Monthly Archives: December 2021

Out with the old, in with the new!

Squirrel jumps away from the camera with an elegant leap, on a green patch of grass.
Woohoo! Leaping into a new year!

I know there are a ton of new year’s resolutions being made, and about to be broken. I have a few aspirations and goals myself, but above all, I am just happy to be done with 2021. It wasn’t a great year in many ways, although I did manage to achieve some things. But rather than a retrospective of all that, I thought I’d share what I did today to help celebrate the arrival of a new, fresh start tomorrow. (To be honest, I’m pretty good at treating any day of the year as a fresh start.)

There was baking from me, and a small ton of cooking lovely food (incl. for tomorrow) from mom, with me as sous-chef providing dish-washing support. Nomnomnom!

Woman with a tie-die T-shirt placing biscuits on a baking sheet
Shortbread biscuits! (Cookies if you’re in the US)

I have a long way to go before I will take part in the Great Whatever Bakeoff:

Sheet of biscuits with white sugar piping glaze
My first attempt ever at decorating with sugar glaze/piping

Dinner was our traditional new year’s eve dinner: homemade pizza. When I am home, it’s mom’s pizza on this night or it’s not 31 December πŸ˜†

Pizza with courgette slices, capers, anchovies, and sliced red pepper and cheese on a baking sheet with a pizza wheel in the background
Homemade pizza is the best

There was knitting on the gansey, under supervision of Hippomiena, the grandmother of all toy hippos:

A grey toy hippo perched on the top of the sofa appears to look pleased at the light purple knitting in progress, with a complex textured pattern, on the seat of the sofa.
Gansey in progress in foreground, hippo looking contentedly at the progress

And there was a little beer to lubricate final proceedings (writing this blog post and some more knitting, before diving into my jimjams)

Grey toy hippo next to a glass of amber-coloured beer, in a glass with a label named "Palm"
Hippomiena checks out one of the local(-ish) brews

Miracles still exist

End-to-end rainbow from one river bank to the other, against a dramatic sky threatening with rain. A long tow-path runs along the river.
Along the river Dender

This image does not look anything like Pennsylvania, and that’s because it’s taken along the Dender near where my mom lives. Just under four weeks ago I finally managed to make my escape from the US, and touch Belgian soil – first time back since 7 Jan. 2020. Miracles still exist, because the very next day after I got home, the news of Omikron (Omicron) broke. We all realised how just one small thing can throw off the plans that were in the works since mid-October, when the US government first gave a firm date for reopening its borders, allowing me to return after a potential visit to Belgium. The borders have remained open, but I feel the need to add “so far!”

I’ll need a few more miracles: as a Belgian citizen registered with the New York consulate, a Kafka-esque situation has developed around my e-ID. I was extremely lucky a friend extracted the piece of paper from my flat in the US with the PUK code. The alternative was to send the codes to… the US consulate where my ID is issued. But (see final paragraph below) I won’t be in the US for months and as a Belgian citizen I need the e-ID: to have my test results delivered before I can board a plane! Fortunately, that circular nightmare was avoided and after a trip to a nearby town hall the chip is activated. Now I need to find out where to correct my birth date for the Covid-safe ticket, because there’s no online option to do that. At least I’m not in a hurry to go out dining and wining. It’s also still a mystery to me how I can register in Belgium for my booster jab: the online registration sites don’t even allow me to register, because my domicile is not in Belgium.

Cockroach in bed meme, text "Another day of sorting out covid-related paperwork in Belgium"
Not feeling like a full Belgian citizen when confronted with bureaucracy…

But for now, I can enjoy a well-deserved break on home soil. After our fourth pandemic semester I can feel my batteries recharging, courtesy of the exquisite care from “the mothership”.

simple drawing of a person sleeping on a couch with above them a battery loading to full.
Recharging ☺️

I don’t quite know when I’ll be back in the US, thanks to a borked immigration system that takes ages to deal with my visa, something that used to be a 2-week process. But mom and I are enjoying our time together, and for once it’s ok to have bureaucracy grinding to a halt.