Brussels…but without the sprouts!

Stefano and I are going to be visiting Brussels during the Easter holiday, so today I decided to write a pre-Brussels post in order to ask my Belgian readers (or readers who have been there) for some tips on where to go, what to see, the best places to get a decent meal (Belgian food), etc. We’ll be there for four days, btw. Can’t wait!!!

I have already begun a list, which includes the Magritte Museum (we are both Magritte fans), the Manneken Pis (the bronze statue of a little boy peeing into a fountain’s basin…it’s famous), and, of course, the Grand Place. We have also planned to spend a day in Bruges, sometimes referred to as “the Venice of the North.”

pierre marcoliniAs for eateries, well, it’s no secret that I’m a chocolate lover, so there couldn’t be a better place for me than the land of Belgian chocolates. 😉 We will definitely make a stop at one of Pierre Marcolini’s “haute chocolaterie” shops (see photo of his selection box), highly recommended by a chocolate-loving friend of ours. I hope we can afford his prices, though! I am also curious to visit “Mary,” the shop that supplies pralines to the Belgian royal family.

And, since Stefano likes a good glass of beer, I was thinking of taking him to the Cantillon Brewery, unless someone has a better suggestion…Of course, we will be eating regular food, too, so suggestions to that regard are most appreciated, too!

Thank you!!! Or rather, dank u!!! 🙂


IMG_6007Yesterday, as soon as we found out that a flock of flamingos had landed in our favorite bird reserve, Stefano and I got our gear together and rushed over there.

We arrived about an hour before sunset, so the light wasn’t great, as you can see. Plus the flamingos were on the other side of the lake, so please don’t look too closely at my photos. They’re terrible! But they do document the presence, for the FIRST time ever!!!, of 15 flamingos in this bird reserve. It’s a historic event! Amazingly exciting. IMG_5980

I hope these interesting birds are going to enjoy the reserve and stick around for a few days, which would give us a few more opportunities to photograph them, perhaps under better conditions…But even if they fly away today, it won’t matter to me: I’m so thrilled to have seen them here in Florence (after seeing hundreds of them in Camargue, years ago).IMG_5861

Wow. Flamingos in Florence! 🙂 IMG_5686

“Curcumin is a safe and effective treatment for most cancers…”

Well, duuuuh, we already knew that, but this–that is, the fact that curcumin is a safe and promising treatment for most cancers–is the conclusion reached by a group of scientists who reviewed past clinical trials. So…hey…it’s official!!!

Here’s the direct link to the article:

Oh, by the way, the article specifically mentions multiple myeloma (and pancreatic cancer) as a type of cancer that responds well to curcumin…Excellent news (again, nothing new for us, but…for me, a bit of vindication, I must admit…). 🙂

Through the mill…

This post should explain, I hope, my absence from the blogging world and why I haven’t been replying to queries…

I came down with the flu about a week and a half ago. Wowsie. That February flu was the worst. My main symptom was a fever close to/equal to 40° C (104° F) that lasted for days. So I slept a lot. I’m okay now, but boyohboy I’m still tired most of the time–no energy, no appetite. All I really want to do is lie around and watch movies. 🙂 But I know this lack of energy won’t be a permanent state…like others who have been through the same thing, I just have to take it easy for a while, that’s all…

Piccolo in the clinic Feb 2015

But that isn’t the only reason I haven’t been devoting my free time to research and blogging. We’ve just come out of a terrible period of worry and fear that began on January 20, when our eldest male cat, Piccolo, 11.5 years old, became suddenly and seriously ill.

It’s actually a long and complicated story, but the gist is that I saved my cat’s life by deciding to take him to the 24-hour animal clinic on February 6…I just had a very strong feeling that he was getting worse at home, under our family vet’s “supervision.” Turned out, I was right. My gut saved my cat…

The vets at the animal clinic ran some blood tests on Piccolo. The results showed that he had “acute kidney failure.” Noooo!!! Almost paralyzed with fear, I managed to ask the vet to tell me the truth. She answered that some cats live, some don’t, that it all depended on the individual cat’s reaction to treatment. Okay, Margaret, deep breath…

Piccolo was admitted immediately to the clinic where he stayed for more than 5 days. For the first 24 hours, we didn’t know if he would live or not…_MG_3468

Luckily for us, it turned out that his kidney failure wasn’t chronic but had been caused by an anti-inflammatory drug OVERDOSE (= a dose, mind you, that had been prescribed by our own family vet…well, now our former family vet…). I mean, Piccolo almost died because of a stupid limp (which, by the way, is gone now). Crazy. Absolutely crazy.

But the main thing is that Piccolo is okay now, thanks to the wonderful loving care he received at the clinic. He still hasn’t recovered 100%, but he’s back to his normal self, and his creatinine is almost back in the normal range now. We hope to get there next week, after finishing the I.V. therapy he’s been doing as an outpatient for weeks now.

Piccolo is an extraordinary cat. He is the only one who “skypes” with my parents, responding to their voices and gestures. And, like he did when he was a young cat, he still fills our bed with balls during the night. He won’t run down the stairs to retrieve them anymore, but he still brings them upstairs for us to throw (and for us to retrieve, too…!). He is very affectionate, loves giving forehead-to-forehead love bumps, and yes, he’s a chatterbox…he always has lots to tell us, especially when we’re driving to the animal clinic for his treatments (meowmeowmeow…aaaagh!). We love him to bits. And to think that, if I hadn’t had that gut feeling, we would have lost him…Scary.

_MG_3485The photos: 1. A miserable Piccolo in his cage at the clinic, with the torture collar around his neck (even with the collar, he managed to rip out his I.V. drip at least twice…bad boy!); 2. Piccolo on our bed shortly after we got home; 3. a more recent photo of Piccolo who is now not in any pain and able to curl up again…

Bottom line: every time I’ve followed my gut instinct, I’ve made the right choices. So here is my advice for today: always listen to your…gut!