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Archive for February, 2019


27 February, 2019 at 8:30 pm by belgianwaffle

The theme of this year’s National Gallery of Ireland calendar which I have hanging in my office appears to be “animals – alive and dead”. So you have Landseer King Charles Spaniels gazing adoringly at you one month and dead hares hanging by the hind legs drawn by some Dutch artist the next. I’m not sure that this is an entirely successful approach.

The Endless Indignities of Parenting

26 February, 2019 at 8:27 pm by belgianwaffle

Daniel and his father were driving back from a GAA match discussing tactics. After a while Daniel interjected, quite animatedly, and without any apparently humorous intent “You know, Mum should let you talk more, you’re actually quite interesting.”

Valentine’s Day

25 February, 2019 at 6:20 pm by belgianwaffle

On the morning of Valentine’s Day, my husband woke me up with the words, “Happy Valentine’s Day”. I replied, “Oh [expletive deleted]!” He said, “Don’t worry, our truce has held, I haven’t bought you anything.”

That’s true love, right there.

Minor Injuries

24 February, 2019 at 1:08 pm by belgianwaffle

I got a call from the school that Daniel was injured. He was shouldered in the face by a bigger boy during a game of basketball. He was a bit sore but his glasses were unbroken and he described himself as able to cycle home. Crisis averted. He was a bit miserable that evening but he recovered.

The next day, we got another call from the school, “Don’t worry but we think Michael needs stitches.” He got his injury in a very Michaelish way. He won a class debate on global warming. As he was announced as the winner, he bowed to the class and hit his head off the corner of a desk.

Normally, Mr. Waffle deals with all emergencies but he couldn’t go to the hospital on the day in question so I scooted out of work at 3.45 to deal with the catastrophe. Mr. Waffle had already collected him from school in the car (this was not an injury where we felt he could cycle home). When I got home, Michael was quite upset. “Were you glad when Daddy collected you?” I asked. “Yes, but I’m gladder to see you now,” he sobbed into my shoulder. Every time something like this happens, I wonder why I am out at work and not at home. If things had been normal, I would have stayed at work and his father would have taken him to the hospital and I feel he actually really wanted his mother. Having it all, again.

We spent a couple of hours in A&E and he didn’t need stitches in the end: they glued him back together. He’s almost recovered now and is, much to his regret, allowed back in the shower.

Transition Year Bulletin

23 February, 2019 at 7:46 pm by belgianwaffle

There is a nun in her early 80s attached to the children’s school. They absolutely love her. I have to say, I find her a bit unnerving myself and when I meet her I feel she is judging me and finding me wanting. This may just be my early conditioning.

Herself tells me that the nun is doing meditation with her year. Apparently, they are told to sit quietly with their eyes closed and imagine Jesus coming towards them in the light. “How is that for you?” I asked. “Well, I always want to ask ‘Are we dead, sister?'” Not great then, I suppose.

They had a CPR class as well. They were supposed to wear their gym gear for resuscitating people but, as always the case, half the class had forgotten to wear the correct gear. The teacher sent them up to the home ec room to borrow the school basketball gear which is kept there after being washed every time by the home ec teacher (completely unclear to me why they can’t buy their own basketball gear but this is how it works – as I understand it, no one regrets this more than the home ec teacher who has the washing machine going in her classroom almost all the time). They charged up and changed. When the man from the first aid training man arrived, he took one look at the kids wearing basketball gear and sent them off to change before they caught their deaths of cold. Such is the exciting nature of Transition Year.

Herself is starting her work experience for a series of ten Mondays on the 25th and I am very curious as to how it will go for her. Hang on to your hats people.

Not Cool

21 February, 2019 at 8:19 pm by belgianwaffle

Herself is doing volcanoes in geography again. Is there no end to them?

The geography teacher asked for a volcano in Africa. “I’ll give you a clue,” said he, “it features in a famous song.” He scanned the classroom.

Which misfortunate child was, due to her parents’ irredeemably dreadful music taste, able to say, “Sir, I think it’s Kilimanjaro and your reference is to “Africa” by Toto.”

New Technology

19 February, 2019 at 8:08 pm by belgianwaffle

Herself has rescued her father’s tape deck from his parents’ house. She is delighted with the way it doesn’t know what she’s doing or take a note of what music she’s listening to. She’s pre-ordered Hozier’s new album on tape to take further advantage of this.

She’s started to whisper when there are phones in the room as she points out that they are always listening to us. I know this is true as Siri perks up and talks occasionally, and disconcertingly, when I am at meetings. She is less inclined to do this when I intentionally say, “Hey Siri.”

Lads, I’m beginning to wonder whether we should all go back to the tape deck.

Miscellaneous Michael Related News

15 February, 2019 at 7:54 pm by belgianwaffle

Herself and Daniel observed recently that Michael has all the advantages of being the youngest and none of the disadvantages. I realise that this is entirely true. He exercises the prerogative of the youngest child to cunningly manipulate his parents while suffering none of the disadvantages of having to go to bed early or be excluded from things his older siblings enjoy. Truly, he is a brilliant child.

We had his last visit to the public health dentist recently. Technically he should have finished at the end of primary school, two years ago but he is young to be in secondary school and the dentist is kind. All is well, this really is the end of it though. He is still losing teeth. I nearly choked on one recently. It was a molar lying on the coffee table near a half empty packet of popcorn and it looked like a popcorn piece. The life of a parent is not an easy one.

Michael is still playing hockey. There are very few boys and he is mostly with large gangs of 12 and 13 year old girls which doesn’t seem to bother him. Mr. Waffle was with him recently when they were doing some drill he couldn’t get the hang of; he did eventually and he declaimed to the assembled girls: “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings/Look on my works ye mighty and despair.” I wondered how the girls took it but Mr. Waffle said that they seemed to be indifferent.


13 February, 2019 at 7:33 pm by belgianwaffle

As part of their Transition Year programme, herself and her classmates were taken to Mondello Park.

They all got to drive around the race track. She absolutely loved it and has spent the time since learning all the answers to the driver theory test in English and Irish. It’s six months before she can sit even the theory test so she may have peaked too early. She tells me that it is useless to rely on my driving habits as I am completely wrong about everything. For example if there is a narrow country road and you have to turn around and there is a gate nearby do you turn on the road or using the gate? “Using the gate, of course,” I said confidently. Apparently not. Pesky rules of the road. “I can tell you that one is more observed in the breach” I said but apparently that cuts no mustard with the AI administering the test.

The only sour note was a video they were shown of a cyclist diffusing a bomb. Over a headset, the cyclist was told to cut the red wire and, of course, cut the green one instead. Boom. I think the point was to emphasise that cyclists are vulnerable road users who, like other road users, may not always obey the rules of the road and you need to be vigilant but I don’t think that’s the best way to make the point and neither did the herself or the other girl in her year who cycles to school. So now I’ve become the crank cyclist parent who writes to Mondello Park. In fairness, I did tell them that overall she loved it, so maybe they might heed my plea to dump the video.

Updated to add – They replied with gratifying speed indicating that they noted my concerns and would make clear that it was aimed at all road users. Sadly, no indication that they would remove the video though.

Embracing Middle Age

12 February, 2019 at 7:21 pm by belgianwaffle

I bought a pair of new walking shoes in Matthews in Cork. I tried various pairs but none seemed right. The young man in the shop (a relative of the owners currently in his final year in German and business yes, I was there a while) brought me out a beige pair which he suggested I try. “But they’re so ugly,” I protested. “Those are your words,” he said, “I would say they are less aesthetically attractive than some of the other boots.” I tried them on. They were so comfortable. My young shop assistant looked at them critically, “You know,” he said, “they’re not quite so ugly on.” Reader, I bought them.

This Pronunciation Varies*

11 February, 2019 at 7:15 pm by belgianwaffle

My sister was in Chicago the week it was very cold and snowy. Miraculously, she got in and she got out. Her flight out of Chicago was much delayed but she got in to Dublin about midday. She then picked me up and drove us both to Cork.

I offered to drive, I really did but she has a new car and, secretly, I think she doubts my ability to keep it scratch free. It was lovely to have her to myself for the day even if she was exhausted. We stopped en route for lunch in Kildare Village (my struggles with which I have previously documented). I spent a fiver on lipbalm from Penhaligon which was profligate and €7.50 on a vase from Villeroy and Boch which was definitely a bargain.

As we approached Cork, I asked her “Will you go straight to bed when you get home?” “Oh no,” said she, “I have to spend a couple of hours answering emails.” I was suitably horrified by the work ethic expected from her American overlords. “But then,” I said, “then, you’ll go to bed.” “No,” she said, “I’m going to a record launch in Cawlan’s”. “Where?” “Cawlan’s.” “Never heard of it, spell it.” “C-O-U-G-H-L-A-N-S” “Oh,” I said, “Cocklan’s”. “No, Cawlan’s, you’ve just been out of Cork too long, you don’t know how to pronounce it any more,” said she.

I let it go, she was driving after having been awake for 36 hours and flown out of a snow bound mid-West. But I knew I was right.

Later that evening, my brother asked me would I run him to the pub in the car. “Sure,” said I, “where are you going?” “Cawlan’s.” I am a broken woman.

*You know from Hilaire Belloc ” But this pronunciation varies/ Some people call it Buenos Aires.”

Geographical Inaccuracy

10 February, 2019 at 7:17 pm by belgianwaffle

I was having a peaceful cup of tea in a cafe yesterday while waiting for Michael to emerge from drama. Sitting beside me was an Irish woman in her early to mid 20s with two tourists. The Irish woman was offering them tips about what to do in Ireland in general and Dublin in particular. I thought that she gave broadly good advice; though quite loud (let those of us who were not loud in our twenties cast the first stone etc.).

They talked about their own lives and the Irish woman explained that she had studied German in college and lived in Germany for a bit. She’d also spent a year working in Cork and loved it. So, you know, a well informed and discerning guide.

Then the tourists asked her about Irish airports. “Well,” she said, “there’s Dublin and Cork. And Galway I think. Oh yes, and Shannon.” “Where is Shannon?” asked the tourists. “It’s in the middle,” she said. “Hmm,” I thought, “it’s kind of in the middle of the west coast but I suppose that’s enough for tourists.” “What county is it in?” asked the tourists. “Good question,” said the Irish guide, “I’m not sure, maybe Roscommon*, I think?”

Goodness gracious me.

*For non-Irish readers, it’s really not.


9 February, 2019 at 6:59 pm by belgianwaffle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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