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Durchhalten

9 February, 2019 at 6:59 pm by belgianwaffle

Honestly, I can’t remember when I have had a more miserable January. At least 3 of us had the flu and we were all sick. I am only really better now. Poor Mr. Waffle is still going around coughing pathetically. His recovery was not, I imagine, in any way advanced by a shower of hail while he stood on the side of a GAA pitch this afternoon cheering Daniel on to a miserable defeat.

The works in the kitchen have been quite hideous. The house continues to be almost always filled with builders and dust. The temporary kitchen set up in the utility room is as hideous as you might imagine. We had many freezing weeks without a wall. The temperature in the temporary kitchen fell to as low as 8 degrees celsius and the olive oil solidified. For one hideous wet, rainy, cold miserable night we had to go out in the back garden to get to and from the temporary kitchen.

We enjoyed about a week of an earth floor in the kitchen which as depressing as it sounds. Particularly, when you see the cat eyeing it speculatively as a vast indoor toilet facility. Our tiles in the kitchen were laid on earth by the Victorians and, as Mr. Waffle said, there were worms there sticking their heads into the air for the first time since the build up to the Boer War. British worms.

There were several dates for delivery of windows to make the kitchen weatherproof. This was even more important as doors between the kitchen and the rest of the house had to be removed. Two of the delivery dates were missed to no one’s real surprise but the windows and glass doors were delivered on February 4 and although the door doesn’t open and the bathroom window is not the colour we ordered, we are inclined to regard this as a definite step forward.

Meanwhile, like a fool, I am doing a course which required an assignment to be submitted by February 7. It had to be done in the course of January. You would think we were suffering enough but I enjoyed putting myself through that extra layer of misery. I am never doing another degree, diploma or anything unless it is for my own entertainment and maybe not even then.

My poor 93 year old father also got the flu and I was ringing him for daily updates on his condition. He’s almost recovered, thanks for asking. As I rang to hear his litany of woe and he sympathetically listened to mine, he would say, “there is only one thing for it ‘durchhalten'”.

I think the worst might be over. But it might not.

Failing to Keep Up with the Joneses

14 January, 2019 at 8:35 pm by belgianwaffle

When we went to Cork for a week our next door neighbours minded our cat, then when they were in France last week we fed their chickens. They came back at the weekend and we exchanged token gifts in return for neighbourly services.

Our token gift: a packet of artisan marshmallow picked up at a food fair in Cork

Their token gift: two large bars of chocolate, a jar of foie gras, a jar of onion confit, an enormous amount of Tomme and some other mountainy cheese.

I feel bad but I had some of the foie gras this evening and, God knows, we need some cheering in the midst of illness and renovations, and I was cheered. Also, Mr. Waffle tells me that he put out their bins and took them in again so there’s that. As against that, we got four eggs from the hens during our period of responsibility.

Changing Mores or an Unexpected Caller

14 January, 2019 at 3:31 pm by belgianwaffle

Over Christmas Mr. Waffle and I went for a walk along the South Bull Wall which is a wall with a lighthouse at the end of it that sticks out into Dublin bay. Half of Dublin was there (including a child from the boys’ class whose parents had forced him out while we left ours plugged in to the mainframe). The guilt.

They missed the great views out to Wicklow across the bay but they were unmoved when we told them.

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Anyhow, this is all by the by. The story I am wending my way gradually towards concerns a couple who were walking towards us. The woman was speaking with great vehemence, “I mean, she’s a monster, unbearable, who even does that?” I listened with interest to hear what the sin was and, apparently, the monster dropped in on them without notice. That was it, that was her sin. Sadly, only my friends M & R do that to us but I love an unexpected drop in. Is it now gone the way of the dodo? My sister tells me that a woman who was in her class in school has a sign up in her driveway saying, “Please respect our privacy and do not call to the door.” This just strikes me as rude. Am I out of touch? What do the young people do?

Middle Aged Concerns

28 December, 2018 at 7:45 pm by belgianwaffle

We have a lane behind our house. It’s a clean lane and, as lanes go, it’s a nice lane. There is nowhere to sit in the lane except just opposite the door into our garage where an old boarded up door into the convent which used to be behind us has a handy step for sitting on.

This tended to attract older men who would sit and drink there in the fine weather. I did not love this but they were always quiet and polite and left their beer cans in a plastic bag which I would dispose of with a tch sound.

The convent is now being replaced by apartments and the building work has made the lane (and indeed our back garden) a much less pleasant place to be. Our older gentlemen drinkers have moved on.

I was deeply displeased on coming home in the middle of the day to see that their place had been taken by two drug users. My neighbour from up the road was cycling past with his granddaughter on the front of his bike and he gave them the evil eye and waited for me to let myself in to the shed with my bike. They were very skinny with bad teeth and clearly about to inject something so the man’s assurance to us that they were “only smoking a joint” was unconvincing.

I didn’t even bother calling the guards but my neighbour up the road did but, as he observed bitterly, they didn’t come. I suppose they are busy.

I feel sorry for these people who have fallen through the cracks and are stuck drinking or even drug taking in our lane but I do not want my children coming home from school and having to wrestle their bikes into the shed while people are shooting up beside them. I had made my peace with our drinkers but I think intravenous drug use is probably where I draw the line. When our builders start in January, I am going to ask them to block up the step with breeze blocks which are somehow a bit better than those vile pigeon spike things.

I suppose we’ll make another attempt to get everyone to agree on gates for the lane – a project which has been in gestation for at least ten years. I note that there are new neighbours at the top of the road who will have to be persuaded. According to their older neighbours whom I know, they are lovely. She is a surgeon and has already diagnosed one of their ailments. I’m not sure whether that will make the new neighbours feel more neighbourly and inclined to agree to an electric gate and then, of course, jointly funding it. The last objector to gates in any way shape or form has died (naturally of old age, I hasten to add) but a number of people won’t go for electronic gates which they see as excessive and over the top but which are insisted upon by the people with the fancy car which they park in the garage accessed by the lane. Everyone has to agree or it can’t be done. Honestly, I can see this running for another ten years.


Christmas Round-Up

27 December, 2018 at 7:38 pm by belgianwaffle

I went in to work on Christmas Eve in the morning and did some very desultory bits and pieces and inspected my colleagues’ children who had come in to see Santa. Herself was sick but the boys came in to briefly inspect my office and then to go and meet a former colleague and his children.

For many years we have met in the canteen in his office with our children for a Christmas Eve get together. Sadly, the canteen was unexpectedly closed for renovations so we found ourselves in the less than glamourous surroundings of the Spar cafe. Also unexpected was the presence of his eldest child who started college this year and who we both expected to be a no-show but there he was grown up and bearded looking but still tormenting the younger ones. I have to say that despite the distinctly unappealing surroundings, it was all relatively pleasant. Our own little Christmas miracle.

Daniel and I went to midnight mass early as he was singing in the carol service beforehand. Mr. Waffle and Michael followed a bit later. Herself couldn’t go as she was sick as a dog. I was quite sad that she couldn’t make it, but it was for the best.

The boys looked very dapper for midnight mass, I thought.

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It wasn’t even too long as our saintly parish priest is reverent but speedy. Notwithstanding singing and processions, we finished at 10.15 and we were home hanging up stockings at 10.20.

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Santa and my sister did an exceptionally good job on the presents this year and I think all of the children were quite pleased with their respective hauls. I was quite pleased myself, Mr. Waffle having excelled himself in the present department.

We had Christmas breakfast at home which was quite nice in an understated way and gave me a chance to use my Christmas Spode wear and my fancy new Marimekko oven gloves which were a present from my friend who lives in Finland (aside: am a bit concerned about these now as sister-in-law said, “You got two? we gave someone one for a wedding present once.” I can only hope that they are cheaper in Finland.) I threw the old ones in the bin over Mr. Waffle’s howls of protest that they were still perfectly fine if a little stained from usage.

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For a variety of logistical reasons we were having Christmas dinner in my parents-in-law’s house. I was a bit nervous. We were due out there from the morning and it seemed a bit of a long day. My mother-in-law was coming out of the nursing home for a couple of hours and all the aunts, uncles and cousins were coming for drinks and kind words about my father-in-law. It all worked out pretty well although it was slightly stressful at times. The boys had a fantastic time playing with their cousins but herself was really pretty miserable and sick and went upstairs to lie down at one stage. She took to her bed when she got home and hasn’t emerged from the sick room since. Poor Princess.

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Last photo of the Princess upright

I am not generally a person who finds small children entertaining, however, I am enjoying the company of my little niece, S, who is 18 months old. Her English father is doing Trojan work trying to get her to say “Father Christmas” which is apparently what they say in England but all of her Irish relatives (of whom there are many) are working on “Santa” and we definitely have the upper hand although the Princess, in an admirable gesture of solidarity with her uncle is trying to teach young S to say “Father Christmas”, it is, frankly, an uphill battle. She was quite a cheerful presence at a Christmas where a lot of the grown-ups were a bit sad thinking about my poor parents-in-law and all the changes in 2018.

On St. Stephen’s Day we went orienteering as is traditional. Herself stayed home alone I think regarding missing the annual orienteering expedition as one of the few upsides of her illness. On the plus side it did not rain for the first time in many years.

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On the minus side the food in the pub where we traditionally retire for lunch afterwards has hit a new low both in terms of quality of food and speed of delivery. We may have to consider alternative options in 2019.

We dropped in to see niece S and her parents on the way home (sister-in-law having been resolute in her determination to not enjoy this annual tradition with her little family) and I did enjoy my niece’s appalled little face at the prospect of these interlopers coming to her own home. I thought she waved us off with conspicuous enthusiasm. I can’t feel Mr. Waffle is helping the process of my endearing myself to her by referring to me as “scary lady” although his sister assures me that S has no idea what that means.

Today we hung around the house mostly though Mr. Waffle and I did go for a mild walk to look at the deer in the Phoenix Park.

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Tomorrow, I am making the ultimate sacrifice for niece S. She rises at 5 am and her parents are often stuck for early morning activities. The three of them are coming to our house for 8 in the morning tomorrow so that we can all go off to a megalithic tomb (I feel that her English father needs to see something of the tourist offerings available, this is a feeling I am somewhat regretting). My own children a) having seen this particular tomb a number of times and b) being teenagers on their Christmas holidays will be sitting out this particular adventure. I am feeling particularly virtuous and I hope this feeling will sustain me when I leap from my bed at 7.30 in the morning but I kind of doubt it.

And how has your own Christmas been so far?

Updated to add: The in-laws decided to postpone the delights of the tomb so we went to the park instead which was, in its own modest way quite successful also.

Maybe We’re Not Back, Baby

23 December, 2018 at 7:09 pm by belgianwaffle

A woman I met at work told me that a friend of hers fits kitchens. Apparently during the boom, he was run off his feet. Once he had requests for quotes from someone putting in a galley kitchen in Killiney (smart Dublin suburb) and someone putting in a kitchen in a big bungalow in Meath (in the countryside). He didn’t want to do the Meath job so whereas he would normally have quoted €18k, he quoted twice that. Inadvertently, he texted the Killiney clients (for whom he intended to quote €9k) that their galley kitchen would cost €36k and, you know where this is going, they said that was fine.

My informant believes he took the money which is, clearly, poor. Notwithstanding talk that the boom is back, I do not believe we are yet in the territory of the €36K galley kitchen.

Cycling Ire

22 December, 2018 at 6:57 pm by belgianwaffle

When I am in the car I always smile at cyclists if I catch their eye. Firstly, I’m mostly a cyclist myself and I always like to be reassured that drivers have seen me and, you know, all the better if they are cheerful about it. Secondly, I am in my car causing traffic and polluting the air and they are not.

However, I am aware that not everyone feels quite as warmly towards cyclists as I do. I hit a new low the other day. It was lunch time. I was wearing work clothes and I was pushing my bike on the pavement. The pavement was wide. The road was one way against me. Cars were parked right up to the kerb so there was no way that I could push it on the road and walk along side it.

A respectably dressed older gentleman, maybe in his late 60s, came up behind me and deliberately pushed against me and hissed, “Get off the pavement.” I have to say, I was a bit shook. He was quite angry. I mean, I feel I could have taken him, if it had come to a fight but it was so gratuitously unpleasant. I thought that he must really hate cyclists or, maybe more charitably, he was in the early stages of dementia. Although, as Mr. Waffle pointed out, if I had been a young man, he probably wouldn’t have behaved in that way.


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