Friday, August 31, 2012

I just want your extra time and your kiss...

That's all I need. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nothing compares to you

This morning I heard this song on the radio and I realized I remembered every line of it. I cranked up the volume and sang along. It brought me back in time, back to my years in college and an afterschool party with a boyfriend I met that particular night..

It's been seven hours and fifteen days
Since you took your love away
I go out every night and sleep all day
Since you took your love away
Since you've been gone I can do whatever I want
I can see whomever I choose
I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
But nothing..
I said nothing can take away these blues
'Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares to you..

It's been so lonely without you here
Like a bird without a song
Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling
Tell me baby, where did I go wrong?
I could put my arms around every boy I see
They'd only remind me of you
I went to the doctor and guess what he told me?
Guess what he told me?
He said: Girl you'd better try to have fun
No matter what you do
But he's a fool
'Cause nothing compares to you..

All the flowers that you planted, mama
in the back yard
All died when you went away
I know that living with you baby was sometimes hard
But I'm willing to give it another try
Nothing compares to you...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I am accountable for this

That's what the neighbor's wife told me yesterday: "I'm accountable for my husband's diabetes... because I'm the one who feeds him. I gave him too many sugary desserts.. I'm so sorry I did."

He had his blood work checked a month ago. I had asked him to do so nearly one year ago. Since there are many T2 diabetics in his family and he has quite a bit of belly fat, I thought it wouldn't be bad for him to have a check-up. So he finally did. His wife told me: he has "the sugar", but not dramatically. Just a little bit.. Can you see my eyes roll? Here we go again... I asked her about her pregnancies in the past. If she were pregnant, or just a little bit pregnant. She got the message.
His fasting BG was 197 mg/dl. Meaning he's a diabetic. He doesn't have "a bit of sugar". He's a diabetic. It won't go away. She had her blood work tested as well, while they were at the doctor's office together. Her fasting BG was 100 mg/dl, two times in a row. There was an * in front of that number and she asked me what that meant. It means that she's a prediabetic. Meaning she will develop T2 diabetes over time. That surprised her, because her GP had not said anything about it.

At that time, my neighbor joined the conversation. He said he had stopped eating candy, for that candy had caused his diabetes. I told him it was not his fault. Eating candy does not cause diabetes. It will elevate your BG if you're already a diabetic and don't treat yourself well. But it does NOT cause diabetes.

I have a spare glucometer that I'm testing out for Accu-Chek. With little explanation, they can now test his BG one day a week, on 4 different times: before breakfast, before lunch, before diner and before bed. That will give his GP a better look on how his meds are affecting his diabetes. My neighbor believes taking that one pill a day will solve his problem. It's a lot more than that. It's a beginning though. Too bad his GP didn't give him any more information. I think I'll pay the neighbors another visit today and tell them a bit more about carbohydrates and BG numbers..

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Don't know what to do

This is real hard. Normally I have a solution for any problem. This time it's different. I'm not that familiar with the subject and I have this feeling I have to leave it up to professionals. It was good though, to talk about it with a friend who has had the same problems. She comforted me and told me it would take time, but things would turn out well in the end. At least, that is the feeling she gave me. I wish things were different and less hard for you. It makes my stomach ache when I look at you and see your grief, without being able to help you. I can't get through to you and we don't find a way to talk about it. If only you could break down the wall you have put up around you. It would make things a bit easier and you would benefit from it too. Don't think you have to go through this all by yourself. There are people around you who really care and who love you for who you are. Let me give you a hug, more than one if that's what you're looking for. Because I care. Because we care.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Last night, you were stressing out. Packing your suitcase to go to Poland, you were deciding what to wear, which shoes you should bring along. Were you allowed to bring a razor blade if you had nothing else but carry on luggage? How about shaving foam?

You don't like to travel alone. It makes you as nervous as a schoolkid on a field trip. The palms of your hands were all sweaty and you were running around like a chicken. Only 2 days, but still stressed out. Two colleagues are joining you and I'm sure you will do well. No need to worry. I wish I could have come along too. I wouldn't mind visiting Warschau. Sounds exciting to me. Don't forget to tell me all about your trip. Looking forward to the stories! Have a safe journey, hubby.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Move closer

Arthur was here first. He came to live with us some 9 years ago. We all know cats are the king of the household. Arthur doesn't know any better. He's the King and he wants to be treated as the King..
Somewhere along the line, Rebba came to live with us. Arthur was not impressed, not by far. He meowed and disapproved most every day. He didn't even want to look at her. Rebba, on the other hand, was very nice to him. Although whippets despise cats, she didn't mind to live together with Arthur in the same house. If he would come inside after a walk in the rain, she wanted to use her tongue to dry his fur. To thank her for helping him, Arthur would slap her..

I think Arthur got depressed the day Inthe came to join us. He must have thought: what the f***? He had no intention whatsoever to become friends with neither one. Inthe wanted to play hide and seek with her furry mate, but he didn't even give her one moment of attention.

All three have a bed of their own. Arthur has a high bed, where he can oversee the room. A little cat sneeze is enough to make the whippets hop out of their beds and see if he's okay. They try to comfort him when he's feeling sick to his stomach or when he accidentally falls of the window sill while sleeping. It's no use: Arthur is not whippet-friendly.

To our surprise, Arthur has become milder lately. He even relaxes on the couch, close to where the whippets are cuddling up together. This morning, all three of them were sleeping on the couch, very very close to one another. Maybe, just maybe, Arthur will chill and accept the dogs. He has had 4 years to adapt to them after all. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012


BG 45 and 6 units of insulin active in your body..

That's what my meter read after our visit to the Chinese restaurant last night. My insulin pump company claims this scenario is impossible, but it has happened before. Let me explain to you this procedure:

We were dining out. I was ready to give myself a mealtime bolus of 12 units. All of a sudden, my glucometer looses the bluetooth connection with my insulin pump, leaving the mealtime symbol in grey. If a bolus has been given, the symbol turns blue. I double check and still the symbol is grey, meaning the bolus has not been delivered. I am in doubt, since last time I had this issue, I ended up with a double bolus and a terrible low afterwards. I decide to believe the pump company and give another bolus, to cover for the one that is still grey and not blue. An hour and a half later, I feel dizzy and my lips are stinging: low.. I don't need to poke my finger to know. But I'm curious and I do check: 45 and 
6 active units of insulin in my body. Darn. There we go again.. I stuff my mouth with candy, swallow the sweets down with 400 ml of fruit juice but I already know that won't cut it. My blood sugar will keep on dropping and I will need to check more often. I'm ready, holding my candy and juice. I feel stuffed and there is absolutely no desire for dessert, but there's no other option. I don't want to call an ambulance to bring me to the hospital so I have to make sure my blood sugar keeps rising instead of dropping. I have removed my insulin pump to avoid my body from getting any more insulin. I'm tired. I want to go to bed, but I have to stay awake and alert to prevent worse. I really hate it when this happens. It makes me feel stupid and dumb. But this is the proof: these things DO happen, no matter what the pump company claims. I need to trust my own instincts. I should not have given myself that extra bolus. Let's have some more candy. And this time, it's not to party...

Friday, August 24, 2012

I spy with my little eye

For a couple of weeks now, I've been running around without my glasses. They bother me for they have become too large. I keep pushing them back and my head aches from pulling back my ears to hold those glasses in place. In fact, it's better for me not to wear my glasses all the time. I need them to watch television (I hardly every watch) or to drive my car. It had become a habit though, to wear them all the time. Knowing that I do well without, gives me a good feeling.

I'm seeing a new ophthalmologist today. I hear he's good and he doesn't bother you with those nasty eye drops that keep you from seeing clearly for a couple of hours. Wonder if my eyes have gone worse since last year.. One of the first things my endocrinologist told me right after she gave me the D-diagnosis, was that the eyes of a diabetic are very vulnerable. She told me not to expect complications within the first 10 years, but it could become trickier in the following decade. My first 10 years have passes but I'm not panicking yet. I'm chill and relaxed. My A1c number is still very acceptable, so no need to worry.

It's possible that the eye specialist will prescribe new glasses. Wouldn't know which ones to choose. I really suck at picking out glasses. So if anyone is willing to volunteer in helping me, give me a call.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

She's coming!

We were not sure about the date yet, but now it's final: the Italian Ilaria Landriscina is coming to live with us for a couple of months and she will arrive September 12th! Hubby is busy getting a spare room ready for her. It won't be very large, but she will have all that she needs. We'll take good care of her. When Lana showed me her picture on Facebook, I realized it's really going to happen now. It'll be quite an experience to have another young girl in our household. She's 18 and we have no idea how she's been raised. We will have to talk about the rules in our house before she gets here. After all, we will be responsible for her well being. There's not much to do in our small village, but I'm sure she will find her way to Ghent and she will have plenty of friends to hang out with. Let's hope she will speak some English so we can understand each other just a little bit.

The room needs another coat of paint and some wall to wall carpet, before we can start putting in the furniture. She will need a bed and a small desk, hangers for her wardrobe. Let's make it a nice room for her to stay in, so she won't be homesick... Welcome to our house, Ilaria. We're looking forward to meeting you.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The girl on the swing

Your daddy is a smart cookie. He used your old custom made chair to make your own swing in the backyard. It gives you the opportunity to play outside with your brother and spend some time in the sun. I was excited to see how you would respond to your very own swing. After your nap, I carried you outside and strapped you into your chair. Four sturdy ropes are attached to that chair to make it possible for you to rock back and forth. It warmed my heart to see you all excited. Your grin was so satisfying and the sparkle in your eyes just asked for a picture. I pushed you as long as I could and your grin stayed right put.

In the background, I could hear the kids in the neighborhood, fooling around and playing hide and seek. I wonder if you heard them too? Were you aware of their joy and laughter? I had my eyes set on you and I truly enjoyed your enthusiasm. You are a lucky girl, to be born in a family that loving as yours...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Keep going

That Moroccan diarrhea is killing me. I went to see the doctor last night and I was happy he prescribed me some effective drugs. I had been taking the wrong medication and it made the bacteria stay inside my intestines. So off we go to fight that little bug and get back to a normal life. I've seen too much of the ladies room lately.

The oldest daughter left for work an hour ago. She's had a rough time, working hard in that heat. She doesn't complain though. She does what she's been asked to do and she does well. Her employer is real happy with the way she handles things and I'm sure they will ask her to come back next year. It's been a good experience for her as well. After all, how would a 17 yo know what the life of a working person is like, if they have never tried it? She's glad she is still a student..

Time to hop in that shower and freshen up to start this day. My little princess is waiting for me. It's been a while since we cuddled up on the couch together. I'm anxious to hear about their holiday..

Monday, August 20, 2012

Who am I

Today is my 41th birthday. I would dare to say half of my life has past by now. I used to think differently, saying that I would not grow older than 50. If that were still the case, I'd better hurry up and live my life to the fullest, for I would have no more than 9 years left. I have thought things over and I have decided 50 is a bit too young to leave this world. Ever since, I have tried to live my life the way I wanted to live it. Making the best of every given day. Today won't be any different. No bells or horns, no birthday cakes, no party. I am no fan of all that fuss. It's okay for someone else, but not necessary for me. I'll be 41 all year and I'm happy for every day I get.

Thank you all for the birthday wishes. It's good to know you have people around you that love you and care for who you are. Now it's my time to think about who I am and what my plans for the other half of my life will look like...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Honey we're home

Today was a bit hectic. The whippets were anxious for us to come pick them up. The people of Fiefoerniek's did so well at taking care of them in our absence. They even clipped their nails since we are such chickens at doing it ourselves.
Both ladies have lost some weight again and they are now in tip top shape. We're not used to seeing them that skinny but we know this is the weight they are supposed to have. Let's hope we will be able to ignore their crying for food...

It was good to see our girly daughters back too. One week is long. What a good feeling to embrace them and talk to them in real life. It's different than Facebook. There was so much to tell and they loved unpacking their presents.

Right away we had asked grandma and grandpa over for dinner. Hubby's godson joined them and he was eager to learn about our trip to Marrakech. We had BBQ over pleasant conversations, until the rain and thunder spoiled the fun.

The dogs are worn out. So am I. The Moroccan diarrhea is asking too much of my body. I think I'd better see our physician tomorrow. I'm done with it...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Every now and then

we all need a break. A break from home, a break from reality. For one week, we have had the chance to be no more than just a couple. No work, no children, no pets, no fuss of the daily life. Just the two of us, the sun and nothing to worry about. Of course we talked about home and the girls. Because we will always be parents. We contacted the children every day. How could we not? But still, things were different. We had more time for us as a couple. Every now and then, that's all we need...

Things are coming to an end. It's time to pack our suitcases and say goodbye to Marrakech. It has been a good week. A week to look back to with a smile. We have a photo album full of memories and stories to tell. It'll be good to take the plane home and embrace the girls. They did real well in our absence. We are proud of them.

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's all about the little things in life

Photos Cathy Van de Moortele
Experiencing the luxury of this hotel in Marrakech and facing reality in the streets on the opposite side, makes you reflect on what's important in life. Is it the gloom of the ancient silverware on the breakfast table that makes life good? Does the plastic money in your wallet make you rich?
We were discussing the subject with our cab driver (I admit, he just wanted to find out how rich we were, so he could set his price) and we all came to an agreement: it is important to have a roof over your head, a bit of food and good health. It makes you feel good if you have an arm around your shoulder and a bed to sleep in. It's nice to have someone to take care of you. It warms my heart if Hubby asks me to show him how to use my glucometer, just in case of emergency. Taking a sip of cold water when your mouth is dry, feels great in this heat. Sharing a banana with a toddler begging for food, rips out your mother's heart, because you want him to grow a bit more fat on his bones. You want to wipe his dirty nose and provide him with shoes that aren't too small. Will that make the child happier?

Last night, I went out all by myself, to look for band aids. Too many blisters on my feet from all the miles we have walked here. I was taking some more pictures, when all of a sudden, this Moroccan man came out of the blue, yelling terrible words at me and hitting my camera with his hand open wide. I decided not to argue with him. I put away my camera and continued my walk. I should have known better. These people are real people. They are not some monkeys in a public zoo. They are in their own country, buying their groceries for the night. I didn't have the right to take their picture. Maybe he thought we would make fun of them, showing their picture at home? How would it make us feel, if all these people would stare at us and take our picture?

We are lucky to have a good life in Belgium. No real worries, no lack of money or food. We shouldn't be complaining that much. Who cares if the sun isn't out most of the times in Belgium? So what if you ran out of bread in the morning - you know you will buy fresh and crispy bread that very same day. Is it really that awful if that stain won't come out of your white pair of trousers? We really shouldn't complain that much.. it's no more than a waste of energy...

Thursday, August 16, 2012


On most days, I have no issues that I have diabetes. But some days, I truly wished D wouldn't be that much of a killjoy. When the lows hit in, one at a time and they last much longer than expected, those are the moments I wished I wasn't a diabetic. I hate it when your plans need to be postponed because of the fluctuations in your blood sugar. I hate it when you need to take a nap instead of going out and enjoy your holiday. I hate the feeling the overload of sugar gives you to beat the lows and the sick feeling to your stomach that high blood sugar gives you after overfeeding yourself..
But then I try to put things in perspective. I think of the Moroccan people with D. How many of them have no access to insulin. How they lack education on food or diabetes treatment. I see many people over here, who are blind or who lack limbs. Automatically I see them as diabetics with poor control. Maybe that is not the case, but it crosses my mind every time. The Moroccan food is so high in carbohydrates, which makes it very difficult to change your food habits..

The picknick in Cyper Park that we had planned, was cancelled because of too many sugar drops. We ate in the hotel, I took a 2 hour nap and afterwards we headed to the park. It was so hot out there and the lows kept coming.. No fun, I can tell you. Not for me and not for my husband, who has to keep up with the fluctuations as well. I don't like to stall the people around me and make them wait for me. I want to pretend I'm okay and just keep going. Let's hope tomorrow will be a better day, diabetes wise..

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I have this urge

Photo Cathy Van de Moortele
Right after breakfast, we felt like chilling on the sunroof and let the sunbeams stroke our bodies. It was quiet up there and only 4 hotel guests (us included) used the sun beds.  Time to relax, have a talk, relax some more, have a drink (I love my Sahara drink made of almond milk, ground almonds, ground raisins and dates) and dip in the pool. Having my latest cook book in mind, I felt the urge to run some errands and do some cooking. Darn! how could I do that?? We're in Marrakech! No kitchen available over here. Hmhm.. that didn't mean, we couldn't run some errands, right? I love to stroll around the grocery shops in any country we visit. There are always products we don't have at home. So I convinced hubby to take a cab and do some shopping. To our surprise, the manager of the hotel sent us to the mall! How about that? For no more than 40 dirham (let's say 3.60 euro), the cab driver took us to the Almazar mall. Too bad many shops were closed for Ramadan, but nevertheless we got some nice things. We had a quick lunch at the local fast food place (why don't we have merguez panini at home?) and in the end, we discovered the Moroccan Carrefour. Yes, really, the same supermarket as the one we have at home. It did surprise me though, to see/hear that many Flemish people in the shop, with carts full of groceries. Maybe they rent an apartment and cook their own food?

The cab driver who took us home, was something else.. All the way back, he had no idea his handbrake wasn't released. He complained about his clutch that wasn't working, so when his car broke down in the middle of a very crowded roundabout, I could only hope he would be able to move his car and continue the ride. In the end, we got home safely.. Cabs are cheap around here. This driver was "happy" with 30 dirham. I don't think it will cover the cost of a new clutch though..

Our visit to Restaurant Le Marrakchi on Djemaa El-Fna was exciting. Great food, good entertainment - loved those young and elegant belly dancers - and right where all the activities were going on in the streets. I was happy though, to take a cab, since my high heels don't do well on the unequal streets of Marrakech. My blood sugar spiked after all of that couscous, potatoes, red beets, carrots, pancakes with honey and cinnamon spiced orange slices..  but it was worth it. We'll have a very good night rest. Again..

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

To the left... no no.. to the right... pppffff

Photo Cathy Van de Moortele
The plan was to visit Palace La Bahia and Palace El-Badi. Piece of cake, if you have a street map and some common sense, one would think. The map includes street names. Very helpful, if you would also find signs with the street names on the walls. Which we didn't see, obviously. So we walked and walked and took narrow streets, that appeared to be dead end streets (yes, the locals warned us about the dead ends, but we were convinced they only wanted to attract our attention to sell us carpets or jewelry..). It's unbelievable how many little alleys Marrakech has.  And they all look pretty much the same. In the end, you see a point of recognition and you are happy to be back into the "world". No high heels in Marrakech, just loafers, shorts and tank tops. And a bottle of water. Or two. Because water is expensive if you are in need. The salesmen know you need that water, because they can tell you are dehydrated and extremely thirsty. So they offer you their best price, you agree and set that bottle on your lips and then they charge you extra. You can't return the bottle, since you drank half of it already, so you have to open your wallet again and provide them with the extra change. That's just how it goes up here. By now, we know a bit more what the prices are and where to buy or not to buy.

Photo Cathy Van de Moortele
We had an excellent breakfast on the roof terrace in the morning, so lunch needn't be that extended. Hubby had some freshly baked Danish rolls - the 10 Dirham a piece ended up in 2 Dirham as soon as we tried to leave the bakery - while I tried a warm piece of gözleme. Very strange, since gözleme is Turkish. I assume they call it something else over here, but it was exactly the same thing.

We enjoyed a lazy afternoon in the sun - yes, still over 45°C - on the roof terrace. The iPad gave me a warning to cool it down, if that's enough of a symptom of how hot this place is. No need to wear my insulin pump for several hours. Even without, I had some lows. I must really buy fresh dates, since those are much healthier and tastier than melted, warm candy.

Photo Cathy Van de Moortele
A night out in town was the plan for the evening. Maybe some sightseeing on Djemaa El Fna. There's so much activity going on in the streets, we just have to sit down somewhere and enjoy the atmosphere..

Café des Epices was relaxing. Enjoying the silence of the night, on the roof of the restaurant, overlooking the soukhs over a tuna and chicken sandwich and a cold diet coke.. what more could we wish for..

Monday, August 13, 2012

Relais du silence

There is no better way to describe the silence of this hotel. The difference with the outside world is absolutely noticeable. The only noise we hear in this place, is the chirping of the finches. As soon as you close the main door behind you though, your ears have to adapt to the immense noise and chaos of the Marrakech streets. Dozens of motorcycles, horse carriages, pedestrians and taxi's crossing the same roads. It is a shocking experience and the decadence of the hotel versus the real street life, brings you down to Earth..

We had our breakfast on the sun roof. Breakfast in La Sultana is breakfast à la carte. A wide range of wonderful dishes to choose from. Where hubby chose to have French toast, scrambled eggs, Danish rolls, I opted for the more Moroccan breakfast of berber bread, harcha bread rolls, tahini toast, pistachio yogurt and Moroccan pancakes with freshly squeezed carrot/orange juice. What a delight to sit outside and enjoy a tasty breakfast with far more carbohydrates than my body can handle...

Discussing the plans of today, we realized there were no obligations. We were free to pick what we wanted to do. The plan was to go visit the beautiful gardens, so we took a glance at our map and decided it was no big deal to walk all the way up to the garden - which we obviously didn't find. The first catch of the day, were new sunglasses for me, since I broke my American pair. For the price of 30 MAD (about 3 euros), I was a happy girl and my eyes got rest from the burning heat that blurred my vision. In the end, we stranded in the Medina Djemaa El Fna again. Looking pretty familiar, but then again, there are so many narrow streets, that we got lost. Not that it mattered, because there is so much to see. There was the fish monger - we could smell his merchandise a couple of streets before we found him. He kept pouring fresh water over his fish, that was displayed in his warm counter. He kept a close eye on my camera, so I would not photograph him nor his shop, so I didn't even give it a try. His friend the butcher was a bit more lazy, so the snapshot was taken before he could take a breath. The meat didn't look appealing at all, especially because the guts were hanging out of the carcass.. The flies didn't mind that smelly scenery, but it made my stomach twirl. This strengthens my idea of eating no meat in Marrakech.

Going in a local tea house, once again we were surprised by the size of this former Minister's House. It was huge and so silent! We were served chicken kebabs on rice and Couscous aux 7 légumes, which we truly enjoyed. It filled our stomachs, before we headed back to the hotel to take a nap.
The pool was fairly cold, compared to the temperatures we have experienced here. Moving up a couple of stair to the sunroof, there was a smaller basin to drench our bodies in. It was like we had rented the place all for ourselves. Nobody else thought it was a good idea to spend some time on the lounge beds, reading a book and sipping our Mojito and non-alcoholic Sahara cocktail (almond milk, ground almonds, raisins and dates mixed to a delicious creamy shake). Do you think we'll get a nice tan after all?

We took a short walk outside, before we climbed up to the sunroof for dinner (okay, we took the elevator - don't overdo it). It was dark by then - the staff eats between 7:00 PM and 8:00 PM for it's Ramadan, remember? - so they lit candles and we were given small flash lights to read the menu. The international cooks make this place a bit more expensive, but the food was definitely worth the cost. Hubby has his slow-cooked beef shank with baked potatoes (no greens??) while I enjoyed the scallops and king prawns with crushed potatoes and grilled veggies. No, we should not have drunk wine or asked for dessert, but the willpower lost to our greediness. My sweet pastilla filled with light cream and toasted slivers of almond satisfied my taste buds. Hubby endeavored his dish of sweets with a shot of espresso. Time to pay the bill and go back to our little palace to settle for the night..

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Very impressive

The flight to Marrakech took us no longer than 3 hours and 15 min. Amazing if you know you're in a different continent after all. At arrival, the temperature was as high as 47°C. It hit us in the face, when we descended from the plane. We asked the hotel manager to come pick us up at the airport and we were delighted to see this perfectly dressed chauffeur waiting for us. He knew our names and he guided us outside the airport to the car. That is, a spotless Chrysler, air conditioned, cool drinks ready to hand out. Never before had we been welcomed like this in any country. The ride to the hotel was brief (approximately 15 min) but informative. The driver showed us some interesting spots and was very modest and polite. By the time we had arrived in the Kasbah, the chaos was complete. It was so crowded and noisy, it looked like a movie scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. The chauffeur had to park his car to make space for a family grieving over a lost family member. They carried their beloved one on a stretcher on their shoulder. The streets were dusty and dirty and we had no idea where we were headed to. The chauffeur called the manager to let her know we were on our way, so when the car parked, a team of no less than 3 men awaited us to carry our luggage inside. Once again, they greeted us by our full names and led us to the front door, away from the noise and the chaos of the Kasbah. The minute the copper doors opened, an oasis of silence calmed us down. Miss Saida welcomed us and Mr Khalid showed us to one of the sitting areas, where we got fresh water and hot mint tea, to wash away the Moroccan home made pastries. We couldn't do much more than look around and enjoy the scenery and the silence of this place. What a difference from what happens just outside this gate..

Mr Khalid showed us around, so we could see the 5 Riads of this hotel. Our room - Cameleon - is located on the first floor, right next to the pool. Some people were sitting on the deck, enjoying each other's company, but there was not a sound to be heard. No music, no voices, no nothing..

The room is exquisite. We have visited good hotels before, but this one beats it all. I think we're going to have a very relaxing time over here. How could we not..

Miss Saida was a bit overwhelmed by our idea of visiting the town without at least a map. She made sure she knew what we looked like, just in case we got lost and she needed to give the police a description. I don't know it that was a joke or not, but she insisted on giving us a street map and showing us the way to Djemaa el Fna. Because that's where we were headed too. The sun was not to be seen, but the streets were very hot and dusty. The place was crowded with mopeds, carriages, cars, pedestrians,.. there were plenty of merchants with fresh fruit, dried fruit (those plump dates looked very appealing), harira soup and hard boiled eggs (it is the last week of Ramadan). We had dinner on a panoramic terrace: Moroccan salad, Moroccan tajine for the husband and tajine végétale for me and a platter of honeydew melon for dessert. It was cheap, filling and good.

It was a short walk back to the hotel, where we could relax and take a well deserved shower. Day one was a success.

Lemon Chiffon or Haitian Vanilla?

Photo Lana Joos
We didn't have any fancy name for our wedding cake. Nobody asked how luscious the filling should be or what topping we wanted to spread on top of the cake. Did I worry about that? Absolutely not. Our wedding was simple and basic but we didn't need an expensive wedding party to celebrate our marriage. The only thing that was important, is that we were able to invite the people that really mattered. It didn't matter the wedding cost was still too high for our budget. After all, we paid whatever debt we had and we were proud that we didn't need anybody else to jump in for us. In that way, we were able to choose whatever we wanted for our wedding. And that did not include silver plates or relatives we had never seen before.

Do you honestly think exquisite Lemon Chiffon pies make marriages a better deal? Our guests didn't mind the fact that we had a huge BBQ for dinner, in some local parish hall. After all, they came to see us and have a good time together and that's exactly what they got.

Happy 17th Anniversary Hubby.. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Quite remarkable

The more reviews I read about La Sultana, the more I long for this trip. It sounds very exciting, relaxing, welcoming, inviting.. So many people that spread the word on their fabulous stay in this hotel. After having read the Wiki information on Marrakech, we could do with some good news. Apparently, the Marrakech locals are not that honest when it comes to money. They like to rip you off and empty your pockets as soon as they get the chance. Offering you the best price ever and then charge you more in the end. I was not looking forward to such a kind of treatment. I don't like it when you pay 480 MAD for something that costs no more than 40 MAD. We are not very good at bargaining, so we'd better not even go there. The locals will immediately know we are tourists and easy targets. But we have done our research and are aware of the prices. We hope to get some help from the hotel management in booking excursions and taxis. That would be very helpful. I'm glad their shuttle service will come pick us up at the airport. The cost is higher than expected, but getting ripped off by a local taxi driver at the arrival is too much. We want to get to La Sultana in one piece, without bargaining or making a fuss. We hear the staff is very helpful and willing to bend backwards if they could. I have seen pictures of the rooms at the hotel and I believe we won't be disappointed..

It's about time to get the suitcases stowed away in the trunk of the car. I hope we have packed whatever we need. It will be hot in Marrakech - 40°C is not a temperature we are used to. Maybe this time I will use sunscreen after all.. Let's keep our fingers crossed that my insulin will survive the heat and that my insulin pump will not refuse action. My nurse provided me with insulin pens, just in case.. but I truly hope I won't need them. Our mini bar will be stacked with diet coke - that's another bonus of this hotel. I'm looking forward to strolling around the Medina, to smell the food and spices, to inspect the leather "maroquinerie", to take as many pictures as possible..

There is free wifi throughout the complete hotel, if you know what I mean. Yes, we'll keep you posted. I hope to upload some pictures every now and then, and let you know about our adventures..

Girls, we will miss you.. you will be in our minds. Hope to talk to you on Skype every now and then. Be good and keep safe...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Last night, when we were young

Photo Cathy Van de Moortele
My employer is a witty guy. For a number of times, he has called me "old", since to him,  "old" is 40+. He had no idea at first how old I am, so when I asked him if he thought I was old, he shook his head and said: no, I am talking about people who are at least 40 years old.. Right.. He was pretty embarrassed when I told him I'm turning 41 this month. Ever since, it's been our joke. He keeps reminding me of my age, but it doesn't bother me at all. I have no issues growing older.

Cleaning up the clutter in our house, I ran across two stuffed animals that were very dear to me as a child. A small golden teddy bear and a bigger sized bunny. They have been best friends for many, many years. When I go through my photo album (I have only one), I can see them in the crib I spent my baby time in. Maybe someone gave them to me for my birth? I don't know. But I still have them and I'm not going to dump them. They don't have a name. They are over 40 years old now. THEY are OLD. I'm not. We share the same age, but they look older than I do. They do! don't they?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Are you receiving me?

How important it is, to talk to one another. To share your stories, to talk about what you did that day. You know, the usual chitchat. It's so obvious, that we sometimes skip the talking and assume the other knows what's going on in your life. It is so important though, to stay connected emotionally. It makes the bond stronger, if you are aware of what's going on in your partner's life, head and heart.

Learning how to communicate, is interesting to say the least. It takes time and energy, but I'm sure it is worth the effort. There are tips to follow and traps to avoid, as long as you keep in mind what you are trying to achieve in the end.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

There's always room for improvement

When my nurse asked me to enter this clinical study, I didn't hesitate one bit. There's always room for improvement and I'm happy with the people that are willing to devote their time to diabetes and diabetes treatment. After all, they are the ones who come up with new treatments to make our life with D better. So why not participate and help them gather information?

This clinical study is on the importance of keeping close contact with your diabetesteam. Is it helpful to email your numbers to your nurse? Do you expect them to respond within a certain period of time? What's reasonable for you? Within the hour? Within a day of that same week? What do you expect from your team? Do you make your own adjustments or do you need a hand from your nurse? Does close contact help in getting better numbers?

I need to have my blood work done this afternoon. That's part of the study. I don't mind, although I have this minor suspicion my HbA1c will be slightly higher than last time's. I have had quite some highs and even more lows and those fluctuations don't do me any good. They wear me out to the point that you drag yourself through the day. My nurse has offered her help, but there's not much she can do right now. I have kept my diary for the week and I must admit there's no constant in my numbers. There's no pattern, no line to follow. So maybe I should just forget about this week's diary. We're leaving for Morocco soon and things will be completely different there as well. The heat will lower my BG, I will sleep late and eat differently. Not really a good moment to make alterations worthwhile, I would say. I'll keep poking my fingers 8 times a day and make adjustments if my BG is too high. I will eat 26 biscuits if that's what's necessary to keep going. Things will come back to normal, eventually. Because that's what they always do..

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Toi qui rit comme un ange

You have a beautiful smile. You don't make much sound when you smile, but that's okay. Your eyes shine and glow and that broad smile says it all. This afternoon, we cuddled on the couch. Not your own couch you are used to, but a couch in an apartment close to the beach. That's where you will spend your vacation with your family for a week. I will come visit you for two days, so your parents and brother can do other activities. Taking naps is what you need during the day. I love to have you in my lap and make you fall asleep. Making soothing sounds, stroking the tip of your nose  with my index, holding both of your hands, so you can relax and dream your dreams. I wonder what you dream about. While you are sleeping, you hold on to your pacifier, making those little noises that are so typically you. Your little feet meet each other at the foot soles, crossing your legs in my lap. I love the weight of your body against mine, your cheek against my cheek. I try to relax and we breathe together in the same cadence. I'm glad I can give you some love and warmth and you do the same for me. You have the most loving parents ever. They would give their life for you. They do more for you than one could expect. How could they not give you the best? You don't deserve any less. You ask nothing in return. It's just that the love that you give, reaches so many hearts and those hearts send you back all of their love. What a treasure you are..

Monday, August 6, 2012

Very low profile

I was at a dinner party, when the subject came to speeding tickets, parking tickets, tickets in general. We all had our own stories to tell and it surprised me to hear I was by far the only one in the crowd who liked to drive a bit quicker than allowed. I haven't had any tickets lately - touch wood, will you? - and I would like to keep it that way. It made me remember though, to take a look at my driver's licence, to see if that had not expired yet. Us diabetics need to renew our licence every 3 - 5 years. Therefore, we need to see our specialist and he has to give his permission. He is responsible for his patients and their driving skills. It's up to us to make sure our blood glucose is in the normal range, so we don't endanger others and ourselves. We have to keep in mind that our licence expires some day, because nobody will notify you. Driving with a licence that has expired, is serious business. It means the police may confiscate your vehicle. Just like that.

You probably know by now, my licence had expired. For 17 days, to be exact. Hmhm.. not a very good move I must admit. I had my picture taken that week and I went to the town hall to apply for a new document. My specialist had given his permission, so I expected no problems at all. Didn't I? I should have known better. Murphy's law.. When the town hall clerk called me (in fact, she called my husband first, since she had his number and not mine), she asked me to contact my doctor and demand a new document. Somehow, the wrong category had been ticked, meaning I could now drive a car AND a motorcycle! How exciting! As if.. Hello??? I'm not going to ride a motor cycle! Why couldn't she just erase that option? Because she couldn't. Because she did not have the power to do so. I truly hate it when that happens. What a hassle over nothing.. Stress that we don't need. I wanted things to be solved as soon as possible, so I called my helpline. She's an angel. I knew she would fix that for me and that's exactly what she did. In the meantime, I kept very low profile. Stuck to the speed limits. Didn't risk any parking ticket. Didn't cross any line at all.

My new licence is crisp and clean and it's kept safe in a brandnew plastic folder. For the next 3 years, I may drive my car. That is till further notice. Because you never know with diabetes. I'd better take good care of myself, so my licence will never be refused or taken away.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Good old fashion fun

It's great to have friends over. So I didn't mind the message you sent me: "Mom, is it okay if both my girlfriends stay over tonight? They would bring their tent and we would sleep in the backyard.
P.S. They would love to try out your cooking skills!"

I had to hurry up and get the preps done for dinner. I had something in mind, but as usual my plans changed just a little bit. Adding more and more side dishes to the original plan, I had some more errands to run. Your friends took the bus over to our place and the three of you were so happy to see each other. It had been a while, I must say. There was summer camp for you and then your friends went abroad with their parents. It won't be too long before school starts and both your friends will take different subjects. It's a shame they will no longer be in your class, but that doesn't mean you can no longer be friends.

I loved the smile on all of those faces and the chitchatting in the house. Daddy had to help out with the tent, but he shouldn't have. It started to rain and you stayed in your room. One of the girls fell asleep right away, for she had slept no more than 2 hours the night before, coming home from France. But you and your other friend couldn't stop chatting. I heard it was 4:30 AM before your heads touched your pillows.. zzzzzz

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Over a cup of coffee

The Diabetesforum is nearly open for 5 years. Over the years, many diabetics have come out of the closet to  find peers and make new friends. They have introduced themselves in the hope to meet up with others who experience the same things. Apparently it's not always that obvious for some to open up to others. To acknowledge they have a chronic disease. To talk about their fears, their anxieties, their concern. Some people just don't want anybody else to know they have diabetes.

Nearly one year ago, I met a lady who has been a diabetic for over 25 years. She had never ever met another diabetic before. I was astounded.. how is that possible? I mean, I have met so many diabetics by now. It's not that we're hiding some place. Okay, the word DIABETIC is not written on our foreheads. It's not that our disease is visible to others. If you are willing to open up though, there's absolutely a way to meet other diabetics and share stories.

I always find it exciting to meet new diabetics. To hear their story and to comfort them if they would have any sorrows. Seeing the relief in their eyes when you share cell phone numbers, so they can call you if they feel like talking to someone or ask their questions. It's a relief to tell someone - who knows what you are talking about - your BG has risen to 425 mg/dl and you're unable to bring it down. They know the crappy feeling and the despair, the unquenchable thirst, the sick feeling to your stomach. You don't have to explain it to them. And nobody tells you to stop whining about a disease you can't change.

You're lucky if you have a family that supports you and helps out when the diabetes is taking over. They do the best they can to listen to you and help you cope. In the end though, they can give their best shot, it will never be like being understood by a peer diabetic. Just because it's our disease.

Leave your house and go for a walk. Ask a fellow diabetic to meet you somewhere over a cup of coffee. Talk to one another and share stories. It'll do you good. There's no need to hide or pretend you're completely healthy. Because you're not. Healthy, I mean. Even though your diabetes may be well controlled, you will always have a chronic disease you should bear in mind.

You don't have to let the whole world know about your condition. You don't have to talk about diabetes every day. But whenever you feel the need to talk, it's good to know there are people out there who are willing to help out and give you a shoulder to lean on.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Second hand

Sometimes your house starts to live a life of its own. It fills up with things nobody wants but which are too good to be thrown away. You keep stacking away toys and books and clothes in all different sizes (but your own size) and your rooms are just filled with piles up till the ceiling. Hate it when that happens..
But what do you do to prevent it? I hear you have to throw something out whenever you buy something new. But hey, come on! I couldn't throw out a pair of shoes whenever I buy a new pair! could you??? So no, I'm not going to get rid of any shoes. Or maybe the 7 pair of sneakers that I never wear? They just sit there, in case I might feel the irresistible urge to start to run - something that is obviously not going to happen, ever!
I could get rid of those. The best deal would be, if I could trade them for something I could use. High heels for instance. That would be a good idea! But the thing is: I don't know anyone who has the exact same shoe size as mine, willing to trade high heels for sneakers.. So I guess I'm stuck with 7 pairs of runners for the rest of my life, staring at me as if they want to say: you are so lazy..
Of course I could take photographs of my shoes and sell them on the Internet. That's an option as well. There are some more items that could be sold that way: toys, books, stuffed animals, dolls, clothes that are worn but not worn-out. A whole room could be filled with things that need to go.
At the end of October, there is this jumble sale in our village. I could rent some space and sit there all day, waiting for some victims to stop by and buy some stuff. If only I would be interested in doing something like that. I don't like to visit jumble sales, imagine me sitting there and making a complete fool of myself.
If I wanted to get rid of the junk, I needed to come up with another solution..
I asked around a bit and apparently, there are some people who are interested in freeing our house of the clutter. They are willing to come over and liberate us from whatever we no longer need. I'm so excited about this whole thing! Finally a clutter free house! Can't wait!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tickle my taste buds

People often think that vegetarian meals are boring and tasteless. I'm not a vegetarian by choice. It's just that I don't need that much meat. In fact, when I think of it, I could do without. I like my veggies and fruit and legumes. There are plenty of choices to make wonderful vegetarian meals without lacking flavor.
The thing I don't like about the vegetarian way of life, is the way meat is being replaced by similar looking products, like veggie burgers, veggies sausages.. If I want to have a burger, I want it to taste like beef. My sausages need to be filled with tasteful mince meat, no replacements. To me, I see no value in including veggie burgers in my diet. They taste like cardboard.. I eat plenty of greens, so why have some burger filled with things I don't like and breaded so you can fry them and turn them into soggy, fatty and unhealthy burgers?

Like I have said before, I always try to find new produce or taste different flavors. Sometimes you need to take a shopping trip to stores you have never visited, mainly organic food stores. They have products you won't find anywhere else. How about edamame beans? I couldn't find them anywhere, until my sister-in-law pointed me out this organic food store in Bruges. I put it on my to do list. Need to complete that grocery list, to make sure my pantry has everything I need to cook my vegetarian meals...

  • a quality tahin, to make hummus
  • good oil
  • lemons or limes
  • garbanzo beans in a tin
  • white beans in a tin
  • fresh ginger root
  • tomatoes
  • tomato paste
  • celery
  • fresh spinach
  • onions (white, red, green, spring onions, shallots, ..)
  • garlic
  • bell peppers in all colors
  • lentils
  • white rice
  • quinoa
  • eggs
  • parmesan
  • cheddar cheese
  • edamame beans
  • chuka wakame
  • dried seaweed
  • sushi rice

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Let's talk about

you and me.
Let's listen to
you and me.
Let's hug.
you and me.
Let's kiss.
you and me.