On French Fries and Flowers

The one and only time I have ever been to Brussels it was in a train station for 35 minutes, 20 years ago, and the only thing I remember is that when I went to buy a croissant at the train station french fry stand, I accidentally yanked my wallet out too hard and all of my money + the contents of my backpack (books, dirty socks, a Cosmo magazine, 13 pounds of spare change and about 74,000 tampons) went flying everywhere. Everywhere. It was mortifying. Especially because no less than four people -all of them total strangers- rushed to help me, each of them speaking a different language, none of which understood.

Three things about this:

1. Did you hear the part where I mentioned FRENCH FRY STAND IN THE TRAIN STATION and it sold CROISSANTS?
These people know how to live.

2. If that happened to me today, here, would four people rush to help me?
Not likely. It would not be fair to say all Belgian people are equally so kind, but that is how they remain in my mind. Also – the symbol of their capital is a statue of a rebellious boy peeing into a fountain. And he has outfits. So, you know I’m a fan.

3. Why were these people, these kind, smart, french fry-loving, weirdly-open-minded and multicultural people made a target for hate and destruction yesterday?
Coming up short on this one.

This is the part where I’m supposed to say I’m sending prayers and good thoughts to the 30+ people who died yesterday, and their families, and all those effected by the bombing, and I’m going to get there, but first I’m going to be mad as a hornet.

And I don’t know what to do about it.

Terrorism is not new, nor is this a unique incident, but what do you do about it? For all the time, money and attention spent on this, it still happens. All the time. And the point of terrorism cause fear and drive blame…and what are we doing? We all get afraid and look for someone to blame.

Boom – they win.

We let them win.

….Guhhh. Okay. Sorry. I don’t mean to bitch. I really don’t. I created this site as a forum to share ideas and sometimes the ideas aren’t of the hot glue and sequin variety. It irritates me that I can turn on a dozen news channels right now and hear endless experts talking about what happened yesterday, but nobody is saying what we can do about it to prevent it from happening again, or how to help those rippling through the aftermath. This bugs me. I’m a fixer. I don’t like allotting brain space to problems without allotting equal space to a solutions. Anything less comes off as whining, and listening to it, however compelling or sympathetic, eventually starts to sound like nails on a chalkboard.

But I digress.

Hey! Let’s shift gears and talk about something important: flowers.

…and speaking of Brussels, in addition to french fries, croissants, and ability to overcome terrorism, they do this awesome thing the flower carpet. I have admired it for years. Have you heard of it? Look at this thing!
It takes place in late summer every two years in the Grand-Place in the center of Brussels. This open plaza is one of the most beautiful in the world already, and then 120 volunteers fill it with one million begonias. I told you I liked these people.

Shut up.


Credit: Images and video provided by the City of Brussels office of Tourism. You need to watch the video.

The 2016 carpet is scheduled to be in tribute to diplomatic relations with Japan, but I doubt Japan would mind if they altered or integrated the theme to remember yesterday’s events. Or not. Maybe that is not necessary. Public art has weird healing powers when it comes to injured communities, regardless of content or context. A thing of beauty is never a waste of time. I suppose, in a small way, making beautiful things is it’s own strange form of counter-terrorism. It’s a living demonstration of survival. Making something with your hands says you will create good things in spite of a bad surrounding. You will create light in the dark. And isn’t that the most enviable skill of all?

Welp. That’s what I know about that.

I’m off. Today is one of those rare days I scheduled for nothing but painting, which is such a treat, but today, perhaps it comes with a slightly heavier heart.





  1. says

    This is sort of bleak, but I’m beginning to thing terrorist attacks, wackos with guns, tsunamis, all of this is the black plague of today. I’m beginning to think that there are too many of this on our planet and we’re too smart and also too stupid, so disease is of no use and all of this is the world’s newest disease. I suppose a much more elegant way to say this is that our world is dangerously out of balance. I think that’s the part that scares me.

    • aunt peaches says

      Out of balance indeed. And I don’t know that any of us are worried about the solution so much as our own survival. OUfff.

      • says

        I agree. I’m tired of people laying blame without offering any solution at all. We care more about these bogus ‘moral’ fights than we do about the actual lives of actual people. I feel like people are taking refuge in hate because they’re afraid.

  2. erin says

    This post is lovely, beautiful, and necessary. Emotionally articulate and full of lovely ideas and images. And now my feels are leaking out of my face.

    • aunt peaches says

      You are sweet. Sorry for the feeling leaks!

  3. Kaylin says

    Don’t apologize for getting royally mad! Yes this is a sad event and our hearts should break for the victims, but gosh darn it I’m sick of these cowardly little worms sneaking bombs into civilian areas and killing innocent people! (I’m a fixer too) Watching the news makes you want to leap through the screen and squash these guys like the bugs they are! GUH! The world needs less bombs and more glitter.

    • aunt peaches says

      I’m a card carrying supporter of the PRG (People’s Republic of Glitter).

      • AnnW says

        Can you make up some of these cards? Better yet, can you put them on one of those lanyard things? I would buy one.

  4. Caroline says

    “Not only do terrorists always fail at they’re after, they almost always succeed in strengthening whatever they’re against.”

    “What could you possibly be thanking God for?” “I’m thanking God for not making me like them.” Bad people can’t be recognized on sight. There’s no point in trying.

    “You want to get these people? I mean, really reach in and kill them where they live? Keep accepting more than one idea. Makes ’em absolutely crazy.”

    I kept thinking of the West Wing episode “Issac and Ismael” after the attacks in Paris (it was written after 9/11 to talk about general themes of terrorism), and I’ll keep thinking of it now. It doesn’t always make me feel better. But most of the time it does. (And if you feel the need to watch it, it’s on Netflix).

    • aunt peaches says

      Oh yes, I know too well! I watched every season before I went to decorate the white house last November. Aaron Sorkin knew how to grab those moments by the throat! Sometimes I’d see them glimmer through on Newsroom (his more recent show)…but current events today seem somehow bleaker and more corrupt than 15 years ago. I don’t know. Where are Josh and Toby when you need them?

  5. AnnW says

    How about You/Me Brussels 2018? I can’t go this year. I’ve had too many vacations. Next year I’m up for the World Snowshoe Championship in February in Saranac Lake. The US Tango Championships are in March in Oregon. After that, I’d like to go to Buenos Aires again. When are you coming to NYC? Don’t you have some things on your bucket list? Also, don’t you want to see your publisher? I think it’s in Chelsea, or maybe right below SoHo.

    • aunt peaches says

      One of these days I’ll get back to NYC! I think my publisher is a little further upstate, but luckily we can do everything over the internet. Though it would be nice to see these folks in person!

      • AnnW says

        They are in Mineola, on the island. Easy to get to.

        • AnnW says

          I’ll drive you to Mineola!

  6. Jane says

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful floral carpets, along with your thoughts on the bombing! I’d never heard of that before. It cheers me up during this dreary time of never knowing when or where “they” will strike next.

    • aunt peaches says

      Than YOU Jane. We could all use some cheering, I suspect. Good news shines brightest in the dark.

  7. Alice Schmid says

    I think the terrorism is a political response to two issues: first they object to the victimization of Muslims, especially Palestinians, at the hands of Israel. I have to say, they do have a point. Israel has been awful to the Palestinians. It’s one reason I love Bernie Sanders, who says that. As a Jew, he can say that without being called anti-semitic (especially risky proposition for someone like me, with a German last name).

    Second, it’s the world of finance they object to, and especially the oligarchy the world has become in terms of haves and have nots. It’s why they’re hitting financial centers, like the World Trade Center in NYC, like the airport in Brussels, the capital of the EU.

    I think what has to happen is that we stop branding people with correlative adjectives, and sit down and listen to grievances. And address them in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, the people who have amassed so much wealth in the last 2 decades are not going to be easy to convince.

    I wish you glorious painting!!!!

    • aunt peaches says

      Hmmmm… I hear what you are saying. Historically, oppression has always fueled the world’s most dangerous fires. That said, no political agenda is an excuse for indiscriminate murder. And ISIS isn’t even a political party or governmental collective (nobody elected them and they have no organized agenda)…so I’m having a hard time imagining what forum would allow for the constructive airing of grievances. The UN facilitates conversations between nations but most terrorist orgs are not nations…so where does that leave things? Nothing moves, the frustration boils over, a bomb goes off somewhere… and Muslims are blamed, scorned, and victimized all over again.

      But again, I hear what you are saying – the system is corrupt with no easy solution.

      • Alice Schmid says

        I totally agree. There is zero justification for their heartless acts.

        But it will only keep on happening unless we try to sit down and. Work out what theissues between us are.

  8. SuzyMcQ says

    My two cents. In many countries in Europe, Muslims are marginalized. They are ostracized, not permitted to wear their head covering, discriminated against in hiring and in daily life. They are embattled. They live in mostly poor neighborhoods were feelings of hatred fester. It is an incubator for terrorism.

    In the US, this is not at all the case, at least it wasn’t until late last Summer when politician/s started saying unjustified things about Mexicans as well as other minority populations. For the most part, Muslims live in the US among all of us, they are our friends and neighbors and coworkers. They have been embraced and assimilated. Most, I believe, have good feelings about us and about this country. Of course there are exceptions, there always are. But, I believe this is a simplified version of what has happened and will continue to happen.

    Now, I am going to quilt, because it’s my escape from all of this hatred. It’s getting more and more difficult to find the good…….

  9. Susan says

    This is a lovely post! I’m so damned angry and so very sad about Brussels that I don’t know how to get it out. My older brother and sister in law lived in Belgium for 4 years and came home 4 years ago. I cannot tell you the amount of times that they used that airport. Frank traveled constantly for work and Janis had 3 tickets a year to come home and see my nephew. I visited with them once or twice a year and while I was there each time we flew somewhere else. Friends and relatives of all kinds were welcome in their home. I hate thinking about it. Belgium to me is pretty buildings, frites, great beer of all kinds and chocolate, tons and tons of chocolate. And now terrorism. I hate them.

  10. Sandy Van den Borne says

    Thank you so much for your lovely words about us Belgians and even though you didn’t spent much time here, I’m glad you liked it.
    I hope you will visit our country again some day.
    We also have a very beautiful train station: Antwerp central station
    and very nice cities like Gent and Bruges 🙂

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