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Archive for November, 2009


30 November, 2009 at 11:31 pm by belgianwaffle

Thank you and goodnight.

Parenting Thrill

29 November, 2009 at 11:36 pm by belgianwaffle

My daughter loves to read. I am delighted. A lifetime of happiness opens up. When I see her reading at breakfast, reading in the car, coming out from school with her coat and bag under one arm and a book held open as she walks, I am thrilled. She will read anything. I used to try to keep up with her but I’ve given up. I cannot face “Milly Molly Mandy” or “The Naughtiest Girl in the School”. The other night, I found her reading “A Christmas Carol”. Not an abbreviated version for children but the original. She cannot have understood more than one word in ten but dogged determination kept her going to the bitter end. I suspect that this is much the same spirit that moved me to finish Winwood Reade’s “The Martyrdom of Man” aged 11 to the shock and awe of my parents who, I think, were both defeated by it – needless to say, I retain almost no memory of this seminal text.

She has started to use words that she has only found in books. So she talks of the “wilder ness” and is indignant to be told that it is not so pronounced; “but it’s spelt “wilder ness”” she protests. I have already told her about epitome so she won’t be caught out by that one.


28 November, 2009 at 11:32 pm by belgianwaffle

I have started to become concerned that the cat might be pregnant. Why would my cat be the one teenage pregnant cat statistic? Why? I suppose it could be worse, we could have a dog like my friend Praxis:

“Your cat looked very cute (for a cat) lying on top of the books in your bookcase. Lily had a sort of sympathetic motherhood recently. We bought her a cuddly rat from Ikea. She thought it was a puppy and started covering it with kisses and bringing it to bed at night. But she was also happy to have it flung violently across the room for her to fetch – so I don’t know what kind of mother she’d make. She even started lactating so, on the vet’s orders, we’ve had to confiscate her baby. As a mother yourself, this may speak to you in a ways I can only struggle to imagine.”

The Homemaker’s Whine – Extended Disco Remix Version

27 November, 2009 at 10:19 pm by belgianwaffle

We have been living in our house for over a year and it continues to be a source of considerable annoyance to me.

It turns out that I do not have impeccable taste and an eye for what would work in my home. Nor do I have a moment to address the vast array of continuing irritations that is my home.

I plan to go through them one by one in the hope that they will provide a catalogue of things to do, if we ever have any spare money, time or taste. And also, that it might make me feel a bit better. Anyone observing that the length of this list is such that I could have repainted the bathroom in the time it took to write it will be taken out and shot.


I grew up in a big house. This has given me delusions of grandeur. It did not prepare me very well for living in a small house with one main room downstairs and one bathroom for five people, three of whom “can’t wait”.


Our house is an end of terrace, disproportionate, 1930s number. The previous owners decided that there is nothing nicer than pink pebbledash. It’s a particularly nasty shade of salmon pink. The front door which cost €1,100 (emergency replacement when tenants were in residence and the previous door was broken down with an axe) is utterly vile. It is varnished a nasty shade between brown and orange, has cheap brass work and a fan light which features glass with bumps. I shudder.

All of the original front sash windows have been replaced by nasty double glazing which, unkindest cut, is so badly fitted that there is actually a gap between wall and window in the Princess’s room where the wind whistles in.

The back of the house features a small ugly extension (the kitchen and the bathroom) and green window frames (sash windows still there, hurrah) which are not a good match with the pink paint. Moreover the extension has no foundations. And when we moved in, the builders took one look at the roof and assured us it wouldn’t last a winter.

The Garden

Actually, by the standards of these houses, the back garden is pretty large. It was almost entirely overgrown and I have spent much of the past year uprooting trees (I am the anti-Lorax) and fighting briars and bindweed. The upshot of this is I have no energy to plant things I might like to see either back or front (which features a forlorn and undistinguished patch of grass, a concrete path and a very high hedge). The back garden, inevitably, faces North.

Outside the back door are two sheds (new doors, hurrah, a worthwhile investment) and attached to one of them is a shoulder high wall whose only purpose is to ensure that as much as possible of the house is kept in darkness at all times. Beyond that is a weed filled patio. The paving stones are red and grey with bumps. There is also a low wall made of orange and grey bricks.

There is, to be fair, a really beautiful very high listed stone wall all along one side of the garden.

The Hall

The hall features the cheapest laminate flooring that we could find. It was good enough for the tenants. I can’t help wishing that we had made more of an effort to get nicer things for the tenants and we could live with them now. It has a nice 1950s sideboard which I bought in Brussels and which is long and thin and excellent for keeping random gloves and bags off the floor. Unfortunately, our movers broke off the front of one of the drawers and it has sat there pathetically with its lower innards exposed for over a year as we try to put together the money and the energy to get somebody to fix it.

The previous occupants’ wall paper, painted over in white and amply marked by our children’s grubby fingers covers the walls. Except right by the bottom step of the stairs where a large hole has opened up and shows no signs of self healing. This is the spot underneath which the cat likes to wee.

Various pictures decorate the walls and a mirror sits forlornly on the sideboard having lost all hope of ever being hung.

We also have two coat stands: one large old-fashioned one bought in a brocante in Brussels and even then losing limbs (a problem which has now reached leprous proportions); and one that was in the house when we bought it. The latter is functional and ugly but largely covered in coats. Eamon, our evil electrician, convinced us that we had to get those little spot lights for the ceiling. They are ok and we have, at last, got round to filling in the large gaps he left behind while putting them in. We got a craftsman painter to do our painting (we really needed someone cheap and cheerful) and as he perfected each piece of wall, Eamon would rip out the electric wires behind it in his rewiring effort.

The Room Downstairs

To the right, through a door set at an angle (interesting), is the only downstairs room which the original house boasted. It is an absolute triumph that we managed to fit much of our furniture into it. Especially when you consider that this is what it looked like when our furniture was originally put in:

Return to Ireland 109

Under the window is Mr. Waffle’s desk – a nice desk, stacked with domestic admin and some of his papers (most of his work goes in bags where it waits patiently for attention) and a keyboard and monitor. To the right of the desk, over the radiator are shelves up to the ceiling filled with domestic admin and Mr. Waffle’s work. These shelves are more utilitarian than attractive and the files which sit on them are practical but not beautiful. Across from these, in an alcove, sit two bookshelves reaching floor to ceiling. Due to storage difficulties (my sister believes that all our space problems can be solved with additional storage) a number of other random items sit on top of and in front of the books. On one side of the desk is a nasty Ikea table supporting a nasty printer in shiny black. On the other side of the desk is a kitchen stool for which we couldn’t find a home and on which the telephone now sits.

In the middle of the room is a gas fire surrounded by a mock Victorian tiled fireplace which isn’t as ugly as it sounds. The mantlepiece is made of painted plywood which is not very nice but is still an improvement on the enormous mock Victorian baronial hall fireplace which we had removed. Over the fireplace is a very heavy mirror whose orientation is landscape but I wanted it portrait – the workmen guessed wrong and I hadn’t the energy to get it redone.

I bought our red armchairs from Ikea about 12 years ago when I was living in my own flat in Brussels. They were nice then but, like all Ikea furniture, they haven’t really stood the test of time. The addition of small children and a shedding cat has not added to their lustre. Our sofa was bought from friends when they were leaving Brussels. It is looking a little tired by now and mostly wears a blanket. The children like to stand on their hands on it using the wall behind as support for their bare, filthy feet. This may explain the state of the wall (the only wall in this room which does not have woodchip and, therefore, my favourite) behind but, obviously, Michael scribbling on it with a pencil hasn’t helped either.


Beside the sofa is the Ikea Expedit which houses a large portion of our children’s downstairs toys and more books. Endless books. It is very messy and a little alarming to look at. Lots of pictures on that wall – some of them more successfully framed than others. I didn’t like our dining table when it first came into my life with my husband but I have grown very fond of it over the years. It’s a heavy, dark, wood, extendable art deco piece. It is way too big for the room in which it finds itself but I am reluctant to let it go. We have nice plain chairs (again from my husband’s side) and three very expensive children’s chairs – purchased in our days of affluence. We fall over their legs with monotonous regularity and the children hang upside down on them, sit on the back and climb over them. Hey, they’re trendy.

Our television sits on another bookshelf. The television was a present from my loving family (they are loving, aren’t they?) and it cost them a fortune. It is quite large. The children love it but I find its looming shape a little alarming though, obviously, when I watch it, it’s great given my short-sightedness and refusal to wear glasses.

Pushed against the wall is a large, cheap early 20th century cupboard in poor order. It contains spare crokery, the iron, shoe polishing gear, candles, night lights, wrapping paper and whatever you’re having yourself. Beside this is my antique sewing machine, purchased for a song in the petits riens and beloved by me. It’s loathed by my husband and I can see that it does take up a bit of room and light while serving absolutely no practical function but I remain firm.

That leaves under the stairs (ours is one of those rooms where the outline of the staircase is visible) and the other bookshelf we’ve shoved into the corner.

Eamon the electrician convinced us to get spot lights again so there are 8 in the ceiling to Mr. Waffle’s (v. green) chagrin. The room is also awash with lamps, relics from our much larger accommodation in Brussels. All just as well really as natural light is in short supply. The pipes that run across the ceiling and down the walls have been inelegantly boxed in. The, mercifully, revarnished wooden floor (though, if I were doing it again, I would definitely go for a lighter colour) features large gaps through which crumbs inevitably pass, doubtless attracting vermin (how glad I am that we have a cat all the same).

We put yuppie blinds on the windows and these are a source of surprising satisfaction to me. When I can at all, I mean to stick more on the windows upstairs.

The Kitchen

Off the room downstairs is a tiny kitchen extension. Before we moved in, my sister-in-law advised that, if you are going to live somewhere for any period of time, you should have a nice kitchen and a nice bathroom. This was excellent advice, 50% of which we followed. We paid this man, recommended by a friend, a reasonable sum to put in our kitchen. He was great. He was speedy, he came when he said he would and he gave us what we wanted. The fact that there is a nice kitchen does not change the fact that every counter in the kitchen can be touched while standing in the middle of it. It is the smallest kitchen I have ever been in. We kept the old cooker and the old fridge on the grounds that they worked perfectly well and why would we throw them out ? They do, but they are not beautiful. The floor was covered with rather cool red and green bouncy tiles but we could not get them clean so, we covered them over with laminate. Perhaps tiles would have been better. The kitchen has no tiles on the walls either and I would like some – I am adding them to the list. There is a big heavy wooden back door and a cheap wooden door into the other room. I would love to replace both of them with nice glass ones so that the kitchen is not always pitch dark. The electrician did not insist on spot lights here. The window is underwhelming but not actively objectionable. On one worksurface we have a large 1980s ghetto blaster and I fantasise of disposing of it and getting a cute little radio on which I could receive radio 4 without crackle.

The Stairs

Your idiot correspondent chose beige carpets for her stairs. Really, I despair. The carpet is, of course, now fatally stained and filthy.

The Bathroom

The bathroom is on the return, the upstairs part of the extension (the original toilet was in the shed). We did not renovate the bathroom before moving in. It features really nasty rag rolled grey-blue tiles pretty much everywhere except the ceiling. It’s hard to explain the hideousness, you have to experience it. The shower is held together with sticky tape. The sink is surrounding by a white woodwork trellis inspired by the American South. It is also by far the coldest room in the house. Outside the bathroom door is another bookshelf.

The Landing

The hot press is on the landing along with more corridor and less bedroom space than we need. I have put up all my children’s portraits on one wall creating a secular chapel effect. The attic is above the hot press and all around the walls and ceiling are the footprints and handprints of big people trying to get up through a small door.

Our Bedroom

This is probably my favourite room. It needs a carpet. It has bare paint stained wooden boards (no, I don’t mean tastefully, I mean blotchily from our craftsman and painter). It has my favourite piece of furniture which is a wardrobe that we had at home (I think it may have been my grandmother’s) and which my mother gave to me as faithfully promised when I was a child. We have an Ikea chest of drawers (the Malm, since you ask) and a rather expensive chest of drawers that we bought on Rue Blaes when we first moved to Brussels together in 2003 and we had more money than sense. The curtains are unsatisfactory. We have only one curtain as the window is too small for two and it trails along the ground having been made for rather grander accommodation. The bed was brought to our marriage by Mr. Waffle. It is made of pine. There is really nothing further you need to know. Alas, my Ikea bed (trendier and constructed by me using only blood, teeth and an allen key) was too big for the room and we pawned it off on friends. It is really quite big, only the other night we were at a dinner together and they were bitterly lamenting its presence in their life and trying to fob it off on our hosts.

There are some pictures I like on the walls: Redouté prints, a “Rape of the Lock” print by Harry Clarke. A chair for chucking clothes on and a full-length mirror, in which it is impossible to see oneself full-length due to excessive furniture, complete the room.

The Boys’ Room

We were quite astounded to find that we could fit two beds in this room. Well, not beds, as such, because, although they have started school, the boys are still in their cots. We have taken away the bars on one side you will be pleased to know. Entrance to the room is a little challenging due to the presence of a bathroom tallboy which does not, unfortunately, fit in the bathroom. I am very fond of it. I paid 20,000 Belgian francs for it when money was money and Belgian francs still existed which is a slightly outrageous sum but I was rich and carefree. I was just saved from spending 100 euros on a toilet brush at the same time by my prudent sister.

I decided that I would try out the “feature wall” idea in the children’s room (not my own, mercifully). Aside from the fact that feature walls are now very “last year”, my unerring eye for colour meant that the net effect is that their rooms are painted in almost, but not quite, identical shades of blue. It’s not a feature, it’s just a bit confusing. It does go quite well with the curtain (again half of a set meant for a far bigger window – pretty, specially made and heavily lined, the Princess has the other half), so that is something, I suppose.

The boys’ room has a further two Malms for their clothes along with toy baskets and a bookshelf. The surface of the Malms is always covered with randon debris about to tip over and brain one of the children. On the floor is a rug from Bosnia which we received as a wedding present and, of which I am very fond. It tends to divide opinion a bit. I think it’s quite cool and retro (as well as thick pile, not to be knocked) but some people think that it will never actually be cool no matter how long we wait. Between the beds is a beanbag – one of the very useful range of presents which the best dressed diplomat provided over the years – and on the walls are various artistic efforts by the boys. The rug does not cover the entire floor. The part of the floor that is not covered is paint stained wooden boards through which the wretched spot light thingies are clearly visible and a constant source of temptation for enterprising small boys with rulers.

The Princess’s Room

Again, the pointless feature wall (sigh). One good thing that we did was to get the master craftsman/painter put in a fitted press in the weirdly shaped alcove. Lots of storage where I can keep things like babies’ bottles (I know, stop at me) and the Princess can easily put all her clothes. It is basic but not unattractive. She has her Ikea bed which features slats that regularly come adrift, if anyone older than 6 sits on it. I can see this becoming a problem in the future. She has two big baskets and a large bookshelf which increasingly is only populated by her stuff (there was a time when some of our books sought refuge there but she has put her foot down). And the stuff, oh Lord, the stuff. Never has one so small had so much. She has jewellery boxes, stationery, dolls, art gear, dressing up gear, stuffed toys, comics, books, many night lights, avalanches of stuff most of which she likes to store on the window sill. She also has an Ikea computer desk which we palmed off on her when there was no room downstairs. She quite likes it though and, if she can see her way to it will sit and do her homework there. A plain Ikea rug graces the floor and covers most of the bare boards so she does better than her parents and her brothers.


I suppose it wouldn’t all be quite so bad if, next door with a slightly smaller but otherwise identical house, hadn’t created a thing of beauty, perfectly formed, inside and out.

It seems true that only women care about these things. Mr. Waffle is largely indifferent – although he would like more room, the decor does not disturb him (or else, as it is largely my choice, he is being tactful). When I put in lampshades, it took him weeks to notice. The children love the house. Once when I said that something would be possible when we moved to a larger house, they were all very distressed and asked in tones of great anxiety whether we would be moving. Certainly not immediately, I fear. Friends and relations clearly don’t care, why should they? But I care and it occasionally makes me gloomy. I blame my mother for giving me delusions of grandeur.

Wildlife in the Classroom

26 November, 2009 at 11:32 pm by belgianwaffle

There was a mouse in the Princess’s classroom yesterday. The teacher stood on her chair and yelled. They all had to decamp to another room while the principal (God love him) caught it to “send to the pet shop”. He tells me he has had to fork out €800 to Rentokil to make sure that all the mice in the building make it safely to the pet shop.

And today’s links:

We get to find out what Mike has been up to. And very interesting it is too. Particularly, if you are interested in furniture and design.

My sister-in-law is losing the will to blog. Go on, give her a comment. Yes, I know, not only am I nagging for comments here but there too. It’s all too much. Thank you for commenting here, by the way. You might like to know that, on foot of that last post, my mother has offered to buy us a dryer for Christmas. Mr. Waffle won’t let her because of the environment.

My brother drew my attention to this interview by a cranky Cork footballer. Cranky, but I suppose he has a point.

Ireland has been underwater for a couple of weeks. Except Dublin. Dublin has been pretty dry. For days, the Irish Times had to put pictures of places outside Dublin on its front page. The pain. Obviously, there was a flood (ha, ha) of complaints as the Dublin Intelligencer (as my father calls it) ignored the needs of its nearest and dearest. On Monday, they could stand it no more and, with most of the rest of the country under several feet of water the Irish Times ran with “Debris is washed ashore as southwesterly winds lash the South Wall pier at high water in Dublin yesterday” and a nice picture of the local debris risk.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be mortified. Oh dear.

Domestic felicity

25 November, 2009 at 11:34 pm by belgianwaffle

I don’t work on Wednesday afternoons. Today, I picked the children up from school. Brought them home. Made them change their uniforms. Got herself to do her homework, played trains with the boys. Then while the Princess doodled, the boys and I made ginger biscuits (from Delia, recommended for making with small children, also very tasty) which were just ready as Mr. Waffle dropped in at 5 between various work engagements. While he had his tea and still warm biscuits, I put on dinner. He rushed out to be productive and I looked after the children until he came home at 11.15. I greeted him with great anxiety as the internet connection was down and I am not going to give up NaBloPoMo at this point. He unplugged and restarted various devices several times and to my mixed delight and chagrin, this approach worked. This post may be sub-standard but I had to get it out against a deadline. I feel like some kind of 1950s superwoman/new millenium internet nerd hybrid.


24 November, 2009 at 11:24 pm by belgianwaffle

Daniel came down to breakfast claiming that he had a sore foot. I didn’t believe him. We carried him all morning and brought him into school. Amazingly, the heartless muinteoir was actually quite sympathetic. I thought he was malingering. Mid-morning, Mr. Waffle got a call from the school – Daniel’s foot is still sore. The teacher said he wasn’t complaining but she felt he was quite genuine. Poor Daniel. The next day, he was fine. Growing pains?


23 November, 2009 at 7:34 pm by belgianwaffle

My children do not enjoy as diverse a diet as I did when I was their age. In part this is because I am not at all as good a cook as my mother and in part because they are the pickiest eaters in Ireland.

I am spending a couple of days with my parents (photos of flooding may follow, hold your breath) and this evening my mother cooked prawns for the offspring. It was then that I realised that they had never even had a frozen prawn before, let alone one still encased in its shell. They gazed in horrified fascination at the little bodies laid out for their delectation. They winced as I screwed off the thorax and pulled out the edible part. The Princess then began to create new bodies using the heads and pincers. The boys were too afraid to even touch them. So, your best guess, did they eat any dinner tonight?

A new twist to a classic tale

22 November, 2009 at 11:11 pm by belgianwaffle

Princess: What’s “The King and I” about?
Mr. Waffle: A woman goes to Siam (explanation that this is now Thailand, eye-rolling in the back of the car from herself) to be governess to the king’s daughter.
Me (feeling that this is an important plot point): And the King’s wife, the Princess’s mother, is dead.
Daniel: I don’t want my Mummy to die.
Me: Mummies almost never die. Don’t worry. It’s very unusual.
Princess (impatiently): What happens?
Me: They fall in love.
Her: The king’s daughter and the governess?

Different styles: please note that we were brought up by the same parents

21 November, 2009 at 8:16 pm by belgianwaffle

From: Me
Sent: 20 November 2009 12:45
To: Errant brother
Cc: Sister (birthday girl)
Subject: Re: I note radio silence
Assume you are happy with tonight’s arrangements. See you in the Shelbourne at 8 unless I hear to the contrary.

From: Errant brother
Sent: 20 November 2009 12:45
To: Me
Cc: Sister (birthday girl)
Subject: Re: I note radio silence

sorry for not getting back…..yeah that suits fine.


Ms. Willpower’s Evening or My Husband is a Lark and I am an Owl

20 November, 2009 at 11:28 pm by belgianwaffle

6.30: Arrive home.
7.00: Eat
7.30 – 9.30: Wrangle children into bed.
9.30: Decide not to turn on computer. I will talk to husband or watch television or read my excellent book. Do so.
10.00: Help husband deck the house with laundry. Have my efforts rejected as “laundry does not dry in a bundle”. Mutter darkly about the joy of owning a (very bad for the environment) dryer.
10.15: Husband goes to bed. I tell him I will be up in a minute as I want to read my book in bed.
10.16: Slip over to the computer for a quick look. Cat hops up on my lap with contented purr.
10.17: Stare dolefully at yesterday’s blog post which has received no comments (yes, this remark is addressed to YOU).
10.18: Draft some deathless prose. Post it.
10.35: Trot off to bloglines where I find 630 new posts.
11.30: Still here, reading away, eyesight going, fingers freezing (heat has gone off, haven’t bothered to turn it on again as I will be going to bed in 5 minutes).
11.40: Decide to skip reading the full feed from the Huffington Post, wonder why I ever subscribed. Nearly at the end now. Hurrah.
12.00: OK midnight, I’m definitely going to bed now. Definitely, definitely. Just going to comment on a couple of posts.
12.30: Oh God, oh God, it’s really late, I must go to bed. I’ll be exhausted tomorrow.
12.45: Just going to have a quick look at my sitemeter and then I’m going to bed, definitely, definitely. Look at those readers in China, I wonder how they got here? Oh right, they were searching for wafflemakers. Did anyone look at those links I put in, let’s just quickly check the outclicks.
1.00: Oh God, it’s one in the morning. I must go to bed. I must. I must. Just going to quickly check how does this feedburner/twitter [insert technology of choice here] thing works.
1.15: Too baffling. OK, now I’m definitely going to bed. Just a quick check on the email and then I am definitely going to bed.
1.30: OK, delete the junk mail, tum ti tum. Send a couple of quick mails.
1.45: Maybe just check back to see whether anyone has commented on my deathless prose. Maybe, maybe, but no, oh wait, 45 spam comments. Delete same.
1.50: Just one quick last look at bloglines.
2.10: OK, that’s it. I am definitely going to bed now. Dislodge cat. Try to warm frozen fingers.
2.15: Just going to have a quick read of my book in the bathroom while I wash my teeth and floss.
2.30: God, this book is really good, why did I play on the computer all evening when I could have been reading this?
2.45: Move to sitting on the stairs. No, I’m going to stop reading. I’ll just fill a hot water bottle for myself as I am now frozen to the bone. Filch tepid bottle from daughter’s bed. Go downstairs book in hand and fill bottle up from the kettle. Back upstairs, book in hand.
3.00: Will sit for just one moment on the stairs with delightfully warm bottle toasting my perished extremities. This book is really excellent. If I go to bed now and don’t get up until 8 I will still have five hours sleep which is lots, Margaret Thatcher survived on four (though, of course, that explains why she was so cranky).
3.45: Finish book. Put child on the toilet. Crawl into bed. Husband says blearily “what time is it?” Am frozen. Get up again to refill hot water bottle. Back to bed to instant and dreamless sleep.
5.30: Husband cannot sleep. He tosses and turns and eventually gets up. I say blearily “what time is it?” He goes downstairs to put on a wash and do some work.
6.00: Some child crawls into bed beside me. I swear that tonight I will go to bed early. This can, in fact, be achieved. I say to my husband “help me, stay here and make me turn off the computer”. And he does and then I am tucked up and lights off by 11.

And a good morning to you too

19 November, 2009 at 11:27 pm by belgianwaffle

5.45: Princess arrives into our room coughing and chatting.
6.15: Mr. Waffle gives up the struggle and gets up, goes downstairs hangs out the washing and makes the children’s sandwiches [yes, I know, a treasure]. The Princess follows him.
6.20: The Princess returns; her father would rather hang out the washing than talk to her.
6.30: I decamp to the Princess’s bed.
7.00: The Princess wakes me and says she is going downstairs, I can go back to my own bed. I do.
7.05: The cat jumps on me and starts running up and down my person.
7.10: The cat finally settles on my head with her tummy purring over my ear and her paws kneading my cheek.
7.30: Mr. Waffle gets into the shower. The cat leaps from my head so that she can stand outside the bathroom door meowing loudly.
7.45: I get up.
7.50: Mr. Waffle leaves for work – mercifully, it is only one day a week that he has to leave so early.
8.00: The Princess re-emerges. She asks for a hot water bottle. I give it to her.
8.05: Daniel emerges. He takes me by the hand and shows me that the cat has settled in his bed. He demands pancakes for breakfast. Their father, the only person who can make pancakes, has gone to work. Daniel gets cranky. I remember that my sister brought Ikea pancakes when she came to stay. I root around the freezer, find these and deploy them. Revolting though they appear, they meet the identified need.
8.20: I leave the pair downstairs and go upstairs to wake Michael. I decide, in my ultimate wisdom that now would be a good time to put away laundry. Because I have so much spare time. That must be it.
8.30: I get Michael up. He has wet the bed (alas).
8.35: The others come upstairs. I persuade them into their clothes. The Princess is helpful – hurrah. She reads a page of Dora for every item of clothes the boys put on. They are all dressed. Rejoice.
8.50: We go downstairs. The cat has, as, alas, is becoming her habit, used the time while we were upstairs, to do a wee at the bottom of the stairs and cover it with plaster from the ever growing hole in the wall. I stop the children (all in socks) on the stairs and mop up the wee.
8.50: Michael has to have breakfast. I start my morning refrain “The school has already opened its doors, there are children there already, classes are about to start.”
8.55: Pack the Princess and Daniel into the car. The Princess insists on bringing her hot water bottle. Daniel brings a library book.
9.05: Pack Michael into the car. The Princess has stolen Daniel’s library book. I tell her she can hang on to it on condition she reads it aloud. She does so.
9.15: Arrive (5 minutes late) at school. Daniel refuses to budge from the car until he has had a chance to flick through his library book himself. A free and frank exchange of views follows which ends with both parties glaring at each other. I bring the other two to the door of the school and go back for Daniel.
9.20: Ensconce boys in classroom; make up with Daniel and have a quick word with the teacher. Emerge to find herself waiting in the corridor. She wants me to accompany her to her classroom – four floors up. Do so. Am then sent about my business and told not to kiss her as this is embarrassing.
9.30: Arrive back to car (hazards flashing – I am that annoying driver) and zoom to work. Traffic miraculously light allowing me to be at my desk at the breath-takingly early hour of 9.45.
9.45: Colleague telephones to give me a blow by blow account of her difficult meeting. Sympathise. “Is it only 9.45?” she says. ” After going through that, I feel like it’s four in the afternoon.” As do I.
10.00: I realise that I forgot to feed the cat. Ring Mr. Waffle to see whether he can get home during the morning. He reassures me that he fed the cat before he left.

Today’s lovely links:

One of my favourite bloggers is back. Hurrah.
Pretty pictures.
Knowledge of French and Belgium required to appreciate this one; but very much worth it, if you fall into this category.
Dot supplies the answer to a question that has been plaguing the Waffles.
Our Justice Minister is
upset about yesterday’s soccer match.

I really like these little google videos. Health warning: my husband thinks that they’re creepy.

A lesson in gender equality

18 November, 2009 at 10:10 pm by belgianwaffle

Male friend with whom I am having lunch: I have to fill in one of these pointless EU gender equality things.
Me[neutrally]: Mmm, what do you mean?
Pause to pass up a folder to older gentleman struggling to reach it from his barstool [lunch in the pub, some stereotypes are true].
MF: Ach, you know, just ticking lots of boxes and really, do we need it?
Me: Well, it depends, I suppose.
Pause to pick up the umbrella which has tumbled from the older gentleman’s grasp.
Older gentleman in patrician tones: Thank you very much young lady, you are like [pauses to search for top compliment from range available to him], you are like a really excellent P.A.
MF: Bite your lip, bite your lip, ok we need the gender equality thing.

Homage to Myles

17 November, 2009 at 9:52 pm by belgianwaffle

From Frank McNally’s column last week:

“…New metaphors were badly needed at the time. As long ago as 1999 – probably during a wet day on Hope Street – I called elsewhere in this paper for the decommissioning of the peace process’s “deadly arsenal of clichés”.

This included an estimated 40,000 windows of opportunity, 50,000 variations on the theme of moving the situation forward, and perhaps half a million phrases to describe nothing happening: including such foreign imports as “log-jam”, “stand-off”, and the French-made “impasse” (which was smuggled in, probably via Libya, during the late 1980s but never deployed properly because most broadcast journalists lacked the necessary phonetic training).

And this was only the more recent material. If you went back further, there was any amount of other stuff lying around, like those old jokes about the “Carmelite and the ballot box” and the need to take “all the nuns out of Irish politics”.

Rust might have made these unusable, I thought. But even so: most newspaper readers would not rest easy until the material was put permanently beyond use. I recall wishing that we could just dump all the clichés “in a big hole somewhere, and pour concrete over them”… ”

Look, nobody said that all of the NaBloPoMo content had to be original.

Oh very funny

16 November, 2009 at 11:05 pm by belgianwaffle

From: Me
Sent: 16 November 2009 12:13
To: IT Helpdesk
Subject: My printer will only print instruction pages in Swedish

Any advice?

From: IT Helpdesk
Sent: 16 November 2009 13:19
To: Me
Subject: RE: My printer will only print instruction pages in Swedish

Learn Swedish.


And a couple of links:

Don’t be a nanny in Dubai.

Belle de Jour outs herself as a scientist, what a surprise, we were sure that she was an arts graduate.

The Americans are excercised by Obama’s bowing.

From the PhD comic people, so true:


Car games

15 November, 2009 at 9:47 pm by belgianwaffle

Boys [singing]: Stop, in the name of love, before you break my heart.
Me [singing back]: Think it oooover, haven’t I been good to you?
Daniel [speaking]: I don’t know.

Daniel: I spy with my little eye…something lovely.
Michael: Mummy!

Linkedy Link

14 November, 2009 at 11:28 pm by belgianwaffle

Lesley uses words of which the Academie Francaise would disapprove. However, she has been in France too long: she thinks la peoplisation is an English word. Any native English speakers who speak no French know what that means? I think not. If you do, put it in the comments and prove me wrong. Also, comment, I would like that.

Mr. Kottke has a post about things which are disappearing: “blind dates, mix tapes, getting lost.. looking old, operators, camera film, hitchhiking, body hair, writing letters, basketball players in short shorts, privacy, cash, and, yes, books.” Do you agree?

I watched this woman on the television the other night and found her coping skills to be really quite exceptional. That would probably be in contrast to the woman on “Wife Swap” who looked, aghast, in the cupboard of the other woman’s house and said “the only English food here is a banana and a pineapple”. Quality television.

Quality Time

13 November, 2009 at 10:58 pm by belgianwaffle

I don’t work on Wednesday afternoons. I collect the children from school and bond with them.

Last Wednesday, there was a demonstration and I arrived late to collect them. A guard shouted at me as I tried to manoeuvre past the crowds of marching off duty guards, nurses and prison officers (cross about pay cuts). The children were full of reproaches. The school had sent text messages to parents asking them to come early as they knew about the demonstration. I didn’t get a message. I could tell that neither the principal nor the children believed me though it was quite true. Thus, I was feeling weak when the Princess asked whether we could to the vile greasy caf adjacent to the school.

I tramped in crankily. I had exactly €7 in cash on me and cafs do not take cards. The children were told that they could spend two euros each. Michael and Daniel each got a drink and the Princess got a particularly greasy bacon sandwich which she devoured with every appearance of enthusiasm. This was the cause of some friction with her brothers who were anxious that she should share and got a microscopic piece of bacon and some crisps each (of course, the sandwich came with crisps). The Princess told me that Brian Cowen was taking all her teacher’s money. I endeavoured to explain to her the financial crisis and the arguments for cuts in public spending. Very cannily, she instantly asked whether her father and I worked in the public sector or the private sector.

Having only parked the car for a quick scurry to school rather than an extended snack, I realised that I would need to feed the meter. I abandoned my children with the injunction not to move and left them in the care of the Polish greasy caf lady. I came back to find them all still in situ. We finished, put on coats, went outside, got to the traffic light and the Princess announced “I want to go to the toilet”. Excellent. We all traipsed back in, everyone went to the toilet. While Michael was in the toilet, herself asked whether she could have a drink of his juice. He said yes but, when he emerged from the toilet, he discovered she had taken more than he bargained for. He began to cry and we put on coats again and traipsed out of the cafe with a howling Michael bringing up the rear.

Having reached the safety of the car, I said to the Princess “I assume that you have your school bag”. But, of course not. I left them in the car and flew back to the cafe where it was sitting waiting for me.

An hour after emerging from school we were finally on our way to the science gallery which has consistently provided entertaining exhibitions and did not let us down on this occasion. The children happily created a number of new animals and I would have loved a go myself but they were not in the mood for sharing. We met a colleague of mine on the way back to the car and they all said hello politely and she said “what nice polite children” and I was ecstatic (low bar these days) until two seconds later when Daniel started tugging my sleeve and saying “Muuum” in that whiny voice that small children sometimes favour.

On homewards where we had to settle down to homework. I promised a half an hour of television when homework was over. Homework, normally a 15 minute exercise lasted ages as herself had an impossible word search which stymied me (Mr. Waffle of course, found the last word instantly and annoyingly on his return home). So a bit hard to get dinner on and general fratchetiness all round.

Over dinner, Daniel turned to me and said anxiously, “Will F be collecting us from school tomorrow?”

Domestic bliss

12 November, 2009 at 10:21 pm by belgianwaffle

Daniel (shouting): Mummy, I wanted to put out the washing with you.
Me: But you were in your pyjamas.
Michael: I want an actimel.
Me: OK.
Michael (shouting): NOOOO, you took off the lid, I wanted to take off the lid.
Me (crossly): Every child in this house has shouted at me this morning.
Daniel: No, that’s not true, my sister is still in bed. [Pause] She’ll shout at you when she gets up.

For your delectation from the wilds of the internet

11 November, 2009 at 9:32 pm by belgianwaffle

Norah is dealing with bodily functions of small children.

Another Belgian Waffle is having a miserable time. Obliquely. Be nice to her. Also, remember what I said about naming your blog something that won’t seem like a good idea to half a dozen other people.

This is a worthy, depressing and hard to read blog about the Irish economy. They linked to this though, which is quite cool.

The failblog people: mildly humourous.

If you liked the last map link, have a look at the interview with the creator.

A superb photo essay on East Germany, via Kottke.

Xkcd has advice for physicists.

If u do not forward this to 6 people, u will have 6 months bad luck

10 November, 2009 at 11:29 pm by belgianwaffle

I have a friend who, very reprehensibly, forwards these kinds of email. Clearly, I always delete them while making a tutting sound. One arrived today and I deleted it and forgot about it until I got home this evening. I found three letters from the revenue commissioners announcing that they had reassessed my tax returns for 2004, 2005 and 2006 and telling me cheerily (in light of the state of the exchequer) that they calculated that for those years I had an additional liability of €6,000. 6 months of this kind of luck could beggar us.

Very good news

9 November, 2009 at 11:23 pm by belgianwaffle

Excited email from a colleague today: Martin Lukes is back – and looking good for an early release and a new career!!

I thought you would like to know.

Links. Let me see. Jon is incandescent about the shocking ignorance of the British press on matters European. However, in the case of the Daily Mail, he has his revenge.

Eoin has a link to a great collection of Irish archive photos.

Look, what can I say the internet is tired.


8 November, 2009 at 9:55 pm by belgianwaffle

The lovely Beth wants to see our handwriting. I am rather proud of mine – unfortunately, it comes out a bit elongated here (the wave motion when writing on unlined paper is nothing to do with technology though). Doubtless, I am being smitten for the sin of pride. However, if you are stuck for NaBloPoMo content, you too could steal Beth’s idea.



7 November, 2009 at 9:18 pm by belgianwaffle

The Observer has worked itself into an advanced state of excitement about its political editor’s decision to resign her job to spend more time with her small son. This was front page news on Sunday. Now, while the question of work-life balance for mothers and whether it is possible to do everything is a particularly vexed one in Anglo-Saxon countries, I’m not sure that it’s front page news (although I concede that Sunday is always slow). The article is interesting and I did read it but I am dubious about the prominence it received. I defy the Irish Times to be more parochial.

Report writing

6 November, 2009 at 10:48 pm by belgianwaffle

When your appendices have footnotes, you know you’re doomed. That is all.

Actually, no it’s not because here are some exciting links.

Oh no, this is not exciting, but my husband will be interested and he may be my only reader. Ugly, small Brussels landmark disappears: only for the Brussels enthusiasts.

I like to keep an eye on all the Belgian Waffles out there (tip of the week, if you are looking for a name for your sparkling new blog, don’t go for something that a dozen other people will also go for). One of them is a Swedish techie and I read about him and his i-phone and other techie matters in a state of some bafflement. And it’s not even written in Swedish. This post, however, offers a link to find out what google knows about you. Interesting and even I can manage the technology.

One only for Irish people. You will recognise these politicians, I think. Jason is slightly mocking, but only slightly.

These are clever, slightly off the wall cartoons. This pretty one made me laugh.

Very funny spoof of this film.

Is it just my love affair with Obama or is this cute?

That’s it.

Bad googling

5 November, 2009 at 9:52 pm by belgianwaffle

I did an interview last week. I was part of, ahem, “an extraordinarily competitive applicant pool.” I was thanked for the “considerable amount of time and effort” I took in applying and told to go away. I note that they are not keeping my CV on file.

I was conscious at the time that it didn’t go particularly well. Part of the reason for this was that I googled the board in advance. Well, wouldn’t you? One member of the board had an unusual name so I was pretty sure that it was her poems I found when I googled her name. Poetry is a very personal medium, isn’t it? As I answered her questions, I kept wondering how is she getting over that relationship break up? I also reflected on the undesireability of putting a very detailed account of one’s love life, cloaked in poetry on the internet. This distracted me from the pertinent questions which were being posed.

Really Mariella, seriously?

4 November, 2009 at 9:52 pm by belgianwaffle

In her agony column for the Observer, the fair Ms. Frostrup addresses the following problem:

The dilemma: I have had a long-time interest in beekeeping. Unfortunately I have a mortal fear of bees (and similar stinging insects), and neither my partner nor I enjoy the taste of honey, rendering the material benefits of keeping bees somewhat moot. I have read a great deal of books on the subject and have yet to determine just why I am so fascinated by this most peculiar hobby – though I do quite enjoy watching beekeepers remove the honeycomb frame from an apiary, as I find it quite relaxing. It has got to the point where it is affecting my marriage, as my partner is entirely unsympathetic to what she describes as an “obsession”. I tend to spend most evenings reading apiarist manuals and commenting on beekeeping forums on the net, to the detriment of our sex life. I am interested in sex, but at this point I am more interested in bees. Is this kind of relationship normal? How can I bring my partner round to enjoying my interest in beekeeping with me?

It seems to me that this must be a joke. You may see the reply here, should you so wish.

And tonight’s fresh from the blogroll links for your delectation:

Townmouse used to be a city girl and she wrote about her daily London commute on a bicycle. Then she moved to the middle of nowhere and now she writes about the weather. It’s a lot more entertaining than it sounds.

Remember in an earlier post I gave you a link describing various different European institutions and how some are EU and, crucially, some are not. I think that, if the man from the Daily Mail had known that, he could, at the very least have spared himself from Jon’s ire.

Very European tonight, but this is a hilarious account of the consequences of Lisbon Treaty ratification in the UK. Frankly these are not words you see juxtaposed frequently.

My esteemed sister-in-law has decided to join in the Nablopomo thingamajig. She is not a frequent blogger, so she needs all the encouragement she can get to survive this marathon. And she is funny, consider her commute home.

Like many another, I love the sartorialist. He photographs people on the street wearing interesting and clever clothes. I find this a very inspiring blog and am always sizing people up to see whether they could go on it. What amazes me is how shoes so often make the outfit. I lalways have to scroll down to see the bottom of the pictures and it is extraordinary how often shoes make the look and tie everything together. Like here.

I can’t help feeling that Mr. Godin’s advice to marketers might also be applied to the Irish population as the economic crisis continues unabated.

I know I already linked to the bad writing blog but this gave me my biggest laugh of today.

A nice post from Charlotte on the joy of less formality at work.

Look, a writing competition for your blog posting. Since we’re all NaBloPoMoing anyway, you might as well give it a go.

More links tomorrow, if I’m feeling strong.

I had a fantastic idea

3 November, 2009 at 11:10 pm by belgianwaffle

For Nablopomo (if you have to ask, this post is not for you), I was going to give you details of my favourite blogs. My favourites list is not up to date. I was going to do it in November. It’s more time consuming than I had anticipated.

Instead, I am going to read my blogroll every day and give you some links to posts I like.

So starting with this one. It is technical, it is perhaps a little tedious but so many people get this wrong, people who should know better and it drives me bananas. Please consider, the difference between the Council of Europe and the European Council. I particularly enjoy the way all the comments are further refinements by fellow obsessives. This is starting off all wrong, isn’t it?

I wish I’d read this before we’d got our cat.

The White House Government blog – oh the disappointing dullness of this. However, I can’t help feeling that this picture is going to make the religious right quite cross.

Unlike the Government blog, the flickr stream is always worth a look: careful, interesting shots.

This is a hilarious blog about bad writing – here’s an example. Subscribe, subscribe, you will not regret it. Though you will cringe when you see your own particular faults lampooned.

I am sure you are aware of the excellent Mr. Kottke. I have found many of the blogs I read regularly via his site. May I give you a sample? Just tonight I had a look at strange maps, a bizarre banner ad and one for generation text.

Isn’t this clever? And it’s not just techno tips for old people either. Well, it depends, how old is old?

You know who dooce is, of course: this appealed.

I love this woman. She has proper standards and she is not afraid to say so. I am still very glad that she was not at mass with me and my children on Sunday.

The weirdness of Americans. Be very afraid, where America goes the rest of the world follows. I mean, why are we all celebrating Halloween? Can I take this opportunity to point out that this is an Irish festival exported to the new world with the bulk of our population. You can see though why pumpkin lanterns were always more likely to take off than turnip lanterns which they were using at home in the absence of exciting new world vegetables. I digress, regular outrages are available here from the woman who let her nine year old ride the subway.

Living on the Edge

2 November, 2009 at 8:05 pm by belgianwaffle

Text message received from my sister on her way to a wedding in Poland:

So, arrived at airport at 6.55 for 7.20 flight. Had checked in at home but they wouldn’t accept bag. Didn’t have time to go all the way back to car so went to left luggage. Put absolute essentials, dress, present in a paper bag. When I got to gate flight was closed but they let me on. Ryanair wouldn’t, I’m sure. Analysing lugggage, I think I will have to buy shoes. Why am I always surpried by how long it takes to get to the airport?


1 November, 2009 at 11:02 am by belgianwaffle

Really, why would I do this again? Particularly when I can’t even work out how to put the logo in my sidebar. Sigh.

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