Problem with table to CSS conversion.

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I am trying to convert my table layout to CSS. But I am about to give
up. Here are the two pages, the old table layout, and the new try.

The table layout was a centered 2x2 table with a background picture of
size 700x3000. The lower right cell takes lots of text in subpages and
makes the table grow showing more and more of the background picture.

I tried to mimic that in HTML, taking a centered layer with a
background picture instead of the table. To do that I had to consult
the internet, esp. this newsgroup, since IE has troubles with
centering. However, I made that work.

Then I had to learn that absolutely positioned sub-components do not
change the size of the container at all, and relative positioning does
not properly change it. So the background picture did not show, or
shows only partially. This misfeature makes it necessary to use a flow
layout for at least one component, in my case the lower right one. I
had to use padding to position it, which is a nuisance in my eyes.

This work-around is a start, but I wanted a minimal height of the
background picture to show. So I used min-height for the container,
only to discover that this is not supported in IE. In the net, I found
various work-arounds for that sub-problem, but all make me use some
extras in the HTML text, which I strictly want to avoid.

At that point, I decided to keep my old layout, until the problems with
CSS are sorted out. I admit that most problems are connected to IE, but
that insight does not help me at all.

Has anyone an idea how to properly do that?

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