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Archive for January, 2017

Further Intimations of Mortality

25 January, 2017 at 10:52 pm by belgianwaffle

I meet a group of former colleagues for lunch regularly. The median age of the group is 40ish and I am the oldest, at 47, and the youngest is 36. We met recently and I got there a bit late. As I arrived, one of them asked, “How old are you?” “Why do you ask?” I said. “We were speculating because you were late,” they replied. I told them. “Oh really, that old we thought you were younger, except for G, she guessed you were approaching 50.” I turned reproachfully to poor G, who said, defensively, “I only said that you were looking very well for someone in her late 40s.” I understand that there are three ages: young, middle aged and “you’re looking great”. Have I really entered the last phase?

An Important Role

24 January, 2017 at 10:37 pm by belgianwaffle

One night at dinner, everyone was a bit cranky and Michael announced, “I sense tensions are high.” There was a dramatic pause and then he added: “I am the tension weatherman.” Every family should have one.

Terrible Jokes Department

23 January, 2017 at 7:32 pm by belgianwaffle

Herself: Did you hear about the punctuation mark that lost both parents?
Me: No.
Herself: It needed someone to act in loco parenthesis.
Me: Aargh.
Herself: I made it up myself.

Heavily Laden

22 January, 2017 at 12:32 pm by belgianwaffle

I took this picture before I went into work the other morning. Observe, my noble bicycle carrying my handbag, both boys’ schoolbags and my briefcase.

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Deep Waters

20 January, 2017 at 7:35 pm by belgianwaffle

Herself, on being forced to go to mass on Sunday, announced, “I’m an atheist martyr.” It takes a saint to live with a martyr, you know. As part of her campaign to not go to mass any longer she is asking me hard questions. I am dealing with issues that I never really considered myself and where I have no answers. In the context of the Arian heresy (obscure, but not as obscure as you might think because every Sunday when we recite the Nicene creed we refer to Jesus as being “consubstantial with the Father” which I understand is the essence of the controversy. A former colleague of mine used to refer to the creed as “the best mission statement ever”; I digress), she asked me whether the Holy Spirit has chromosomes. On balance, I’m inclined to think not, but really, this is all getting a bit beyond me.

And as though all this wasn’t enough, the sacristan nabbed me at mass on Sunday and asked whether I would like to be part of the parish’s outreach team for baptisms. One evening a month only, apparently. I fear I will have to commit as I have already avoided all kinds of things including organising tea after the family mass once a month. I will offer it up, I suppose. There will be training available, I understand. I hope they will cover all the relevant theological questions which are likely to arise.

Humiliation of the Non-Handy

19 January, 2017 at 8:50 pm by belgianwaffle

Our heating broke during a cold spell there recently. It worked upstairs but not downstairs. We poked ineffectually at the boiler and the radiators but, in the end, we had to get someone in. He had a look and pointed out that we had a thermostat on the wall downstairs which was currently set to zero and that might be the root of our problem.

Sic Transit

18 January, 2017 at 4:33 pm by belgianwaffle

I am at home with the children this afternoon. The boys were gratifyingly pleased to see me. We chatted. Then Michael said he was going to the kitchen for a snack. “Can you come with me to talk to me?” he asked. “Of course,” I said. “Not you, Mum,” he said, “Daniel, I want to talk to Daniel.” “Although,” he added kindly, “you can come as well if you like.”

Ominous

17 January, 2017 at 8:14 pm by belgianwaffle

When I checked my personal mobile as I left the office this evening, I saw that herself had called me at 2. I rang her back. “Oh yeah, it was an emergency when I called you. The cat caught a mouse and brought it into the utility room.” “What happened?” I asked. “I shut the door and called Dad and he’s going to deal with it when he gets home.” Cravenly, I cycled home very slowly. Mr. Waffle opened the front door to me. “Did you find the mouse?” I asked. He had not. We both looked again but could find no trace. Could the cat have eaten it all, including the tail? She is certainly less hungry than usual this evening. Alternatively are there mouse body parts quietly rotting in an unseen corner of the utility room? It’s all to play for, folks.

Attending

14 January, 2017 at 8:09 pm by belgianwaffle

Daniel did a big tidy up of his room before Christmas. He lined up his various trophies thematically on the mantelpiece and on top of his chest of drawers. For the first time I noticed that he has loads of school attendance trophies. While his brother and sister often miss school due to illness, he almost never does. My son is a man of steel (I am unclear why he has two for 2010/11 – possibly user error saw the school use the wrong date one year). Anyhow, I was suitably impressed by this evidence of robust good health.

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L’Actualité Dans Toute Sa Majesté

12 January, 2017 at 6:16 pm by belgianwaffle

When we lived in Belgium, I used to occasionally buy and read “Royals” magazine. The clue is in the title; it goes large on the Belgian royal family but all of the European royals feature from time to time (the Grimaldis are my absolute favourites; what a family) and sometimes more exotic royals from Asia or the Middle East. I used to read it in a post-modern, ironic way and, because it’s in French, it’s clearly not the same as reading, say, “Hello” magazine which I am obviously too lofty to read.

Mr. Waffle goes to Brussels for work from time to time and on his return he often picks me up a (post-modern, ironic) copy of “Royals” magazine. Inspired by his success he got me a subscription to 12 months of “Royals” magazine last Christmas. I have to tell you I was not delighted, I felt I’d tipped over from post-modern, ironic to weird middle-aged Belgian royalist lady. Anyway 12 months later, my subscription has finally expired. If you need to know anything about the Belgian royal family, ask me now. While I have to say that I enjoyed it more than I expected to, I am glad to have reverted to being an occasional consumer of Belgian royal family news rather than the Irish expert on Prince Laurent’s latest quirk.

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There’s Still a Mountain to Climb

8 January, 2017 at 6:03 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle was up with Daniel at the GAA club before Christmas. A number of players from the women’s and men’s county teams were there to talk to the children and do some training with them. There were about 500 boys and girls there.

One of the Dublin team players said to the children, “Who’s the best at handstands?” Mr. Waffle said all of the boys immediately put their hands in the air. Very few girls’ hands went up. Instead, the girls started talking amongst themselves, “Are you the best? No, I’m not the best, maybe X is the best.” And so on. Ironically, given that far more of the girls are doing gymnastics (yes, a gendered space that), de facto it was likely that far more of the girls could do handstands. Capacity doesn’t really seem to matter in these contexts though, does it?

Largely a Success

7 January, 2017 at 7:56 pm by belgianwaffle

Michael enjoyed ice skating in Cork and asked to be taken in Dublin so, this morning we went to a soulless suburban shopping centre and whirled around the ice. We both enjoyed it and he really got the hang of it. Nevertheless we did have one spectacular fall (he had lots of falls but when a grown-up goes down it is that bit more exciting). As he pointed out, his hand broke my fall and he does have quite a spectacular bruise. I, on the other hand, am finding sitting a bit of a trial.

I met a friend for lunch while Mr. Waffle and the children dutifully took down the Christmas decorations and took the tree to be recycled. All in all, most satisfactory.

Unrelated, did I tell you that I got my annual haircut before Christmas?

I went from this (it’s hard to take pictures of yourself, isn’t it, may explain why I look so angry and gloomy):

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To this (see how much more cheerful, I am):

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Bit shorter than last year and the year before – we’ll see how it looks in 12 months.

Epiphany

6 January, 2017 at 11:53 pm by belgianwaffle

Today is the last day of Christmas. Christmas was good and really long this year because of how it fell, I was on holidays for nearly a fortnight. Hurrah.

Our advent calendar went missing mysteriously and despite extensive searching could not be found so our Christmas season began with the week long steaming of the pudding:

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This was followed by the arrival of Saint Nicolas. To be honest, Mr. Waffle and I were pretty sure that he would not come to people who left Belgium more than 8 years ago. We were so wrong.

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We got the annual Christmas magazine from school – same as the one I got 35 years ago but they’ve updated the graphics:

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We got the Hollybough:

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We got the bumper RTÉ Guide:

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We put a wreath on the door.

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Then we got the tree.

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Daniel and I decorated it.

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We saw Santa at mass the Sunday before Christmas – he was in mufti – he gets a lot of work locally and covers the boys’ school. At the sign of peace, Michael was quite startled to see him in the pew behind us but Santa, showing great composure, raised his eyebrows and put a finger to his lips. Michael was charmed.

We had a furious round of pre-Christmas activity. I took a day off work to get my Christmas shopping done. Don’t mock. That morning Mr. Waffle had a meeting he couldn’t miss. Inevitably, both boys were sick. I spent the morning minding them until the secondary school rang to say that herself was sick also. I left the boys in their sick beds and, as the car was in the garage, took a taxi out to rescue my poor sick child (on the plus side it gave me the opportunity to verify that the Princess’s bike was in the school bike shed as suspected and not, in fact, stolen from our garage like the last one as we had feared – there had been a certain amount of driving in and out to school due to wet weather and the pathetic time she arrived home bedraggled and damp and her heartless parents felt bad and we had slightly lost track of where the bike was). At lunch time, Mr. Waffle relieved me from duty and I went off and bought everything in the afternoon. It just shows, it can be done.

The boys had their Christmas play which was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Daniel was Charlie and he was terrific. Michael was Slugworth. He was also terrific. I was very proud, my sister came up to see them and she said they were marvellous and, unlike me, she is completely objective. In drama class, Michael got to star as Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”. It went very well but Tiny Tim’s leg accidentally fell off. There was a Christmas concert in the Princess’s school; there was also a carol service in the church near the Princess’s school. The Princess sang at both. I recorded her singing the song at home so that I could dazzle you with her general amazingness but she is not keen to share it so you will have to imagine it. There was also a carol service in our local church where both herself and Daniel sang (not a complete success as she was exhausted after a sleepover the night before and Daniel was sick). And we had some neighbours and friends around for Christmas drinks. We watched “A Muppet Christmas Carol”; in my view by far Michael Caine’s best film. And then constant work parties, lunches etc. It was quite the whirlwind, I can tell you. I can almost sympathise with the teacher in the Princess’s school who hates Christmas and wants them all to know about it; an t-Uasal Ó Grinch as he is known.

By Christmas Eve I was a bit flattened. Nonetheless I was up early getting cranberries in the supermarket (I blame the Americans, when I was a child there were no cranberries and we got through Christmas fine). Then I went to the butcher’s to get our Christmas turkey and spiced beef. There was an enormous queue and the staff were plying Christmas punters with tea and coffee during the wait. Text received from herself during the waiting: “When will my mother return from the war?” When I got back, we took ourselves off for a walk in Wicklow with a picnic lunch. It was cold but, crucially, it did not rain.

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And then we went to midnight mass (starting at 9, confusingly) where there was beautiful music and herself got to carry the baby Jesus to the crib and none of the children collapsed from exhaustion. In fact so lively were they that Daniel arrived downstairs at 12.30 for a chat which was quite the surprise.

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The next day, we had Mr. Waffle’s family for Christmas- 8 adults and 5 children including ourselves. I was quite nervous about the quantity of food that needed to be prepared but it was grand and a good time was had by all etc. At least I hope so, they ate it anyhow which is crucial when you bring a turkey into the house.

As is tradition, we went orienteering on St. Stephen’s Day and for the first time ever, I think, it did not lash rain on us.

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The next day we headed to Cork. As my mother always says, we travel light. Ahem.

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We stopped off at my parents’ house and hoovered up presents. It was like Santa all over again and then some. Then we went to east Cork where we often stay in my friends’ summer house – so often, that we now have our own key. Um, look they were in Spain, it was empty. They have very energy efficient modern Scandinavian heating which takes about 12 hours to warm up so we came prepared with hot water bottles for the first night but after that it was perfectly toasty – underfloor heating is where it is at.

They have no television and no wifi. We fell back on traditional entertainments. The boys made plastic models.

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We attempted their jigsaw. Very hard.

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We went ice skating. We went to Fota Wildlife Park. I must say that all of these things are a lot easier when your children are 11 and 13 than when they are under 8. Although Mr. Waffle got pretty grumpy about the traffic in and out to Mahon Point for the ice skating. Do not go ice skating in a shopping centre at peak post-Christmas sale time was part of the message we took from that experience.

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We went to visit second cousins in Limerick. We saw a ruined abbey.

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We were back in Dublin for new year’s eve. Mr. Waffle went to a party at a neighbour’s house but I was tired and stayed home and the Princess and I chatted. Mr. Waffle returned to join us just before midnight. We did some further mild relative visiting. I went to the sales. I took the boys to the dentist. We went for a lovely walk in Howth.

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I went back to work yesterday and am slowly re-adjusting. Mr. Waffle and the children are still on holidays. Today is Women’s Christmas and Mr. Waffle nobly took the children out so I got back to an empty house – slightly thrilling. After dinner, I suggested that Mr. Waffle and the boys might clean up as it was Women’s Christmas and the Princess might be excused (I was the cook and so excused ex officio). The Princess was outraged by this blatant sexism when Mr. Waffle does just as much work around the house as I do (or, according to Michael, slightly more which I dispute but I don’t think Michael counts putting things away as work) and insisted on staying to help her father.

And now it is nearly midnight and the end of Christmas. Tomorrow we will be taking down the Christmas tree and the decorations. Alas. How was your own Christmas?


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