- you'll have to be in one of the official pictures of the http://www.missbalen.be/ website and have an official televoting number rather than this private mobile phone number.
- you should be wearing also the official Miss Balen T-shirt as the other finalist rather than seeming to have borrowed the sashes to pose for a picture.
- You are to old to take part in the Mister Balen election You can still enroll for the Sir Balen election (>30y), but you wouldn't have a "finalist" position yet.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Sometimes it's cool to check the search terms that people use when they land via google on my blog. Most of the time it is fairly straight forward, but sometimes I really wonder how I ended up in the result list of that search!
"Nude cyclers"...huh? did I ever already use the word nude in my posts? Hmm well now I sure did. But before?
"Gent toilet with picture"? Hihi, well I guess my posts about Ghent combined with old posts about our painted toilet wall, did not really meet the searcher's expectations.
"citronella drag queen": also that must have been a combination of a post about my herbs and one about the concert of Les Truttes.
You can also see the internet hypes coming by: tour the france, the Britain got's talent show, Yves Leterme's blunder etc... All in all it's a fairly boring image. No spicy searches arriving here, I'm afraid.
What's a funny search that ended up on your sites unexpectedly ??
Only 2 of my cousins and their families could make it as well as my sister, after we had received some last minute cancellations. Too bad, it would have been fun to truly have been all together in a mini informal family reunion. Maybe next time. It was fun already now.
Ball games...that are bound to end with the ball flying over the top of the wall in the garden of the neighbours. No worries, my sportive cousin Koen had no difficulty hopping over and recovering the ball again.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Yikes...I am glad we are not sleeping in Providence itself. I wouldn't want to find Oscar on my hotelbed!
PS: it is raining hard again! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, I hate it.
As it starts raining a bit right now, I am kinda glad that I am not downtown right now.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
- Flights have been booked
- Daily itineraries have been created for New England.
- 6 nights have final accomodation booked and 1 night has a provisional accomodation booked.
- Car has been booked.
- Books on New England and map from Amazon have arrived.
Hey, we're making progress! But I am neglecting my ironing pile. Oh well.
Friday: most of day dry, but showers possible
Saturday: periods with rain
Sunday: cloudy (....huh...no rain?)
Monday : more chance on showers and thunderstorms
Pffffffff. Please could everyone else in the world stop blogging about heat, vacation at beaches , stop posting sunny pictures out of solidarity? I am kinda having waves of serious jealousy.
Monday, July 23, 2007
or the lousy summer is making me depressed. At least the nice spells in between the showers are scheduled in the weekends...that's already something. But I need more sun! I desperately need more sun and warmth.
Hmm it wasn't my day.
For those of you who don't know Yves Leterme: he is candidate prime minister and trying to form a government coalition at the moment with his party that won the elections and with the liberals. The Frenchspeaking part of Belgium is very suspicious about him and his party though as it's known for its strong Flemish regionalistic points of view and they fear he wants to break up Belgium.
Anyway, as I stated yesterday, not many Belgians know the words of our national anthem and also not many know the exact reason as why we celebrate our national holiday on July 21st. It's the day that our first king, Leopold I took the crown in 1831 (one year after our independence).
Traditionally in Brussels (and other cities) the Te Deum is celebrated, a eucharist in which the King is praised and celebrated. All prominent politicians usually show up there and so did Yves Leterme although he's in the midst of negotiations to form our new governemnt.
A journalist asked him why we were celebrating our national holiday and he gave the wrong answer. Then they asked him to sing our national anthem ...and joke oh joke...he started singing the Marseillaise (French national anthem) rather than our Belgian Brabançonne. haha...what a blunder. Hilarious!
Hmm the Flemish think this is a good joke. He simply proofs that he's a real Belgian...but maybe he should know better if he has the ambition to become our prime minister.
Unfortunately the Frenchspeaking media see it as a provocating arrogant stunt. And the foreign media pick it up.
Oh well, this is Belgium. It'll blow over.
update: after saving this post, I remembered something from my childhood. My sister was on an exchange program in Canada...long before e-mails could be sent or blogs could be kept. We had to simply write letters and as a treat for Christmas, my sister had filled a cassette tape with stories and had mailed it to us. How great to listen to her voice again, lots of times.
At the start of her tape she intended to sing the Brabanconne....but instead she sang the tune of the Eurovision song contest :p, and she didn't realise she had made a mistake.
...maybe my sister should run for prime minister now???
Saturday, July 21, 2007
In Belgium we do not seem to care as much about it as elsewhere. Only 2% of the population would know the words of our national anthem (I don't!...despite Rotary's efforts to teach us our national anthem before going on exchange, in order to give a good impression abroad ). You do see some houses that hang the national flag, our tri-color (black/yellow/red) outside, but 10 days ago there were more Flemish lions hanging out when it was our flemish regional holiday. For most of us it's simply a day off, a day that all stores are closed and that probably there are fireworks tonight in a lot of towns. The king makes his annual speech on tv and the army parades through Brussels, but that is truly tooo boring to watch though. In Brussels there are quite a few activities that does attract a big crowd, but regionally there is not much happening.
That does not mean though that we are not proud of our country though. I think most of us still love our country, not taking some seperatists into account, ...but we simply cannot add much value in those symbols. I think we'll all proudly tell foreigners to come and visit our beautiful historical cities...We are pissed off when North-Americans think that French fries actually originate in France (Grrrrr....haha what a joke when they called them Freedom fries in order to piss off France....hilarious). We all know we have definately the best beers and best chocolate in the world. There is simply no doubt about that. And we are all huge fans of Tom Boonen (who has already won twice in the Tour and will likely gain the green jersey) and Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin and our other sport stars. We are proud that the head of the Olympic committe is a Belgian, etc etc... But we don't wish each other a "nice Belgian holiday" today.
In Canada people all seem to know their national flower, their provinces flower, the flags are all over and they must carry a pin with their flag when they are abroad, .... On the first of July I got via msn and Facebook several "happy Canada Day " wishes.
The same happened on the 4th of July from American friends. I remember very well a post that Sari has written over at the Geekinside.blogspot.com. She describes the feeling and emotions when the flag flew and the anthem was song at a boys baseball game. Those are situations that we cannot relate to I suppose, and yet I think we miss them somehow. We mock the Dutch when they all go orange nuts in big sports tournaments and dress up orange and decorate houses and offices orange etc... We mock them, but personally I also think it's cool to some degree. It wouldn't hurt if the Belgians just got a little bit more bitten by a national feeling and showing it off.
I remember a day that all the Rotary exchange students of the district 5080 were together in Colville, WA and we had to present ouselves to the other rotarians in a flag parade. While waiting, we were simply goofing around, chasing each other and running around with our flags. All of a sudden a Rotarian came in and he completely freaked out at us when he saw us because apparently part of our Belgian flag had been dragging on the floor while running around. We had not noticed, we had not done it intentionally....but it wasn't such a big deal for us either. We simply thought "ooops, it'll get dirty, we'd better be a bit careful". To that man, it meant a lot more, but we did not understand the fuss.
3 weeks ago my aunt and uncle celebrated their golden anniversary and they were celebrated at their townhall. During a part of the ceremony the Belgian national anthem was played. With a shock I realised it was the first time in my life that I had to listen to our national anthem! Can you believe that? I am sure the Belgians can believe me and the foreigners don't. I mean I've heard it often before on tv: before any speech made by the Kind, when a Belgian wins a medal at the Olympics, before our national soccer team plays, .... But never life so that I am actually asked to stand up, stand respectfully still and listen. ...it was weird! I truly felt awkward.
But the 2 hours took much longer as searching and planning turned out to be quite addictive and it takes some time to find your way in all the information, and I wanted to continue.
In the evening, my head was still buzzing with all the information and I was simply tired and happy to lay in the sofa. A lot of our friends turned out to be at the 'Gentse Feesten' , partying in Ghent, so we had no obligation to go out of the door. But after some hesitation we lifted out butts anyway and off we went to Beleuvenissen.
The theme of the third evening is always "Special", meaning that it's all popular Belgian musicians coming along. Yesterday night, Clouseau climbed on the main stage at the Oude Markt. Due to the security risk that might happen when a big crowd tries to get on the Oude Markt (there's been issues with Clouseau and overcrowded squares in the past among others at the 'Gentse Feesten'), there was no free entrance there. All 10000 free tickets had been reserved and we didn't obtain any. I don't truly dislike them, but I totally not motivated to go and stand in line at the townhall weeks before in order to get some tickets for their concert. Although I'm sure that their concerts must be good fun.
We started off at the Hogeschoolplein where Eva De Roovere was singing. We arrived at the end of her act and I didn't regret that as I am not too fond of her songs. And I feared she'd sing the horrible tune of the Emma tv show :p. We ended up listening to Gene Thomas for a while and then headed for the concert of Les Truttes. The contrast between the 2 stages was remarkable: whereas Gene Thomas started the evening by singing covers of all artists he admires (U2, Prince, ...) and bringing good artisanal and hontest songs, Les Truttes on the other side of the church also bring cover songs, but with a lot of drama, lightshow, attributes, costumes etc... I had seen them before on the Gentse Feesten so I knew what to expect.
With their catchy tunes and medleys , mixing the A-Team's tune easily to some well known disco tunes to some soccer songs, their lighted up stage stairs, the lightning guitar, the drag queen like wig from the main singer, .... they sure brought a lot of atmosphere on the square and even in the back, people were clapping and singing along. Good fun.
After the concert we went back to Gene Thomas to see the end of his concert. He seemed to have more success with is own Flemish hit songs than with his cover songs. Funny to see some teenage chicks singing passionately along :p.
Anyway, it was a pleasant night out. I am glad that we didn't stay in our sofa all night.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Today in the Tour de France! the German cycler Marcus Burghards couldn't avoid the crossing labrador anymore as it crossed the road some 50 km after the start of the stage from Val d'Isere. Both of them came out uninjured apparently but I suppose they are both a bit shaken.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Whenever I see an in interesting post I am also tempted to comment. But I always hesitate on a new blog...I sometimes feel like an intruder, I wonder if my unsollicited comment will be appreciated, whether they'll wonder "who the hell is goofball?", ... But I usually go for it. Sometimes you get an answer, most of the time you don't. On blogs which I like and which I frequently read, I also become quickly a regular commentator.
Nevertheless I sometimes feel a bit like an outsider. On some blogs, you feel that the other bloggers make circles of interconnections, referrals to each other etc.... You can group blogs in communities, especially if you click from one blogroll to another one. Then you have a big chance to meet the same commentators on the new blogs etc... I seem to be reading the "bloggers from Ghent" community: a group of bloggers that also work for Gent.blogt.be or live in the area of Ghent and often know each other. There's also a group of blogs of expats that I read, since I love to hear about different cultures, the foreigners view on Belgium or Europe, the difficulties of settling in a new environment etc. And thanks to Allie I started reading a lot of Canadian/American mommy/parenting blogs.
I am neither living around Ghent anymore though, I am neither an expat or a blogging mom.
I also notice that there are some unwritten structures that start ruling in those communities: Belgian bloggers (well, at least the ones I keep track off) often seem to have a passion for geeky internet stuff and follow the online communities hype (twitter this winter, the discovery of Facebook in June, Pounce is now being tested, ...) or they are renovating (hey...I said they were Belgians so that was obvious) or they seem to be pregnant. But other than a lot of common subjects that come back, they seem relatively unstructured.
English speaking blogs (both among the mommies as the expats) share a lot more structure: Wednesdays are preferably wordless, if you post a thirtheen item list on thursday, that's cool. On Saturday you are invited to go on photo hunts, etc... And meme's are thrown back and forth.
There are no obligations whatsoever but you see these patterns coming back regularly.
Another thing that you mostly see on English speaking blogs is the many awards that bloggers give to fellow bloggers. I must honestly say that I've frowned my eyes already in the past at the ease and frequency that this cyberlove got translated into a myriad of awards that pop out of nowhere. What's the value of them? They simply spread contageously (because people feel somehow obliged to spread them) and I looked at it with some envy. It made me think at the difference in European culture and Anglo-Saxon /American culture: in the latter one it is so much more common to praise each other and to give positive feedback. In Europe we seem to treasure much the economic idea that scarcity increases the value, so we don't hand out a lot of compliments.
(hmm I get a flashback : I was with a Belgian colleague on training in Chicago and my colleague got so irritated by this culture difference that he stated all of a sudden to me "if the teacher says once more "good job" during a stupid assignment, I'll kick her out of the window"...we are so not used to it that we get irritated by an abundance of compliments, that seem to become valueless to us).
Anyway, this was a very lenghty introduction just to say that I sometimes felt a bit an outsider in the blogosphere and that I had ambiguous feelings about blog awards...
yes, I wrote that in past tense. Today I was reading Jen in Holland's blog and much to my total shock and surprise, she gave me a power to schmooze award! Woooohoo I am so flattered! Someone I have never met, finds my blog and comments interesting enough to give me an award. I was seriously moved. I had never expected to get an award.
So gone are my ambigious feelings about bloggers giving each other awards: I feel simply proud. And happy that I do persist in leaving comments on lots of blogs and trying to connect and get communication going and being respectful and honest and positive encouraging (hey I did live in canada, so I do have a bit of the positive encouragement mentality in me as well :p). And maybe I am not always perceived as an outsider although I still don't fit in one blogging classification.
So here I proudly present my button:
Doesn't this rock? Here is the explanation of the button:
"Schmoozing is the natural ability “to converse casually, especially in order to gain an advantage or make a social connection.” Good schmoozers effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogosphere, leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way. They don’t limit their visits to only the rich and successful, but spend some time to say hello to new blogs as well. They are the ones who engage others in meaningful conversations, refusing to let it end at a mere hello - all the while fostering a sense of closeness and friendship"
As this award is all about blogging community involvement, it is now my turn to compliment other blogges with this award.
1. Allie at Life at the Whittinghams: my dear Canadian friend that is always so honest, open, compassionate and shares all her joys, doubts,... with us. Her comments are always warm and encouraging.
2. Betsy at Blog Ness Monster: The sense of humor with which she embraces her daily challenges in parenthood and settling in a new environment are so contagious. Her posts and comments often make me smile. thanks to her I also discovered a lot of new blogs.
3. the entire team of volunteers at Gent Blogt. Not sure if the authors will ever read this, but they sure have managed to create a blogging community in Ghent and from that community they also have created a real life community in Ghent. They make people aware of activities and I am sure that they bring people together in some way. And all of this in a professional way.
4. Jenn at My life in a nutshell as she has a lot of positive energy in life and leaves sweet and nice and comments herself
Monday, July 16, 2007
There's many many destinations that I'd like to go to on vacation e.g. a diving destination. But the east coast of the USA and Canada is also on my wishlist. I am so in love with the beauty of Britisch Columbia, but I always miss 'history' there. The eastcoast of the USA holds all these historied beauties, stories, .... and also beautiful landscapes.
So the idea attracted us. As soon as we started surfing a bit, the more enthousiastic I became about New England. First I though it'd be a pity to go to Boston, ...so close to New York without visiting New York. We see self-drives that visit Quebec, Montreal, Toronto, Boston, ....all in 2 weeks. But we'd rather not visit 10 cities in 14 days. So it's been decided: we'll do a 2 week vacation in New England.
So our flights are booked and right now we are dreaming away with the our newly bought tourist guide of New England, the tourist websites, travelpedia, B&B websites, ... Cooo-hool, it's going to be a great trip. And it's great to dream and plan! Any tips and must do's are welcome!
My wishlist so far: white mountains, cape cod, Boston itself, Harvard, Newport, Burlington, Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park, and many more......
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Isn't that an adorable picture??
Anyway despite my Jazz aversion and illiteracy 10 years ago, I wanted to see whether any of the performances could change my opinion and together with Jan and some friends, we headed downtown. After the real crappy weather we've had lately, the temperatures had finally risen to some more acceptable "summer" levels. As a result everybody seemed to be having the feeling that they had to take advantage of the good weather with an "outdoor" activity. So we were not the only ones downtown.
We first stopped at the tiny square near the Domus brewery where 'Iris and friends' where performing. The brochure predicted lots of swinging enthousiast musicians. I wonder if the author had actually seen them performing before. Iris and friends resembled more karaoke singing Mme Toussauld statues that were neither swinging or enthousiastic. Especially the contrabas player was remarkable in his unflappability. Don't get me wrong: they sounded pretty good! It was quite enjoyable to have a drink on the square and enjoy the music, with your back to the stage :p. And the basist got a lot of attention and photographs taken. When he did a little solo, the people all started clapping and cheering. It was quite funny really.
Afterwards we went to see the Brussels Jazz Orchestra. I am sure that they are excellent musicians, but they reminded me more about the ugly screaming saxophones. Hmm don't think my opinion about jazz has changed substantially.
We closed the evening at the Vismark where we finally have found some free chairs at a terrace to sit down and to listen from a distance to Doug Jay & The Blue Jays, who performed quite nice blues. I didn't obtain tickets for the Rhythm & Blues festival this weekend, but I did get to listen to some live blues :).
It was a great summer night! Finally!
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
here and here and here and here are lots of more pictures and stories of the tour in Ghent yesterday.
and if you start wondering whether I am a tour freak: not at all. I usually don't follow it at all. I like cycling classics that take one afternoon eg Paris-Roubaix, De Ronde van Vlaanderen (tour of flanders), ... But 3 weeks of cycling? nooo that is too much and gets too boring. Besides, Belgians never play a big role in it lately...although last years we make chance for the green jersey. But I must admit that being there life and seeing it all was quite exciting. Maybe this year I follow it a bit more. On the other hand, it's only the third etape today, so it might wear off quickly.
Monday, July 9, 2007
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Our garden is full of snails and I think they like my herbs. But I do not want to share with them :(. Fortunately they are a bit picky: they left me the rosemary that is getting flowers now, the sage, the mint and the citronella. Nevertheless they ate the koriander, basil, lettuce, chives, persil :(.
So tonight I've declared the war on the snails and I've put some "ecofriendly" snailpoison on their favourite spots.....Hope it works so I can start over with some new herbs soon!
And in the store my eye fell on a little flesh-eating plant that looked rather attractive. That ended up in the kitchen and I think its digesting its first fly already if I can see the black bulb in its partially transparant and hollow stem. Cool ! Quite an ecological measures huh. I am curious how it will continue! What if the house becomes 100% fly free...should we then feed the plant some ham or something :p . Hihi just imagine.
1) we went up and down and back and forth on the first floor of Ikea, the ground floor of Ikea and back in the basement to the car!
2) We walked around all over the place at FACQ
3) We walked from one side to the canal to the other to see some more sanitair stores
(we are hunting for sanitair accessories...you know how outrageously expensive those little toilet holder, towel holders etc are??)
4) we walked from home to the library downtown and back
5) we did the bick Carrefour and Brico slalom through all the isles.
my feet are tired now.
But it turned out a nice day and the sun was out. It wasn't hot, but it was nice. And we ate an ice cream downtown and we ate a salad outside in our garden. At least we felt a little bit like summer. Seems like they really listened to me?