Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Land of chocolate and beer!

No, Oklahoma is not the land of chocolate and beer. I'll get to that later. Brian has a very nice post about our trip to Oklahoma last week to attend my grandmother's funeral. It was very sad, the end of an era, really. But it was really nice to be there with all of my relatives, and for Brian to meet all of them, too. I learned a lot about my family's history and about the family farm, and who is related to who way back when. Small towns in Oklahoma really are fascinating. You can easily envision how it must have looked back in the early 1900s, when my great-grandparents homesteaded there. I saw the rundown house where my great-great-grandmother used to live. And we visited the family farm, which is still furnished and which still has bottles in the medicine cabinet. It was too nostalgic for the family to clean it out and get rid of everything so it still looks the same, except for the animals that have found their home there, and the weathered walls and peeling wallpaper.

My great-grandmother collected owls (is this a recurring theme on this blog?) so I rescued two nice little retro owl napkin-holders from the kitchen at the farm. On this trip, for the first time ever, I felt really connected to my own history in Oklahoma. I heard lots of stories, learned lots of things about my grandparents and their parents, and felt a strong sense of belonging to Oklahoma, at least historically. It's very cool to know at least part of the history of where I came from.

Fast forward a few days and now I'm in Brussels. Ahh, Belgium. It's really nice here. Granted, I've been working my butt off since I got here, and on very little sleep. But so far, each night around dinner time has been a real treat, mainly due to the beer.

Oh, the beer! It's tremendously wonderful. Hoegaarden is commonplace here and is one of my most favorite beers. I discovered it sometime while I was living in DC. It's actually possible to find it in good restaurants or bars in the US, or those specializing in Belgian beers. It's spicy and fruity and yellow and cloudy. Like a hefeweizen, but I might have to say it's even better. Mmmm, so good. And the other one that is extremely common is Leffe (pronounced "Lef", not "Leff-uh") also very, very good. I had both beers tonight during dinner.

We are staying right on the Place du Grand Sablon, which is a very picturesque area full of pretty shops, outdoor cafes, chocolate shops, and cobblestone streets. I have not taken many pictures, or even had a chance to download them, but I found some on Flickr that sum it up pretty well.

Mmm, chocolate.....

Well it's another long night (but short on sleep) for me. I have work still to do tonight (I think it's 11:30pm?) and I have another full, long day of meetings tomorrow, which I have been heavily involved in coordinating. It doesn't stop until Friday night. All I'm running on right now is beer.


erin said...

Oh wow, you are blogging from Belgium! It sounds very hectic, but I'm glad to hear you're running on beer. Mmmmm, beer. The pics are lovely, even if they aren't yours, and DAMN, I am jealous. Hope you're having a little fun squeezed in with all those meetings! See you soon(ish).


Trevor said...

How can you blog from Belgium and not even mention Justine Henin, the top-ranked women's tennis player who just suddenly retired??? The famous "Belgian Waffle," considered to be the best women's tennis player of the decade? That's like going to Sweden and not blogging about Bjorn Borg, kind of.
You can write about beer anytime, Cindy. Beer didn't just retire. But Justine Henin ... her face may be on the Belgian 10-franc note someday! Contemplate. That.