March 2009

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Sniff That Air

The weather has been lousy for the past couple of weeks and although the weather man promised us blue skies and balmy temperatures, this weekend brought us more grey weather and showers. But there was a glimmer of hope on Sunday afternoon, and now spring really is here.

The sun was shining brightly today. On the way home I noticed fresh buds on the big trees, while smaller plants bring a first spray of fresh young green. Crocuses and Narcissus radiate their white and yellow colours, while a myriad of other flowers pop up their heads and open up to the sun.

I took a deep breath of spring air, and in the back of my nose I could feel a familiar inkling.

The allergy season is about to start.

If Only The Mute Button Were Bigger

I want one of these:

Discovered it on Michel's weblog.


Mrs.B has gone to the inlaws for a couple of days. So I'm home alone tonight. Bring in the booze! Welcome to all my friends! Let's call some strippers!


Oh, whom am I kidding?

At least I got control of the remote tonight.


Too bad nothing's on TV.

Doggy Style

The other day, I got off the bus when I returned home from work. On the other side of the street, a mother and her toddler were walking the dog. The kid was a couple of months younger than Wolf I guess, still a bit wobbly on his legs. He had a small dog on a leash. It was more a case of the dog taking the baby for walkies than the other way round.

They passed a lamp post, so the dog lifted his leg and made a wee. The little boy looked at what the dog was doing, wobbled to the lamp post and mimicked the dog by lifting his leg too.

I continued my way with a big grin on my face, while his mother tried to explain her son that he wasn’t supposed to do that – her face was all red while she watched me sniggering from the corner of her eye.

It was such a funny sight!

Hearing Aid

My wife doesn’t hear well. It’s not just that she doesn’t listen or that she ignores me. She does that too, but the problem was not only on the software side. The hardware was malfunctioning too. So she had to have some surgery on (or rather in) her left ear. And what better day to plan a surgical treatment than on Friday the 13th?

'You must be mad', you would say. Well, you see, we are not the kind of people that suffer from superstitious beliefs. For us, Friday the 13th is like any other day. Nothing to worry about. But then again, you would be absolutely right.

Mother in law agreed to take care of Wolf for a couple of days, so I would have my hands free and enough time to drive up and down to the hospital. That was important because for some reason Mrs.B’s type of surgery was only available at the other side of the country – in Tongeren to be precise, just follow the signs pointing to ‘Edge of the World’ and then turn left.

But on the eve of the 13th, MIL’s toy boy called to say that MIL had a bad accident with her bike. She was still alive, but both her underarms were in bandages, she was missing about five square meters of skin and she would have to stay in hospital herself until after the weekend. So no babysitter. Some people have no consideration for others.

So that Friday, we dropped Wolf at the childminder’s and set off for the Edge of the World (Tongeren). Mrs.B took the precaution of printing one of those road maps from the internet. However, I was convinced from the start that her indications were rubbish and because I know my way around everywhere on the globe and because I know best and because women can’t navigate, I deviated from the plan.

This led to a slight degree of tension in the car. But everything turned out fine, because I was right. As I always am, I might add. Don’t tell me how to drive to the Edge of the World!

Not only did we arrive in time, we had oodles of time because we had to wait, and then had to wait some more. Mrs.B had a nice room, with a very nice view. She was also the only adult in the paediatric ward, because she insisted on having a private room. And the only way they could give her one was by throwing a child out of the window. But if she felt guilty about that, she didn’t show it.

Mrs.B had to change into one of those nice hospital gowns, you know, with the open back. They just invite a man to hanky-panky, but she wouldn’t have any of that. Then the nice nurse came back and planted a huge needle in her bum. Then they rolled her out.

Instead of pacing nervously in the room until my loved one returned, I took the occasion to visit the town, have a copious diner and do some shopping. Then I returned to nervously pace in the room until my loved one appeared again, her left ear hidden under a cushion of bandages.

The surgery went without a hitch, although it will take a while before Mrs.B’s hearing fully returns. She still was feeling knocked out, but the next day she was feeling so well that she could return home earlier than expected. Which was a good thing, because after living one day on my own, I urgently needed someone to put me straight again.

Bring Us To Your Leader

It is said that a Belgian is born with a brick in his belly. So it’s no surprise that every year, we flock ‘en masse’ to the ultimate building festival known as Batibouw. Twelve giant halls with a total of 150.000 m² of doorknobs, roof tiles, windows, garage doors, bathtubs, radiators, wall sockets, gazebos and the lot.

My sister had got hold of a couple of free tickets, so little brother and I made the long trip by public transport to this building and renovation bonanza. To be honest, it was all a bit overpowering. There were thousands and thousands of people making their way from one stand to the next, staring at demonstrations, touching the different fabrics and materials, shouting at their children, looking in desperation for their children and feeding hamburgers to their children in the hope they’d stop whining. I sure was glad I left Wolf at home with his mum. After all, renovation is a men’s affair, not something for feeble little women. (Will have to disappear in hiding for four weeks after this one.)

Every year, there are different main topics. Apparently, hot tubs were one of these main topics, because there were hundreds of them. You could say they come in every size and colour. Lots of colours. All mixed together in horrendous mixtures of purple and blue and green all together in twirling patterns that could give you an epileptic seizure in minutes. And other had lights! That changed colours! And ‘rustic’ sounds with ocean waves and digital songbirds!

You wouldn’t believe the number of jets contemporary hot tubs have. There are jets behind your back, there are jets under your bum, there are jets under your arms, there are jets under your feet and behind your legs. If you put them on all at once, I bet you burst right through the ceiling.

And all this can be yours for a measly twenty-six thousand euros, so you can take a bath for the price of two medium-sized cars. On the other hand, I bet you could fly one of those things if you turn it upside down. In fact, they really are UFO’s, the jets are really part of an advanced propulsion system, and the pulsating lights and strange sounds are a dead giveaway. That’s what we do with extraterrestrial life here, we don’t start interstellar wars, we turn it into something useful.

Life Imprisonment

When a baby is born, he is so sweet and innocent. Two years later, Wolf has done enough mischief to deserve years of confinement. We've had enough of his tantrums, of him throwing full plates of food on the ground or stepping on the cats' tails on purpose.

So yesterday, we contacted the local jail – or kindergarten school if you will – to reserve him a cell – or classroom as they call it euphemistically.

Actually, we're lucky that things went so smoothly, because in many places in the country and even in some other parts of the city, there are waiting lists. In order to be sure that their child can go to a school in the neighbourhood, parents will literally camp at the gates of the school. In other places, like Ghent, the schools took the sensible step to organise a waiting list on the internet. This way, children get access in accordance to the distance they live from a certain school. I think it's a good principle, because now parents have to inscribe their children in far away schools if they are too low on the waiting list.

But our part of the city has plenty of schools. Still, we didn’t want to take any chances, so Mrs.B went to register Wolf as soon as the gates opened.

He’ll be forced to 'wear his pants down on the benches' until he’s 18, and then (probably) some more time if he’ll pursuit a higher education. Poor boy, looking up to 20 years of time, and he can't even speak or go to the toilet yet.

1-0 For The Coffee Table

Since the dawn of time, or at least since the invention of small decorative furniture items, there has been an ongoing war between coffee tables and toddlers. For small children taking their first steps, the coffee table is a natural enemy. It is preying on them, while they try to keep their balance. For a toddler, falling on its bum is not a big deal, because of the thick padding that is provided by their diaper. They are even capable of increasing the padding, by doing a big number two. Although the feeling at impact must be a bit wet and slimy, it provides an added pneumatic cushioning effect.

Most furniture will help your little bundle of joy to keep his or her balance by providing support when they feel they’re wobbling a bit too much. But coffee tables are just to low to give that support. Yet they stand in between the soft landing zone of the wall-to-wall carpet and your baby’s lip. And they have sharp edges. The most sadistic ones have a glass top or metal edges. We have a dark wooden one with relatively rounded edges, but they are hard and edgy anyway.

Yesterday, Wolf stumbled over my wife’s slippers, which were illegally parked next to the coffee table. With a mighty ‘thud’ he landed with his head on the coffee table. His mouth hit right on the rim of the table.

Pain! Blood everywhere! A heart-piercing wail followed by inconsolable crying! Parents veering up, father running to the kitchen for a cold washing cloth while mother cuddled and caressed and tried to hush the little baby.

His lower teeth went right trough his lip, but luckily they didn’t wiggle. It took us a long time to comfort our little guy, every time he would put his fingers/thumb in his mouth and then he’d feel the pain again.

We tried to ease the pain with ice-cream, but there was only an itsy-bitsy left in the container and it was so old that it tasted foul. We are really inept parents.