Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Insanity Stops Here

For me, the spirit of the season can be summed up thusly:
Now I have a little time to hurry up and finish all the crap lying around so my end-of-year tally doesn’t look so dismal.

I have managed to step back from the hobby madness, though, and get a little perspective, which means that my sister’s quilt might possibly probably won’t be done in time for her tenth anniversary in August. (This is the quilt I started before her wedding. *cringe*)

But at least I finished the Millenium Falcon 3D puzzle I got as a gift sometime between 2001 and 2003, if I had to narrow it down. I had actually put all the separate sections together; I just hadn’t got the sections into a model of the M. Falcon. (I couldn’t bring myself to call it the “M.F.” on the Internets, which made me laugh.) And although the previously posted photo *looks* like the model, it is actually an M. Falcon falling apart at the seams. Unfortunately, the few flimsical (1) cardboard “supports” provided with the puzzle were not sufficient in number or strength to actually hold together the surprisingly heavy sections. And a couple of pieces turned out to be missing (2), so there were a couple of holes. At the time I was working on it, I was cursing a blue streak and threatening to quit or throw it away every 5 minutes; it even got a bit surreal there for a bit: I was fantasizing about making a time machine so I could go back and sterilize my parents, for some reason (either for creating a child with a 3D puzzle mania or for buying me the puzzle in the first place, it’s not clear to me now). Anyhow, I kept doggedly at it until it was together enough for a photo and a ranting blog post.

(1) D.D. started using “flimsical” again recently, a word that I love and have been using to excess myself. Feel free to adopt it.

(2) The puzzle company had a form for replacing missing pieces, so I hope to have a complete set if I ever try to do it again. Of course, that would require several years to blur the memory of the first time, and some reengineering and a pot of glue to make it work.

Friday, December 30, 2005


Stop the insanity! Second and last 3D puzzle of the xmas 2005 season. It's the Millenium Falcon, in case you can't tell. Rant on this topic to follow. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

My Daughter Cracks Me Off

At dinner tonight, I was asking D.D. about something on her cheek, which I at first took to be a scratch, but on closer inspection realized was just some of the hair color rubbed off. L.H. then chimed in to ask about her scratch. At that point, he suddenly realized we had covered that. A moment later, he brought up how weird it was that he was so far behind in the conversation.

Which is when D.D. asked, "Should I put you in a home?" (1)

I almost wet myself laughing.

(1) Back story: My dad moved his dad closer to him since Granddad needs some looking after (getting forgetful and paranoid). My LilSis also lives close by, so I'm pretty sure Dad figured he would let her do the bulk of the watching after Granddad. Except now she's moving 3 or 4 hours away. And wouldn't you know, when I talked to my dad yesterday, he immediately brought up putting Granddad in a home. Which is where the topic of nursing homes came up.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Tis the Season to Enable

Right before the holidays, I was able to shake off my early-winter funk and switch into high gear. I got in some required and some extra-curricular (but still school-related) reading. I finished the tree skirt I had moved, unfinished, from house to house for years. I even wrote a bit on a couple of short stories. And by the time we went to bed on xmas eve, I had washed and put away all the laundry, picked up everything but D.D.’s room (because I didn’t have a shovel and safety gear), cleaned my side of the bed and closet, and vacuumed the whole house. I went into xmas at the top of my game.

And then I opened my gifts.

I love my family. They know just what I like, and they got it for me. Unfortunately, what I like can easily become an all-encompassing obsession that takes over my life. L.H. gave me *6* Discworld novels, and my mom gave me the 3D puzzle pictured in the previous post and a Sudoku game. I broke down and put the puzzle together, with L.H.’s reassurance that “It’s the holidays! Have fun!” That was just over 24 hours of my life of fun. I think he started to get an idea of the scope of the problem when dinner was 3 hours later than I had originally planned. Silly man. Doesn’t he remember the photo of me, 20 weeks pregnant, standing in my pjs at the kitchen table until all hours of the night putting together this other 3D puzzle? I just wish I were so diligent with my school work.

D.D. is a lovely little child who did not get us out of bed until 8:30 on xmas morning (unlike my nephew who tried his luck first at *1 AM* and finally succeeded at 3:30, the little turd). She was pleased with all her gifts, although she was somewhat disappointed that she can’t make any explosions with her chemistry set. Damn the luck!

I need to get some more fresh foods in the house. I’ve been living off leftover stuffing, coffee, and the contents of my stocking—chocolate and licorice and blueberry-flavored tea—for 2 days, and I can feel rickets setting in. The grocery list beckons!

Ps. I found a rockin’ recipe for popcorn balls that tastes like slightly chewy Cracker Jacks. Recipe on request.

Here is the 3D puzzle I finished between noon on Xmas Day and 5 pm the next day. I may not be good at originality like my LMIL, but give me something with directions, and I will whip it like a red-headed stepchild. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 24, 2005

I’m Dreaming of a Pink-and-Purple, Polka-Dotted Xmas

So maybe 4 hours before Xmas Day is a little late for the de rigueur pre-xmas post, but I’ve been collecting tidbits for over a week, so it averages out.

Every year, I manage to slide a few more tacky xmas decorations past my husband. This is the man who came into our marriage thinking multi-colored lights were tacky. Oh, silly man. I let D.D. put the ornaments and the silver tinsel on the tree, so everything is lopsided and clumpy. L.H. complained, but he who is too lazy to fix, must endure. Personally, I like it; it reminds me of the fringe on a go-go dancer’s dress. I’ve already bought some red and gold tinsel for next year. My ultimate goal is bubble lights.

I have to draw the line at animatronic xmas decorations, though. I mean, if you want to scare people, why not cut to the chase and hire a clown? A shop in our village has a full-sized Santa outside its door, facing the street. Santa’s head turns left and right, watching you go by. And a pharmacy in town has three little angels in the window, playing trumpets and turning either side to side or bowing. Baby angel musician robots. Eek.

Another mind-boggling decorating misstep I saw in town was in the same window with the headless angels I mentioned previously. Behind the mannequins, some deranged person has hung deer heads—deer heads made of white plaster soaked in iridescent glitter. (Iridescence is another point on which L.H. and I disagree, he being for, and I against.)

But it’s not just the shops getting in on the decorating madness. (But compared to back in Texas, you might not call it mad at all.) One family down the street has a Santa climbing a rope ladder up the size of their house, another lounging on a window ledge, and a third in an old-world style robe standing behind the railing around their terrace, which makes him appear to be trapped in a play pen. Most people (if they put up a Santa at all) would be satisfied with just one Santa.

My sister-in-law’s family has a fun tradition I wish I could participate in: they try to find the ugliest possible wrapping paper. One year her sister skunked the whole family with *Hulk* xmas paper. I thought I might be in the running with Shrek paper I found at the Toys R Us (in this color scheme), but then it occurred to me that “Eat, Stink, and Be Scary” isn’t specifically holiday-themed. And Shrek and Donkey weren’t wearing Santa hats like the Hulk. Rats.

L.H. and I have a typical xmas shopping arrangement: I buy, wrap, and ship all of the presents for the whole family, including D.D., and he shops for me. And as usual, he started about the time I finished. But we were both finished far enough in advance that there was no need to enter a shop at all on xmas eve (which may not even be possible in these parts).

So that was the pre-xmas blather. I wish all my loved ones a happy, healthy (especially LilSis and her brood), restful, and safe holiday.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Nee and Rudolph are Goin’ Down in History

Today, I officially became the last American to set foot in a Starbucks. And I didn’t even burst into flames! But I didn’t drink coffee, so I’ll still be the last person to drink Starbucks coffee if I get around to it before I die.

I had made plans to meet a classmate for tea this morning, and since I didn’t have all afternoon to hang out (her first suggestion was going to her place on the far south side of town; I live on the far north side of town), she suggested Starbucks. It was terribly crowded, but we got the last two seats in the farthest nook.

And that’s about all there was to it. It was ok as far as coffee houses go. I do have to mention that I’d been looking for xmas music for my old man, and after popping into 4 or 5 shops in the shopping district, I found basically what I had been looking for *at the counter at Starbucks.* American commercialism strikes again.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Now that I'm actually doing it, I feel kind of lame blogging a photo of a felt tree skirt. But this is a felt tree skirt that I *made*, and it only took 5 years or so. That might be some kind of record for my entire family. Posted by Picasa

The Good, the Bad, and the Pissy

By the time we got to school this morning, I was ready to boot D.D. out of the car as I sped past the building. I would have sold her to the first Gypsy to wander by, but no self-respecting Gypsy would pay good money for her the way she was acting.

Today is the last day of school before the holidays, so I’m hoping she straightens up before we’re trapped at home with her for a couple of weeks. Otherwise I may turn hamster and eat her.

She was in a perfectly good mood yesterday. Of course, what 8-year-old wouldn’t be: she got to eat lunch at McD (blech—it totally tore the ass out of me), go on a toy shopping spree *for herself* at Toys R Us, ride the carousel at the xmas market, and go ice skating. She made me so proud in the department store: “Mom, that scarf is *so* tacky.” The scarf in question was knit in lengthwise stripes in magenta, acid green, turquoise, and brown, and all but the turquoise stripes were garnished with matching fur. That’s my girl!

D.D. has got the German slang down, so L.H. and I are always learning something new from her. In English, if you don’t have a special interest in something, you can say, “It’s all the same to me.” In German, you can add either “fart” (grade-schoolers) or “shit” (everyone else) to that phrase, which gives it a certain flavor not easily translated into English.

Her English is also developing an unusual slant, thanks to the gentle warping from her parents. She often declares that she has to “take a whiz” (1) on the “terlet”; when she’s cold, she needs a “blanklet.” I’m almost positive she got that last one from her younger cousin K.E., although she can’t recall now.

(1) From the game introduced on Ren and Stimpy: Don’t Whiz on the Electric Fence (sample track 13 here).

Monday, December 19, 2005

Ode to My Friend

My best friend since the sixth grade has also caught the bloggin’ bug, and I’ve been enjoying seeing her life in more detail than had previously been possible from seven time zones away. But imagine my surprise to read this about myself. Although she might have overdone it a wee bit *grin*, it really touched me. And although I know I will not be able to do her justice in mere words, I want to tell WestTexGirl here just how much she means to me. (1)

We went through most of our teenage firsts together: first dance, first boyfriend, first heartbreak. We weren’t clones of one another; we had interests apart—WTGirl managed the girls’ sports teams in junior high, and I...um...took homemaking against my inclination—but the differences never served to split us up, just to make us each more well-rounded. And they didn’t prevent us from spending hours on the phone every evening after spending all day at school together. One reason I was such a reasonably well-behaved teen was that my parents threatened to take away the phone as a punishment for rule-breaking. What would I ever do without at least 10 hours of contact with my best friend every day?! And we somehow always had something to talk about.

I spent my last night before driving the four hours to start university the next day with her—first at the Kettle until midnight, drinking hot cocoa, then standing in my driveway for a couple more hours, not wanting to say goodbye. Despite the distance, we managed to stay in touch and see each other semi-regularly. And at each visit, we picked up right where we left off, as if there had never been a separation or major changes in each of our lives.

We used to joke about being on the same brain wave, but now I realize it was probably all WTGirl. I can’t count how many times I’ve been in need of a sympathetic ear or a shoulder to cry on, and the phone rang, or there was a “thinking of you” email from her in my inbox. Even with hundreds of miles between us. And it’s not just her timing; she always knows the exact right thing to say. She is tactful and warm, and a compliment from WTGirl is like a bear hug.

She is also wonderfully supportive. Many is the time I’ve had an ass-headed idea, when my normally supportive husband looks at me like he’s trying to decide on the best institution to have me committed to, but WTGirl enthusiastically cheers me on, although with a helping of advice and common sense so I don’t go immediately down in flames.

Part and parcel with her supportiveness is her fierce loyalty to her friends and her generous heart. There are a lot of us she could have given up on as being too far away or too busy with our own silliness, but she doesn’t. For example, when one of her friends recently had twins as a single mother, WTGirl could have said, “I’d love to help, but I have a full-time job, and a family of my own” (including a toddler and a stubborn little 8-year-old). Instead, she became this friend’s main lifeline, even more so than her own mother: she took her to the doctor, took care of a million tiny details while she was on bed rest, even accompanied her into the delivery room, and she was there when her babies came home.

The flip side of being friends with WTGirl is that you always wonder if you’ll ever live up to such a high standard of friendship. But I like to think that I am benefiting from her example.

She is also a super-smart lady. You have to take what she said in her blog entry with a grain of salt. This woman teaches ANATOMY, people. I would never in a million years be able to remember everything she does; I get to “the foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone,” and then I’m lost. And she manages to deal with college-aged students and not go on a killing spree. Tact. Patience. She’s got them both in aces.

And she is eloquent. You should read her entry on our home town. I promise you, no one else could make it sound so good. The Chamber of Commerce should be cutting her a check. She sees the good no one else sees, and she can translate it so the rest of us start to get it.

I am proud that she still thinks I am worthy of her friendship, because it is something worth having.

(1) Lovely Husband has pointed out that this is something only women would do. The last two message he received from his best friend from high school were a birth announcement for his second child (typed by his wife, I think) and an evil, gloating missive on the occasion of George Bush’s reelection. To say nothing of the porn.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sensitive but Tough

I saw a short bit in Der Spiegel about research by an American doctor (plastic surgeon) that proves women have more nerve endings per square inch of skin than men, therefore, we are more sensitive to pain. This will confirm my husband’s perception of me, since I really love to milk a minor injury for sympathy. Of course, he has never given birth to a 9-pound baby without drugs, so I think that should automatically give me a pass for...oh...FOREVER.

Catchin' Up is Hard to Do

I love it when I am almost out of stationery supplies, because that means fresh supplies are right around the corner. I started this post (*cough* several days ago *cough*) on the last few blank and partially blank pages of my spiral, and with the last smidge of ink in my pen, but by the end I’m sure it’ll be new paper and ink for me. Hoorah!

The last parent meeting for D.D.’s class was held at a local restaurant, back in the bar. The teacher opted for the more informal, comfortable setting (compared to the tiny desks in their classroom) since we were only discussing the logistics of their class xmas party. We started at 8 (so late!), and after an hour, another group filed into the adjoining room. It turned out to be a birthing class. A birthing class meeting at 9 pm on a Monday in a bar. Why wasn’t this an option when I was pregnant?!

D.D. and I have spotted Kujo the dog several times recently, and it is never a confidence-inspiring event. Twice we’ve passed him and his owner on their walk, and both times the owner only put the leash on him while we walking past them. It also was a bit unnerving that he turned his head to watch us go by, and also that his owner reminded him about 50 times to stay sitting. One of the times we saw them, D.D. had been scooping up snow as we walked and had a big ball of it in her left hand. I told her not to even pretend she was going to throw is while we were in view of him, because I did not doubt he’d interpret it as an attack on himself or his owner. Most recently, we saw the daring duo tooling by in their convertible (top up, this time). When we got to their house, Kujo was in the yard, snarling and snapping as usual. His owner was in the garage, and she yelled something at him that sounded like “Ray-bo.” D.D. thought it was short for “Ra-bies,” but the word for that in German is “Tollwut.” Good guess, though, kid.

There’s a business near my optician that I figure is some kind of nightclub, because its hours are listed on the door as “until 3 am.” But what I really like about the place is its name—The Loo. I wonder if they know what that means... Wouldn’t it be fun to go in there, all, “I’m in the loo! I’d go *to* the loo, but I’m already there!” You could keep it up all night until they ban you! Good times.

Sometimes I wonder what in the hell I’m doing back in school. (L.H. does not like to hear that since I bitched and moaned for ages about going back.) There are lots of days when the thought flits through my mind, how nice it would be to just stay on the bus when it gets to my stop. –

Enough pointless wallowing! I started it on Friday, I talked L.H. into joining my pity party on Saturday, and by Sunday we had it out of our systems.

I got to thinking in the shower (I do all my best thinking in the shower (1)) about my recent bout of angst and dissatisfaction and generally depression/bitchiness/moodiness/unpleasantness, and I realized that if my studies were childbirth, I’d be in transition. I had toughed it out until that point, but then I was all, “Just give me some medication and let me go to sleep, but wake me up when you’ve pulled my baby from my inert body, thanks.” That’s the point when the nurses say, “Too late!” Same thing with my studies. I’ve been through 3 hellacious semesters of Latin plus the exam; I took remedial German and have managed to make As and Bs in all my classes since. But when I start to think of my exams coming up next semester, I start to feel all panicky and overwhelmed. I’d like to hope I’ll end up with a bouncing baby ‘A’, but even with perfect pre-testing habits (which I don’t have), you just never know, right?

(1) My favorite boss ever once told me that a womb-like environment is very conducive to creative thinking.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Family McFoulmouth

I can tell when I’m supressing large-ish frustrations, because smallish ones—like paper falling out of the recycling bag when I’m trying to add some more to it—induce me to screech such obscenities as “son of a f*ckin’ bitch!” Normally, that one is reserved for smashing my hand in a door, or getting rear-ended, or some such, requiring that level of foulmouthery.

Not that I’m the only foul-mouthed bass (1) in this family. L.H. officially gave D.D. the green light to say “crap” at will. Neither of us really find it offensive, although I did catch myself saying to her, “It sounds terrible for you to say that” (an old favorite of my mom’s, although it never worked). The horror of turning into my mom! Of course, when D.D. says it “cwap”, we’re taken back to her toddlerhood, and she gets a cuddle. Me-mo-ries!

(1) Five points if you get the reference without looking at the link.

Right now D.D. is spotting a big bruise and scrape on her forehead where she was accidentally whacked with a stilt at school. She calls it her dent.

I just spotted a girl (speaking Russian, I think) wearing a high-heeled version of the pink Yeti boots mentioned here previously. My faith in the general goodness of mankind is gone. The existence of these boots is obviously part and parcel with the evil being perpetrated on our fellow human beings.

In one particularly touristy side street in town, every shop has an xmas tree outside its door. Most are tastefully decorated—white lights, red bows—but one is wonderfully tacky, with *blue* tinsel. I didn’t even know it came in colors. Around the corner, a couple more shops had trees drunkenly leaning against light poles, but no bases or decorations. I’m trying to decide if the city provides the trees (in keeping with the regulations on the upkeep of historical/touristy buildings), or if maybe there’s a business association agreement for them. See? This is how I use my brain most days, speculating on the downtown xmas tree delivery system, instead of something useful, like solving the world hunger problem.

Apparently the juice bar near the English department changed its mind about the advisability of an all-red decor—maybe it was attracting the wrong kind of clientele *wink*--because it has gone to a delightfully awful marigold and pine-green interior. In stripes. They seriously need to fire their interior decorator.

And what is with the yellow-green thing lately? D.D.’s school was repainted around the first of the school year, and the walls are egg-yolk yellow, and the doors and trim are kelly green. It’s like walking around in an Easter basket there.

L.H. and I sometimes daydream about having our own home (which will probably never happen, since we don’t stay any one place long enough, but I’m not too sad at this point). I have specifically requested that we paint it some shade of purple (2)—violet, lilac, mauve; I’m not picky. He insists it will be a Viking long-house. So a purple long-house it is.

(2) My most favorite cottage-style house in Austin’s Hyde Park was *3* shades of purple, and it was a thing of beauty. I’ve been watching a less purple (only one shade), and uglier, house from the bus, and the comparison makes me want to weep.

L.H. is the master of timing. I was rushing to put on my boots so I wouldn’t be late for the bus, and he asks, “So what do you want for xmas?”—“Uh, could we talk about this later, Honey? I kind of have class...” At least this time wasn’t so, um, gross as the last time, when I tried to kiss him and he belched. L.H. the barbarian. I’m wondering about the barn-like environment of his upbringing.

Another near-celebrity sighting:
On the bus this morning, I sat facing young Kurt Cobain, who was wearing smart-glasses and looked clean and not strung out. He really could be a double for KC.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Out and About with Nee

There are laws of nature—like gravity—that normal people (i.e., non-pilots, non-astronauts, etc.) just can’t win against. Similar to this is the First Law of Nee: if I have more time, I will waste more time. The one day I *wasn’t* actively wishing for my teacher to be out sick, he was. So instead of getting caught up on the reading for that class, I wandered to the other end of the Old Town to find a special pastry for D.D. from St. Nikolaus (he’ll be putting goodies in her boots tonight!). (1) Yes, it was something I was planning to do after class anyway, but the time I saved then will probably get wasted on something else frivolous, like *cough* surfing the Web. Time management is not my forte.

(1) from Wikipedia: “Saint Nicholas is revered by many as the patron saint of seamen, merchants, archers, children, prostitutes...” [emphasis mine] Quite a collection, eh?

I’ve been enjoying the wide variety of xmas window displays, which have been out for quite a while now. There’s your standard green tree covered with colored balls and lights and surrounded by flocking. Then there’s your wire tree, each branch tipped with a large rhinestone, and the black and white ball ornaments (2) piled into a glass urn standing next to the tree. Finally, there’s your green tree covered in 80’s fluorescent-colored ornaments—some glass balls, some blown-glass birds with matching tail-feathers, and some feathers arranged into tiny angel wings or xmas trees. I kind of like that one. I do not like the reindeer standing under it that is covered in tiny, square, mirrored tiles. My eyes!

(2) The patterns on them remind me of those mind-stimulating baby toys.

Speaking of feathers, last year around xmas I noticed white, feathery angel wings in different sizes as part of a display at a jeweler’s. It was really pretty, and I found myself eagerly looking forward to window-gazing whenever I had to walk down that street. It reminded me of my earlier, inexplicable lusting after a cotton, tomato-print dress at The Cadeau in Austin, many, many years ago. Anyhow, after about a week, I realized that a *lot* of shops were using the same angel-wing motif, including an optician, so the attraction was gone. But I saw recently that a different jeweler was using an understated version of that same display, and it made me think about my former angel-wing love. Oh, the memories.

Then I saw the full-sized, headless mannequins sporting white, feathery angel wings in the window of the big department store in town. Why?!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Return from the Grave

On Thanksgiving Day, we had school and work as usual (1), so we put off our big dinner until that Saturday. L.H. was in charge of cleaning up, with D.D.’s help. I managed to roast a turkey, bake a pumpkin pie and two loaves of bread, and otherwise whip up my grandmother’s stuffing, green bean casserole, steamed cauliflower and broccoli with cheese sauce, cranberry sauce, and fruit salad. L.H. cooked some mean carrots. But consider that here in Germany, there are no such things as frozen pie crusts (and no such thing as pie, for that matter), canned pumpkin, condensed cream of mushroom soup, Velveeta, cornbread mix, biscuits in a can, pecans, or cranberry sauce. All of those things had to be substituted or *made from scratch.* So our dinner turned out to be a lot more labor-intensive than your typical modern American Thanksgiving.

(1) L.H.’s dad was surprised to hear that we didn’t get the day off, but maybe he was pulling our leg. Or maybe not.

We invited a family from down the street to eat with us—mom, dad, grandma, and two girls about D.D.’s age. They seemed to be enjoying everything and having a good time, except for the youngest, who didn’t like anything, including the bread, and just wanted to lie with her head in her grandma’s lap. It became apparent why her nose was out of joint when she stood up and projectile vomited. She managed to only hit the end of the tablecloth, but she was covered, the floor was covered, and the grandma wasn’t looking too good, either. Fortunately, she’s of a size with D.D. (the little girl, not the grandma), so I dug up a change of clothes while her mom stripped her. Then the mom and grandma took her home. The dad was fully expecting the mom to come back once she’d gotten their daughter settled in bed or in front of the tv, but we finally had dessert without her around 9.

The parents were pretty embarrassed, but it was no big deal. Kids get sick; it happens. D.D. went through a phase at age 4 where she barfed almost every day in the car on our morning commute from Elgin to Austin while we were staying with L.H.’s brother after moving back from Sweden. Barf is the bane of the parent, because we’re automatically the ones in charge of calming *and* cleaning. Blech.

My Lovely Husband got his xmas bonus (which the government is planning to phase out after this year—boo!), so I was able to finish up most of the holiday shopping I had planned to do on this side of the pond for family on the other side. It actually went pretty well. I picked up a couple of things at the xmas market—

I must interrupt myself here to say that the xmas market is what makes early winter here bearable for me. From almost any spot in the Old Town, you can detect the heavenly scents of candied nuts, grilled pork steak and onions, and mulled wine. *swoon*

--went into a shop or two, got a coffee, but then I ran into my first obstacle: a jewelry store. Now don’t get excited, no one’s getting *real* jewelry; it’s not that big of a bonus. But I had seen this shop with cute stuff in the window, arranged in sets, that I thought would be appropriate for my almost-12-year-old niece. I walked in and was blinded by the bling. The walls were covered in a solid layer of necklaces hanging above shelves of rings. This place made Claire’s look minimalist. I went around two or three times before spotting a cute bracelet. At that point, I was about to lose my mind, even with a hot cup of coffee right there in my hand. So I showed the bracelet to the clerk: “Do you have a necklace to match?” The display of sets in the window was a LIE. She led me over to the opposite side of the shop, I found what I wanted, paid, and fled the shop like bling-covered devils were on my heels.

The rest of my shopping is an overheated blur. Must a department store be heated to 85F when all its customers are bundled up against the 38F outside? I’m just saying. Although hot and sweaty under my 2 shirts, sweater, and wool coat, and overlooking one or two minor frustrations, I managed to finish up and get out of there without going on a murderous rampage, so that was good. Of course, then I had to crowd onto a bus with 20 lb. of packages, but I was ALIVE. That’s all that matters.

Once I got home, it was time to wrap. That is not necessarily as easy as it sounds. There is so much static in our house, due to the cold weather and our fuzzy furniture/rug, that the tape and the paper were attracting every bit of fuzz and hair in the vicinity. Have you remembered that our family consists of 3 long-haired persons, 1 long-haired projectile-shedding cat, and 1 short-haired cat who sheds if you look at her? So if your xmas package has a side order of hair... Just fair warning.

This time of year, there is a lot of fur around (in the form of hats and boots and coats), more than I could comment scathingly on in a month, but my current fur ire is directed at a furrier in town. I am not against fur per se, but if I were a fur-bearing animal—scratch that; if I were an animal whose fur was *coveted*, I would be highly insulted by the uses to which this furrier has put the fur of other animals. Weirdly dyed fur fringe; strangely shaped *felt* garments bedecked with bits of fur; hats made of the rotting upholstery from a 1976 Ford Pinto and trimmed in fur. Horrific. And one shoe shop has finally made it to the inevitable, terrible outer-limit of ugly footwear: boots covered in fuzzy pink house-shoe fabric. They call it the “Yeti-look.”

[While searching their site, I found this. I could totally buy this; it kind of redeems the above-mentioned horror, but not really.]

I am realizing that I could use this blog to track my mood swings over time. When I’m up, you all get to slog through extremely long posts, or 5 posts in one day. When I’m down, I might go a week without posting. And it’s not that I’m too busy to post; if I feel I have something witty to force on you all (bwa ha ha!), I will do it, busy or not. But sometimes I barely have the energy to snipe at my lovely husband, much lest post a snippet of blah. I wonder what kind of wave it would look like, smooth or jagged.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Checking In

So I’ve hit the bottom end (at least, I hope it’s the bottom) of one of my monthly mood swings. Basically, I just want to lie in bed with a stack of books and a coffee IV. And maybe our video of Lord of the Rings on a loop. But instead, I am sitting erect, drinking coffee in single-cup servings, and overseeing the completion of D.D.’s homework. At least she’s doing it cheerfully enough, unlike the crying and carrying on last night. But then again, she had a ton of homework on top of a very long day, so that is kind of understandable.

Part of my bad mood on this particular afternoon has to do with an earworm that not even B-O-M-B-Y was able to dispel: Wham’s “Last Christmas.” It’s surprisingly tenacious. I walked past some electricians who were working in an open garage, and not only was Wham blasting from their radio, but one of them was singing along. Now it is indelibly marked on my BRAIN.

I know I’m biased, but I think D.D. is one of the better dancers in her ballet class. Of course, a bunch of kids just got moved up, so just being a year older already puts her at an advantage, but she’s pretty graceful, even with L.H.’s clumsy genes and my spazztic genes (that’s really saying something). Today her teacher approached me about moving her into another class. She didn’t say specifically, but I think it’s the next class up. I suspect that a few of her pre-recital classmates have already made the transition, so hopefully there will be a few familiar faces. The new time is much better for us; I will only have to drive one way in the dark.

The software for our Internet provider decided to not play nice with Explorer this evening, so I spent a good half hour screwing around with this and that, including reinstalling a couple of things, but I finally beat it into submission. Of course, this happened at the exact time L.H. was trying to get ready for a meeting, and he couldn’t get to the info he needed to take to the meeting. I will leave the computer on so he will see that his semi-tech-savvy wife (here’s where I buff my nails on my sweater) managed to save the day (this time).

Friday, November 25, 2005


We ended up with about 2-3 inches of snow. I'm glad we don't need to drive today. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Look! Our first snow of the year (on Thanksgiving). Please kill me now. Posted by Picasa

D.D. agrees that the candy hut is the best part of the Christmas Market.  Posted by Picasa

Calgon, take me away! [D.D. wanted to buy *a package of balloons* with her tooth fairy money. sigh] Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Kids, Teeth, Fur, and Fun

I think it was my Lovely MIL who told me that age 8 can be kind of a dry run for puberty, with all the attendant mood swings. And now I know she was right. You just don’t appreciate how good your kid normally is until she turns into a smart-mouthed, angry, crying monster. Monday is a *really* long day for D.D.—school starts at 7:45 am, then after-school care until 3, hop in the car with Dad to go to Swedish School across town, and get home around 6:30 pm. When she got home Monday night, she had an armful of stuff. I heard her whining all the way up the stairs, then she dumped everything in the middle of the floor and kicked her gym bag across the room. It made me think of the home video show we saw recently, where a little girl threw down her bike and started kicking the tires and screaming. She was probably 8, too.

I can’t be the only person who has suddenly noticed the feel of her teeth against the inside of her lips, or the way her tongue sits in her mouth, or how it feels to breathe in and out. Except then you can’t un-feel it, and then I’m not even sure what the “natural” position of my tongue is, and I feel like it’s getting bigger or lying wrong somehow, or I don’t know how I normally breathe, and maybe I start to feel like I’m hyperventilating since I’m paying too much attention to my breathing. So I have this totally normal reaction (every once in a while), and my husband thinks I’m developing body dysmorphia.

[Edited to add: I think he means some kind of Verfremdungseffekt. Besides, the weird spaghetti squash shape of my head went away as soon as I got used to my new contacts. It was the contacts' fault!]

Oh. My. God. A woman on the bus skinned the Shaggy Dog to make a coat!

In other news, the Christmas Market opens today. I will start toting my camera with me into town for a Christmas photo-blogging extravaganza!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

All Self-Reference, All the Time

Darling Daughter lost her tooth. I can’t believe it came out so quickly. She lost it in the middle of class, so she was able to squeeze a little fame from the experience. The tooth fairy had a business dinner and wasn’t able to get change, so she ended up getting 2 Euros (there’s a 2-Euro coin) instead of the usual 1. German kids get gifts for their teeth, but we’ve found that cash turns out to be cheaper.

D.D. has come up with a tooth fairy theory: the t.f. used to be famous [D.D. didn’t say what for], and she travelled to a lot of different countries being famous, and that’s how she collected so much money from different places so she could give out dough for teeth all over the world. This is what goes through my daughter’s head while she’s getting dressed.

On the way to school, we spotted this enormous black bird in the top of a pine tree that towered over a four-story house. We were trying to estimate how big it was (bigger than our embarrassingly big cats, I would say); D.D. thought it looked a lot like a penguin. That would be pretty big.

In the window of the wedding shop, someone had added a white fur cape to the mermaid dress. Handmade paper dress—you are dead to me now.

Remember my photo of the giant teddy bear? The same company has made an even larger stuffed animal; I spotted it in a department store window recently. Because nothing says “cuddly toy” quite like an enormous stuffed buffalo.

I had to ride a particularly crowded bus one day, and I found myself crammed into a spot where I could not but help staring at the atrocious footwear on the teenaged girl across from me. You know how I feel about the new boots. What this girl was wearing was even worse. She looked like she had gone for a stroll in her best moccasin-boots and stepped into a dead woodchuck. What the hell? she thought, and pulled the woodchuck up around her ankle. Then she had to go find another dead woodchuck so her moccasins would match.

Today we are going to go see the new Harry Potter film. We couldn’t find any showings of the original, so we’re going to watch it in German. We first saw #3 in German, so I guess we won’t be permanently scarred. Interestingly enough, Star Wars #3 didn’t seem so stilted dialog-wise in German, what little we could hear over the tremendously loud special effects.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

freestyle

Ok, so not much has been happening with me lately. Winter finally reared its ugly head; we're supposed to get a freeze this weekend. I wonder if my footy pajamas will fit under my street clothes? I had to put away my "kindergarten coat" (L.H.'s description of my bright blue coat) and get out the wool one I bought last year.

I've started chipping away at my xmas shopping; I've even put a thing or two in the mail. I may even have beat my middle sister at early shopping--the first gift I bought was in early September.

School is blah. The weather is blah. I am blah. Blah blah blah. See Spot blah.

There are notes in my Palm, but I am too blah to snark. Woe is me!

My plants have lost most of their flowers, so I have even lost the comfort of pretending to be a gardener. I may take a whack at the giant plant in the stairwell, because one of the leaves always catches in my hair when I walk upstairs. That is no fun.

Actual news: I got contacts. I don't think I've had any since D.D. was an infant, but since I had worn them for most of the 15 years prior to that, it was like getting back on a bicycle. My astigmatism is so bad, though, that it may take a little while before I can see consistenly well with them. The optician said they are the exact right strength now (on the second try), and that I'll get used to them. Today is just day 2, so I'll report back on that.

There is no other news. Blah.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


I am Bookworm! See me read! And if you don't like it, I'll smite you with my plastic Asterix sword! Posted by Picasa

The pink Thanksgiving cactus has decided to open a couple of blooms. I had to pick off about a dozen-and-a-half white blooms from the other plant, but it's still chugging along with new flowers. No more flower photos, I promise. Posted by Picasa

Scared!

This week marks the start of Darling Daughter walking home alone. She asked to, and since the other kids in her class have been doing it since first grade, we thought it was time to loosen the apron strings. (Of course, most of the other kids in her class don’t live this far away, and the ones who live one bus stop further get a free bus pass.)

Tuesday, it went fine; I met her halfway. Wednesday, she walked to her friend’s house after school and called me when she got there. Today she wanted to walk home alone.

I left home at 3:10 to walk toward her the “down” way; this is the main street in our village, and the route she herself chose to take when we agreed to let her walk on her own. I thought I would meet her and carry her backpack for her. (I swear—her books are made of cement.)

I walked all the way down to her school—no D.D.

I walked into the school—no D.D. or anyone else.

I practically ran home the “up” way (there are 2 streets that run parallel; one is the main street in our village). No D.D. by the front door, and now it’s 3:35. I run up to our fourth-floor apartment and check the phone messages: she’s at the house of a classmate, about a block down the street. She had gotten home, found no one there, and walked over, which is the arrangement her father and I have with her: if we’re not there to pick you up, go to that neighbor.

It turns out that she had forgotten that she was supposed to go the down way, so she took the faster up way. Her brain was too full of homework, etc., you see.

I fetched her from the neighbor, but now I need to lie down and maybe have several drinks.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Stuff I Noticed Today

The village we live in is in a series of intersecting valleys. When we get fog—like this morning—it really settles in to fill them up. In the ten minutes since I dropped D.D. off at the door to her classroom, it has been creeping uphill and is now at the level of her school (a 15-minute walk up from the level of the river). But while we were walking to school, we had a good view of one fog-shrouded valley below us. It looked like a cloud had fallen out of the sky, as D.D. was quick to point out. Then she expanded on her theory. Maybe God dropped his blanket. Also, God is a super star (you know, like a musician), so he sleeps in a different hotel every night, and last night he must have been sleeping over our village. Maybe he had a nightmare, about the devil melting him or something, and he kicked off his blanket then. Then I pointed out that maybe God is really enormous, and maybe the “fog” was really just one of his socks.

Are Americans actually loud? Like can’t-help-ourselves loud? A girl on the bus, 4 rows behind me, was perfectly audible as she explained feudalism, Marxism, etc. to her seat-mate, but I couldn’t make out more than a phrase or 2 of the conversation between the guys on the seat facing me. Maybe it’s her idiosyncracy, because I just noticed her seat-mate leaning away from her as she spoke.

Hey! Chatty McLoudmouth! Pipe down back there!

Nope. Her seat-mate is finally able to get a word in edge-wise, and she’s almost as loud as C McL.

Am *I* loud? I make an effort to speak loudly-ish and clearly in class (in German), so I can be heard over all the private conversations, but am I automatically turned up to 20 when I speak English? Now I’m haunted by the thought.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Cleaning Out the Palm


A couple of days after LMIL and Step-Dad left, we hopped in the car to visit with L.H.’s step-grandmother-ish person (no rings, if you know what I mean *wink*) in Southern Germany. That was when we finally experienced the famous German “Stau” (freeway traffic jam). We probably spent 1-1/2 hours stuck on the Autobahn. At one point, the road was narrowing from 3 lanes to 2, and 100 yards from the point where one lane disappeared, someone towing a speedboat had broken down. Yes, that meant there was suddenly *1* lane instead of 3. Aye carumba!

I had woken up that morning with a pinched nerve in my neck, and I think the combination of Alleve and being stuck in the car while not being able to turn my neck to the right made me a bit... um... out of it. I had my Palm out, and D.D. commented from the back seat that it would be cool if my Palm included a cell phone. Suddenly, a whole new world of Palm accessories appeared before my eyes: Palm plus sandwich maker! Palm plus dental hygienist! No one wanted to riff with me, though, so I had to stop.

L.H.’s step-grandmother is really hard to get close to. She has a very strong, very controlling personality, and *I’M* the only one who controls my family. She’s also very generous, but sometimes it’s hard to appreciate the steady stream of gay sweaters (L.H.) and granny blouses (Nee) and too-large velour jackets (D.D.) she’s acquired as a side-effect of her shopping addiction. Sometimes her two main characteristics collide: she gave L.H.’s grandfather money (in Euros) for his birthday to encourage him to spend it on us (our hotel room and entrance fees) when we went to visit her (he didn’t come).

At one point in our visit, I made the following terse note in my Palm: “cyanide tooth!” Another classic: “not really radiating waves of hate, more like stink-lines of annoyance.” So that was the family side of that trip.

The touristy stuff was especially hilarious. At the Hohensalzburg Fortress, we saw that the Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach’s coat of arms included a *turnip*. That’s a noble vegetable if I ever heard of one.

Then there was the row of tourist-target shops at the K√∂nigssee. My favorite sign was for “Dr. Sacher’s Gopher Balsam”. I am not making this up! I wish I had copied down its benefits; they were extensive. Look! I found a photo! Here’s what the eBay ad says about its contents and use:
“This Gopher Balsam contains
Gopher oil [shudder]
Mountain pine oil
Camphor
Menthol
in a clinically tested cream foundation. This old, tried-and-true household remedy is good for you, aids blood circulation, and soothes sensitive skin.” I guess I'll just have to lurk around eBay until another jar turns up.

I Think I Barfed a Little in My Mouth

The girl sitting across from me in class today made me slightly ill with her poorly chosen shirt. Picture it: a black, lycra, long-sleeved top. Now add the bottom half of a black sweater, including the bottoms of the sleeves and the collar. Now add a strip of black leather just under the breasts, separating the sweater from the lycra, and along the front edge of the collar. Add silver eyelets along the leather. Now cinch up the neck and torso with a couple of silver strings. Voila! Instant illness!

Extra-Trip-Ular Activities

When Lovely MIL and Step-Dad arrived here this past summer, he was fascinated by *everything*: the flora and fauna, the houses, even the electrical lines (he used to work for the phone company). We got a barrage of questions:

Where’s the tank on the toilet?
*shrug*

Is that leaf lettuce [growing in the field along the Autobahn]?
*shrug, a little self-consciously*

After that, he was more likely to just ask himself—“I wonder...?”—because he’d obviously figured out that we are complete dummies about stuff like where food comes from and how things work.


During the trip we all made to Rothenburg, Darling Daughter wanted to play Hangman. She cheated a little against Gwamma, using the name of our village (Ziegelhausen) as her first word. Her next clue was “Dirty Frenchman.” (I still have the pages.) Turns out she was making a reference to the Disney film Atlantis, not harboring anti-French sentiment.

***

D.D. hasn’t lost a tooth in over a year (since the first grade), so she was pretty stoked to discover a loose canine last night. She was certain it was going to fall out, like, *today*, so I had to remind her that her other teeth took weeks to get loose enough to come out. She may find her tooth-loot in her xmas stocking.

She has recently learned how to blow (gum) bubbles; I heard “psss...pop!” over and over and over this weekend until she ran out of gum.

On the way to school this morning, she was planning out with whom (1) she would share her fabulous news about the loose tooth and the fact that she slept in her Barbie tent last night. I folded up our puffiest comforter under her sleeping bag, and she says she slept great, roughin’ it in the dining room.
(1) All the girls and none of the boys.

She’s growing up so fast. The top of her head reaches my shoulder now. I keep threatening to put a brick on her head to make her stop growing, to which she replies with a very teenager-y “Mo-om!” She told me that I can still call her Noodle Doodle, Punkin’ Pie, etc., but not in front of her friends. Fair enough!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Catch-Up

D.D. had a week-and-a-half-long school vacation, so my brain decided to go on vacation, too. Not good. This morning I whipped myself into list-making mode, but I haven’t decided yet if it is going to inspire in me an indomitable will to succeed, or just panic at the sheer size of it. Maybe both.

In the spirit of finishing the unfinished, I have added “type up the various blog notes floating around in my Palm” and “finish one short story.” Consider yourself forewarned that posts of travels past will be appearing here shortly.

From the bus, I spotted the window of a new-to-me hair salon—“ad.hoc: for cowboys and poodles”. Is it a barber-slash-dog groomer? Does “poodles” refer to women? Who can say?

The wedding shop currently has a strapless mermaid dress in the window. The “fins” are made of tulle; I’m kind of “meh” about that. The bodice appears to be sewn from hand-made paper. I kind of like it, being the office-supply junkie I am.

There’s a female Menudo-esque group here called the Lollipops. They have just graduated one elderly duo who look about 18, and have initiated a fresh pair of 10-year-olds. Six months ago, the older pair were sporting braids and braces and producing up-beat music videos with peppy, heavily choreographed dancing that included lots of hopping. Now they are tottering about in heels and mini-skirts, wearing satiny tank tops that show lots of cleavage, and swaying seductively instead of actual dancing. (One of them still has braces, though.) Also part of their new look, *murdering* "Stop! In the Name of Love". I mean, this “musical group” (I use the term very loosely)—now named Cats and Boots—makes Bad Candy look like the second coming of the Beatles.

I don’t understand this foisting of terrible music onto the impressionable minds of children. There has to be someone in the world who can carry a tune and would be willing to sing about child-centric topics. There’s plenty of time for kids to develop a taste for Staind et al.

My bloodwork came back, and my blood-iron levels are ok, if a little lower than last time (127, down from 140); the ferritin levels are still low-ish (39.5 where the range of normal is 15 to 150), so I’ll continue to take iron until the 100-pack runs out. My cholesterol, though, was a nice, low 179, so no sudden heart attacks/strokes for me in the near future (hopefully). Considering my grandmother’s family’s medical history (massive heart attack is a popular way to go, probably fueled by chronically high cholesterol and heavy smoking), I was glad to hear the good results.

Now it's L.H.'s turn. The precious plumbagos have been repotted and brought indoors, and they LOVE it there. The smaller, outdoor plumbagos don't look nearly so happy; they are completely flower-less. (Real, photo-free content on the way soon.) Posted by Picasa

My beloved pumpkin planter wearing its new hair of chilis. The florist warned me repeatedly that although edible, they are HOT. L.H. can verify that; he says they're about twice as hot as jalapenos. Plus my collection of snail (escargot) shells. Posted by Picasa

Day 4. Lookin' good! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Here is Jooge's (aka SIL) addition to the Hall of Crazy-Ass Taxidermy. I think it's missing a tambourine player. And maybe a saxophonist. What say you? Posted by Picasa

Day 3. There are a good dozen open flowers now, and still more buds to go. Posted by Picasa

D.D. is getting in on the plant action. Her little plant is twining itself around the bigger one (those brown vine-looking things are the scary air roots I once mentioned). It has looped itself *4 times* around the upper-most stem in the photo. She grew this from a bean at school ("Fire Beans" in German). Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


We spotted this in a junk-shop window in Rothenburg. I don't know what it is, but I think I need it. Posted by Picasa

Blah to the Blah-th Degree

Golden October held out through the 31st, and Dreary November jumped in to take its place on the first, just like clockwork. German weather is just as punctual as German people.

I overdid it carrying the groceries (I lugged 6 or 7 canvas bags—some hanging from my shoulders, some carried by the handles—in one go from the car to our third-floor apartment), so now I have a pinched nerve or strained muscles or something in my right shoulder up into my neck. I look like I’m doing a wicked impersonation of Frankenstein’s monster. Then when I went to give away some of my blood this morning to have my iron-levels checked, the phlebotomist (the good one) noticed the spot where I burned my arm last week on a cookie sheet coming out of the oven. It’s already kind of scabby, so it should be all pink and puckery in a few more days once the crust rubs off. I just need a big, gashing wound on my face now to top off the whole look.

With the neck and the blah weather, I haven’t really been able to make myself do anything productive, so then there’s the self-guilt thing...blah, blah, blah, boring-cakes.

But I am finally getting to the eye doctor this afternoon, so maybe I will have new contacts soon. These glasses have been a disaster from the beginning. I tried to save a little money by going to Pearle Vision (I think) instead of buying them from my optometrist, but with such a wonky prescription, I should have just stuck with the more expensive but better glasses at his office. Since I have a pretty bad astigmatism, I need some kind of special coating on the lenses, which is now peeling off the right lens. I have noticed that I see well up close only with my right eye and from afar only with the left, so I’m thinking my prescription might need some tweaking.

What else? Oh, yeah...what is up with furry boots this year? Even when it was still warm, say in early October, I saw a woman wearing a sundress and boots with fur trim and two little dangly, furry balls. Now they are in all the shops, and everyone is wearing them. Ick. And then I saw a purse that is cylindrical and covered in fur. Fur that appears to have been taken from a vomit-covered ocelot. Yes, it appears that I am still violently opposed to fur (even fake fur) as an accessory.

Plant Blogging: It�s Not Just for Horticulturists Anymore

So here is the photographic evidence of Day 2 of the Cactus blooming. Still the same 10 flowers, but fully open and up close and personal. I don�t recall my Texan cacti ever looking like this. Of course, they are some kind of tropical plant, not a true cactus, but whatever.
 Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


More photo blogging, because I am too blah and nothing-doing for real content. This is my poinsettia, which I believe is the same age as the Thanksgiving Cactus--about 2 years. I don't know if you can tell how tall it is, but I would estimate about 2-1/2 feet tall. I put it in this dim corner and hope it will turn reddish by xmas. So that makes 2 store-bought plants I have managed not to kill. I feel like I'm finally getting my money's worth--except I refuse to pay more than about 2 bucks for a plant, so I am getting more than my money's worth! Posted by Picasa

Day 1 of the Thanksgiving Cactus blooming. I counted 8 flowers in various stages of opening on the front and 2 fully open ones on the back. Those white blobs all over are more buds. I also bought a tiny, fuscia-flowered Cactus at the store yesterday (on the right). Go me! Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 31, 2005


*This* is the view from our study window. Eat your heart out, New England! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 30, 2005


I love Halloween-themed foods! (minus those Peeps my SIL mentioned) These are "french fries", if you can't tell. The pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies didn't last long enough to be photographed. Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Groovy Kind of Fall

It looks like the Italian ice cream-mongers have fled to warmer climes. Where once fantastical concoctions of frozen dairy products graced the tables, now stand racks of leather goods, cheap clothing, and Lebkuchen. But the joke’s on them! It has turned warm-ish, enough so that dandelions are sprouting up again, aphids have swarmed our still-blooming geraniums, and I can walk outdoors in my shirt sleeves. That means we’ve had sunshine and temps in the 60s. On a drizzly but warm day, I overhead an elderly auditor in one of my classes remark that it felt like summer had broken out again. Well, given the kind of summer we had, I guess he’s right.

I saw a couple of ads in the window of a department store for Paris Hilton’s new perfume; I would now like to scrub my brain with bleach and never shop in that store again.

Luckily, I was able to counteract the effects somewhat by discovering the print ad for the men’s deodorant commercial I was banging on about previously. Turns out it’s from Rexona. The photo on their web site shows men commuting via bus-roof, but the print ad shows them commuting by hanging from the open door and landing skids on a helicopter.

I really should stop window-shopping, because I am frequently disturbed by what I see. For example, the bra with the x-straps on each side. The bottom legs of the x are attached on each side of the cup; the middle of the x sits at about the collarbone. God knows what the back looks like with all the straps going hither and thither. It makes me wonder who would want to strap down the tops of their breasts after enclosing the rest in a cute little demi-cup. Must have been designed by a man.

The wedding shop finally came through with a beautiful dress—in an ugly green-yellow crayon color. The dress itself was lovely—strapless but with one decorative (not structural) strap made of small silk flowers; the empress-style bodice had vertical pleating all the way around; and the skirt was straight but not tight (not something someone my height can carry off—sob!). Then they had to go and ruin it with the steno-pad paper color.

I generally make it a rule not to comment on people I know personally, but some people practically put a gun to your head. The grandma of one of D.D.’s classmates came to pick her up from school while I was waiting for D.D. I saw her walking up the stairs with a grumpy frown on her face; combined with the black, fuzzy sweater with red, black-spotted shoulders, I couldn’t help but think she looked like a ladybug with a bad attitude.

I might laugh at drivers getting speeding tickets and old ladies in ladybug clothing, but there is a line even I will not cross. I saw a man who had injured himself tripping over a knee-high chain that he hadn’t seen; it surrounds a small square near the mayor’s offices, so I guess it’s to keep people from trying to park there. Anyhow, at first I thought he was having a heart attack, because he was sitting on the ground in the midst of the pile of stuff he had been carrying and rubbing his ribcage on the left side. But when I offered to help him, he seemed as equally embarrassed as hurt. I could totally see myself doing that—which is one reason why I spend a lot of time scanning the ground and my immediate surroundings when I walk (and also the dog poo)—so there’s no way I would make fun of him. Drat my tender side!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Letting It Down Easy

Dear Computer,

I love you, but I can’t keep seeing you. The hours and hours of mind-numbing entertainment with you were great, but now I’ve got to move on. We’ll still see each other once in a while, but we’ll be more like work-friends who don’t socialize outside the office, and less like real friends that happen to work together but go to each other’s kids’ birthday parties, whose husbands fool around on the guitar and brew beer together, who laugh themselves into asphyxiation watching Waking Ned (Divine) together.

No, it’s strictly a working relationship now: a little email, some word-processing, a bit of Internet research, and the occasional blog post, but that’s it. No more evenings spent surfing the web and other people’s blogs; no more hours of solitaire; no more 26 levels of Homing Hippogriffs.


I hope you understand.

Sincerely,
Nee

Ps. Lovely Husband hasn’t abandoned you. I hope you like Democracy Now webcasts, though.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

More Musical Bitching

The most horrible remake of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” has been playing in an endless loop on Nick. Somehow this girl group from The Netherlands, Bad Candy, has managed to suck all the life out of what started as a really fun, upbeat song, and have turned it into a dull, plodding travesty of pop music. I just hope they don’t get their mitts on “She Bop.”

It hasn’t gotten down to freezing at night yet, so I put my Thanksgiving cactus back outside. I went out to put some laundry in the drier (on the lower balcony), and I noticed that what I had first taken to be the buds that grow into leaves, are actually buds that grow into flowers. I am going to have about 30 blooms on this baby in a couple of weeks, and I will post a picture here to prove to the Internets that I am *not* a plant killer.

I survived the first week back to school, but D.D. starts her first school holiday at the end of next week, which means we’ll start a week-plus of kid juggling. That, I might not survive.

We’ve had rain off and on since Wednesday (it’s “on” full-blast as I type), but have only been sprinkled on while out and about, thank goodness. The first time, D.D. wanted to know why God couldn’t go pee on some other continent. So now it’s a running joke that God is taking a whiz when it rains:
“Ha, ha, Mom! You’ve got God-pee on your glasses!”
“Yeah, well, you’ve got it on your jacket.”
“That means it’s holy.”
We’re a whole family of heetherns.

We’ve decided that it isn’t worth the time and money to light the tile oven this winter. It did not play a very major role in keeping the house warm last year, and it was a pain to try to keep going. So we’re holding on to the last few sticks of firewood for a special occasion.

And to fill out this banal bit of fluff I like to call a blog post, I’ve decided to include something I jotted down as a writing exercise during a break in one of my classes. I call it, “Classmate”.
diffident but annoying; sharp, nervous movements as he shifted from foot to foot, drifting back and forth between the electronics cabinet and the podium, making me want to glue his feet to the floor

Friday, October 21, 2005

Ding, Dong, The Witch is Dead

Tra la la la la la! I just showed my UT transcript (you know, where I already have a degree in German) to my advisor in the Foreign Language department, and I get to skip the class that is taught by the worst teacher I have ever had, including the one in third grade. Even though another faculty member misplaced some very important (for me) paperwork, I am so happy to be shot of the witch that sunshine is shining right out my ass. That’s happy!

I just realized that I graduated from UT 9 years ago. !!9 years ago!! Ohmygod! I mean, married 10 years—no biggie. Child turned 8—twinge, but no tears. Entered the adult world from the womb-like environment of the university 9 years ago—aaaaahhh! (insert scene of running about, screaming incoherently)

Sorry about that. It’s out of my system now.

So... The wedding shop has been a big disappointment to me lately. The dresses on display have been perfectly nice. I didn’t really care for the beige formalwear, but it was more of a “personal preference” thing and less of a “crime against the institution of marriage” thing.

But then my faith in humanity’s ability to fug itself was renewed in the main shopping street: I saw a woman in pants that appeared to have been made of black garbage bags. It’s the new Glad designer-wear (as opposed to their designer-ware)! There was only a thin layer of shiny, black plastic between her and the world. Fortunately, I think she may have already caught on to her mistake, because she was headed into the jeans store.

Here’s a quick request to the family for D.D.’s xmas shopping: books. She’s always complaining that she doesn’t have enough books to read, and she’s basically read everything in her room multiple times (even the new books from Gwamma this summer have been read through twice). They are less bulky than any toy, and you can go crazy in the Half Price Books or on eBay and not feel guilty, and not break the bank on shipping. Thank you for your attention.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

And Bone-Head was her Name-O!

On Wednesday (a week ago), I ended up sitting around outside D.D.’s school because I stupidly forgot that trying to run an errand in the afternoon in our village is an exercise in futility. I had to take D.D. to the doctor the day before for a sore foot (something is irritating or inflaming her Achilles tendon), but the pharmacy didn’t have the meds in stock, but instead of going straight there the next morning when they were supposed to get their delivery, I decided to roll it into my trip out of the house to pick up D.D. from school.. Dumb, dumb, dumb! I will never learn that this particular pharmacy is *completely closed* on Wednesday afternoons. Except now I have a note in my Palm, if I remember to check it.

Then I was walking to the bus stop on Thursday morning, and I looked up to see a beautiful full moon just above the trees. There had been a LOT of fog in the mornings last week and the one before, and the whole scene of moon and fog was beautiful. Until I realized, “Hey, IDIOT—that’s the sun.” So I probably seared my retinas staring at “the moon.”
Fact of Nature: 1
Nee’s Brain: 0

There’s a reason I don’t accompany L.H. out in public. At D.D.’s ballet recital, he described one of the other dads as sporting a “poodle mullet.” He fusses at D.D. for calling cartoon characters “Trottel” (meaning “moron, jackass, idiot, twat, schmuck”—take your pick), yet when it comes to his own name-calling behavior... I, on the other hand, call names with abandon and don’t apologize, which might be one reason I don’t have a lot of friends here. Heh.

D.D.’s poor ballet class got screwed at the recital. Halfway through their dance, the CD skipped to the end. They ended up rushing off the stage in a confused bunch, but managed to run back out in a neat line to take a bow. D.D. said she feels like someone is picking on just *her*: none of the other groups had problems with their music, and in school she thinks the teacher is ignoring her raised hand (usually to choose instead one of D.D.’s mortal enemies in the back of the class). Shit happens, Baby, but not all the time.

It was downright cold this morning (by 11 am it had gotten *up* to 50F), so I made sure D.D. was well-bundled before we walked to school. She complained that she felt puffy in that jacket. Then she made up this whole explanation that she was once a marshmallow in my belly (1), but then she grew into a real baby that I gave birth to, then she was hit by lightening (I think?), and now she’s “Puffaloaf” from the land of “Puffalot”. She confided that it was supposed to sound like the Care Bear land. Ahhhh.

(1) If that were really the requirement for having children, I would have remained barren, because I hate eating marshmallows and all marshmallow-related foodstuffs, such as Peeps and circus peanuts. Ick!

Friday, October 14, 2005

So We’re Not Ozzie and Harriet

This evening L.H. and I realized that we are a special kind of couple. I had accused him recently of “asshattery”, and after I choked on my dinner for the umpteenth time tonight, he started speculating on whether I might be “deformed.” We totally cracked each other up with our cheek. I love that man.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Loose Ends

Darling Daughter is trying to find a balance between fitting in with her peers and not being bored/annoyed by them. The latest school-yard fad is collecting and trading paper. Not any old paper, but stationery decorated with these mouse characters. At first, D.D. was not interested at all, but then she admitted that maybe she would like to try it. I got her a couple of notepads, and she had a heavy day of trading last Friday. But Monday morning when we discussed whether she wanted to take her collection to school, she admitted that she wasn’t really all that into it after all, since it was basically an excuse for a hen party. Picky, picky.

I have started tutoring someone in English on Tuesdays, so I found myself outside my normal route this morning. That means new opportunities for people-watching, and I spotted a doozy: Drunky Hair Guy’s MOTHER. She had to be. She was old enough that she had a permanent stoop and slight palsy (and I heard her making that weird sucking sound that elderly people missing teeth unconsciously make), but her long, straightened hair and lipstick were magenta, and her clothes (except for the D.A.R.E. t-shirt) were all leather, with the jacket sleeves rolled up. When she got off the bus, she slung her bag over her shoulder, put her hand in her pants pocket, and strutted away.

Lovely Husband insisted that we go ahead and crank the heater up, even though we haven’t awoken to any less-than-68F-indoors mornings yet. But please don’t think he did this for his cold-natured wife or clothing-averse child. It was completely for the sake of the batch of mead that is fermenting up against a radiator in our living room. You can see where his loyalties lie.

It turns out my xmas cactus is really a Thanksgiving cactus, at least, that is what this site has led me to believe. Also, I have been taking care of it completely wrong, but it doesn’t seem to care. It put on four blooms recently, and after I brought it in out of the cold last week, almost every single “branch” put on a new leaf at the end. So take that, Schlumbergera Bridgesii fanciers!

In my then muddle-headed state, I left out a contender for favorite commercial. A model is sashaying down the catwalk in her orange C&A cardigan and black slacks, all very tasteful. On one side are your typical fashion-show attendees with their notebooks and their cameras. On the other side are the male version of the bystanders when the Beatles landed on American soil—men shrieking and crying and fainting. Hee!

I thought I was the only person disturbed by the side-effects (no pun intended) of low-rise pants, but thanks to I, Asshole, I now know that the icky side-pooch mashed potato-bag of love handles caused by low-rise pants are called “muffin top.” My life is complete.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me

Knowing that I started this puppy up last October, I checked just now to see exactly when. And it was exactly TODAY, one year ago that I started inflicting my words on the Internet. wipes tear from eye It was a bit like realizing in March that I'd been married 10 years. Whoa! Where has the time gone?

Anyhow, thanks to all my beloved friends and family (all 5 of you) who've stuck through it with me. Here's to another year of navel-gazing and bitching!

Paris Revisited

The specter of the un-blogged Paris trip has been hanging over me ever since we got back, but I have to admit that we were so busy and having such a good time that I didn’t jot down a single note while we were there. Trying to reconstruct the entire trip at this point seems fruitless, but I thought I’d at least hit the highlights. [LMIL—feel free to jog my memory in the comments.]

Lovely MIL’s Travel Guru (TM), Rick Steves, advises going to the Eiffel Tower in the evening because the lines are shorter, but we got an even better treat than a short wait. As we were walking away at 8 pm, flashbulbs started going off all over the Tower. It was an amazing sight that lasted about 5 minutes. Rick Steves never mentioned *that*!

The sewers were overrated. The history of Paris’ water and wastewater systems is fascinating, but it would have been more interesting if 1) the sewers we were walking through were a lot older without so many modern contraptions, and 2) if the museum was not situated *directly above flowing sewage.* The smell was strong enough that we never got used to it during the hour or more we were down there.

We skipped the Louvre for Versailles, which words just can’t do justice to, if you’re into a palace made of mirrors and gold. One fantastic feature that we will never again pass up on at a museum or historical site was the self-guided tour via headphones. It kept D.D. from getting bored out of her skull, and it was easier to learn about the rooms we were passing through than if we had to crowd around signs with hundreds of other visitors. Versailles—2 thumbs up.

LMIL insisted we eat in a real French restaurant at least once, so we got a recommendation at the hotel and settled in for a 2-hour meal. I ordered Steak Tartar. The waitress asked if I knew what I was ordering. Oh, yes. Mmmm...raw meat. If the idea of trichonosis never scared me off raw bacon, what’s a little raw ground beef prepared by a French chef? Everything was wonderful.

All in all, we had a great time. We were able to rein in L.H.’s checklist-tourist tendencies by hopping on a tour bus that lets you get on and off as often as you want for the whole day, so we were able to see lots more places than the first time, although we didn’t get off at as many. LMIL had her off-the-beaten-path tips from ol’ Rick Steves, so we even saw a few things we hadn’t known we’d missed before. I think LMIL is already trying to figure out how to get back to Paris, maybe as a “chick trip” with her sister. You could spend months there, only visiting one place a day, and never run out of places to see.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

D.D. Takes Ballet By Storm

Today was the pre-recital trying-on of the costumes that the ballet teacher spent the whole summer vacation (6 weeks) sewing. She had a couple of ladies helping her who I think are participants in her adult dance classes. Anyhow, they were a new audience for the hyped-up little girls (and one boy). I could hear from the waiting room that someone must have pulled D.D.’s string:
“I’m from America. My whole family is English: my mom, my dad...”

“My grandma sews for money.”
I got a mental image of LMIL standing on the freeway with a cardboard sign. Hee!

***

While LMIL was here visiting, she and D.D. had planned to make smothered steak (or “smothered snakes” in our idiolect). We ran out of time (or maybe energy) before they left, so I was forced to make it on my own. D.D.’s verdict? “Gwamma-licious!”

This 1950s vampire warns, "Don't Block My Driveway." Posted by Picasa

Little Route of Horror

We often see some unusual, potentially frightening things on the way to and from school. For instance, a couple of weeks ago, some contractors were putting some pipes in the yard of a house on our route. Scary! I know! Anyhow, one of them had this fake arm sticking up from under the front end of his truck, and it made me think of that segment from Creepshow 2: “Thanks for the ride, lady!” That movie gave me nightmares for like a year; I think I was 12 or 13 when I saw it, and my dad made sure to jump out and yell “Thanks for the ride, lady!” as often as possible. Needless to say, I didn’t mention that association to D.D.

Then there’s the charming dog we like to call “Cujo.” He looks like a white Husky, but I don’t know dogs. We only see him about once every 2 or 3 months, but when he’s out in his yard, snarling and trying to eat us through the fence, D.D. and I usually jump out of our skin. D.D. is usually an Animal Friend(TM), but on the rare occasion when I wonder why we haven’t seen Cujo in a while, she hopes he died.

Finally, there’s this fantastic “Do Not Block Driveway” sign (see prior post; stupid Blogger seems to think I've used up all my photo space). It just seems to sum up the whole surreal experience of Walking To School.

D.D.-isms

On the way home from school this afternoon, D.D. noticed that a street sign at the end of our block was lying across the top of a utility box instead of its usual place on the pole. She blamed some nameless, reckless teenagers: “Stupid teenagers are very crafty.” I can’t wait to see what she says about them when she is one.

When we got to the front door, she was telling me, “Last night, when I was terrorizing the squeaker [out of the Taboo Junior game], I was trying to get my Wut [anger] out.” She then went on to describe how she smashed it against the door to her room, stepped on its head, and even bit it a little. Between the crying and the carrying on, she managed to give herself a pretty bad headache. All this because we fussed at her for changing the tv channel without asking first. It’s a bad habit she has, and this time L.H. was taping something.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Now is the Time on Blogger When We Writhe in Self-Embarrassment

I have this handy way of learning something so that I NEVER, EVER forget it. It is called mortification. For instance, my high school boyfriend corrected me that it is “PRE-rogative.” (Stupid Bobby Brown.) We were both being asses about it, but that crow, it was bitter to eat, let me tell you.

As I spend more time on the Internet, I find that I mortify myself more and more frequently. That is only natural in a medium where words are all you have to present yourself. When I am not careful how I phrase something, or I try to be cute or flip, it invariably comes back to bite me in the ass. In the most recent case (in the comments of a blog I follow), I tried to go back and briefly but politely restate what I said, but I know it probably came off as being defensive. So now I have basically messed it up for myself to “hang around with the cool kids,” so to speak.

Fortunately, I have this little blog in which to do my penance. Consider this my dose of self-mortification.

Not Clear on the Concept

Lovely Husband was in a self-affirming mood yesterday. “I have lots of hobbies: I play guitar; I brew mead; I carve wood...”

“You’re a Viking,” Darling Daughter helpfully supplied.

We had to explain that being a Viking is more a way of life than a hobby.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Reason #2 for Grumpiness

Reason #1 is the past week of rain. #2 is the fact that I am 32 years old, and this is my hair:



Thanks, Dad.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Damn

I hate having my illusions shattered. Here I’ve been going along, thinking that my German’s improving, and suddenly I’m confronted with writing a paper. It wasn’t even a difficult topic, but there sure were a lot of corrections when L.H. got through with it. (He was a German teacher at a *large* public university in his previous west-of-the-Atlantic life.) That’s *after* I had looked up something for almost every single sentence over 7 pages.

While waiting for the bus to take the damned thing to my instructor, I met the mother of an acquaintance. She speaks very easy-to-understand German (trust me, some people’s dialects are completely impenetrable to a doofus like me), but I was having the hardest time following her. I guess it would have helped if I had realized that Monday is a public holiday, since she was talking about not being able to get to the bank until Tuesday, something, something. I mean, I can follow Darling Daughter when she speaks German; what was the problem?! Then it occurred to me that D.D. is probably speaking slow and using small words because she knows she is speaking to a BIG DUMMY. Sigh.

I had progressed this last week from normal-sized and psychotic to puffy but pleasant, but now I think I would like to lie down and cry, except I’m on a bus full of unsympathetic strangers who can *already speak German.*

Screw that—I’m going to work on my German every day and not sound like a moron who hasn’t learned a thing in *2 years of living and attending university in GERMANY.*

***

In other news, I cut D.D.’s hair last weekend. I only meant to take off 2 inches or so, but it seems that it might have been more like 4. Oops. It’s still down to her armpits, so it’s not *short*, but it is a hell of a lot easier to comb. Hallelujah! She has even taken on the onerous task of *brushing her own hair.* At only 8 years old! By 13 she should be able to tie her own shoelaces, and by 15 cut her own meat! We’re on a roll!

She had a jar with a bit of plastic wrap for a lid that she had tried to catch bees in without success, so that became the home of the sacrificed hair. She was convinced that the Hair Fairy was going to come, even though I tried to tell her the opposite. She was a bit bitter the next morning that the friggin’ Hair Fairy hadn’t bothered to show up. I guess she didn’t get the memo.

***

I am totally obsessed with this 13-year-old singing sensation from Sweden, named Amy Diamond. Ok, that does not sound Swedish at all, but she lived in England as a baby, so maybe her folks are English. [I went back and looked at her site. Her dad is English. And she enjoys Math, PE, and needlework. I will be adopting her as soon as that bus driver I hired finds her parents. Or not.] Or maybe she gave herself a stage name so freaky stalkers wouldn’t be tatooing her real name on themselves. Maybe. Anyhow, our cable rearranged itself one day, so now we get Nickelodeon, and they’ve been playing her video (“What’s In It For Me?”) like twice an evening. I don’t know. The song seems kind of grown up, and you can tell in the video that she *doesn’t even have all her adult teeth in yet.* But I bet she grows into a really attractive young lady, and I hope her parents have bought a shotgun before Kevin Federline finds out about her.