Saturday, January 5, 2013

Rule #1-Only one of us can be "insane" at a time.....and the boiler....

Today I woke up today feeling very down......I don't know why. Maybe not seeing the sun for weeks on end? I've been trying not to dwell on the difficult parts of moving to another country, but today I'm feeling all of it. I just feel like I'm frozen and I can't move.......I don't want to walk to the grocery store, I don't want to take the dog for a walk, I don't want to go out at all.......I know going to the gym for a good workout would make me feel better, and even just going for a walk in the woods would make me feel better...but I get so tired of feeling dizzy all the time. I just want to be still for a bit. Today I just don't have the energy to deal with that and not knowing the language enough to even ask for something at the store. I realllllly realllllly miss my children and "old" friends, our old house and the town we lived in, my car...annnnd (WHAT?!?!) my job (sometimes!). I'm trying to sign up for another Dutch class, even though my therapist told me to forget trying to learn another language. I don't want to give up on it!

Andrew and I have a saying......."Only one of us can be "insane" at a time!"  Today.....Andrew woke up feeling fine!  Thank goodness! While I was moping around the house, he went out and bought some beautiful tulips for our vase, some truffel cheese (our favorite!) and some of our favorite wine! When he got back I put the flower in a vase, he cut up some of the cheese and poured us each a (small) glass of wine!

It took a couple of hours, and Andrew's help.....but I feel better now!

We did end up taking Sammy for a long walk in the woods, and we went to the grocery store together (nice to have help hauling the groceries home!).

I've started researching areas to move to when we go back to the States. It's very overwhelming. We don't even know what State we want to live in! We're looking at the mountains in California and Nevada, Montana, Idaho and Colorado. We've also thought about checking out Texas. We do know we want to stay west of the Rockies...mostly because of the weather.


The past few days the water temperature in the shower has been fluctuating, meaning the pressure in the boiler system is low. Sooooooo, Andrew and I decided to tackle the job on our own for the first time!

First of all, we had to hook up the hose to the radiator in the kitchen:

Then we disconnected the dishwasher and hooked up the other end of the hose to the water faucet under the kitchen sink:

I went upstairs and opened up the cabinet for the boiler (which is over the staircase):
Here is the boiler.....we shut it off, and while Andrew turned the water on downstairs I watched the pressure gauge on the bottom right. When it got to "2" I yelled downstairs to Andrew and he turned the water off!

Then we took this special key:
and put it in the pressure release valve on the radiator in the upstairs bathroom. Hot water leaks out when you do that, so you need to have a towel handy.

Whew! We did it!!! We turned the boiler back on and now it's operating normally!!!

After dinner, I was about to put everything away under the sink and discovered the connection was leaking. Soooooo, we disconnected the dishwasher again, put some plumber's tape on (luckily I had brought some from the U.S.....don't ask me why!!!), then put it all back together again. Voila, no more leak!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Yesterday we stayed home while I caught up on the laundry. We took down all of the Christmas decorations and put the tree outside for pick up (we hope!). We saw that the neighbor's had placed their trees in front of their we did the same!

We were invited to our neighbor's house (Roel and Mildred) for a party....ring in the New Year and Mildred's birthday! We went over there around 1530 and stayed a couple of hours. We are truly blessed  to have such wonderful neighbors!  It was nice to meet a few other people too!  At times it is difficult not knowing the language....some things just don't translate well. We are picking up more and more as time goes by...but we don't speak much Dutch.

My Mom's heart ablation went well and she is at home now recovering. Dad is taking care of her and will hopefully be able to make her rest for the week!!!

Today...back to routine!  I have lots of ironing to do. I've downloaded two new t.v. shows from ITunes to see if I like them. One is "Once Upon a Time" and the other is "Betty White's Off Their Rockers". I've also downloaded "Forks Over Knives". I'll be watching them all while I iron! Thank goodness for the internet...keeps us connected to family and friends...and what is going on in the world!

I just read an article from the Wall Street Journal about the "Fiscal Cliff". Seems to be one of the only papers that publishes non-biased news anymore:

Congress broke a rancorous stalemate Tuesday to pass legislation designed to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. But the compromise bill, which blocked most impending tax increases and postponed spending cuts largely by raising taxes on upper-income Americans, left a host of issues unresolved and guaranteed continued budget clashes between the parties.
The bill represented the largest tax increase in the past two decades and was passed over opposition from conservative Republicans in the House who objected to the fact that it contained no long-term spending cuts of any significance.
Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives approved a bipartisan deal to block most impending tax increases and postpone spending cuts. The WSJ's Mark Cranfield explains what the deal means for the U.S. deficit.
The House voted 257-167, with 172 Democrats joining 85 Republicans in supporting the measure. Voting against the bill were 151 Republicans, and the GOP leadership split over the issue: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) voted against it, while House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) voted for it. Also supporting the bill was Rep.Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) the GOP vice presidential nominee who has been an ardent opponent of increasing taxes.

for the full article:

Monday, December 31, 2012

Gent, Belgium and Happy New Year 2013!

We just returned today from a short trip to Gent, Belgium. (or Ghent in English; or Gand in French!) The Rivers Scheldt and Lys go through the city.

 We arrived in the early evening on Thursday, December 27th. We stayed at the Marriott, which is in the Centrum.
We walked out the door and this is what we saw:
 We walked across the bridge and found this cute cafe, De Witte Leeuw, where we sat and had a can see our hotel across the river!

 discovered a new beer:
Afterwards we walked around town. I've read that some people call Gent the City of Lights. Most of the Centrum area is lit up so beautifully:

 We found a Christmas Market!
Then kept walking......checking out the city...

 We found a beautiful place to have dinner, where we had lobster salad, mussels, and a yummy chocolate covered ice cream for dessert:

The next morning we set out for Kortrijk where we met with one of Andrew's coworkers, Hans.

We arrived at his home at around 1130hrs. He has quite a collection of beers (and matching glasses to go with each brand!). He had a few of them there for us to try....sooooo....we did!  We tried three different beers, all quite different, but all delicious. It was a lot of fun!

Hans, his two children, Andrew and I went to a nice little restaurant in town called "Viva Sara"for lunch. After lunch we went to a small church in town called "St. Martin's" church. There are replicas of golden spurs hanging from the ceiling that were taken from the French during battle.

 The spurs:
After lunch we stopped by a coffee cafe and met another one of Andrews' coworkers, Kristoff. After enjoying a nice cup of coffee we set out for the Tyne Cot cemetery...which has about 12,000 WWI soldiers buried there.

 There are a few German soldier buried there.....

We then headed over to a town close by called "Ieper" where we walked around and then stopped in a little pub and had a drink.

 Another memorial to the WWI soldiers:
The next morning we got up and decided to check out Gent in the daylight.

We found the Gravensteen Castle...
 We went on in......and guess what!?!??!  We got a "Senior Discount"!!!

Implements of torture......ouch!

 We went into St. Bavo's Church which was built in the 14th and 15th centuries. The "Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" painting is displayed in the church. Photos are not allowed inside the church.....

After we left there we walked around a bit more.....

 Then went to Max's Restaurant where we got belgian waffles...with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate sauce!  OH YEAH!

We went to the restaurant across the river from the hotel for dinner. We had some delicious Flemish beef stew......another recipe I'll have to find and try to replicate!

 Sunday morning we got up and decided to take the 40 minute river cruise on the River Leie that goes through the town of Gent, Belgium.

Later on in the day we went back to Max's for waffles. We hadn't eaten since early in the morning, so we had a small sandwich first:

 While on the river cruise we learned that the two swans facing away from each other on the Marriott hotel mean that the building was once a brewery, and also a "house of ill repute"!!!

Our wonderful neighbors came to Gent for their holiday. Hetty texted me and we arranged to  meet at our hotel at 1700hrs. We had a drink together then headed to an Italian Restaurant together for dinner:
 I had pheasant:

 This morning, as we were leaving I saw this car in the parking garage....isn't it prettttty?!?!?  I believe it has solar panels in the roof!

 I've been trying to get a picture of this old steam engine water pump station (in Haarlem) for a while.....Finally got a couple of pictures as were were slowing down in traffic!


We got back to town at around 1400hrs. We went directly to the Dierentehuis where we picked up the pets. Sammy was fine, but Socrates was not a happy kitty....Sorry to say, but he doesn't like it there. We keep hoping he'll get used to it....They're very nice there, and it's very clean and safe...he just likes to be home.


My Mom had to have a heart ablation today in Minnesota. We just got word from my Dad that the procedure went well and she is in the recovery room. Looks like we are off to a good start for 2013!!!


To ring in the New Year, we went down to the Grote Markt area to watch people set off their fireworks!  A couple of weeks ago we had gone to Intratuin and saw what you could purchase for New Year's eve:

People were setting off fireworks alllllll over town on New Year's eve....even though it was raining and very windy!  Seemed like everyone was very safe and just having a great time!!!  We had a lot of fun watching!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!  Blessing to one and all!