Sunday, September 30, 2018

The year is slowly going to its end

Today is already the last day of September. Time flies! And the older you get, the faster it seems to go - or is that just a feeling???

The heating has come on, especially in the mornings and evenings, when temperatures drop. Still, we can't complain as it is dry and sunny outside. Ideal for an afternoon walk along the river or in the forest. Near our home is a lake, and there you can also make a nice walk. I just savor walking right now, as I haven't been able to do it for 10 months or more. The medication I need to take against the cancer (Votrient) has a lot of side-effects (nausea, diarrhea, loss of white and red bloodcells, fatigue, hand- and footillness, infections in the mouth, ...). Against nausea and diarrhea you can take medicine, so that's under control, but I suffered a lot from pain in my feet. They looked infected,the skin red and sometimes purple. Some days I could not put a foot down without pain. But since I started taking Probiotical (a nature product), the pain has miraculously disappeared! The skin on my feet looks normal once more and I can make walks without feeling anything of pain.

So I look forward to the coming weeks and months. Some nice things coming up. Next week once more a long weekend at the coast (always nice, feeling the seawind in your hair) and then three weeks later we go to Manchester, UK. Not the first time there. This time we are going to attend a concert of Michael Bolton. Curiously, we always manage to get tickets for shows in the UK, but are seldom lucky in our own country (with the one exception, we could get tickets for a concert of Brian Ferry next year). And in December, we are going to Mexico. We'll spend a good week in Mexico City, from where we have planned various trips to explore, and then later on we go to a ranch some two hours away from the capital. There we'll celebrate New Year's Eve.  It's a luxurious resort (not cheap) but I think it will be great!

In-between we're meeting with our old friends, the girls who used to live next to us when we were young. We sometimes get together and talk about years past! That's always great fun.

Come to think of it, Chris and I are nowadays the eldest inhabitants of our street. I've lived here since my mother brought me home from the hospital after being born. So already some good 62 years! We've seen a lot of change in that time. Some new houses were built, others were sold, new families moved in. Our left hand neighbors are Polish and next to them are Turks. They're good neighbors, btw. The Turks will help out when we need to move something heavy, and together with our Polish neighbor we deal with problems that concern the two houses, like repairs to the roof. We just split the cost, no problem. On the right hand side of the house are Belgian people. They are a bit special. The man keeps lots of chicken and they also have noisy dogs. And can you believe it, the wife died two months ago, and we even didn't get  a notice! We had to hear it from strangers! Hopefully the guy will soon move out with his menagerie and then we'll get new neighbors.

Friday, September 28, 2018

#MeToo is losing credibility

Just want to state: this is my opinion. I find it ok that women are made aware of what can and what not. But sorry, I think it's not done 30 or 40 years later!

Just take that guy Kavanaugh in the US. Being accused of improper behavior now he wants to become a judge. That woman who witnessed against him was barely believable. She had to READ her statement from a paper! Well, if something had happened to me - even so many years ago - I'd be able to tell exactly how and when.

That's what I mean. I'm taught that nobody (man or woman) should touch me if I don't want to. Not even family. I was taught by a woman whom I admire very much: my grandmother on mother's side. I grew up with her and granddad, as my parents were out working all day until my sister was born five years later and our mum stayed home then. Grandma was a tough woman. She lived through two world wars and had a courage few can show. She never showed she was afraid. She taught me from the time I was only 1,5 or 2 that the world had many bad people and I should be aware of that. She said I should never accompany someone who promised me an icecream or chocolate. And I should do what I wanted, not what the rest of the group did. It made me strong as well. There were reasons enough for kids to have bullied me at school (for instance my bad eye, even not ok after an operation) but nobody ever did. They were afraid of what I might do to them!

So I say that it's ok to report abuse - but you should do it immediately. And not mind who that person is. Nodoy touches me where and when I don't want to, and they'd know it, be it a king or a president or whoever!

People nowadays are a bit exaggerating with the #MeToo movement. I find it's become a way to settle old scores. If I want to take on someone, I just have to claim he 'touched' me 30 years ago! Is that correct? I should think not!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Liar Liar

Today we welcome author Nancy Boyarsky. Nancy is doing a virtual book blast tour to promote the release of her mystery novel Liar Liar - available as of September 25th from Light Messages Publishing.

The tour will run from September 25 to October 1. Nancy will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link to place your comment:


Nicole Graves finds herself in the crosshairs when she reluctantly agrees to babysit a witness in a high-profile rape trial. Mary Ellen Barnes is suing her university’s star quarterback for rape when the authorities won’t act. In the court of public opinion, Mary Ellen appears to be the quintessential, pious, good girl. But her lies and mysterious comings and goings lead Nicole to suspect that she’s not what she seems.


Nicole heard a sound and came in from the balcony in time to see Mary Ellen,
now fully dressed, slip out the front door. Nicole ran after her. She couldn’t allow the girl to run off after what she’d said about the hopelessness of her predicament. By the time Nicole got to the elevator bank, it was empty. The girl was already on her way down. 

Nicole couldn’t take the stairs; she was on the tenth floor. But the elevator bank had four cars, and luck was with her. Moments later, the door to another elevator opened. When she reached the lobby, she caught sight of Mary Ellen through the window. She had just left the building and was jaywalking across Ocean Avenue toward the beach. 

Nicole rushed after her. The wind was picking up, blowing through her jacket. She was halfway across the street, when a car heading south skidded to a stop a few feet away. The driver leaned on his horn and opened his window to scream at her. She ignored him, trying to keep Mary Ellen in sight. The girl seemed to be headed toward the shoreline. When Nicole reached the sand, she started running. She was in good shape, but running on the beach was completely different from a morning jog around the neighborhood. Her shoes sank into the soft surface, making it impossible to gain momentum. Meanwhile, sand leaked into her shoes, chafing her sockless feet. 

The beach near the waterline was dark, and Mary Ellen was no longer in sight. Nicole looked desperately around, trying to figure out which way the girl had gone. All at once she stumbled over something lying in her path. As she hit the sand, the figure she’d tripped over slowly sat up, like a zombie in a horror film. 

Author bio and links

Nancy Boyarsky is the bestselling author of the award-winning Nicole Graves Mysteries. 
Before turning to mysteries, Nancy coauthored Backroom Politics, a New York Times notable book, with her husband, Bill Boyarsky. She has written several textbooks on the justice system as well as articles for publications including the Los Angeles Times, Forbes, and McCall’s. She also contributed to political anthologies, including In the Running, about women’s political campaigns. In addition to her writing career, she was communications director for political affairs for ARCO.
Liar Liar is the third Nicole Graves novel, following The Swap and The Bequest, each of which can be read as a stand alone. Readers are invited to connect with Nancy through her website at


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Autumn has arrived!

The nice summer is finally over. Since yesterday, the weather turned around. No more blue skies and sunshine, but leaden clouds and rain. And it's cold, too. Only 12° Celsius right now. I already feel the moisture in my bones!

It shouldn't stay summer all the time, but I prefer dry weather. I don't mind cold as long as it remains dry and there's no rain in sight.

Of course, autumn also brings nice things. I like it when dark comes early, so you can cuddle up with a book and read in the cosiness of your living space. And autumn brings other food too. Witlof is best in autumn and winter, when you can buy the one out of the ground and not the hydro culture. The same goes for sprouts and cabbages - all favorites of mine. There are nuts as well. We have a hazelnut tree at the back of our garden. My sister once planted it on Plant-a-Tree Day more than 40 years ago. The sapling of then has turned in a big tree!

When we were kids, our grandma baked waffles and pancakes when autumn came and made big pots of hot chocolate for us and our friends. Ah, youth memories! The older you get, the dearer they become, don't you think?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Work-at-home Day

Today lots of workers stay home to work from there. It's a way to reduce traffic and to lower the CO2-exhaust.

My sister sometimes does it too. When she can't concentrate because of the numerous calls and the frequent entrances of people who want to chat (those obviously not having that much work) she picks up her things and comes home.

I filter the phonecalls then and of course nobody comes calling at the door.

Working at home can have many advantages. You can arrange your work as you want, as long as you put in the same hours as you do at the office. You can slip out to run an errand, for instance. Or you can bring the children to school and collect them afterwards.

Work at home is not for everyone, of course. Factory workers can't work at home. They're needed in the working space. But for all those who do administrative work, it's a blessing.

Chris' contacts at the ministry also often work from home. Their office phone goes through to the house phone. And you have access to the same files when you're home or not, now that everything is in the cloud.

What are your ideas on this?

Monday, September 17, 2018


Please welcome Charlene Raddon, author of Priscilla. This is book one of the Widows of Wildcat Ridge series, historical romance (western). Charlene is now doing a virtual book blast tour to promote this novel.

During the tour, Charlene will be giving away a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter. Please use the following link to place your comment:


After losing her father and husband in a mine disaster, Priscilla Heartsel faces poverty and eviction from her home by a heartless mine owner. Tricked into a bank robbery gone wrong, Braxton Gamble finds himself shot and unconscious in Priscilla's bed. Can they survive long enough to find a love more precious than gold?


After the disaster, the women had acquired a school bell which they mounted on a pole in the center of town by the jail, with a long rope hanging down so anyone could ring out a warning if trouble showed up, like outlaws or Indians. But the bell was too far away, and her problem less serious than outlaws or Utes.

Or was it? She had no idea who might be in her room. The erratic footprints indicated the intruder was ill or injured. How dangerous could an injured man be?

A dash to her father's room armed her with his army revolver from his desk. Her husband had taught her to shoot. If the intruder intended to ravage her, he would be disappointed. She'd shoot him before she'd allow that.

A cautious peek inside her room showed nothing, only half the space being visible from where she stood. Taking a deep breath, she slipped around the corner, gun held ready.

A strange man lay on her bed, face-down, asleep or unconscious. His boots, coat and shirt lay crumpled on the floor. A gun-belt encircled his hips, the gun beside his hand. Congealed blood pooled beneath him staining her coverlet. He appeared dead.

A scream rose to her throat. She swallowed it. One did not scream indoors.

She picked up his Walker-Colt six-shooter and deposited it in a drawer of the bedside table and slipped her father's gun into her skirt pocket.

Standing back from the bed, she prodded him with a cold poker from the small stove in her room. "Mister? Can you hear me?"

He didn't stir.

"Mister?" She stepped closer and poked him again, terrified he would jump up and grab her.

Nothing. Lord have mercy, she had a dead man in her bed!

She returned the poker to its place by the stove. A blanket. Or a sheet. She needed something to cover him with. A summer blanket from the trunk at the foot of her bed would suffice. As she laid it over him, he moaned.

He was alive!

Unconscious, but alive.

Author bio and links

Charlene Raddon’s first serious attempt at writing fiction came in 1980 when a vivid dream drove her to drag out a typewriter and begin writing. Because of her love of romance novels and the Wild West, her primary genre is historical romance. Kensington Books originally published five of her novels. These were later released as eBooks by Tirgearr Publishing. Currently, Charlene is an Indie author. She also designs book covers, specializing in western historical.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Weekend at the coast

We're spending this weekend at our flat in Knokke-Heist, for a change. The three previous weekends were spent by working hard to get the load of administration out of the way. Now we could finally spend some time for our own.

I already came to Heist on Friday morning, as I don't have to work anymore. It was sunny when I arrived, but in the afternoon clouds covered the sky. The weather forecast had predicted nice weather, but I guess they were wrong for this part of the country!

Chris arrived in the late afternoon, and later on we went out dining. This time at La Guera, one of our favorites here. The region Knokke-Bruges has the most restaurants with Michelin stars, by the way. We took one of the set menu's and it was just delicious!

Yesterday began with some rain, but after that the sun came through and all in all it was a nice day. We made a nice walk in the afternoon.

This morning we woke up to a cloudy sky once more, and it looks as if it's going to remain this way. All clouds coming, not one bit of blue in the sky. We had plans for this afternoon, but we might have to change them and do something alternative.

Anyway, it's nice to be able to relax for a while. Back home tomorrow morning!

Thursday, September 13, 2018


Let's welcome Taylor Hobbs today! Taylor is doing a virtual book tour for Cloaked, a historical fantasy romance available since August 28th from The Wild Rose Press. The tour started August 27th and will continue till September 21st.

Taylor Hobbs will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link:


As the Cloaked Shadow, Fawkes has made his career breaking into prisons for any contract with a large enough purse. He takes advantage of the kingdom's impending revolution by playing both sides of the conflict. Each rescue contract he fulfills turns a tidy profit until he angers the wrong duke. Charlotte is a criminal-in-training who yearns to crack her mentor’s guarded fa├žade, but is unprepared to confront the depths of his dark past. As her sense of right and wrong blurs, Charlotte discovers just how far she will go for the Cloaked Shadow and the sacrifices he requires. Now hunted throughout the land, Fawkes must face long-buried secrets in order to survive, but they could destroy him. Charlotte risks everything, including her heart, to set Fawkes on the path to redemption. Will Charlotte have the strength to pull Fawkes into the light, or will she follow him into the shadows?


“Please, whatever you are,” Henry begged, “don't hurt us. Please.”

There was no answer, but Charlotte heard the rustle of fabric and a felt a light breeze on her skin as the shadow whisked by her. She whirled around to face the cell across from Henry's.
Through the haze of her torchlight circle, Charlotte watched as the shadow knelt down, freeing a hand holding a key from the depths of a long, black cloak. With the telltale rasp of iron on iron, the door to the other cell creaked open.

The stranger crept soundlessly inside, returning seconds later with a body slung over its shoulders. The body emitted a low groan, and the shadow lowered its burden to lean against the wall. With unexpected care, the shadow crouched over the emaciated prisoner and murmured softly to him.

Seeing this spark of humanity gave Charlotte the courage she needed. “Help us.” It was a statement, not a question.

The cloaked figure remained kneeling next to its charge, and a man's voice finally spoke in a low rumble. “But you have nothing to offer me.”

Charlotte hesitated at his unexpected statement, trying to decipher its meaning. “Free my brother, and you can have anything you want.”

Author bio and links

Taylor Hobbs lives aboard a 38 ft sailboat named Story Time with her husband, baby girl, and dog. They are a military family who love to travel, whether it is by sea or air. When she's not writing, Taylor enjoys doing yoga and planning her next adventure. You can keep up with their crazy life at or follow on Twitter at @tayhobbit. 
Cloaked is her debut novel and can be found at
Buy links:
Barnes & Noble:

I asked Taylor if she could ellaborate a bit on her views about "right" and "wrong". Here's her answer:

Given its open-ended interpretation, there is no right or wrong way to approach this topic (ha!), so we are going to view this subject through the lens of happiness and fulfillment. Namely, how does one live their life the 'right' way and how do we define it? 

This question is particularly poignant because I have just embarked on the unparalleled adventure that is parenthood. What sort of lessons do I teach to ensure that my daughter doesn't grow up the 'wrong' way? Here's a short list off the top of my head. 
1. Always stand up for yourself and others
2. Try to understand instead of pass judgment
3. Go with your gut
4. Have patience
5. Surround yourself with people who bring you joy
6. Be curious
7. Don't be afraid to mess up
8. Respect all living things
9. Follow your own path
10. Find happiness within yourself

As I learn more every day about what it means to be a parent, this list will evolve. These are just a few ideas that are important to me, but they by no means encompass the 'right' way to live, because that would be impossible. We can only do our best with good intentions, and hope we are making a positive mark on the universe. We must not waste precious energy on the negative in our lives because it does not serve us in any way. Regardless of the lessons my daughter chooses to follow while growing up, as long as she is happy and does no harm to anyone, then I'd say she's doing alright. I can't wait to watch her take on the world.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Red Devils once more nr. 1 in Fifa world ranking

Since their victory over Iceland of yesterday evening, our Belgian Red Devils soccer team are once more the  number one of the world!

Moreover, the team also makes the most goals of all teams in the world. Romelu Lukaku is one of the best scorers here. Yesterday he easily made two goals, while Hazard made the other.

Hopefully they'll once conquer the World Cup, as they deserve! And in the near future, they certainly want to win the Nation's League!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Fortress

Today we welcome Madeleine Romeyer Dherby. Madeleine is the author of The Fortress, a WWII historical available as of May 15th from Freedom Forge Press. She's doing a virtual name before the masses tour which will run for 20 weeks starting on June 4th.

Madeleine will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during this tour. Please use the following link to place your comment:

I asked Madeleine why she chose World War II as the period for her book? Here's her answer:

I was born in a small village nestled under the Vercors cliffs, an area that saw a lot of action during WWII. It was where a couple of dreamers envisioned a plan to build an army of resistants that would support Anvil, the Allied landing on the French Mediterranean coast. 
I grew up there long after the liberation, on the wrong side of glory. Three of my uncles were condemned to death for collaborating with the Vichy government and betraying C2, a Resistance camp located at Malleval, to the Nazis. Their sentences were later commuted to forced labor, but the national disgrace verdict stood, and they had to leave the area to avoid being murdered. Despite the death threats, my father— who had fought with honor during the war—decided to stay. The legacy, hard to overcome in a community mauled by four years of occupation and violence, is my first personal connection to this story. 

Then, there is the Vercors itself. Breathtakingly beautiful, dangerous, a natural playground for all extreme sport lovers. Rock climbing, canyoning, spelunking, skiing, it’s all there. But for me, it’s home. It’s where my ancestors have lived and are buried, under those same cliffs. 

It is a battle well-known to Historians and military strategists that got surprisingly little artistic treatment. The Fortress is a dream of freedom, a heroic battle, a military disaster, but also redemptive last stand. Many books have been written on the subject, but no fiction, and in fact, I was frustrated by the dryness of the accounts which I felt did not reflect the human dimension of that battle.
There are also small things, like a Sten machine gun I found in the mud of a summer creek, with this inscription, Pour ma Suzon Cherie, June 12, 1944; or the story of a fifteen-year old boy, a resistant fighter whose name is forgotten, who was tortured and murdered by the Nazis in the summer of 1944.
I wanted to do justice to the conflicting truths of men, women, families, rivals, religions, collaborators, communists, nationalists and simple French patriots during the Nazi occupation of my beloved Alp mountains. The plot is simply a way to let them speak for themselves. 
But there in the middle of my noble historical mission, a love story was born, and once it took roots, it drove the narrative. Marc has pledged his life to defend the Vercors, and he is a man of his word. It is with genuine distress that he discovers his growing attraction to Alix, and he fights it. The tension that builds between them, driven by irrepressible feelings and conflict, is shaped by the violence that unfolds around them, rather than superficial sexual drama. That love story made the writing almost hypnotic for me.  


The war has not made much of difference in Alix’s life. Her father has seen to it that she grows up unaware, unworried, but safe in her tiny village under the cliffs of the Vercors. All around her he has built a fortress whose walls are impregnable—until the 27th of April, 1944. That day he makes a stupid mistake up on the cliff, and the walls of the Fortress start crashing down. Reality breaks into Alix’s life with unrelenting violence, unforeseen possibilities. From now on, every decision she makes will mean life or death.


Six weeks before D-Day, a thousand kilometers from the beaches of Normandy.

There are no generals in the French Vercors, just a handful of men and women against the Nazi war machine. They come from Bretagne, Paris, and Slovenia, and the villages up on the cliff. They are the Fortress. 

When she looked up, the cart had rounded the curve, and the way ahead was wide open. In a minute they would leave the cliff Madeleine Romeyer Dherbey 14 behind. She stopped the horses and turned around, expecting to see her father on top of the log pile. “Papa?” she called. There was no response. Her eyes darted from one place to another. On the wall against the
blue sky, behind the cart, down the road, as far as it went along the rock face. “Papa?” she called again. He was there a second ago…right there, he was standing right there…. “Papa,” she cried. “Where are you?” Then she saw Mikko, two paws on the wall, sniffing. And her hands started to shake. “Papa,” she said, but no sound came out. “Papa, come back.” 

Author bio and links

Madeleine Romeyer Dherbey was born in the French Alps, moved to the United States twenty-five years later, and currently lives in the mountains of Virginia with her husband, two daughters, and Mikko.


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Quiet weekend

We're having a quiet weekend over here. My sister is still working hard and is doing some of it in the quiet of our living room now - it's sometimes difficult to concentrate at the office because of the constant ringing phones and such.

The deadline for Chris is next Friday. By then she should have everything more or less ready. If she succeeds, it's more than Titan's work. Those higher up demand more and more each year and forget the admin office only counts two of staff: Chris and her colleague Stein. Stein, who's much younger than Chris, is already near to drowning in the work. But also Chris is showing signs of tiredness, I can see it.

So next weekend we're going away to the coast - and nothing of work will come along! I told her she should be firm in that; when it's not done, than it's not - you can't work miracles unless they give you one of two extra's to help along.

I'm taking the time to do some writing. Yes, I finally found the inspiration to continue on a WIP I started last year before my cancer was diagnosed. It's a fun story of a witch who must do some good deeds to win her place in heaven. In this book she's helping out Kevin and Alayne. Kevin is a modern day singer-songwriter who alas doesn't have a lot of success. Alayne is born in 19th century Northern Ireland and desperately wants another future than having to marry a widower twice her age with 5 children. Kevin is brought to 12th century France to become a troubadour, while Alayne becomes a fugitive in modern day Paris. The writing goes well these days, so hopefully I can finish the novel in a couple of months.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

New scan

Yesterday I had to go to the hospital for my three-monthly scan of the abdomen. The previous one was at the end of May.

I had to come in somewhat earlier, because I need kidney protection as I have only one kidney left after my op last year July. The oncologist promised to let me know the result of the scan as soon as she could see the pictures.

And... everything remains stable and that's good enough for me. No new tumors and hopefully they'll stay away for a long time. I remain optimistic and look forward to new adventures in life. I still have a bucket list to fulfil!

I have more appointments at the clinic, for my diabetes (very much under control, as it is not a bad case) and for my kidney. That's a control that needs to be done once a year. But about those I don't worry at all. I live healthy enough, eat a variety of foods and take enough excercise (I use my bike a lot, and also climb lots of stairs as our old house has stairs up to the attic).

And how are you?

Monday, September 3, 2018

A new schoolyear begins

This morning, when I took my bike to fetch some errands, it was extremely busy on the road. I pass by two schools on my way to the shops - a highschool and an elementary school + kindergarten. The road was packed with cars of parents, dropping off their offspring.

This always happens when the schools reopen after two months of vacation. The first day every parent wants to take his/her children to school. I just wonder what they do the next days...?

There is a shortage of teachers this schoolyear. More than 827 vacancies I heard on the news. Especially teacher for elementary school and teachers of French, Dutch and mathemathics. Also teachers of technical subjects are wanted (electricity, carpenting, ...)

The government needs to promote teaching. Nowadays, teachers don't get the respect they deserve anymore. No wonder that lots of young teachers quit after just one or two years in the classroom. Parents are more demanding than ever. In my days, you could give a students bad marks without a problem; their parents accepted this for a fact that their kid hadn't studied enough. But now they'll tell you you haven't taught him well.

Another fact about school is that our students aren't doing as well as before. Their results are worse than years ago. Especially their general knowledge is decreasing. Well, I've known this for a long time. They don't know anything about geography or history anymore. The capital of Egypt? Paris!!! But whan can you expect, when the government forbids to teach (in my case, as a teacher of languages) grammar or literature history? How can you give students a good knowledge if you can only tell them half?

It's clear something needs to be done, or education will become something you once heard of.  But how and what?