Posts Tagged “water”
When we first moved to Belgium I couldn’t read a word of French. This meant shopping at the supermarket took quite a long time, and I usually just went with what was pictured on the side of the box. For the dishwasher, I bought powerball dish-washing tablets, with Calgon, to fight all the limescale that we have in the water here. They worked rather well.
So then for the washing machine, I bought the powerball clothes-washing tablets, with Calgon. The box even had a picture of a clothes washer on the front. After a while, I noticed that my clothes were not getting very clean, but were all turning quite grey. I sat down to finally translate the box, and found at the the tablets contained no detergent at all, just zeolite and polycarboxylate. The joys of living in a non-English country, where the instructions are clearly written in at least two languages, and I still can’t manage to figure them out.
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Last weekend Adrian treated me to a spa package in Spa, a small town in Belgium, from which the word originates. To get there, I caught the train through the Ardennes, passing over rivers and watching the spring calves find their legs. I found most of the activity of the town of Spa to be centered around the main road. As it was a beautiful day, most people were eating and drinking out on the terraces of the cafes. While in Leuven, most cafes will proudly display “Stella Artois” signs to advertise their house beer, the most prominent beverage advertising here was that of “Spa water”. Looking down the beverage list, I discovered ten different types of Spa water on offer. I decided on a Spa citron to accompany my Tagliatelles fraîches aux truffes noires.
The town still retains the semblance of a nineteenth century sanatorium, with many couples walking through the classical parks for their daily constitutional. I visited the Museum of Water, finding the most interesting part to be the temporary exhibition of historical advertising posters proclaiming “Eaux minerales ferrugineuses” (iron-rich water), “tir aux pigeons” (shooting pigeons) and “trajet en 7 heures de paris” (journey in 7 hours from Paris). Those who came from France and Spain in their flamboyant costumes to partake in the water from Spa were called bobelins (perhaps derived from the Latin bibelus (heavy drinker)), which I believe now is used in Wallonia to mean “stupid and weird”.
On Sunday I caught my private funicular to the top of the highest hill to visit the Thermes de Spa. Nestled amongst the trees are some very picturesque indoor and outdoor baths. I began my relaxation in the outdoor baths, enjoying the feeling of weightlessness, as well as the contrast between the cooler air and the warm water. Eventually wandering back inside, I enjoyed a bubble bed before drying out in the dark and forest-scented relaxation room. My Spa weekend culminated in a Watsu – a water shiatsu massage. The therapist attached foam to my legs so that I could float effortlessly, and then gently whoosh me through the water while tenderly stretching and relaxing my limbs, leaving me feeling completely relaxed and rejuvenated by my Spa weekend.
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Six weeks ago, Adrian bought me a lovely African violet plant, bursting with purple flowers, to celebrate my first day at work. Now, under my supervision, it looks like this:
In an attempt to brighten up my first ever cubicle, I bought myself a plant at Central Station. It is a lush combination of four different plants, one of which may or may not be a lily. I tried explaining to the shop keeper that I need something very resilient and impossible to kill. She merely looked at me curiously and replied in French. I pointed to this plant, and she nodded. She probably said something like “yes, this plant is very sensitive and will soon die without extreme care and vigilance”. But I prefer to think that she said “this plant couldn’t be any more resilient if it had an adamantium skeleton. It is the perfect companion for someone as botanically inept as yourself”. I tried to mime out a request for watering instructions, and she wrote me out a receipt instead. So it will be interesting to watch my feeble attempts at keeping this plant thriving on my desk.
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Lydia arrived in Seattle in late January, moving in with Adrian to their apartment in Fremont, overlooking Lake Union and downtown. While we spend most of our time thinking about and conducing our research on T cells at the University of Washington, we still make time to explore our new home.
We have gone on bird-watching trips to learn from the Audubon society, and joined the Woodlands Park Zoo only a few blocks away. We feed the squirrels at the park and befriend the neighbourhood cats as we walk home with our groceries.
We have explored the University of Washington. In April we decided to canoe around Lake Washington. Adrian told Lydia she didn’t really have to wear her life-jacket. She did anyway, and then they capsized in its icy-cold waters. Luckily we were rescued by a woman from the Waterfront Activities Center before hyperthermia set it. Lydia doesn’t like small boats.
In May, Lydia hosted a Pottery Painting Party at University Village for her birthday. She painted a small plant pot blue, with red bugs and butterflies. Adrian painted a yellow bowl with black branches. We finished off the day with purple cupcakes and coffee.
In June, Lydia’s lab spent a day hiking up to Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Serene, still filled with snow in the middle of summer. We rested and refuelled on Lunch Rock with some greedy chipmunks before the long walk down.
The Summer Solstice was marked by a huge parade through Fremont, filled with body-painted cyclists, Ents, bands, giant puppets, and all sorts of characters. It seemed like the whole of Seattle had turned out to celebrate the freedom to be peculiar.
In September, Lydia’s mum and her mum’s partner came to visit Seattle. We took them to Tacoma to see the Bridge of Glass and the Tacoma Art Museum. We saw live glassworks, and marveled at the nonchalance of artists twirling red-hot glass as if it were honey. We showed them downtown Seattle – Elliot Bay, the Seattle Art Museum, and all the Pigs on Parade painted to raise money for Pike Place Markets. We spent a day in Fremont climbing the Troll and eating Cold Stone icecream. We even discovered a Little Norway in Poulsbo, past Bainbridge Island.
In October Adrian and Lydia celebrated their first Halloween with their dapper friends Shyla and Luke. We are a demon, a priest, a pirate, and a ladybird.