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).