The day I met my shadow / Le jour où j’ai rencontré mon ombre

As I was walking, I noticed this weird thing following me… everywhere I go… sticking to my steps ! Can’t get rid of it ! Pleased to meet my shadow, a friend who visits me me only by sunny day !

Pendant que je marchais, j’ai remarqué ce truc bizarre qui me suivait… partout où j’allais… se collant à mes pas ! Impossible de m’en débarrasser ! Enchanté de rencontrer mon ombre, un ami qui me rend visite uniquement les jours de soleil !



On Etretat’s beach / Sur la plage d’Etretat

Today we visited the beach of Etretat. Its stones are very difficult to walk on, but funny to throw away !

Aujourd’hui nous sommes allés sur la plage d’Etretat. Il est difficile de marcher sur ses galets, mais c’est drôle de les lancer !



At Aligre Market / Au Marché Aligre

Today Mama, Papa and I went to the Aligre Market which is a great market in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. And it was really great : I walked a lot, we had great food, it was sunny, and important people had the chance to meet me !

Aujourd’hui Maman, Papa et moi sommes allés au Marché Aligre qui est un magnifique marché du XIe arrondissement de Paris. Et ce fut vraiment super : J’ai beaucoup marché, nous avons bien mangé, il y avait du soleil et des gens importants ont eu la chance de me rencontrer !

And then after a while we were a little hungry so we had a little plate of cheese and ham, followed by a few oysters because mama loves oysters !

Et puis ensuite nous avions un peu faim alors nous avons eu une petite assiette de fromage et jambon, suivi de quelques huîtres car Maman aime beaucoup les huîtres !

And then outside it was a bit noisy… I thought it was for me, but no, it was for some politicians coming to shake hands of people. One was a nice guy who wanted to have a picture with me (Bertrand Delanoë, current mayor of Paris) and the other was not interested by a picture (François Hollande, current candidate of labour party for French President Election in 3 months) I don’t know if I will let Papa vote for him…

Et puis dehors ce fut un peu bruyant… je pensais que c’était pour moi, mais non, c’était pour des hommes politiques venus serrer des mains des gens. L’un d’eux était un gentil bonhomme qui voulait une photo avec moi (Bertrand Delanoë, actuel maire de Paris) et l’autre n’était pas intéressé par une photo (François Hollande, actuel candidat socialiste à l’élection du présidentielle Française dans 3 mois) Je ne sais pas si je vais laisser Papa voter pour lui !

It was a beautiful day full of surprises !

Ce fut une belle journée pleine de surprise !

The pharmacy lights / Les enseignes de pharmacie

There is something I love in the street : The pharmacy lights. Already when I was a baby, in my stroller or in Papa’s arms, I was always attracted by these moving lights (same as for any kind of message panel lights in the bus or in the subway anyway…). This is like a great show ! I could watch them for hours ! One day I’ll go to Las Vegas : Their pharmacy lights must be fabulous !!

Il y a quelque chose que j’adore dans la rue : Les enseignes de pharmacie. Déjà quand j’étais bébé, dans ma poussette ou dans les bras de Papa, j’étais toujours attiré pas ces lumières qui bougent (en fait c’est le cas pour toute sorte de panneau lumineux dans le bus ou le métro…). C’est comme un super spectacle ! Je pourrais les regarder pendant des heures ! Un jour j’irai à Las Vegas : Leurs enseignes de pharmacie doivent être fabuleuses !!

Granny & Grandpa

Today Grandpa made a surprise to Granny : He wrote an article in the newspaper for Valentine’s day. And it’s a beautiful story !

Aujourd’hui Grandpa a fait une surprise à Granny : Il a écrit un article dans le journal pour la St Valentin. Et c’est une belle histoire !


MONTREAL – It was May 2, 1957. I was 21 years old, and just one week away from writing my final exams at the Merchant Navy Officers Training College in Vlissingen, the Netherlands.

Vlissingen is a small community. Most students attended the college on an indenture contract for one of the big shipping companies.

I had signed a three-year contract with Royal Interocean Lines, all of it to be spent in the Far East without ever stopping in the Netherlands. The RIL paid for my tuition, books, room and board, uniforms and a small allowance; in addition, it facilitated my dream of becoming an engineering officer on a ship and travelling around the world.

Shortly before final exams, six of my classmates and I decided to rent a Volkswagen bus and go partying across the border in Belgium.

I was the only guy without a girl for a date. One of my friends introduced me to this young woman I had seen before – someone I had never dared to approach.

For a get-to-know-you meeting, he and his girlfriend and I were properly invited to this young woman’s home. Her name was Mieke Beatrix Götzen.

Lo and behold, her parents and siblings decided to go to the movies and leave us alone. We had a wonderful, intimate little party, which set up the next day’s trip to Knokke, Belgium, very nicely.

And then it happened.

I fell head over heels in love with Mieke. We had a wonderful time in Knokke, but when we got home, Mieke made it clear that having fun was one thing, but waiting for me for three years was out of the question.

That’s when I found out that she would celebrate her 16th birthday in June.

However, I never gave up hope. For one thing, I had managed to get into the good graces of her mother.

Over the ensuing three years, I travelled all over the Southern Hemisphere on a variety of ships.

Every single day of those three years, I wrote a page in which I told Mieke about life on board, the places I visited, and most of all about how much I missed her.

Whenever we entered a harbour with reliable mail service, I bundled all the pages together and mailed them to her.

It took about eight months before I could sense some encouragement from her. That’s when she sent me a framed photograph of herself. This was certainly to a large extent due to her mother urging her to respond to this lonely sailor.

Correspondence gradually heated up. After about another year, she send me another photo of herself – in a bikini.

Talk about cruelty!

Toward the end of my three-year contract, she agreed – by snail mail – to marry me. (In those days, there were very few phones. If you could find one, you had to get the Central Post Office to establish a connection. Then, at great cost, you were allowed three minutes. We were never in port long enough to do that.)

As a condition of agreeing to marry me, Mieke requested that I give up the sailor thing. Even though it broke my heart to do so, my love for her won out over my love for sailing and I agreed – as long as she agreed to my condition that we leave the Netherlands. I had been born and raised in the colonial Dutch East Indies (now called Indonesia) and I simply could not stomach the idea of living in such a densely populated and congested society as the Netherlands.

She agreed to come with me to Canada.

We were married in April 1961. We had a short honeymoon in Paris, then got on a boat to Montreal. Planes were a novelty then, and way too expensive.

We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary last spring.

We look forward to many more good years together, health permitting.

Life has been good to us.

We love Canada.

Rudy van Soest and his wife, Mieke, live in Notre Dame de Grâce.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette
Read more:

Oscar and his puzzle / Oscar et son puzzle

Snow in Paris / Neige à Paris

Today we had snow and we have been to the park next door. I wore my ewok costume and went for a walk which was not easy because I walk alone only since 3 weeks ago, but it was fun anyway… It was my first time walking in snow !

Aujourd’hui nous avions de la neige et nous sommes allés au parc d’à côté. J’ai mis mon costume d’ewok et je suis allé marcher, ce qui n’était pas facile car je marche tout seul depuis seulement 3 semaines, mais c’était quand même bien… C’était la première fois que je marchais dans la neige !



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