyone else.

Last Night Pics

Axel shows off his Fast Magnetic TrainWhat else did we buy?
Leah got postcards of great art, including the Mona Lisa.
The Eiffel Tower

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Parisians are home

The wandering Parisians are home. Leah and Cyndi are back after having a lovely trip to Paris. They had a great time at the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and a pet shop. They came home with gifts of food and toys.

Culture Clash

We have have a case of culture clash with the maids. This is exacerbated by the fact that one of them is the mom of the owner/property manager. We have been getting regular lectures about the house not being picked up/cleaned on a good enough basis causing them more work. Today "mom" showed me the few water spots inside the microwave. This made it necessary for her to take the microwave apart and polish it. Also (probably since Cyndi had not been home to do it) the upstairs had been too cluttered for them to work, causing them to take an extra hour. That would be an extra 25 euros. Also baby fingerprints everywhere. Maybe we should wash the baby's hands more.

We are more used to maids in the USA. If you say clean the house for x amount of money for x hours, they do whatever they can and give you no guff about your mess. They move it around if it is in their way and you can either pick it up better next time or lump it. But they never lecture you. Because you would just get another maid.

So Jon says this is causing him too much stress and we can have no more maids. He volunteers to clean the toilets and take the bottles to the recycle. William already does the dishes and sweeps the kitchen floor and cleans the counters, stove, and microwave. Cyndi and I can divide up the rest of the chores. She already does the garbage take out and William does the recycle. We can do a good enough job here. We are just not the Germanic type who polish everything until it glows and scrub the sidewalks.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Axel the artist

Axel is learning to scribble. So I am helping him to draw a stick figure Axel. I am only letting him use the crayons at the table as I fear for the rough textured walls in this rental if he is allowed to play with them on the floor.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday's race

Looks like Pijnacker was not televised. Jon said but for one last crash he would have been with Chrobak. As it was, he was the last rider not to be lapped (contrary to the report on VeloNews). Cyndi said he was well clear of the finish straight away before Lars and Bart came through. Cyndi also mentioned one crash Jon had. She said one muddy downhill curved away from a drop off way down to a canal, so that if you hit the fence hard enough you would just slide down into the canal. She saw a rider crash there and knew Jon was coming next and thought he would crash there and sure enough he did. She said she knew it was because the prior rider had dug out a crash line, but she felt that she should have been saying "don't crash, don't crash" then he might have gotten around. Neither rider fell into the canal. Jon said his last crash was into a post. I said he should avoid those posts. Ha! more on VeloNews; more on CyclingNews .

Cyndi and Leah were off this AM prior to the crack of dawn for the trip to Paris. They will be back around dinner time tomorrow.

No World Cup on TV

Looks like Belgian TV has gone with a Belgian Tennis Match rather than the Cyclocross World Cup. Jon will be disappointed as he likes to watch them. Perhaps they are broadcasting it at some other time, but I wouldn't know. I have checked Sporza and I don't know what else to check. Searching under Wereldbeker World Cup, veldrijdern cyclocross what else?? Cycling TV is no help? Thought they might have it on the radio, but that is really no help.

Slow Sunday

Off and on rain today so we did not go to the park. Baby is napping and Leah is playing in the living room. I read to her and she has been making a knight costume. The sword is currently drying. Heard a loud crash from upstairs. Sounded like the toilet lid was dropped from a large height. Baby is now awake, but she who woke him has to get him up. He slept for about 45 minutes so he should be OK to get up.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Video taping the race

Jon had given me very long complicated directions for how to make a video of the race right before he left. I wrote it all down, but was still unsure of myself. The directions were complicated by the fact that I did not know what channel the race was on. Both copies of the invaluable Belgian Cyclocross newspaper that we had gotten at the first race had gone missing. These had all the TV channels and times for the races. We blame all missing items on the maids. So at quarter to the start of the race at 3PM, I found the channel. Then the baby pooped. As Leah is changing the baby, a process that involved almost totally undressing him and him sampling the diaper creme, I managed to help her and get the recording started. Then the baby found a mud covered rock that had been left on the coffee table. I had seen it there and had thought, as he did, that it was a cookie crumb. So after he gave me the rock and I washed his mouth out and hands off with a baby wipe that crisis was over. We saw Jon at the start of the race, but maybe the baby and the mud was prophetic. Most of the race was deep in mud and Jon did not finish in the top ten. I hope he finished at all and will update as I know more. But mud is not his preference for a racing medium. But at least the race is on video and my favorite next to Jon, Bart Wellens, won.

Update: I see no Jon in the results, but Chris Jones USA a fellow rider was 38th. more here

Leah and baby ate well at dinner. Baby ate mostly dark meat and an entire mango minus the bruised end. He refused tomatoes and sauteed peppers. Then he had dessert of raisin bread in soy milk. Leah had lots of chicken, some tomatoes and a piece of chocolate. Now they are playing upstairs in the living room. His only nap today was the short one in his stroller and he has not been fussy, so we are not in a big rush to put him to bed as we don't want him waking up in the night.

Saturday Market

The parental units are off to the races. So the kinderen and I were off to the Saturday Market. Clothes for me and a bit of candy for Leah. Such a bargain she said. We found a BBQ Kippen and some cheddar cheese (echt Engelse, genuine English). I think we will have the kippen for dinner tonight and make mac and cheese for tomorrow's dinner. Then to Vibra for colored paper for a special project. We also found a chocolate advent calendar for only 1 euro. Such a deal. Then around the corner to the 'T Zant cookie cafe. The place is more than 1/2 full for morning snack. Looks like mostly locals as they greet each other. The baby has fallen asleep so we just push him to the side. Leah had managed to have very little to eat this AM so she was hungry. She ordered a hot chocolate. You make your own. On a cute tray they deliver hot milk, a dish of mixed milk and dark chocolate chips, a dish of assorted types of sugar cubes and crystals, and a dish with a tiny muffin, sugar cookie and small chocolate. She also ordered a large waffle with ice cream and chocolate syrup. She ate all this. I had a small espresso. It also came with a tray of goodies. Most of which the baby got when he woke up. He was very good in the cafe, waving Dag, Dag (hello or bye,bye) to all.

Thursday ride

William took a ride to Sluis, Netherlands on Thursday.
On Thurs the 8th, after heading over early to the bike shop in Fort Lapin to pick up the carry bag for the spare tube, crescent wrench, patch kit, and the all- around universal do-it-all handy gadget of allen wrenches and tire removers, I headed North out of Brugge towards Koolkerke along highway N374. I passed a bakery along the way, did a u-turn, and for 1.25E had a nice torte for the road.

Fort Van Beieren was a bust, no rideable paths, and not much to see, so I continued north towards Oostkerke, notable for its stubby sawed-off tower. Tying into the Damse Vaart canal north of Damme, with its nice smooth bike path, it was clear sailing with the breeze at my back onwards to Sluis and the Netherlands. Jon and Cyndi had ridden there some time before on the 'cross bikes (with better times), but soon I was there and riding the downtown tourist sections with its own H&M, Blokker, Hema, and C&A stores. No "coffee houses" to be seen, but plenty of sex shops lining the streets.

A cafe caught my eye: Cafe Boo. I was thinking of Grandson Benjamin (Boo) and hoping that he was recovering well from his traumatic events. Across from the big, Dutch windmill, Cafe Boo was a nice pit stop for a couple of Leffe Bruin drafts. I soon hit the grocery for a croissant, cheese, and chocolate, then headed back to Brugge.

One of the characteristics of this part of Belgium is that it is as flat as a fart, and being near the North Sea, the winds pick up as the day goes on, moving from sea to land. The light breeze at my back on the way to Sluis now became the 15 mph wind in my face on the return to Brugge. Not much to do except head down and power on. Chocolate power.

Past Damme, close to Brugge, along the canal with hardly anyone about, I was surprised to hear a rider along side me. Glancing over, it was a woman in a flowing, white quilted coat, gray haired, 60ish, speeding by. I tried to keep up; she was steady at a high cadence. I got up on the pedals; she pulled ahead. I tried to follow in her slipstream; she gradually moved ahead. Better legs, for sure! And, for sure, a lifetime of riding.

I caught up to her at the stoplight on the edge of Brugge; the equalizer. I was soaking wet from the effort; she looked cool. I resolved to do more riding in he future.
He took a few pictures on the way: The canal with the ferry that only goes part way.
Windmill in Netherlands
Cafe Boo
Even little cars can have trouble finding the space.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


We are trying various recipes off of a Belgian Recipe site. We have roasted turkey. Made a meat stuffing recipe and tonight are trying a beef stew.

Tme stamp

Cyndi just told me how to change the time stamp. So I notice all the posts on this page now have the actual post time.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Weekend Plans

Plans have changed for the weekend. I will be staying home with the kinderen. (See how well you know Dutch. You knew what I meant.) Jon has to be at the World Cup venue in Netherlands the day prior to the race. So Jon (elite renner), Cyndi (soigneur), Dad (mechanic) and the bicycles will travel to the Saturday race then on to Netherlands where they will spend the night prior to the World Cup then back late Sunday.

Leah is great with the baby so I know we will be fine. We just have to plan a picnic and route to the good speelplein (playground) on Sunday. Maybe we will take some bread crumbs for the ducks at the lake nearby. Axel likes ducks and knows how to say duck and quack, quack.

Saturday the town is full of tourists, but we can take a route less traveled to the Saturday market where we might shop at the "maatje meer gaan hier" (larger sizes here) shop at the edge of the square. The food stalls are also at the edge and we might get a BBQ Kippen (chicken) and some kaas (cheese) for mac and cheese. Then we will go to the 'T Zant cookie shop for morning tea on the other side of the square. After lunch and baby nap we will find a route on back straats (streets) (hard to push the buggy on crowded streets) to the good frites (french fries) shop, Pickles, and wait in the crowd for an afternoon snack. Belgians are really big on snacks. As we eat and play our way through the weekend it will go quickly and then Moeder, Vader, and Opa will be home.

Dad reminds me that Belgians do not measure the time between one meal and the next but rather the distance, such as "it is 80 meters to lunch." So I think I must be getting a bit Belgian. Leah is getting to be a lot Belgian with her large vocabulary of common school words and phrases. Way beyond me, but Cyndi is trying to have Leah teach her the words in the evening. We'll see how that goes. Leah gets lots of repetition in different circumstances throughout the day, where Cyndi only gets a bit in the evening. Even the baby now says "Dag, Dag" for Bye Bye.

Despite the fact that I have the Dell set for local time (now 930AM 08/11/07). It persists in posting the time as if it were USA Pacific (~1130PM 11/07/07 when I first posted).

Another day's walk in Brugge

Belgium has already broken the record of 148 days without a government on Monday and today the French speakers walked out of the negotiations. So on that note we went for another walk. And found Brugge alive and well.
Minnewater ParkAre there ticks here?
The gray babies still say cheep, cheep.
The museum of the Beguin House, a beguinage which is a religious retreat for women.
Water for the horse carriages.
Zeus, Leda, Prometheus en Pegasus bezoeken (visiting) BruggeAxel has a bath at the end of the day