2 May 2014


1. During aqua gym we of course discussed the exceptional funeral with about 300 people of our friend Caroline who had died of cancer at age 55. The once who had been there were also so surprised that so many people had been in the church. We hadn't known her name until we saw it much later on the obituary in the most important newspaper in Belgium "Le Soir". And now we understood, she had been a baronesse, and belonged to one of the most important noble families in Belgium. The family is even described in Wikipedia. The fact that it is a big family, plus the friends explained now why there had been so many people.

2. I didn't feel well without knowing what I had. I took some antiinflamatory pills, and stayed home. I was feeling so tired that I fell asleep each time I watched TV ! At 8 pm I went to bed and slept for 10 h !

It lasted for two days, and I spent my time with filing my photos and taking pictures of my cats. I had run out for my cat blog.

They were keeping me company, while I lay on the sofa and watched TV. Mr. G. although he wasn't feeling sick, did the same, asking me all 5 min if I was feeling better !

3. Our garden (or yard) started to look like a jungle, everything had grown so fast in the last days.

Our gardener came and trimmed all hedges and bushes and now it looks clean and nice again.

4. Labour day is on the first of May and to celebrate it is an official holiday where nobody works. That's why it is called labour day. All shops were closed and many people had taken one day off to make a long weekend.

5. In Belgium it is the use to offer a Lilly of the Valley or send a card to your family, friends and neighbors. I tried to make a card, but couldn't find any free online photo tool to cut out a cat and put it in a Lilly of the Valley background. Does somebody know such a tool ? 

All I managed to do was this, with the help of Picasa.

Normally I have a lot of Lilly of the Valley which grow in our garden, but this year they had bloomed too early as the weather was so warm. So my Lily of the Valley had already faded and were not good anymore to offer to somebody.

For the first time since I live in Waterloo I had to buy them, one for Ilona's mother, who is 90, still lives in her apartment alone and is fit like a fish in the water ! Ilona was there too and we had coffee together and chatted. On the label is written : "Je porte bonheur " "I bring luck". I think it's a very nice tradition. At the end of the day we had a rather impressive thunderstorm, it made a lot of noise !

more participants at Susanne at Living to tell the Story.

1 May 2014


The letter X must be the only letter in the alphabet which represents a whole sense all of its own. For example if you are illiterate you can sign with an x, as you cannot read and write (and therefore should be unable to read what I write) but for the others, they can sign their anonymous letters to naughty neighbors or colleagues just by using an x.

Strangely if you write 3 times an x it means a kiss, at least here because other countries use oxo which is a brand of food products, including stock cubes, herbs and spices, dried gravy, etc and you even can use it as a hot drink. Now what this has to do with a kiss, remains a mystery. Maybe  somebody had an Oxo drink, kissed his partner and later send a mail or text signing with oxo, because he loved it so much ?

I think the first X in my life was when I was taught to multiply and learned that 1 x 1 = 1, while 1 x 2 = 2. Difficult to understand.

Of course when it came to algebra I was completely lost in Xs !

The letter x also means 10 in Roman numbers and if you visit a graveyard the stones are sometimes full of X combined with other letters of the alphabet. In no way it doesn't mean that the birth and death date are unknown, you only have to learn the Roman numbers.

There are very few English words that start with X – the least amount of any letter. Many of the words that do start with X are either standardized trademarks (Xerox), acronyms (XC) and in abbreviations, it can represent  e.g. XMIT for transmit, XFER for transfer, "cross-" e.g. X-ing for crossing, "Christ" e.g. Xmas for Christmas; Xian for Christian), etc.

And if ever you don't know where to put your documents, create an X File !

Be also careful that your Blog is not X rated, as it means that you are publishing dirty things What is considered as X or not depends on the Google censorship and the general knowledge of these people, as sometimes a naked Greek statue can be judged X and your Blog is banned !

The worst for us is the X used in clothing labels. Once you start with an X label, watch your balance, unless it is written SX ! Once you get to XL and more Xs are added, start a diet !

Jenny Matlock
more participants at Jenny Matlock's Alphabet Thursday

29 Apr 2014

HALLE - Belgium

My friend Ilona had some shopping to do and we went to the next city near her home which is Halle.   It belongs to the municipality of Belgium, in the district Halle-Vilvoorde of the province Flemish Brabant. It is located on the Brussels-Charleroi Canal and on the Flemish side of the language border that separates Flanders and Wallonia, but almost everybody in Halle also speaks French. It is a beautiful little old town with nice boutiques and shops.

St. Martin's church

The highlight of Halle is a black Madonna in this church.

According to tradition, Ludwig IV of Thuringia sent this and three other Black Madonnas home to his wife St. Elisabeth of Hungary (d.1231) when he was on his way to the Crusades. He never made it further than Southern Italy, but Belgium profited from this treasure he secured. St. Elisabeth left the statue to her daughter Sophie of Brabant, who in turn left it to her daughter Matilda, Countess of Holland, who gave it to the church St. Martin in 1267. The church was declared a basilica in 1946.

In 1667 an epidemic ravaged the city and did not stop until on the first Sunday in September the Black Madonna was carried in a fervent procession along a path that stopped at all the churches and chapels of Halle dedicated to Our Lady. This so-called Wegom (big tour) is still followed with a solemn procession every year on the first Sunday in September. Pilgrims also walk this Wegom individually. It takes about 1 1/2 hours. The traditional 'small tour' is to turn around the altar space containing the statue three times.

You can read all about her here. Of course it attracts many pilgrims and tourists.

When we were there the annual fancy fair was taking place and the City Hall was decorated with these funny figurines.

Normally it looks like this

The city center still has it's old houses and fortunately hadn't been replaced by new once, which makes all the charm of the city.

There are lots of caf├ęs and restaurants in Halle besides of many boutiques too.

28 Apr 2014


Saturday morning started sadly, I had to go or rather I wanted to go to the funerals  of Caroline a friend of my Aqua Gym class, who had started with kidney problems 3 1/2 years ago and then developed a general cancer. She was only 54 and left behind her two boys 20, and 22 without father. Never ever in my life I have attended such a funeral ! The church which is quite big was so packed that people had to stand ! There were at least 300 people, for one single little girl, but apparently so much loved. It was a more then a traditional funeral it was even a bit exaggerated, not at all in the spirit of Caroline. The boys and the male family members wore black tuxedos and the rest black suits. The women were also all in black with black stockings, it was a real old fashioned funeral. The service lasted for more then two hours, but after 1 1/2 h standing and sometimes sitting I waited until we all lined up to touch the coffin and say good bye. 

I felt so sad for the two boys, whom I know through their mother especially when she had difficulties with them. They certainly regretted now what they had done to her, never thinking that she would die so early. But you never know when a loved one goes away forever. I took these pictures very discretely in a paparazzi way for the other members of our group who couldn't come.

After this emotional morning I rested the whole afternoon switching from computer to TV.

In the evening we had our theatre play, the last one in this season. We first had supper in the Theater's restaurant and then watched the play. It was so funny ! Not one piece but 4 sketches. Very, very well played.

A detour through the woods and a traffic jam, but also big mansions to see.

On Sunday morning I took the bus to the midi market. The public transport in Brussels is probably the worst in whole Europe. First the bus was 10 min late and then we did a sightseeing tour and not the usual road, because many roads were closed for works. So we went through the woods and through areas I had never seen until we finally arrived at the station with another 30 min late. Nobody of course was informed. And that's the worst.

The afternoon I spent with Nicole, she had bought the same camera as I have and I explained her how it works. Then we discussed or forthcoming travel to France next week where we will stay in Normandy at the sea. We have rented an apartment, as dog Charlie comes with us as body guard !

As a welcome gift, Charlie brought me a green toad !