Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Updates, various

Hello! I am having a week, where I don't seem to manage to do anything, including updating my blog. What are those things that play dead, to the point practically of giving off an odour of putrefaction? Possums? I am one of those. Come, paddle in the tepid shallows of my self-loathing, where even the piranhas have got bored and swum off. I can't be bothered to fetch my charger, though, so at least you only have 39% of this nonsense to endure.

Chinese revision update
The date for "EXAMEN INTERNATIONAL DE CHINOIS" approaches (22nd, source your 2B pencil and your naked terror) and revision .. well. I'm not going to say it intensifies, because it doesn't. It continues, somewhere between bewilderment (me) and mild exasperation (F). The Chinese phrases are quite different to my more usual diet of Dutch phrases (over in the unpleasantly illustrated pages of Tweetalig? Grag! Angelique and Lies have been having the most appalling party for what feels like the last 6 months. Only about three people have come and Hans has bought Angelique a knuffelbeer. The whole business is unspeakably sordid).

Chinese phrases:

Why does the fish you are drawing have legs?
It is not a fish, it is a small bird.

Do pandas have ears?
No answer is provided to this one. 

Sorry, how is your eye now?
Intrigued by context here. 

What is your Mandarin teacher like?
Multiple choice answers:
(a) going to sleep
(b) over there
(c) very pretty

Other preoccupations of the Chinese revision sheets: drawing pandas, eating, to whom dogs belong. I like its priorities.

Chicken update
The hens (now named Chili and Tabasco by the returned F, who is reassuringly enchanted with them) are well. They spend their days trampling my seven pathetic flowers to pulp with great application,  chasing other birds out of the garden, shitting and stalking around looking for stuff to destroy, tiny yellow eyes darting everywhere, like those velociraptors in the kitchen in Jurassic Park. They are pretty good value and make me laugh a lot with their tiny stupid eyes and weird head movements. And! Just as I was writing this, one of them laid an egg. An actual egg! Excitement is unbridled. This is F before he remembered he doesn't actually like eggs.

Children update
It is so, so lovely to have the children back that I cannot even begrudge the mess and the chaos and the Top Gear and the vast expense of their extra-curricular activities dribbling out of my wallet in €30 increments. I seem to have spent most of this week as a sort of child concierge, but frankly I am SO useless at the moment, it is all I am fit for. Also, they bought me an angry marmot keyring.

"They know you so well, your children" said M and she is right. There is nothing more likely to make my heart explode than my children buying me a present.

I wanted to make it eat a cracker in hommage to this famous clip, but i did not have any crackers, so here he is eating shortbread:

Food update
This Picard broad bean and spinach soup is a total lunchtime winner in my gastro-desert of crap lunches, even though it sounds like something utterly ill-conceived I'd come up with in a moment of crisper emptying desperation. Actually, the arrival of fancy frozen food chain Picard in Belgium has been one of my greatest small joys of the last year. When we lived in Paris, Picard was often the only place I dared to go into, because in other shops you had to talk to people and it would invariably end badly or you could go to Monoprix but it was a stygian basement of terror and the till harridans would invariably find something I had done WRONG (attempting to pay with a note larger than €20, unbalancing the conveyor belt, asking a question..). Picard was - still is - quiet and spacious and peaceful and in the clean and shiny freezers there were things of unimaginable sophistication: pre-chopped shallots and sorrel and fancy TV dinners with artichokes and salsify and god knows what. Now I go in there for bags of berries and bagels and mini eclairs (best consumed still half frozen, straight from the packet, in the unflattering yellow light of the open fridge door) and to be lulled and consoled by the attractively presented frozen dinners. It still looks and smells and feels the same as it did ten years ago and amidst the freezers and the softly piped muzak I can believe that EVERYTHING WILL BE ALRIGHT and there is something delicious in puff pastry for tea.

My three tier lemon sponge, however, has not proved a winner in the sense that I made it and it took me ages, what with the homemade lemon curd, and no bastard is eating it, except me (they have gone off lemon sponge, fickle weasels that they are).

Percentage update
30% face ache
20% befuddlement
20% sun euphoria
10% greasy frites
10% Line of Duty anticipation
10% Glad I am not at Angelique and Lies's party.



Xtreme English said...

Lovely post. especially the joy over the newly laid egg!!

Margaret said...

I couldn't even finish reading this post before I had to comment. If ever you think you're a terrible mother (I understand most mothers feel this way at least once a day) or that you're fucking up your kids, just look at this amazing gift they gave you. They picked this out! For you!

Esme Weatherwax said...

Further to Margaret's excellent point: if this is you buggering up life, what dizzy heights could you leap in a single bound when on form?

Emmyloucarey said...

Ooh, am EXCITED about Picard, that sounds awesome. I may even have to go today. Cheers

kath said...

Nice marmot! I saw a weasel this morning.

breakfastlady said...

I love the marmot. How lovely to have your boys back. Biggest b-boy got a paragliding marmot when we were in the Alps last summer. I mamaged to steer him away from the ones that sing, but it was a close call.

One of my favourite books is the not-terribly-promisingly-titled 'Gateway to Speaking Korean' (it's a long story). It contains many linguistic gems, but plucked entirely at random I offer you by way of example:

Beyond the Alps is Italy.

Here's a patented padlock that would fool any burglar.

She saw your antenna.

I read in a magazine that the greater part of a woman's appeal lies in the way her hair looks.

Please call someone who speaks English.

(Indeed, physician).

frau antje said...

65% diagnosed with CFS (clusterfuck fatigue syndrome)

15% changing my name to Lies

20% still enjoying the question, "Are you absolutely sure your neighbor didn't plunge into the sea? Have you seen him?"

scunder said...

Gritting my teeth over LOD. Please don't let Inspector Ted Hastings be a wrong'un. That would be TOO awful.
Loving your Marmot. Is it actually made of marmot? Did you know when they lie down, marmots are completely cushion shaped?

Blonde said...

I wish my exams had been of the interesting and multiple choice variety. A preoccupation with dogs is what my Modern European History A Level paper was lacking.

I too made a lemon sponge this weekend, with homemade curd. Mine too, remains uneaten on the kitchen side. Clearly multi-tiered fruit-based baked goods are not the way to go. Back to the brownies.

Waffle said...

Blonde - WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE. Lemon sponge is the best cake.

Scunder - Nonono. My best bet is it is ALL orchestrated by Denton for revenge (though = batshit crazy if so). I now burn to see a cushion marmot.

BL - These insights into the Korean psyche have left me more confused than ever.

Margaret - I recognise this for the shining high it is. Last summer F also bought me an owl keyring. A theme is emerging.

Esme - You are lovely, but I am genuinely a useless shithead currently.

Emmylou - Go! TINY ECLAIRS. The choux buns aren't too shabby either.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post as always. Boys, chickens and marmot are adorable. I agree, kids' presents are the absolute best thing in the world. You are lovely, stop beating yourself up about stuff, bask in the sunshine and read good books. I will compensate the universe for any angst she might be needing because my day is being unbelievably awful and it looks like the next few weeks will be very stressful until I can get out of the mess I'm currently in.

100% stressed to an unimaginable degree because after weeks of to-ing and fro-ing and humming and hawing by e-mail, I finally discovered the truth: that my supposedly trustworthy accountant purposefully submitted some important forms on my behalf empty (as opposed to, you know, full of taxes and amounts of money and things) last January. He told a very long rigmarole story about being overwhelmed by his workload and having intended to resubmit with the right figures without delay (without, you know, running his plan by me to see if I agreed) but basically, he submitted some bullshit on my behalf and has been hiding from me ever since. This discovery prompted some very confrontational conversations by phone (I am not at all confrontational by nature and have been literally shaking ever since), an emergency search for a trustworthy replacement accountant willing to dig a way through the mess, a frantic dash to pick up 10 years' worth of folders from the accountant's office, an exceedingly confrontational and embarrassing meeting with him, another frantic dash to deposit them with the replacement and beg him to sort out the mess please and fast, so that I can sleep at night and stuff.
All of this packed into a too-short morning with various deadlines, doing school drop-offs and pick-ups, getting lunch on the table and telling the whole sorry story to a very disgruntled husband who would now like to sue the untrustworthy gentleman and is wondering why it took me so long to realise what was going on (because I trusted that the untrustworthy accountant was, you know, doing his job all along and was merely affected by the same kind of procrastination that I myself fall prey to on occasion.)
I think I should probably just go back to bed, but it's not going to happen any time soon and I probably won't be able to sleep anyway.
And now, to enforce the completion of homework while working all afternoon to meet tomorrow's deadlines, fuelled on coffee that will only make this terrible jittery feeling worse.

Anonymous said...

Dear Waffle, I am wildly jealous of your Mamot. I'm also curious to know how the ear plug testing is going. New neighbours moved in at Christmas. "Music" (hip-hop, heavy beat, random sounds etc) blaring through the walls as I type. Drives me absolutely effing nuts! You have my sympathies! Ash

Anonymous said...

I have a 1970s English/Afrikaans textbook I kept as a curio. I assume it's from when my parents moved there in 1980. No word of a lie, the first phrase on the first page is "This is my land". Stunning choice & thinking.

karen said...

I have an update on the python situation in Australia. The latest python to hit the news ate a dog chained to its kennel. Made the getaway a little difficult:

Waffle said...

Karen - Oh god oh god oh god this is making me completely hysterical. KEEP THE PYTHON NEWS COMING.

Waffle said...

Dear Ash - I tested the rhubarb and custard coloured ones last night (I can find the name for you eventually) and they were BRILLIANT. They are my favourite so far.

Anonymous said...

My dear Waffle, rhubarb and custard coloured anything is a good start :-). Look forward to further enlightenment. Ash

Erika said...

Love my chooks, even though the drafted things aren't laying right now, what with being in moult. I especially love that they are little feathered dinosaurs. It makes me look at them in wonderment.

Lola said...

Did you follow the link on the python page? It takes you to a gallery of 'Snakes eating animals':
I am most impressed by the kangaroo.

L. said...


Also, that is an amazing and perfect present from your children.

Waffle said...

L - Oh MY. That just looks to be the most perfect set up ever. WHY am I not running an owl sanctuary??

Kate said...

This is completely unrelated, but I saw this today and thought of you:

I think it's the tender hand of the capybara as it strokes the man's face. 'Cherie...we should be togezzer...'

Kate said...

This is completely unrelated, but I saw this today and thought of you:

I think it's the tender hand of the capybara as it strokes the man's face. 'Cherie...we should be togezzer...'

Waffle said...

Kate - MON DIEU. That is a tender capybara.

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