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Ye Know neither the Day nor the Hour

24 October, 2018 at 1:32 pm by belgianwaffle

My poor father-in-law died last night. It was very surreal. He went into hospital a month ago with a sore back. Over the past number of years he had suffered from dementia and he was getting worse but he was relatively young (74) and he was walking and talking when he went into hospital. Last week the discharge co-ordinator was talking to the family about arrangements for him to get out this week.

Yesterday morning, my husband got a call about his father and he said to me that it sounded serious. “Let me know how it goes with the doctors,” I said. When I got out from a meeting at lunchtime, there was a message that things weren’t looking good. When I called, Mr. Waffle sounded a bit shell-shocked. His father had pneumonia and they were trying one last ditch effort with antibiotics. I still didn’t really think things were serious but about mid-afternoon, I got worried and called Mr. Waffle to ask whether I should come into the hospital. He didn’t feel it was necessary but said it would be nice so in I went. His father looked alright but was not conscious and was on oxygen. I rang my father (doctor) and my sister (has spent so much time in hospitals tending to aged parents that she has doctor like knowledge of geriatric issues). When I said he had aspiration (not aspirational as I thought – I was corrected – it’s not the kind of pneumonia you hope to get if you are upwardly mobile) pneumonia, they both thought it was not a good sign. My father is normally very optimistic about things but he was not on this occasion. “How long does he have, do you think?” I asked. “Find a senior ward sister and ask; they always know and they are always right,” he said. But my nerve failed me with the family gathered at the bed, I didn’t think I could ask. My sister texted that she reckoned 2-7 days. Even then, I didn’t think it was an immediate deathbed crisis.

We left in the late afternoon. That evening, about 9, there was a call from the hospital; his heart rate was very low. By the time the family arrived at 9.30, he was dead. The speed of it was shocking.

My sister-in-law flew in this morning from London. She and her husband planned a move to Dublin from London and had all been due to fly in tomorrow anyhow. Absolutely miserable for her and for him (packing in London with small baby). I have just arranged for the Princess to fly home from France tomorrow for the funeral. It’s all very strange.

I feel very sad, he was a lovely man with enormous joie de vivre. The last couple of years have been tough for everyone but we have been reflecting on all the years of fun and generosity that proceeded them: holidays, dinners out, long runs up mountains followed by pints in the pub. He derived immense pleasure from life. He retired early and for years, he and my mother-in-law enjoyed holidays in Italy where they learnt Italian in the morning and had fun in the afternoons. He was a daily reader of the Corriere della Sera and regularly clipped out items of interest for me. He liked nothing more than taking the extended family out and buying us all dinner. He was endlessly generous, even profligate, as far as his family was concerned. He was the life and soul of every party.

Car Related Woes

22 October, 2018 at 7:20 pm by belgianwaffle

Poor Mr. Waffle has been on the road a lot visiting his parents who, sadly, are not at all well and live on the opposite side of Dublin. He heard a funny noise from the car but ignored it. A mistake, it transpired.

In his extensive car time, he noticed that one of the front light bulbs had gone so he wrestled with replacing it and while he was doing so, our neighbour who does haulage and van hire, saw him and hoved up to help (our neighbour has a pretty accurate understanding of our technical abilities).

Later that day as Mr. Waffle was, yet again, enjoying the delights of the Dublin ring road (the unlovely M50), the funny noise reached a crescendo and it turned out a tyre had gone. He pulled in and called our insurance (he discovered that the jack would go just high enough to remove the old tyre but not high enough to put on the spare – a truly terrific spot to discover this). A young woman from Northern Ireland dispatched a tow truck and he sat forlornly on the verge (he felt sitting in the car might put unwarranted pressure on the jack) as cars whizzed past. Very quickly a tow truck came up – not from the insurers but from the M50 authorities who have their own people prowling the ring road on the alert for anything which might cause a delay. They fixed the tyre in about 2 minutes and Mr. Waffle was able to step down the Northern Ireland tow truck. On one level, how impressive. On another, still doesn’t work as the M50 doubles as Ireland’s largest car park most of the time.

Anyhow, he limped home, a bit put out. As he parked the car outside the house, the neighbour from across the road turned up and said, “Hasn’t been a great day for you and the car has it?” It transpired that he had passed Mr. Waffle sitting on the grass verge on the M50. “I couldn’t stop, as I was transporting whiskey,” he explained. Who even knew there were special rules for transporting spirits? Anyhow I suppose Mr. Waffle was amply supported by others. On the other hand, our neighbour’s already poor perception of our technical abilities has fallen even further with the story of the jack. Alas.

Also the wretched car failed its NCT last week. Apparently, irony, it has the wrong kind of tyres.

Culture Night

22 September, 2018 at 6:15 pm by belgianwaffle

Last night, the boys went for French lessons (not a success). While they were there, as part of Culture Night, Mr. Waffle and I went to the RIA and the Mansion House. I’d been to the Mansion House for events before and it was grand but a bit dull. Not their brass, though, which was impressively shiny and made me realise, sigh, that my own is in sad need of polishing. A very enthusiastic woman in the RIA explained about the Irish Historic Towns Atlas and explained, even to my satisfaction, why on a 25 year project when even Youghal and Bandon are done, Cork city is not due until 2020. Apparently it’s because Cork is particularly difficult to do as it has a very complex and ever-changing street landscape. So there.

We went with the boys to the Terry Pratchett exhibition in Trinity which was disappointing as it was a bit heavy on lecture and light on other elements. There was a great map though. It was a bit of an evening of maps.

We went to Gotham (a pizza and burger joint off Grafton Street) for dinner as I could not face Milano’s. It was crowded but they were able to put us outside. It was the first time in years I’ve eaten my dinner beside a smoker and the first time ever for the boys who were displeased but also fascinated. “Wait until tomorrow,” I said, “when you wake up, all your clothes will smell of smoke.” We packed up reasonably rapidly and went home.

When I was going to bed I noticed a weird small rash thing on my neck. “Probably stress,” I said to myself gloomily. In the morning, however, it came off in the shower so I can only suppose that it was ketchup which ended up on my neck due to a combination of peculiar eating habits, shortsightedness and poor hygiene. You’re welcome.

In other cultural news, Mr. Waffle and I are going out to the theatre this evening. It’s a thing in the Fringe and only an hour or so; we are leaving the boys to fend for themselves. Mr. Waffle has just come in after struggling for about an hour with a ladder and the unhappy interaction of the down-pipe and the rose bush in the front garden. I’ve told him we’ll have to leave for the theatre in about 15 minutes. He’s delighted.

We spent the day ferrying Daniel and Michael to various activities – tennis, drama etc. But, we also looked at ovens for our new kitchen. I want to get an aga. Am I crazy? Stove/oven advice very gratefully received.

Just now, the cat has skulked to the flower bed with a dead mouse between her jaws, I can only hope that my shouting at her, “Don’t you dare bring that into the house!” will be effective. All the news as it happens here.

And how has your weekend been so far?

Fliuch Báite

20 September, 2018 at 9:18 pm by belgianwaffle

It absolutely lashed today. I traipsed round town grimly at lunch time trying to find a present for our lovely former childminder, T, who was coming to say goodbye to us before moving back to France. My normal first resort would have been an Amazon voucher but he is very ethical and disapproves of how Amazon treat their workforce so it seemed a perverse choice. I bought him a reasonably large framed photo of St. Stephen’s Green as he used to go there often with the children after school so, I assume that that means he liked it. As I splashed out of the photo shop, I realised that I was unlikely to be able to get it home on my bicycle. Just as well, really, I ended up getting the tram instead.

This evening I had to get home in time to say goodbye to T and give him his present, get to the school for a parents’ meeting at 7 and feed the boys dinner. Mr. Waffle was supposed to be home by 5 but as there were no taxis at the airport, he ended up splashing in to town and getting the tram home thereby missing his chance to say goodbye to T and the school meeting. He was sorry to miss saying goodbye to T and I must say, I felt quite tearful myself saying our final goodbyes, he was such a nice man and the children loved him – he reminded Michael how he used to carry him on his shoulders from school to Stephen’s Green (Michael was never a child for unnecessary effort) and how one Wednesday he collected them from school (I usually collected them from school on Wednesdays) and Michael started crying and saying, “I want my Mummy.” Apparently he kept it up all the way from school to the bus stop and all the way home on the bus and only stopped when T bought him a lollipop from the shop at the bus stop. My heart.

Anyhow when I got home from the school meeting what did I find? My saintly husband had lit the fire and made tea. Is it any wonder I miss him when he’s away?

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Home Alone

19 September, 2018 at 11:28 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle is away for work this week. Herself is gone, Mr. Waffle is away. “Who is next?” we ask ominously. I feel like old Aunt Ada Doom. The boys and I are coping though I wouldn’t say that our diet stands up to particularly close scrutiny. Particularly as the oven has died.

I didn’t get home until 7ish this evening leaving the boys to their own devices [or possibly just their devices, let us not inquire too closely]. Sadly, the frame of Daniel’s glasses had broken at assembly that morning and the combined efforts of the school staff throughout the day had not fixed them. He doesn’t see much without them and neither of the boys called me to tell me. I could probably have got home a bit earlier had I known. Anyhow, I saved the day by fixing them pro tem with superglue but it does not seem likely to be a permanent solution.

Mr. Waffle went off to Finland with a copy of the Hollybough. I feel I wrote before about my ambition to be in the Hollybough Christmas photo selection. There are loads of them. All you have to do is have a Cork connection, go somewhere mildly exotic and photograph yourself with the Hollybough. I put it in the bottom of our suitcase to go to Paris last year but Mr. Waffle, under the sadly mistaken impression that there was no need to bring it to Paris, unpacked it. I found it under the bed again when we got back from Denmark this year. Mr. Waffle confessed that he thought of it as we were speeding along the motorway out of Copenhagen airport but felt that no good could come of sharing that thought. Anyhow the upshot of this is that he has taken it to Finland to get a photo with a view to restoring his credit. He’s not from Cork you might argue; fear not, even his tenuous connection would be more than sufficient, however, a good friend of ours in a lofty role in Helsinki is from Cork and, time permitting, he may meet her for a cup of tea. If he does, that’s a centre page spread, right there. I’ll keep you posted.

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Summer Slide

12 September, 2018 at 8:20 pm by belgianwaffle

The children’s return to school has been marked by the usual confusion and uniform and kit hunting. Mr. Waffle looked after school books and, as ever, the picture of organisation, he ordered them and put them away at the start of the summer. Have we been able to find where they were put? No, alas, we have not. A certain amount of re-purchasing was sadly required.

In related news, returning to online shopping after a summer hiatus, I managed to over order eggs. Part of my difficulty is the neighbours gave us 6 eggs from their hens but it would be fair to say that Mr. Waffle regards me as largely responsible for the 29 eggs in the fridge.

Re-entry is difficult.

Changing By Degrees

3 August, 2018 at 10:57 pm by belgianwaffle

When we were in Cork, Mr. Waffle and I found ourselves in the Stone Corridor in UCC admiring the ogham stones. There was an office with a plaque there; it said “Head of Student Experience”. “What do you think that is?” I asked Mr. Waffle. “I think it’s what we used to call the Dean of Discipline when I was in college.”


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