Saturday, August 28, 2010

The alcove of doom and I have brokered a truce...

An outpouring of chocolate love has resulted.  Poorly lit sneak-peek photo below.  Proper food porn to follow.

:)  That is all.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Little bits of news, falling like fish-flakes in an aquarium:

As we have returned to the season of eternal greyness here in Belgium, I feel it's fitting to announce that after at least 4 months of hope and prayer, the trench fell into my life a few weekends ago, around the end of July / start of August.  And you know what?  It came at a great price too - he really does save!  He even threw in a few stylish leather belts for about 3 euro a piece, what a great guy!  I haven't worn it outside of the house yet, and haven't had a chance to take a picture of me sporting it, but you know, the news is just getting older, so...there.  Plus, for my sacrilege I will likely be struck by lightening while wearing it so I may as well tell you now before the smiting.

An update on the ankle: it now sees fit to start complaining after 7.5 kilometres.  One the one hand it's progress and I suppose I should be glad for that.  On the other hand I'm still not back up in the 10k+ range, and I'm impatient to get back there.

I have a plane ticket for Toronto, (happiness!)  It's a short visit, but still I'm psyched.  This time I'll be taking all my vitamins before, and will probably eat 3 cloves of garlic daily the week leading up to the flight.  There will be no getting sick and losing time on the ground there this time.  I'm sure the people on the plane will love my fresh mediterranean aroma.

I have successfully quit coffee (trumpet sounds in the distance.)  It has been quite the battle this time, but I've done it.  I had 2 decafs today to try and trick my brain into thinking it was still getting something, and my chocolate consumption has been ridiculous this week (partly due to compensation I think, but mostly due to the fact that Belle-Mère brought back some REALLY good stuff from her vacation in Switzerland.)  Anyways, all the chocolate I like is gone now, and I don't eat the stuff I use for professional purposes, (it's not good for business if you eat your supplies, you know,) so there.  Tomorrow will be my first caffeine-free day in... a very long time.

And now it is time to sleep because I'm pooped.  No caffeine will do that to you, along with preparations at the hotel for the crowd that comes with the Formula 1 races in Spa this weekend.  Usually all the hotels in Liège are booked full for this event, and by the looks of it, this year is no exception for the hotel.  Off to catch some Zzzzzzs.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dancing with a partner after dancing solo.

Given that there are no suitable adult-sized cupboards to hang out in (at least not that I've found, yet,) I've come out, and am hunched over my usual coffee-table, on my usual couch.

There has been some very intelligent talking here, which isn't so bad at all, and boyfriend seems to be aware that I left for a little not as some way to try and make him feel punishe, but rather because I am a spazz who used to hide in her bathroom cupboard to think more clearly as a child, and who as an adult still needs to take herself out of a situation like that now and then for the same reasons.  Sometimes when I feel 'too close to something' I can't think about it clearly.  Crap like Friday just pressurizes and scrambles me, so I left to regroup and to try and continue thinking about these big things:

I am 32, and have interrupted the successful direction of my life in Toronto to be here with Boyfriend, which has left me asking myself how I am going to give myself that same sense of positive forward momentum I was rolling along with before coming here.  Now that I can survive here and the basics aren't so overwhelming, and now that my status here is a little more solidified, it's time to look at these things.  I have been thinking about them, albeit more abstractly (as you may have picked up on,) for awhile now.  Slowly, things are coming into focus and I'd prefer to arrive at some conclusions sooner than later.  Time slows for no person, after all.

There are things I have realized I could do here more easily than there (in TO) and there are things I've realized I'd be much better off doing in TO as originally planned.  There are things I realize I or we want to do, but I'm not sure that they are actually do-able, or if they are do-able that they are really advisable.  There are new opportunities I didn't have available to me before that I do now here, too, and I guess I'm trying to figure out how to make the best of all of these things, in the smartest way possible, while closing as few doors for me and us as possible.

Some things are best done before others, some choices limit others.  It's kind of a big thing, trying to figure out how to retain that sense of freedom and trying to figure out how to be supportive of each other's efforts while not losing anyone or having anyone 'lose it' or have to give up something really important to them in the process.  We don't want either of us to end up with regrets.  This is really important for both of us on a heartfelt level.  Unfortunately, while it is a noble desire it is no simple affair.

I'd already made decisions and plotted them out in a timeline for myself in Toronto, I knew I could do them where I was and they were happening.  He was doing the same here in Belgium, and now that we are 'we', and we are here... figuring out how to make that satisfying and to still be able to both do what we want to do is about as cool as re-writing a 20 page essay after a hard-drive crash when you've lost your notes all on the night before the damned thing is due.  Actually, to be more accurate, it's like already having solved a labyrinth to find your life-path, and then having someone lay a completely new one in front of you that is 3 times as complicated, handing you a partner to solve it with (who sometimes has their own, differing ideas about which direction you should take,) and having to start all over again.  You really have to like your partner a whole lot to go through all that bother, particularly when you've already found a perfectly good solution to that other labyrinth and solving this new one is completely optional.

Fortunately we like each other a whole lot.  Even more than a whole lot, and we are crazy enough to think we may actually be clever enough to do this eventually, possibly even in style.  That is, once all the swearing and foot stomping has died down a little more and we've grown up a bit.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Never share a cupboard.

So my 'metaphorical cupboard' is actually just somewhere where I can be kind of alone if I want.  But there are of course other people here so I am not alone, it isn't quiet, and people being people are prone to being social, which I get and think isn't bad at all except this isn't the best space for me to hear my own thoughts clearly.  Virginia Woolf was spot on.

Do you know what never fails to distract me hopelessly, and instantly makes me mildly stabby?  Any person or thing that makes too much noise with their mouth.  This doesn't really include talking so much as all the other noises like lip-licking, excessive spit-in-the-mouth while speaking, noisy eaters and so on.  These small noises stir big feelings in me.  It's completely irrational and a little scary how I react to it when I'm near some otherwise innocent person who is guilty of just this.  Every time their mouth moves I have to remind myself that they are not bad and that it would be bad to hurt them.  It's truly a primal impulse.

Know what else does that?  Balloons.  When someone is rubbing their hand over the surface of a balloon, I could literally appear from nowhere behind them, and snap their neck just to stop them from making me feel so weird with *that sound*.  It is my 'nails on a chalkboard'.  Obviously I'm not always good at birthday parties.  Mylar balloons would be advisable.  You don't even know how much restraint is involved for me around those people who make balloon-animals.

SO as you may have inferred, I am not getting much thinking done here, and with all the distraction the thinking I'm doing isn't really high-quality.  I've had one completely horrifying dream, and another that was quite unpleasant, and some interesting conversations, but am I clearer on what I need to be clearer on?  Not much.  As they say in French: ç'est déja ça, but I can't help but feel that I am kind of acting like an ostrich here.  I haven't found my adult-sized cupboard.  My head is hidden, but the rest of me is comically still there, and clearly not solving much.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

When I was little

I grew up in a turbulent household.  When things became too much for me to sort out, I used to hide my very little self in the cupboard of the bathroom.  Curled up there in the back behind the shampoo bottles, bars of soap and toilet paper, nobody could find me, and I felt like I was removed from the situation enough to think, to breathe a little and to be sure that the thoughts I had were really mine without influence from the pressures of the situation.

I put myself in a metaphorical cupboard last night.  I haven't many places I can go to breathe here in Belgium, but there are some I've found, and last night I put myself in one because chez moi, everywhere I looked there were more questions, more doubts, and the inescapable pressure of questions about where all this (my life) is going.  All the things at once set before me like an intimidating parfait, and feeling the way I did it was a little much.

There isn't much to do here but think like I used to in the cupboard.  And breathe.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Circling, hovering.

Do you know what this is?

It's my mango sorbet, churning into delicious cold-treat goodness this very moment.  We got the ice-cream maker.  I made a delicious bitter chocolate (last week,) as the inaugural flavour.

Like the first time I made my own truffles, I was too excited to remember to take pictures of the first batch of ice cream, but I'll try to photograph a scoop or two of the flavours I make from now on.

Anyhoo, I'm just killing time trying not to think about drinking the mango sorbet base before it turns into sorbet, or eating the tartiflette preparations boyfriend has made (and forbidden me to touch,) in the fridge.  If he doesn't get here soon, all bets are off though.  We're supposed to be going to his sister's, where he'll put the finishing touches on what he's already prepped in advance, stick it in the oven, and then we'll pretend for the evening as though it's not summer, because tartiflette, for those who don't know, is pretty much what makes your arteries tremble even when you think about it.  It is essentially pieces of potato smothered in cheese, cream, bacon, sautéed onions that have soaked up all the bacon-fat, and more cheese (a different kind than the first.)  Most sensible people eat this during ski-trips, or at least during the winter.  But boyfriend's sister and her boyfriend made a specific request for boyfriend's tartiflette.


I must say, now that boyfriend is late to come home and I've had a(hem) few spoonfuls of what he's prepped, he does make it very well.  Maybe I should have a little feature here called "cooking with boyfriend"?  I can hover around him taking photos and give you the recipe.  He doesn't cook often, and he doesn't have that big of a repertoire of dishes... but those he makes are really very good.

If he doesn't come home soon though, there will be a large crater in his tartiflette.  I'm starving, it's past 7, and he's not answering his cell.  As it is I'll probably inhale a whole bag of chips at belle-soeur's while we wait for the damned thing in the oven and drink.  *sigh*  Time to see what kind of 'snack' I can scavenge in the kitchen so I don't turn into a velociraptor and attack the neighbour's dog out of hunger.

(even later)

Ok.  So that was f-ed up.  After making everyone wait on him, boyfriend showed up later than the time we said we'd already be at his sister's (it takes a half-hour to get there,) and he had an armful of empty beer cans.  It took me a minute to put two and two together (because I was STARVING,) that he and his coworker had been drinking and not working late.  Which means that apparently when family and girlfriend are already waiting on you, drinking with your coworker is a priority, more than showing up on time for previously made plans?  He was drunk.  So I just told him to go.  Because I don't even care if his sister finds that kind of behaviour disgusting, but I do.  Who in their right mind does that?  And now it's just me, and the neighbour's dog won't stop barking.  Rrrrr.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Of rain, running, corn and Bieber.

Around the 10th of August, I declared summer to be over for Belgium after we had a day of grey, wet, and 15 degrees.  Those around me gasped as though in speaking these words I'd just set a curse on the sky.  Only now are people around me beginning to agree with me that our only chance of more nice weather is an Indian summer.  Even if the weather picks up a bit, summer is over for me either way, since it's not summer in my eyes if it's not above 27 degrees Celsius, and this is quite unlikely to happen here.

It hasn't stopped raining for 3 days.  The first day I tried to pretend that nothing was happening, and went running at the track.  Of course, I was the only one there in the downpour.  It was crucial for me, however, to see how my ankle has been healing up since that crappy sprain 4 weeks back.  I wasn't willing to wait for dry weather, and I needed a good flat surface to give it a go.  After sploshing through 5k at a moderate pace, the ankle began to hurt and I chose not to push my luck.  It seems if I'm doing anything on the 5th September (if I even have that day off from work,) it will be the 7k.  I was hoping for better a greater distance after 4 weeks of healing, but I've learned the hard way to listen to my body and respect the signs it gives me, no matter how impatient I am.  I'm pretty hopeful that I'll be back to 10+km runs in a few weeks.

After running in the downpour, I must say this: My lululemon running jacket is amazing.  I said this about it after running in the winter, in the Canadian snowfalls and so on, that "they thought of everything." and really I can say now after running in the pouring rain, they really did.  The drips of water coming from my chin didn't trickle into the interior of the jacket because of how the closure at the neck works.  The long sleeve-shields allowed my hands to remain dry, and still offered the choice of warmer or cooler ventilation.  The vents on the sides of the jacket don't really let water in when open, though let's face it... you're sweating and hot, so eventually you'll still be damp inside even if you open them to let some of the heat out.  The hood stays put while running, and because of the design, running in the rain with an ipod in one of the pockets was no problem.  It's neither too hot nor cold.  It works like it should.  Go lululemon!  I think I've been happy with everything of theirs I've bought so far, and I really hope they keep designing intelligent garments like this one.

And now I'm going to talk about eating corn, and Justin Beiber.  Crucial stuff, so brace yourselves people.

Firstly: I understand this may make me decidedly easy to label as a N. American, but I love this time of year because the corn harvest begins.  For me, this means I'll be tasting all the sunshine of summer packed into little golden kernals, in neat rows on a cob.  My boyfriend, and most Europeans I know are, well... kind of grossed out when they hear that many of us in North America enjoy eating corn on the cob.  I wonder if they can't get over the idea that corn on the cob is fed to livestock, and therefore think it mustn't be fit for people.  Thing is, cows and pigs can't select a ripe cob from the green ones, boil or grill them to the perfect consistency, put sea-salted butter on them, and then sprinkle them with black pepper - and that makes a world of difference.

Despite the disdain it meets here, millions of people do know that corn on the cob is delicious, evidenced by the many forms of "corn skewers" available on the market, and even by the fact that my euro-grocery store now offers a (very limited) selection of corn cobs along with their seasonal produce.  I don't care if the girl at the cash register in Delhaize looks at me funny when I'm buying it, and I don't care if you want to judge me for it (since it's mostly European readers on this blog.)  You must not know what you're missing... or maybe you have never had a properly selected, cooked, and seasoned cob, so when you tried it it was crap to you.  Or maybe you did have it, and just didn't like it.  Either way, I'll profit from that: more for me. :)  I had my first cobs of the season for lunch today, and mmmm, they were good.

Last up: Justin Bieber.  A Canadian cultural export I sincerely do not like.  Mind you, today I stumbled across this.  One of his songs time-stretched to be 8 times longer in duration than normal.  It's like Sigur Ros meets Dead Can Dance.  In working with sound I have recycled things I hate (Backstreet Boys, Mariah Carey,) slowing them down, cutting them up, and inverting them in order to turn them into loops and beats I like, but I have to say that the simple act of time-stretching the song (slowing it down without the downward pitch-shift that normally accompanies the slowing down of sound,) turns it quite impressively into something entirely different, pretty epic, (and much better) than the original.  Go on, give it a go.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


After seeing the announcement in the paper today, I can't stop thinking about this:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Église abandonnée

Sunday, after visiting boyfriend's gran in the nursing home, we stopped on the way back to (finally) take a closer look at this place and shoot some pictures.  This abandoned church in Ombret had tree canopy puffing out of the non-existent roof the first time I spotted it.  The trees were removed some time in the last 6 months, and rumour has it the building is going to be converted into apartments after all the red-tape is sorted through.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Flood.

This song.  I've been hearing it on the radio, finding myself drawn to it.  I don't love it, but I do like it.  It's a combination of the lyrics, the bold and soaring chorus, the production and the instrumentation (well, for parts of the song.)

William Orbit is behind the sense of resonant space in the song.  I'm often suckered in by the way he is able to create both giant resonant audio-spaces and smaller more intimate ones within the same song, so I suppose I wasn't really surprised to see his name credited here.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A mixed bag.

I bring you my collection of tiny and different things.  It's all the stuff that's been swirling about me like some kind of bizarre and beautiful dust-tornado over the past week.  Rather than let things accumulate any further, I'm just going to fire things off in cursory fashion and we'll see what sticks, shall we?

- Rather than shrink back in fear, I've decided to expand.  A good deal of thinking and a grounding conversation with boyfriend have caused me to ask myself "really, why am I not taking life by the balls right now?"  It is so not like me.  And I can't stop being me just because I'm somewhere else, now can I?  I am now in the process of plotting out some future (big) doings and goals.  Lists are being made.  The tough part is making choices between mutually exclusive great things and prioritizing.  These are the best sorts of tough decisions to have to make.

- My ex-husband is now engaged to his long-lost sweetheart.  I knew about this for quite some time but hadn't dared to breathe a word of it to anyone before he proposed.  It sounds like it was terribly romantic, and she said yes!  I am thrilled for them both, a stupidly silly amount.

- The sprained ankle has had 3-ish weeks off now.  Test-drive this weekend. *fingers crossed*

- I had to step into a pharmacy for the first time in Belgium.
- It was to ask for a morning after pill.
- As a result of this fuss, there have been a few very preliminary conversations regarding babies.
- I must admit that at times, part of me has soft and lovely feelings about raising a child.
- The rest of the time I am completely convinced that no no NO NO NOOOOOOOOooo.
- I'm chalking the soft and lovely stuff up to my biology trying to trick me.  *looks at uterine-area* Nice try, suckahs.

- An often-used but somewhat unnecessary kitchen appliance had a meltdown and no longer exists.  I was sad for a few seconds until I thought about the space not having it anymore would free up!

- A small note of business: The glacier down the street from us has been making his creams sweeter, causing him to fall off our favoured list (as we now find them too sweet.)  We are seriously décu with his going to the dark side, and want to know what gives.

- In this vein, we have decided to allocate some of the newly acquired counter-space to an ICE CREAM MAKER.  Ice cream is way more important than bread, anyways.

And now, it being Friday night after a challenging week, it is time to go and get our drink on.  Ta.

- PS - if you find yourself in Liège, the "Bistro des Carmes" at the Point D'Avroy has the best Sangria.