Not Dead, Just Undead

It’s been quite on the blogging front, to be sure, but I’m not dead, in spite of any notions to the contrary.

Obama’s being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize yesterday forced me to break my silence, so, in the spirit of in for a penny, in for a pound, here’s another entry, this one full of odds and sods as I bring you up to speed on the last month.

Firstly, Lucas is walking. This happened right around the time we went to Ireland to visit my father.

Whereas Eloïse never crawled again after realising she could walk, Lucas’s transition has been much more gradual. Weeks later, he still occasionally resorts to a crawl. His four-legged antics should not be scoffed at, either. The boy scuttles across the room with the speed and grace of a sand crab. Why bother walking? he must have asked himself.

I wasted no time in enrolling Lucas as a dreumes at the Little Gym. His first lesson made me wistful for my experiences there with Eloïse, yet another reminder to enjoy every day with one’s progeny, because those days are never coming back.

Eloïse continues to thrive at school, stating that it’s even better than her old peuterspeelzaal. Anyone who knows how she felt about that place will understand the significance of this statement, which took Sarah and me both by surprise.

Finding a compromise between my deeply ingrained nocturnal rhythm and the harsh reality of the autumnal weekday dawn awakenings is proving a tough nut to crack. Basically, I’m a pussy and lack self-discipline. It’s still hard to go to bed, even with full knowledge of the consequence the next morning. I therefore spend most of the week in a semi-permanent state of drowsiness, able to fall asleep by leaning up against the nearest lamppost.

I’ve also been enjoying music even more than usual these last few weeks. Our Sonos system has always been one of my most prized possessions, but lately it’s been working eighteen hour days for its slave-driving master.

So, I’ve been buying, ripping and encoding a lot of new CDs. I’ve also been exposing myself to new influences and going back in time, in search of music I might previously have dismissed for a variety of reasons.

Notable recent purchases include both the mono and stereo Beatles box sets, which probably represent the finest remastering work ever committed to disc, especially the mono set, which I wholeheartedly recommend. It’s such a defining work that no music collection is complete without it, and whether or not you even like the music is largely irrelevant. It’s like having an atlas or dictionary in your house.

You can say what you like about me, at least my musical taste is diverse. I’ve been buying everything from Ministry to Diana Jones, from Chas & Dave to Finnish folk metal, from Gang Of Four and Magazine to Manfred Man and the Electric Light Orchestra.

I’ve also been to quite a few gigs lately. In the space of one week, I went (with Sarah) to the Mamma Mia musical in Dutch (with even the songs translated into Dutch), keyboard wizard Klaus Schulze with Lisa Gerrard, Icelandic goddess Emilíana Torrini in Utrecht, and Dutch rappers, the Osdorp Posse, performing the farewell gig of their farewell tour. I feel fairly confident in claiming that I’m probably the only person who attended that particular set of performances.

This evening, it’s the turn of Hugh Cornwell, who I’ve somehow managed to miss seeing solo in the eighteen years since he left The Stranglers. That fact will be rectified later today in the Paradiso’s Kleine Zaal. Needless to say, I’ll be recording the gig, as I now do every time I go to one.

Our car returned this week from some major and very expensive repair work. Somehow, water had found its way into the car, soaking the upholstery and ruining some of the electronics.

The main interface (MMI) console was rendered non-operational, which meant that I couldn’t use satellite navigation, play CDs, watch TV, make a hands-free phone call, or even do something as simple as turn off the daytime running lights. It’s amazing how the driving experience is altered when one no longer has access to the car’s computerised brain and all of its associated gadgetry.

I thought that leaves accumulating under the bonnet were probably the cause of the water finding its way into the car, but it turned out to be blocked drainpipes leading away from the sunroof. I didn’t even know that sunroofs had plumbing.

The car had to have its upholstery stripped and the seats removed, after which it needed to be thoroughly dried. The MMI console was replaced and new drainpipes were fitted. All in all, quite a radical procedure and, as I’ve already noted, very expensive, due to the disproportionate amount of labour required.

Last Sunday, we made our annual pilgrimage to De Olmenhorst in Lisserbroek to pick apples and pears. We picked far too many for our own use, so we donated a few bags to school for the children’s daily fruit. Unfortunately, there are no photos of our apple-picking this time, because I forgot to take the camera.

My diet continues unabated, in an attempt to undo the damage that 5.5 years of life in the US (especially those spent in the employ of Google) did to my body. Again, I’m a pussy. I could have kept a grip on my weight, but I didn’t. Untold doughnuts, double-dipped chocolate malt balls and hamburgers later, a weight close to 100 kilos was the result.

The damage, of course, was already done before I even left for the US. Back in early 2000, I was already quite overweight from years of snacking and a poor diet. Moving to the US simply allowed me to feel normal again, as I consorted with other gluttonous fatties, so the eating simply moved up a gear.

Now, however, I’m hovering somewhere around the 87 kilo mark, which I think is lighter than at any point in the last ten years. I have another 6 to 8 kilos to lose before I’ll consider my work done on this front, but I’m already very happy with the results, as I only started my diet in April. 13 kilos in six months is way beyond what I’d hoped for — especially considering that we were gone for six weeks in the summer, during which time I put back on 3 kilos — and I can definitely feel the difference. My footfall is lighter, to name but one thing.

I’ve already lost more than Lukie’s bodyweight (and he’s heavy!) and, by the time I’ve finished, I’ll have lost more than Eloïse’s bodyweight. That’s quite a sobering thought.

And, as Jeremy Clarkson would say, on that bombshell, that’s all I have time for.

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