Another year sped by...


At 1830hrs tomorrow evening, I will set another steap nearer to the barrier known as the big 4-0. Yes, I'm officially on my way to middle age proper.

And yes, that is the cake that was presented to me this evening, although I have doodled a little with the colours. I also have my first age spot on my right hand, but I'll just keep that to myself.

And I now am also on Flickr. Should you wish to be added to my friends, to view more private photos, drop me a line.

Operation eliminate overload

Two days to go till ETD and this is what my life feels like:

Testing the cam


It's always nice when one has a willing subject to test on.

I'd been wondering if it was worth getting a point and shoot, since I'm living with a Canon babe, whose equipment usually arouses the envy of guests at any dinner party. So today, I finally caved in and bought one. Firstly, because I see things every day that I want to take pics of, and secondly, because I am sick and tired of relying on my SO for pics. About time to get her into the picture, I think.

So we splurged on a Panasonic Lumix FS5 in hot pink, which SO recommended because of its Leica lens. It fits into my handpalm and is quite light. Expect more and better photos as I gain control over this miracle of gadgetry. Now all I need is some decent photo software.

Hark, the nightingale...


Every year, four blondes and a brunette meet up and hit the local open-air theatre for a concert. Last year, we boldly took ourselves to Rickie Lee Jones and yearned for the voice of yesteryear. With that experience still rather fresh in our minds, we decided that we needed some quality this year.

And so, under less than promising skies and after some cuba libres, we sat down to enjoy the voice that is kd lang.

What can I say? The woman can most definitely sing.

Some of the songs of her set:

Miss Chatelaine
Constant Craving
Close your eyes
Wash me clean
Smoke rings

We enjoyed every second, were fortunate to be right up there in front of the stage (her own special request, said we and she'd feel warmer) and the downpour only started after midnight and after several glasses of cava, jokes and laughter.

A good night was had by all.

This is what mankind has become


I've spent two days looking incredulously at a photo in the newspaper of two Roma girls, 11 and 13, on a beach near Napoli, Italy.

Their bodies are covered with a towel, their feet protruding. They were peddling their wares on the beach, when the sea must have caught up with them. Incredibly enough, the holidaymakers did not budge to help them as the waves swallowed them. Even more incredibly, the same holidaymakers sat on the same beach for a whole hour, slapping sunscreen on their thighs, eating lunch, proceeding as if nothing had happened, while these two bodies lay there, and until the police and an undertaker arrived to pick up the human remains of these two maidens.

This is what the world has come to?

I'd like to think that I'm living on another planet today, please.

The L-Word to have a spin-off?

There is a rumour flying that the L Word shall have a spin-off. This begs the question, which character will be the main focus, the centre of all our lesbionic attention?


Or someone else?

Any preferences, ladies?
Apparently, the luscious lady herself has not yet been informed by the powers that be of her impending new series.

Mussels are here!


Yup, it's that time of the year. Since last Friday, Zeeuwse mosselen are here. So today four generations of Domestic Demi-Goddesses took themselves to Sint-Anneke (across the river) for a pot of Dutch mussels and French Fries. A very typical Belgian meal, right?

Delicious! Just what the doctor ordered after last night's capers (on which more in the next post).

It's really easy to make (and usually we do make this at home, but the first pot of mussels is always eaten in a restaurant in our family, go figure). Clean the mussels, remove the beards, toss out the closed ones. Heat some wine and onion and other assorted herbs depending on the tastes of your guests in a huge pot, let simmer and then add an equivalent amount of water. Bung in the mussels. Cook on high until all the mussels are open. Try to lay your hands on some French fries (in our house, this involves a timed bike ride over to the chips shop to coincide with the open mussels on the table). Mix some mustard and mayonaise for the dip. Serve, eat, and make sure you puzzle around as much as you can with the mussel shells to ensure they all fit in the cover of your pot. Seconds are a scandal; you will fail the 'anal retentive family member' test.

And behold, a pot of mussels. Comes highly recommended. Enjoy!

Ce plat pays qui est le mien.. .


I suppose I should have posted something weeks ago about the fact that Belgium is falling apart at the seams again. In fact, the government has yet again fallen in our little banana republic (visions of the Italian government, which seemed to get knocked down and then get up again, because you're never gonna keep me down... )

Yes, the lyrics of this song are quite appropriate when you look at the situation. So what's the status? PM resigned. King told him, no way, josé and hasta la vista, Yves. Then HM appointed three old crocodiles/former statesmen as 'negotiators'. And conveniently, he forgot to appoint a Flemish negotiator, thereby sending the message to a few million people that their opinion is completely irrelevant in this matter. But that's OK, we'll just continue to pay our taxes, so the other half can live comfortably off benefit.

Where will it all end, you ask? Well, since my name is not Madame Esmeralda, I have no clue. If you told me that in a year from now, Belgium will have been disbanded, and consist of two individual, or even three mini republics, I might be inclined to believe you. But then, it was an artificial construction to begin with. Let's toss a bit of France, a bit of The Netherlands and some post-war Germany into a big ole salad dresser, shaken not stirred, and see what comes out of this whole roly-poley? Oh, and while we're at it, let's get some prince without a cause or a throne and invest him as the king of this comedy. Ah, men in charge.

So taking bets now: will we have a government by the time I come back from holiday (20/08) or will we be declaring the Flemish Republic this time next year?

I shudder at the mere thought of inflicting that upon the world.

Growing up together...


It's been a tough two weeks on mother and daughter. Our mite had just finished school at the end of June, only to be tossed straight into hospital for ear surgery. Then, nary a week later, thanks to her two working mums, the poor kid was sent to day camp.

As the days went by, mothers and daughter became increasingly unhappy with the situation, with the mite begging, nay, even clinging to our legs, dragging on the floor, as we walked towards the exit, to stay home with us.

And so the days of doubt started: every party around the breakfast table dreaded that inevitable move towards the upstairs for bath and clothes and then of course bike or car to ... camp. It started to give me headaches. I couldn't sleep for worry; the munchkin started to get black circles under her eyes. I was contemplating telling all my customers to go stuff themselves for two months. Then I would routinely run into other mothers with a guilt-ridden conscience on playdates, who were having an equally bad time of it. We started to question ourselves. We started to think of ourselves as those bad mommies. I had nightmares about emotional scarring and being told 14 years from now, during a row, that it was all my fault for sending her to day camp when she was 3.5.

And then today came: last day at music camp. A performance. A smiling star of the show, entertaining a crowd of a 100 or so parents, together with her old and new friends. And then the discovery that the camp actually keeps a photo blog. And my mini WonderWoman actually seemed to be having fun. In fact, I was dumbfounded by the discovery. As I tried to put two and two together, I asked myself whence this sudden onset of separation anxiety? Whence the Oscar-meriting performances of abandoned child of the year?

Regardless, it has been a draining two weeks. And because we are true masochists, we are subjecting ourselves to another week of this medicine. Same people who organised the last week's camp, which the munchkin seems to have enjoyed more than the first week. The theme: A voyage of discovery. And likewise one for mothers and daughter, who discovered over the last two weeks that they can be quite brave when they need to. But who still feel the need to be joined at the hip... until my last, dying breath...

current mood: diva-esque


Just can't explain it.


must-have: Barbie is ferosh!


Look at her! I kid you not. This is the newest Barbie doll from Mattel.

She's traded in her pinkness for a 'come hither' black outfit. Of course, you knew Christian groups would be up in arms, screaming "S&M Barbie". I think they need to invent an Amish Barbie especially for them. And of course, this begs the question: what have they in store for Ken? Mesh shirt? Chaps? Just being naughty.

The question for those of you who owned a Barbie is: would you buy this long-legged Emma Peel lookalike or would you have preferred a Wonder Woman outfit? And for those who never did: would you? So many questions, please leave me your answers.

Current mood: blah


I'd love to insert something witty and fun here tonight, but frankly I'm over everything today.
I'm over the screeching strident Turkish kids trawling our street on the way to the neighbourhood square; over my daughter's moodiness, after which she packed herself off to bed for the night; over the whole Christopher Ciccone and Madonna thing; so over the Brangelina babies; over the idiot Belgian politicians who can't get their crap together (resign already and call a new general election); over the fact that my holiday is still three weeks away and that we still have relatives coming to stay before that, and the list continues.

So I will just shut up now and return when my mood is somewhat more balanced and harmonious.

Goodnight and godspeed!

As ever,
the disgruntled domestic demi-goddess

"I missed you today"


Some days, being a working mother really sucks. Yesterday the munchkin went to day camp for the first time, with her best friend from a few doors down. Like any worrywart, I did vet the camp, check other parents for their assessment, looked at photos on their blogs, etc. before I signed her up for it.

She did fine, of course, all day, although her friend told me that towards the end of the day she'd missed me.

I didn't pay any attention to it, until the moment that I put her to bed. A little voice from under the covers said: "I missed you today". My heart hurt when she said that. I literally was in physical pain for a few minutes. Even writing this still makes me feel bad. I covered her with hugs and kisses and asked if she didn't like going to camp, then. No, she answered, it was a lot of fun. And she'd played with her friend. But she'd simply missed me.

Cue this morning: I was still getting myself together when I took this photo with my cell phone.



Any of you suffering from withdrawal symptoms now that we're all on an L-Word hiatus?

Then click (but not unless you have already watched season 5) below:

Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer...


It's been a few days since I stretched my blogging self, but frankly, what with the munchkin in overdrive, her poor mothers are still knackered. Luckily, there is such a thing as coffee to keep us poor female coffee junkies up and running.

And while I'm at it, may I recommend this little gadget from Nespresso (negligeable coffee, but cool gadgets) for delicious, frothy steamed milk? The Aeroccino has proved a revelation and we have been enjoying decent lattes since a few days. Who needs an (N)espresso machine anyway, even if they have *George Clooney* plugging it?

It's been a lazy weekend for us, with a trip to the movie theatre (more about this later), some Cointreaupolitans with a monstrous hangover to boot, a zoo visit at the munchkin's request, and some summer sale shopping (I finally found those silver, strappy sandals with a slutty heel that I'd been looking for, for 35 euros).

In other news, I recently worked for a customer who is redesigning an abbey in the Province of Limburg. One of the projects included translations for the herb garden, which they designed. It proved to be an interesting visit with some interesting flowers. We forgot the camera, like true tired dingbats, but here are some of the flowers that we will be adding to our patio:

California poppies
Lady in the Mist

The munchkin also decided to request the removal of the stabilizers on her bicycle, so I spent some time running after her with a shawl wrapped around her chest. Needless to say she acquitted herself brilliantly of her balancing act.

On a food note, I can heartily recommend Nigella's Kermit the Frog hummus (200 g peas, 1 avocado, crushed garlic, juice of half a lime and some mediterranean crackers), which were doused liberally with some prosecco this evening.

Now for the most interesting event of our weekend: on Friday, we were lucky enough to attend an advance screening of Mamma Mia, featuring the interesting combo of Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Colin Firth, Pierce 'James Bond' Brosnan and Stellan Skarsgard. We had the time of our lives. The movie had a brilliant pace, Meryl Streep proved to be a delightful Donna with some good pipes on her (also did the splits in the air and plays an awesome air guitar). Pierce Brosnan can't sing for toffee and the storyline is rather silly. But I am forever indebted to Julie Walters for her interpretation of 'Take a chance on me'. And I haven't stopped singing 'Dancing Queen' since Friday evening. I think we need to throw an Abba party, once this movie comes out in Belgium. Any takers?

On this happy note, I leave you with some clips from the movie:

Moms and daughter are knackered


While I will not dispute the fact that our munchkin was a little trooper yesterday and basically sailed into the operating theatre all smiles (which quickly faded thanks to a nitwit anaesthesiologist), she does have a tendency to milk any injuries, however minute, to the maximum.

Not much different this time: the bambi eyes are there, all brown and chocolatey, fringed with enormous dark lashes; the wan little crooked smile, the head slightly perched to the right...

But I understand her pain. I was summoned to the recovery room approx. 50 minutes after she went in. I could hear her moaning from the hallway, poor mite. There was some blood on her clothes and in her nose, and she was livid. Angry beyond compare... stamping her feet, tossing in the bed. I held her close, warm against my body, her cheeks red from the sleep-inducing syrup they gave her before the operation. At times, she would stretch her whole body rigid and scream. Not from pain, mind, but from anger at being handled in such a way.

By 2 p.m., after a good sleep, she was allowed an ice cream. And then, after a quick visit with the surgeon, she was on her way home, a little wan but holding the 2-foot balloon she'd been promised.

After some soup, we put her to bed and then we simply crashed. We'd both been up since 6 a.m. and it was too much. Even our delicious sashimi dinner didn't help. By ten the munchkin was complaining again, so we just decided to go to sleep, only to be woken up by a monster storm at 1 and the munchkin again at 2.

This morning, things are still standing at 50% and I've now rung up the surgeon, since she's complaining about a headache. Poor, little brave mite of mine.

On the upside, her hearing has already improved massively, given her response to the tolling of the church bell yesterday. Wide-eyed, and a swift turn of the head... An ordeal to put her through, but what a difference it makes for her.

Cheer me up


In an effort to cheer myself up:

- the munchkin's going in for surgery tomorrow morning
- my other cat, Princess Longpaw aka Kali, who lived at my mother's, had to be put to sleep due to kidney disease this morning. The sores in her mouth due to kidney reflux were horrific, and she could no longer eat.
- I have a pesky client on my back.

Here is something, in the vein of all the bad, tasteless, camp music that I have been listening to since last Friday:

I'll be a happier person tomorrow evening.

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