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


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
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?

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!