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    • #17610
      Paul met Debbie

      October was an expensive month. There are months like this. You think you have all the finances balanced, and then suddenly something small starts a chain reaction and with a big bang it blows a hole in the budget. So, what happened?

      We decided to not buy a real Christmas tree this year, because last one, despite our best efforts, didn’t survive until spring so we couldn’t transplant it to Debbie’s brothers garden, as we intended, and we couldn’t kill another tree like this. Innocently looking in a catalogue that came with the post unwanted, Debbie saw this ornamental, castle-like metal frame in three layers, suited for candles which could very well be decorated with Christmas balls, holly, green twigs and the lot. It was not cheap, but cheaper than two real Christmas trees so it seemed a good solution to solve the tree-problem for the years to come. What a relief! Of course it needed some candles as well and a few lovely reusable fine natural looking fake twigs (still on back order).

      Had we moved on from this, things would be fine. But fate would have it, that in the same catalogue there was this beautiful, elegant little blue wooden side table. We didn’t know this, but our memory suddenly decided this was the perfect solution to a nagging problem: wouldn’t this be just right to replace the somewhat decrepit table behind the couch, that held up the table lamp we inherited from my parents? Yes it would, because this little blue table was exactly the right height to show the lamp in its full glory, not hiding the lower part behind the back of the couch like our current table did. How great was this?

      The disaster was in full swing now, because next to the table, in the same wicked catalogue, there was a picture of a wonderful chest, also suited as couch. Now, didn’t we own this beautiful antique 18<sup>th</sup> century oak English chest, Debbie bought 30 years ago for a lot of money, that we put in the hall of our apartment, next to the coat rack? Of course we did, and haven’t we been telling each other how nice this chest would fit in the living room in stead, to serve as something to hold up the TV and the Hifi? So, buying the new chest, which could also hold more clothes than the English one, would mean serving these two noble ends in one move – there was no going back now.

      While Debbie was airing and washing all the clothes from the old chest in order to make a fresh start in the new one, and in between moving a lot of empty boxes to the recycling station, I was solving some adjacent minor technical problems. Yes, Kaftrio gave me a lot more energy to spend money.  It’s a costly drug. The old chest had an uneven, decorated top. It needed a glass plate, in order to hold up the TV and Hifi properly and safely. So I ordered one. Now, it happened to be that our Hifi set, thirty years old, was not in the best shape anymore. Moreover, the gigantic receiver, weighing over 30 pounds, was placed on the floor. It could not go on the old chest, being too heavy and too large. It was time to replace the poor thing for a modern, smaller system. Finding this was not that difficult, ordering it turned out to be a little trickier, because since covid, everything containing one or more chips was on backorder. So the amplifier of our new soundsystem will not be delivered until next month. I was so lucky to find a shop that could send the CD player right away however. Until next month, we will be humming the classical music we want to hear.

      The budget disaster had now taken epic proportions. Fortunately, we didn’t go on holiday last summer (covid) so there was some pecunia to help us out. The new chest arrived and turned out to be perfect, but it had a little damage on one of the legs, so we managed to negotiate a hefty discount.

      This was almost enough to pay for the battery of the car, that – knowing of Murphy’s law – decided that this month was the best moment to fatally break down. Not enough however to cover the purchase of a new air cleaner/moisturizer for the living room, that apparently had sneakingly consulted the car battery and agreed about the perfect time to give up the ghost. By transferring this expenditure to next month balance, and not eating meat for another year, we will be fine though (one of the advantages of being vegan). Hopefully, the warranty that was still on the car will make the car seller reimburse the money for the battery. In that case, we can pay for the … ah well, something will emerge. And there is still Christmas to come. We will just light up the candles then and save some electricity. That will do it. For sure. That, and no travelling next summer.

      Oh yes, did I mention what happened to the cute blue little table that started all of this? It turned out to be a slice higher than we thought. Well, of course we knew its exact height, but it just somehow didn’t merge with the interior in the exact right way when we tried it out. It was a wrong blue. Funny, isn’t it? But miraculously, it was exactly what we needed in the hall outside our front door near the elevator, where it formed the perfect combination with one of Debbie’s easels, even more after I put one of my old and battered Panama hats on it, next to a copy of my brilliant first collection of poems (for some odd reason even after 6 years still not completely sold out), giving a very artistic look to the big hall. Suddenly, the original table we had under the lamp didn’t look so bad anymore. And we lifted the table lamp a few inches with a flat stone. (Of course, we had that stone all along, it was in a drawer … no, let’s not go there  …  the chest …). Yes, The Chest! We are ecstatically happy with the new look in the living room where the antique oak 18<sup>th</sup> century English chest now found his deserved destination. What a joy!

      Ah, all is well with the world again.

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