30 June 2007


June 15, 7:00 AM. N drove me to the airport for my last flight home. With nine months of my life packed into three suitcases and two carry-ons, I said goodbye and boarded the plane. At 5:00 PM I landed in Seattle where Z greeted me with flowers and tears.

Washington seems a little strange to me. There are no old buildings and no cobblestone streets. There is not enough walking and too much driving. I never thought I would say this, but it is almost too quiet in our little neighborhood.

Change is hard for me, but I get better every year. I’ve been back home for about a couple of week nows, and so far so good. A few days ago Z and I went for a 35-mile bike ride along the Foothills Trail with gorgeous views of Mount Rainier all along the way. The other night I went for a walk and saw the most beautiful rainbow over the Cascade mountains. At this very moment I'm in Ohio visiting family I haven't seen in almost a year. People smile and say hello when they pass you in the street. Best of all, I am back with my partner, enjoying being a team again.

I love Belgium. I can’t wait to go back. I already miss my friends and hope to see them again soon, here or there. So, here’s one last look back:

And now a new chapter begins: from muziekmeisje to madbyrd. See you there!

12 June 2007

The Last Supper

One of my college friends used to curse the “fun food” fad in America. In the states we enter the restaurant and are immediately tempted by bright signs with plates full of heaping, colorful, artificial-looking food. We pop deep fried things into our mouths and wash it down with a “big gulp”-sized drink. We top it off with a sugar-laden dessert. And we usually do it all in less than an hour.

Soon after I arrived in Belgium back in September I learned that Belgians eat for all the right reasons: to socialize, to relax, and, most importantly, to enjoy food. They eat slowly, thoughtfully, perfect-sized portions of fresh, real food. They drink something that compliments the meal, not to wash it away. They (generally) don’t get antsy if the service is slow, because what’s the rush? After the meal they leave the restaurant satisfied and pleasantly full.

After nine months of lovely, if all too-infrequent dining experiences, I knew I had yet to experience the best of eating in Belgium. I think in one of my first posts I noted that Belgians are proud of their culinary culture and believe that what they offer equals if not surpasses their French neighbors. After my experience at Beluga I agree whole-heartedly.

N, S, and D took me to Beluga as a sort of “final hurrah.” After a drink on the Oude Markt we headed over to this tiny restaurant tucked away in the Krankenstraat. The dining room consisted of only 5 or so tables, laid out in front of the kitchen which was run by a young-ish husband-and-wife team. We began with a light sparkling wine from Italy and a raw oyster on the half shell. The wine: lovely. The oyster: could have done without. BUT my culinary experience only went up from there. The first course consisted on a delicate white fish seasoned with a nutty cream sauce. This was followed by a tasty mussel soup (my first and only time eating in mussels in Belgium!) The main course was a very nice white fish with a risotto and vegetable (my memory gets a little hazy here as the wine was flowing rather freely at this point!) The dessert was a perfect little spice cake with ice cream, and, thanks to D, I managed to get two servings of it. As the restaurant emptied out we were left to visit with the owner, W, who proceeded to bring out a very fine port and grappa to polish off the meal. After 7 hours were finally stumbled out, drunk and happy, and headed to the Oude Markt for one final drink. When I arrived at home the sun was rising and the birds were singing.


Eating out will never be the same.

08 June 2007

The Thrill of Archival Work

Really? you ask. The thrill? But bear with me. When one's life has been little more than drab libraries, soft-lead pencils, and itchy eyes, one can't help but get excited by the discoveries of others in their own archival pursuits. Especially when those pursuits lead to that rare, unexpected find.

I have never claimed that my work on Peter Philips mattered much to anyone but me. Even as far as history is concerned, my topic can have little impact on our understanding of the greater good. So congratulations to the anonymous archivist who stumbled across this little note while researching for something completely unrelated!

Read the letter. . . check out that signature. . . what a find!! Ah, I am nearly breathless with excitement of behalf of our anonymous friend (damn him/her!) Anyone who knows me knows that I am fascinated by military history, especially our American Civil War. Maybe this comes from my mother's insistance to drag her poor children to various battlefield sites and cemeteries when we were kids. To read more about this story, click here.

(I am dreadfully behind on my blogging. Stay tuned for posts about my recent trip to England and my final days here in Belgium!)