Rendez-vous Summer 2013
A publication of the American Women's Club of Brussels
Table of Contents From the Editor ...................................................................................................................... 2! President's Message Spring 2013 ........................................................................................ 3! Features .................................................................................................................................. 4! Watsu / Wata Sessions .....................................................................................................................4! Treaty of Ghent 200 years old!.........................................................................................................5! Travel Tips .........................................................................................................................................7!
Tech Trends .......................................................................................................................... 10! The Happy Snapper – Focus ..........................................................................................................10! Nancy Kapstein ...............................................................................................................................11!
From the Garden into the Kitchen ...................................................................................... 12! A Gardener’s Tale – A visit to Sissinghurst (and closer to home) .............................................12! What's Cooking ...............................................................................................................................14!
Day Tripping ......................................................................................................................... 17! Rollerblading ...................................................................................................................................17! Opening of the Red Star Line museum .........................................................................................19! Perfect short breaks from Brussels ..............................................................................................19! Impressions of Luxembourg - Old Industry and New Architecture ...........................................21!
Books .................................................................................................................................... 24! Re-reading the Good Old Oldies....................................................................................................24! Library News - Focus on an Author ..............................................................................................25!
Tips and Tales ...................................................................................................................... 27! Belgacom, a box full of chocolates ...............................................................................................27!
Around the Club ................................................................................................................... 29! Departing Members.........................................................................................................................29! The Fall Brocante is Coming – Time to Define “Donations”.......................................................30! Happy Landings ..............................................................................................................................31! Grain de Vie .....................................................................................................................................32! AWCB Breast Cancer Luncheon & Fashion Show 2013 .............................................................35! FAWCO – Something for Everyone! ..............................................................................................36!
Expats Express .................................................................................................................... 38! How I met my Husband...................................................................................................................38! The Unexpected Expat Life ............................................................................................................39! Contributors ....................................................................................................................................41!
From the Editor Written by Diane Tanenbaum Welcome to the new, improved Rendez-vous! You'll find a fresh selection of interesting and informative articles in our familiar sections, written by new and returning contributors. We're very proud of the new format - it was long in coming but well worth the wait! We'd love to get your feedback - which articles did you especially enjoy, what's missing, how could the magazine be improved. Please address any comments or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy the Summer issue while you enjoy the summer - wherever you are! See you in September for a new season at the AWCB.
President's Message Spring 2013 Written by Shera Warde Happy summer! It has been an eventful year at the AWCB and the following items mentioned are only a few special highlights. The AWCB in conjunction with our partners at St. Johns and all of our wonderful sponsors put on another phenomenal Holiday Bazaar & Charity Tombola. Thanks to all of our amazing volunteers, and special thanks to Wendy Warren Schueremans, and Anna Hildingsson for co-chairing and doing such a fantastic job. Our annual Breast Cancer Luncheon & Fundraiser was another huge success holding a fashion show to a sold-out audience and raising additional funds through a vendor boutique. Close to 3500 Euros were raised over the two-day event! Thanks to Petra Gericke, Pam Showalter & all volunteers for a fabulous event! As we look to 2014, the FAWCO Conference will be held in Brussels as the AWCB submitted the winning bid thanks to the hard work of Pam Showalter & Wendy Warren-Shueremans. We look forward to an outstanding conference, and hope many of you will join in on the fun! Finally, the highly anticipated AWCB website has been fully revamped and launched! The ultimate goal of this new site is to improve our ability to communicate more effectively and provide a platform to connect with others, and find information with ease and efficiency. I have volunteered to continue to assist with the site moving forward and welcome any and all feedback. It has been an immense honor to serve as the AWCB President over this past year. The experiences and people I have met along the way have certainly made my life richer. This is such a special community and I’m so fortunate to have taken part during my stay in Belgium. Not only have I met amazing people. I have developed deep friendships that I know will last a lifetime; I also learned a lot about myself and how impactful a strong network of talented women can be and the amazing things we can all accomplish together. I want to say “Thank You” to all of our members & volunteers. Your participation, commitment & contributions make the AWCB what it is today and we couldn’t do it without you!! I would also like to extend a special “Thank You” to our Department Chair Heads. We have several different areas to oversee here at the Club and it has been my pleasure to work with each and every one of you. Your passion and commitment give the Clubhouse so much of its personality and you have all done such an outstanding job. Lastly, I am forever grateful and extend a sincere “Thank You” to the Board of Directors. This team has pulled together on so many occasions, and the level of professionalism and commitment represented makes me extremely proud and honored to have worked with such a talented group of women. The word, “teamwork” doesn't even begin to describe the commitment, collaboration and cohesiveness established over this past year. It is with a heavy heart I say goodbye, or rather, au revoir to the AWCB and the quirky, beautiful country of Belgium. My husband’s job has redirected our lives back to the United States and the beautiful state of Colorado. Thanks again for all of the wonderful memories and I hope to get back again soon! Congratulations to Wendy Warren-Shueremans and the 2013/2014 Board of Directors; best of luck to you all and here’s to an outstanding year ahead! Please stay in touch and best wishes, Shera Warde
Features Watsu / Wata Sessions Written by Petra Gericke Do you like the feeling of being in water the temperature of your body? Does floating in this wonderful element while experiencing something very special and different sound appealing? Then you should try a Watsu and/or a Wata session. Watsu stands for Water shiatsu and Wata for Wasser Tanz (the German abbreviation for water dance). I was given my first session as a gift and training session from my best friend, who had just completed her training as a Watsu/Wata Therapist. It took place last year during a "girls’ week" in Malta. Everything was perfect: the relaxed atmosphere on this beautiful island where my friend lives, a sunny morning and my first Watsu session in a warm pool. Supported by the therapist, I floated in well-heated water (35°Celsius). The therapist triggered shiatsu points while moving me above and under the water. I completely lost control of time and felt so free and relaxed. I really did not want to come "back"! My first session was a pure Watsu session, which means your face always stays above the surface. My second session was a combined Watsu and Wata session. Wata takes you under the water, with prearranged signals agreed upon before the therapist pulls you under. At the beginning, I was a bit scared, but the fear melted away after the first underwater experience proved to be so inspiring, unusual and even unreal! I felt like a mermaid....as though I had escaped gently into another world or like an unborn baby being reborn! I became stronger and at the same time extremely relaxed. Since I can't always travel to Malta to receive my Watsu/Wata sessions, I’ve found a therapist here in Belgium, not too far from Brussels. If you are curious, book your session with Serge, Drève du Château de la Motte 22, 1470 Bousval, 010/616484....or combine it with a wonderful vacation on Malta and Gozo! And here is some official information about Watsu/Wata from Wikipedia: WATSU is the combination of hydrotherapy and shiatsu developed by Harold Dull. The work is done in body-temperature water with both the therapist and the client in the water, usually a pool that is between 3.5 ft to 4 ft (100–120 cm) deep. The work entails much movement in the water, and is used as therapy for stress, insomnia, and back pain. It has also been proposed as therapy for fibromyalgia syndrome and rehabilitating patients after a stroke. Some therapists believe that it incorporates the activation of the “energy lines” derived from shiatsu. In the more advanced WATA (water dance) version, the client is taken underwater during the therapy to increase the sensations of peace, relaxation and weightlessness. (A nose clip is used for comfort and touch signals help the client and therapist communicate underwater.) Check out also the following video: http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=relmfu&v=DN-K_wA6mV0 Petra Gericke, mother of 2 and living with her family in Belgium for 4 years now, grew up in Germany, in a very musical family. Although her profession is in Sales & Marketing in the hotel industry, she has never lost her passion for music and rhythm and its effect on the human body.
Treaty of Ghent 200 years old! Written by Ann Englander The Treaty of Ghent was signed on 24th December 1814. The Treaty put a formal end to the state of war that had existed between Great Britain and the United States of America since 1812. It was subsequently ratified by US President Madison and King George III on 17th February 1815. The intriguing feature of the 1812-1814 war between Britain and the USA is that the two powers did not want to fight one another. Great Britain was totally caught up in its struggle against Napoleon’s French Empire, while in the United States a majority of the people believed that the country should focus its efforts on developing the new nation. There were various reasons for the conflict. The areas being disputed included control of shipping and trade, the border with Canada, the fate of the native American people and fishing rights. However, the trigger was Britain’s decision – as part of its fight against France – to claim control over shipping on the high seas. The United States of America considered this particular claim to be a threat to its independence, which had been obtained from Great Britain just a few decades earlier. In the eyes of the Americans, the former mother country no longer had the right to exercise this kind of authority. As a result, Britain qualified its decision to control shipping on 16th June 1812, saying that it did not apply to fleets from states that were neutral in the conflict with France (including the United States). However, the news took a long time to reach the other side of the Atlantic and hostilities broke out two days later on 18th June 1812. The end of the war was equally remarkable. The final military confrontation – in fact the only one where there was any clear-cut decision – took place in New Orleans, resulting in a crushing American victory. The fact that this war ended in favour of the United States explains the abiding interest in America for the Treaty of Ghent, which confirmed once and for all the independence and dignity of the fledging nation. HISTORY The Treaty of Ghent was signed in the city at the old Carthusian monastery of Meerhem on 24th December 1814. The Treaty put a formal end to the state of war that had existed between Great Britain and the United States of America since 1812. The Treaty of Ghent was subsequently ratified by US President Madison and King George III on 17th February 1815. The War of 1812 The main issue at stake in this war was European influence on the American continent. Possibly the areas under dispute mentioned above in relations between the two countries did not merit fighting a war as such. Certainly they were very important from a psychological point of view: were the United States and Great Britain now on an equal footing, or was there still some residual feeling of colony and master? The fact that this war ended in favour of the United States explains the abiding interest in America for the Treaty of Ghent, which confirmed once and for all the independence and dignity of the fledging nation.
So, why was Ghent chosen as the location for the peace negotiations and the signing of the treaty? First and foremost, there was a need for a “neutral” venue. The parties to the war, the United States and Great Britain, were immediately excluded for this reason. 'The signing of the Treaty of Ghent' by Sir Amédée Forestier (1914) Admiral James Lord Gambier and John Quincy Adams shake hands; Henry Goulburn is carrying a red document-holder. The city of Ghent offered plenty of possibilities for hosting the talks: over the previous decades it had experienced great growth and prosperity, giving the city all the style and comfort needed to accommodate the international negotiators. Ghent was also favourably located geographically at the centre of the Southern Netherlands; it was easy to reach and sufficiently close to the coast to allow rapid evacuation to Great Britain should hostilities break out again with France. In 1964, commemorative plaques were placed on the façades of the two buildings where the negotiations took place and the delegates resided leading to the signing of the Treaty. Next year 2014 will be the bicentenary of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent. Many celebrations and commemorations are being planned by the city. A must for all Americans who are fascinated by their country's history and its links to Belgium. Check out the website for further information: http://www.treatyofghent.org/TreatyOfGhent_Eng.html
Travel Tips Written by Dianne Kapral Getting travel advice is more than being offered enchanting vacations to the far reaches of the globe. Getting good advice also involves personal support and helpful guidance to enhance all your travel experiences, whether near or far. The Travel Tips below are chock-full of important information that will help you travel the world safely and efficiently. Happy travels! Plotting the Perfect Itinerary In life, there are pantsers and there are plotters. Pantsers like to live by the seat of their pants (hence the term ‘pantsers’), winging it as they go with the flow and seeing where the universe takes them. Plotters, on the other hand, plot out their tasks, their grocery lists, their errands and practically everything else in life, making sure they don’t skip a thing. To plan the perfect travel itinerary, it helps to be a serious plotter. But to truly enjoy that well-plotted itinerary, you need to have a little pantser in you. Here are three key tips to plotting the perfect, seamless itinerary: Give Yourself Time An overly-ambitious planner would schedule an event for every second of every day, creating an itinerary that maximizes time but leaves no room for error or even improvisational exploration. So prioritize your sightseeing, choose only those at the top of your list and give yourself plenty of time to get there and enjoy the fantastic sights. Also realize that there are many factors you cannot plan for— such as traffic, missed connections or local events that shut down streets—so the more room you leave in your daily schedule, the less stress you’ll experience completing it. Include the Minor Details Most people think their itinerary consists only of flights and hotels. Not so. It should also include travel time to the airport and from the airport’s parking lots to the terminal. And let’s not forget travel from the destination airport to your hotel, time to eat during your trip, and time to leisurely catch a connecting flight if your first one is delayed. Only by thinking of all these various factors will you be able to create a seamless itinerary. Add an Extra Day of Nothing Regardless of how well-planned your vacation is, everything changes once you arrive at your destination. You may become ill or need time to shop if your luggage is delayed. Maybe you learned on the flight over about an incredible new restaurant you want to try but didn’t schedule. Or perhaps a storm douses your plans for an all-day outdoor activity. The best thing to do is add an extra day of nothing at the end of your schedule, which will give you a cushion to do the things you might have missed. Travel Ideas for Young, Single Adults There are many advantages to traveling alone. You get to do exactly what you want, eat at the restaurants you want, see the specific sights you want, linger at the museum as long as you want and stay out at the club as late as you want, all without worrying about someone else’s needs. Your vacation is exactly that, yours. Whether the traveler is you, your child or grandchild, here are four safe travel styles for young, single adults that give you every opportunity to do just what you want. Age-Appropriate Bus Tours Escorted bus tours, which are popular with senior travelers, are not the only type of bus tours available. In fact, there are several companies, particularly throughout Europe and Australia, which focus solely on youthful globetrotters. These outfits typically allow trekkers to jump on and off whenever the urge arises, providing local hotels to stay at night, so you can spend as much time as you’d like in any destination with all the new friends you’ll surely make.
Safe Couch Surfing There’s an online, international network of people who are extremely happy to let strangers sleep on their couches. This provides young, single travelers free places to sleep along with new friends in foreign locales who will gladly advise them on how best to experience their destinations. Carefree Cruises The reasons young singles choose to see the world via a cruise vacation are many: you easily visit multiple countries or Caribbean islands while unpacking just once; every meal is included, and sometimes adult beverages too; activities onboard range from rock-climbing and surfing to Broadway musicals and karaoke; and endless ocean vistas appeal to all travelers. Certain cruise lines attract younger passengers, so be sure to find the one that’s right for you. Educational Excursions Some people travel to relax, while others travel to learn. On an education-focused journey, single travelers can learn to speak Chinese, discover all the secrets of French wineries, or study architecture in Barcelona. A variation of this vacation style is ‘voluntouring’, which combines travel with an opportunity to volunteer your time doing things such as building houses or teaching English as a second language. How to Travel Peacefully with Your Friends We usually spend time with friends in three or four hour blocks, going to dinner and the movies or watching a football game. So when friends decide to travel together, they’re suddenly faced with each other’s whims, needs and preferences 24/7, which sometimes causes enough friction to sabotage the vacation. Here are some tips on how to make sure that friends remain friendly while traveling. Discuss Your Differences Before You Go When planning the trip, openly discuss your travel styles. Some travelers plan every minute, while others prefer to wander. Some stay only in city centers, while others roam the countryside for a taste of rural life. Some like to relax throughout the day at cafes and parks, while others jam as much as they can into every day so that they don’t miss a thing. Some prefer trains, while others like buses. If your travel mate’s style differs from yours, find an amicable compromise in the planning stages in order to prevent any conflicts while at the destination. Separate and Share Plan to do separate activities once or twice during the trip, promising to meet up for dinner to share your experiences. The perfect time to play apart is during a cruise where each of you chooses a different shore excursion for that day. Come nighttime, you’ll be trading wild tales over cocktails about your divergent adventures. Consider Energy Levels If you know your friends well enough to plan an international trip with them, then you should have a pretty good idea about their overall energy levels. Are they peppy in the morning and sluggish in the afternoon? Are they notorious night owls ready to prowl the streets? Would they be able to race up a mountain path or would they need several breaks? Take these into consideration when planning your adventure. Agree on the Budget Have a frank talk before you go about how much you intend to spend, how frequently you want to eat at fancy restaurants and other activities that will cost money. Keep Talking The key tip to peacefully traveling with your friends is keeping the lines of communications open. Always express your opinions and ask for theirs in return. Only by knowing what both parties like and dislike will you be able to find a common ground. Dianne Kapral has a Doctorate in Naturopathy, with a speciality in Hypno-Anesthesia, and is an Aromatherapy and Herb teacher. She has written a book called The Inevitable Change: Natural &
Beautiful about the change of life, which, unless we die in our 20's, is inevitable. This is her 2nd stint in Belgium and as a Member of the AWCB. Traveling is her passion and learning about other cultures feeds her soul.
Tech Trends The Happy Snapper â€“ Focus Written by Olivia de Vos Our proverbial buckets of water from the first Happy Snapper entry are not overflowing but at the brim, which is to say that the exposure of the photograph is perfect. Now we can start focusing (yes, yes, wordplay) on improving the composition. You're probably aware that your subject is sometimes out of focus as in this picture. I could pretend that this was the desired effect and that I wanted the Hard Rock Cafe in focus, but that would be lying! There are a couple of easy ways to remedy this situation: if you have a reflex camera and you've set the focus point, line up the subject and focus point, depress the shutter button halfway to auto focus and then recompose your shot (without lifting your finger) and depress the shutter completely. Otherwise, set your focal point off center (for reflex cameras), then you'll avoid the problem of having the focus point in the middle, which might be in focus but miles behind your subject. Compact cameras mostly don't have this problem and take a reading in about nine different points at varying distances from the camera. If you remember from last time, overall depth of field will improve with a small aperture, around 22. Head to the Belgian coast to practise your panning techniques. This consists of following a moving subject with your camera and taking a beautiful picture of a sharp moving subject with a suitably blurred background. Ostend is perfect to try this out because there is a cycling path along the coast where loads of unsuspecting victims come past and you can perfect the technique. Believe me, your family will get tired of cycling or running up and down while you try to capture the perfect shot! Stand about fifty meters back from the path with a good oncoming view of your victims. Focus on the path at a spot closest to you, if you don't know your Pythagoras, this should be directly in front of you. Then put your camera on MF so that it doesn't keep changing the focal point. You have to experiment with shutter speed and start taking photographs as your subjects approach, continuing to snap while they pass. You will feel like the paparazzi but you might also get some dirty looks! This picture was taken 1/30th of a second. Sometimes it's interesting to move the point of focus off center, as in this photograph of a glass of beer. The glass is in focus at the bottom of the frame and the background is out of focus (large aperture) but adds to the photograph without distracting from the glass by providing too much detail. Remember, keep experimenting and trash as many photos as necessary. Olivia de Vos has worked as a teacher, translator and tour-guide and is currently writing. She enjoys seeing her name in print, perhaps even more than taking the perfect photograph. Her passion is the great outdoors and subsequent adventures in real-life and in fiction and nonfiction.
Meet a Member Nancy Kapstein Written by Nancy DeWachter The year 1984 was a time in the life of Nancy Kapstein which had its impact, not only on her, but also on the AWCB and its many Members over the years. After having lived with her husband in Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, Milan and Johannesburg, she arrived in Belgium. And here a new chapter began. She joined the Club and became directly involved. Initially, her tasks were the traditional ones of parenting her two daughters and creating a secure environment for the family, working with personnel at ISB and working, as well, with the Club, at one point as editor of Rendez-vous and in 1989 publishing the history of the AWCB for the 40th anniversary. Her interest in art and art history led to a new degree from the University of Maryland’s Brussels campus. With this wealth of fresh perspectives, she began her exploration of Belgium and its rich and fascinating story as told through its cultural and historic monuments - all of this with enthusiasm and the intellectual curiosity that has resulted in many insightful publications. In 1992 she updated a Club publication very much in need of revision, Hints for Living in Belgium (14th edition). This valued document remained her responsibility through the 19th edition. In 2001 the title was expanded to read The Hints Book: Living and Working in Belgium. From the outset, Nancy served as a presidential appointee in the Club for marketing and sales of the Hints book. She also wrote the useful and enlightened Belgium Inside Out – What to See & What to Do. A copy of this book is in our library. No, Nancy has not been without concern and commitment. In recent times, Nancy has spent moments exploring Belgium’s folkloric past and walking the paths trod by, among others, Neanderthal man and Roman foot soldiers who have left their mark. A glimpse into the past is afforded by a walk down old Roman roads and encountering tumuli – grave mounds which once were characteristic burial grounds of wealthy Romans. She has discovered old fountains believed to hold magical curing powers, ancient trees which some consider to hold sacred power and are laden with nails on which are hung items which reflect the problems or needs of the one who places the item. One such tree is to be found near Herchies, north of Mons. This encounter with historical folklore offers a glimpse of the past that might not be known or understood without a commitment to explore. Nancy has developed an intimacy with Belgium, not only its past but also its present. For more than two decades, she has made her lovely photo-notecards which she sells at bazaars and other gatherings. Capturing the “windows” for her series “Windows on Belgium” is another activity that takes Nancy and her husband to out of the way places in Belgium to discover more of this fascinating country. We are a long way from 1984 and the arrival of Nancy Kapstein to Belgium. Her contributions to the Club and the country have been many and memorable. Long may they continue!
From the Garden into the Kitchen A Gardener’s Tale – A visit to Sissinghurst (and closer to home) Written by Victoria Eulaerts-Willis We have a jewel within reach of these shores in the County of Kent just across the Channel. Consider taking the Eurostar to Ebbsfleet, rather than London, and rent a car at the station. It takes an hour to drive to Sissinghurst in Cranbrook, Kent. Vita Sackville West, known for her weekly column on gardening, developed Sissinghurst, a most wonderful garden of walls imagined as a series of ‘rooms’ with themes, the white garden being her signature piece. It is an inspiring mélange of color and style maintained today by the National Trust. For the avid Sackville West lover, her writing room in a tower between the house and the bulk of her gardens can be visited, along with an explanation of how they came to develop the different areas and in what order. The inner walls are brick, but as she moves out to the outer realms of the garden, she contains paths and new ‘rooms’ of the garden with high hedges, and develops each new room with a theme that sets it apart. The avenue of trees trained onto a palladium that run down one side, for example, provides the shade for a large variety of trillium, planted to good effect in large splashes of varied species that transport you into a deep-woods effect, and deposit you gently at the bottom before two wisteria of venerable age trained into trees that frame the entry to the medicinal herb garden at the end of the path. A didactic experience, since all the plants have Latin labels, you take away an excellent list of plants to use together in mixed borders if you enjoy creating these, or medicinal gardens if you’re more into herbs. On view is a most unusual way of staking roses and all other plants with willow branches bent over, or used as posts to contain the main stems intentionally bent over harshly to slow down the sap flow and promote growth of flowering stimulus. This is used to excellent effect in the apple orchard, with the grass left to grow under them into wild field, tamed with paths for guests to cross the orchard. Even a fig tree, cleverly wound into a kind of playful, looped design along a wall, was trained to turn flips to encourage fruit production in a kind of art nouveau design of twirls all tied to the wall with care. Her wisteria, a glorious variety of whites and lavenders, placed in every room, sometimes as a tree, sometimes a wall topper, sometimes as a wall cover, were all dripping with blossom. Close to the house is a garden collecting mostly aquilegias and wisteria and clematis and later blooming shrubs, with a hundred-year-old cyanothas painting a big blue splash on the walls looking down from her writing room in the tower at the bottom of the garden. She and her husband created a poetic blend of containment and overflow employing the “strictest formality of design, with the maximum informality in planting.” She wrote of Harold Nicolson her husband, “I could never have done it myself. Fortunately I had, through marriage, the ideal collaborator. Harold Nicolson should have been a garden-architect in another life. He has a natural taste for symmetry, and an ingenuity for forcing focal point or longdistance views… a capacity I totally lacked.” I am told that Great Dixter and Knole – Sackville West’s own family homes, deserve a detour if in the area. Kent is worth your while to take a few days to explore to sharpen your gardening focus and learn
some tricks from a people who seem to enjoy mastering nature in ways that are both eco-friendly and esthetically stimulating. Bois de Halle, Huizingen The bluebell forest in the Bois de Halle near Huizingen, began so late this year, it may still be going on when this edition is published! Have a Kriek (cherry beer) at the Krieksje just after you leave the woods on the Huizingen side. Exploring your own garden, considering light and shade, soil and moisture, look for areas that are comparable when walking around gardens you feel are successful and that might offer you readymade solutions. Not everyone enjoys learning by trial and error. So use other people’s successes to launch your own attempts at taming nature. If you think you would enjoy gardening but are at a loss as to how to begin, try visiting other people’s gardens and hearing what they have considered when making their choices. The Femmes d’Europe is organizing visits to the Jardins de St Luc hospital fundraiser with proceeds going to help the hospital. It is an excellent opportunity to see what works here where we live now and a great way to discover the backyards of our greener Belgian hosts. Seeing other people’s solutions can bring inspiration. What I will apply this summer to my own garden, after visiting Sissinghurst, is to stake plants with natural stakes – willow stakes can be bent over to make very stable supports. I came home from that extraordinary garden to a beautiful day in Belgium, and we set about immediately re-designing a few spaces. I have photos of all the fillers. Now, when I take my morning walk to see how everyone is doing, I imagine these lovely sites I have just taken in transposed more easily. This is why I encourage all gardeners to get out and go see how success has been achieved elsewhere and imagine how to do it at home. Take notes on the names, and if you have an iphone, photograph the plant with the label when you can and take note of what thrives nearby, concentrating both in front and behind it. There is no lacking of garden centers near you. Google to see, but do your homework. Look at your space, even a tiny one that you might dare to transform, measure it, and then imagine how to fill it with several small plants, or one large. Hibiscus is a delightful performer requiring sunlight, but not necessarily very needy once in the ground. Make every day a little more than just man against man. Try your hand at the therapy of pitching man against nature in a most pleasant way. There was an araucaria in my parents’-in–law backyard. They told me the first time I visited that every year the araucaria grows a new wrung of branches. Many wrungs later, I have come to love the araucaria that had so surprised me by its sticky pointed spikes when I first saw it. Finding a time keeper here, where you live, is the mission. We all need to find our own, here, where we live. If you don’t have one yet, there is still time - go find yours. Victoria Eulaerts-Willis has lived with her Belgian husband in Brussels for 29 years, is mother of two daughters and enjoys gardening. She is President of Dyslexia International Literacy for All fundraising campaign which promotes teacher training to improve literacy levels in English, French and Portuguese, with other language versions to follow.
What's Cooking Written by Trix Hilbers On April 30th 2013 King Willem-Alexander, the new Dutch Monarch from the House of Orange, took over from his mother, Queen Beatrix. On this festive occasion, the Dutch people celebrated with open air parties decorated with orange-colored banners and dressed in orange-colored attire. Not only did the country turn orange, but the food turned orange as well. I have adapted the following recipes from Dutch newspapers and magazines for our AWCB Members to enjoy. ORANGE-COLORED GAZPACHO INGREDIENTS for 6: 1 red and 2 yellow, or 3 orange red peppers, seeds removed 1 red chili pepper, seeds removed 2 ripe tomatoes 1 onion, peeled ½ cucumber, peeled 2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 Tbs olive oil 2 Tbs lemon juice 1 slice Casino bread, crust removed GARNISH: 125 g cooked shrimp Some parsley and/or chives, finely chopped PREPARATION: *Soak the bread in cold water for about 10 minutes and drain when soft. *Wash and clean the vegetables and cut them into large chunks. *Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth. *Add water, if needed, for soup consistency and add pepper, salt and more lemon juice to taste. *Cool for several hours in fridge. *Serve cold with the shrimp, the parsley and/or the chives on top. This dish is ideal for outdoor meals on a hot summer’s day. Most of the herbs and vegetables from this recipe can be home grown in the garden. Also, read Victoria Eulaerts article in A Gardener’s Tale in this issue. ORANGE COLORED ICING for cookies and cakes INGREDIENTS for glazing a 10 inch cake: 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted 1 egg white, strings removed Orange, or red and yellow, food coloring Optional: ½ Tbs orange liquor PREPARATION: *Add the orange liquor, if used, to the confectioner’s sugar and enough egg white until all of the sugar is incorporated. *Beat this mixture until shiny and add more egg white, as needed, for a thick, spreadable consistency. Use a wet knife to test. *Add the orange, or a combination of red and yellow, food coloring drop by drop, beating constantly, until the desired color is achieved. *Apply the icing with a wet knife and set aside for several hours until firm. This recipe for homemade icing is easy to do and fun for the kids to prepare as well.
QUINOA SALAD INGREDIENTS for 4 as a side dish: 200 g quinoa 1 orange pepper, seeds removed 2 summer carrots, peeled 2 Tbs olive oil 1 Tbs vinegar or lemon juice 1 Tbs light soy sauce 4 Tbs chervil leaves, chopped finely 2 Tbs chives, chopped finely salt and pepper PREPARATION: *Rinse the quinoa in cold water and drain. *Add twice the volume of water and bring to the boil. Cook slowly for about 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 more minutes, then cool down. *Cut the pepper and carrots into long, thin strips. *Mix the quinoa, vegetables and the herbs with the olive oil, soy sauce and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. *Garnish with the remaining chervil and chives on top. Only recently introduced on the Belgian market, quinoa used to be the Incaâ€™s staple food for thousands of years in the High Andes. In our diets it is a substitute for starchy foods, such as rice and whole grains. Quinoa has a neutral taste and is therefore ideal for mixing with meats and vegetables, herbs and spices. Good in warm and cold dishes, its nutritional value is fantastic! As a seed, it provides all 9 essential amino acids, is gluten free, contains no cholesterol and is low in calories. Quinoa is rich in minerals and vitamins. A real super food! Check the internet for more recipes with pictures and additional info. HEARTY CREAM PUFF SNACKS INGREDIENTS for 40 pieces: 20 readymade, small, cream puff shells 2 ripe avocados, peeled and pips removed 2 Tbs cream or sour cream 40 river lobster tails salt, pepper, Tabasco sauce and lemon juice PREPARATION: *Cut the cream puff shells in halves. *Blend the avocado with the cream and add salt, pepper, Tabasco sauce and lemon juice to taste. *Fill the pastry halves with this mixture and place a river lobster tail on top. Of course, ambitious cooks can make the cream puff shells themselves. In this case, consult a cookbook for a recipe. MASCARPONE PEACHES INGREDIENTS dessert for 4: 4 canned peach halves 200 g mascarpone cheese 4 Tbs peach or apricot preserves Sugar
GARNISH: mint leaves PREPARATION: *Heat the peach preserves in a microwave until soft. *Mix the mascarpone cheese with 2 Tbs of the preserves and, if needed, add sugar to taste. *Drain the peach halves and fill them with the mascarpone mixture. *Add the remaining peach preserves on top and garnish with the mint leaves on the side. Tbs = 15 ml tablespoon, g = gram For convenience while cooking, use metric cups and balances or refer to www.metricconversions.us Trix Hilbers, a retired Home Economics teacher, specialized in Cooking and Nutrition. She has taught and organized classes for many years in schools and at home, in the UK, in the USA, in Japan and in Belgium. She has also taught classes for the AWCB and is the author of the Indonesian Cookbook ENAK.
Day Tripping Rollerblading Written by Janine Shipton Put on your roller skates, get on your bike – and explore Brussels! The Roller-Bike Parade is a great way of getting to know Brussels – and it is huge FUN! Every Friday night from June to September, the streets of Brussels are closed for traffic to make room for up to 5000 skaters and bikers – kids, Moms and Dads, babies, professional skaters, fun bikers, teenagers, old-age pensioners. A cheerful crowd transforms the city into a big playground, taking over the streets on roller skates and bikes, following a pick-up truck with a live DJ, accompanied by policemen and women on skates and bikes and well looked after by the “Staffeurs”, voluntary helpers who wouldn’t want to miss a single RB Parade. The Parade is split into two separate groups, the skaters and the bikers. It is made up of two parts, first an easy route of about 8 km, starting at Place Poelaert, in front of the “Palais de Justice” at 8pm (for route see map below). This is the family or Beginners’ Route, where anybody can take part, as it is flat and there are no tunnels. The age range stretches from 0 (babies in strollers) to 80+. This first loop lasts about 30 to 45 minutes and finishes close to the starting point at Avenue de Toison d’Or. After a short break, the more daring skaters and bikers move on to the “real” thing – a two-to-three-hour fun race at dusk through Brussels’ streets, squares and tunnels. As there are some challenging stretches, this route is not recommended for inexperienced skaters. However, there are no problems for bikers. How to join the Roller-Bike Parade Go onto www.belgiumrollers.com on any Friday afternoon from June to September and check if the Parade is taking place. This depends on the weather conditions. Take your bike or roller skates and meet at Place Poelaert at 7pm. Bikes, skates and protective gear can be hired at the starting point. You don’t have to book in advance, but it is advisable to arrive early if you need to rent equipment. For more details please see Event Information below. Participation is free of charge, but insurance is the responsibility of the participants. You can join and leave the Parade at any point and time. However, it is recommended to start at the beginning, as times may vary and you may miss the Parade. A bus following the crowd picks up those who want to stop and takes them back to the starting point. If you prefer to concentrate on the Big Route, you can join the Parade between 8:30 and 9pm at Avenue Toison d’Or near Place Poelaert, but make sure you are there well before, as the Parade may be leaving early depending on the length of the first lap. How does it work?
On the day of the Parade police decide on the exact route, and by the middle of the afternoon you can find out on www.belgiumrollers.com if the weather conditions are deemed safe and the Parade can take place. Safety is an important issue for Belgium Rollers, the organizers of this mass event. With the help of the police, they do everything to minimize the risks for the thousands of participants: A police car and several motor bikes close off the streets ahead of the Parade and block the crossings until the Parade has safely passed through. 50 policemen and policewomen supervise the Parade on bikes and skates. 80 trained voluntary helpers, so-called “Staffeurs”, wearing special red “STAFF” T-Shirts, lead the Parade, accompany the skaters and bikers all the way, help in case of need and close the Parade, making sure that nobody is left behind. Among the Staffeurs there are many doctors and other medical staff. English is widely spoken. An ambulance accompanies the Parade in order to be instantly available in case of accidents or other medical problems. A special bus called the “Broom Wagon” follows the Parade and picks up anyone who would like to stop skating or biking, taking them back to the starting point of the Parade. For safety reasons the skaters and bikers are strictly separated. The sponsor’s T-Man vehicle, which leads on the Parade, is followed by a pick-up truck with a DJ for the skaters. Helpers make sure that the group stays together. Behind the skaters another pick-up truck with a DJ leads on the bikers’ group. The closing team of Staffeurs and Ambulance finish off the Parade, followed by the “Broom Wagon”. The whole Parade is accompanied and controlled by police and trained helpers. Whenever the gaps between groups get too big, the Staffeurs stop the people at the front in order to enable the rest to catch up. The police serve as pacemakers. Pictures © Eric Danhier The T-Man Roller-Bike Parade takes place all over Belgium: To get a “live” view of the fun and ambiance of the T-Man Roller-Bike Parade, have a look on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=LHDwUn6teoI gives a very good overview http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3wWxfp1odc&NR=1&feature=fvwp shows you how you should NOT handle the tunnels http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gJ1ZC9iJnM gives a video of the Bike Parade http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxlILwiATGE shows you more about the Big Route (best part: last 3 minutes)
Opening of the Red Star Line museum On 27 September 2013, the doors will officially be opened to the halls of the legendary Red Star Line shipping company. From 1800 onwards, millions of people left the port of Antwerp, often with just the clothes they were wearing, to set out for a better life in the New World. Between 1873 and 1934, 2.6 million emigrants set sail from Antwerp to a new and hopefully better life on the other side of the Atlantic. The Red Star Line Museum tells the moving story of millions of Europeans. It was from here that people like Einstein, Golda Meir and Irving Berlin left the Old World for the New. Even the father of the current American Ambassador Howard Gutman left from Antwerp to escape the horrors of the Second World War and seek a better life. Although groups and schools will be able to visit the museum before the official opening, individuals will be able to reserve tickets from 25 August 2013. The Museum has put out an appeal to those people whose family took this route. The organisers want to hear their story and have also asked them to contribute any Red Star Line objects they may have to the museum. Check the website of the Red Star Line http://www.redstarline.be for further information
Perfect short breaks from Brussels Written by Olivia de Vos One of the advantages of living in Brussels is that many places are within easy reach. Take the train or the ferry to Dover from Brussels or Ostend. From there you can marvel at the countryside in Kent. The town of Battle, site of the battle of Hastings, is an easy detour on your way west and well worth a visit. There is an informative museum plus a great big play area for children with a huge throne where they can play at being William the Conqueror. Stop over in London to see Buckingham Palace and the changing of the Guard, Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park and the London Eye. Try English breakfast, a pie and fish and chips. Continue going west to a delightful place called Chalderton Charlie's. The latter is a rare breed's farm complete with hostel-type accommodation. The children can marvel at the barn full of bunnies or the indoor playing area complete with slides and climbing wall. From there it's a short jump to Stonehenge, Bath, Bristol and Cheddar. Another easy trip from Belgium is of course, Holland, best seen in May when the flowers are at their most spectacular. Don't miss Keukenhof but also visit the many quirky attraction parks. If Western is your theme, don your gear and go over to Slagharen, enjoy the rides, the cowboy hats and gear for sale, and complete the experience by eating smoutebollen, a delightful donutlike pastry filled with pineapple, apple or banana. Amsterdam is very different from the other capital cities of Europe, watch out for cyclists, take a water taxi, visit Anne Frank's home, the Van Gogh Museum or the Rijksmuseum or just enjoy the bicycles and the people. Italy is an easy, and often cheap, flight away. Rome goes without saying; the Coliseum is a must-see as well as the Pantheon, the Spanish steps and all the other sites youâ€™ll read about in your guidebook. Florence is a city to dream of, as is Venice. Visit Pompeii and a delightful ancient Roman city called
Paestum. From there it's a short trip to the coast near Sorrento where it's possible to swim as late as November. Athens is within easy reach too. After visiting the Acropolis, enjoy the city, the markets and the food. Take a taxi ride to Delphi and spend another day in Cape Sounio at the temple of Poseidon. The last tram stop from Athens takes you to the beach for a warm swim (also in November). Paris goes without saying. Book whatever you can online and plan to go up to the very top of the Eiffel Tower - you only live once! The sheer majesty of the Louvre will blow your mind and if the impressionists are your thing, don't miss the Musee d'Orsay and the Orangerie. Take a stroll down the Champs Elysees and climb up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Alsace is within easy reach by car. You will marvel at the small French towns which look German. Strasbourg Cathedral and the town itself merit a visit, as well as all the other towns dotted around. This region is famous for wine and also skiing. Normandy is a beautiful unspoiled area to visit. Check out places like Etretat where Monet used to paint. Even if you aren't a war buff, the D-day beaches will capture your imagination, then just get lost among the little roads and towns. Mont Saint Michel is a must-see on your itinerary. An area rich in history and stories, make sure you cross the beautiful Pont de Normandy, gateway to this lovely corner of North Western France. It's also easy to take a short trip to Spain: Barcelona, Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Santiago de Compostella are my personal favorites. If you're going to be anywhere near the Alhambra, don't miss seeing this outlandish palace, but book online before you go. Barcelona probably equals Paris in atmosphere. Visit the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell and soak in the atmosphere of La Rambla. Get ready for culture shock as the Spanish party late into the night. Back in Belgium, just around the corner the Ardennes boasts fascinating fortresses in Namur, La Roche en Ardenne, Dinant and Bouillon. Take a tour of the Eurospace Center with a fabulous outdoor playground for the children. If it's warm, go kayaking down the Lesse. The caves of Han are worth a day's outing too. Take a trip through the huge Nature Reserve and relax afterwards in the town center which has a myriad of restaurants to choose from, shops selling trinkets and a huge play area complete with domestic animals. Antwerp is an easy train journey away with a super aquarium and loads of museums and shops. Ghent offers the Gravenhof Castle with proud displays of instruments of torture. Soak up the atmosphere of this town by enjoying the restaurants dotted along the canal. And we mustnâ€™t forget Brugges, which some people proclaim to be their favorite. Youâ€™ll simply never run out of options! Olivia de Vos has worked as a teacher, translator and tour-guide and is currently writing. She enjoys seeing her name in print, perhaps even more than taking the perfect photograph. Her passion is the great outdoors and subsequent adventures in real-life and in fiction and non-fiction.
Impressions of Luxembourg - Old Industry and New Architecture Written by Larisa Doctorow There still exist some places in Europe, which create the impression that the march of time ground to a halt 100 or more years ago. Andorra, Lichtenstein, some small German towns nestled along the banks of the Rhine, like Koblenz….and Luxembourg, come to mind. Perhaps it is just an illusion, but it is a pleasant one, one which helps us understand how people lived in bygone days. When you find yourself in the city of Luxembourg, it seems you are in a mythical kingdom under the rule of a benevolent king. In the center of the city, two main squares are interconnected. Traditional facades look down at the shoppers hurrying on Sundays to pick up farmers’ produce at the market. The historic center was turned into a pedestrian zone, which enhances the ambiance of a quiet medieval kingdom. Early in the morning, I looked out from my hotel room window and spotted the first shoppers already gathering at the stalls, in spite of rain and fog, and decided to go for a walk along adjacent winding streets. On one of them, I came across the entrance to the Grand Ducal Palace; on the other, not far away, I found the doors to the office of the Prime Minister. I was told that it is not hard to meet him. When someone enters and asks for an audience, the Prime Minister himself welcomes the visitors and shakes their hands. The city is not big and many people know each other. A five minute walk from the square leads to the Museum of the History of Luxembourg. The Notre Dame Cathedral, erected in the 15th century, is close by. One doesn’t need to look for it: its bells chime the hours and its bell tower can be seen from every corner of the city. The railway station is also not far away and frequent trains take you to the borders of the Kingdom in half an hour. Luxembourg City does not look provincial even though the entire population numbers just 100,000 inhabitants. It has the feel of a big European capital although, as recently as a hundred years ago, the majority of the houses here were wooden, including the railway station. Now these are either hidden behind big multi-storied buildings or are gone altogether. The Fortress of Luxembourg is the most famous sight and a magnet for tourists. It was constructed by Field Marshal Sebastien le Pretre de Vauban in the 17th century after the French King Louis XIV took over Luxembourg. Vauban was a celebrated military engineer who constructed over 300 fortresses, mainly in France. The Fortress of Luxembourg was the biggest and got the nickname of Northern Gibraltar. It doesn’t seem to have fulfilled its defensive calling, however, because during its history, the Great Duchy of Luxembourg changed hands some 20 times! After many misfortunes, in 1815 Luxembourg Duchy received its independence from France, but this did not bring an end to the Duchy’s travails. In 1831, the Kingdom of Belgium was created and, in order to bulk up the territory of this newly formed state, the European countries decided to take one third of the Luxembourgish territory and add it to Belgium. It was only in 1876 that Luxembourg won full independence from everybody in its present borders. The Fortress of Luxembourg is impossible to ignore. Thick walls, watch towers and casemates stretch along the ravine separating the two parts of the city. It is immense and one can walk there for hours, discovering new corners and vistas at each turn or looking out of the embrasures at the city and the ravine slopes covered with trees and bushes. In Medieval times, along the River Grund, windmills were constructed at the bottom of the ravine. They fell into disrepair but have recently been restored and converted into cafés, restaurants and biergartens. Now the area is popular with locals and tourists who come here to spend an evening. Any visit to the old town should be combined with a visit to the Plateau Kirchberg, across the ravine. Here, space once occupied by fields and villages, is becoming a new city. The state acquired 365
hectares for development and the general plan was designed by the famous French architect Dominique Perrault. In the center of the future city is the already existing Square of Europe. Close to it, one can see the new Museum of Modern Art (MUDAM), which took six years to build. The architect of the museum was the Chinese-American celebrity I. M. Pei, who built the Louvre glass pyramids. For the construction of the museum, he used warm sandstone colored marble and the building is beautiful at all seasons and times of the day. The interior is filled with light, sun, glass. In the halls, any exhibit looks good. At present, the museum is showing an exhibition of contemporary art from Holland. Gigantic dolls hang from the ceiling, shiny balls rotate, and a murmur of water comes from an antique fountain. In the café downstairs live music is performed in the evening. One remarkable feature of the new buildings is how well they blend in with the local landscape. All around there is an abundance of trees and watch towers whose brick walls come close to the MUDAM. The new Philharmonic Hall is another outstanding building in this quarter. It was recently completed according to the latest technological and acoustic achievements. It has the shape of a gigantic triangle and is surrounded on all sides by some 823 white columns. From a distance, they seem like a white forest. The building has three concert halls. Thanks to enormous windows, it looks transparent. A new park spreads around it and soon will merge with the old one covering the slopes of the nearby hills. Banks play an important role in the economy of Luxembourg and the construction of several new bank buildings has been planned. The new edifice of Deutsche Bank is novel and impressive. Upon entering the bank, visitors find themselves in an enormous open atrium. It is worth going up to the top floor, strolling around and looking down. On the ground floor, the water running around the perimeter of the building creates a relaxing atmosphere. The walls are decorated with works of contemporary artists. The bank employs 300 bankers and the art exhibition consists of 300 canvases. Once a year, the bank opens its doors to all the offices, thus giving anyone a chance to see the whole collection, including works inside the offices of top managers. Next to Deutsche Bank, there are the European Investment Bank, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the EU Parliament offices and other European Institutions. Across the road from the futuristic landscape, there remain traditional villages and fields. The architects did everything possible not to create a big contrast between the two worlds, instead harmonizing the landscape. For the 5,000 translators who come regularly to Luxembourg for EU sessions, two new towers have been created. The author of this project is also Dominique Perrault. Meanwhile, a new library is being built, as well as a new university. Gradually, this area is acquiring urban features. It is practical, convenient, conducive for work, but alas, not for poets and daydreamers. The new city is expected to be completed by 2020. Architecturally speaking, a word must be said about the new museums which have been established in the South of the country. Luxembourg was always a highly developed country, with close ties to German manufacturing. German industrialists were the owners of the most important plants and mines, such as iron ore and steel production. Indeed, steel production was the backbone of the country’s economy until the 1970s when the steel industry collapsed and once booming towns were turned into depressed areas with high unemployment and many abandoned houses. This happened in Luxembourg just as in other European centers where former iron and steel facilities have been converted into something else, such as information centers, museums, exhibition halls or education establishments. On the outskirts of Esch-Belval in south-western Luxembourg, for a number of years there was the industrial complex of Massenoir, one of the main steel manufacturing centers of the country. Twelve years ago construction began of a new city: the Cite des Sciences, de la Recherche and de l’Innovation. There is already a big concert hall seating 5,000 and a university and library are now going up. The area’s former power station is being transformed into a museum housing documents pertaining to the history of the area.
The government expects to welcome 7,000 students and 3,000 researchers here, turning this town into a major university campus. It is worth mentioning that, until 2003, Luxembourg did not have a university at all and students who wished to continue their education beyond secondary school went to other countries. Another stunning example of the successful transformation of a former industrial complex is to be seen in the town of Dudelange. A new National Audio-visual Center – CNA - was completed some time ago and took over exhibition space created in a former water tower. This is now the home of a display of photos about the Great American Depression called The Bitter Years assembled by Edward Steichen, the most famous Luxembourg photographer and one of the world’s leading artists. The archives contain over 400,000 documents, films and photos, and 80,000 hours of soundtracks. Before leaving Luxembourg, it is worth visiting Schengen, a small picturesque town where European Union Member countries signed their accord for visa free travel between its citizens. The European Museum explains the event. The town is surrounded by vineyards and tourists are invited to participate in winetasting day trips. The local white wines in particular enjoy high esteem. The tourist offices offer a day pass (€11) which gives holders entrance into all the museums in the country and free travel on buses and trains, as well as an arrangement for bicycle rentals. Larisa Doctorow is a journalist specializing in cultural affairs, notably music and fine arts. She lives and works in Brussels and in Saint Petersburg (Russia).
Books Re-reading the Good Old Oldies Written by Ann Somerhausen It is always a joy to find an exciting new book that lifts you out of your everyday life and brings you into a different world. It does not have to be a just-published book! It doesn’t even have to be high on the best-seller list and praised by literary critics as well as by your book-loving friends. It can be a book that you yourself read decades ago, or a book you meant to read and never got around to it. In a second-hand store I came upon battered paperback copies of two well-known classics, Homer’s The Odyssey and The Iliad. I’d read them at university, and had pretty well forgot them. Determined to read them carefully and completely, I plunged in and, to my surprise, it was no struggle. In fact, I was enthralled. The characters are alive, their adventures are exciting, and throughout there is an extraordinary mixture of high drama, humor, and fantasy in these stories about Greek kings and princes and warriors pursuing their destinies. Much of the humor comes from the capricious gods and goddesses who are watching the human drama, and who can’t resist meddling – to help or hinder the efforts of the humans. Now I can understand why this story-teller of ancient times has remained alive and venerated by countless generations for over a thousand years. While Homer’s masterpieces date from somewhere around 800 B.C., Anna Karenina appeared in print a mere 138 years ago and, relatively speaking, can be considered a modern novel. I had read it twice before, but both times I’d skipped the long, scholarly introduction by Lionel Trilling. And there was the surprise. After praising Tolstoy for his “life-likeness,” Trilling goes on to say, “Only one other writer has ever seemed to his readers to have this normative quality…Homer. It was what (Alexander) Pope felt when he said that Nature and Homer were the same.” Trilling goes on at length, comparing the qualities of these two authors, To sum up, I will quote this: “…every object in the Iliad or in Anna Karenina exists in… what we must call the author’s love.….” And “this quality of affection…accounts for the unique illusion of reality that Tolstoy creates.” Although my earlier readings of Anna Karenina had given me enormous pleasure, this third reading was by far the most enjoyable, the most moving, the most memorable. With the years, I seem to have improved my ability to appreciate great writing. I suspect that as we grow older steadily soaking up good literature, we sharpen our awareness of the fine, subtle qualities in a book that at first reading might have seemed merely a good read. Ann Somerhausen, widow of Belgian Ambassador Jean Somerhausen, has been an AWCB Member for many decades and frequently contributes to Rendez-vous. Her memoir, Hostage in Havana is available in the AWCB library, or can be ordered from Amazon.com.
Library News - Focus on an Author Written by Barbara Paulhus In the last issue of the Rendez-vous, we focused on bestselling author Kate Atkinson. Her latest book, Life After Life is now available in the AWCB Library. Come check it out! In this issue we feature writer Tracy Chevalier. Tracy Chevalier is an American author who lives in London with her English husband and son. A popular historical fiction writer, her most famous work is Girl with a Pearl Earring, which won the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, sold 4 million copies, and was made into a film starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson. The story is based on the famous painting by Vermeer. Her inspiration for writing novels comes from historical objects or people, such as a tapestry, a fossil hunter, or the Underground Railroad. Tracy was born and raised in Washington, DC. After graduating from Oberlin College, Ohio, she moved to England in 1984. She intended to stay for 6 months, but is still there almost 30 years later! In England she started work as a reference book editor and it was only in her 20s that she began writing “real” stories. She continued working until 1993 when she quit her job to pursue a Master of Arts in Creative Writing. At that time she began writing The Virgin Blue, her first novel, published in 1997. To date Tracy has written 7 novels. Another popular book of hers is The Lady and the Unicorn, my personal favorite, published in 2003. She was inspired to write this novel after reading an article about unicorns by the Dutch novelist Cees Nooteboom. The sumptuous illustrations of the six Lady and the Unicorn tapestries that hang in the Musée National du Moyen Âge (Cluny Museum) gave her inspiration to write a novel based on unanswered questions of this famous tapestry. Her biggest question to be answered - was the lady putting on the necklace or taking it off? The novel uses 15th-century Brussels and Paris for its setting. Her sixth novel, Remarkable Creatures, is based on the life of the English fossil collector Mary Anning. The inspiration came from a visit to a dinosaur museum on the coast of England where a wall was devoted to Mary Anning who lived in Lyme Regis, a coastal town with abundant fossils. At age 12, she discovered the first complete specimen of an ichthyosaur, a marine reptile from about 200 million years ago. Mary had also been struck by lightning as a baby. Chevalier said that reading this gave her a feeling like a jolt of lightning, and she knew she had to write about her. It is thought that Mary Anning inspired the popular tongue-twister “she sells seashells on the sea-shore”. I discovered some interesting tidbits about Tracy Chevalier when researching for this article. For example, she is left-handed. She likes to write longhand in a notebook before typing her work into her computer. She chooses a special notebook for each novel. For Remarkable Creatures, her novel about fossil hunting, she chose a gray marbled notebook, to resemble stones. On the walls of her study are images that relate to the book she is writing – paintings, photos, and maps so she knows where her characters are going. Her Math SAT scores were much higher than her English scores. She is giving the commencement address at Oberlin College in 2013 – replacing Michelle Obama who was originally scheduled. The AWCB Library has the following Tracy Chevalier books: Remarkable Creatures, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Burning Bright, The Virgin Blue, The Lady and the Unicorn, and Falling Angels. Later this year we will have her latest novel The Last Runaway, the story of a young Quaker who emigrates to America and becomes involved in the Underground Railroad – helping slaves escape to freedom. Come on in and take a look!
Barbara Paulhus is an American who has been living in Belgium for over 2 years. She is currently the AWCB Library Chairperson. She comes from a background of teaching math and working in libraries. She enjoys reading and solving sudoku puzzles while attempting to learn Dutch. This is her first experience living outside the US.
Tips and Tales Belgacom, a box full of chocolates Written by Petra Gericke Have you ever had to deal with Belgacom? First of all, what is it? The Belgacom Group is the largest telecommunications company in Belgium, headquartered in Brussels. The Belgacom Group offerings include fixed line communication through the Belgacom brand, mobile communications through the Proximus brand and ICT services to the professional market under the Telindus brand. Subsidiaries include Belgacom International Carrier Services, Skynet, Tango, and Scarlet. This is the official statement. What is it in reality? One thing it is not is service-minded! At the AWCB, we had the chance to find out what you really get, when you open this box of chocolates. And as in real life, most of the pralines were not our favorites! Recently, it took them only a few short minutes to mistakenly switch our internet line off, but 4 interminable weeks and an independent internet expert to get it back. But that was not the only obstacle. Altogether it took us about 20 hours of telecommunications, with about 3 hours of talking to machines and waiting to be connected to a real human being, and of course always to a different person. Over and over again we had to repeat ourselves and listen to promises - a real roller coaster of hope and desperation! All attempts to search the Belgacom box for a yummy truffle were in vain. At one point, the American Women’s Club ceased to exist in the Belgacom system, swallowed up by the earth until they needed to send an invoice….hooray….then the accounting department miraculously found our details again. Another bittersweet praline is their huge bureaucracy. Belgacom’s employees should be trained to read their own forms properly and, more importantly, to understand them. How many times did we fill in forms, send emails and discuss our problem over the phone, but still there was a language barrier. Apparently, none of us spoke Belgacomish! And, when trying out the Belgacom pralines, you’ll no doubt have the opportunity to make an appointment, an experience which will leave a bad taste in your mouth! They do come, but not only for that one important appointment to solve your problems. No, all of a sudden you’re inundated with visitors from Belgacom - just make sure you don’t pay them all! 4 weeks later and all we got was a new modem and the old internet line switched back on…but of course, only for Wi-Fi. The LAN line was not to be repaired by Belgacom, for that, we needed another service provider; one that has nothing to do with Belgacom; one who does understand what “Service” means! By the way, if you do not speak French or Belgacomish and have to deal with Belgacom, you better learn it fast….and get your fridge stocked up with some Bubbly. You’re going to need it after a few hours of dealing with this company! What does the name Belgacom really stand for? Belgium Comedy? Unfortunately though, if you do need to deal with them, you might as well stay calm….Telenet doesn’t seem to be any better!
Petra Gericke, mother of 2 and living with her family in Belgium for 4 years now, grew up in Germany, in a very musical family. Although her profession is in Sales & Marketing in the hotel industry, she has never lost her passion for music and rhythm and its effect on the human body.
Around the Club Departing Members This spring and summer some of our best and most faithful volunteers are leaving (or have already left) us for their next posting or back to the US. We will miss them and thank them for all their time, their energy and the laughter they brought to the AWCB. All our best for a safe and sane move - and don't forget to come back to see us! Barbara Brodrick Lilly Brutosky Stacy Brown-Williams Tina Burk Staci DeKunder Tamara Dyer Christie Gallo Deborah Golden Liz Heintzelman Ja-Deen Johnson Julie Johnson Deborah Kennedy Kennard Kristin King Melody Kissoon Michelle Loewinger Amy Noon Kathy Pembroke Barbara Ragaglia Angela Roosien Cuevas Sadaghiani Melissa Sage Pam Showalter Trisha Suvari Shera Warde Suzanne Wheeler
The Fall Brocante is Coming – Time to Define “Donations” Written by Judy Furukawa This is just a short “thank you in advance” for those of you who will be donating their used, but usable items to the Fall Brocante to be held at the end of September 2013 at the Clubhouse. We don’t have a date yet – but it will be on the same weekend as the Rhode-St-Genèse commune brocante, so keep your eyes open for the date confirmation! Normally we make between €1000 - €1500 at this Brocante with proceeds going to the Clubhouse. We DO depend on you and your donations! We will be asking for volunteers to help sort during the week and set-up on the Friday preceding the sale. Volunteers will also be needed to sell on the Saturday and Sunday. The Rhode-St-Genèse sale is only on a Sunday, but we will be open both days. Please make sure that you only donate clean, usable clothing, working appliances (and the remote control if it has one), toys with all of the parts, etc. The rule for donations is – “Would I buy that for my family and/or myself? “ If you wouldn’t buy it because it’s too old, dirty, otherwise damaged, etc. - no one else will – really – no matter how much you may love it and it was all you could do to bring yourself to get rid of it. Be objective and please pre-sort yourselves. Sorry to be blunt, as this seems to be obvious, but during the sorting process, volunteers have found old underwear, stained clothing/toys, clothing missing buttons, open food containers, the box that should have gone into the bin (but was dropped off at the AWCB instead) - the list goes on. We can’t sell unsalable items. Donations can be left at the clubhouse in the “donation room” across from the Crèche downstairs. If for some reason you cannot get into this room, just leave your donations in the hallway and contact me, Judy Furukawa at email@example.com and I will make sure they get moved into the room. So, YES, your donations are welcome – we need them to make this annual sale a success, but PLEASE pre-sort your donations and only give what we will be able to be re-sell. Again, thanks in advance. Judy Furukawa and a wonderful group of volunteers will be sorting and selling at the AWCB brocante – come join us in September – you’ll get first choice to buy some very nice clothing and household items!
Happy Landings Compiled by Julie Kelly What could be simpler than moving back home after a stint in Belgium? After all, you are going back to something you know, to friends and family, to your old life. In reality, moving back ‘home’ can be far more complex, and, at times, fraught. Even if the move is expected and planned for – although many moves are not - there are some tricky hurdles to negotiate. First on people’s minds are the punishing logistics of the move itself. Death, divorce and moving are commonly cited in studies as the top three stressors in life. With the management of the seemingly never-ending admin at both this end and the other, sorting and packing, looking for schools or accommodation, it’s no wonder the emotional side of moving can get overlooked. But it is precisely these strands of contrasting feelings which can be most difficult to untangle and identify. For example, not all members of your family may feel the same way about the move. Although excited about returning home, your partner may be worried about adjusting to a new job. Your children may feel settled at school here and may be upset about leaving friends. Your family may have changed while you were away: a new baby, a career break, or new hobbies and interests which will, however imperceptibly, have changed you. "My top tip on the emotional side would be to expect tension and mixed feelings," shares Lydia, who has just moved back to the UK with her partner. "It won’t help necessarily with how you react to them, but even if you are going on a new adventure, there will always be moments when you are not in control and that can make you feel vulnerable." For some, the ‘home’ they are moving back to may have changed. Perhaps it is a country or city you have not lived in as an adult or as a parent. You may have been happy to leave, and consider returning as a step backwards. Or you may be so elated about your move back that you are setting unrealistic expectations and may feel surprisingly disappointed on your return. And in all of this relentless looking forward, how do you say goodbye to Belgium? You may have mixed feelings about your stay here, but you will have invested a considerable amount of time into settling and adjusting. What will you miss, both as an individual and as a family? How have you changed during your time here? It is precisely this sort of bittersweet, ambiguous question that we sweep under the carpet while we tear our hair out at the onslaught of cardboard boxes and square meterage of moving allowances. But sometimes, reflecting on these feelings and questions can help you manage your expectations, preempt potential problems, and achieve a successful, positive move for you and your family. Happy Landings: How to achieve successful repatriation for the whole family: Friday 17th May, 10am to 12:30pm, American Women’s Club of Brussels Our Happy Landings workshop took place on Friday 17th May from 10am to 12:30pm at the American Women’s Club of Brussels. It took the form of a relaxed, open conversation about leaving Belgium and moving back home, enabling you to reflect on your time in Brussels. We helped attendees normalise some of the issues, steered them around potential pitfalls, and gave them practical suggestions on how to make this move work for them and their family. Attendees also received a booklet full of practical tips and ideas. The cost of the workshop was €15, and included tea, coffee and home baking. To book a place on our next Happy Landings workshop, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Therapy BXL offers coaching and therapy to English-speaking expats in and around Brussels. Our services are confidential, non-judgemental and practical. We work with individuals, couples and groups. http://www.therapybxl.com/
Grain de Vie Written by Marty Niebel-Cossette The artisan bakery Grain de Vie, located in Waterloo, is a nonprofit organization that has been an AWCB- supported charity for years. It was founded in 1996 by two Italian visionaries who were inspired by a French doctor, Vittoz, to create a workplace that promotes social integration of young men and women with special needs in a family-type bakery and kitchen setting. Young, disabled trainees come to Grain de Vie after they have completed their specialized education and work as long as it takes to gain a sufficient level of professional skills to enter the adult world with more confidence and self-esteem. The team at Grain de Vie consists of two professional bakers and 42 volunteers who coach between 20 to 25 trainees from 9am to 4pm, 5 days a week. Their duties range from on-site meal preparation to production of different varieties of bread and pastries including Danish pastry, doughnuts and various tarts and cakes, to assisting behind the shop counter. Here’s what some say about Grain de Vie: I’ve worked just a few times as a volunteer at Grain de Vie and each time I feel fortunate to be a part of this well-managed, friendly organization. I was assigned, the first time, to the school sandwich making queue which spread and layered 5-6 fillings for approximately 150 sandwiches in three short hours. In addition, I was part of the lunch crew which prepares, each day, a two or three-course lunch. It was very enjoyable, in a convivial atmosphere, to wash, peel and cut celery, including the yellow heart (which I had discarded and which was promptly retrieved from the garbage) and carrots to make a delicious winter vegetable potage to serve 18. The main course consisted of boiled potatoes, Brussels sprouts in a bacon and mustard sauce and panfried sausages. Once the communal lunch commenced, a fork pounding ritual to form the boiled potatoes and Brussels sprouts into a mash, known as stoemp, a local Brussels speciality, took place right before my eyes. Marty Niebel-Cossette - Volunteer & AWCB Member I started volunteering at Grain de Vie last fall while looking for a meaningful way to be part of the French-speaking Belgian community. At Grain de Vie, I found a place to be productive helping others who need a little help, as well as being able to practice my French with kind and like-minded Belgians. It's been a very satisfying experience. Linda - Volunteer & AWCB Member I’ve been working for nearly 10 years at Grain de Vie. On Wednesday mornings I’m in the kitchen, on Friday mornings in the bakery. I see these young, slightly mentally handicapped people evolve. When they touch the dough, making a ball after stretching it to form bread, they gradually acquire more and more self-confidence and become more concentrated on each task. It is a very long process but also very effective therapy. They are happy to see the result, in the kitchen as well as in the bakery. Thierry - Volunteer
I have volunteered for different organizations in the last year. Grain de Vie stands out from the various associations since you find yourself involved in a family-like setting, where each person, trainee as well as volunteer, gives his best to do everyday jobs from making bread, pastry, or sandwiches to preparing lunch. Everyone who participates in these activities, trainees and volunteers, does so in order to become better acquainted with each other and to better understand one another. It is the good spirit at Grain de Vie that allows the trainees to overcome their disabilities. This family-like setting and conviviality contribute to the trainees’ development and for us, the volunteers, it’s a joy to see the progress our protégés make. Jean-Marie - Pensioner and Volunteer I have worked at Grain de Vie for the last 2 years. I do many things like make bread, croissants and biscuits. I also work in the kitchen preparing sandwiches and meals. Once a week I work behind the shop counter selling our baked goods. I love to come to Grain de Vie and that’s why I travel 30km (19 miles) every day by train by myself to get here. At Grain de Vie, I make friends with the other trainees and also with the volunteers who coach us. We share a communal meal at noon, which we made in the kitchen in the morning, which I really enjoy. Marty Niebel-Cossette rejoined the AWCB in September 2012 after a 10-year break. She loves alternative gourmet cooking and takes pleasure in walking her two female Australian shepherds in the woods. As HOPE co-chairwoman she seeks to motivate Club Members to participate in community activities.
Relay For Life The International Community of Brussels Walking together for 24 hours against cancer Because cancer never sleeps, neither does Relay For Life. Relay is a festive and inspiring 24-‐hour event during which the community stands in solidarity with those touched by cancer. Relay celebrates the lives of cancer survivors, remembers loved ones lost to the disease and fights back by raising awareness and funds. Relay For Life takes place in over 20 countries and 600 communities worldwide and is entirely organized by volunteers. This is the third annual International Community of Brussels Relay For Life. What happens at Relay For Life? • Teams of all ages take turns walking or running around a track for 24 hours; the 24 hours are symbolic of the constant battle patients and their families endure in their fight with the disease. An event around a single goal: winning the fight against cancer. Participants take part in moving ceremonies, enjoy live music and entertainment, join in fun activities and savor great food and refreshments on offer throughout. Funds are raised directly for the Belgian Foundation Against Cancer and are used to finance cancer research and support local cancer patients and their families. How can you help? Everyone can participate in Relay For Life, in his or her own way, individually or as a group. Form or join a Relay For Life team, and fundraise prior to and during the event Become a sponsor of the event, or of a team Host an activity (eg. juggling lessons, yoga session, ...) or provide entertainment Volunteer on the day, or join the organizing committee Register as a cancer survivor and be a VIP at the event Act as a supporter and participant, be it just for an hour, or overnight! When and Where is the Relay? Saturday June 15 – Sunday June 16, 2013. 12 noon to 12 noon. On the school track at St. John’s International School, Drève Richelle 146, 1410 Waterloo For more information Visit www.relayforlife.be or email email@example.com. We hope you will join us!
AWCB Breast Cancer Luncheon & Fashion Show 2013 This year, the AWCB held its annual Breast Cancer Luncheon on April 18, 2013 at the Clubhouse. The theme of the event was la mode belge and, for the occasion, the AWCB was transformed into 50 grades of Pink. The Main Meeting room got a facelift and was the Pink Boutique for 2 days during which Belgian designers exhibited and sold their clothes and accessories, all to help in the fight against Breast Cancer. It was a wonderful shopping experience, where you could buy designer clothes from the elegant to the cool, where you could purchase extraordinary silver or gold jewelry and jewelry made of semi-precious stones. You could buy kidsâ€™ clothes that grow with the kids or high quality knitwear and pashminas. Perhaps you were looking for colorful leather wallets and handbags? No problem! Needed a gift for your husband? The Pink Boutique had it all: be it a leather wallet, a unique leather scarf, or a tailor-made stylish track suit - in the Pink Boutique you could order it all, together with a great beach bag that doubled as a beach towel! Six wonderful ladies, Members of the AWCB, as well as six kids, walked down the 15-meter long catwalk to model all these wonderful clothes and accessories, while 60 Members and friends munched their way through a yummy three-course meal. Thanks to our very generous sponsors, we were also able to organize an auction, which enlivened the whole event and helped us raise additional money. As a result of all the activities, the AWCB will donate â‚Ź3,500 to Pink Ribbon and the ISALA Hospital, a hospital specializing in the treatment and care of Breast Cancer Patients in the heart of Brussels. Thanks to all the Members and sponsors who helped make this event happen!
FAWCO – Something for Everyone!
As you all know, there are lots of great things about being a Member of the AWCB, - friendships, a place to come for a cup of coffee, eat lunch or meet a friend, English books and DVDs, classes, the fabulous bargains at the Gift Boutique, bridge, mah jong, the International Study Group lectures, etc. One of the benefits that you may not be aware of is that all AWCB Members, for only ONE DOLLAR of your dues, are also members of the Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas, known as FAWCO. The March 2013 Conference was held in Bern, Switzerland and the AWCB was represented by Shera Warde, Suzanne Wheeler, Wendy Warren-Schuermans, Pam Showalter, Barbara Paulhus, Judy Furukawa and (FAUSA member) Lilly Brutosky. The theme was “In a Timely Manner – Women, Tradition, Innovation”. Keynote speakers included Megan Beyer, the wife of the US Ambassador to Switzerland and Betty King, the US Ambassador to the UN and other international organizations. During the Conference, The FAWCO Foundation Dinner, auctions, raffles and other fundraising events raised more than $32,000 for their projects! It will be easy for you to attend the 2014 FAWCO Conference because the AWCB will be hosting “Brussels: A World of Possibilities”, 12-16 March 2014! Pam Showalter and Wendy WarrenSchuermans are serving as co-chairs and WILL need the help and support of the Club Membership to make this the successful event we know it can be! Save the dates, and see you there! FAWCO represents not only American, but other international women’s clubs in various countries. To borrow from its website description, this is a network of independent American and international volunteer organizations representing private-sector American citizens overseas. It serves as a resource and channel of information for its member clubs, contributes actively to the global community and represents the interests of all Americans abroad – citizenship, taxes, repatriation, etc. Founded in 1931, FAWCO is a non-partisan and not-for-profit US corporation, with over 75 Member Clubs representing more than 15,000 individuals – Americans and many other nationalities as well throughout the world. A recognized non-governmental organization (NGO) since 1995, FAWCO was granted special consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the UN in 1997. (See www.FAWCO.org). FAWCO created a philanthropic arm – The FAWCO Foundation – in 1967 in order to be able to provide educational awards and development grants worldwide. Since its inception the FAWCO
Foundation has donated more than $1,000,000 to deserving students, scholars and charitable activities around the world. AWCB Members and their children have been recipients of the educational grants and awards. As recently as 2011, one of our Members, Beth Kostel, received one of the educational awards. Another AWCB Member, Suzanne Wheeler, is currently on the Board of Directors of The Foundation, serving a two-year appointment as Vice President for Fundraising. Besides its annual educational grants, The Foundation recently concluded a two-year fundraising project that raised more than $162,000 for a clean water project in Cambodia. They have just announced their next two-year fundraising project that will target funds for “Human Rights for Women” and will be accepting applications for projects nominated to receive these funds through 30 September 2013. (The Foundation is a 501(c)3 tax exempt entity, www.FAWCOfoundation.org). The third branch of this FAWCO group is FAUSA, FAWCO Alumnae who are back in the United States and are continuing their ex-pat contacts and philanthropy. Many ex-pats find it difficult to “blend back in” to life in the United States after being away for many, or perhaps only a few, years of living overseas. FAUSA is there to help the repatriation transition. (www.FAUSA.org). How can you participate in FAWCO at the local level? Remember all of the Members of FAWCO and their Boards of Directors are volunteers too! As long as you are a current Member of the AWCB (or other international club under their umbrella) you are a Member of FAWCO. It is easy to log-in – even for the first time. Just go to the different websites that are cited above and see all that FAWCO has to offer! Questions can be directed to Barbara Paulhus, the AWCB FAWCO representative. Here are some ways you can get involved: If you can cut or sew, then participate by making squares for the 2014 quilt. Squares contributed from around the world are stitched together and the quilt is then raffled off at the annual conference each Spring. Attend the Region IV conference that will be held this Fall, 4-6 October in Rotterdam with representatives from Rotterdam, the Hague, Luxembourg, Amsterdam, Antwerp and of course, Brussels in attendance. Attend the March 2014 FAWCO Conference in Brussels and help promote our “World of Possibilities”!!! Judy Furukawa is a 13+ year Member of the AWCB and was appointed to serve as FAWCO Liaison for Citizenship issues at the Bern FAWCO Conference.
Expats Express How I met my Husband It’s always fun to hear about how couples met - here’s a selection from our Members Judy Furukawa Richard and I met during our first year of law school. He avoided telling me how old he was as I am older than he is and he didn’t think I would go out with him. His first “sign of affection” was to offer me his civil procedure course outline before finals. Diane Tanenbaum I met my 1st husband in a Laundromat in Israel. He and his friend were about to put a pair of bright yellow trousers in with a white wash. Butting in, I suggested that might be a very bad idea. They gratefully removed the offending trousers and we struck up a conversation. As a result, their white wash was salvaged and a romance began. Ann Somerhausen Eleven American girls stood waiting with their suitcases at the North Station in Brussels in 1949. The leader of our tour group looked anxious. Then she exclaimed, “There he is!” Running towards us was a young man dressed in faded jeans, a wrinkled jacket, and a white beanie cap decorated with medals, pins and badges. I noticed his wonderful warm brown eyes. Our leader had told us, “John’s a fabulous guide. Knows everything. So good I’ve arranged for us to spend five days in Belgium, not three like the other tours.” Five years later I was calling him “Jean,” and I was married to him. Trix Hilbers Right after High School, I moved to The Hague and decided to join a local student tennis club. I presented myself to the all-male Admission Committee, all quite friendly, but they never asked a thing about my level of play (or anything at all!) The club competed in regional competitions and organized parties and sailing weekends. One of the committee members, Hans, scheduled me on his team and made sure that I participated in the sailing weekends. He was skinny and wore thick rimmed glasses. That summer, when his parents were vacationing, he invited me to a party at his house. The party was a bit rowdy and when the cocktail shaker got loose, the contents stained the living room walls. I did not particularly like these new friends. The next day, when I went over to help clean up the mess, he was already repainting the walls, before his parents returned home. This completely changed my mind about him and I fell in love. That was 56 years ago, and Hans and I played tennis together until last year, when he had to stop. As his wife, however, I have been doing the wall painting jobs ever since. Bena Persaud/Mattagne Often I’m asked if I met my husband on a plane, nothing so romantic! I am ashamed to admit our relationship was born in a disco through a ‘truth or dare’ game. The dare - to ask the handsome stranger for a slow dance! I discovered he could only speak French and was a chef. Communication was difficult but we were married 18 months later! We will be celebrating 25 years of love in 2014; 3 objectives have been imposed on my husband – a big party, a big rock and the honeymoon that never was!
The Unexpected Expat Life Written by Michelle Nott Usually, expat assignments last under five years. But when we rented our current house in Belgium, we had to sign a nine-year lease. We did this because if we were to leave before the end of the lease, the fees would be much less. I almost laughed out loud as I signed the paper and thought, "Yeah right, we'll never be here that long." After that signature, I was officially an expat. Before leaving the US, telling people of our move abroad sparked great interest because it was so out of the ordinary. But in fact, arriving in Brussels proved just how normal it was. I was excited to hear stories of other families who had already lived in five countries or more. Considering we had already lived in three States in our first four years of marriage, I expected the same globe-trotting life. My husband's assignment had indeed been specified as a two to three-year deal... nine years ago. Our lease is up. Hoping to travel a bit through Europe in those couple of years, I expected to be back in the US for my first daughter, then only 1 year old, to start kindergarten. Instead, we have had a second baby a sprained neck from falling off a swing appendicitis taken trips to a dozen countries at least once (excluding the USA) celebrated baptisms and communions started both daughters in school - local and international survived lay-offs, budget cuts, furloughs benefitted from job title changes and promotions made a slew of friends said good-bye to many of them learned about the world through these friends, and we continue to make more... At some point between comparing potty-training practices and starting the children in primary school, I stopped feeling like an expat. I was just another woman, mother, wife, writer, living somewhere else. Nothing replaces family but when your closest friends are also away from their families, a natural and strong bond forms. We support each other no matter the color of the hand being held, how smooth or rough it may be, or to where that hand waved good-bye. We celebrate our children's birthdays, help out when they fall ill, and have a good laugh at our cultural faux pas. I have also been fortunate to make some very dear Belgian friends. Speaking French before the move certainly helped. I could comfortably attend local playgroups, go shopping, explain various ailments to medical professionals, read the newspaper, pay my speeding tickets and parking violations (I'm getting off track)... but all that to say, I did my best to integrate. After five years, my husband was rehired under a local contract. We aren't even technically expats anymore. Regardless, I am still referred to by the neighbors as l'américaine qui parle français (the American who speaks French). And so this “expat life” has slowly taken shape as, simply, “life.” I just happen to live in Belgium, raise my kids as bilinguals with two nationalities (neither one being Belgian), renew passports on a regular basis, pay taxes in two countries, and rack up quite a few frequent flyer miles... like so many other people. And what about these Third Culture Kids I'm raising? This life is the only one they have ever known, besides my eldest daughter's six months at a YMCA daycare. When we go back to the US, I take my
daughters around to my old neighborhood, to my friends' homes, to play at my old playground, to have ice cream at the same stand open only in the summers and still run by the same family. But to them, that's â€œMum's countryâ€? (yes, they even call me 'mum' instead of 'mom'). The US is a world of cookouts, swimming pools, and amusement parks. Visiting their French mamie and their English grandad in France doesn't seem all that different than being in Belgium except that they happen to live in the Alps and the bread is... well... crustier. Considering we spend almost every holiday with them (except for the Christmas during which the above-mentioned appendix was removed from my daughter), France is the land of skiing, hot chocolate, pain au raisins, long meals and late-nights. But in Belgium, my children are who they are. They like fries. They love bandes dessinĂŠes (comic books). They don't even bat an eye when a different language is spoken. And still, they are influenced by my American side (i.e., I do accidentally speak louder than the kids like in public places) and my husband's French and English sides (i.e., we systematically have to stop for an espresso mid-morning no matter where we are or where we are going and the same is true at 4pm for tea). And so, my children are living their unique hotchpotch of a culture beside all the other Third Culture Kids running through the Belgian playgrounds. This is, simply, their life. I would be quite happy to move the family to another country, to see new monuments, to learn another language and about a new culture first-hand. But at the end of the day, whether we're sitting at the dinner table around moules frites or fish and chips, couscous or coq au vin, or even mac and cheese (for which I've spent a small fortune at an American food shop), we're still here...growing, learning, living...and loving it. Michelle Nott, a freelance editor, a writer, and a poet, has been published in numerous on-line and print publications including International Living and (A)WAY Magazine. She writes a travel blog entitled Belgian Trips. Her blog of children's stories, Good Night, Sleep Tight, also features personal reflections on raising Third Culture Kids.
Contributors The Rendez-vous is a quarterly publication created by volunteers of the American Women's Club of Brussels. Copyright of all material submitted belongs to the authors. No material may be reproduced, in whole or in part, by any individual or group other than the AWCB, without written permission from the AWCB or the author. The American Women's Club of Brussels does not necessarily endorse the view or opinions expressed in this publication, nor accept responsibility in connection with information rendered. If you would like to be involved in the production of the Rendez-vous, contact the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org We are particularly looking for technical editors and writers for green issues. Let us know if you would like to help in these fields or with anything else. Content Editor Diane Tanenbaum Technical Editors Judy Furukawa and Brooke Peterson Contributors Olivia de Vos has worked as a teacher, translator and tour-guide and is currently writing. She enjoys seeing her name in print, perhaps even more than taking the perfect photograph. Her passion is the great outdoors and subsequent adventures in real-life and in fiction and non-fiction. Nancy De Wachter-Roach became a Member of the AWCB in 2009. She has written a number of articles for Rendez-vous. Her professional life has been in the field of education at both secondary and university level, teaching philosophy and academic English. Larisa Doctorow is a journalist specializing in cultural affairs, notably music and fine arts. She lives and works in Brussels and in Saint Petersburg (Russia). Ann Englander is a freelance translator and copywriter. She was born in the UK but spent her early years in the USA. She is married to a Dutch linguist and they have been living in Belgium for the last 45 years. They brought up their three children in a multilingual environment and are still having "linguistic adventures" with their Ghent-based grandchildren. Victoria Eulaerts-Willis has lived with her Belgian husband in Brussels for 29 years, is mother of 2 daughters and enjoys gardening. She is President of Literacy for All, the fundraising branch of Dyslexia International, in consultative status with UNESCO, which promotes teacher training to improve literacy levels. Judy Furukawa is a long-time Member of the AWCB (10+ years and counting), and previous President of the Club. She is married and has a teen-age daughter. She is an avid baseball fan (Orioles, Mariners, BoSox) and writes long letters to friends and family and the occasional Rendez-vous article. Petra Gericke, mother of 2 and living with her family in Belgium for 4 years now, grew up in Germany, in a very musical family. Although her profession is in Sales & Marketing in the hotel industry, she has never lost her passion for music and rhythm and its effect on the human body. Trix Hilbers was a Home Economics teacher. She specialized in Cooking and Nutrition and taught classes for many years in schools, Adult Education Courses in the Netherlands and organized classes at home wherever she lived, in the USA, in the UK, in Japan and in Belgium. She also taught Indonesian Cooking Classes at the AWCB more than 20 years ago. Dianne Kapral has a Doctorate in Naturopathy, with a speciality in Hypno-Anesthesia, and is an Aromatherapy and Herb teacher. She has written a book called The Inevitable Change: Natural & Beautiful about the change of life, which, unless we die in our 20's, is inevitable. This is her 2nd stint in
Belgium and as a Member of the AWCB. Traveling is her passion and learning about other cultures feeds her soul. Marty Niebel-Cossette rejoined the AWCB in September 2012 after a 10-year break. She loves alternative gourmet cooking and takes pleasure in walking her two female Australian shepherds in the woods. As HOPE co-chairwoman she seeks to motivate Club Members to participate in community activities. Michelle Nott, a freelance editor, writer, and poet, has been published in numerous on-line and print publications including International Living and (A)WAY Magazine. She writes a travel blog entitled Belgian Trips. Her blog of children's stories, Good Night, Sleep Tight, also features personal reflections on raising Third Culture Kids. Barbara Paulhus is an American who has been living in Belgium for over 2 years. She is currently the AWCB Library Chairperson. She comes from a background of teaching math and working in libraries. She enjoys reading and solving sudoku puzzles while attempting to learn Dutch. This is her first experience living outside the US. Janine Shipton is Anglo-Swiss and moved to Brussels with her husband and their daughter in 2007. She has made many friends within the expat community, especially by joining the AWCB with its welcoming and supportive atmosphere. Living here in Brussels, she is very keen on learning more about Belgium and enjoys sharing her information and experiences with other expats. Ann Somerhausen, widow of Belgian Ambassador Jean Somerhausen, has been an AWCB Member for many decades and frequently contributes to Rendez-vous. Her memoir, Hostage in Havana is available in the AWCB library, or can be ordered from Amazon.com. Diane Tanenbaum, Rendez-vous Content Editor, is a native of Northern New Jersey who has spent over 30 years in Brussels working as an English language editor and proofreader for several international organizations. Recently retired, she loves having free time to visit grandchildren, write, and staying fit by practicing yoga, pilates and zumba. Shera Warde, AWCB President, moved to Belgium in 2010 and comes from the world of advertising and marketing. She enjoys running, the great outdoors and exploration through the lens of her camera.