Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Throw-Away Post (sort of)

Today I am puffy and surly/manic and unfunny, but here are a couple of things that don't require any additional humor from me (or any humor at all, for that matter).

As soon as I walked in the door on Thursday, D.D. accosted me: the most disgusting thing in the world had just happened. Thinking I was going to be in charge of a cat-barf mess, she went on to inform me that a snail had just climbed onto her new sandal and onto her foot (!) when she was playing in the meadow across the street. So she had to wash the new sandal, and would probably never wear it again. I know that the snails around here are large and relatively fast, but I couldn't quite make out how she was still long enough for one to crawl onto her foot. The best I can tell, she was walking through tall-ish grass and kicked up a slug (not a snail), which then befouled her foot. The trauma!

While walking past a large (5-story) department store early one morning, I heard this weird whistling sound, interspersed with metal clinking. It was the metal lines that were holding the sides of some banner-things that hung down the sides of the building. The banners were whistling, and the metal lines were clinking. It gave me gooseflesh, since it gave me a mental picture of one of the lines snapping and whipping through the air to maim passersby. I try not to walk so close to that building now. *shudder*

Thursday, May 19, 2005

So Proud!

I found out from my mom that my niece made a sweep (almost) at her school's award night—8 out of 10! I shall call her (pinky to lips)...Mini-Nee.

She even won a citizenship award, but according to LilSis, a bit of the luster was rubbed off by M-N's bored expression. That's no way to be a good citizen, Mini-Nee! You should show *some* appreciation and modesty. Unless you're *really* bored, then full steam ahead!


D.D. hates it when people (generally old people) pat her head or *gasp* talk to her in public. She's starting to get quite surly about it. Today she practically ran to me at the grocery store check-out to get away from an old lady asking her about her doll. Don't want to be approached, don't look so cute, honey.

"I hate it when old Omas talk to me. That *gets on my nerves*." (You can say that last bit with one word in German, which is the most economical I've ever seen the language be.)

When I got onto her for being impolite, she replied that she's not supposed to talk to strangers. I pointed out that she's probably not in much danger from such an elderly person, plus I was only 5 feet away. She came back with an elaborate tale of the woman and her husband probably desperately wanting a little girl of their own—just like her! I let it drop at that point, but I'm starting to wonder about D.D.'s concept of reality.


After reading one of my entries, L.H. declared himself surprised that I noticed what other people were wearing so much of the time. He should remember that I am an inveterate people-watcher (a.k.a. starer). Plus, some people's clothing just cannot be missed.

For instance, I haven't seen her lately, but there's a woman in our village I have mentally named "The Old French Whore." She typically wears clothes that are 30 years too young, 2 sizes too small, and inevitably include a combination of fake fur, leather or vinyl, and animal prints. Paired with elaborately curled and badly dyed hair, 2-inch-long nails, and 4-inch-high heels, well, you can see where I'm going with this. I have no idea how she gets up and down the steps to the bus without tanking.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Life in the Climbing Lane

A few days ago, I got home from school to find L.H. picking up the last shards of glass from a broken jar. It turns out that D.D.+jar+tile floor=pickle bomb. Who would have guessed? It took several attempts at mopping to get all the brine up, and there was a horrid pickle/lemon cleaner stench until I succeeded.


Earlier today I was in the ladies', and I heard D.D. stomping up the stairs toward me (the child can't just walk up stairs), so I preemptively yelled, "I'm in the bathroom!" And she answered, "I just wanted to tell you something." Now, D.D. often has interesting insights on the world, so my curiosity was piqued. After washing my hands, I found out that "These chips are delicious with ketchup. I just tried them."

It was hard to suppress my natural sarcasm. My brain was saying, "Thanks for the newsflash!", but my mouth managed to say, "I'm glad you like them." I don't want to crush her fragile spirit with my sarcastic tendencies.


So I started some homemade bread to go with some homemade carrot soup (I make a mean carrot soup), but I was having trouble with one line in the directions: "Continue adding flour as you knead until the dough is no longer sticky." The damn stuff was still sticky, but was starting to approach the density of a black hole, so I declared, "I dub thee satiny and smooth. Now rise!" (Actually, I just now added that "rise" bit, because I'm—you know—a geek. hee!hee!)


For the most part, I think Disney television programming is insipid and pointless, but I have to give them their props when they get one right. D.D and I are addicted to "Fillmore," and we've only seen 3 or 4 episodes. It's like a police detective drama, but set in a school with school-aged detectives. They even have a big cocoa urn instead of coffee. Hee! There are lots of misleading clues and conflicting motives that make for interesting stories. So I like cartoons—sue me.

Speaking of which, I am afraid there are only about 4 voice talents in all of Germany, going by the number of cartoon characters with the same set of voices. It's gotten to the point that I can't even guess what show is on when walking past the living room; I have to actually look at the tv set, which I try to avoid as much as possible. And 9 times out of 10 I'll be surprised. Spongebob-guy is 6 other voices, off the top of my head, and Squidward-guy is getting up close to that number. L.H. thinks those guys should give some other voice-actors a break and step down once in a while, but I can't imagine it's that lucrative a field anyhow.


We have a surprisingly difficult time finding children's bubble bath around here, so we stocked up when we came across some in a grocery store in Paris. Now D.D. has Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney again, I know) bubble bath, with packaging in French. I like to think of it as horizon-expanding.


And here is one of mine and L.H.'s all-time favorite lines from Public Television:
"You are an idiot, but your produce is delicious."
Jennifer, one of the "2 Fat Ladies", to a live chicken while gathering fresh eggs

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Paris—Day 3: Into the Bowels of the Louvre

(n.b. French spelling is not my forte, so please disregard any typos.)

Actually, the Louvre is an amazing place (and their web site is very user friendly; the virtual tours are the bomb!). The building itself is 4 stories and too huge to get into one photo without a helicopter. It was originally a palace; we were able to see rooms that Napoleon had used, and let me tell you, it was more opulent even than the current Swedish royal family's digs. But the French aristocracy back then must have felt it was lacking, because they abandoned it for Versailles (which, from the photos I've seen, appears to be gilded from toilets to kitchen counters).

You enter through a large glass pyramid that seems a bit out of place at first, but the effect from inside is really cool. Then you go down an escalator, and the main level is one floor underground, lighted by the pyramid that now acts as an elaborate skylight. There are three wings, and each wing has four floors.

We spent !6! hours walking around and didn't even make it onto every floor of every wing. (That's as long as it took us to *drive to Paris* in the first place.) Mostly we decided what we really wanted to see, and planned it out on the handy map we got when we arrived. If they hadn't thoughtfully put numbered signs on the walls, we would have been irretrievably lost in a matter of 10 minutes.

Darling Daughter got her wish and stood before the Mona Lisa, along with the 100 people pushing us forward. Choosing not to join the teeming throng in prematurely aging the Mona Lisa via flash-photography, we declined to take our own photo. Also, we didn't know how to turn the flash off on our new-ish digital camera. But we bought a postcard and a bookmark of the M.L. later at the bookshop, so take that, Philistines!

Poor D.D. was bored out of her mind after that, and I have to admit that the thousands of paintings (even the 30-foot-high ones) kind of became a blur of colored oil after a while. L.H. dutifully looked at most of the paintings, but D.D. would find the nearest bench and flop down until we were ready to go to the next room. Then L.H. would sing a little piece from the Disney "Alice in Wonderland" to get us moving: "Clean cups, move down..."

We saw the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, but we missed the Egyptian section. We saw David's painting of Napoleon crowning Josephine empress, but not the medieval moat that originally surrounded the Louvre when it was a fortress. I think it would take a week just to physically walk past everything, and months to read all the labels (if we could read French; there are no multi-lingual signs on the displays in the Louvre, for future reference).

Afterwards we walked the length of the gardens, which are still being renovated, I understand, until we came out on the Champs Elysees. We walked all the way up to the Arc d'Triomphe, which is a goodly way, but it was blocked off from visitors. We're not exactly certain, but we think it was related to the next day being the anniversary of the end of WW2 in France. There was supposed to be something there on the 8th (we were there on the 7th). Anyhow, we still got to see it from fairly close, but we were all too tired and cranky by then to be properly appreciative. Thank goodness the Metro station was right there.

Yes, we managed to use the Metro and not die. Please, hold your applause. The train was no problem; finding the correct platform was the problem. After asking at the information desk (and getting half-squashed in the ticket barrier—I'm alright!), we followed the signs until we reached some tracks. And of course it wasn't the right set. How silly of us not to realize that we had to follow the platform until we were behind the original escalator we took downstairs, then take another escalator *back upstairs.* We came out in a totally different area, don't ask me how. I suspect there was some kind of time-and-space-warp into another dimension, but we made it to the Place d'Italie, so who cares how we got there.


Each evening, L.H. would whisper, "Hey, Baby... we're in the City of Love..." To which I would respond, "And I'm the mayor of Tiredville. Sorry, Babe." Walking around for like 12 hours is only conducive to instantly falling asleep as soon as you lie down.

The Madness of my Darling Daughter

D.D. and I had been to the grocery store, and she was telling me about the limited set of veggies that she considered ok to eat: raw carrots, frozen peas, salad with dressing, green beans, and cucumbers. But definitely NOT asparagus. (Asparagus season has just started, a big deal around here.) I reminded her that as a baby she used to eat canned asparagus. She answered that she didn't have any teeth back then and had to eat mushy food. Oh, and she was insane. I guess that explains it.


The neighbor's yard is looking less like a beautiful meadow and more like an abandoned lot. It just needs a few discarded cars or large appliances, and the transformation will be complete. It has been raining or overcast off and on since...forever, and the homeowners who didn't get around to mowing on one of the clearer days are now having to wade through their lawns to get to the front door. Make that a "pro" of living in an apartment.


D.D. is counting down the days until Star Wars comes out (tomorrow, right?). She had told her friends at school that we were going to take them all to Star Wars for her birthday, but she neglected to verify with us first, so too bad, so sad. It's not really a birthday-party kind of movie. We're taking her to see it on the day of her birthday, but we'll have an actual party the week after.

She got a tiny, plastic light saber out of her cereal box, and it has been a dual-purpose weapon and lipstick. We have a little game going, where she pretends to apply lipstick to me, and I pretend to have my lips sliced off. It's always fun and games around here.