corders in the hague

It's like having the Corders round for dinner - except the kids don't smash stuff and Mike doesn't drink all your booze. And when you're bored you can get rid of us with a mouse click rather than having to start tidying up the house.

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Location: The Hague, Netherlands

Monday, February 25, 2008

Three girls and a bike


Just to practice posting photos to the blog via our new computer, here's an idyllic little scene of the girls arriving home from the market on Saturday.

Julia's getting a little big for her tiny saddle behind the handlebars so this probably won't happen too many more times.
If you look carefully in the background, you can see the fourth girl I share the house with peering out of the window.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Social climbers

Today we went to a party to celebrate the 65th birthdays of Irmie's mum, her mum's twin sister and the wife of one of Irmie's father's sisters.
Irmie ordered me to talk to a minimum of six people, as I have a habit of fading into the wallpaper at these events if I can. Years of high volume iPod listening have turned me half deaf and Irmie's enormous extended family mostly speak Dutch with a very pleasant but for a semi-deaf Englishman/Australian mostly unintelligable accent.
While I was tucking into a fine lunch and striking up conversations with people who probably wondered who on earth I was, Esther and Julia along with the other kids got to have a go at climbing. They were naturals, both reaching heights that made my knees shake just watching them and only stopping when the next handhold was physically impossible to reach.

Barbie on ice

There comes a point each winter when you just HAVE to throw soe bleeding meat on the barbie. I hit the wall on Saturday. 
Before getting down to grilling, I first had to scrape the ice off the barbie's cover and then wash/scrape off or generally ignore five months worth of accumulated mould.
The steaks tasted perfect and my hands have already thawed out.

Lice to be back

It's been a while since my last blog. There's a simple reason: head lice.

Early evenings in the Corder house these days resemble a David Attenbrough documentary about western lowland gorillas. I sit combing and picking at, Julia's hair while Irmie does the same for Esther. The only difference between us and apes is that we don't eat the bugs when we find them - although it has been seriously that I ought to bite the lice eggs (I believe these are called nits, if you're interested) to kill them.
Late last year I was appointed a lice father at Esther and Julia's school. It was a rare honor and recognition of my years of careful preening regimen. What it means is that I go once a month and do the gorilla head picking thing in Julia's class while the teacher and kids go about their work as if there's nothing going on.
My one reservation at taking the job was that I'd never actually seen a lice or one of its eggs and wasn't sure I'd be able to recognize one even if it jumped off a head and bit me.
Now I can only look back wistfully at those days of innocence.
The most unpleasant fact of this story is that the first I knew of our little infestation issue was when I casually scratched MY head and discovered a little bug dusting itself off as it clambered out form under my fingernail. I briefly tried to talk myself into believing that this was some sort of mutant dandruff. But of course then you start looking back at the fact that Esther and Julia had been scratching their scalps a lot over the previous few weeks and it all falls into place.
I wanted to immediately douse everybody in the house in agent orange, but instead Irmie went to the chemist and came back with some kind of natural remedy shampoo and a couple of fine-tooth combs.
We tried this and of course the lice just put on their shower caps and came out gleaming like new but not in the least dead. Fortunately, there were once lice in Esther's class in Beecroft and we had protectively nuked her with a savage shampoo bought over the counter of a Sydney chemist.
This stuff clearly meant business. While the Dutch lotion had pictures of smiling children on the bottle, its Australian big brother was covered in warnings about not drinking it, getting it in the eyes or allowing it to drip onto the enamel of your bathtub for more than five seconds. It wasn't actually napalm, but I don't think it was a very distant relative.
Anyway it appeared to get the job done. I have had no recurrence of my infestation and Irmie and Esther also appear to be bug free. But as I was cleaning Julia's teeth a few nights ago she peered into the mirror, said "Look," and picked one out of her hair.
The problem, you see, is the eggs (nits). I must have picked out about 100 of the tiny rugby ball shaped things, but they cling to the hair and only one needs to survive the Australian poison rinse for a new cycle of critters to be unleashed.
As I write, we appear to be free and can erase the black cross daubed on our front door. But it only takes one nit..
Anybody's scalp itching?