Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Wonderful World of Pants

I am beginning to take an obsessive interest in pants. They're fascinating! For instance, I am noticing a definite trend in pants that double as optical illusions.

Exhibit A
Tan cargo-style pants with gothic lettering, in white, across the seat (seen as the wearer was heading into the Ladies'.) It appears that someone from Pimp My Ride went crazy and started putting letter decals on everything in sight, and the afflicted pants caught on. Unfortunately, the letter-applier stayed true to the original form (an arc; you know, like on the back window of a low-rider), and I suspect that has a magnifying/distorting effect. Have you ever successfully seen what's inside one of those Magic Eye posters? (Dude! It even works online!) Same effect.

Exhibit B
Dark-colored, pin-striped, tight, women's pants. These are not being worn as part of a suit, either (although I did see a woman in a pin-striped suit recently, and her pants did not melt my brain, because they were properly tailored). No, these pants are topped with baby tees and cropped sweaters and such. It makes my eyes water to see the lines distorted over the bulgy parts, and it's horribly unflattering. Who talked these women into thinking that straight vertical lines are attractive on a normal, curvy figure?

And to make matters worse, I saw a pair on a *pregnant woman*. I know! What was she thinking? If there's one thing a pregnant lady has, it's bulges, trust me, and this lady's pants were affecting my brain like acid-laced Fruit Stripe gum.

Coinciding with my pants fetish is the need for new pants. Well, jeans. I really need to find a store that carries petite, i.e., short, sizes, because I was ready to stab my eyes out after roaming the juniors section of the large department store. I even braved the horrors of a shop helpfully named "Pretty Fashion", but I detest pre-distressed jeans, and also the size problem; on the other hand, I was very much tempted to buy from their array of silk kimonos and Mandarin evening gowns. I have no plan whatsoever to enter "Jeans Palace", and I learned last year that H&M caters to women who are 6 feet tall with legs shaped like dowel rods, i.e., not me.


[Grossness Warning]
If you are like me, you have a large-ish stack of unread books, perhaps left over from your *cough* university classes. Maybe you would like to read them but don't feel you have the time. I am here to share with you my new system: put a book in the bathroom! Toss Redbook or Reader's Digest or Carpentry Weekly in the trash and get edjumicated! It'll take you forever to finish (for this reason I suggest starting with a compilation of essays or articles), but at least you'll be making progress (no pun intended).


Le Mariage Royale has foisted another travesty of formal wear on unsuspecting passersby. The gown on the left in the window is not too bad on first glance: a simple design in white with dark red piping along the bodice seams—bold but not ugly. Until you see that someone added a row of cross-lacing, with a red tie, up the left hip. Perhaps it was supposed to be a corset top, but the seamstress misplaced her glasses and decided to keep on with her work anyway.

The dress on the right.... I can only speculate that it's part of a new line aimed at retired prostitutes, those who found the red-trimmed dress too demure. I can't even describe it, but suffice it to say that it is a confounding amalgamation of mini-skirt/mermaid dress, tiny tulle ruffles, and plunging necklines.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Composed June 9

The Weather-Bitching Level is back! And it's a 2.7! (0 being 'nothing to bitch about weather-wise' and 3 being 'I will never stop bitching', i.e., winter.) According to the weather-lady on tv yesterday, we're having the coldest June in recent memory. South of us they even had a frost. In June! It hasn't even hit 70F since over the weekend. One morning, we saw smoke rising from someone's chimney, and that evening my polar-bear child wanted a blanket to go with her long jammies during the bedtime reading. I hate! the cold. The only way the weather could be worse would be if it started raining, which will probably happen now that I've said it.

You see some interesting people riding the bus, but after a while you get used to your fellow commuters. Today there was a new face on the bus, and it was *crazy*. Not like threatening crazy, just avoiding eye contact but talking loudly *in English* crazy. I didn't catch what exactly she was saying, but she seemed to be addressing someone; I checked her out several times, because I thought she might have a cell phone with a headset or a mini-recorder, but I didn't see anything of the sort. Great. Now the Germans around here will think Americans are war-mongers AND crazy.

But that wasn't even the scariest thing to happen on the bus that time. Whenever we came to a stop, you could tell the driver was trying to stop as gradually as possible, letting off the brakes 2 or 3 times before coming to a complete halt, at which point the brakes would make a terrible noise. I was concerned that perhaps there was a bicycle up in the wheel well, with or without bicyclist, but I didn't notice once when I got off. I was also worried that we might start to skid since the noise was a bit like the sound of brakes locking. Have I mentioned that my house is at the top of a steep hill?

Do you ever notice yourself blinking, then you can't stop noticing, and then you wonder how weird you must look because you're consciously blinking? I think this awareness of involuntary movements is becoming a theme with me.

My Darling Daughter had a wart on her foot; I didn't dawdle in treating it, because I've had a plantar wart before, and having a doctor jab a skewer covered with wart-poison into her foot is not something I would wish for my daughter. Anyhow, a couple of days after starting to use the salicylic acid on her foot (carefully!), I noticed that the wart on my thumb knuckle was making a break for freedom. Now, this has been a tenacious wart; I've accidentally scraped the skin off that spot *twice* with a cheese grater—don't try that at home, kids!—yet the wart always returned. I guess the wart got wind of the acid and decided not to stick around to be the next victim, so after picking off the little seed thingie—which was literally hanging out—I am officially wart-free.

I took my Latin mid-term today, and I don't think I bombed, so that was good. I did go through all the psychological stages of studying, though:
denial—"I've got plenty of time!"
panic—"There's too much to learn!"
death wish (self)—"I want to lie down and die."
death wish (instructor)—"If he had a heart attack last night, I won't have to take the test today."
and resignation.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Games You Can Play with Your Child

The next time your child gives you a kiss, throw your hands over your face, writhe, and screech, "It burns!" Guaranteed child pleaser, and sure-fire way to get more voluntary kisses.


My Darling Daughter was reading a book the other day, and I popped into the living room to ask her a question. She gave me a curt "No", which, translated for any non-compulsive readers out there, means, "Shut up and go away." I wasn't offended, but I ran back into the kitchen for a giggle because it was so me as a child. She really is Mini-Me.


D.D. got a big birthday box in the mail from her gwamma that was filled with one large and several small packages. Interestingly, she started with the small boxes: "A tiny waddle bottle!" Joy! Molly, her American Girl doll, really raked it in with an entire bedroom suite, complete with a tiny working lamp, a bed, a dresser with a drawer in it, and water bottle (obviously). D.D. had to stop in the middle of the proceedings to get batteries for the lamp, and she's been dragging it around the house like she used to carry her blankie as a toddler, because you never know when she might need the extra light of a 10-Watt bulb. She also generously offered to let L.H. take it with him to an 8 p.m. meeting in case it was dark when it ended; he pointed out that the car's headlights should provide plenty of light, thanks.

The bedroom suite has been in the living room, in the "clubhouse/hotel" under her play-bed, and in the bed next to D.D.'s pillow. I'm surprised she hasn't jabbed herself in the eye with a wooden edge (even if it is covered by a corduroy bedspread) in her sleep. In the mornings, I tickle D.D. awake, then she gently wakes Molly by slowly lifting her upright until her eyes open. She's a much sweeter mom than I am.


When we were in Paris, we had dinner with Lovely Husband's friend, and she roasted a chicken. D.D. wanted the wishbone, but we couldn't find it as it was probably broken up in the process of carving. So the friend's daughter explained that this was 'poulet', not 'chicken', therefore French chickens must not have a wishbone. Shades of Gary Larson and his "Boneless Chicken Ranch." Hee!


There's a formal-wear shop near the German as a Foreign Language department called "Le Mariage Royale." (Makes me think of a plastic clock L.H. 'rescued' from the garbage room when we lived in Sweden that was helpfully labeled "High Class Clock.") Every time I walk by with D.D., she says I need to get one of the (wedding) gowns on display. I've repeatedly pointed out that I'm not exactly in the market for such a dress.

Most of the time this shop has duelling gown models in varying degrees of tackiness in the window, but these days they have a bridal couple *made of balloons*. The groom is a column of gray balloons topped with a white balloon with a Lego-esque face drawn on it. I think he also has a gray top hat. The bride is a column of ivory balloons with a white balloon head and a veil. But that's not all! She's also got a tube balloon (like clowns bend into poodles and swords and hats) for arms at waist height with a pink bouquet attached to the front. It's a classy display for a classy shop.


Usually I'm pretty nonchalant around here about my blog. I'll mention to L.H. that I've updated it, or tell him if I felt I had something particularly witty to say, but otherwise I try to play it cool. But sometimes, like a couple of days ago, I get all hovery and want to watch L.H. while he reads. (Because I'm a megalomaniac—surprise!—,a term we've been bandying about recently.) He finally told me I was creeping him out, kinda like the old lady in The Wedding Singer who wants to watch Adam Sandler eat the meatballs, because "That's my favorite part!" So I'm backing off. But maybe I'll install a surveillance camera. Hmmm....

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Bird Man of Ziegelhausen

My husband's family, at least on his dad's side, has a strange affinity for birds. His grandparents used to have a house full of the vermin, I mean, parakeets and cockatiels, plus doves out back, and his grandmother used to cook scrambled eggs for them and let them drink out of her coffee cup. (Needless to say, I have never kissed her on the mouth. And I don't leave D.D. unattended around her in case she decides to cook her up and serve her to the rest of the family.) Family grudges have been held over who let whose bird escape. And L.H.'s dad is always going on about a song he composed and taught his bird to whistle. He'll be on Broadway next.

In the past, L.H. has shared my distaste for all things feathery and indiscriminately excretory, but now he swears he's been hearing a bird outside our window who is singing the Munchkin-Land tune from The Wizard of Oz. I think he's getting some fumes up through the floor from the teenager in the apartment below us. I haven't heard the bird myself, but L.H. claims he was vindicated in the case of the piss bugs (which we actually saw in action on one of his grandmother's trees), and he will be proved right this time. Quite a track record, eh?

According to the Partaay Quiz (that's not misspelled) L.H. took at D.D.'s behest on the Disney web site, Dijonay of Proud Family fame has labeled him a "Party Pooper." "That explains why I never get invited back; I should go before I leave home," he quipped. (We're all about scatalogical humor around here, since we're in BIL withdrawal.)

And in related news (wait for it...), D.D.'s German is not just bleeding into her English these days, it has taken it hostage and is only letting it out for cigarette breaks. She doesn't use the cute kid-English for bathroom functions anymore (one and two, remember?); instead she has to "make a big (or enormous, in her case) or a small." If you don't learn any other German idioms from this site, be sure to master this one.

The weather is driving me mad(-der; ha ha *twitch*). If the first day of Summer is June 21, why am I still wearing jeans and a long-sleeved shirt and a jacket? We had four clear, warm, sunny days about a week and a half ago, then a pretty powerful storm blew in with thunder and rain to cool things off, which we appreciated at the time. On the plus side, it also knocked a bunch of baby chestnuts off the trees, so that means less head-conking this fall. On the minus side, it seems to have also taken casualties among the apple trees down the street.

Since then we've had cool, wet, almost warm, windy, and cloudy, but no truly warm weather. Why oh why did we buy that oscillating fan? I feel like a fool for pushing our long-sleeved clothes and sweaters to the back of the closet, because who knows when we might need them again (like today)? In Texas, you put everything made of yarn away in May, and you get it back out in October. There is no overlap in the seasons. Here, you never know when a new one has started. L.H. found out that it is now safe to put out geraniums, i.e., no threat of frost. At the start of June! Ok, I should stop this line of complaining before I give myself a stroke.

Some of the Spring/Summer phenomena I have noticed around here are UGLY pumps and loafers, and thin, white cotton pants. If you ask me, the latter are a recipe for disaster. And the former—so ugly! I saw one woman in normal clothes and *gold glitter flats*. D.D. had a red pair as a 4-year-old that we called her Dorothy shoes (it's the Oz recursion!), but I had never thought of them as appropriate for 25-year-olds. The other shoes look like someone sent a dumpster from the 80s through a time portal that landed in the local department stores. Eek!

Another Summer pastime is mowing. I have seen the following techniques used here in our village (keep in mind that the sides of the valley are steep, and houses are built up along both sides): mowing with an industrial-strength, tractor-type mower; weed-whacker followed by raking; a scythe; and sheep. The last two amuse me to no end, especially since I can watch the mad scyther while I wait for the bus near D.D.'s school, and we can sometimes hear the sheep bleating from at home; they usually sound pretty pissed off, although I don't claim to be a sheep interpreter. I would be pissed off, too, if I were an ersatz lawn-mower, lazy owners.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

True Confessions

I need to get something off my chest. You'll probably want to sit down for this. If you have a weak heart, be sure to pick up the phone and dial 9-1 before proceeding to the next line.

I de-haired my legs.

Yes, I realize this is a terrible shock, but it is true nonetheless. Note that I did not *shave* my legs, as that usually entails copious blood loss for me, and I'm trying to keep my anemia under control.

I finally caved and bought some depilatory cream because we had four very warm (high 80s) days and no AC. Hairless seemed a much cooler way to go. The stuff I bought didn't stink and promised to last twice as long as shaving (so that would be two days as opposed to one for me). I will never take a razor to my legs again.

As long as I'm coming clean, I ironed today, and not even my own clothes, and not even because someone needed it right then. I know! What is wrong with youth today? Gwamma sends D.D. beautiful dresses, and usually I am lazy enough to let her go around wrinkled, but today I needed to re-melt an iron-on back on, so I ironed the whole dress, plus one of L.H.'s particularly wrinkly shirts. I realize that this unprecedented act of housekeeping is a desecration to my mother's name, but I can still make her proud to be my mom with my closet full of half-finished craft projects.

My lovely MIL sent me two cute blouses, so with them and my freshly de-haired legs in mind, I decided to go shopping for a skirt. Normally, the only thing that would be worse is falling into an open sewer, but I braved *two* department stores in search of a prairie-style skirt. (At least, that's how I think of them—I don't know fashion.) By the second store, I couldn't even bring myself to go up to the second floor. It was a soul-withering experience, and I have decided to just be happy with my long denim skirt for now.

And, I was a black drag queen in a former life, but you probably already knew that.