Monday, July 28, 2014

100 years ago, part two

A hundred years ago WW1 started.
Another anniversary for the history books.
I will always remember a visit to Ypres in Belgium while my friends and I sat in a sidewalk cafe indulging in pancakes. We noticed the police clearing the huge parking lot in half. I asked the waiter what was going on. He said:"Daily routine, the busses come from England,people with poppies pile out and go to the monument of the fallen British troops in WW1. They come every day and at a certain time they play taps every day". They have done this every day since the war except during WW2.
Honoring their soldiers after all these decades.....British souls not forgetting ...........what a novel idea, NOT!
We followed the people, a sea of poppies, some single ones some in heart form, some wreaths. They all made it to the huge monument.
I saw the very young, the very old and everything in between.
I just watched and cried.
We got to give it to the Brits!
So many who gave their lives for us little Belgium and our liberty.
It did not end there 1940 came and it started all over again.
That is another story.

100 years ago today.............

How often in my early childhood did I hear about WW1
Too much. My aunts, my mother, father, grandparents always had an a war story. Hard to imagine that today it is 100 years since that happened and I am hear to remember their stories. Such a different war. The King stayed with his troops, did not run to a safe place. Trenches , they all lived in trenches and had face to face battle fields. Ypres, Belgium has one of the best museums about this war. It was the time that reminded us always on where the poppies grow......row by row....To all my long gone relatives :"than you for the memories" .To my mother and father, long gone, I would say that i am sorry they had to live with that war and to every child I see on the news every evening my heart bleeds for you. If you will be lucky to survive today's horrors you will become stronger and able to survive pretty much anything.

Am I a Southerner?

Like Oprah tells us "one thing I know for sure"
and I will copy something my son said on FB :

I'm not much but I am all I have
quote from P K Dick!

Son loved P K!

However that is about the best I can describe who I am.
At my very core I have Flemish blood running in my veins.
I am a Belgian.
To adopt another country is like changing your name when you get married, or not changing it.
I came here with nothing but hopes to have American children.
Not every child is in a happy state about that.
Now I have American grandchildren !!!!!

I am an American on paper. I can't go back , that is not an option for me nor do I want to.
Truth is :I am not a Southerner.
I think you have to be born here to be a real Southerner.

I do not like grits, hush puppies and pecan pie.
I live for more french fries, eclairs, and fresh bread with butter.
Salads are for rabbits.

I had been listed as an independent for many years but then changed it to democrat so I could vote on all issues.
I am a liberal, I was born one.
I left the church behind me after many unanswered questions.
I am responsible for my actions and I have to deal with that if I ever would do something illegal, and not follow my code to treat people the way I would like to be treated. If I do wrong I have to take a look in the mirror. A person and persons with a piece of paper to give them the liberty to listen to your sins and
then forgive them , does not seem right to me.

I was never going to have an abortion, I always knew that, but I do feel that a woman has to have a choice.
No one should be able to tell us how to handle our own body. No law, no church, not your mother.

I have friends who are gay , in my line of work I did meet tons of them.
A couple of them were crooks but that had nothing to do with their sexual orientation, they just
liked to undermine the business ethics. Some had partners forever. Some just liked the change
partners quite often and go for younger ones, duh! is that not so with guys who like younger and younger women?Not to mention a cougar looking for young men?
They are born gay! They do not recruit "gayness". No one ever tried to make my son gay. He always knew he liked girls.

Making a lot of noise over nudity is something I never understood. When I was little in Belgium all the newspaper stands had girly magazines on display with or without clothing. If my mother saw that I was
stretching her arm a little to check out the display, she would real me in and say :"Little girls just not look at all the naked ladies". If I dared to say :"Why?" she had the usual answer "Because I said so!"
She was the boss and I was not going to challenge her. The point is that nudity mags were in the open and the more it was out there the less we started to stare and wonder. Heavens there were statues in the park
made of stone with much more showing. Mother admired the statues freely.

I have little patience with people who try to interfere in someone's liberty to be themselves.
 but I really have a hard time to forgive an abuser, say in domestic violence.
I  would emasculate all pedaphiles. Period! So there I go and truly would interfere with that.

My husband was from California. He was a liberal, he had enormous faith in his church which
in the South was often called an occult.  He was the nicest person I ever met, no question about it.
He disliked the South. He made few friends here because he could not agree with a lot of the
conversations. We could not afford to return West and came to the Carolinas after living in Spain for 5 years.We did have friends here and that made the transition a lot nicer.
The mountains are absolutely breathtaking. They do look blue at certain times under different celestial lights.

My husband's ashes are in a flowing river who knows where they will finally settle to the bottom I hope he went far away on that last voyage and my wishes are for the same burial and maybe I will end up in the Atlantic Ocean......

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A very tired wheel

My mother always said that I was the wheel that kept the k's clan together.
I was always busy at her house , sitting in the tiny kitchen by the window with figures.
Always figures.
How much did I buy for the shop?
How much did I spent for myself ?
Figures, accounts, counting money....
My mother could not get her head on all of this , she had always worked and got a paycheck at the end of the month and that was that!
i had always been in retail, for most of my life I had shops and different businesses.

Bob had 2 , his art work and his art restoration.
I had my antique shop and then later the production of the Father Christmas dolls.
Everything had to be kept separate.
Bills paid receipts, bills due never ended and then came January it was going to the books for the IRS.

In between all else we did art show, Christmas show, antique shows.
We would go as far as Richmond Va. and as far South as Jacksonville Fla.
Every week end another place to eat and sleep on a budget until you make the big sale and then
you splurge with a great meal to be served at your table
If the big sale did not come it was to the quiet zone. We just did not have that much to say then.
I did shows with Bob and Sabrina. We alternated and often had two different cities on the same
week end. Bobby came with us from the time he was little till he was in High School.
We'd pick him up at school and get on our way so we could reach our destination and set up in time
for the next morning opening.

One time we did a huge field market. That was in Mass. It was bitter cold and we slept in our mini
camper , trying to stay warm while setting up in the dark. We did not understand why every one was working till 2 am to have it ready. Then we found out that we had clients at 3 am.
Our first ones were from Holland and they bought all our sterling. We had a good start.
The fields yielded some 300 to 500 dealers and there where many fields the farmers arranged them for one event during their quiet season. We only did this one once. Exhausted from driving and the cold it
was not something we liked that much.

Atlanta we did once a month and Bobby had found a movie lot near us and would find some other kids to go and check out the props, he just loved going there and the movie people always invited the kids to check them out.  Then there was the weird lady who only sold skeletons of animals. She had a zoo in her booth, I shuddered but she thought Bobby was very smart and showed him ever one of her bone collection and what to look for in them. He was talking "weird stuff" for days after Atlanta.
Fortunately it was still safe then but as time went on, a dealer got raped in the ladies room, a dealer in his wheelchair had everything stolen in his van (all silver) while he went to the restroom.
In our motel a lady jeweler had everything stolen out of her van, even with security guards or maybe because of security guards. She had nothing left and near Christmas. We all chipped in and gave her money
and our own stocks so she would have something to begin with.

Another dealer was making pins with old watch faces, very original, she was well known and people loved her stuff. Her son had cancer and then the hospital bill was 180.000. She made a deal with the hospital and promised to do shows every week end till she paid this off, she did it and we all rejoiced when she said she had burned the bills all paid now. Her son was back in good health too.
These are the people you learn to look up to in the weekly markets.

Bob insisted on buying ORIGINAL art at every show depending on what we could afford or often could not afford. He insisted that in order for us to make a living we needed to help others too. He was a rare jewel and I loved him for that, his son is the same.

Sabrina and I worked Savannah GA. Christmas show. A huge show and we always did well with our dolls. This time the police came to see us and warn us. The Christmas shop in town had a visitor who offered our dolls at a very low price and was taking "orders". Lucky for us the lady had talked with us and right away she knew the dolls were ours. The police helped us load the van that evening because they thought it would be someone working the night crew who would apprehend the dolls.
I could not believe it, jewelry? yes. Sterling? yes but Father Christmas dollls? We never worried about them.
Police escorted us out of the parking lot to the gate and then 2 nervous women drove to our motel looking back and writing down the licenses in case the same ones were following us.
We did not return to Savannah.

One day I was not well and was in the motel with little Zack and could not go to sell with Brie.
We were in Augusta and had never done the show. We were not happy with the space given which was quite dark and just at the entrance when people come in always in a hurry.
Sabrina called me about mid afternoon.
"I sold out!"
"You did what? "I have one doll left and the promotor is angry because we did not bring enough."
Our dolls were one of a kind and high end and sold for 175.00 and 225.00 some of the large one for 750.00
Our inventory had been like 24 or so plus big one.
Bob was doing another show and he had the rest with him but too far to go get some.
We did eat well that evening with a screaming Zack which we ignored.

Zack started doing shows with us at 6 weeks old.
He was the best baby and I walked miles with him in the show while every body was just so interested in the dimpled baby. One town he hates was Augusta. As soon as we hit the town he would scream. He was a tiny baby, what was it that he just did not want to be in Augusta. We could not even eat out, he'd scream to high heavens. One time he screamed all the way home which was about a 4 hour ride. Never did he do that
in other locations. Every year the same ritual, hated Augusta.

Every November like clock work during our Christmas shows I would get sick, ersatz lungs. I was so overworked as we never had enough stock and yet we started in June or July to make the dolls but they took a long time, each being une piece unique.
One time I ended with pneumonia during Christmas.

So here I am now alone, 82, and I just can't do a lot of things anymore.
I am baffled.
I could multi task like a robot.
Now trying to do 2 things at the same time? Are you kidding me?
So when I see Bob and Brie working on something I should do , well, it just drives me nuts.
No mistake I am very happy with any help, I do not have the money to hire people and an old house is a money pit, it's an old house and I just love it. Age and all.
Yesterday Sabrina and a young lad came to take down 2 trees.
I was a wreck, did she ever take down trees? No.
she did do it and I calmed down a little in the evening.
Took a pill and went to sleep.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Gentse Feesten ...............

The city of Ghent is a lovely city, a large city so you have to know where to find all the corners of ancient times.
Brugge tops us as you can walk everywhere and see it all without needing guides, you can even walk from the station to downtown in minutes.

Not much business for cabs in Brugge.

I returned almost every year after we moved back to the USA from Spain.
When we lived at the Costa DEL sOL my relatives came to see us.
I did not blame them.

I have so many memories of the festivities.
One that stick out was when Nick and Jimmy plus their mom came
and we stood in the Donkersteeg late in the evening and watched the fireworks around Belfort,
it was magical, looked almost like it was on fire but different colors everywhere.
We did not dare move our heads in fear not to see it all.

Thousands upon thousands come to these festivals, a lot today is about music and for the young.
Ghent is a city of young people with a great University to attract Foreign students as well.

After my Mom passed, Bob and I rented a flat for one month in the center of town and then
the kids and friends had a place to stay. One year we had a place within a few steps of the Belfry,
a main street, it was during the Festival. Across from us a lovely restaurant with the piano outside and
serving food until 4 a .m. Little sleep did we get but we sat by the window and people watched
while the music never stopped. We would turn around now and then and danced ,some people saw us and started to clap in the street , we had an audience not anticipated. Bob could not believe it, a dancer he was not. Well they did not see his feet moving so what the heck.

I think Jimmy was about 8 and his brother 6 when we could not get a flat in town and we had a nice place by the station. We were worn out with these two dynamo's . Earlier in the day we sat at a cafe by the Belfry
chatted and yelled at the kids when a group in odd clothing came by and yelled at us: "Yanks! Yanks!'
We are Bellringers from the UK. We had no idea what a bellringer was.
They all took a chair and something to wet their whistle and started to explain that they had been invited by the city Mayor to perform and open the traditional ball at the Kouter.
One chap had his eyes on Rhonda, easy, she is a bit of a flirt anyway and not difficult to look at.
Most of the men had their wives with them and they all were of a mature age. This fellow was alone.
He quickly started to talk to our daughter and asked if she would open the dance with him but she would have to find a period dress.
All shops besides food shops pretty much close during the festivities.
Rhonda was sure she would find what we needed.
We parked grandpa and kids with some friends and started to walk the streets to see if one of the theatrical shops was open. Lucky I know my way there like the back of my hand and many business I knew as a child have been taken over by relatives or just sold to someone else.
The largest shop I knew was still there and CLOSED. I knocked and knocked and knocked
finally a face at the window: "I am closed ".
"I know but we are Americans and my daughter needs a costume to open the ball at  the Kouter"
The door opens. The lady lives upstairs as most shop keepers do.
We tell her the incredible story and Rhonda already has her nose in the clothing.
It's not a quick decision. If you know my daughter you know it has to be exactly as she envisions it.
The hat took another 1/2 hour and out the door we went.
Pinching each other at our luck and then Rhonda reminded me that she had little time to join the group and see a reception with the mayor. So we ran to our friends and had her dressed then found our way to the
Bellringers, most had already a little bloom on their cheeks.
Exit Rhonda and come the wee ones. Grandpa and Grandma stuck with them.
The town is packed and we zig zag our way to a tram hoping to go home for a few hours of rest.
Bob holds Nick hands and I am in charge of Mister Curious and Serieus.
Body to body on the back of the tram it stops at the end of every street and we have a long way to go to our flat. People get on and suddenly Jimmy's hand is out of mine and I see him going for the exit and next on the sidewalk in between a mob. I scream, the tram door closes, I scream and others ring the bell, stop, please stop my grandson is out there. The whole group on that back platform are in chorus till the door opens and I can run out and get the kid.
I want to kill him, nothing less. Imagine if I had lost her child while Madame de Pompadour was bar hopping with the Brits.
That evening our friends watched the kids and we went to the ball , I cried my eyes out.
This daughter of mine was opening the ball with the Brits and TV cameras were everywhere.
On this square I had been sitting front row and center when my Paternal grandfather had directed the army band and had done his oboe solos. His moustache turned up. When was that I thought? It had been 1936.
I sat between my two Aunts in my new dress they had made for the occasion.  I had to sit still and not talk about Grandpapa.
Now so many decades later my daughter is on the same American.
For a short while I felt remorse.
My family had so much history here on both sides of my Mom and my Dad , why did I leave.
I am the only one to leave Ghent. Now as I write I have one cousin left there.

I would not be able to work the crowds of today , I would have a panic attack. I always like the noise in the streets, the singing and joy in the air. The morning running to the bakery in a street in great need of the
cleaning crew. Then getting ready and have another day of it.

The monday after the festivity there is a market called "The empty purse" , merchants come and set up and have bargains for people who still have some pennies left.

I want to be there , I want, I want, I will be there in the spirit................

When Rhonda finds her photos I will post them.
As it turned out we had a video of her from the TV station with more coverage than the other ladies, of course, she was the young one.
A few weeks ago a lady on FB wrote to me and said:" I dressed your daughter for the ball "
I started to cry, she remembered. Bless her!

Thursday, July 17, 2014


I was reading that the concussions the soccer players had during the Cup were not addressed as should have been.
The players game right back onto the field, the specialist on this claim that the player after a blow is not in a position to make the right decision.
On May 24th I fell and had a concussion from an iron scale falling on the front of my head so I fell and then hit the back of my head.
The ambulance staff said I should not be here anymore for this was a hard blow.
Not sure but the scale weighs between 35 and 45 lbs.

They took me to the ER with a collar on.
The MRI concluded that I had a concussion and need a follow up and should not make any decisions
for several day etc...etc...

Before my fall I had started to work with Luminosity , it's a site with workouts for the brain.
I was doing quite well and happy about my results. Especially in the memories series.
I could not do the workout during about 2 weeks after my fall. Head seemed like scrambled eggs.
Finally I started again and I can see the difference. I went down hill.
My responses are good but the speed is lacking by which I answer.
I need time to think out the problems which I did not have before the concussion.
That is no fun but then I am still here and it could have been worse.

Hear ye part 2

So Brie and I went to Sams.
Brie is loaded for bear.
She tells me if we have the same reception with the audiologist we are splitting and going to Asheville store
and try there.
Same lady.
She has a master in audiology.
She starts out on the wrong foot.
Tells Brie that we should have been there before.
Brie tells her that we can't get a hold of her.
Then she tells us the phone nr has changed and gives us a card
Then she shows me under microphone that a tiny speck is inside the stem of the hearing aid.
I assure her that I have psoriasis in the ear and I am forced the clean these at least once a day
so no problem with that.
The poor lady has one problem, she just does not listen to what we have to say and
instead starts telling us what we do wrong.
Brie sees red , tells me that we are going and starts packing my stuff.
Lady does not catch on , wonders what we are doing.
I tell her: Please listen to me!
She shakes her head.
Comes to mind someone I knew with severe ADHD. Not saying this is the problem here.
It does remind me.
Finally we get on the same page.
We have been rewarded a new set according to the mgr.
It turns out that I bought 4 year insurance on these and what they are doing is
charging the new ones to the insurance.
I get a upgrade set.
Finally figuring out that the left ear does not work with the "cups"
they have to get a built in mold and work with that.
Molds available in 2 weeks.
Meanwhile back to the same suction cups.
Upgrade the hearing part too, now there is a part for the phone too.
So far they work I would say depending who I talk too.
Man next door very soft spoken, I see his mouth move but get nothing.
The cel phone: Nothing.
The house phone is somewhat tolerable but so far just talked to Brie, she is loud anyway.
It was 2 1/2 hours of pure annoying conversation.
Mostly I had a monologue and she had one.
For sure a problem with communications.
Her boss called her eccentric,
We shall see in 2 weeks with the molds.

Monday, July 14, 2014


10 months ago I spent 4000 buckeroos on a pair of hearing aids.
My 4th pair. The others before did not work for very long and wee cheaper.
My first set was a Siemens set for 6000 but my darling husband (with dementia)
took care of them. Never to be found, I did like them. C'est la vie.

So when we went into Sams, Brie and I found a new brand supposed to be the best.
The person in charge os testing makes the aid right there and then.
No returns 21 days from now. Right there and then they are in your ears and you think
that Sams is the loudest place you have ever been in.
Lord, once these babies were in the ear I wanted to shut them up, I never heard Sams
to be a LOUD place.

Went on for a few weeks smiling like a Cheshire cat.
I had it made. I could hear on the cel phone, good, not regular phones.
I had been promised that.
Slowly the aids diminished in capacity (?) had them checked twice and was
told this was the best she could do, deal with it.
Did my hearing go down hill so fast ?I asked.
"No, they are the same as before" said the lady who did not listen much to what I had to say.
She was very rude and ignored most of my conversation.
Numerous times she called me wrong.
Well, said I, I should know they are my ears!
The computer tells me different she answered.
Several visits, and things got worse.
The little suction cups which fit on the inner  ear computer just came off every day.
I needed someone home to go digging in my ear to find the cup.
When I had to go to the ER they had a problem getting them out.
One day I had to go clear to Sams and have her do it, she asked my grandson to assist her to hold my head, she had so much trouble finding the plastic cups which had annoyed me all night.
Finally, I just gave up, I hardly wear them at all.
If I did not have my son living with me, I would throw them in the trash.
He has become my "ear nurse" night after night.
What does this mean?
It means that the computer gadget breaks away from the cup which should keep it in place as close
possible into your inner ear.

Sabrina, had enough of it called headquarters and talked to a man in charge.
She asked for a refund and told him my story.
I can't talk at all anymore on the phone.
He told Brie that this should not happen.
About his employee all he had to say was that she was excentric! New word for rude?
So tomorrow I am to go back to the same office and get a new pair of hearing aids.
We start all over again.
10 months of misery.
I do not have that much time left to sit and wait to hear someone.
I do not like to have sellers insult me.
I have been in retail all my life and I probably lost my cool about 2 times.
Above all I always felt the customer is right even when I knew I was.
Sabrina can attest to that.

Hate to go in tomorrow.
I will follow up.
Refund? are you kidding, not an industry who likes to give refunds
but I know one lawyer in NY who did get it for his client.

Stolen from my Face Book

Deeper dent in couch, check!
headphone needs batteries, check!
restock Heineken, check
unavailable Argentina coach, checked!
hope to be around in 2018, check
training start today for 2018 in worst heat, check!
Germans have an early Oktoberfest, check!
Brazilians dance tears away, check!
Spring cleaning starts now for me, check!
after a nap.....check!

Sunday, July 6, 2014


and so he did.
I was thinking all day about my cousin who passed away yesterday.
I could not get him out of my mind.
I had not seen him since he became sick (Alzheimer/dimentia), I had not been home
in fact since Bob was seriously advanced with the same malaise.

Home to me is Belgium.
I had 2 cousins left and now I am down to one.
The numbers are dwindling fast.
Why did I always think it would all last forever?
I'd get my ticket out of season and visit Mom, then the cousins, friends and
my usual trips to the fleamarket on Friday.

I thought I should give him more honor than a few lines of "au revoir, RIP".
He was born in 1932, 6 months after me.
He had the most beautiful crop of red hair.
In our Flemish Folklore it is said that red heads are TROUBLE.
He was no exception, he was full of mischief.
His sister said that he got more spankings than food.
I'd rather doubt it because their parents were quite mild.
However, I do think that daily he found something to ruin by taking it apart.
He always had to know what make something work, getting it back together was another matter.

He had learning disability. In school he would be bored and get in trouble so it was not
his place of choice.
Quite early in his teens he was an apprentice in a toolmaker shop.
There he came into his own. His hands could be full of grease so you hardly saw his fingernails and he was in heaven.
What no one could figure out was that he did not understand math.
YET, he could read the blue prints and make parts accordingly with accuracy  to the millimeter.
 Later he was hired at a larger factory and stayed there till his late years before he retired.
Often after his retirement they would call him to come in and solve a major problem.
They could always count on him.

He married a gorgeous girl when both were too young.
She liked to party and dance, that only lasted a short time. He never wanted to drink alcohol.
He had finished his army duties of 2 years and I think anything in the partying vein he had done
already then.
So he started to immerse himself in a hobby.
Fixing clocks was his first love. He'd buy old clocks in the fleamarket and try to find parts to make them work.
Soon he had his own "man cave" filled with clocks and parts and junk!
He also became a bit of a recluse.
He continued to work every day but he was starting to be afraid of everything his immagination
could get together. Afraid to eat certain things. Afraid to wear a new coat so he would hang on to a rag of a jacket. He had panic disorder and more and more stayed inside. He would go as far as an auction house if he wanted a part but he would stay at the door and not go in. They knew to watch for his bid.
He bought a car thinking this would help him and his wife (she went to work on her bike every day
and wanted better) .Quickly he found out that driving the car made him very confused. The streets he knew by heart, he had been in all of them in the city on his bicycle, this felt different, there were signs
to pay attention to, cars coming and going. It was to much. He became extremely worried about driving this machine and sold it to buy a heavy motorbike. That became his friend. His poor wife rode on the
back when he was in a mood to go somewhere but the party scene was no longer his scenario.
They were married I think about 15 years when she found a much older man with a luxurious apartment
and divorced. I did not blame her.

Her background was quite different from ours. She was raised with the "boat people".
"Boat People" I was explained by my Mom, were very special.
She showed me the daily row of barges which went to and fro on the canal of Terneuzen
by our doorsteps. Sometimes I saw children and we waived. I learned what nationality they were from the flags hanging at the rear. You could tell if they were loaded with merchandise as the boat was really close to the water, if the barge was empty of goods it was floating quite high.

To the boat people that was their house and their living.
Many would continue this for generations.
They would have comfortable living quarters usually at the back of the barge and a very large
hole next to that to fill with goods, coal, lumber, all sorts of items went from a factory to a
delivery place in another city or country. When trucks became popular after the war that took a bite  in that industry but as far as I know there still are barges working the canals.
The kids were often sent to boarding schools. In every port they would dock sometimes 4 and 5 side by side
so they had to jump from one boat to the other to get to a street but that was not a problem.
The boat people were all old friends up and down the waterways.
They would hang out in the same taverns and restaurants and share ideas about what to avoid.
It was a very tight group. Very jovial. Very giving. Hard to get into their so called society.
E's wife had grown up in that millieu and I think then her parents were still on the barge.

When E. became single he just immersed himself with more hobbies and now he also started to
put gold leaf on everything he owned. I went to visit him one day and on his mantle he had at least pressed together three candelabra sets which came with clocks too. All in gold. He was beaming. Then he would tell me :"This is Louis Quinze" , this one is Federal English. He was always learning from a friend
in the business. 

His panic attacks escalated so he would not get very far from his house, the fleamarket was still his safe place and on my yearly visits we would meet there. He would drag me from dealer to dealer and say: This is Jeannot my beautiful cousin, she is from America". I would poke him time and time again as I knew
the price was going to be higher if I wanted something. But before too long they all knew me and waited to bait me or to tell me that they had not seen him yet this morning. He would not eat with me unless he knew the restaurant owners. He was afraid of certain places and people. How much I learned about this
behavior when my son became ill with agoraphobia.

His later years, after his retirement he met his first love as she was buying dolls. She was a neat lady, was divorced a long time ago, and became his friend. She got him out of his shell. Dragged him to the
dentist and held his hand. All his teeth were bad so he now had white dentures and smiled at me while
showing them. They were just friends but she did not let him get away with hiding. Soon he would take the
train with her and go to Ostende and walk on the boardwalk. He'd whisper to me:"I go on trains now".
Then he went to the Paris fleamarket and felt like he had conquered the world. He did it one row at a time with every visit and one day conquered the whole market. That was his diploma for conquering fear.

I missed seeing him when Bob became ill and I could no longer travel and leave him.
I would get a card now and then or a photo someone made of him. He often would forget  the whole address but somehow it came into my hands anyway.

He had enormous challenges but he did not see them , he thought everything was  as it should be.
I never heard him speak ill about anyone.
I will miss him even if I get back to Belgium, he will no longer be by the clock seller.

Soccer and World Cup

I am not much of a sport watcher but I do love a very good soccer game.
I grew up with soccer.
Soccer in this country is far from being the favorite sport.
When boys start to look to the father on what to watch they immediately know that it is all
about football. You have to get a favorite team too.
Once in High School they can't wait to be picked by a coach to be on a team.
Daddy will be so proud. By now Daddy is 300lbs and can hardly get out of the couch.
I am making fun and to each his own.

I love the Cup because these guys have been pushing a ball since they could walk,
especially in South America. All you need is a ball and you can start your training.
Other kids will come later but by then they will be trained too and so it starts........
One of my grandsons tried it here and soon he found it boring.
He did not go for American football either.

The game USA-Belgium was a nightmare Howard our giant pro saved 16 goals.

Some games were just nail biters. Netherland last one so far gave me an upset stomach
I was so nervous. Lets see how they do in the semi finals.
so I will have to wait another 4 years for the next soccer thrill.

Consolation price is that in October the LA Kings will go to the ice again and that
I gladly watch any time, even when they are being lazy.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


How cool is that?
He picked the right town.

and then there were 2

Had a phone call from Belgium.
Of course I could hardly hear it
he spoke slowly and yelled ( he said)
It was my cousin Janine's grandson on the phone.
He said: I am sorry to tell you that Etienne has passed away.
My mind went sort of cloudy, still is.

Etienne was my buddy when we grew up, our mothers were sisters.
I was botn in March 1932, he same year but in Sept.
He suffered for many years with agaraphobia.
Can't spell right now.

Second friend from 1932 I loose in 2 months.

Etienne has Alzheimer and I did not see him in that state, he had been in
elder care in a hospital in Gent, Belgium.
Remembering my husband at the end I just feel like it probably was a blessing for him
what is left from the person near the end?

Rest in Peace, Etiennetje, my friend and cousin with the flaming red hair.
Love ye

Monday, June 16, 2014

meeting with a 40 + lbs scale

I should not be here.
No question about it.
I had a bad fall, damaged a knee and then grabbed at a tablecloth which was held down by a 40 + lbs antique scale.
I should not even be here to tell about it, scale hit me full force on the forehead.
More scanning expected probably this week.
Have minor problems with this.

from past files - Re 1946 and the Merchant of Venice

click on photos

Sunday, May 11, 2014


The Silence of Doctors Around Alzheimer’s

“A fate worse than death,” my colleague muttered to me as we examined an elderly man admitted to the hospital with severe dementia.
From his medical chart we knew that the patient had been an accomplished sculptor and intellectual contrarian. He’d taught classes at a prestigious art school, and his work was exhibited across Europe and the United States. To see him now, with hardly a sliver of his personality left, encumbered with physical injustices you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy, was beyond heartrending.
Danielle Ofri, M.D.Joon ParkDanielle Ofri, M.D.
There was something almost shameful in bearing witness to a fellow human being’s profound indignities. I was embarrassed for him, for how embarrassed he would likely be, if his former self could see his current self. That his current self lacked the capacity to be aware of his state offered little comfort.
My colleague and I ducked out of the room in silence, lost in our own private stew of unease, wincing at our unspoken keenness to move on to other patients.
Dementia is not something we doctors talk much about. We all have many patients with dementia — and more every year — but we never seem to chat about it the way we discuss kidney disease or cancer treatment. We may talk about the difficulties of obesity or emphysema, but never about dementia.
Why the silence? It certainly isn’t that dementia is rare. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, though recent analyses suggest that it might actually be the third.  Even if we don’t specialize in geriatrics, the aging of the general population brings dementia into the offices of every medical field, save pediatrics.
Perhaps it’s the invisibility of the illness, especially in its earlier stages. Most medical visits are crowded with the exigencies of the more clinically obvious illnesses — heart disease, diabetes, hypertension — that we doctors may miss the subtle signs of dementia.
I suspect, though, that our reticence stems from deeper issues. All the top 10 killers in America are potentially preventable, or at least modifiable — all except dementia. The medical field takes rightful pride on the progress that’s been made against heart disease, diabetes, strokes. We have tests to screen for many cancers, and treatments that prolong life. Even suicides and accidental deaths can be amenable to prevention.
But there’s nothing, really, that we can do about dementia. There aren’t any screening tests that can pick up the disease before symptoms appear. And even if there were, there aren’t any treatments that make a substantial difference.
For doctors, this is profoundly frustrating. No wonder dementia gets pushed onto the back burner. In the dishearteningly limited time of a medical visit, we’re forced to focus on the diseases we can treat.
But I think that our silence on dementia is more than that. For doctors, cognitive currency is our only currency. The idea of the mind vanishing is more petrifying than much of the bodily devastation we are privy to. The loss of intellectual capacity — not to mention personality and the ability to care for oneself — taps into an existential fear that we prefer to overlook.
I thought about this as I read a recent issue of the journal Health Affairs devoted to Alzheimer’s — nearly 200 pages that exhaustively explored the diagnosis and treatment of the disease, the experience of patients and caregivers, the mammoth burden assumed by spouses and adult children of patients. The profusion of commentary and research results and task force recommendations was an embarrassingly stark contrast to the relative silence on the clinical front.
This is not the first disease in which the clinicians have trailed the researchers, the families and the activists. The all-too-recent history of AIDS is another example. The parallels of doctors’ own discomforts and often willful ignorance easy to see.
In both cases, the actions of doctors — or lack thereof —can be only partly attributed to the practical difficulties of diagnosis and treatment. Mixed in are the existential and emotional aspects of ourselves we prefer to ignore and often remain wholly unaware of.
Most doctors are required to get recertification every 10 years, to undergo a battery of tests and training courses to keep us up to date and to identify shortfalls in our medical skills. We don’t, however, do any periodic checks on our inner selves, to uncover any lapses in our emotional core that might affect the care of our patients.
Just because the diagnosis of dementia can be difficult and treatments frustratingly limited doesn’t mean we can shy away from this disease. We need to face down our own uneasiness, confront our own disconcerting reactions, so that we may be there in full for our patients, their families and, indeed, ourselves.
Danielle Ofri is an associate professor of medicine at New York University and Bellevue Hospital. She is the editor of the Bellevue Literary Review and the author of “What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine.”

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Loving animals.....not every one's cup of tea.

I grew up in the 1930's and 1940's , we lived by a canal and I would have to add in Belgium.
Times were difficult and there was a lot of poverty.
We had several cats and one dog.
All outdoors. They were not pets to my parents they were working animals.
The Canal gave life to hundreds of water rats. They were the size of the cats and extremely vicious.
We had the cats to hunt them down.
My mother would feed them kitchen scraps and milk. She did not get attached to them.
If they had babies she would drown them as soon as they were born.
I remember being hysterical when I saw this.
Life was hard, 3 cats was enough to feed.

This was not a time when cat food came in bags or cans.
This was not a time that we thought of having them fixed. I do not remember ever hearing about a vet.
I think they had that on big farms for cows and horses.
Eutenasia was more used for whatever hailed the animals.

My father, a policeman, was watching the docks for smuggling at one time and found a Russian ship with aa sailor trying to sneak past him. Apprehended by my father he showed what he was going to sell in town: a young all white Russian Husky. My father quickly told him it was against the law and the sailor quickly gave the dog to the policeman. That was my first dog. We named him Jacquis. I adored that dog and he was the best hunter anyone had ever seen. He would throw the rats up in the air and catch them only to continue the game till the rat was dead and then bring it to the kitchen door for admiration of my mother.
He was a prince of a pet for me , the cats too I loved but they were not always friendly.
When war broke out the cats became wild. We hardly saw them. They were frighten by the noises of sirens and planes. One stuck by us and she learned quickly how to climb over the ladders to get to the shelter from the factory. My father said that she could hear the planes leaving England.

My Jacquis eventually lost his life when a truck killed him. We hardly had traffic on the cobblestone road which separated my house from the canal but somehow someone got him. I looked and called him for days until my mother had to tell me     and I went into a melt down.

This was my childhood with animals. When my father left us my mother did not want any animals around anymore, she said we just did not have the food for animals and that I am sure was for real.
She never did get to love the four footed variety. She said they mess up, they have hair everywhere, they were a lot of work. I now think that in her last decades when she was so lonely she would have had so much pleasure in her life. My Bijou is the biggest part of my life now.He follows me everywhere, he sleeps with me. He watches me. Bob's dog, the corgie is with me when he is gone, she too will follow me.
I walk around like an old lady just talking to them about the food I am preparing about the TV show and if I swear rather loudly the two have their ears perked and bark. They know I am not happy at that moment.

When Carwen became sick the other day, I just lost it, I cried buckets sitting by her and stroking her. I was sure she was dying , I thought that life was being very difficult right now. I have two very good friends fighting for their life and I am not handling that very well and the thought of Carwen going too was just too much to bear. I actually did not function, did not cook, did not clean, did not know what I was doing in one room and why I had turned the TV on the wrestling channel. I hate wrestling.

My Mom used to say when we lost a dog :"It is only a dog, it is not like it is a human you lost"
I could have smacked her when she said that because for me my dogs and cats have been better friends , always forgiving me if I stepped on them, always come running at me no matter how long I had been gone. Always a welcome. Always unconditional love. How often do we find that in humans?

Carwen ate something she should not have out there in the bushes, no doubt. The vet has great hopes for her recovery. She is my friend.

PS. When my father turned about 70 he suddenly adopted all the stray cats in his environment.
I visited him and he had purchased the best cat food and was feeding about 6 cats.
The old man had softened.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Our pets always wait till the week end to be sick...

Bob's sweet Corgie became sick yesterday morning, the day before she had been playing with Bijou and racing to see who could get the ball that glows.
Now it is Good Friday and not so good looking Carwen lays down on the kitchen floor and looks like she is not going to move. Her eyes closed and I pet her over and over gain and she continues to sleep.
Bob is at work when she decides to get up and walk a bit and tries to throw up and it does not work.
Then she wets and poops all over the place and she knows better, she never has accidents. She looks at me with very sad eyes, she is tellling me she is sorry. She then goes by the door and we walk outside and she tries again to throw up but instead she just lies down again and closes her eyes.
By then I am hysterical. Bob cant leave work the boss is out to buy supplies.
Brie does not have her car, Zack has it and on his way to get girldfriend.
She gets a hold of him and he U turns back to his Meme.
I am friggin cold and then notice I did not put on a jacket and I do not want to leave her either.
I am sure that she is dying.
Once at the vet the lovely Vet tells me that she is dehydrated by now and possibly ate something that made her sick. She asks if we feed the dogs at the table....I have to admit but I am cautious.
No onions, no this no that. Mostly I give them my chicken.
Bijou is OK so there is a nothing in the house I can think off.
Carwen takes hours on her walks. She sniffs everything. She goes into the ivy and smells forever.
Who knows what she found? Bijou is not like that, he runs for his walks, he pees every other second then squats and runs some more. He wants to chase dogs, any dog. He and a little  chiwawa
had a fight with a fence between them they  did lock but no damage before I could separate them.
Bijou like my previous Maltese would attack a pit bull, my poor Toto then died in front of me.
I have to watch Bijou with every step we take.
Later the vet called and said she had a urinary infection. They are treating her and keeping an eye on her.Into the night.
This morning the vet called and said he wants to keep an eye on her till perhaps later today.
So then I remembered that when she had stones in the kidney it was also a week end with surgery.
You know a Vet with 24/7 hours does have changes in fees accordingly. This being Easter week end
we are lucky at least she started it on a Friday.
However , there is not a question in Bob or my mind that whatever the cost we want this girl home.
When you have pets you have an obligation to keep them healthy, it is a small price to pay for the love they give us every day.
So even so I am hoping she does not have to stay into Easter I just want her home healthy that is the bottom line.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Return from a different place

For 5 weeks now I have been a different person, same shape, same hairdo, same everything but a total remake of the brain. Antibiotics for infection  said the doctor. I did not even hurt.
That in itself is a bit scary as I had a kidney full of cancer and that never hurt either.

Immediately I started to be extra tired, no energy, just eat and sleep.
The couch kept my inprint (?) for days, did not even bounce back.
My Maltese did not budge, he sat on top of my hip and stayed there for days.
Then the mind started to play tricks.
I figured daughter Sabrina was extremely angry with me. I did not know why so in
the middle of the night I emailed her.
One night I just wrote for hours to my friend in Chicago, I can't remember why I wrote
or what I wrote.
Sunday Rhonda came so we could go to Lowes to buy some mulch for the yard.
I seemed to be better I was less tired.
She went into one section and I went towards the garden section when I made a U turn
and went to look to buy a dryer. I was suddenly in a euphoric state of mind , not only did I want a dryer but the best one in display , a shiny gorgeous piece of glitter amid calm quiet white ones, this was over 1000.00 bucks. They also offered discounts with a Lowe started to look better and better.
Lucky no sales person approached me. A very slight glimmer entered the brain and said:
"Jeannot go get the mulch, no dryer today!"
Bewildered I agreed and went to the garden. Saw Rhonda and said :
DO NOT let me buy anything today but mulch.
She did but then she also told the helper :"She is like a kid I have to watch her or she will buy the store out!.

Yesterday, Monday I took my usual nap, I was not overly tired and as the day progressed
my head became clearer and clearer.
I knew I was on my way back.
Back from what?
From many decisions I was wrong about. I had been very depressed and even suicidal.
Not my usual style.
I was convinced that all my friends had left me. I have no idea why I thought that.

Sabrina called the pharmacist and she had the name of the medication, the antibiotics, the pharmacist said that some people react that way , I should have called him and my doctor. He put a red flag on my file to never get this medication again. He also told Brie that it is quite common for the elderly to respond that way.

I sit here and it feels like I missed weeks, I am not sure about my behavior at all.
If I offended my friends please note "I was under the influence and it was not the green leaf type"
Probably would have been much happier if it had been.