Thursday, March 23, 2017

Jeannette's BIG 5-0 (for Jeannette and Femke)

On February 3rd, our dear friend, Jeannette, turned 50 and celebrated with family and friends big-time at one of our favorite places, La Caponnière.  It so happens that I did a post on this delightful war-bunker-made-wine-bar 3 years ago.  We LOVE that place.

Anyway, lucky us to be in on this YUGE birthday celebration just a 10-minute walk from our apartment.  Like in America, if not more so, the BIG 5-0 is super huge here.

The images that follow are for YOU, Jeannette (and wife Femke).  You really did turn 50, and here's the proof.

Here's the birthday girl!
We got there early enough to watch the entrance being transformed before our eyes.
Private Party Only for that festive evening.

Jeannette's mom was already there, so we sat with her to keep each other company.
It was special that we had previously met her.

No need to introduce you to everyone.  Jeannette knows who they are!
But that's Femke with Jeannette's mom (top-right).
And that's Femke's dad with Jeannette's mom (bottom-left).

Femke, the wife extraordinaire, was everywhere, making it happen.
(No, she does not normally hide behind her hair, in case you wondered.)

Jeannette's dad and Femke's mom have both crossed over The Big Bridge.
But Femke gained a step-mom and step-brother who are like her own.

We spent a lot of time with Femke's dad and step-brother
(while Jeannette strutted about).

And with Femke's step-mom.  I fell in love with them all!

But back to The Birthday Girl.  Miss Flutterby for the evening, of course.
She was good at making the rounds.
I just wish I had spent time with her gay brother (middle-left).

Family.  Friends.  Co-workers.  
And Gifts, of course.

The Dutch call this gezellig.  The English cozy is as close as it gets.
But it's more than cozy.  It's...gezellig.

Special friends, Liesbeth and Ank, we had also met previously.

But former ex (brunette) and now wife (blonde) we had heard about but never met till then.
Don't you love how everyone can get along and celebrate together!

We knew children would come...6 of them.
They had their own party at the other end of the bunker.

But it was Maarten we wanted to finally meet:  Jeannette's godson.

He's Jeannette's godson but he belongs to Femke.
It's because he wants to be a famous chef just like her!
He's had many challenges in his 9 years but has been loved to death through them all.

La Caponnière.  A wine and tasting room for the soul.

And with the extra food catered in, you couldn't have asked for more.

Except for the Birthday Song!

I wasn't fast enough on the draw to catch the entire song, but THIS is the Dutch way.

More GEZELLIG you cannot get!

Let this one last a long time.

[Apologies for the poor quality of most of these images, for which I did not use flash in low light.
But hopefully you get the gist?] 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

BELGIUM 2016: Central Library of the Catholic University of Leuven

With this post, I do believe we've come to the end of our Leuven trip from last early December.  Though I didn't plan it this way, I may find it fortuitous to end it here because of what a place of learning represents for us all in this Journey we call Life.

Everything we read about Leuven said the University Library was a definite point of interest, totally worth the trip.  They were right.

This is the central library of the Catholic University of Leuven, established in 1636.
It was burned during both world wars but rebuilt afterwards in both cases.
The University of Leuven itself is the oldest catholic university still in existence in the world.
It has 55+K students.

I'm not sure what the significance is of the impaled beetle or the hot-air balloon sculpture.
But there was an exhibition on Utopia & More at the library while we were there.

In fact, look at these circular steps in the square in front of the library
(getting readied for Christmas with the big tree).  See the written words on the red bands?

Here's what the words said as I walked along to record them:
500 years ago Leuven University existed.
500 years ago the first cookbook in Dutch was published: a notable little cookery book.
500 years ago the Germans already had Christmas trees, but the Flemish did not.
500 years ago Pope Leo X's white elephant Hanno died.
500 years ago Flemish renaissance art was at its height.
500 years ago Utopia was printed in Leuven.

At that point, before going inside the library, we stopped to eat lunch on the corner nearby.
We were told us it was a favorite of students and alumnae.

You know by now how much we enjoy good Belgian beers,
to say nothing of the food, of course!

But the library beckoned!
Here's the outside entrance, with a model of the carillon tower.

With a tour of the library we used the audio guide to find the points of interest.

But it was the library itself that totally sold me.

I quickly left the first floor and climbed to the surrounding balcony
 to be less obstructive with my photography.

I kept thinking of my before-her-time mother who ate up university campuses.
She was a graduate of Smith College and received her Masters at Columbia University in the 30's.
THAT kind of woman before her time!  We kids called her a professional student.

She would have loved this library.  I saw it through her eyes.

As we left the library and walked back to Leuven's market square,
we realized once again why this city in Belgium, 16 miles east of Brussels, is so well-loved.
It's even the headquarter's of the Stella Artois pilsner lager.

How can you say NO to any of that!
But now, finally, we can say Good Bye.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

BELGIUM 2016: Leuven's Market Square

I know, I know.  Just when you thought I'd finished it, here it is again.  But seriously, did you notice that I showed everything except Leuven itself????  So, of course I need to end that early December trip with the one city we went to see:  Leuven.

It was the main market square we wanted to see because of the 3 landmarks facing each other: 
St.Peter's Church, the Town Hall, and The Fourth/Tafelrond Hotel.

Where to start?  It was our first day and we wanted to see it all!

Though it was Sunday, we grabbed the church first, not knowing when it would close that afternoon.
St. Peter's Church is a Gothic church from the 15th century.
Notice the golden bell ringer near the top!

As large churches go, this one was light and elegant on a sunny day.

There were the statues, of course, but not inordinately so for a Roman Catholic church.

I was more taken by the placements throughout of votive candles for prayers...

...and was particularly moved by this alcove.

The oak pulpit was transferred to this church from the abbey in Ninove, 68 km away.
You know I'm going to say it:  I wonder what Preacher Dad would think of it!

It so happens that after touring the church, we immediately crossed the square to see the Town Hall,
and discovered we could catch a tour of it in 5 minutes, which we did.

We don't normally take such tours because we're both inclined to wander off on our own,
knowing we can get the added information from the internet, right?
However, the only way to see inside this town hall is to take the tour.
So we decided to do it.

Like the church, this Town Hall is Gothic and built at the same time, in the 15th century.

Upon entering, this is what you see.

And then, wandering throughout, we saw all the "usual suspects" of town halls.
So much history, all related to Leuven itself.

But what I most wanted to see was the wedding chamber.
In Belgium, as in the Netherlands, marriage is made official at the town hall, in the wedding room.
Can you imagine sitting around that table for your marriage ceremony!

On that note, it was time for our main meal of the day, somewhere on the square.

When we finished eating and walked back outside, it was a fairyland.
Remember that this was the end of November, getting ready for the Christmas holiday.

The Town Hall and The Fourth/Tafelrond Hotel took on new personas all lit up,
the Town Hall being the greatest spectacle of all, changing every few seconds.

But the church across the square stood stalwart against time and change,
ready to ring its bell on the hours as they passed us by.

It made a good impression on us at the start of our Sunday - Friday mini vacation.
One last post coming up, God willing and the creek don't rise, is another Leuven landmark:
 the University Library.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Watercolor Sunday and Saturday's Color: February 2017

Because February is the shortest month of the year, usually by 2-3 days, it does seem to fly by faster, doesn't it.  All that much faster for SPRING to come!

So, here are my Watercolor Sunday posts on Facebook for February 2017:

February 5 (photo manipulation):
"Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change."
--Thomas Hardy

[Today Astrid and I celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary.]

February 12 (photo manipulation):
"I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning to sail my ship."
--Louisa May Alcott

February 19 (photo manipulation):
"Three things cannot be long hidden:  the sun, the moon, and the truth."

February 26 (photo manipulation):
"He that will not sail till all dangers are over must never put to sea."
--Thomas Fuller

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

My Saturday's Color posts on Facebook for February 2017:

(finished on 27 January 2017, posted on FB 4 February 2017)
The minute I started this Color Me Fearless design, I saw a Native American warrior shield.
I post it today for all our Native American friends everywhere who are still trying to protect their sacred grounds
from those who have the power to desecrate them.
Will we ever get it right, for once?

(finished on 31 December 2016, posted on FB 11 February 2017)
This is for those of you who celebrate Valentine's Day this next week, 
assuming you can find a lovey-dovey heart in this design from my mini-mandala book (6 x 6).
The annual tradition HAS jumped the Big Pond but isn't quite the spectacle it is in America.
Because our wedding anniversary is 5 February, THAT'S the date we celebrate.
Besides, it bothers the heck out of Astrid that some of these American traditions jump over
for commercial reasons.  She did NOT grow up with Valentine's Day.

(finished on 21 December 2016, posted on FB 18 February 2017)
Sometimes we see a clear pattern to "things."
Sometimes, if our eyes are blurred by circumstances, it all seems quite fuzzy...
however "colorful," if you get my drift.
(from my 5 x 7 Mindfulness book)

(finished on 15 February 2017, posted on FB 25 February 2017)
This is one of those times when the black bits were part of the design (i.e. not colored by me).
(from my Art Deco book)

And now...SPRING is almost here!