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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer Holidays – Part I

Wolf's child minder went on holiday last week, so I had to stay home to take care of the little guy. My initial dreams of playing with my son and going to various places – the zoo, the beach, the tram depot (he is very fond of trams and trains at the moment) – were quickly and efficiently torpedoed by Mrs.B though. The living room wall-to-wall carpet was an eyesore she wouldn't live with any more. It just had to go, and besides: laying a new laminate floor would only take a weekend, wouldn't it.

Well... NO!

I was a bit apprehensive right from the first mentioning of the idea. Granted, the old rug did look like it had been rotting on a cold and stormy sea shore for a number of years. But nothing ever 'only takes a weekend' in this house.

First of all, the floor wasn't exactly level. In fact, there have been requests from various cycling teams to use it for mountain practice in preparation for the Tour de France. Our cupboard on one end and the shelves and nappy changing table on the other were situated on some 'véritable cols de première catégorie'. In between lay a deep valley that opened to the part of the floor that's above the cellar. This part has wooden floor boards and is somewhat more level. But all in all it was easier to go from the kitchen to the TV set than the other way round.

After the first weekend, it was clear that this job would really take some time. Taking out the furniture already took my a whole day. Then leveling the floor was a long and arduous job. Meanwhile, I also took it upon me to hide the truly hideous yellow bricks of the chimney under some plasterboard, which I then gave an additional layer of plaster to get everything more or less straight and level.

Laying the laminate floorboards was pretty straightforward in itself. Also because I'd bought me some new toys/tools: a miter saw and a saw table. But then again the weekend was over and I had to babysit on Wolf in the morning, until it was time for his afternoon nap. Then I could hush-hush silently fire up the electric saws to cut the boards and hammer them in place. 'Click system' my arse, those things needed a good pounding to fit into place.

By 4.30 PM Wolf would wake up, and I had to babysit again until Mrs.B came home from work. Then I'd work on until 9 or 10 in the evening. This went on for the whole week, but on Friday the weather was just fine enough to dash off to the zoo with Wolf. But in the weekend, it was work-work-work again. On Saturday we bought the skirting boards and on Sunday I finished installing those. Then we had just enough time in the afternoon to put all the furniture back in place. At 6 PM on the Sunday evening, I could finally relax and enjoy the rest of my summer break.

When the alarm went at 6.30 AM on Monday morning, I had a moment of doubt: would I whack the alarm clock or the person lying at the other side of the bed?

Posted by Bart at 9:19 PM
Categories: Home Improvement

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dance de l'Equateur

I had a busy schedule for my last trip to Congo, so for once I didn't take my camera. After all, I'd only be seing the inside of meeting rooms and conference halls. Boy, did I regret that decision! Although I must admit my hand lugage was only half as heavy as it normally was.

Anyway, here are some pictures from my last trip. On the evening before our return to Kinshasa, we were invited to a party in honour of three young men that had just become priests. All in all, the party was pretty lame. Everybody was sitting around tables, talking and drinking, but nothing much happened.

And then this crazy dance group entered:

Women's dance group - Equateur province - DR Congo  

Women's dance group - Equateur province - DR Congo  

Women's dance group - Equateur province - DR Congo  

Women's dance group - Equateur province - DR Congo  

Women's dance group - Equateur province - DR Congo  

Women's dance group - Equateur province - DR Congo  

Shake that boooooh-taaay!

Women's dance group - Equateur province - DR Congo  

Women's dance group - Equateur province - DR Congo  

Women's dance group - Equateur province - DR Congo  

Women's dance group - Equateur province - DR Congo  

For your information: one of these women is a nun. Guess which one.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A Woman’s Place Is Not In The Kitchen

A couple of weeks ago, my parents had new double glazing installed in a couple of rooms. Breaking out the old windows hadn’t been easy for the installers. Especially in the kitchen they had to break away half the wall to get out the big window and door with their steel sills.

So Super-plaster-man had to come to the rescue to repair the damaged walls. Less than twenty-four hours after stepping off the plane from Kinshasa, I was mucking along with cement and plasterboard.

Meanwhile, Mrs.B went through my mother’s magazines. She always has stacks of them lying around. You know the type: twenty ways to loose weight – my children hate me – the latest summer fashion – say no to the tyranny of diets – weekends in Paris and London – thirty ways to loose weight. Somewhere in there, you’ll always find a recipe and Mrs.B found a couple of them that she liked. So she asked her mother in law if she could tear them out.

Needless to say, these magazines do not contain recipes for charcoal roasted sides of pigs with brown ale. These are recipes that come out of the head of female editors that live on an apple and half a glass of water a day.

Yesterday we had our first try out. The ‘recipe’ was the following:

  • Cook noodles
  • Cook broccoli
  • Bake small, tasteless pieces of fake bacon. Add walnuts because you can’t have a women’s magazine recipe without walnuts and because they drown out every other taste that might make the food interesting after all.

That’s it. You put the noodles on your plate; throw the broccoli on top and then the bacon/walnut mixture. And then you dig in.

Or not.

Wolf took one bite, looked at his mother with eyes pleading ‘Why? Oh mother, why are you trying to poison me?’ and asked to be excused so he could go play with his train. Half an hour later, he was still gnawing on that first bite, until I took a paper napkin and made him spit it out.

Being the supportive husband that I am, I took at least three whole bites. Might even have been four. Then it became too much for me and I burst out in a detailed analysis of everything that was wrong with women’s magazines, the people that write them (women!) and their wretched recipes.

Mrs.B on the other hand quite liked it. She finished her own plate and then dug into Wolf’s. This really proves what I’ve been suspecting ever since we’ve got married: she’s one of them you see, one of those women!

Five minutes after Wolf went to bed, I was standing in line at our local drive-in hamburger restaurant.

Hamburgers, now there’s food invented by men!

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