Author Archives: bettinabennett2014

Welcome to the waves

Back in the days when I could travel: Dec 2016 Cyprus

We are in the midst of wave two. Belgium is expected to reach an average of 20,000 new positive cases a day before the end of this week. It’s at the top two list of worst affected countries in the EU, but that doesn’t really matter anymore because most EU countries are red according to whatever thing they use to measure our misery. Belgium is doing everything it can to not have a full lockdown, but the numbers of hospital admissions is alarming.

Bars and restaurants are closed again, only one close contact is allowed to visit your home, masks are mandatory (they pretty much have been for months now), there’s a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., universities are mostly remote, many jobs are remote, people are encouraged to stay home as much as possible. Elementary and secondary schools are still open. There’s more I’d like to say about this, but it just isn’t healthy for me to vent about what I cannot control.

This time around I also can no longer claim that I don’t know anyone who has had the virus. I know several people (and I’m blasting them with every ounce of healthy that I can). Luckily Joe, I and my adult children remain healthy. I’m taking advantage of more at-home time to clean, organize and plan my lessons. I’m switching my pacing a bit and will do units on dystopian fiction; it feels appropriate right now.

I have many flaws, but one of my few talents is embracing the positives in life (lol although I don’t know that dystopian fiction will help me with that right now). And after going through a rightful funk, Badger and I took a nice walk today — mainly because he let me know, “Bitch, I gotta poo.”

I needed this walk since I’m really grappling with not being able to see my own children. Needless to say it’s really hard to be so far away from them when it feels like everything is going to shit.

My favorite pic of my babies when they were little heathens

Badger and I were blessed with sun (it won’t last long) and dying leaves surrendering to the wind. Mons is built by so many layers of art and architecture — by nature as well as man. I forget how magnifique it is while holed up in my apartment. The mold and mortar have so many stories to tell if only we knew how to listen.

Last year’s leaves bathing in a canal … didn’t have a phone on me while walking earlier. Today they took their final twirls in the air, just as magical.

It’s such a gift to be reminded that there’s much more to our history in the making than our most recent layers of crud. Yes, it’s disturbing to hear the ambulance sirens (three screeched at us during our 45 minute walk), but we were also treated to the Belfry’s hourly bells and the occasional Bon Jour by fellow humans and dogs. It is amazing how much good our helloes do for us. Life demands we see all of her, especially those little things we don’t always realize are as vital as the air we breathe.

So today’s post is all about remembering to stay safe while also embracing the good that is ours to hold. Yes, wine, gin and home-made meals help a lot with remaining indoors, but a good walk outdoors (ahem while masked!) is damn good medicine too. Hang in there people. We can get past this despite the idiotocracy that also surrounds us.

And remember our children’s children are keeping up our family legacies. LOL in my case it’s this scowl whenever a mama wants to capture her cutie. There’s a reason above pic is my fave — there are hundreds more that share the below “do I have to pose again?” face.

Cannot wait to chase this terror all over the place.

And here’s Badger’s take on the day, but I warn you he now has a Cannabis prescription, so lol not much to share with you. Badger’s link

Windy, blustery days…

pic taken by Larissa Hennesy

A few weeks ago we booked our first Belgian beach vacation since moving here, and lol of course it’s the one weekend a major storm hits. All is well: we survived, our cars survived, Badger survived.

And he enjoyed every minute of it! Another Larissa pic.

We rented a cottage in the Koksijde area, which was lovely and its old roof and walls held tight despite the constant pummeling of gusts up to over 100 km per hour — all weekend long.

On Friday night while the wind howled, we made some noise of our own yowling out our own gusts of fun and stories. Saturday we ventured out and followed a trail that brought us to the dunes, which brought us to the beach, and which eventually brought us to the woods. It was wonderful, windy AF and probably too dangerous to be out, but whatevs … we survived.

I started this entry a few days after out trip, but life, work, the exhausting drain of 2020 got in the way. Basically, I forgot to come back and finish up the post. Badger has some great pics to also share, so I’ll get on his blog next.

Today is a rare sunny autumn day. It’s been raining for weeks, which is okay because Belgium is supposed to be rainy and before the rain finally returned it was way too dry. The leaves haven’t really changed color yet probably because they were so damned dehydrated. Some are yellow but mostly it’s just brown or green — totally matches the whole mood/tone whatever the eff you want to call it of 2020.

Like everyone else on this planet I am sooooooooooo done with Covid and sooooooooo done with the shitstorm that is 2020. And oooh there’s a lot I could say about the politics in my own country, but those conversations are better off had in my living room. That said I did finally upload my vote yesterday. I clicked the submit button with a little extra gusto, so it felt good.

Covid numbers are drastically increasing and with that comes more restrictive measures, so yeah we’re once again hunkering down in our apartment. I have a vacation coming up in a few weeks, but we can’t cross borders right now (they’re not actually closed, but I can’t miss work because of travel-related quarantine), so we’ll explore more of Belgium while masked. Again, I’m done with it all, but I’m glad to say we’re still healthy. And, at least I’m stuck in a beautiful corner of the world, so we will make the best of it. With the longer dark and cold days comes more baking and roasting — it’s not like my waistline ever had a chance.

and, of course, plenty of this! LOL that is a giant bottle to go with the giant glass

I’m bummed we can’t see the kids nor can they visit us, but summer (and hopefully the chance to travel) is lol just around the corner.

Stay safe and healthy everyone! We have some rocky days ahead of us before it’ll get better, but we can pull through and make the best of what we have.

Happy Harvest Season (sorry I can only take pics using WhatsApp now on my phone, so argh it’s not as fun taking and posting pics)

And Badger pawed out his version, go to Badger Does Belgium.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

One of my purchases from the Sunday Market. It’ll cheer up my desk a bit.

While rightfully angry souls march the streets to protest racism and brutality, others march for the titillation of mayhem, and others gang together to protest mask wearing. It’s an angry effing world out there and humanity is boiling with all its levels of discontent. On a bad day it feels as if the rage is dimming our light.

I miss my own children and my grandson so damned much. Thanks to social media (which I also curse for how quickly it helps spread hate and misinformation) I am able to ‘visit’ them for bits here and there. I don’t know when I’ll actually get to hold any of them again (fingers crossed: next summer?). These times are tough, and I get why we’re oh so angry. We should be. I’m angry too. We piss me off.

But, we are also blessed with so much good in our lives as well. My family and I still have our health — on a mental level, I’m not so sure, but our bodies are holding up.

While I hate being so very far away from my children, I do still love where I live. This morning I walked to the Sunday market for the first time since Covid hit. It’s been running for quite a few weeks now, but I’ve been hesitant to go because, you know, crowds. Today, I was serenaded by the baritone bong of St. Wadru’s bells. On my walk home she treated me to the angelic notes of her choir.

It’s gray and cool outside, but walking up cobblestone hills with a mask on keeps you sweating. The market itself was loaded with all of its scents and sounds, but our exchanges were muffled because of our masks, and the police with their dogs joined the stream of pedestrians — just our friendly reminder to keep those masks and our peaceful sides in check.

Mons has truly done a lot to keep us happy and entertained. They keep moving the collection of artsy elephants around, so that we’re pleasantly surprised when we run into them unexpectedly.

I ran into this one cutting through our park this morning.

We’re still treated to live music on the streets. Yesterday, we thought we somehow ended up in New Orleans when a marching band belted out When the Saints Come Marching In. Badger was disappointed they did not have a violinist. We’ve pretty much started up a pension for the guy who plays at the Grand Place since Badger pulls us to him each and every time. Me thinks that dog will strum strings in his next life.

We can’t make the two-hour drive to Paris or Amsterdam on the weekends now (until we manage to all get out of code red and orange), but we’re happy to rest and shop here on the weekends. I type this as the Belfry plays its weekly bell concert in the background.

I’ve also successfully completed my third week back to school (second week with kids), and we’re figuring it out. It’s not easy, but the kids and I are settling into a groove. We’re enjoying learning together, and we’ve figured out our own ways to have meaningful discussions (lol and sometimes not) while social distancing. My poor babies struggle understanding English without reading our lips, and we struggle understanding them with their accents (and not being able to read their lips).

I have learned there is a huge difference between wearing a mask most of the day and being inconvenienced for the 30 minutes you’re in the grocery store. By my second day of teaching and wearing a mask for four hours straight, I realized I might need to buy diaper rash cream for my face. I’ve learned that one should not eat curry for lunch. Pointy masks are better than flat masks because that little air pocket makes all the difference. A wise teacher brings more than one mask to school because we apparently spit a lot when we talk. It’s truly disgusting how wet my masks can get. I am one gross saliva spreader.

Dress code reminders used to be me whispering to a girl to pull her shirt up, now it’s all about me saying to both genders “don’t show me your nose.”

The last five minutes of class are all about giving kids disinfectant wipes and having them wipe down their work areas, so it’s all nice and clean for the next batch of kids (I like this part). And, all day long, I have to remind myself to not get too close to a kid or to wash my hands because I touched someone’s paper. Alllll day long: do you have any idea how many times a day we’re near a student because he or she needs our help? I can’t correct syntax six feet away.

There’s no sharing of resources either. When I give a kid a marker to write something on the board, I collect that marker and sanitize it before another student can touch it. I am literally wiping off teenage kooties right before their eyes now. It’s a new world for us where, basically, we’re all considered unsafe, unclean.

But, omg, I still get high working with them. I can’t see their smiles, but I so see them working hard and trying — which makes me try harder too. Online teaching will never compare to face to face (even this very filtered form of it), and I am so very lucky that I get to do this. Am I worried that we’ll get sick? Oh god, yes. Every tickle in my throat, or every gasp of air because I’ve sucked in my mask, makes me think, “oh shit do I have the Covid?”

But, I keep masking up, washing my hands, and doing the social-distance-santize dance. It’s clunky, uncomfortable AF and awkward, but we’re doing our part to fight the dying of the light.

Here’s to all of us for doing the best we can during the most effed up year of the decade.

Have AWD, will travel

LOL Badger and me having our romantic couple’s shot while cooling off in the Ardennes

We had our first 100 degree day last Friday, and it looks like we’ll have our second today. We have been so lucky this summer because, for the most part, our temps have been great. So, we can’t complain about the current heatwave, but we’re human, so we will. It’s supposed to stay in the 90s until around Thursday next week, which sucks when you’re in a country that doesn’t consider A/C important — until we hit these days and folks flock to the hardware stores desperately searching for portable units.

Luckily, Lorayne sold us her unit (looks like R2D2), which we use in the spare bedroom to cool off. Our apartment has a great cross breeze between the front and back windows, so it’s not as bad as you would think, BUT it does get warm and stuffy.

The best, however, is our new vehicle because it can take us anywhere, so last week we did our first off-road adventure and loved getting lost in the forest.

One of the coolest and saddest things about Belgium is that you run into war memorials all over the country. We were literally in the middle of nowhere, and we came across this celebration of an American soldier’s bravery. Joe googled him, and it turns out he stopped the German’s Panzer division by blowing up their lead tank with a bazooka, which also took him out and earned him this tribute that reminds us hikers to thank those who fought for the lives we have today.

We’ve also spent the week touring towns and breweries. I’d show you pictures, but the camera on my phone isn’t working, so I take snaps with Joe’s, but lol it’s a pain to send to me to upload, etc. etc. Just know we’ve had lots of lovely trips checking out all the good Belgium has to offer. Yesterday we escaped to Maredsou Abbey with friends.

Badger appreciates the shaded walks

Today, we’re staying in Mons, but we’ll find shaded cafes to sip and dine with friends, so all is good. Mons also is doing its best to keep our spirits up despite this damned pandemic, which just won’t go away.

There are new murals and 31 elephants placed around the city, so it’s fun to walk and find these treasures. The musicians are out playing, and we’ve discovered that Badger loves the violin. Last week, there was a parade of puppet animals. They looked so real. I wonder what fun things we’ll witness this weekend.

Badger has also been totally loving our new car and our trips. He has some cute pics on his blog. Click here to see him all woodsy and what not.

On Monday I go back to work. I’m not as excited this year as I normally am. I do still love my job, and I do so look forward to seeing students again, but, well, you know, the pandemic. There are just too many unknowns right now, and we’re all feeling it. We all want to do the best that we can do, but we all also do not want to get sick, so there’s lots of uncertainty. But, we will get past this as well. The kids and I will figure out how to make it work, and fingers crossed we will all continue to stay healthy. That said I’m not looking forward to training and classroom prep with no a/c next week — tis a good thing the kids don’t arrive until the following week because I’m going to be pretty stinky and sweaty. I’m amazed the ring around my mouth hasn’t broken out from all the mask sweat.

There’s not much more for me to share other than stay safe, and that I hope you’re all enjoying your little bits of joy as much as I am. Please keep masking up despite the discomfort. I want to be able to fly home next summer and see this cutie pie (who turns two this month! And, he’s such a responsible toddler).

Smile … it’s summer!

The weather in our corner of Europe has been so lovely. Mostly sunshine, cool breezes and temps that don’t make us fantasize about air conditioning. So, we’ve been enjoying a lot of outdoor time.

Yesterday, while sipping some Maredsous at our favorite cafe pub, just loving life the way we do, nature bitch slapped us a little reminder. A flock of pigeons played chicken with our allegedly slow-moving traffic since it’s right near where diners and sippers sit. One got its neck snapped by an overzealous driver (Joe says his wife was arguing with him — I’m ignoring that hint). Another driver, got out, gingerly picked up the bird and scooped her to the side where she sadly twitched until she died. It was awful, but around 10 minutes later another pigeon flew to her side. He squawked and pecked to make her move.

“Aw look it’s her mate,” I cooed. “How sad, he’s trying to wake her.”

Then the bird jumps up and down on the carcass, feathers flying, but still no movement, so I shit you not: he humps his dead mate. What in the effity eff is that? Joe is dying; Badger is fascinated; I’m again mortified. Satisfied, Mr. Peckity Pecker flies off, a few minutes later another bird lands and does the same exact thing. This happens until another human kindly picks up the de-fowled carcass and throws it away.

This, my friends, is when I learn that a. pigeons are as messed up and cruel as we are (who knew necrophilia was a cross-species thing?), and b. that dead bird pretty much sums up 2020. Just when you think it’s bad; it gets more freaky.

Belgium, along with much of Europe, is battling the beginnings of our second wave. We now have to wear a mask pretty much everywhere (which I’m okay with) and keep our social circle to no more than 5 for the next 4 weeks. They are trying to avoid a complete lockdown, but our numbers are quickly rising. Within this timeframe, I’m going back to work — allegedly in the classroom with students, but I guess we shall see what the great pigeons in the sky have to say about that.

My sexy beasts a few minutes prior to settling down with the pigeons

Despite this being probably the worst year in a long time, Joe, Badger and I have managed to tune out the nasties going on in our world and mostly enjoy our summer. Our first stop was in wine country, Germany where we hiked grape-laced hills and sipped along romantic riverbanks.

We were off to a great start, until the Polezei pulled us over. Turns out our temporary tags on the new car expired (guess we should have looked!). Long story short: I talked my way out of getting our car impounded, and promised we’d manage a way back to Belgium to get our permanent tags. In the middle of the night, we ran like the bandits that we are and drove praying like mad that we’d make it to the Belgium border without another encounter with the law: whew! we did. But, we had to cancel our Black Forest and Austrian alps portion of our trip. It’s all good since the lady who owns the alps cabin said we could come during my next vacation instead, so no money lost there.

Once our tags came in, we got back on the road and visited friends in Bavaria, where we hiked and sipped some more.

Click here to see Badger’s pics and thoughts on our hikes.

After having fun with our friends there, we took off to spend a few nights in Poland (with friends) where we supported local artists by buying pottery (so much so, on my end, that lol I had to buy a cart to store some of it) and hiked some more. Our adorable rental also had an inflatable jacuzzi out back, so we got to sip outside and soothe our sore muscles at the same time. Perfection! Our hostess also suggested we take a dip in the “little lake” (a rock quarry) just a few minutes away. It’s mineral water, she said, so it would take 10 years off our age, so heck yeah despite the slippery climb down and the cold water, we dove in. Um, on our way out we saw the No Swimming sign — too late, party of 30 and 40 somethings (ahem) on their way to the jacuzzi.

We loved touring Grodziec Castle, it’s like a jungle gym for adults. Lots of towers and tunnels to climb through and plenty of fairy tale trails to get lost in, plus the museum end of it where you can pretend you’re a knight or princess. Next summer we’d like to tour more of Poland. The people are great, food is hearty and comforting, beer is good, and it’s surrounded by so much beauty. So, yeah Poland we heart you.

Of course we also love Germany; I’m still hoping I one day get a post there. But all is also well in Belgium.

The virus may be doing its damage, but Mons is still doing its best to spruce the place up for summer. No festivals or big parties, but they did decorate the Grand Place to make it beachy.

Temps are supposed to be in the nineties on Friday, so we’re contemplating another Ardennes trip since it’ll be cooler there, and we love it there too. What’s not to love about castles, woodsy hikes and beer. We wanted to go back to the Netherlands for a bit before I go back to work, but we’re afraid to cross borders right now. No sense in tempting fate in case they do close again, plus, to be honest, we’re just better off hunkering down in Mons. There’s plenty here to keep us amused.

And that’s about it on our end. Hopefully, the next time I pop in I can tell you all about how we managed to dodge a second wave.

Old and new

The wind tickles the willow and oak that surround me. The trees, while hearty and tall (like the Dutch who tend them), have not been here very long (from Mother Earth’s perspective). 900 years ago they would not have been allowed to take root. The mill I’ve been sleeping in needed to feed on all the wind, so that she could pump the waters nearby.

A horny bull locked up in a barn calls out to any heifer who’d have him while a herd of cows gather in the meadow outside. They roll their eyes and look at each other mooing “which one of us will have to bear this fool’s child?”

Meanwhile a pack of mother hens and their one proud rooster bitch at Badger and me for sitting in ‘their’ spot by the dyke. A wounded peacock sings to no one in the distance and ducks glide across lily pads teasing Badger because they know I will not allow him to chase them.

The chickens love this lil corner

I am, once again, blessed to have the time and means to inhale the good our world has to offer us, and I am surrounded by so much old and new. We’re in a remote village in South Holland flanked by dairy and sheep farms. The old windmill we’ve been sleeping in no longer has its blades, nor is she expected to do anything more than charm and warm the tourists who visit her. And that she does.

Since this is the summer of Covid, we’re not planning any flights or major city outings. We’re just going from countryside to countryside, and we couldn’t be happier. Last week we were in the Ardennes hiking its woods and checking out the ruins of man, from megaliths to cemeteries and castles.

This week it’s the Netherlands, in two days it’ll be Luxembourg. We are also happy to announce that our new vehicle has arrived, which is why we’re able to once again go from countryside to countryside. Badger is quite happy to have all of the extra room in the back. It’s a bit bigger than our VW Golf, and I’m happy to report I can park it in our tiny garage.

Sadly our time at the windmill is nearing its end. We have to check out in less than an hour, but it’s all good we will be back. Next up: we’re meeting Jordy and Wilber (who just flew in from Seoul) for lunch at Gouda, yum yum!

Since I’m running out of quiet time (have to clean and pack up), here’s a photo dump on our lovely little home away from home. Since this is a little over a two hour drive from Mons, we will most certainly be back.

I highly, highly recommend staying here if you can. Click on the website link below — don’t worry there’s an English option as well. https://www.deouwemeulen.nl

Finally — a sore booty from movement, not too much sitting

Our neighbors for the week (okay there are humans here too, but these guys sound cooler)

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.

Aaaannnnidddd it has a pool! Such a treat!
And fire pit!

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.

I learned a lot and have discovered I’m a tawny port fan. One day we’ll get to Portugal to stroll its wineries and feast there.

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.

Sipping my fave (Monkey 47) at a bar in Durbuy. Yum yum.

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.

Not hard to do when even your dining room table gets to shine with flowers.

Happy Summer Everyone!

Effen Rona…

Mons Dou Dou week 2018

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.

The streets of Mons today. This time last year there’s no way I could have gotten this close.
This is what it’s supposed to look like (pic taken from the Dou Dou Mons Facebook page)

In the overall scope of this year’s challenges, it’s not a big deal, I know. And it’s not completely forgotten.

The dou dou song is playing, people are flying the Dou Dou flags, and locals are doing their own thing. Hahaha like this family, who decided to parade their own dragon for slaying.

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.

Badger is smitten with the horse patrol

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 scare me…

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.

Happy Birthday to me…whoops meant to finish this yesterday

Time to add another ring to my circles.  Originally I said I’d want to do something big for my 55th since I didn’t do anything major on my 50th (although it was celebrated at a Syrian chicken place in the Middle East, so not necessarily a normal birthday for an American — and I bet it’s archived somewhere in here), but well Corona took care of that.  We had 4 friends come over on Saturday and had a wonderful time with them (you cannot have more than 4 people over, and it has to be the same 4 people who allow you into their homes — basically pick a circle of 4 to hang with), and three of my friends will sit out back with us tonight — with our lawn chairs safely spread apart. (since this a day later:  they did come over and we enjoyed a lovely bottle of champagne with lots of sunshine and a lovely Spring breeze).

So, while not a big celebration year (and yet still perfect), this is my first year on the planet celebrating a birthday during a pandemic, so there’s that.  And I’m pretty damned happy that neither I nor any of my loved ones have gotten it.  Although my sister, a nurse in Virginia, did get really ill; she tested negative twice, and she’s on the mend.

Some of the things I see on my daily walks. LOL the bicycle seems to be a victim of the Rona.

I haven’t been writing much because, well, there’s not a whole lot to report.  We’ve taken a lot of walks, and I’m now on a routine of taking an hour walk during my lunch breaks. We’ve shared a lot of treats with friends within walking distance — lol mainly my friends baking and sharing with us, but I’ve cooked a few meals or side dishes.

One of several video meals with friends.

And, we’re currently car shopping since the mechanic went back to work last week and, sadly, told us our car was finished. We’ve watched a lot of t.v. — a LOT — lol and will continue watching more.   I’ve finished up two courses and am close to finishing up another, so finally I’ll be able to read books for fun — woo hoo.  School will be out in a few weeks, and it feels surreal.  There’s no end-of-year excitement for me.  I think the kids and I just want it to end, so that, hopefully, we can look forward to brick-and-mortar learning again (one day!).

Since we’re hopeful that Belgium will allow residents to travel more within its borders, we booked a cabin in the Ardennes for mid-June (after school officially finishes).  Fingers crossed we can actually go to it.  LOL cars are currently cruising our street blasting techno music — guess the kids gotta get their summer music festival feel however they can.  And, Mons is doing what it can to keep people’s spirits up — including providing homes with free face masks.

The Belfroi celebrated transexuals, bisexuals,

any sexuals not harassing others by bathing itself in lovely colors.

Spring is flourishing, so our balcony is a lovely place to sit, sip and stare and rumor has it borders will open June 15, so perhaps there’s hope that Joe, Badger and I can go camping or rent a cabin in the Alps or something like that — using our new vehicle.

I officially signed the loan papers for a brand new pretty blue Toyota Rav 4.  I’m a little nervous about its size since our streets and garage are small, but it’ll fit.  LOL a compact SUV is gigantic over here, so pray I don’t scrape up its sides like I did on our ‘normal’ sized VW Golf.  I have no idea when we’ll actually get the car — sometime in June perhaps.  It’s not like in the states where you get your new car the day you buy it.  But, I’ll be sure to post a pic when she arrives.

Overall life is going along well despite the nastiness around us.  I have my grumpy days where I’m just super annoyed at everything, but then again I also get to work every day braless and in my jammies —- shhh don’t tell the kids.  When/if things ever go back to normal I’m going to be grumpy that I have to groom and drive that pretty vehicle in traffic.  I do treasure my walks, time on balcony and video chats with family and friends.  And, I never forget how lucky I am to have all of this.  Well it’s time for me to get back to work and by 4 p.m. I’ll be back on my balcony sipping nature’s nectar.  Cheers and Happy We’re Still Healthy and Alive Day to you all!

p.s. I forgot to post Belgium virus numbers — gotta keep the tally posting until this thing ends:    55, 559 confirmed cases; 9080 dead BUT only 147 new cases and 28 deaths reported for May 17th. Yeah I know it still sucks that people are dying, but as of today in Belgium it’s at a much lower rate.  Fingers crossed with relaxing measures it stays that way.  While I’ll always say yes to a second wave of wine, it’s hell no to any more virus waves.

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