Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Going on hiatus

Although I could probably scrape together something interesting with what's left of my brain (after mid-terms in Latin and Intro to Linguistics this week), it would be a disservice to my loyal readership of 4 (plus or minus). So I'm officially going on hiatus until we get back from Texas on Jan. 9.

I will not be able to go that long without composing anything, though, so check back around the 10th for a blog chock-full of our adventures in travelling and family.

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Horror!

There's a woman in our neighborhood who creeps me out. Every time I see her, she's wearing animal skins and furs head to foot. The word "slaughter" pops into my head immediately. I mean, I'm not PETA-rabid about fur, and I can totally see the need to wear it in, say, Siberia, but the temperature has just hit freezing during the day here. It really bothers me to see a person in leather pants, a long fur coat, and a fur hat decorated with a big spray of feathers. Shudder. It would seem that no animal is safe from her depredations. Soon you'll hear that I'm running amok with cans of paint, yelling, "Fur is murder!"

To top it off, she takes this pug with her everywhere, even on the bus, and I have the nasty feeling that she's keeping it so well groomed so she can make a muff out of it to go with the rest of her ensemble.

***

[Composed en route to school]
Courtney Love clone update:

Someone must have clued that girl in, because she was make-up free for a couple of weeks, and now (literally—she's sitting across the aisle from me on the bus) she has on some light-colored, tastefully applied make-up. Without the spackle, she looks a bit like my middle sister.

***

[Later that day...]
The fur horror continues:

On the bus this evening, darling daughter and I saw a woman wearing a fur hat that appeared to be made of Tina Turner's hair, dyed black. I hope that woman is watching her back, because T.T. is going to be pissed when she realizes. Anyhow, D.D. thought it looked like a black cake.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Not dead yet

We're busier than one-legged men in a butt-kicking contest around here, but I just had to share this:

Amidst the shopping bustle in town today, I saw a woman wearing a coat that appeared to be the leftover upholstery of a black Lexus, with fur-covered sleeves (only elbow to shoulder) and collar. Not any fur, either. It appeared to be badger fur. I could just see it: after defeating the beast bare-handed, she let out a triumphant roar, then draped his shredded remains over her shoulders until she could get to a seamstress.

(I think I need a job as a stringer for the Fug Blog, no?)

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

'Tis the Season to be Panicked, tra la la

Oh My God! We are flying to Texas in less than 3 weeks, and panic is about to erase all coherent thought from my brain. In the next 3 weeks:

* I have 2 mid-term exams.
* I have to do ALL of my xmas shopping.
* I have more than 15 pages to translate by the 5th.
* We have to pack for a 3-week stay in Texas, plus xmas gifts for the extended family.
* The regular daily grind of homework, reading, cooking, cleaning, laundry, attending classes, grocery shopping, and child-toting.

Plus, we will be losing 2 days due to outings:

* A day trip to a museum in Schweinfurt and then on to Rothenburg, home of a famous xmas market.
* A traditional Swedish smorgasbord and xmas event, where D.D. will be performing in the Lucia procession.

As you can see, I have gone into list-making mode, a sure sign that I feel overwhelmed. This is about the 4th list I've made since yesterday. L.H. has joined in the gift-planning, so that helps to alleviate one worry, but there are still plenty to take its place.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

(Evil?) Twins and Happy Holidays

When we lived in Sweden, I often ran into doppelgangers of random people from back home. To me, that suggested Scandinavian heritage.

Now it's started in Germany. On several occasions, I've seen my dead grandmother. Even L.H. has spotted her and remarked on the resemblance. It's not surprising since my GM was 2nd or 3rd generation German-American.

Just yesterday I saw my MIL's young adult self. It turns out she's in 2 of my classes. She looks just like photos of my MIL in her early 20s. I would chalk up the resemblance to MIL's German heritage, except this girl is in German as a Foreign Language classes, so she can't be German. Weird!

***

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

***

According to my recent blood-work, I'm severely anemic. Signs of anemia include: "fatigue, shortness of breath, pale skin colour, irritability, weakness, sore tongue, brittle nails, frontal headaches, low blood pressure, and decreased appetite". So when I get caught up on my iron, I'll be a whole new person!

I am a bit worried about losing my edge if the symptom "irritability" clears up, but don't expect me to be Little Susie Sunshine, in any case. I think bitchiness is more of a habit--a state of mind, if you will--for me, and it will take more than 6 iron pills a day to change that.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A Trip to the Doctor

[composed ~2 this afternoon]

To anyone of my acquaintence who has had a bladder or kidney infection, I offer my sincere apologies if I ever secretly thought you were being a wuss.

I woke up this morning with the urgent need to pee, which is nothing new, except that the feeling didn't go away and was later joined by a constant, cramp-like feeling on the left front side. By 10, I was on the phone to L.H., crying, because I was in quite a lot of pain (that had moved to the back) and couldn't find the doctor's phone number. (Normally I only cry in jags and over stupid stuff like L.H. stealing my blanket. Sensible crying is totally outside my realm of experience.) Once again earning the "lovely" in his moniker, L.H. biked home and accompanied me to the doctor's office.

I was impressed with the service. We didn't have to wait too long, and as soon as the doctor heard me say "back pain" and "frequent urination", she hurried to draw blood before the lab tech left the building. Then I got a sonogram; I'm still gooped up from that.

The two doctors who took turns on the sonogram think it's a kidney infection, plus muscle spasms that are squeezing the kidney. Fun, eh? So I get to spend today and tomorrow at home in bed, hopped up on muscle relaxants and antibiotics. I thought I'd get some reading in, but I haven't been able to stay awake that long. D.D. went to a friend's house after school, so after I woke up I put in my favorite kid-less, sick-day movie: The South Park Movie. Delightfully irreverent. I always end up humming the Terrance and Philip song for days afterwards.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Brownian motion in my brain

I hate having a bony butt. Don't get me wrong, my butt is big, but the bones hidden within are enormous, and pointy. After sitting on a wooden chair for 4 hours straight (2 back-to-back class), my ass is killing me. Luckily, I have a 10-minute walk to my third class, but then it's another 1-1/2 hours on yet another wooden chair. I think I'm developing a bruise on my right side.

***

There's a girl in one of my classes who could give Courtney Love a run for her money, make-up wise. Yes, I know it's hard to believe, but either this girl is under the mistaken impression that C.L. is pretty (shudder), or she has some kind of degenerative eye disease and has to apply more and brighter make-up just to be able to see it. That or a stroke would explain the outside-the-lines lipstick.

***

Poor D.D. still had a fat lip this morning. It looks like she cut the inside of it up near the gums when she bonked heads with her friend yesterday.

At least she had a little fun today. She got a big kick out of the holiday advertising scheme at the restaurant where we had dinner tonight. Every few minutes, she'd laugh and say, "Merry Fishmas!" Maybe you had to be there.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

'Tis the Season to be Greedy

Poor D.D. got her lip and nose smashed during a birthday party this afternoon and was brought home by the birthday mom. D.D.'s upper lip now makes her look a bit like Cindy Lou Who. We have our fingers crossed that she doesn't end up with a black eye, but we'll see in the morning.

Now that I've manage to segue into xmas via the Grinch: D.D. has declard that she is sick of wearing pink, and she wants no more pink clothes. Just a heads up for anyone considering the gift of clothes this year.

As for myself, I am still bereft after using up the very last bit of my Burt's Bees carrot lotion, which I got for xmas last year from my lovely MIL. Even L.H. likes the scent of it. Hint, hint.

L.H. has put up an amazon wish list here. He had accidentally put it on the UK site, so it has been a bit hard to find up to now.

That's all the pre-xmas wish-list-making I can manage for now without my head exploding. I might add more later.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Ghost of Mr. Whipple

My husband seems to be...well, obsessed with toilet paper. Here are a few instances of his new preoccupation:

D.D. had wanted to try this fizzy drink mix, a bit like Kool-Aid, so we were sampling the different flavors. The green wasn't lime like we expected; it was the mystery flavor "Waldmeister." We were a little leery of drinking something called "woods-master" (woodsman flavored?), but it turned out to have a light, flowery taste. * L.H. commented, "Reminds me of the smell of toilet paper." It was oddly true.

* It tastes flowery because it's a flower that grows in the woods. We've since seen the flavor in ice cream.

Then another time he called our fluffy Eliza-cat "Soft n Pretty." He had to explain that it is (was?) a brand of t.p.

And today he brought home an 8-pack of winter-scented Charmin. He's been looking for it since last winter; that's how big an impression it made on him. Normally he hates buying t.p. because he has to drag the groceries home on the bus, and he doesn't want anyone to know that he (whisper) uses the toilet.

I'm starting to suspect some kind of soul-selling deal with Procter and Gamble, or perhaps illicit drugs in the winter scent. Hmm....

***

D.D. School Update:

Just wanted to brag on our little brainiac. Despite being the only non-native speaker in the class, she made 0 errors on her dictation test and only 1 on her math test last week (57 out of 58 points; she forgot to do the second half of one question). The kids practice writing the dictation over several days before the test, but D.D has never managed to get all her letters properly placed on the line before, despite all the practice, so this was a really big achievement for her. The words and spelling and punctuation haven't been a problem this year, so we're glad that her cursive penmanship is improving.

The Sick Lady Blues

I don't know why I bothered to get out of bed this morning. Actually, I do know—because darling daughter played her crappy McDonald's mini-jambox repeatedly to force me out of bed. Stupid Happy Meal.

I feel a cold coming on—sore throat, squidgy stomach, stuffy head—plus the nosebleed is back (both nostrils now!), and I have my period. L.H. says I should rename this blog "The Menstrual Annals." I told him to stuff it up his ass. Well, I didn't, but I normally would. This time I took his suggestion and one-upped him: "Aunt Flo's Diary." It has a certain ring to it, no?

L.H. and D.D. are off at the movies, so I'm composing this, translating a student paper, and trying to organize the suffocating amount of school-related papers and books that keep turning up. I have 70% of the horizontal surfaces in the dining room covered, so it's time to do something with them before they spontaneously combust under the pressure of their own weight.

Germany is Way Cool

After more than a year here, I feel a bit like a local. Maybe not as much as my darling daughter, who is picking up our village's dialect (yes, every little village has its own dialect) from her classmates, to the delight of her linguist father, but I feel comfortable here. We've all gotten to the point where we no longer note our environment, except on rare occasions when we can see things the way we did when we first moved here.

Then we are reminded: we live in a kick-ass place.

There is a ruined castle within walking distance of my classes. I can look up and see it hulking over the town as I walk between classes. I have to cross a bridge that has been there in various incarnations since the 1200s. And there's a *witch tower* in one corner of a courtyard at the university. There is no witch-history in Texas, unless you count those Wiccans, but as far as I know, no one has ever tried to burn them or lock them up in a specially dedicated tower.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Organization, My Waterloo

I have never seen a little clutter as a big deal. Of course, I've come a long way since my teen years when my grandmother threatened to have my room condemned on the odd occasions when she was at our house, but still, I have a deep-seated need to make piles. Sometimes L.H. and I joke about putting documents on the compost pile, a la Dilbert. But I can put my hands on whatever we're looking for, so the pile system isn't a complete disaster.

Normally I make my piles, then every week or 2 or 5 I sort and put away everything. Turns out that maybe I should be doing that on a daily basis for my class notes pile. I really try to keep everything sorted, but there's just so much. I seem to have misplaced my Latin notes from Monday, and it's making me a tad nuts.

[Mystery solved in the evening: the Latin notes and books were taken out of my bag, but only the books made it back in. Whew!]

***

Note scrawled on today's Latin notes:
Dull red pencil...straining—must not...stab. I need it to correct my homework.

Two chatty girls behind me, and me and 60 other people TRYING TO HEAR!

That time of this and that

It's that time of year when we bundle up and hunker down at home as much as possible. Lovely husband gets stir crazy after a while and tries to drag darling daughter out, but unless there's snow on the ground to play in, it's a hard sell. For me, snow is Nature's way of saying, "Stay inside where it's warm and dry, stupid," so I must obey.

Soon it'll be a little tougher to stay in my cocoon because the xmas market is being set up in town even as I type this. It's like a magical village of tiny, wooden, unheated huts selling all kinds of delicious foods and candies and interesting knick-knacks. And it's right on the university plaza under the window of my Latin class, so that'll be good when the carousel gets going.

***

I have a bit of a schizophrenic attitude about school. On the one hand, I have this horrible egotism that I've carried around since Kindergarten. That's what happens when you're told you're "bright" your whole life, I'm afraid. So I go into class automatically assuming I'll be able to understand everything, even though I'm so far behind in my reading. I think the 2 are related.

But on the other hand, if I do get something right (like actually knowing a few etymologically related pairs of words in English and German), I feel like I've just proved the unified field theory. Deep in my black little egotistical heart I know that I'm not making enough effort; in addition, I can feel the age- and childbirth-related hardening of the brain setting in, so it's somewhat shocking to see that new info has stuck in there, info that I'm actually able to retrieve.

***

Son of a bitch! I started my period 3 days early. Then when I got home, I got a nosebleed. I had had a pretty good day up until that point, outside of being tired from a bad night's sleep that included a dream about being on the Death Star (from Star Wars, for the less geek-ily inclined), but never doubt that Mother Nature will run up and kick you in the crotch when you least expect it. She plays dirty that way.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

FIL update

After L.H. got home, he reminded me that he had joked he was me in the joint letter to FIL, which I still don't remember, but it's been a few weeks. Anyhow, we're now 75% certain his dad realized the change in author but chose to perpetuate the "joke" that I was the one who wrote the whole thing.

ha

And I did call him and leave a message that I was passing the letter on to L.H.

From now on, L.H. doesn't get to add on to my letters. I totally support him calling his dad on his insanity, but he can do it on under his own byline. I prefer to be blissfully ignorant of his dad's religious vitriol, or at least of the full extent of it.

A Rant: FIL

I know I said I would leave my FIL out of this blog, but I really have to rant to someone before my head explodes. L.H. is still at work, and I don't want to say some of these things in front of my daughter.

FIL has lost his fucking mind. That's all there is to it.

I wrote him a nice, chatty, family letter in *script*, then L.H. added to it in his mass-murderer's scrawl. L.H. never misses a chance to bust his father on some of the more absurd, racist, bigoted things he puts in his letters to us, so you can imagine that the tone of his half was a bit different from that of mine.

I get a letter from FIL today--addressed only to me--in which he addresses some of the issues L.H. had put in his part of the letter. *IT WAS NOT ME!* Arguing with FIL about religion just makes me homicidal, so I avoid it, then I get personally attacked out of the blue.

He did start with the "cute" quip, "A word of advice--stick to script; your printing is miserable." Considering how nasty he was in the rest of the letter, still addressing *me*, I wonder if he actually realizes that his *own son* wrote it, not me. It wasn't some kind of conspiracy, Dad.

Jesus H. Christ! I can't even say how much this pisses me off. I try to be a nice DIL and let him know how we are all doing, then he is so out of it that he doesn't even recognize *his own son's handwriting*!

I'd better stop, or I'll probably have a stroke. That doesn't mean that I won't continue the rant with my L.H. when he gets home.

Fuck that. I'm calling and leaving a message on the FIL's answering machine. I will be calm, but I will let him know that it wasn't me, so I'll pass his letter on to the other "little liberal, athiest [sic], pinko intellectual" in this house.

[I fixed "bigoted", but any other typos will just have to stay since I can't make the spell-check work without pop-ups enabled.]

Monday, November 15, 2004

Our clever girl

Darling daughter was watching a movie, and there was a line about a "make-believe land." So she asks, "Canada?"

When lovely husband and I finally caught our breath from laughing, we were able to sort out that she had misheard the line as "Maple leaf land." She obviously knows her flags.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Random Bits

Ashcroft quit! Woo hoo! I'm doing the happy dance!

Oooh, I think I sprained something with the enthusiastic happy dancin'; no matter—I'd get up from a coma to happy dance at that news. (Ok, I know it's not exactly news at this moment, but that doesn't mean I'm not still stupidly happy about it.)

**

Many, many years ago, back when lovely husband and I were roommates with his brother, I made a dish that was equal parts garlic and penne, sauteed in oil. That is only a slight exaggeration; the recipe called for *10* cloves of garlic, and I follow recipes slavishly.

Needless to say, after consuming such heroic amounts of garlic, we all reeked. There is no way someone in our family will pass up such a garlic-laden dish, even if it burns both ways, if you know what I mean. We were walking garlic bombs for at least 2 days.

I generally learn from my mistakes, but I guess if I slipped after 10 years, you could cut me some slacks, right? I overdid it with the garlic powder on my salad last night, and neither toothbrushing nor coffee nor mint gum has killed it. I'm considering an olfactory-lobe-ectomy.

**

Today I saw a girl carrying a purse that was made out of a large fish with colorful scales that just swallows the items she wants to tote around, or perhaps the purse was made from leftover upholstery swatches cut into circles and attached like sequins. Maybe she's an interior designer and the purse is multi-purpose. Or maybe she's hoping that anyone getting close enough to mug her will have their retinas seared and thus be foiled.

**

The one day I have stuff to jot down for my blog and one of my stories (!—more on that later), I left the damn spiral at home. Damn. I have some tiny pages out of my old daytimer that I used instead. Stupid tiny pages. I couldn't use my Palm because somehow it was almost out of juice. That has not happened yet in the 11 months I've had it, and it freaked me out. Stupid Palm.

Many things have been stupid lately, due the fey mood I'm in (borrowed that from Tolkien; you've got to love a man who describes people as fey, repeatedly).

**

D.D. and L.H. are at a small procession in honor of St. Martin, a Roman who became a saint because he shared his cloak with a beggar on a cold night (like tonight!). I'm sure there's more to the story than that, but I'm getting the info from a 7-year-old who is being forced to take a Catholic religion class in school and who might not be paying as much attention as necessary for relaying all the details. Anyhow, all the little kids make paper lanterns, and there are various processions around town. D.D. is attending the one hosted by her friend's sister's (evangelic) church daycare.

There's usually a pretty big one in our village, starting at the church about half a mile up the hill past us. Last year D.D. cried and threw a pretty big fit when we tried to get her to go, so we gave up when we got to our house. I hope L.H. is having more luck with her this year. I had Latin and didn't get home until 6:30, so I missed the procession, but I am getting to cook the spaghetti, lucky me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

winter is here to stay

So I was totally wrong about the snow. There were at least 3 inches on our patio furniture this morning, and it was still falling, but not heavy, when I left the house.

Darling daughter was all psyched about playing in it, so I bundled her up head to foot in snow gear and sent her off to school with her dad. Mr. "Germanic" made one concession to the cold: he wore gloves with his jacket (*not* coat). Knowing D.D.'s love of snowballs, he probably ended up pretty wet. Heh.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Let it snow, etc.

It was cold and wet (surprise!) in our village today, but it was actually snowing in the village at the top of the hill where darling daughter has ballet. Fortunately, we ride the bus, so I don't worry about sliding off the switchback road in such a heavy vehicle.

(Lovely husband wants to buy a car next year so we don't have to wait on the bus. Driving in the snow terrifies me, so I secretly have my fingers crossed that we don't find anything in our price range until about April.)

When we got home 2 hours later, it was snowing in our village, too, just not as heavily. We live up under the roof in our building, so most of our walls and windows are slanted, and the snow is starting to build up from the bottoms of the windows. It's really pretty, especially from inside, next to the heated tile oven. D.D. thinks she'll be able to sled tomorrow, but since it's barely hit freezing lately, the ground's not cold enough for the snow to stay.

Proofreading bitchiness:
I would probably be done with the tea job if all the examples weren't culled from every variety of English *except* American and British. I'm just saying.

Husband bitchiness:
We have to record our own meter readings for our utilities at the end of each year in order to set the monthly payment for the next year. Landlord showed L.H. the meters when we moved in a year ago so he could verify that the readings were correct for our lease. Now he has no idea where they are, so I've been the one who has to poke around in the dusty, musty, dirt-floored, cobwebby cellar. L.H. suggested I look "on the wall". There are 3 rooms down there. Thanks, Honey, that really clears it up for me.

How I miss UT

(Too tired to type this up last night, but composed during the day.)

Those of you near and dear to me may remember me bitching (when have I not?) about the lack of central organization when I began studying at the university last year. Well, it tried to strike again, but I struck back and conquered!

The state government has declared that every couple of semesters, students must prove that they are making progress in their studies (i.e., not dead wood). There is no central database (!) for course completions and grades; we get a little certificate at the end of each course saying if we passed or not. We have to collect and keep track of these slips of paper, because no slips = no degree at the end.

So when you've reached the end of your couple of semesters, you have to hand over the slips to your academic department to prove you've been attending class. Then you get *another* certificate saying you had the right number and kind of slips (kind of like the McD Monopoly game, ick), which you get back.

According to my department, once I got the certificate, the main university would be notified electronically, automatically, without any effort on my part, that I am making progress toward my degree and to let me stay enrolled.

Do you see where this is going?

Didn't happen. Instead of getting my long-awaited student I.D., I got a letter informing me I was exmatriculated, or in other words, kicked out. Son of a bitch!

(Darling daughter wondered why I was bothering to do my homework since I was kicked out. Obviously, to her, I'm nuts!)

So I was the first person in line when the doors opened (which is no mean feat; the damn things are probably 12-feet tall and the handle is at eye level on me)—certificate in hand—and everything was fixed in about five minutes. The university people would have to deal with fewer bad-German-speaking people like me if they'd just hire a programmer so some administrative stuff could be automated.

***

After months of badgering by lovely husband, I finally cut D.D.'s waist-length hair. It's now just below the level of her armpits, and I rounded the bottom. D.D. has been fighting us tooth and nail about it, but suddenly decided as I was about to begin that she wanted it short-ish, to the top of her shoulders. I didn't think she'd like that (she's quite vain about her hair, like the rest of us), so I went with the middle length. She and L.H. were pleased at the results, and she wondered if her friends would recognize her at school the next day.

On more than one occasion, D.D has commented that she would like spikes in her hair. (Drat the influence of her red-headed boy cousin!) I told her, as soon as she starts washing and brushing her own hair and can manage products, she can do whatever she likes to her hair. At the rate we're going, she'll be 35.

***

We've finally gotten into the freezing range weather-wise. The paper yesterday said the range of temps would be 1-11 C (about 33-53 F). I've finally mastered the art of layering and bundling D.D., but she won't put the layers back on to come home, so half her wardrobe gets left at school. Poor L.H. is hopeless at remembering to fetch it from her classroom (D.D. attends after-school care in another classroom), so I end up dragging home a huge bag of clothes every other day when it's my turn for the pick-up. At least we're not both that way.

Friday, November 05, 2004

friends and enemies

L.H. was concerned about D.D.'s mental health when he found a picture she had drawn of a child in a cherry-covered dress, frowning and saying, "I am weird." He wasn't sure he felt any better when I explained that it was a boy from her class. She had "forced" him into these girl's clothes (oddly enough, her favorite dress from her grandma). I ascribe it to the on-going battle of the sexes at her school and am glad that she used her pen for drawing and not stabbing.

Since school is out for the week (Fall Holiday), maybe she is missing her arch-enemies. She has seen her friends a few times, and they got along ok, so maybe she just needed to get that meanness out of her system. As long as she doesn't take it out on us.

L.H. and I have been having opposite responses to the US election. He has been really agitated and upset, and I've been plugging up my ears and saying, "na na na na na na na". I can't imagine what the election fatigue in the US must be like; we didn't have the deluge of ads that USians got. And that, gentle readers, will probably be the last thing I have to say on the topic.

My FIL sent L.H. a polaroid of a biker that was taken back in the day when FIL was an undercover narcotics agent, then he pointed out how much he thought L.H. looked like this person. FIL really knows how to give a compliment. God knows what he'll come out with next—probably a comparison with Manson. He has totally lost touch with social norms and all other aspects of reality. I could really go on, but I think this should now go on the tabu topics list, or at least on the only-over-the-phone-with-the-relatives list.

(Can you see where D.D. may come by her need to get the meanness out?)

Sometimes I feel like turning off the world and losing myself in a book. Two weeks into the semester is not a good time for that feeling to come knocking, but it's a bit like PMS—I can't prevent it and just have to ride it out. I have learned that skimming books satisfies the itch, but it still takes a while to read Lord of the Rings. I haven't even felt like blogging (heaven forbid!). I guess this post is an indicator that I'm about over it.

Weather-bitching level: n.a.
I think that barring a blizzard, the weather will be predictably cold and possibly wet from now until March, so what's the point trying to put it on a scale? I'll reserve my weather comments for exceptionally unusual weather, like sunshine (which we had a little of today).

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Loverly Husband

My husband (L.H.) really is a nice man. When darling daughter (D.D.) has a friend over, he plays games with the two of them. And when the mom comes to pick her up, he chats her up for 20 or 30 minutes because he is helping her make contacts in the U.S. for an exchange program (she teaches H.S. English).

Personally, I'm just not that full of the milk of human kindness. In my case, it would be more like buttermilk. L.H. thinks I'm kind of shy, or maybe I'm holding back because of the language thing, but really, I think I'm just not that friendly.

It takes me a while to warm up to people; at my last job, it took me 2 or 3 months of seeing the same people day in and day out before I could let my innate wackiness shine through. I'm just not around anyone that much these days, so I don't see myself finding many "kindred spirits" (as Anne Shirley of Green Gables would say) any time soon. Also, humor doesn't always translate well, and I'm not sure what people here would make of my sarcastic sense of humor.

D.D. is lucky that she has one outgoing parent anyway. L.H. reminds me a bit of my mom in that respect. I found it embarrassing as a kid for her to be chatting up people in line at the grocery store, and now I'm married to a man with the same trait. He can tell me all about the neighbors, even ones not in our building, and about the parents of D.D.'s classmates because he's actually held one or more conversations with them. I usually just smile and nod in passing.

What's funny is that L.H. always thought of himself as introverted as a kid. I think that's because his dad tends to be fairly anti-social and kind of squished his kids into that mold when they were little. Nowadays we joke that L.H. is an extrovert who was raised as an introvert.

Today's Halloween party proves the point. I was ready to chuck all 11 kids out the door after an hour, but he kept them moving from one activity to the next with impressive patience. He was even so kind as to walk home a couple of kids (D.D. went home with one of them to play some more). I told him even before he left that I'd rather clean up after 50 kids than have to deal with any of them a minute longer.

My grandmother and mother keep telling me that I'm such a good mom and that I should have had more kids. The reason I'm such a good mom is *because* I only have one kid. I'll admit it: I'm selfish. I need some time to myself, if not physically then mentally apart from my family, and multiple children doesn't seem conducive to that. MIL told me of a woman of her online acquaintance with 9 children! That first caesarean section must have come with a labotomy!

I'll be the first one to admit that L.H. has oodles and gobs more patience than I; I can give D.D. boundless love and lots of silliness, and I know a trick or two to help her when she is in a bad mood or upset, but L.H. is the one who will sit on the floor and play Barbies with her. He should be in line for sainthood for that alone.

Weather-bitching update: 0.5
Clouds, some sun, no rain. It could have been worse.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Footwear for the 21st century

I was awoken to the sound of Eliza-cat meowing mutedly; I figured she was stuck in the closet. Turns out she was downstairs with L.H. and D.D., so she is now officially "the cat who cried 'stuck'."

Later, she fell off the stairs. She's not much smarter than a pair of slippers at this point; it won't be much of a change when I'm wearing her on my feet.

I expect my new slippers will be more attractive than these boots, at least. I saw a woman wearing something similar the other day. It was much too warm for such heavy-duty boots, and I thought, "Her poor dog-sled team! They must be baking."

Friday, October 29, 2004

Goblins and ghosts and princesses, oh my!

Darling daughter wanted a Halloween party, so she's getting the crafty-est Halloween party of all time. We've learned the hard way that if you have a dozen kids over and nothing planned to do, chaos will ensue. So I have paper for making jack-o-lanterns and wizard hats, and lots of straight sticks and feathers and foil for making magic wands. The only game we came up with is the old grapes-and-spaghetti-in-a-covered-bowl game. Is it brains? Guts? Eeeew!

DD also wants dancing, so we'll pull out the Best of the 80s CDs and let them boogie down. She's going to dress up as a princess; the other kids were asked to dress up, but DD has a pile of dress-up clothes, mostly princess stuff, that they can swap if they want.

And what's Halloween without goodies? I got the coolest Halloween gummis—black ones shaped like skulls and rats, white skeletons, pink and white fangs complete with gums, spiders—and some small wrapped chocolates. I'm going to make some chocolate cupcakes; the ones with orange frosting will be mini-pumpkins; the ones with black licorice strings poking out of them will be spiders (I couldn't find black food color for the frosting). One of the moms offered to bring veggie kabobs—lovely husband managed not to laugh at her over the phone. Silly woman! Halloween is not about nutrition! It is about gluttony! Sheesh.

L.H. brought home a pumpkin, but we're just going to draw a face on it with a black marker. I am not to be trusted with a knife, and we want to cook it later, so intact is better.

D.D. will be out of school next week, but I think we figured out that she'll only have to come to class with us a couple of days. Monday is a state holiday (All Saints), so we can all hang out at home, then Tuesday I have no classes to attend, and Friday L.H. has no classes to teach. One of my instructors has school-aged kids, too, and she said she might bring them to class, or let them play in her office down the hall, so D.D. coming is no problem. The other classes are large and anonymous, so no problem there, either. Of course, poor D.D. has been dragged to the university so often in her life already that she'll probably not want to go to college by the time she's old enough. It's that boring place.

She said the funniest thing the other day. She wore her new corduroy dress from her Grandma to school, and the after-school teacher asked her if it was her birthday, since she was so dressed up. And she got a book from a classmate (long story). So when she got home, she told me it felt like her birthday, particularly since she was so pretty. No confidence problems there!

Weather-bitching level: I can't decide.
It didn't actually rain today, but we've had a weird mix of slightly overcast and sunshine. The overcast was not even that distressing since the clouds were big and puffy instead of a solid layer of smothering gray. So I guess I can't complain. Drat.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Thoughts on a Thursday

L.H. thought I was unaccountably harsh in my blog the other day on those American students. He doesn't understand that I would be just as harsh on the Russian and Chinese students if they were as loud as the Amis and if I could understand what they were saying.

I try to be efficient with my time on campus so I don't have to spend all my time at home locked away with my homework, and it irritates me to have my concentration broken by 2 girls discussing the state of their pens—"mine's almost out of ink"; "this kind's better but costs more"; blah, blah—and the search for a salsa partner, which segued into a discussion on someone else's roommate, who also happens to dance salsa, with a dash of revisiting high school dance team escapades thrown in. I stand by what I said before—inane blather.

I think part of the possible difference in opinion between L.H. and me stems from the fact that he was a college student for 12 of the last 13 years, and now teaches college students, so he still strongly associates with "youth culture." I, on the other hand, was out of school for 7 years before going back, and I worked in the administrative offices of a university almost that whole time, so I definitely do not.

Also, I like to bitch about stuff, which is the ostensible purpose of this blog. Don't like the bitching, Honey? Then don't read. (I already told him this in person. I wouldn't bitch about him behind his back.)

Weather-bitching level: 1.5
More off-and-on rain. I couldn't even manage to light the tile oven today, although L.H. thought it was too warm for it anyway.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The Eyes Have It

The latest generation of Barbies freak out L.H. and me. Their eyes keep getting bigger and more oblong—sideways. We think it looks even more trampy than usual. The regular Barbie that Mattel puts out as various fairy-tale princesses looks the same as before (only mildly trampy), but the My Scene dolls and the latest Fairy Something-or-Other dolls have the freaky eyes. Why doesn't Mattel just go straight to producing the Crack Whore Barbie? Sheesh.

The xmas toy advertising is well underway here. Don't get me wrong, there are always ads aimed at kids on TV, but now instead of trying to get D.D. to give up her allowance for gum and yo-yos, they're trying to get Mom and Dad to buy the giant Barbie mansion and cruise ship.

Every commercial it's "Mom, I want that." It drives us nuts. But one night D.D. actually commented unfavorably on a baby doll that transforms into a princess with the addition of *ta!da!* a princess costume. "She has creepy eyes." See! Even a 7-year-old will catch on to these things. On the other hand, as L.H. said, 1 toy down, 900 to go.

***

I can feel the winter bloat coming on. Even after my period, I am craving sour cream and onion Pringles and chocolate covered cherries. I may not normally eat enough fruits and veggies, but I also generally avoid sweets and junk food. Coffee is my one food vice, and they'll have to pull my favorite "Canada" mug from my cold, dead hands after I hit the floor.

It's been hard getting up in the cold, dark mornings; that's probably cluing in my body that it's time to step up the blubber production. It's hard enough finding pants when you're only 5 feet tall, but if I end up 5 feet wide as well, it'll be impossible. Also, I don't know my metric measurements. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Weather-bitching level: 1-ish
It's not raining, but it was pretty chilly today. Also, it seems to be too overcast to see the lunar eclipse. Damn the luck.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Rain, rain, go away, dammit

I have only been back to school for a week, and already I am feeling slightly overwhelmed. Well, not too overwhelmed, but I was going to proofread today since I have no classes, but instead I have been preparing for an oral presentation I have to give on Thursday. Really, the presentation is pretty straightforward as far as I'm concerned, but the professor wanted me and the other presenter to contact him in advance, and I had to clear up a couple of things I couldn't figure out on my own, wah wah wah.

On top of that, Tuesday is my grocery-shopping day, my day to drop DD off at school and pick her up and take her to ballet. I think I'll have plenty of time for school stuff or work stuff, but it never works out that way. Alas.

It's pouring rain, and I have to walk out the door in 15 minutes to pick up DD. Stupid rain. At least we both have umbrellas. She spent some of her own allowance to buy a new-er one at a flea market. The old Pippi Longstocking umbrella has seen better days. We got it in Sweden when we lived there 4 years ago, and since then it has been dragged around the world (well, back to Texas, then to Germany).

Ok, ok, must spend last 15 minutes on presentation.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Cats and kids

I complain about our clumsy cats on a regular basis, and with good cause. Eliza can't jump from the floor to the third stair without missing her footing and slipping. The 2 of them even managed to fling themselves (and my ivy) off the top of the tile oven (a 5-foot drop) while tussling; it was a bit like a cliff scene in an action movie. And Missy has somehow fallen off the terrace on the top floor of the house and slid down the roof *4 or 5 times.*

I mean, I know "cat" does not equal "brain surgeon," but—really. You'd think that if she could learn to run into our room when the closet door is opened, she could learn to avoid death by terrace. Actually, bad example. She gets locked in the closet on a regular basis.

Last night, though, Missy was redeemed. (Eliza, on the other hand, remains clumsy until proven otherwise.) While pulling her back inside the house through the window, I noticed that her lips looked dark. "Great," I thought. "She's probably bleeding internally." I followed her into darling daughter's (D.D.) room, where she was standing over a small brown pile. Luckily (for me, anyhow), it was a bat. Turns out Missy's the great brown hunter.

A bat flew into our house one evening when we had all the windows wide open, and Missy managed to bat it out of the air, but that didn't seem fair. I had no idea she'd fling herself off the terrace for the chance. It explains all the roof-sliding.

***

Today I had my first dose of young American people in a long time. Please. Shut. Up. Shut. Shut. Shut. Why isn't karma or whatever striking these people mute!?

I'm not usually bothered by other people talking around me while I'm trying to study, because they are speaking in Chinese or Russian, and there's nothing I can recognize in what they're saying that could interrupt me, so I can tune them out. Not so with the Americans. Here I am, trying to read about the complexities of verb phrases, and I can't get their inane blathering out of my head. Must... resist... fist... of... death.

Weather-bitching level: 0.5
I think 3 days of Golden October are all we're going to get, so today we had to be satisfied with "At least it's not raining, and the foliage is beautiful." It was warmish until after dark, so that pleased me, except for the part where I was waiting for the bus after dark in my clothes that were appropriate only before dark. At least it wasn't raining.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Battle of the Stereos

It appears that "Phantom of the Opera" played loudly has no effect on the volume of the music played by the teenager who lives below our study. Surprisingly, Depeche Mode does. I guess 80s techno-pop can totally kick the ass of modern techno. I won the battle of the volume control!

I haven't been posting much lately because classes just started, and I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. I am taking 20 hours *eek!*, so many future posts will probably be scribbled on campus and typed up after darling daughter (D.D.) goes to bed. Lovely husband (L.H.) thinks I will drop the blog now that the semester is underway, but I don't think he understands the ego-maniacal pleasure I get from it. Where else can I blithely make whatever comments I want without being called to task?

I think I'll pop Enya into the CD player (well, not her—"Get in there, dammit!"), then get back to the proofreading.

Weather-bitching level: 0.5
We had 2 glorious days—clear, sunny, and not too cold—what the locals call "Golden October", but today it's overcast again. As long as it doesn't start raining again. Urgh!

On a happier note, we did manage to get the tile oven fired up last night. This morning the landlord dropped by and shared the secret of keeping it hot all night, so if it gets cold again, we'll give it a try.


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Tuesday morning

Mornings are not my forte. This morning has just reconfirmed my hatred of the early hours of the day. It wasn't actually a *bad* morning until the cats decided to fight on top of the tile oven and knocked over my ivy in the process of flinging each other over the edge. It's a 5-foot drop, so there was soil *everywhere*. This is the second time that has happened; I think the cats will make lovely house slippers when I'm done with them.

I expected to be crippled with foot pain today, but am pleasantly surprised that I am only experiencing mild soreness in my legs and knees. Yesterday I decided to follow lovely husband's (L.H.) creed, which is "Don't dress for the job you have; dress for the job you want." His mother told him that back when he was a graduate instructor, and he has been natty on the job ever since.

I don't quite have the wardrobe to pull off natty, but I decided to spruce myself up a bit on my first day back to school with a pair of nice-looking, tall-heeled loafers my sister gave me. Damn her and her attractive shoes! A hundred yards past the front door I realized the folly of my thinking. Screw business attire! I'm sticking to tennis shoes and jeans until I can put my hands on a pair of those cute little velvet, Chinese mary janes. I have my eye on a black brocade pair. They won't be weather-appropriate, but I'm sure I can find some rain boots that will fit over them for the outdoors.


Sunday, October 17, 2004

Rain, rain, rain--I'm so sick of rain

Lovely husband (L.H.) has a new hobby, reading Bushisms online. He's been working steadily at it for at least the last 3 nights, with no end in sight. I hear him chuckling and snorting downstairs in the unheated study and know that he's found his calling.

[Interesting side note—we actually lived in Gothenburg, Sweden when this jewel was uttered:
"We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease."--After meeting with the leaders of the European Union, Gothenburg, Sweden, June 14, 2001
We stopped admitting that we were Americans at that point and tried to pass ourselves off as Canadians.]

Home life has been light on blog-able material for the last couple of days, mostly due to PMS. Enough said.

Here's a funny episode, though: L.H. and darling daughter (D.D.) were looking at a collection of Far Side comics, and L.H. was suddenly explaining about cows and cud and multiple stomachs (Gary Larson has a lot of cows in his work). D.D. broke in on the explanation to say that she already knew what the four stomachs were for: "1 for cans, 1 for plastic, 1 for paper, and 1 for foil, Tee!Hee!"

When D.D. is being so cute and clever, I thank my lucky stars for her. But other times, like much of this weekend, I think that hamsters may be on to something with that eating their young thing. That may be the PMS talking. Or the rain-induced insanity.

I thought the weather in Texas changed fast, but in this part of Germany you can literally watch the change from pouring rain to a sunny, cloudless sky in about 5 minutes. L.H. and I watched it happen repeatedly yesterday. We even got to see a full double rainbow. Of course, we were out in the pouring rain at the time, so maybe we weren't able to appreciate the beauty of it fully.

Today, all rain. And I don't even have the energy to bitch about it.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Magical World of Writing

My best friend in high school took creative writing. I took physics and calculus. She is now a biology instructor, and I am a fledgling copy-editor and aspiring writer. We always comment on how weird that is when we talk.

After working on the same short story off and on for *cough* 2 years, I finally finished it. There was a beginning, a middle, and—most importantly, an end. I had pared it down, weighing the usefulness of each word, and was very pleased with the end result.

My lovely husband (L.H.) had read through it and made comments and suggestions until he was sick of it. Luckily for me, my dear friend (D.F.)—7 months pregnant and with an older child to take care of, and student-teaching to boot—graciously agreed to be a reader. Not only did she have her own creative writing experience (and formal instruction) to refer to, but she herself had been a fantasy fan back in the day. So she was familiar with the conventions of the genre I write in.

And, she's the most tactful and clear-spoken person I know. Must come from explaining the intricacies of the human body to numbskulls like me.

All wrapped up in a warm fuzzy about how she likes my writing—I tell you, she's the best!—she suggests that I flesh out the world in which the story is set. I set to work adding details. Then I see one bit that's kind of awkward and unnecessary. *snip* I prune it. Then I realize that some parts are repetitive. I analyze; I make notes; I tweak. Finally, I realize that if I'm going to do the story justice, I must write it again from scratch.

"What?!" you might say. "After 2+ years of work?"

Indeed. I realized that the story had so many parts I wanted to alter that it was almost a different story. Here's the way I've been thinking about it: it's like trying to put last year's dress on a 13-year-old girl. No matter what I do to it, the dress is not going to fit right. And even if I make a new dress, there's every chance that it won't fit next year, because she'll have continued to grow and develop. I think that's the point I'm at with my writing in general, and this story in particular.

So D.F.—it's all your fault! Just kidding. I may have needed someone to adjust my blinders so I could see what was missing from the story, but it's totally up to me to see if the story is everything I want it to be. And it isn't. Not yet, anyhow. But I feel like it's well on its way.

Weather 101

Before I could spew my vitriol against the weather onto these pages, it stopped raining, and the sun is even trying to come out, if ever-so feebly. From the window here next to the table, I can see dark clouds moving in to put a stop to that sunshine business, smoke rising from several neighboring chimneys, and some valley fog. It's at the far end of our valley, where it intersects with another one. When it's really thick and fills more of the valley, it makes me think of the arrival of the "fire worm" in the film Thirteen Warrior. Oh, Antonio Banderas—you are my sunshine.

It's still chilly in the house. Lovely husband (L.H.) is working on getting the wood delivered; it feels decadent (and expensive!) to turn on the heater when it's almost 21 C (70 F) inside, so we don't. I wonder if it's cheaper to pay for the gas to heat the water in the radiators, or to pay for the electricity to run all the incandescent lights and heat up the house? (Hoorah! The sun shooed away the clouds and is now searing into the skin on my face, intensified through the glass of the window. Aaaah!)

My normal cold-beating M.O. is to put on a pot of coffee, work in the unheated study until I can't feel my toes or my bladder threatens to burst, then take a break long enough to defrost, refill my coffee cup, and pee. Sometimes, I put on another pair of socks or a scarf or a second sweater. (In case you were wondering, I don't like the cold.) Then it's a cup of soup for lunch, and a pot of decaf in the afternoon. I'm all about hot drinks, you see.

When I get really, really cold, I vacuum or take a hot shower. Vacuuming actually does provide enough movement to warm up the old muscles, but unfortunately it also sets off the never-ending nosebleed. So I try to ignore the dirt for as long as possible, which is not easy when you have beige tile. The showers are less about cleanliness than about boiling myself until my bones start radiating residual heat to the rest of my body. Mmmmm... boiling.

The other remedy for cold weather is enjoying our plants (I knew I'd finally be able to work them in!), but that's more of a mental health thing. I have managed to keep a poinsettia and a xmas cactus alive and thriving since last winter. The cactus even has 8 or 9 new buds; they are white with fuchsia edges—very dramatic. I don't have it together enough to force the poinsettia (which entails moving it in and out of dark closets so it will flower), so it's green.

Then there's Pumpkin Head. I bought flowers (mums?) last fall in a pot that is covered with small orange and black tiles that create the effect that the pot is a jack-o-lantern. Very cute. So I put some hot-pink heather in it recently, and it looks like Don King, if he had hot-pink hair and a jack-o-lantern face. It could be a new look for him.

L.H. bought over 100 Euros worth of flowers last May, many of which promptly drowned during the horribly wet summer we had. The hanging geraniums seem to be the sturdiest of the lot; there are still plenty in the window boxes on the lower balcony (very Bavarian-looking). In a last-ditch attempt to keep them alive, L.H. moved the surviving standing geraniums inside, where they look cheerful on the windowsill. And they don't stink like the ones my mom had when I was a kid. Maybe those were the special stinky Texas kind.

****
After picking up my darling daughter (D.D.) from school (stabbing-free days: 1), I spent a large part of the afternoon sitting next to her in the sun, crocheting and offering moral support for her homework. What I really needed to be doing was proofreading (400 pages down, 400 to go); what I really wanted to be doing was updating my blog. Is that obsessive? Good, I didn't think so.

[Note to family members reading this: if you have a strong aversion to crochet, comment below or email me, or it's potholders for xmas. Bwa!ha!ha!]

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Joys of Parenting

My darling daughter (D.D.) is probably going to hell: she stabbed a boy in the hand with a pencil *during religion class* yesterday. It doesn't really matter that he asked her to do it, even suggesting that she sharpen the pencil first. I'm sure he meant to pull his hand away at the last minute, perhaps adding a taunting "ha! ha!" What he didn't count on was D.D.'s lightening-fast reflexes, honed by years of flopping and, more recently, ballet.

D.D. apologized, and the boy said he'd been hurt much worse by another boy in the class before, but... still. Where was the teacher in all this?
[Addendum: L.H. pointed out that most teachers wouldn't feel they'd need to keep an eye out for kids stabbing each other until at least junior high.]

Lovely husband (L.H.) is worried about getting a hospital bill or a lawsuit. Germans have insurance for everything, but we haven't gotten around to buying more than our health insurance. It's crazy—at a birthday party we attended a few months ago, every person we talked to brought up the need for extra insurance. If I didn't know better, I'd think they were all in training to be insurance salesmen. Maybe they get a kick-back for bringing in new customers, I don't know.

D.D. is home today with a tummy ache. Last year we sent her to school a couple of times with a tummy ache, and she barfed. So now we know that she's not just using it as an excuse to stay home. No barf so far.

Since D.D. is technically home sick, we've been doing quiet, lounging-about type activities like watching videos and playing on the computer. I had to excuse myself when she went to the Barbie My Scene site, though. Otherwise I'd be the one barfing.

In case you are not the parent of a girly-girl, let me introduce you to the horror that is My Scene. Imagine, if you will, animated versions of Barbie and Ken—hip young things that love shopping and dancing. The interactive games on this site include beauty makeover and clothes shopping. Then there are the video clips—shudder. "Let's roam around the mall, buying things and ogling at and being ogled at by the guys!" or "Let's have a canned food drive for the blind before we go to the ultra-glam high school dance!"

This is not believable as real youth culture as far as I'm concerned. There is no acne, no back-stabbing, no messy break-ups, no sex. Definitely not teenage reality. Fortunately, there's lots of time before high school for D.D. to figure that out.

New bitching topic: the never-ending nosebleed. Enough said.

Weather-bitching level: 1
Overcast. Yuck.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

MS Word sadness

I personally am fairly proficient with Word, so my sadness stems from the paper I am currently proofreading. This poor person managed to put together over *800* pages without knowing how to use the automatic numbered list setting or how to change the margins for long, indented sections.

I was checking for double spaces, so I turned on the feature that shows space and paragraph marks (our version of Word has everything labeled in German, and I can't think of what it was called in English). Oh. Dear. Lord. This person obviously does not know about the return key, because at the end of each item in the indented numbered list (all done manually), there is a string of 20 or more spaces to make the next item move down to the next line. Which means that I can't do a global find and replace, or it would move everything out of whack.

I am definitely not being paid enough to reformat *800* pages, and they look clean enough in regularly viewing mode, but the urge, she is there, let me tell you. That's what I get for being so anal retentive.

Tea Sickos

So, I'm proofreading a paper on tea, and I've come across the term "agony of the leaves". This describes the way loose leaf tea uncurls after the boiling water has been poured on it.

Perhaps tea lovers don't have a problem with this term, but I think I would be imagining the tea leaves to be writhing and shrieking in tiny, high voices, "Help me!"

Maybe that's just me.

In any case, I'll be sticking to tea bags, where the tea leaves are broken up and don't uncurl. [See how much you can learn while proofreading? It's one of the reasons while I like the work.]

School rules

I set off just before full dark yesterday (7:10 p.m.) for the first parent meeting of the school year. I actually like walking around in our village, and we live in a really beautiful area, lots of woods nearby, and a fantastic view of the valley. Last night reminded me of Halloween night as a kid—crisp, cold air, a clear sky, and the smell of wood smoke.

Of course, Germans don't really do Halloween, just the grown-ups and masquerade parties or special events in dance clubs. To make up for the lack of a fall decorating holiday, some of the shops have already started putting up xmas decorations, even outside. Bleah!

So, back to the parent meeting. One nice feature of the German school system is that kids stay with the same class and the same set of teachers for 2 years, so we already know the teacher and other parents from last year. It's hard enough for me and lovely husband (L.H.) to follow what's being said in German; at least the speakers are friendly.

After the Pisa results (the biggie in school performance testing here in Europe), the curriculum has been tweaked once again, so we got to hear about what that means for our kids. Really, the changes are fairly minor, but of course all the subject names got changed, and some of the subjects were merged into 1 (Humans, Nature, and Culture, which includes arts and crafts and music, etc.). So there weren't any big surprises.

It was after 9 by the time we wrapped up, and I just missed the bus up to our house, so I hauled ass home. By the time I got here, I felt sick, like in P.E. in elementary school where they made us run until my ribs hurt and I felt like I was going to puke. I think I may have overdone it with the exercise yesterday.

It's too early for a weather report, but so far it's clear and cold. If I can see the sun, I can handle the cold. L.H. turned on all the radiators yesterday evening while I was at the meeting so we'd wake up to a warm, cozy house—then forgot to switch the hot water heater over to the radiator setting. No hot water in the radiators = no warm, cozy house. Oh, well. It heated up quickly enough once we got everything turned on properly, but having to drag myself out of bed when it's 19C (about 65F) in the house is not fun.

Also, working in this room is not much fun—it was built on after the fact and has no heat except what leaks in through the doorway from the rest of the house. We're looking into an electric heater.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Walking in a not-so-wintery wonderland

Despite my oft-proclaimed aversion to physical exertion, I walked all the way into downtown this morning. It took me an hour and 25 minutes. Did I mention that we live at the northern end of the north-easternmost suburb of our town? Fortunately, it's downhill for the first 30 minutes since the suburb lies along a steep valley.

Lovely husband (L.H.) can make the same trip in about 30 minutes on his bike (which he does every day), so I was actually kind of proud that it only took me 3 times as long. Not too bad, considering he's got 10 inches in height and 70 pounds of muscle more than I do.

The reason for this trek was to look into plane tickets to Texas at xmas. The woman at STA was very helpful and friendly, but she couldn't get us any cheaper fares for the dates we wanted than we had already found on Travelocity. So I bring this info home to L.H., and we decide to try Travelocity again. And the prices had gone up $20 each since yesterday. Sigh. It wasn't a deal-breaker, though, and we now have tickets, with about $7 to spare in our savings. Well, that's what it was there for.

As much as I'd like to jabber away about my walk, and writing, and my plants, I'm going to postpone that until tomorrow (isn't that the best cliff-hanger you've heard? Tune in tomorrow!). L.H. and darling daughter (D.D.) are off at an after-school activity, and I need to have dinner on the table when they get home so I can then rush off to the first parent meeting of the school year. L.H. went to all of them last year, so he says I should take a turn. Fair's fair, I suppose.

Weather-bitching level: 0.5
It's been a lovely day, but chilly. D.D. actually wanted her scarf on the way to school this morning, and L.H. suggested we turn on the heater tonight. This from the man who has to be drugged, bound, and threatened before he'll consider putting a coat on, even if it's snowing outside. Considering that it took most of the day for the thermostat to register 20C (68F), I personally think it's time.

We have a fantastic tile oven, but no wood, and no car for hauling wood, so we're going to have to get creative on this one. Our landlord insists that we only use cured 3-year-old wood. Psh! Our friends down the street were using the leftover lumber from a house that was torn down so they could build their new house on the site. 3-year-old wood. Ha!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Fall, glorious Fall

I am a real homebody, not to the point of phobia, but there's not a lot that can draw me out of the house once I'm properly warm and caffeinated. Food shopping is a necessary evil, but at least the lovely husband (L.H.) and I take turns going to the store.

But today the sweet voice of my darling daughter (D.D.) asking if I would accompany her and L.H. to the playground had the power to dislodge me from my warm cocoon of domesticity. So leaving the laundry to run by itself, we headed out into a lovely fall afternoon.

And immediately had to dash back inside for jackets. It's nippy!

As I sit on the swing watching, L.H. and D.D. are making a wolf-catching pit in the sandbox. I wasn't aware that there are many wolves left in central Germany, but I guess it pays to be prepared. (I worry about the two of them sometimes.)

Anyhow, the "pit" is dug, there's a lattice of twigs laid across the top, and they are busily denuding the nearby bushes so they can layer leaves over the sticks. I hope the SPCA doesn't get wind of this project.

Classes resume at the university in a week, so I'm rushing around the house doing all the little things I intended to do during the summer break. I am really ashamed to admit that I have been on summer break since the end of July. Here's but a portion of my check-list (I love lists):

* Sort through the paperwork beginning to compost in the study and file it.—check

* Look up all the German words I've been jotting in my Palm since the spring.—check

* Finish applique-ing the border of a quilt for my sister—well... that quilt's been more than 8 years in the making. You can't expect results overnight in a situation like that. But I *am* about 2/3 done with the last side, so then I just have to sew the last 2 borders on and quilt the damn thing. Check back in another 8 years to see if I'm almost done. The other sister will just have to be happy with a gift certificate or a fruit basket or something, because we'll probably all be dead or senile by the time I could get another quilt finished.

I have been trying very hard not to speak any German over the break, but my L.H., damn him, is insisting that I be the one to go to STA Travel to get the ball rolling on plane tickets to Texas for xmas. Can't we just buy our tickets from the anonymous, English-speaking safety of the Internet? [insert whiny voice here] I suppose that comparison shopping is all well and good....

Weather-bitching level: 0.5
It was only partially cloudy today, and the sun managed to shine around the clouds for a large part of the day. I didn't spot a drop of precipitation (although I heard it raining during the night), so that always cheers me up. My D.D. said the cutest thing walking into the playground: "The falling leaves look like confetti!" We had to agree.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Mini-mania

After ovulating for what felt like 5 days, I finally feel good again. Actually, I feel great! This is what I like to call the manic part of my cycle. It doesn't happen every month (luckily for my family), but I still recognize it when I experience it.

Want me to proofread an 800-page thesis? No problem!

Should I make pumpkin muffins, starting with a whole pumpkin? You got it!

To blog, or not to blog? No time like the present!

Actually, I'm not running around my house in some kind of cleaning, ├╝ber-mother frenzy, but I do get quite silly and chatty.

This is one thing that's set me off, thanks to my lovely husband. The song has become an earworm, one that cannot be banished by my usual method--singing a ditty that my daughter came up with herself when she was 2 or 3. B-O-M-B-Y!

Weather-bitching level: 2
It's been raining off and on (2/3 on) all day. I'm reserving level 3 for days-on-end rain or snow, which have both happened here in the past.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Maiden Post

After a day of trying to get through, I was finally about to sign up on BlogSpot. Unfortunately, I felt like hammered crap at the time and so was unable to scrape together anything remotely sensible to post. Damn the luck!

I jokingly told my husband that I would start a blog just so he wouldn't have to listen to me bitch about my favorite topics anymore: the weather here in Germany (we're definitely not in Texas anymore!), a lingering cold, and my period. I will refrain from bitching about George Bush, because I can't manage to make a coherent argument against his policies. I am reduced to frothing at the mouth and screeching "Hate! Hate! Hate!" Around here, I'm preaching to the choir, and my husband willingly joins in on the Bush-bashing, so I've already got an outlet for that.

Weather-bitching level: 0 [on a scale of 0 up to 3]
It was a gorgeous fall day, sunny and warm, so there's nothing to complain about there.

But that won't stop me from taking on other, more deserving, topics. Like my lovely husband deciding to use up some stinky cheese he bought when the store was out of cheddar. Instead of just slicing it onto a sandwich, he felt that homemade fondue was just the use for it. So now my microwave and entire kitchen smells like crotch. I hope to be able to downgrade the stench to "old socks" tomorrow, but that remains to be seen. This site says the flavor is "sweet-sour". If by that they mean "unwashed underwear", then they've hit the nail on the head. So, gentle reader, unless you are a stinky cheese aficionado, I advise you to avoid Mondseer.