Monthly Archives: June 2018

Red Devils…

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So, we’ve been having fun with World Cup fever.  We watched Belgium’s first two games at the Grand Place in Mons, and yeah it was fun.  Last night’s game we watched in Germany.  We also got to hang our heads during Germany’s last game.  I always root for Germany because hello?  my relatives would never forgive me if I didn’t.  A girl does not tempt her fate amongst blood members of her tribe.  So, I was really excited to get to watch Germany IN Germany, but, well, you guys know how all that went.  Perhaps I am not my mother’s land good luck charm.

On the bright side of things I no longer have to stress over who I’d root for in a Germany vs Belgium game, and the colors are the same, so it’s all good (leave it to this blonde to not concern herself with their order).  We head back to Belgium Sunday, so we’ll be back at the Grand Place to watch Belgium, hopefully, win again.

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Bringing sexy to the colors!

I’d post more pics, but my phone charger died, so no uploading photos today.  It’s all good I’ll post more on our visit to Mini’s other part of the world before we take off again next week.

Until then we’re doing a lot of this…

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regardless of who is playing, or if even there’s a game going on.

And, this is what the Grand Place looks and sounds like after a big event is over.

Badger is still digging it all too, although he can’t seem to find a girlfriend.  Check out his woes here.

School’s out for summmmmer!

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Summer break:  Day one!

Another year logged and graded!  Can you believe?  This year flew by.  I mean really fast. It still feels like I just got here.  This time last year I was going through close-out hell in UAE and new-hire paperwork hell for this job.

Some of my good UAE friends are going through that now.  I don’t envy them (although I know their next adventure will be as exciting as mine), but I am thrilled that I’ll get to see them in a few weeks.  We’re flying to Dominican Republic to cheer on Jordan & Wilbur’s wedding — whoop whoop!  I cannot wait to pool drink, beach nap and OMG go to a spa with them again!  Mama needs some pampering with her girls.

Joe and I have got it good. Because we’re finally living in an area that isn’t as hot as the sun, we’re not rushing to get out of here.  So, we’re piddling around Belgium next week, then driving to a friend’s house in Bavaria (I might even get a chance to go to Poland to shop for pottery — ewwww yeah!), then flying to Dublin (Slainteing it up with Derrick), then DR, and then off to Brazil for 10 days, and then Jordan & Wilbur will fly back to Brussels with us.  Sooooo woo hoo — lots and lots of catching up with friends and fun times. Then in August I get to go back to work to a job I really enjoy, and welcome year two of my life here — which we hope will continue for quite a few years!

One of the many perks to being a teacher is the annual end-of-year reflection.  It’s nice to have that time to sip coffee and think about all that went well and all that went south way too quickly — some years it’s more crap than good, but mostly it’s more positive.  And while we’re oh sooooo happy to be getting our break, we do think fondly of our kids and all that they taught us — yeah even you “Johnny” who may or may not have given me a twitch from refraining a cuss word or two.

For me, this year, the bad was mostly outside my little bubble.   I don’t like where things are in the world right now, but the optimist in me clings (desperately at times) to the notion that change for the better will happen.  I’m not naive; there’s more chaos to come before some sort of calm, but working with teenagers always gives me hope.  Of course they’re still hormone-riddled, angst-obsessed, volatile beings, but they’re on the cusp of the adults they will become, and I always see way more hope and good than helplessness.  So, yeah, I still believe the young will fix some of what we broke — while knowing they’ll also break some things of their own.

I’m not going to bore you with my thoughts on all the different movements and walkouts taking place in my home country, but I will say I’m glad people (especially the young) are waking up and getting their voices heard.  It’s my hope all those voices will join to lead us to progress and smother out much of our senseless harm.  So, that’s my first-day of summer break reflection for you.  Time to refill my cup of coffee and get on with my deadline-free days.

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While Badger gets to go to Germany with us, he’s ticked we’re not taking him on our other adventures.  LOL he thinks giving me the sad puppy eyes will change my mind, but nope he’s going off to doggy summer camp!

 

Bon Ducasse….

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It’s all quiet in Mons now —- well as quiet as this city can be.  It sure does love to throw a party.

Sooooo we experienced and survived our first Ducasse, aka the Doudou festival.  I took a gazillion photos and video, but my wifi here sucks — irritatingly so!  Uploading pics takes forever, and for some reason doing it on WordPress is even more of a pain.  So, you’ll only get a few snapshots of the big event.  It’s a weeklong series of surprises that lead up to the big celebration on Trinity Sunday.  It’s a celebration of the people of Mons from yesteryear and today, and they take great pride in it.

Long story short:  It includes relics from their patron saint Waudru (a woman thank you very much), her husband’s relics, religious relics from all over the area, a golden chariot, avoiding the plague, King George and the slaying of a dragon.  It’s ancient tradition melded with the city’s ever-evolving modern history.  There are sacred church ceremonies, bands, parades, rituals on top of rituals (with their own song!), and people chanting and practicing to push that golden chariot up a steep hill (because if it doesn’t make it up the hill in one try the plague might return).  Think Mardi Gras meets, well, macrame dragons.

It’s an 800 plus-year oral tradition that combines a people’s pride with their love of drinking.  It’s only been interrupted twice — once during one of the World Wars (the other war years they did a quick blessing and run with the chariot sans parades and parties) and once during the French Revolution.

It’s also insane.

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The Friday night that kicked off the festivities had bands and porta bars everywhere.  There wasn’t an alleyway free of people.  Thousands of people choked the Grand Place — luckily all were in good spirits!

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This crowd is for the kid’s dragon, which is slain (by children) exactly a week after King George slays his beast.  It’s a mini Doudou that trains the young for their part in the adult procession later on in life.

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Kids parading a baby dragon.

King George preparing for battle of the big dragon.  Sorry but I couldn’t get my pic of big dragon to upload.

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Just a taste of all that we saw.  Seriously, to my friends who would love to witness this first hand, book your airfare now.  Doudou 2019 happens in June.  This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  It’s loud, it’s sometimes dangerous (too many people), it’s chaos, and it’s beautiful church ceremonies, parade processions, costumes, music, etc. etc. — plus come on there’s dragons and beer too!

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If you’re brave — or are lucky enough to have a crazy neighbour brave enough to fight the crowds — you might even get a hair off the dragon to wear for good luck.

P.S. Badger was at Lorayne’s during the main weekend because of the crowds, but he took part in it during the week.  Here’s his take on it https://badgerdoesbelgium.wordpress.com

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