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Return To Africa

It's been almost a year since I've last been to Africa, so high time to get back before I get detox symptoms. And I desperately need some sun and heat, this grey winter weather and the cold and the rain is really getting on my nerves.

Although we did enjoy the first few pre-spring days this week. Last week we took the boys to the Zoo (just for a visit, we took them back home) and although the sun was out, it was still a winter sun. But it was very nice, although I almost managed to leave my backpack behind, WITH the video camera, when Wolf slipped and hurt his mouth.

Today we had a really nice sunny day, at times it got really warm. Not Africa warm of course, but spring is definitely coming. We made a nice walk through Antwerp, just strolling without the need to run from one store to the other. People enjoyed the first warm weather in a typical Belgian way: they 'did a terrace' and had a drink outside in the sun. Wolf gobbled down a giant ice-cream; it took me half an hour to get most of the chocolate from his face and then he still looked like he'd put his face into a bucket of mud. We went to look at the ships sailing on the river Scheldt, but we only saw one. And then it was time to head back home.

Tomorrow Mrs.B and the kids will bring me to the airport, Wolf is looking forward to see all the aircraft. Mrs.B on the other hand is looking forward to a breakfast with American pancakes at the restaurant at the very beginning of the check-in lines. And I am not looking forward to saying goodbye to my little guys, because I know I will miss them terribly in the next two weeks.

Grounds For Divorce

I just discovered a nearly new T-shirt of mine in the garbage bin. It was barely twenty years old - or twenty-two, but let's not start nitpicking please - and it's still in perfect shape apart from the large grease stain and the building-foam drops that cling to it everywhere and are impossible to remove and some paint and various other patches of dirt and unidentifiable substances. Granted, it has some ruffles on the neck, but it's still a good T-shirt to do chores, or go to a wedding reception, you know as long as it's nothing too fancy.

I have a pretty good suspicion about who might have thrown it in the bin. I won't divulge any names now, but when she returns from work there will be a cross-examination followed by quick and efficient justice.

No-one throws items of clothing of mine in the bin without my consent, even if that means they have to wait thirty years for it!

A Grey Winter's Day

Font 500 Company

And A Good Health To You

The new year is here, and everybody's wishing you a good health. Consequently, we spent the last week in hospital because Tyl was having a go for the world record 'Repetition vomiting'. The poor little guy was suffering from two viruses at once: one that took out his digestive system and another one that clogged up his head and chest with mucus. As a consequence, he didn't want to eat at a certain point and even when he got some food in, it was out before you could say 'supercallyfragilisticexpyallydocious' four times in a row.

So at four AM on New Year's morning - technically it was still night - Mrs.B drove him to the hospital while I guarded the castle and looked after his big brother. The physician that examined Tyl was adamant that he would be allright in a day or two - and kept that opinion all week long. So I spent the week driving up and down to the hospital, bringing essential supplies to the wife: underwear, baby clothes, frozen mother's milk to poor into the tube in Tyl's nose, toys, etc. etc. Meanwhile, I also had to entertain Wolf and I also ceased the opportunity of my wife's absence to tear down a large part of the kitchen.

But now Tyl is back home and although the kitchen looks like it has been redone by an Afghan warlord, we finally have a functioning second-hand dishwasher.

Things are looking up!

2011

Happy 2011 from Tyl, Wolf, Mrs.B and myselfHappy 2011 from Tyl, Wolf, Mrs.B and myself

Ice Ice Baby

Belgium is slowly thawing as this new ice age comes to an end. The danger of breaking a leg on the slippery ice and snow on the streets and curbs may be over, but these - ever so slightly - warmer temperatures bring their own perils.

Such as ice, ice cold drops of melting water falling from melting icicles. They may look innocent, but they come equipped with laser guided targeting systems that home in on that itsy bitsy little spot of bare skin in your neck, barely reachable from above between your scarf and woollen hat.

They never miss, do they. Yesterday I got hit on my way to the train station, and to the surprise of many baffled onlookers performed a wild Cherokee rain dance all through the Rue de la Loi in Brussels.

I so much very very heap lot hate it when that happens!

Christmas Card

Toofff FFFFairey

Monday mornings are painful in any case, but especially so if you find yourself in a dentist's chair. On my last check-up, my dentist told me that my upper left wisdom tooth had to go. She couldn't do it herself, so I had to make an appointment at our local hospital (that is: one of our three local hospitals).

It was meant to be a first check-up by the surgeon, but one of his patients had fled the continent in sheer horror cancelled his appointment, so if I wanted, I could voluntarily submit myself to agonizing pain and terror in an hour or so.

So a short while later I was staring at the blinding light above my head, trying to think about lovely peaceful experiences while a masqueraded man drove a couple of needles into my palate. 'This last one stings', he said, and he wasn't kidding.

A couple of minutes later my mouth was numb enough to let the saliva drizzle freely from my limp lips. The nurse was happily vacuuming my mouth while I tried not to notice the breaking and crashing noises that surely must have come from road works outside and not from my mouth. 'You have twisted roots', the surgeon complained. I formulated an apology, which came out as an extra gush of saliva.

In the end, the separation was quick and painless, and I never got to see my ex-tooth again. The nurse pressed a box of gauze pads in my hand, to change that canon ball that stretched my left cheek to breaking point. I mumbled a reply, without understanding myself what I was saying, and went home. Luckily, the drugs didn't interfere with my capacity to drive. On a totally unrelated subject: people in my town have very good reflexes and can jump surprisingly high when they are truly motivated.

The sedation the doctor had given me worked so well during all of the morning that I even managed to move some of the furniture I was supposed to move that day. But after diner, the feeling came back and the pain hit me like a sledgehammer fired from a rather large piece of artillery. I burried myself in bed with an extra dose of painkillers and slept all through the afternoon.

The pain was still there the next day, and the next, and today, although it's not as severe now as it was in the beginning. Generally I feel fine in the morning, but apparently working is bad for me - I've always said so - and in the afternoon I really need some aspirin or LSD or dried rhino horn or something.

It's my birthday party on Sunday, so I hope I'll be able to chew something more substantial than yoghurt by then...

Barty Potter And The Deadly Shutters

There once was a boy with a big scar on his forehead. He got it when he was a baby because an evil wizard tried to kill him but he was protected by his mother's love and he survived, while the wizard almost died from a severe case of back-firing. Ever since, he had that scar on his forehead. His name is Harry Potter.

I too have such a scar on my forehead. It all happened on a stormy winter's night, long long ago.

Well, yesterday evening, to be precise.

I wanted to check if the door of the shed was closed, so I pulled up the shutters from the back door to stick my head out. I couldn't see the lock, so I stepped out on my slippers and checked the lock. And then I quickly ran in again, completely forgetting that the shutters were not completely open and that I should bend down a bit.

So I slammed my head at high speed against the shutters, right at the point where that thingy sticks out to stop the shutters when you pull them up.

Good thing: it missed my left eye by a narrow margin.

Bad thing: I now look like an obsessed Harry Potter fanatic that really needs professional help to connect to the real world again and meet normal people, instead of burying himself in his own private little fantasy world.

And my head felt as if Voldemort himself had me in the firm grips of a Cruciatus Curse.

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