Saturday, March 10, 2007

Dullsville, Population 3

We have finally caught up to the 20th century. Yes, you read that right: the last century. We still don’t have a tv with a remote or a cell phone, but we do have a DVD player (2 actually—1 American and 1 European), and as of yesterday we have a cordless phone. This from a family who hooked up DSL before our computer was even delivered.

This morning I asked John if I should make a Black Forest Cake this weekend.
“Do we really need a cake?”
“Don’t you like a cake for celebrating?”
That’s when he got the deer-in-the-headlights look. I know it might seem self-serving to others, but I didn’t want him to be caught flat-footed tomorrow when there will definitely be no opportunity for him to run out and make a last-minute contribution to our anniversary festivities. I don’t actually want anything, but I want him to at least have a chance at doing something, if he wants to.

When we do our grocery shopping on Saturdays, we each get a candy bar. That is John’s idea from the Swedish tradition of “Saturday candy”. Sometimes I let Hannah get a magazine in addition to/instead of her candy, if she is with me at the store; last week it was a Barbie magazine (aargh!). During our outing last Sunday, she had it in the back seat of the car and was checking off all the items she wanted out of a mini-catalog on the back page. She tallied up her choices: 250 Euros! She asked if I would buy her everything on her list. No-o! Well, how many chores would she have to do to buy them? I would never have to lift a finger around the house again. She automatically rejected cleaning up cat barf—that would still be my job. Then she decided to try a new tactic. She pared a few items from the list. How about buying her 120 Euros worth of stuff? Still no go. She has been working on the list every time she comes across the magazine this past week.

John was tired of the moth-sex paper in the pantry, especially since he thought it was cruel to leave Wormy Little Bastard stuck on there indefinitely. WLB seemed to be getting dehydrated, etc. So John took the paper down and was going to remove WLB from his hormone-laden prison. But in doing so, he pulled WLB in half. Which is much less cruel than leaving him stuck on the pantry wall. So farewell, Wormy Little Bastard. You were a much better pet than Missy Cat, and you left Eliza Cat in the dust.

We have spent the better part of the last winter stockpiling newspapers, in the event we ever got around to buying wood for our wood-burning tile oven, which we didn’t. I was reading up on ways to form logs out of the paper, and I was planning on trying it out one of these nippy mornings. But of course it is getting steadily sunnier/warmer, so even that pitiful attempt to light up the oven just once this year is doomed to failure.

Remember the fruit seeds I saved for planting? Those are doing fine, but now John is getting in on the action with some walnuts that were sprouting in the pantry.
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This one is already pretty far along; the other one is just starting to peek out from its shell. Maybe tomorrow I’ll fix up one of the window boxes with the onions that are sprouting.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

School Daze

While I was making Hannah’s snack for school, she asked me not to chop up her carrot, because she likes to eat it whole.
Me: I’m just afraid it’s too hard and will snap off your teeth.
H: To me, it is as soft as a baby’s butt.

Hannah asked me to get her a training bra. I find the sports bra to be infinitely more comfortable than the regular kind, but I figured that every girl needs a traditional hook-and-lace type bra to start. She was so excited, she put it on right away. Then we went to a school open house, and she fidgeted, and pulled, and complained the whole time. “Welcome to the rest of your life,” I told her. She took it back off as soon as we got to the car.

In the German school system, instead of having one all-purpose type school that offers a wide variety of classes, they have schools that are specialized, and the children are sorted into them based on their personal strengths. Children that are strongly academically oriented go to Gymnasium (college-bound); each Gymnasium has its own orientation. We went to an open house yesterday at one that stresses foreign languages and all-around personal development. Band has not traditionally been a school subject here, but this school offers band, and for those who don’t want to participate in band, keyboard or recorder. There is also a science track at this school, but even that requires two foreign languages. Hannah really liked the school; if she went there she would take English and Latin next year (and probably keyboard), and add French in 8th grade. It’ll probably break John’s heart, but she’ll drop Swedish lessons next year.

I’ve often considered coloring my hair a la SJ, but 1. I don’t have the nerve, 2. I’m not thrilled with the idea of bleaching (i.e. frying) my hair first, and 3. I’m not sure it would take on the white hairs (which would not actually be the purpose of said dyeing). As to #3, John said maybe a rinse would work, since it works on old ladies. As much of a fuddy duddy I may be, I refuse to accelerate the process of aging by putting a purple rinse on my hair.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Homebody Nee

My poinsettia has been looking kinda sickly, so I googled up a cure. Turns out, I should have retired it after it bloomed and let it “mummify” before reviving it when the weather turns warm. (Sounds very mad scientist-ish, eh?) So I lugged it out to the balcony, where I will patiently neglect it for a while.

That little maneuver has freed up some space on the table in the sunroom, but I had to clean the sap off it before I could reclaim it for my own use. Did you know that the sap from a poinsettia can cause an allergic reaction in a large portion of the people with latex-sensitivity? Also, a poinsettia is not poisonous. As this site so helpfully puts it: “If you're going to knock the hubby off for the insurance money (there's a cheery holiday thought...), find another plant.” I love learning useful stuff off the Internet.

On one of my mad mad mad mad Spring cleaning days, I emptied the pantry (again) and pulled out the shelves (behind which I found some more larvae—AARGH!), then scrubbed everything with shower cleaner. Then I did the same thing with a small cabinet where we keep our snacks—crackers, nuts, dried fruit, popcorn—then I put everything into zipper bags and plastic containers. Now it is several days later, and I was just going to brag on our worm-free pantry (excepting Wormy Little Bastard on the flypaper, of course) when Hannah went to open a Tupperware of cereal and found a larva up under the rim. It was blocked from the actual food by the awesome power of the T-ware seal, but it *should not have been alive* in the first place. So then I had to check all the other million containers, one of which also had a foiled larva against the rim. Hannah wanted me to add the newcomers to the flypaper so she can feed them to her Venus flytrap—she just sowed the seeds 2 days ago—but I said, Hell, no! The flytrap will have to attract its own food. This isn’t a cafe, you know. It is very humiliating to be bested by a creature with only one more brain cell than George W. Bush. *zing!*

I am afraid I have gotten acclimated to the rigors of indoor gardening and pest battling; if it were to get any more exciting around here, I might have a heart attack.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again

Avenging Unicorn Play Set: “Everyone wants an imaginary unicorn friend that they can call forth to smite their enemies.”
I never knew I wanted one, but now that I know it exists, I can’t imagine living without it.

We needed to get out of the house this weekend and stretch our legs, so we took a little day trip on Sunday. For the last 3+ years, we’ve lived a half-hour away from the town I lived in as an army brat; we visited it for the first time yesterday.

The only address I could find was from my birth certificate, so John did his Internet magic and printed out a map or 2 to help us find it. We shot right past it on our way into Darmstadt, but since we also planned to see a couple of other things south of town, we decided to check it out on our way back out.

We made our way to the city-center, which is where you usually find any sites of interest in a German town. Turns out that Darmstadt is centered around a giant shopping complex, but there were a few interesting places interspersed among the shops. Nothing looked familiar.

Once we hit the old buildings, the playground, and the ice cream shop, we found our car and headed back out of town. Due to my bad directions, we ended up making a big loop to get back to the military housing, but find it we did. We took some photos of the building number on my birth certificate, then drove along the “village” and took some random photos of buildings. They definitely looked familiar to me, but none of the surrounding area did. There was a fence around the whole thing and a couple of guard posts, which I am sure I would have remembered if they had been there when we lived there. But that was almost 30 years ago; things change.

Afterwards, we found Burg Frankenstein (Frankenstein Castle) and walked around in it and took tons of photos. My dad likes to tell about the haunted house they (used to) set up at Halloween there. Looks like they still do. I remember going there once.

Then we headed for the Felsenmeer (Sea of Boulders). We were also there when I was a kid, but the parts I remembered weren’t the way I remembered them. I guess that is normal. Unfortunately, the name didn’t ring a bell when John was planning out our trip, so I ended up tromping around in the woods and mud in these.

Up until we had to hike back up the hill to get to our car, Hannah declared it was the Best. Outing. Ever. She got to climb over boulders. She used her walking stick to christen all the more interesting ones, like Big Rock and Whale. She ran out of steam at the end, though. Her last attempt? “I dub thee ‘stupid-I-have-no-name-for-you’.”