Monthly Archives: June 2020
School is out for summer! Europe is opening up again, and we are enjoying its gifts. We’re still carless, so we’re still in Belgium. Thanks to some friends we were able to get to our adorable gite (vacation rental) in the Ardennes.
We’re around 10 km from the town of Durbuy, which is great for lounging, shopping, eating and sipping. Yesterday we finally got to sit in its famous Pirate bar, Tortuga something or other. The drinks were a disappointment, but we got to sit amongst these cheery critters.
We’ve also gotten to do some wonderful hiking and bicycling, which included climbing up a steep, rocky embankment to find a little cave and strolls along both sides of the river. Our muscles are a little sore, but it’s worth every bit of it. I told Joe I expect us to do some form of exercise every day I’m on summer break. It’s not hard to do when you’ve got all of this…
Today we’re chilling and grilling in the backyard, but I imagine we’ll explore some more in the woods as well. It’s not all healthy living though. LOL, we’re sipping too. The day school ended we did a virtual Port tasting at a friend’s house.
And we’ve sipped with friends at the Grand Place in Mons. I cannot tell you (or maybe I can) how good it felt to be out and about among people again.
We’re here until Tuesday, and then it’s back to Mons to, hopefully, pick up our new car. We’ll be helping a friend close out living here, so she can retire in the states with her family, and then we’re on the road again. I’m bummed I can’t see my kids this summer, but I’m looking forward to touring the countryside in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and maybe Poland. Heck, we might even throw in France for fun. Our goal is to avoid big cities and just enjoy the nature side of things for awhile.
Happy Summer Everyone!
For those of you just clicking on my blog, I live in Mons, Belgium, which has loads of stories to share, but it’s all-time favorite celebration is the Ducasse, or as it’s commonly called: Dou Dou fest.
It’s an ancient tradition that goes back to the mid 1300s. It began as a procession of carting the city’s patron saint Wadru (a woman, woo hoo) relics around the city to protect it from the plague. Legend has it that as long as the chariot with the relics makes it up the big hill, bad luck like the plague won’t happen. Throughout the years it evolved into a week-long fest that includes religious ceremonies, parties galore, parades, its own song (which is sung over and over again) and a dragon slaying. It is everything to the citizens of Mons, and it has only been cancelled during the French Revolution and both world wars — until Corona. It’s part Mardi Gras, part medieval lore, and all Montois. The irony of it being cancelled because of a pandemic must truly sting.
In the overall scope of this year’s challenges, it’s not a big deal, I know. And it’s not completely forgotten.
Police are patrolling on foot and horse to ensure social distancing is in place. The Belfry is now also playing the Dou Dou song. The Collegial (St. Wadru’s cathedral) is also ringing bells, so despite it all, Mons is still cheering on its tradition the best it can — without all the hoopla and people, but it will happen again.
And life is slowly resuming back to normal. Tomorrow we enter another phase of post lockdown. Cafes, bars and restaurants can reopen with strict guidelines. On June 15, our borders open to neighboring countries. We’re planning whatever safe summertime fun we can get in.
On the 18th we’re going to spend 5 nights at a lovely cabin in the Ardennes (with its own swimming pool!). A friend is retiring and moving back to the states, so she’ll spend the last week of June staying with us, which will include some last-minute day trips. We’re bringing her animals to Amsterdam to be shipped back, so that means another few nights in the Netherlands (checking out cottages to book now), and then we have a few nights booked at a campground in Luxembourg. We hope to do a little camping and touring in Germany and Poland, but none of that has been booked yet. It’s difficult because we have to follow local mandates, and they’re just working all that out.
Basically, we’re trying to book in some peace and serenity while the world shakes around us. We’re also still waiting on the arrival of our new car, so there’s new and old mixing in with all the different levels of uncertainty and upheaval.
Happy Sunday everyone! And Bon Ducasse to the people of Mons.
We’re pretty sure one of those murder hornets flew into our living room last night. It was big and loud with a stinger that weighed it down, so it flew with its weapon dragging. It was slow and bulky, but it still scared the bejesus out of us — even Badger backed the eff up and decided to scootch his ass to the way back of the room, lol looking at Joe like “go get him boy.” Luckily it was at the top of our window area behind our sheer curtains, so we (aka Joe) were able to move it down to the open part of the window and swoosh it out. It’s someone else’s nightmare now.
Literary me considers that my sign, my symbol, my metaphor, my whatever you want to call it for where we are today. Threats are real, and they have the potential to sting us all. But, they can also be pushed away (I guess we could have killed it, but we have this thing against killing bugs, UNLESS they’re mosquitoes, ants, cockroaches or fruit flies, then it’s game on — and yeah I recognize the flaw in our logic). That said murder hornets are real in a world where bees are dying.
I read headlines from several news organizations daily. I do this for balance and to help me understand what’s fueling mankind’s divide. Many times I have to tell inner me to shut the eff up when blatant bias attacks my point of view (I don’t get so angry when it belittles the other side: human nature). I remind myself that I have to see all sides to understand the big picture, but why must there still be more than one side when it comes to race? We are all mankind, and there’s plenty of insanity for us to kill each other over, why in the hell are we still destroying us over the color of our blossoms? Why are we imposing our fear and anger toward a particular type of person? Personification was not created for this.
Yesterday, news outlets around the world reported on the protests taking place. Many focused on the riots and looting, some focused on the cause, some posted about those creating mayhem simply because they want the mayhem and couldn’t give two shits about the cause (well probably because, in part, they are the cause), some focused on the good that can happen when sides come together and protest a common enemy (bigotry is the bastard that harms us all), and then there were those who lived to fuel the political divide.
I’ve lost the story, but one outlet’s lead story yesterday was headlined something like this: Big-city dems allow riots during pandemic.
What in the fuckity fuck? Thousands are banning together — during a pandemic — because they are beyond being pissed and betrayed. They’re either naive about the virus, or they’ve decided the risk was worth being heard, or a combo of both. This has absolutely nothing to do with your political leanings. You are certainly not a racist if you are Republican, but you could be a racist and a Republican (or Democrat for that matter). No one ‘allowed’ the protests to happen; that, for better or worse, is an American freedom. Just ask the folk who protested lockdown and having to wear masks to protect others.
Police brutality is real. Does that mean all or most police officers are racist pigs who don’t give a shit about what their badge is supposed to represent? Of course not. In my heart of hearts, I believe the opposite. I believe the angry idiots who lose their shit are the minority (and I do not like associating that word with any race — it means the least amount). By admitting we have a problem, is that saying that violent black criminals have the right to maim and terrorize because of their black card (whatever the fuck that is — as if being black actually gave you more advantages)? Of course not. Angry, violent people are angry, violent people who need to be dealt with. And, sadly, it appears we deal with angry, violent people differently based on ethnicity. Sure we could say it’s just more visible because of cameras, and yes they too can portray bias, but whatever the reason: we’ve got a lot of pissed off people who don’t mind harming others. Some feel they are allowed to get away with it simply because of the color of their foliage.
And that is where we are today: angry, violent people. Mostly though we’re just rightfully angry. Most of us are not violent. We prefer to avoid harming ourselves or others. We don’t want all of this hatred. We really don’t, but we are afraid. And we should be, our species is as evil as it is good.
Our story includes the hate, the inequality, the greed of mankind. It is part of who we are — let’s acknowledge that without making up excuses and figure out how to grow past it, so that we can work on our other mutual threats (let’s not forget that Mother Nature is also rightfully disappointed and angry with all of us). Our story also includes amazing moments of love, acceptance and the fight for humanity — let’s embrace that because it’s the only reason we are real and still exist.
I don’t know where I’m going with all of this except that I’m reflecting and sharing because, well, I don’t know why. Do my words matter in the overall scope of things? Probably not, but I guess I hope that we’re all going beyond the superficial statements that bring us back to finger pointing and blame, which brings us back to fear and anger, which brings us back to fighting each other. I say this while knowing full and well that people’s fatigue and anger over being disenfranchised are also very, very real and rightfully so (please don’t rebut with but ‘they’ don’t have the right to ruin property…. I don’t condone violence against anyone in any shape or form, so I’m not saying that’s okay; I’m saying people are allowed to be angry; we’ve treated each other badly for too long of a time). Typing this is my conversation with myself while also including others because I guess that’s how we move forward. Okay, so I know it’s more than that. It’s being heard and understood, which requires work from all of us.
I’m finally beginning to understand the ending of Fahrenheit 451 where Montag realizes that an eternity of time staring into a mirror is as important as remembering our words. Knowledge without reflection and growth is worthless. What have we learned throughout our history? What will we do with it?
Meanwhile that murder hornet we pushed back outside is still lurking about out there with his weapon dragging.