Sunday, October 30, 2011

Battle of the Bulge

I can't seem to stay home long enough to finish posting my European trip. So this post is coming to you live, from Canada.  Try to keep up.

While visiting the Frerot's in Belgium, we took a drive to Bastogne, which is practically on the border of Belgium and Luxembourg.  It's home to a war memorial dedicated to the American soldiers who were killed in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.

Seeing the name of our great state engraved on this monument was really quite emotional.

Over 3000 American soldiers are buried here.

An eternal friendship was forged between the American and Belgium people in their common fight against the enemy of all free people.

With a great sense of gratitude, Jean-Marie stated, "If not for the Americans, we would be speaking German today."

So I am thankful for the involvment of the U.S. and the sacrifice of these soldiers.  My French may be weak, but my German vocabulary is non-existent.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Random Stuff

Since Jeremy's truck was here this morning, and I didn't hear a lawn mower or weed eater running, I assume he was deer hunting.  I also didn't hear any shots fired.

But I "shot" this around 10:30.  

Guess he shoulda stuck around a little longer.

I'm generally pretty conscientious with money.  Frugal, you might say.  Okay, sometimes I'm a cheap-skate.  But yesterday I went over to the dark side.  I had let the Macy's cosmetic lady talk me into getting a consultation with a makeup artist.  Just $50 which was redeemable in products - so I'm thinkin two mascaras, right?  Never mind that my own daughter-in-law is a makeup artist.  Duh.  (But of course, she would never tell me I had flaws, much less how to disguise them.) the skin care and color were applied, layer after layer...the sales pitch got thicker and thicker.  "How do you like the way this feels?"  "It's great."  (highlight product name)  "This color is great on you." "Yeah, I really like it." (highlight)  By the time I checked out, I was in total...speechless...shock!  FIVE HUNDRED and EIGHT-FIVE dollars????  I had just talked myself out of a pair of $59 shoes, 'cause they weren't on sale, for pete's sake!!!!  I really thought I was smarter than this.

What's even more incredible, is that I actually left the store with my $600 bag of products.   ...and a knot the size of Texas in my stomach.  I choose that simile because that's where the man is that is going to explode when he finds out about this little shopping spree.

Well.  You'll be relieved to know that I went unshopping this morning and returned EVERYTHING.  Dave Ramsey would be so proud.

In other news.  Stella was missing again this morning.  Very out-of-character for her not to be meowing at the door at the break of dawn.  When I went unshopping, I put Sophie back outside with instructions to go find her sister.  And she did.

One year ago:

This afternoon:

Not much has changed.

Oh. And last but not least.  I got a flu shot at Wal-Mart today.  The one-stop shopping experience.  I think I'll start buying my mascara there.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

No Autographs, Please

In utter desperation, the MDCOC co-ed softball team needed an emergency substitute. SC asked if I had ever played softball.  Yeah, some 20-odd years ago, for a ragtag team that never won a game.  Great, he said, I'll put you on the list.  (Lita, Lita, Lita, when will you ever learn to JUST SAY NO?)

So I got the text around 3:00 p.m. -- You're On!  To which I replied -- Crap!

Obviously God did not see fit to answer my Plan A prayer for the ailing player to recover. Now for the Plan B prayer, "Please don't let me fracture a bone or throw my shoulder out or make a total fool of myself."

Being the oldest player on the team, I got to choose my fielding and batting positions. Right field, batting 10th.  Also, due to my oldest player status, I did not get heckled.  At least if I did, I couldn't hear of the perks of getting old.

The first team had too many lefties, and I was forced to field the ball.  I could hear the screams, "home, home, home!"  Are you kidding me????  It's 17 miles from right field to home.  I'll just throw the ball as far as I can and hope it lands closer to the diamond than it was when it left my hand.

I was actually on base several times (thanks SC for the free walk).  At one point, I was standing on 3rd and my coach's instructions included:  "run as fast as you can, and if you flail your arms, you'll scare the catcher."  That shouldn't be much of a departure from my typical running style.

So, all in all, I think it was a pretty good night.  I had fun, which seems to be the ultimate goal of the team.  And I didn't have to curl up in a fetal position in the crater in right field. Bonus--I was able to get out of bed this morning.

Now.  If I just had someone to lift my coffee cup and bring me some Advil.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mission Quite Possible

The main mission of our trip (whether you choose to believe it or not) was to visit our "missionaries" in Verviers, Belgium.  To encourage--and be encouraged.  Mission accomplished.

Saturday we took a short tour of the town.  Didn't take long, as it's rather small.  But beautiful, nonetheless.

This old church was magnificent.

I loved the huge door.  In fact, I noticed that I have lots of pictures of doors from my trip.  I should do a whole blog on doors!  My obsession with doors probably says something disturbing about my psyche.  But if that's the case, then Susan should be committed. Just sayin'.

Here are our precious friends and co-workers in the kingdom.  Jean-Marie and Suzanne.
I will never see or hear the word hospitality again without thinking of these two.  

After a lovely lunch, we went downtown to their place of worship.

Tiny office with books to the ceiling.  This is definitely Jean's happy place.

Then they took us to an overlook of Lac Gillete, their water supply.
The Lion marks the border of, and looks into Germany.

(Note to self:  Pin this to "Favorite Places" on Pinterest)

As if we weren't still stuffed from Suzanne's spread at lunch...

 ...we stopped in Malmedy for an afternoon snack.

Have I mentioned that I ate Belgian waffles in Belgium? Hmmm?
Or that there would even be a question as to whether or not I would top them off with cream and Belgian chocolate syrup?  Hmmm?

Oh look...another door! :D

 Just thought I'd throw in some sights along the way to church Sunday morning.
Belgian Blue Cows

I bet HE doesn't have two GPS's.

After another "light lunch" at the Frerot's...

...we took a drive to Bastogne--which will be another post.

It was a long, but fantastic day that ended with pizza. (Everyone knows ya gotta have pizza on Sunday.)

The guys took forever finding a parking place while the girls entertained themselves in the restaurant.

We LOVED our time with the Frerot's and hated to say good-bye.  This was the emotional highlight of our trip.  Can't wait to see them again!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Netherlands

And now we return to our regularly scheduled blogspot.

It has now been 5 weeks since my return from Europe.  In that 5 weeks, I made a brief trip home (Canada) and a vacation trip with Neal to Maine.  But I have to finish blogging about Europe because there's just way more to show-n-tell.

The Netherlands was not really so much a destination as it was a necessity.  The hotels in Belgium's Verviers region were booked up for a Nascar-type race on the weekend we visited.  So we found a hotel across the border in Holland.

 This is a view from our balcony.  
We were on the 3rd floor.
Remember this trivia as it becomes significant later.

With some time to kill Saturday morning, we headed north to the charming village of Valkenburg.  

Janet wasted no time hitting the shops.

And I wasted no time finding the perfect subject for my photos.

Of course, I meant the bread. :)

It was a beautiful day for outdoor dining!

Now, remember the 3rd floor balcony?

This hotel had a curfew of 11:00 p.m.  They lock up and turn the lights off, and you'd better be back in your room.  

On Sunday night, our missionaries in Belgium had kept us out quite late...rebels that they are.  And we were bookin' it trying to make curfew.  We pulled into the parking lot a 10:56 (collective sigh).  But the night agent must've had a date and decided to leave early.  So, of course, we were locked out!

I did not relish the idea of sleeping in the car with my four travel companions.  Nothing personal.

Us girls had been a little annoyed that the cleaning crew kept leaving our balcony door unlocked.  But on this particular night, we hoped they had done it again.

So with a great deal of noise, furniture shuffling and uncontrollable, hysterical laughter, we stacked 2 patio tables and a chair and sent Ted over the rail to break into our room, just as the village clock chimed 11 times.

Holland--I will never forget you.