Simply must-have - n°3 / Concentrate - design for education


While watching Dragon's Den last night, my so and I almost fell over when we looked at the offerings of Mark Champkin of Concentrate.

To most people, especially Americans, what follows next, is going to probably be cause for laughter, but we have been racking our brains on how to keep the little one's lunchbox (especially the sliced meats inside) cool until lunch. Searches for a lunchbox with cooler in Belgian stores so far led to zip results. Nada, nothing, niente available.

So you will understand our glee at Mark's presentation and the fact that you can purchase online.

The neoprene cooler bag is a godsend. And although I like the actual lunchbox itself (which emphasizes fruit consumption), I am happy to report that the school regulations are quite strict at our kindergarten. Parents are requested to only provide fruit or a dry biscuit (i.e. no chocolate biscuits etc.) and fruit juices for children. There are no vending machines in the school itself and soft drinks are not allowed during lunch. Of course, what goes on outside the school, is one's own choice... but I hope that this approach will in the long term result in a healthy eating pattern.

Back to the subject at hand: this young entrepreneur has recently launched his products at John Lewis (major UK department store) and hopefully will soon take the rest of the world by storm.
He sure is a hit in this family. Kudos to Peter Jones for taking the leap and investing in his business. Pasta salads for lunch, finally!

Mombian? Dumbledore is gay? Gaybours?


I had a good laugh this morning. I had already heard of such interesting terms as guestbian, hasbian, but now apparently someone has coined the term mombian.
Love it, although I wouldn't think of myself in those terms.

I was reminded of my situation a little yesterday while watching the latest episode of Desperate Housewives and their gaybours (language is such a versatile and plastic thing). Ironically enough, when we found our house, we were reassured by its former owners that we certainly wouldn't feel out of place, given that there already were two other (male) gay couples on the street.
What a gay place to be. And of course, we've all been properly and duly assimilated.

On the subject of assimilation, my 3-year old is currently dealing with the mysteries of 'dad'. The other children in her school all have standard mum/dad families, and of course the lack of men (high male mortality rate in this family + inlaws live abroad) is glaringly obvious. As she pays more attention to books and sees kids being dropped off by their dads, she is curious but realizes that she herself has two mums (although not the Heather has two mommies' variety).

A good book for kids that age, I think, is Emma and Meesha My Boy by Kaitlyn Considine, although our little one would argue that the book is about us (since the characters resemble us and we also have a cat).

And finally speaking of gay characters and children, what do we make of the news that Albus Dumbledore, the esteemed head of Hogwarts School of Magic, was gay? I think the jury's still out on that one in this household.

Antwerp mayor says 'sorry' to Jewish community - has anything really changed?


Interesting news item:

Yesterday our mayor, socialist Patrick Janssens, apologized to the Jewish community for the municipal government's role during World War II in a video message to a congress on the Nazi extermination of Jews during WWII.
Recent research seems to indicate that Antwerp officials and police were actively collaborating with the German occupying forces at the time. With more than 1,200 Jews rounded up for subsequent deportation to various concentration camps in Europe, it would seem that the Antwerp police assisted the Germans during the summer of 1942 in tracking down Jewish people in Antwerp and later actively rounding them up.
The Brussels municipal council and police apparently refused any collaboration.
About 65 percent of Antwerp's Jewish community were deported during the Nazi occupation.

All this during the same weekend that thousands of members of the white supremacy organization Blood and Honour converged on Wolfsdonk in Aarschot for a concert featuring neo-nazi bands... There is currently no ban on such meetings and organizations in Belgium, which is why this meet could take place.

Sometimes I think this country just doesn't get it and is unable to looks its war past in the face.
I should probably say something here about communitaurian differences (Walloon vs. Flemish) and link it to the current problems that the various parties are having trying to form a coalition and subsequently a government, but frankly, I am so exasperated and ashamed about the lack of unity at political level that I don't want to talk about it.

Oh she was gorgeous!: Catherine Deneuve

Ladies (and gentlemen): I give you Cathérine Fabienne Dorléac. An inveterate smoker, Yves St Laurent muse and the star of Belle De Jour and that lesser lesbian classic The Hunger.

I could expound on the many other marvellous films that the erstwhile Marianne of France made. Some of excellent quality (the films by André Téchiné among others, but also Lars von Trier's output with Bjork, 8 Femmes by Ozon)... And let's not forget about her latest endeavour: Persepolis, a film based on the beautiful book by Marjane Satrapi, for which Deneuve did the voiceover with her daughter, Chiara Mastroianni.

Things to like about her: feminist, against the death penalty, passionate about AIDS and cancer causes, etc.

Feast your eyes, I say, because at 64 she still looks pretty amazing, I think.

Little Philosophers - time for some fun


Too good to ignore.

Many years ago, one dark November evening in Provincetown, while shopping in a now defunct store on Main Street, I fell in love with a Virginia Woolf doll. She still takes pride of place on our bookcase.

I recently looked up the site of the Unemployed Philosophers Guild again and lo behold, they've revamped her (she's got a new frock).

If you're already looking for a cute Christmas prezzie, then maybe you need to shop with these kind people.

Sunday evening quick fix - Rice pilaf à la Lula

Ingredients: 300 g rice
1 onion, chopped
1 tin of tomatoes, cubes or other, 400 g
1 tsp of ground cumin
1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder
1 eggplant, diced
8 dried apricots, chopped up
500 cl of vegetable stock

Dice the eggplant. Cover in salt, let sit until all liquid absorbed.
Chop onion, fry in some sunflower oil for 1 minute.
Add rice, stir until glazed.
Add tomatoes.
Add cumin, cinnamon, apricots and vegetable stock.
Let simmer for 15 mins.

Don't forget about the eggplant. Heat some sunflower oil and stir-fry the diced eggplant.

Serve with lamb or chicken.

PS - as I am writing this, I am pondering whether I should add some pistachios next time.



Thanks to the delectable Dorothy Snarker, I have discovered that there is a series on American TV named Damages with Glenn Close as a headliner.

For the moment, all I have to go by are the screen caps and promo shots of course. But hey, tailored suits, Glenn Close, what more does a girl need to get through the weekend? Looking at the photos, she reminded of the character of Joyce Wischnia in the L Word for a nanosecond. But better-looking?

That said, I can only assume that we will have to wait another four years before it hits Belgium. Grmmmbl. Must talk to my so about relocating back to the US. Unfortunately, that would also mean having to deal with seven thousand ads being fired at your retina every hour. I don't know if I can handle that much non-information.

Anyway, off I go to find out more about this series... (from the same people who gave us Nip/Tuck so there is hope yet, girls.).

UPDATE - I've been catching up on this series and I love it!

The L word, the next season and some Bette Porter loveliness


So what is going on in the world of the L Word, I ask myself?
As I am not a dedicated follower of the girls on mediaboulevard and twop, I wouldn't know.

My eyes have detected a spoilerish trailer, which is weaving its way through the internet, raising the hopes in hearts of many a fangirl.

What can I say? Initially, during season 1, I was captivated by the whole concept. Women who looked like women, a couple considering a baby, both holding an interesting a job, a circle of friends that was witty and fun to hang around with... and then everything derailed and went horribly black, as we all watched, appalled how Shane left her wife to be standing all alone in snowy Canada at the altar, how Bette drove away into the night with Baby Angelica, etc.
I looked at the lesbians around me and thought: surely, this is not the way that we live, and looooooove?

Anyway, I look forward to the horror, the horror of next season. In the meantime, I tend to look at spoilers from behind my interlaced fingers and click on new trailers on youtube.

Let the countdown begin.

--- In the meantime, to keep you dreaming, here is some Bette Porter loveliness (courtesy of the Fabulous Jennifer Beals Yahoo Group via FeroForum).

Simply must-have part deux

Today, a squeal finally erupted from my lips after weeks of anticipation. It is finally mine, all MINE (insert manic laughter here).

Since spending some time at my uncle's, I have coveted that hugely expensive but streamlined polished steel Dualit toaster.
And now finally, it is mine.

Doesn't it remind you of one of those other design classics, the Airstream caravan?

Ah, mornings and more mornings of toast with delicious quince jam await me.

Life is heaven, admit it, when you can enjoy such frivolous and small pleasures.

Oh she was gorgeous!*: Sophia Loren

Might as well catch up while I'm at it.
Sorry for depriving you of your dose of weekly gorgeousness.

Today's candidate for the gallery is La Bella Sofia! Do you remember when she yelled out 'Robertooo' at the Oscars... I died and went to heaven at that precise moment. There is a certain way and inflection that Italians have when speaking Italian which gives rise to instant delirium in me.

The photo was taken from the Pirelli calendar (such an honourable institution) and Sofia Villani Scicolone, to use her given name, was 73 at the time.

We can only hope that we can display such dazzling beauteousness and cleavage when we reach that age. She says it's all due to pasta...
OK, hand me the passata, I'm game.

3,000 and counting?

Do you find that "don't mention the war!" seems to have become the new paradigm? Until a few months ago, all was doom and gloom on our TV news, with the newscaster delivering 'today's figures of dead soldiers in Iraq' with the required sérieux... And now. Nothing. Nobody's keeping count anymore.
I'm prepared to bet that civilians and soldiers alike are being killed and buried in Iraq on a daily basis. Yet, already this war seems to reek of yesteryear... Have we become bored in this age of the fastest media ever? Desensitized when it comes to images of the dead?
With Turkey flexing its muscles on the northern Iraqi border and Turkish youths thrashing an Armenian-owned (supposedly Kurdish) café in Brussels only a few days ago in retaliation for the death of 12 Turkish soldiers, I don't know really what my point is, except:
even though this war is abhorrent to me, we should always remember that it is still there.
There, I've gone and said it.

One receives a Noble Prize, the other a life sentence


Bring on Friday, ladies and gentlemen.

It's Nobel Prize Week and yet again a slew of fantastic authors has been passed over in favour of one Doris Lessing for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Hurray, only the 11th woman to win the Prize (compared to 91 men!). I'm not a feminist by any means, and I profess to having read nothing by the esteemed authoress* (which is by no means a reflection on the merits of her writings, I hasten to add). But 91-11: it is a bit jarring, when you think about it, no?

In other news today, 18-year old Hans Van Themsche was found guilty and condemned to life in prison today for killing a 2-year old toddler and her African nanny, and attempting to shoot a Turkish woman during a mad killing spree inthe streets of Antwerp last year. A different skin colour, in his eyes, amounted to a walking target, I guess. His motives repell me, so does his psyche.

For centuries, Antwerp has turned its face to the world as a port city. It pains me then that one third of Antwerp voters feels sufficiently threatened to vote for a fascist party. I can't say that I am always enthused by the behaviour of my co-inhabitants in this great city, but I do my bit: shop at the Turkish baker, veggie store and butcher's for my food, powwow with my Moroccan neighbour, and try to embrace diversity to the best of my capabilities.

So, can we all take down our "Zonder Haatstraat" (No Hate Street) signs now, get on with our lives and continue to live together peacefully again?

Thank you and have a good Friday!

* I have read several books by her forerunner, Elfriede Jelinek, though!

Simply must-have


Every day brings a new array of objects that attract my attention, take my breath away, make me stop dead in my tracks... Enough already, here is the weekly must-have.

This beautiful object is an intriguing example of Brazilian design. The Eclipse lamp, by designer Mauricio Klabin, is also featured in the Moma collection. I love its simple but intricate design, the way the drape and folds remind me of a Vionnet dress. I am scouring every lighting store in this city at the moment, but alas, I think I will have to resort to mail order to find this little beauty, so that it can grace my living room.

Nureyev, sex in tights


A short solo from the ballet Le Corsaire starring Rudolf Nureyev, or Rudik as it seems he was called by those on familiar terms with him.

Recently I have been reading the new biography by Julie Kavanagh, who seems to have had unlimited access to a lot of new material. I was in my late teens when I was fortunate enough to attend one of his last performances with a number of Etoiles of the Paris opera. I remember being moved to tears at the time, as I enjoyed his grace, his creativity, his art shining through a body that was already riddled by AIDS at the time.

And of course, there are the fabulous photos that Avedon took in the 1960s, shortly after his defection to the West and before the start of that marvelous dance partnership with Dame Margot Fonteyn. Sex in tights, or sans tights, as in this case.

I have yet to see any dancer radiate that same raw appeal.

Oh she was gorgeous!*

My weekly homage to female beauty.

This week kicks off with the gorgeousness aka Nigella Lucy Lawson. Where do I start? The velvety eyes, the milky complexion, the va-va-voom cleavage... and of course, her delicious English and recipes.

A role model for puny little domestic demi-goddesses such as myself.

* A reference to the genius that is Little Britain

This is the serial number of our galactic gun

Another day, another Tuesday in my life.

I should be working, but frankly I'm Sysplexed out. The radio is playing in the background, and the news has floated by me, oh, about seven times today already. I'm tired of hearing about this damn racism trial and the emotions that go with it. I just want it to be all over and done with. Every time I listen to or read the coverage all I can think of is my own three-year old munchkin, safely ensconced in her school. Let there be love, and let the love continue.

Anyway, so there you have it. The first message on this blog. Whether anyone will read it, remains a grand question mark.

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