23 Nov 2013


In 1965 I took an airplane for the first time in my life, to join my first love F.  in Sicily where he came from. I had met him in Brussels at a ball of the Commun Market.  He stayed with his parents in Messina and I wanted to join him there for my holidays.

In 1966 Sicily was very far from tourisme and the country was very poor. People still imigrated to the States and Mario Puzzo was probably just busy writing his book "The Godfather" (it was published in 1969). The Mafia was everywhere although I didn't know. Only years later there were many things which I suddenly understood.

Most of the people were illiterate, especially in little towns or on the countryside. One day we decided to go into the mountains and found a charming little village with an old well and thought it was a good opportunity to wash the car. There were not many fountains around and the way up to this hidden village was just beautiful. I had a sight all over Messina, until Italy on the other side of the sea.

When we got out of the car, the village looked deserted and nobody seemed to live here. Suddenly people came out of the houses and approached. They didn't say anything and just starred at us.  I didn't know what to do so I sat on a bench besides the fountain.  I have to say I looked really very extraterrestrial to them with my blond hair and my tall height. People here were all short and very dark and some of them had an arabic look. Apparently they had never seen a blond woman.

While F. started washing the car, suddenly women all dressed in black and of all ages appeared with their children and the dogs were joining too. I wore a light blue white dotted organza flounced dress which was very fashionable at this time. The flounces were on the skirt and sleeves and in these surroundings it looked rather unreal.

Suddenly an old woman shouted : " Un angelo" I didn't understand  what she said but suddenly I was surrounded by all the women. I asked F what happened and he laughed and said : "They take you for an angel " I thought he was joking and just wanted to point my finger on my forehead when the women started to touch my dress,  my arms and hair.

Now I got nervous I didn't like this at all. Men came too and joined the women. There was a fairly large crowd around us all chatting together. Suddenly a young woman came to me and wanted to give me her baby, I just wanted to refuse when F told me to better take it.

I was 23 and not really a specialist in baby holding but I tried to do my best and not drop it and sat there helpless with the baby in my arms. The woman said something. I asked what she had said. To my surprise he started to laugh hiding his head in the car so that nobody saw him laughing and told me that I should bless the baby ! Bless the baby ! I thought I had misunderstood but apparently not, because the woman smiled at me and pointed at the sleeping baby.

I told F. that I couldn't do it that this was completely crazy, but he stopped laughing pointed his eyes to the men and said : "you better do". Indeed the men looked quite hostile. So I gathered all my church knowledge, made the sign of a cross on the baby's front and stroke over his head and sincerely hoped that I did it well. There was no other choice, we were far away from civilization and it could be quite dangerous. After 3 or 4 babies I felt much better and even started  to find the situation very amusing.  When I had finished my cross signs with the babies, the toddlers came and then the small children and I continued my blessings.

Apparently I did my job well, because when the old women started and wanted to be blessed too I refused and asked F. to tell them that I was only entitled to bless children. I don't know what for a story he told them, but they stepped back.

A big hullaballoo started; they pulled me up and led me to the houses and I really got scared with all these laughing and screaming people around me. But the only thing they wanted was to invite us and thank me. Finally we went to the village place and they all came and brought tables and chairs and the best food they had. I wasn't hungry and also ashamed to accept food knowing that they themselves had hardly something to eat, but F. told me that I could not refuse if I didn't want to provoke a riot.

So we sat down under olive trees at a huge table and I had the best food I ever had and the best wine too !
Nobody payed attention that I didn't speak, they probably thought that angels don't, but I couldn't understand a word because Sicilian and Italian is completely different and my Italian was very limited at that time.
When years later I read the "Godfather" I had to think about my adventure as an angel ! Indeed it could have been dangerous. Many "strangers" had disappeared at that time.

22 Nov 2013


more participants at Susanne at Living to tell the Story.

1. On Monday morning we left Amsterdam earlier as foreseen, we would have preferred to stay a little longer with Toby and then take him to his Kindergarten, but for some reason his mother thought it would be better not to interrupt the daily routine.

While Toby played peacefully, he suddenly got the famous tantrum when his father wanted to pick him up and get dressed. Apparently he would have liked to stay a little longer home with us. Finally dressed and not happy at all we drove him and his Dad to the Kindergarten. It looked really very nice, and memories came up when I took my little boy in the mornings to a very similar looking place.

Our 250 km long drive back went smooth and I was very satisfied with the petrol consumption of my new hybrid car. When you get stuck and have to drive slowly, it switches on electricity mode.

2. I had my annual check up with mammography and ultrasound scan and was happy to hear that both were OK. Then I had a scanner for my bones. The doctor first measured my height and I had to laugh because apparently I had grown 1 cm in 3 years, when I had the last check. Normally people shrink with the age, and I grow ! There must have been something wrong. The doctor congratulated me apparently I have bones like a young girl. All in all very good news.

3. Winter moves slowly in and finally the trees did their annual striptease. Unfortunately I couldn't take any pictures of the autumn colors as it was rainy all the time.

4. I went to aqua gym on wednesday instead of monday and it was a beautiful sunny morning. I called Nicole to suggest her to walk Charlie her dog in the afternoon. When I arrived at her home, it had started to rain again and there was an awfully cold wind. So we stayed inside, and I helped her with her computer, she had been without internet for more then a month and it needed a little update.

Charly waited for cookies when we had our tea.

5. We had a lot of fun this morning during our painting class. Our teacher showed what you can do with watercolors. I only watched because I knew already. They wet a paper and threw the colors on it, the results were beautiful to very comical. Then the classmate who is responsible for the coffee, put the bag with two thermos not on the table but just besides because she was talking. Coffee split all over her and her shoes, we helped her cleaning off the mess.

And as this wasn't enough the little dog who is always with us made a rather big poo under her table. It really wasn't her day.

But besides that we painted too !

For the first time this year it had snowed during the night, just a bit ! By the time  the daylight showed up and I wanted to take a picture, it was already gone.

19 Nov 2013


My oldest friend since 1951 wanted to celebrate her 70th birthday in The Hotel Metropole in Brussels. It was built in 1895, and is the only nineteenth-century hotel in Brussels still in operation today. The hotel has 298 rooms and 15 suites. The whole family gathered there, sister, brother, DILs and SILs with their children and grandchildren. I had been in this hotel ages ago, just for a coffee. So it was nice to see that it hadn't changed at all.

In 1890, two brothers with a brewing company opened Café Metropole as a place in the city to sell their beer. The café was a huge success and the family then purchased the building next-door, a former bank, which would become the Hotel Metropole, inaugurated in 1895. Today, the hotel’s reception desk is easily recognizable as the desk of the former bank, a significant historical and heritage glimpse of the past.

The Hotel Métropole in Brussels is perhaps the most celebrated of the Brussels grand hotels, full of glamour and elegance.

Not only was Hotel Metropole one of the first luxury hotels, it was also the first to have electricity and central heating, and is now the only existing 19th century hotel in Brussels. In fact, many heritage tours of Brussels visit the Hotel Metropole to look upon its facades and design.

The hotel’s reception, lobby, and lounge are overtly ornate with Corinthian columns, rich furnishings, gilded details, and glittering chandeliers – all which can still be seen and experienced today at the hotel. Similarly, the meetings and conference rooms of the hotel are decorated in a Renaissance style.

The marbled halls, glittering chandeliers and polished brass could be out of a film set. There’s haughty refinement if you want it. But the hotel is not stuffy: the lively café/bar welcomes all-comers, and pavement café in summer ripples with cool glamour, where faces from the magazines can be glimpsed for real.

The hotel is located on the Place de Brouckère a very busy place in the city center.

The hotel Metropole and its entrance

Fortunately the place has mostly escaped the architectural massacre of the end 60th and in the 70th, where many beautiful houses were demolished and replaced by glass blocks.

Inside the hotel the time has stood still. The entrance hall is very impressive

The old elevator is still there with it's grids and cords and snail speed. It is a strange feeling to be in there and taken up slowly, slowly hoping that the cabin wouldn't get stuck !

On the first floor is the entrance to a beautiful café

It still has the same look as when it was built, except the furniture is modern. I met there the 89 year old mother of my friend and we had a cup of tea together.

All ceilings are of outstanding beauty.

The hotel's guest list includes : Amongst various Royalties, Président Eisenhower, Président Hoover, President Johnson, Ted Kennedy, Albert Einstein, Sarah Bernhardt, Ophélie Winter, Claudia Cardinale, Gina Lollobrigida, Enrico Caruso, Robert Hossein, Peter O’Toole, Anthony Perkins, Anthony Quinn, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Cliff Richard, Alain Delon and many other celebrities.

18 Nov 2013


It was foreseen to go to Amsterdam on Saturday to celebrate Toby's 3rd birthday, but for some reason it didn't work, so instead of playing with Toby, I did some shopping went to the petrol station and was very pleased because my car needed just a little more over the half of petrol as a "normal" car, because it's a hybrid and in the city I mostly drive on electricity.

The rest of the day I spent with doing some collages and answer emails.

On Sunday morning we drove to Amsterdam. After half an hour driving I asked Mr. G if he had taken the birthday gifts along which were in our guest room. Of course he hadn't ! We had to return home to pick them up and arrived therefore nearly 1 hour later. It was good that nobody could hear us when we were reproaching to each other whose fault it was.

The living room was decorated very nicely for this big event.

Toby got a lot of gifts and was excited to unpack them and then started to play.

Later the guests arrived, the other grandparents and some friends with their children.

We didn't have a lot of opportunities to play with Toby, he was too busy.

He was very tired in the evening and fell asleep rather quickly. I will sleep tonight in his room, and we will snore together. When you read this, we are on our way home.

17 Nov 2013


Today is the third birthday of grandson Toby ! Can only say that time flies by !

He wasn't very pleased to enter into our world, and showed what he was thinking ! Then he took it easy

He learned to sit, to walk ....

to discover the world and its joys

started to speak and became a cheerful little boy !