Mail in da house

Speaking of tacky and unrefined; our letterbox. It is hideous, unpractical, and fugly.
We even got one of those flyers from the postman stipulating all the things amiss with the thing.
Why would anyone in their right mind a) buy one b) put their name on the front broadcasting to the world who's property it is.
As soon as there are sales, we're buying a new one.


The rape of Louvain

The town hall of Louvain has been raped in the name of Christmas.

The Christmass lights should share the Hooters slogan: Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined.


I'm out of my head with the hunger

Mouser is out on the prowl looking for anything to eat. Even if it's bread I left out for the birds. On top of bushes.


Ze bookcase part deux

We managed to put the glass doors on the bookcase on Sunday. Mind you, it did take us about seven (!) hours to fix it to the wall, assemble the glass panes and then hang them in the brackets. We were exhausted.
I finally got to shift all mosts of the boxes in the living room. I miscalculated, so I need to buy some extra shelves. Plus, not all books seem to be able to fit into it. Which still puzzles me, because now books can go up all the way to the ceiling. And I can stack them more tightly.
Comics are going in another bookcase we're not selling.


Free Kitteh!

I feel a sort of motherly pride, or something that comes quite close to it. Mouser has been ill the last couple of days. Blood in urine. Nasty. Probably due to it being entirely dependent on me feeding her and not being able to supplement its diet with some fresh mice or poultry from the garden.
So we took her to the vet on Saturday morning. There's a guy in the village. Very friendly bloke. Gave her the once over, healthy kitteh, blood in urine, change diet. Here's some free samples of extremely balanced cat food. You can buy it here, just ring before you collect.
Mouser got a shot of antibiotics to get rid of the infection, and I've been trying to feed it the free yummy things. Which it will eat, just to get on my good side, but not all of it because it is hungry. The vet also told us there'd be no harm in letting her out as The Great Escape from last week proved she knows where she's safe.

So on Sunday morning, it was 'Free Kitteh'. I left the door of the conservatory ajar and it went out, very cautiously. The snow is hampering a big walkabout, so it just sat down in the snow, listening to the sounds of children playing with a sled.
Then it ventured inside again. A few minutes later out again, but this time a lot further out and across to the stables. Then it rounded the corner and was gone.

Panic, but I was filling some bookshelves (see other post ze bookcase) to be pre-occupied and not ponder to hard what would happen if it didn't come back.
I don't know what time frame, but it already seemed an hour or so when I started to get really worried. I ventured out, only saw little paw prints in the snow and no cat to match them.

A little later on Dr Livingstone volunteered to go and look for kitteh. After five minutes I saw him next to the stables, beaming. 'I've found Mouser!', standing there with a black cat in his arms. And at that exact moment Mouser walked round the corner and entered through the conservatory door.
'What are you talking about? Mouser just walked in here! What cat are you holding?'.

Lulz. There's another black, thin cat about. Making the exact same kitteh noises.


Fashion statement of the year 2010

I opted for the moonboots this week because of the heavy snowfall. There's about 20 cms now, Dr Livingstone cleared twice on Monday and within 20 minutes all his work had been to no avail.

So I leave an hour earlier to get to uni on time, trains are running late as usual. I enter the little warming room at the station and see every single one of my fellow travelers (20 or so) look down at my feet.
Let me correct myself; they are not looking, they are staring. They are gawping.

Meh. I already crossed the shame barrier in the hallway this morning, when I chose those cursed white moonboots.

But to put things in perspective I must quote Louis Sullivan on this. Form follows function; they are comfy, warm and I'm not slipping and falling all over the place.


Ze bookcase

This is how the bookcase looked on Friday evening. All 5 meters of it. It took me an afternoon to assemble it with Miller B.
Afterwards we set out to explore the couleur locale and tried the chippy in the next village. Excellent fries. Well worth the wait (30 minutes before we got to order our food). Dr Livingstone is quite particular about the quality of his fries and I think he enjoyed them immensely.



I wonder what Mouser is dreaming about in her Mastermind Chair. Is it thinking of green pastures where we used to live? Is it dreaming about that other black cat it saw out of the window yesterday evening?


Moving (7)

We're still in the progress of moving. This seems to be taking for ever. We're both nackered. Dr Livingstone is working his fingers to the bone on jobs around the country (and further beyond) and I'm still struggling to get a paper finished by the Monday deadline.
We've shifted most of our stuff, yesterday one truckload of my books arrived here.
That was a fine back breaker.
Here's a 'before' picture when they were still in our old place.

This is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
The bookcase arrived yesterday as well, it is still in an embryonic phase at the moment.
First it needs to be fixed to the wall before we can start assembling the sliding doors and I can start re-organizing my books.
Luckily I labeled all the boxes, but some books got mixed in with others when one or two boxes gave way under the weight of the contents. I hope not too many of them got scratched or torn.

Mouser seems to be doing OK. It's quite a change since kitteh usually goes on long unescorted hunts for hours on end. Now I have to feed her a couple of times a day and go on exploring runs with Mouser on a leash.
The cat toilet I bought has been used frequently, so that is going swell.
Mouser even staged a little Houdini-scèance earlier in the week. It was dark and we were out next to the stables, when I felt the leash going upwards. It had climbed a tree (not unusual), but the four-legged feline had gotten the leash caught behind a branch and had fallen and was hanging in the cat harness. I had to let go of the leash and kitteh darted off into the darkness. Panic seized me.

Dr Livingstone arrived home and flipped on all the lights in the garden. I was searching frantically for Mouser, calling, I thought it'd sped off to god knows where. Then suddenly Dr Livingstone called out: She's here! She's waiting outside the door to get in!
Just fancy that! Good kitteh! I'm so proud. It is a good start if Mouser recognizes where we live and flees to the house for safety.


Corduroy jacket + red turtleneck

Weather man Frank Deboosere has been going down the Carl Sagan route.
He's been donning the turtleneck/smoking jacket combination.
Very cosmic.
It cannot be chance. He knows. Only the in-crowd recognize it.
I see it Frank!


And I'll leave you with news...

We've been extremely busy moving and what not. I'd like to give a big thanks to millers B. and W. for helping us out last Saturday (even though they have told me not to thank them any more).
But more on our extra mural activities later on.

For now I'll leave you with this to ponder on:
Julian Assange, the man very much in the news the last couple of weeks, is a dead wringer for Silas from The Da Vinci Code.
Are they related?
I think we must be told.


Moving (6)

We've gotten the keys to the castle! Strange, being in the house all alone for the first time. It sounds extremely empty. It is almost eerie. We're very glad we can finally start looking forward to living somewhere where it's warm, dry and cosy.

The first letter we got at the new adress was bad news. The IKEA bookcase is going to be delivered a week later than we planned together with the lovely girl at the store. (I mean we planned the delivery with the girl, the girl isn't going to be delivered together with the book case)
Which means we'll be stuck with a gazillion banana boxes stuffed with books for at least another week.

Yesterday when I first went up to the house I couldn't get in because the latch on the gate had frozen shut. It snowed two days ago and little Belgium is steeped in complete chaos. Also my bus turned up 53 minutes late, but I'd taken two busses earlier to make sure I'd get to college on time.

I started cleaning out some cupboards in the hall, we've already transferred our coats that had been clogging our old place.
Some of my courses from previous years are already in some kitchen cupboards. Yes, it is a strange place to keep school stuff, but I've annexed a part of the humungous kitchen and have designated it as study-area for now.
Alas so far only two boxes of the CDs made it onto the shelving. I ran out of shelves because I spaced them closer together, and some holes to fix the supports were missing. Dr Livingstone phoned me he'd already made new shelves and he'll be bringing along his drill. I'll be raiding the IKEA bookcase currently in our cellar for the little aluminum supports.

We wondered around in the dark yesterday (on a grey day like this, it is dark around five p.m.) because the previous owners removed most light fixtures, not even leaving a little socket for a simple bulb.
We also tried every key given to us. We haven't worked out what everything is.
We also tried every light switch, the ones we've figured out I've marked with a Dymo label. Yes, it does seem a bit control freakish, but until we've gotten used to everything they're staying.
At least I'm not labeling the contents of the kitchen cupboards.

It feels as though you're staying with a friend and you don't know what everything is for or you fear you're intruding on someone's privacy.
The house doesn't even smell familiar. It may sound as something very strange, but the house won't really be ours until the faint whiff of some grandma potpourri has entirely gone.

The wardrobe in the bedroom has definitely got to go because:
a) it has worn old with usage.
b) it's fugly as hell.
We'll have to make due with it for the time being.

Dr Livingstone just phoned me he can borrow someone's van tonight to move some more stuff. \o/
Alas, I'm stuck at uni 'till four and we'll have to shift stuff in the dark yet again.


Moving (5)

We went to IKEA on Saturday to order the new bookcases. We've opted for a combination usually used in the bedroom, but they were way cheaper than 'normal' bookcase systems on offer, and they have sliding doors!
A friend of mine has a daughter who's an interiour designer and she uses the PAX system too.

Dr Livingstone preferred clear glass doors, maybe in time we could replace them, but we'll go with the frosted ones for now. You can still see the bookcovers through the glass.
I've made a quick mock up of what it'll look like. This is 5 meters of wall covered in books, right up to the ceiling. Yay!
They'll be delivered on Chanoeka (2nd December).
We opted out of having the IKEA people assemble them for us, we couldn't be sure when they'd get round to doing it, and we really need the thing up by the 4th as we've agreed we'd like to start living there by next weekend!

OMG so much to do: schoolwork piling up, I have a trial exam on Monday, in the afternoon we're getting a tour of the Rubenianum in Antwerp, on Wednesday we have to give our presentation, on Thursday I'll be getting a big dusty file on a non-descript building at the KADOC archives and on Friday we're going to the solicitor to sign the paperwork and get the keys to the castle.
The people we bought it from are moving the 29th, so we gracefully let them have a couple of days extra.

Dr Livingstone is going to try and negociate with our landlord if we can weasel out of paying an extra month of rent.
We got a letter from his attourney saying we need to pay the whole month of Januari. Which sucks big time. I'll just let the Dr work his magic and hope it saves us a few bob.


The Master of PowerPoints and Rogier van der Who

I haven't been blogging much lately, I've been busy reviewing an exhibition catalog on 15th century painting.
Basically it is just one big long apology for connoisseurship (=the Morellian approach).
But I can't really hand in a one sentence paper.

The most frustrating thing about this is that it is a group assignment and I am stuck having to put up with two 19 year olds who do not have the slightest inkling about how to proceed and get on with research in a scientific way.
And they abhor reading foreign languages (if indeed they know any).

Oh, and they complain if a text is longer than three pages.
And complain some more that they're not very good at writing in general or speaking in public either.
Seems someone picked the wrong kind of course...


Moving (4)

It was as expected. We got a quote from the cabinet maker that blew our socks off (in a negative way). Looks like we're bound for Ikea yet again.
But we will have those glass sliding doors after all. Finally the books will no longer collect dust! This rehoming of my library has taken up a lot more time than expected.
And we do not have to drive all the way there, shift the heavy packages (20 or so) and fight over the instructions.
They have an assembly service. We'll be using that thank you very much. Tee hee.


Moving (3)

I bought Mouser a little treat. A radiator bed. It hooks on to the radiator and is soft and plushy. Actually it's for the new house, but I've mounted it here already so kitteh can get used to it. I've put Mouser on it a couple of times, but it jumps off as fast as it can. I think it wants to look out the window, and the bed is too low. Maybe it'll be ideal for in the conservatory.
I've washed the cover to get rid of unfamiliar smells and placed it on the chair Mouser usually naps during the day, so it gets permeated with kitteh's own smell.


Moving (2)

We're selling off furniture via the web. The more we sell, the less we have to move.
We've had lots of interest over the weekend.
Today Dr Livingstone is delivering a bed in Antwerp on the way to a job, yesterday a guy came and took a huge cabinet for A1 paper off our hands, tonight there's someone coming to collect two bed slats and tomorrow there's another drop off of two bookcases.

We're also very keen on getting rid of a high sleeper bed. It's in our way, hardly ever been used and for a very reasonable price we hope to flog it.

So yesterday I packed up a lot of books in some Chiquita banana boxes. Not many left of them now I'm afraid. Used the lid as well, only managed to pack 2 bookcases in 8 boxes.

Tomorrow we're getting a quote from the cabinet maker.


Dr Livingstone told me to put the selling of the remaining bookcases on hold for a while until we're absolutely sure we can afford the made to measure one.

So I'll be playing the lottery again this weekend...


Heroine of the week: Kathryn Bennetts

The woman we all love to hate, the chemtrial believing Flemish Minister for Environment and Culture Joke Schauvliege, is really screwing the country around again. Last week she gave an interview stating that a minister shouldn't actually know anything about Culture to run the department. "Je moet als minister van Cultuur geen cultuurkenner zijn. Een minister moet vooral goed beleid voeren"

Quod erat demonstrandum. It is plainly obvious she does not understand anything about Culture: She has announced a series of budget cuts (among many, many others also hitting environmental groups) and will put the Flemish Opera and the Royal Ballet of Flanders under one intendant. Kathryn Bennetts, of the Royal Ballet has resigned forthwith
"I do not want to live in a country with that kind of policies. This is an act of arrogance and ignorance. These plans are from a Minister of Culture whom I have never met and has never attended one of our performances. This is utterly shamefull for Flanders" dixit Bennetts in the papers. She had been with the Royal Ballet as artistic director since 2005. This is a very powerful signal. And one not te be ignored, or passed over lightly.

But, knowing Schauwvliege it'll just bounce off her and she'll just go: 'There is a crisis on, everyone needs to get by with less'.
If you hear how she's running (or not running) the Department (less subsidies, more own resources), doesn't that say enough about her non-capacity? The magical words: 'The sector needs to implement their own objectives from the bottom up' are just NewSpeak for 'I don't really know how to do it myself'.

When will the Flemish Minister President Kris Peeters grow some balls and end this catastrophe? Flanders is becoming the laughing stock of the international art world.



Good news in my mailbox today! I got word that I got an exemption for one of the subjects on my program next semester. \o/
I also got word that another one was turned down.
I have to take Music History. Not to pleased about that. I've studied Music History at two different institutions before (that amounts to five (!) different courses) but according to the university they didn't have the equivalence to what is going to be teached here. Meh, I disagree. I've seen the course manual. It is the spitting image of what I've done before. Waste of time i.m.o.
Ah, well. The story of my life I guess?


Moving (1)

It has started. Dr Livingstone has taken the first bookcase with him to his workshop.
I had packed the contents into some Chiquita banana boxes two weeks ago. I've already used up five of them. Bugger. I've only managed to score an extra three since the last Banana Box Update. I've not been to the shops every day, and when I did go, there weren't any boxes for me to take home.

Also, the carpenter is going to make a bookcase for the living room. It's going to be huge. 6 x 2,3 meters. Now we're talking. In a nice warm cherry wood. It's going to take him about four days to make the bookcase in his workshop and about a day to install it. We're getting a quote for that later today. My guess is we'll be waiting to have it fitted with glass doors.

I think this weekend will consist of a few runs to the container park. And I need to put all the stuff we don't want anymore up for sale on the internet.

I hope there's a big market out there for the obligatory IKEA stuff.



Dahon Eco Folding Bike

Yesterday I went and bought me one of these: a Dahon Eco folding bike, in a nice dark shade; Baltic Blue.
It took me a little while to get used to fold it.
The step by step drawing wasn't very consistent as to how the pedals should be. I'm easily confused.
And Dr Livingstone was watching me from afar and shouting: 'This'll never last. I don't see you doing that in the midst of winter when it's freezing. I'm waiting for the day I get a call from you telling me you're hair's caught in the gears.' etc.
I've got it sussed out now. On the site it says it takes about 15 seconds to fold the thing. I can do better. But the Dr refused to time my folding escapades.
So the plan is to
a) cycle to the station in the morning to catch the train in February when we've moved (busses tend to be slow and also stuck in traffic jams)
b) fold the bike
c) board the train
d) make a complete arse of myself unfolding the darn thing and cycle off to whatever seminar I need to attend.

I still need to buy and über cool helmet at the skate shop.


Not on the busses

Looks like no one is going to be boarding any busses today. Be they über fat or wafer thin.
Drivers are on strike in my area. Can't blame them. There've been schedule changes, they're about 20 drivers short and they don't even have time for a little tinkle. And they've been cutting back on more busses. That's why we're always crammed in the bus like a school of sardines in a tin can.

Looks like I'll have to use the car again.


Morbidly o' bus

People with a BMI of 30 and up should NOT board the bus when I'm on it.
Well, they can, but they are NOT allowed to try and squeeze themselves in the seat next to me, protrude to an unnatural or incongruous extent and then accordingly squash me between them and the window.
I was reading a book and couldn't even move my arms to turn over the page! Seriously. How can you be that fat and not have the slightest inkling of what kind of uncomfortableness you cause others by literally shifting your weight around.
To top it off the fat woman even gave me a 'Move a little will ya'-stare.

Really. One ass per seat please.


Past week round up

- start of telex -

A quick list of things done so far:
- every morning (or indeed afternoon) this past week busses were late, at least 7 minutes.
- attended an animated discussion organised by the Law Faculty on Justice and Media (journalists and investigating judge were seriously getting up each other's nose).
- had minor surgery on Thursday. They put me in Room 101 (again)!
- signed the agreement to buy the house at the real estate guy, met the owners of the house for the first time.
- told the landlord we'd be moving (he seemed very relieved) very soon.
- we're moving at the beginning of December. Hope to be all settled by the 15th.
- won twice with lottery (2,50 €). Not even enough to cover the amount it costs to hand in the ticket...

Now need to sleep.
Worked at the mill today, lagging behind in school work.
Not enough hours in a day.

- end of telex -


Hostage situation

Well, the country is being held hostage again by the unions.
There's a protest march in Brussels against the budget cuts the European leaders are going to have to do to get their affairs in order.
What does this have to do with an over-thirty art history student?
The busses are on strike...
Ugh. Looks like I'll have to go into town with my car because I have a lecture at 1pm and according to the transport company's website only 40-75% of busses are out but do not ride at regular intervals in my area.

This does beg the question: How are those people who are going to demonstrate going to get to the station if the busses are on strike?


We're off...

First day back at university today:
- Bus arrives 17 minutes late at destination.
- First lecture: bored to death.
- In between lectures: water pipe bursts and floods hallway. Slippery lolz ensue.
- Second lecture: Was mostly ok. Lord Elgin and the British Government are still perceived as the bad guys according to the archaeologist speaking ex cathedra.
- Missed the bus because of road works and bus stop being suprimated. When I arrived at the station for the next bus it was 11 minutes late.

Bleh. It seems I'll have to catch an early bus each morning to be on time if I have to add up the delay time to the e.t.a.
I may seem like a Garfield-wannabe by next week.
Who wouldn't hate Mondays if you have to be in the lecture hall at 8 am.

picture credit: Steven Fruitsmaak


Banana Box Update

I'm up to 20 Chiquita Banana Boxes as of today. So half way off the main target already.

We've also managed to negotiate about 0.5% off our mortgage! \o/


Prado discovers new Pieter Brueghel the Elder painting

It is always a thrilling time for scolars when a piece of art turns up that has been hidden (sic) in a private collection.
The owners sent it to the Museo del Prado for a cleaning. Experts have now attributed it to Pieter Brueghel the Elder.
The most fascinating bit of this is that it is a tuchlein. Tuchlein has for a great deal been ignored by scolars because of the rarety and lack of research to build upon.

I am always sceptical when it comes to linking pieces to 'the big names'. Especially when works are autographed.
The provenance of the work is always the trickiest bit. It is all too tempting to identify existing works with works mentioned in sources only on the grounds of an identical or related subject. Referring to old texts to make a pedigree more impressive and link a work to Brueghel are very very tempting.
We also know Breugel (the Elder) had the habit of painting the same subject a number of times in different versions. Different versions even were even part of the same collection. For instance, Jean Noiret owned two versions of the Wedding and Fair. Kaiser Rudolf II owned two versions of Calvary and Babel.

So I hope the Museo del Prado did their homework on this one.

They reference a painting in the Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels [Inv. 10818, sold in Paris at the Petit Gallery on June 10, 1904 (sale Fontaine-Flament, no. 12, reprod. Bastelaer and Hulin de Loo, 1907, cat. A-32). In 1905 work was owned by Marie Croquison of Courtrai, who in 1933 donated it to his nephew Dr. Frans Heulens, which in turn donated it in 1988 at the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.] and another fragment in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (cat. 728 A, which is no longer attributed to Brueghel the Younger, and is mentioned in passing as not being completely watertight but could have been fashioned after a model -perhaps taken from this one, or used the same).

They do not mention a version of the Sint Maartensfeest painted by Pieter Balten (which is now in the Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp). There is mention of the same subject (drawing) in the Musée Atger, Montpellier. Or another copy in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (nr. 425). Engraved by N. Guerard (1648-1719).

Although I have my doubts about the attribution of the work to Balten (or indeed his workshop), because there is another version of the Feast in the Rijksmuseum also attributed to Balten, which does look entirely different.
The relationship between Balten and Brueghel is, however, more complicated. In 1551 they collaborated on an altarpiece (destr.) for the Mechelen Glovemakers. Balten's other works, for example the Ecce homo (Fine Arts Antwerp), reveal that the two artists were closely associated: a group from the Ecce homo reappears as an independent painting (Brussels, A. de Heuvel priv. col.) by Brueghel’s son and imitator Pieter Brueghel the younger.

It is also worth noting that the horseback figure on the Feast reappears several times in the Cavalry by Balten sold at Christie's in July 2005 (lot nr 7).

Comparing these compositions could yield even more information about a work we have thought to be lost for so long.
On a related note I would like to recommend The Bruegel enterprise (De firma Bruegel) catalog (Maastricht/Brussel 2001) on painstakingly comparing works from the workshop of Pieter Brueghel the Younger (and many others) which generated a lot of interesting information on the copying practice, shop organisation and sixteenth/seventeenth century markets.

x-posted from The Art Detective


Beg, steal or borrow?

'Gimme loads of money!' I said to the bank manager.

He said: 'Yes, I will.'

Alas, we'll have to pay it all back. I wasn't wearing a balaclava and toting a AK47.


Househunting (part 7)

We got a call from the real estate guy. The house is ours, they agreed with our final bid!
ZOMG! We're going to be in debt for the next twenty odd years!

Ah well, all in a good cause. Friends of ours said we'd be doing the right thing.
Dr Livingstone and myself were already discussing how we'd arrange all of the furniture. We both want a new made-to-measure bookcase. I did have to compromise, the Dr's exact words were: 'No, they're not going on every wall in the room, I don't want to live in a bloody library!'.

Right. It's off to the shops to get hold of some Chuiqita banana boxes. I've already hoarded eleven over the past two weeks. I'm aiming for the round number of fourty.
This means we'll be moving house again, around the New Year. We've moved a lot over the last couple of years.
This'll be the third time in seven years. And hopefully the last! So we'll be getting another chance to throw out some of the rubbish we've accumulated over the years. And I'm not someone who keeps everything just in case.

I've already made a start by sifting through old cassettes I used to record. I've even got a recording of a Top 30 from 1985. Radio was soooo slow in those days.
I'm making a list of songs I still like. Then I proceed to go to the library. Which is like one big iTunes, really. On the plus side I don't have to pay for the songs. A lot of them aren't available online anyway due to copyright laws and what not.
Yes I'm a cheapskate. And a pirate.


Lorre-a-like three

I couldn't resist. Here's one more.


Shocking Proust

I'm having my second round of shock wave therapy today. Last week my left elbow was up for it. Now I'm having the other side treated.
All I can say is: It's bloody painful. The doctor had administered local anesthesia and I'd taken a couple of painkillers about an hour or so in advance. To really, in my opinion, no avail. But it doesn't last very long. As long as you take big, deep breaths it'll fly by.
This machine gives off 800 pulses of high energy waves so it gets rid of some calcification on some mysteriously named exotic sounding bits of my body.
After the treatment I didn't feel a thing. I just felt a bit flustered and a bit light headed from breathing heavily. It felt like I'd sucked all the oxygen out of the room. "Now I understand why you asked me if I wanted the air conditioning on" I told the doctor. "Well, you're in luck. In July we were in a room without and two patients fainted."
It beats surgery anyhow. It's just five minutes of uneasiness. Now I will probably have to wait about two months to notice any improvement.
I asked the doctor if I could read a book while she was treating me. "Well, it's never been done. In fact your the very first person to ask".
After the treatment she asked me if I'd managed to read anything. I did manage one page on the life and times of Marcel Proust. I do feel like a snob. Bringing him along as a comfort.
Ten minutes and I was out the door. The local anesthesia was still working, so I drove home using one arm.
This Friday I'll be taking the bus, I can't change gears with an arm that doesn't respond.


Househunting (part 6)

On Saturday we had an appointment to see another house. At 9.30am.
At just a stone's throw away from one of the mills where I work as a volunteer. House surrounded by woodland and fields. 70.000 square meters.

Dr Livingstone wanted to buy forthwith, on impulse. I wanted to have a bit of time to reconsider. Granted, it was a neat and tidy house. And no neighbours. Plenty of space. But just a bit too expensive (the owner said there would be no negotiating about the price). And too much garden (though uncultivated, which means loads of trees keeping the sun away from the windows. I like my sun).
It really was a steal at the price it was going and a lot of interest too (two more people showed up as we left). The very nice real estate guy gave us a bundle of paperwork to read through (all possible certificates on isolation, electricity, ground composition etc).

When we got into the car we kinda had something like an argument. I asked Dr Livingstone what he likes about the house, and he asked me what I disliked about it. I didn't want to write it off just yet, but it wasn't the WOW! vibe I got off the other property (the one where we retracted the bid).
So once we got back home, we had some coffee in the sun outside and we took a closer look at everything.

The owner told us he had done all the renovation on the house himself (which I never ever like, no matter how neat everything looks).
The electricity certificate proved this. The installation is allowed to continue to operate for another 18 months, after that there needs to be a follow-up check by some specialist company because a few things were amiss. I didn't like the list of things that were written down and still had to be carried out.
My biggest issue (although a bit counter intuitive) was the surrounding grounds. Having no near neighbours is a big plus, but I really son't see myself taking care of woodland.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Dr Livingstone said he could easily do all of that. But then I reminded him of the state of his back as it was right now. I agree with him on the uniqueness of the house, but I thought it best not to rush into this Great Enthusiasm.
Dr Livingstone went on to do some more work in his shop and I pondered the rest of the morning on the house hunting issue.

Around 3pm I collected him and we went to our nice newly found beer pub to talk things over.
It was a bit crowded, so we decided to take a walk in the nearby forest. Just to get a bit of air, relieve the tension we'd been carrying around since morning. So we put forth all the pro's and cons of the house we'd seen and compared it to the house we'd formerly bid on.
By that time we ended up at the pub again and had a Duchesse de Bourgogne, a Meroode Tripel and a Waterloo (well, two actually).
The Waterloo Tripel is supposed to have been given to the troop fighting there in 1815 and supposedly given them strenght and courage.

Which is exactly what we did and Dr Livingstone picked up his mobile and called the estate agent (not the one we'd seen that morning, but the one we'd been emailing the past weeks).
Dr Livingstone told him we'd put in a new offer. If the guy managed to sell the house for a lesser price to us, we'd split the difference down the middle and he'd pocket a handsome sum of money on top of the commission he's probably squeezing out of the sellers already.
In all of those weeks not a single prospective client had been to view the house. He did say there were two parties coming to visit on Monday and he'd meet up with the owners on Tuesday.
We've not heard anything so far, but we're keeping our fingers crossed.


I, spider.

This beauty was crawling along a bedroom wall, just before I got into bed.
It hid behind the curtain, I didn't bother to get up as long as it didn't bother me.
Needless to say I didn't sleep much.
Next morning I inspected the curtain area. Nothing. More uneasy nights.

I didn't know what kind of spider it was. Some have a really nasty bite, I once got a really painful allergic reaction, but nothing a Zyrtec couldn't take care of.
So it showed up a couple of days ago in another room. Dr Livingstone was watching a detective series on the telly and he didn't want to get up to come and have a look (nor could he physically really, his back still hurts like hell).
But I insisted he come up and I brought a big mug and a card with me to catch it and put it out side.

First I had to take a photograph of this creature. It was humongous (to me). That leg span must have been a good 7 cm (I recon as big as the picture).
It's kinda spooky how its eyes reflect the flash of my camera.
So I looked it up. It's just a common House Spider, Tegenaria duellica. My little garden wildlife book didn't exactly reassure me. It says:

The House Spider (or Cobweb Spider) is undoubtedly the monster of the pack!

Notice the exclamation mark at the end. ! Brrr. It's wiki page tells me:

With speeds clocked at 9.73 ft/s (2.97 m/s), the giant house spider held the Guinness Book of World Records for top spider speed until 1987 when it was displaced by sun spiders (solfugids) although the latter are not true spiders as they belong to a different order.

Notice the word Giant.
Apparently it prowls around the house looking for females. The book continues:

This is the spider that you will see scuttling across the living room floor in the evenings, particular in the autumn and early winter months.

Right. Rub it in. I know summer has ended. I've had the heating on the last couple of days.
Sigh. I really want a house with double glazing.


Anti-social shopping

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for shoppers using an evironmentally-friendly transport.
What I object to is the anti-social manners that seem to accompany it.
Look at the picture. This is my local supermarket in a backward part of rural Flanders.
See the bike on the left? It totally blocks the entrance! And no owner about.
I stood and watched for a bit. It was comedy capers. Loads of shoppers with carts full careening all over the place, in an effort to avoid the bike.


Househunting (part 5)

An update on the househunting business: The real estate guy got back to us saying the owners didn't find it a very exciting price.
So we upped the bid with 20K, saying we didn't wan't to bid any higher untill some of the questions we'd asked had been answered.
One of these was the isolation on the roof. We're very certain it isn't isolated as the seller claims and we've asked for some proof. His word will not do. We're looking at 20K extra costs if we have to put down isolation.
The estate guy said the owner did not want to respond to any of our questions if we didn't put in a bid higher than 300K.
Which is a pretty strange reaction. Does this guy want to sell the house or not? Does he seriously think we'll just buy a house without knowing what exactly we're buying?
Dr Livingstone didn't sleep a wink.
So we retracted the bid the following day. Real estate guy emailed us saying he understood our reaction and he is having a hard time selling the place because the owner is 'a man of principle'.
Whatever that means.


Lorre-a-like too

He's another mock-up I did of the Lorre/Özil tandem. It's eary how similar they really look.



During the football match Belgium - Germany I noticed something. I'm probably not the first one.
Germany's midfield star Mehut Özil is the spitting image of the legendary movie star Peter Lorre!


Where's mah bucket?

It seems this The Verve song was written especially for Dr Livingstone.
Here are some of the lyrics:

"All this talk of getting old
It's getting me down my love
Now the drugs don't work
They just make you worse

His pain killers have the very annoying side effect of making you feel dizzy and vomit. He did have a good night's sleep, but this morning was kind of a rude awakening.
So I was off to the pharmacy for some anti-nausea pills and another kind of painkiller.
This one works without the unwanted queasiness. He's having an afternoon siesta right now.
I should have a some kind of power nap too. I've been accumulating sleep losses for two nights now and I'm feeling a down.
But first I must attend Dr L's needs. Poor thing.

I'm relieved he's not feeling desperately ill from my cooking.


The Doctor's back

Poor Dr Livingstone. He's at home. Lying absolutely still. That's probably a first for him. But it's the drugs that are making him drowsy, sleepy and numb. Without them, he'd be gritting his theath and potter about. It's for his own good. We were in ER last night.
He has severe back pain, shooting pains going all the way down to his shins. I've never heard him wince before, he's really in agony. It's quite terrible. And he can take a lot.
He's scheduled for an MRI on Wednesday.
Meanwhile I'm playing Nurse Racket. He needs to rest for four days in a row. Lying down. NOT in a chair. I have talked him out of doing that. So has his physio. And our doctor. And his squash partner (a nurse). And a collegue who's also laid up at home with back troubles.

He's drifted off into sleep now, I can hear a slight snoring sound emerging from the sofa which is covered with pillows.


Dr Müller's garden

I've been gardening, as long as my elbows permit me to do so.
Yesterday I've pulled out nettles. Too late I realized that one glove has a tear in it...
These nettle things are very cumbersome to get rid of, and I'm not using any weed killers. Mouser is always a few paces away, keeping an eye on me. And things rustling in the undergrowth.
The roots of the Urtica nettles seem to interconnect underground, like Vietcong tunnels. The trick is to get hold of the beginning of a root, gently pull it above ground, without having it snap.
I felt like Tintin pulling out wires in the garden of Dr Müller. However, I didn't discover red lights in the trees as Tintin did in The Black Island. I must say I was really disappointed. If there were counterfeiters active in the area, I would have liked to gotten my hands on a few bags of phony banknotes. Could have helped with a down payment for the house...