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My Goose is Cooked

24 December, 2013 at 5:12 pm by belgianwaffle

We are ready.

Mr. Waffle has picked up the turkey [tomorrow I will cook turkey for the first time - I am hoping the people who say it is a big chicken are right].

The Princess is singing a solo at the carol service tonight [a verse of Away in a Manger] and she is filled with trepidation but at least she is clean and so are her clothes – so a triumph, for me, anyhow. She may also be on television later, or she may be on the cutting room floor [she spoke to camera about what Christmas meant to her but so did winsome 4 year olds so she is pessimistic about making the cut]. We will gather around the television filled with anxious anticipation. Michael is resigned to going to the carol service which he will not enjoy as every time we sing around the house he puts his hands to his ears to “stop them bleeding”. He is also clean. Daniel is singing in the choir. He will be clean as soon as the Grinch is over.

I hope that you have a lovely, lovely Christmas and that at least one of your presents is what you always wanted.

DIY

23 December, 2013 at 9:47 pm by belgianwaffle

I spent €142 on lampshades in IKEA. Nobody noticed the number of bulbs without shades but me; it was gnawing away at me. As soon as I got home, I put them all up, without assistance. Throughout the week there was a mild burning smell. I got home one day to find a blown bulb with a piece of melted plastic adhering to its surface. My husband was reproachful. He re-fitted all the bulbs. It turns out that these lampshades are trickier to fix than you might think. Do not mock the afflicted.

In other news, we made a last ditch attempt to mend the broken door handle with sugru having tried, and failed, several times with superglue. The problem is that it’s a door handle and you forget that it is supposed to be bonding and pull it off at a crucial moment. After each of us in turn had pulled off the sugrued door handle, Mr. Waffle covered it in a yoghurt pot and some threatening notes:

It was probably too little, too late. It didn’t stick anyhow and I have bought new door handles from China at €25 a pair. They are waiting under the stairs until after Christmas when we all feel stronger.

Did I mention that the bad weather has knocked slates off the roof as well? What are the chances of getting a roofer out between now and New Year? Pretty poor, I think we can agree. Never mind, we are so handy, I’m sure we can sort something out ourselves [insert snort of derisive laughter here].

There is NO Pension Crisis or Further Christmas Cheer

22 December, 2013 at 9:37 pm by belgianwaffle

Last Sunday we had people around for mulled wine and mince pies from 4 to 6. The invitations specified that children were welcome. Our friends have a lot of children. We totted up that there were 70 odd people here many of whom were 15 or under (nobody between 15 and 35 though, that demographic was clearly at an entirely different party). I quite enjoyed herding mortified teenagers into the utility room and forcing them to speak to each other. We’d put out some beanbags to make it less utilitarian and this was before the pigeon had died a bloody death on the floor so it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Herself had pinned this to the door:

Note correct use of the apostrophe, though clearly following a period of reflection.

I deployed herself and her friends to wend through the crowds offering mince pies and cocktail sausages. A friend of Mr. Waffle’s reports the following conversation:

Friend: Is that panettone*?
Herself: No,it’s stollen*.
Friend: Is it nice?
Herself: Well, it has marzipan; some people don’t like it or are allergic to it.
Friend: I’ll try some.
Herself: On your own head be it.

*It’s far from panettone and stollen that we were reared.

Santa visited the school. Not the real Santa, you understand; just a man from up the road with a luxuriant beard. Nevertheless, at mass this morning when it came to the sign of peace, Michael jumped a mile when the man in the seat behind poked him in the ribs and said “Ho, Ho, Ho”. Yes, indeed, substitute Santa was at mass this morning. Herself had been muttering bitterly that Santa was a sexist cad as he gave the girls knitting and the boys small table footballs but since she had managed to persuade someone to swap with her (unlikely but true) my hopes that she wouldn’t raise the issue with substitute Santa in the church porch were realised.

Last, but my no means least, there is a man I found on the internet who explains wordpress to me. He did a bit of work on my blog [this here is a technical masterpiece, I'll have you know]. I asked for a bill for his latest labours and this is the reply that I got:

All done. Very easy.
Instead of paying me, could you throw 10 euro to your favourite charity.

It’s been a bit grim for charities this Christmas as there has been a lot of media coverage about money from fund-raising going to top up already large salaries for senior staff. While this is certainly not true for all charities it has hit them all; the man [volunteer] from the Vincent de Paul who spoke at mass last Sunday found himself obliged to say that none of the money raised in the collection would go to top-ups. I felt for him.

All this notwithstanding, I am feeling a definite Christmassy glow. Today it snowed (well, sleeted); yesterday I went to a party and got a blister on my finger while constructing an IKEA gingerbread house with melted sugar; tomorrow is my last day at work before Christmas. Lucky Mr Waffle and the children finished up on Friday so they will be bonding tomorrow and possibly picking up the turkey while I labour.

It’s all good (apart from the blister).

Christmas Preparations

12 December, 2013 at 11:48 pm by belgianwaffle

Early in December, the Princess announced that Saint Nicolas would be coming to our house on December 6. I had thought that since it was 5 years since we last lived in Belgium he might have left the scene but, apparently not. He brought chocolate Santas for herself and Daniel and a chocolate Santa and a packet of cream crackers for Michael. Before the children came downstairs, Mr. Waffle saw the cream crackers and put them away in the cupboard on the basis that Saint Nicolas had made a mistake. In vain, I argued that Saint Nicolas knew Michael. It was only when Michael collapsed in tears on receiving his chocolate Santa (“Saint Nicolas knows that I don’t like chocolate”), that I was vindicated. I flew to the cupboard and threw up the sash open the doors and gave the packet of cream crackers to a delighted Michael. Daniel didn’t like his chocolate Santa either, unfortunately, and there was, as he pointed out, nothing else for him. All I can say is that Santa Claus better deliver on December 25th. The Princess, meanwhile, took custody of all chocolate Santas.

Even as I write, a plum pudding is sitting steaming on the hob where it has been for several days at this point. I just stuck in a knife and it is still not coming out clean. I have made cranberry and orange sauce. We have purchased the Holly Bough and the RTE Christmas Guide. The Princess is half-way through sticking cloves into an orange.

I found this pointed note on some biscuits this evening:

2013-12-12 001

I have ordered a turkey from the butcher with some trepidation. He says to bring it back to him if it doesn’t fit in the oven and he will cut off its legs. My parents-in-law are coming to us for Christmas dinner but they are very light eaters. My sister-in-law (who with her husband was due to come also but now cannot as she is unwell – but on the mend – in London) has pointed out to me, rightly, I fear, that if I am hoping that my esteemed parents-in-law will take some home with them in a Tupperware bowl, I can think again.

We have begun practising Christmas hymns with the church choir. We have visited the moving crib which is startling. It features a series of scenes from the bible but also, a stuffed dog which, when alive, apparently rescued three people from the Liffey.

We are having drinks on Sunday afternoon. If I know you and you were not invited, I am sorry for the oversight, please come.

On Saturday, we are going to get the Christmas tree. When I was a child, my parents would never let us put up the tree until Christmas Eve. The strain of waiting nearly killed us. I remembered, year after year, pointing out all the other people who had trees while we were still waiting anxiously. I am kinder to my children but they are not one bit grateful having been pushing hard for a tree since early December. Our road now has loads of trees up and they look gorgeous.

I have bought many, but, regrettably, nothing like all, Christmas presents. [There is some problem with the syntax of this sentence but I am too tired to care. Feel free to suggest improvements in the comments.]

I have been to two mulled wine and mince pie evening receptions this week already. I have the work Christmas party tomorrow night, followed by a lunch on Monday for a departing colleague.

How are your own Christmas preparations going?

Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Hanukkah!

28 November, 2013 at 9:45 pm by belgianwaffle

This morning the Princess sang out from her bedroom “Happy Thanksgiving, happy Hanukkah!” As I dragged myself from my bed, I said to Mr. Waffle, “Americans can stay in bed and eat turkey today: sequentially not simultaneously.” “Well, he said for every American B eating turkey, there is an American A getting up early to put it in the oven.” If you are American A, I salute you.

At breakfast, the Princess announced, “I think we should be more intercultural and celebrate Hanukkah.” She added for the benefit of her brothers, “It’s a Jewish festival and you get presents every day for 12 days.” We will not be celebrating Hanukkah, despite special pleading but a happy Hanukkah to you,if you are and good luck with that present buying regime.

Lydia’s Tragedy

26 November, 2013 at 8:56 pm by belgianwaffle

The Princess and I are going with her aunt to see Pride and Prejudice in the theatre. It is the Gate Theatre Christmas production and it’s always something undemanding for all the family. A couple of years ago they did Little Women and the Princess and I went. It was her first grown-up theatre experience and it was absolutely magical.

Co-incidentally a friend of hers from school is going to the same performance. She and her friend have thrown themselves into diligent preparation which extends to creating a list identifying everyone in the class with a character from the novel [Mr. Darcy, alas, remains uncast]. It also involves reading the novel which I would have thought was a stretch but they seem to be enjoying it. We were talking about it at dinner this evening.

Me: How are you getting on with Pride and Prejudice?
Her: Lydia has just eloped with Mr. Wickham.
Me: Oh vile Lydia.
Her: Mrs. Forrester should have taken better care of her.
Me: Oh, I don’t know, surely, it’s Lydia’s parents fault that she’s so badly brought up.
Her: Well, she is only 15.
Daniel: I think Lydia is very lucky.
Me: Why is that, sweetheart?
Daniel: Only three more years and she’ll be old enough to play Halo.
Herself: Oh Daniel, Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813.
Daniel: So?
Mr. Waffle: Lydia will never be able to play Halo.

Poor Me

25 November, 2013 at 8:44 pm by belgianwaffle

I stayed at home today languishing in bed. As every parent knows, you must be a death’s door to stay home when you have children rather than go into work. I was going to go in but I was up half the night coughing and Mr. Waffle forbade it which I found rather pleasing though you would think at 44, I would be capable of deciding myself rather than wanting my husband to write a metaphorical note but so it is. I am better but not better this evening, as my mother would say. Nablopomo is killing me this year.


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